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"I hope they're telling us the real science."
May 18, 2014 4:07 PM   Subscribe

Mother Jones reports on the annual California Dietetic Association conference, where highlights included a panel titled "Sweeteners in Schools" sponsored by the Corn Refiner's Association, and a lunch catered by McDonald's.
posted by a fair but frozen maid (78 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
Always Hungry? Here’s Why
posted by and they trembled before her fury at 4:16 PM on May 18 [15 favorites]


I don't like a lot of corporate sponsorship for this exact reason, but an article that puts a link to a study in the sentence talking about the dangers of HFCS, but fails to do the same in a sentence about how the corporate sponsors are talking about GMOs being safe (and so presented skeptically by MoJo) is something I'm seeing more and more of from Mother Jones lately. This kind of cherry-picking has discredited them a little, in my mind.
posted by triggerfinger at 4:26 PM on May 18 [11 favorites]


Bellatti took photos of the displays in the exhibition hall and posted them on his blog. The post started a conversation among academy members, many of whom were outraged when they learned about the sponsorships. They worried that if word got out that dietitians' professional organization had been bought out by food corporations, the profession would lose credibility. So Bellatti and several other members founded Dietitians for Professional Integrity, consisting of academy members who want to change the sponsorship policies. They lobbied the leadership, but nothing changed—except for the rules about photography at the annual conference. The following year, when Bellatti took out his camera in the exhibition hall, he was told that photographs were prohibited.

Something easy to do; when going to a conference see who its sponsors are. Then look at the keynotes for the conference (as well as other presentations). Play the match-the-speaker-to-the-sponsor game. Then avoid going to any of those speeches. If most of the conference is then off-limits, there's a good chance it was a pretty crappy conference. For bonus points, find speakers at the conference who may present a significantly different viewpoint than the sponsor-speakers. If you can't find any of these counterpoints, chances are it might be a pretty crappy conference.

Also, it's pretty fair to judge an organization based on the integrity of the events it plans. Note: I didn't say 'size', 'success', 'fun times', or anything like this - plenty of good orgs plan events that aren't fun, but if the events they plan have compromised integrity, there is a good chance the organization as a whole has compromised integrity.
posted by el io at 4:28 PM on May 18 [14 favorites]


"The bottom line is that all sugars contain the same calories, so you can't say that there is one ingredient causing the obesity crisis." The claim was presented as fact, despite mounting scientific evidence that high-fructose corn syrup prompts more weight gain than other sugars.

LOL no. This "mounting scientific evidence" is approximately witchcraft, pushed by a few anti-HFCS religious zealots. Sugar is, indeed, sugar, surprisingly enough. Some people have become so passionately anti-HFCS that they will, undoubtedly, keep pushing this line for quite awhile... But 20 years from now, if anybody remembers this at all, they'll look back on it and laugh.

Eating a bunch of sugary crap of any kind isn't great for you. But HFCS isn't any worse than sucrose from sugar cane or sugar beets.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 4:49 PM on May 18 [10 favorites]


Fist O'Fury, can you point to where the specific Princeton study linked to was competently debunked?
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:52 PM on May 18 [12 favorites]


Eating a bunch of sugary crap of any kind isn't great for you. But HFCS isn't any worse than sucrose from sugar cane or sugar beets.
Ok, so here's the thing. I think you're probably right, but I can't be sure you're right, because so much nutrition research is tainted by food industry money. And that's precisely the problem that the article addresses. You don't have to agree with MoJo's overall agenda to agree that this is an issue.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:55 PM on May 18 [23 favorites]


I've found that when I eat less calories than I burn my weight goes down and when I do the opposite my weight goes up. I have consumed corn syrup during both periods. So, anecdotes!
posted by Drinky Die at 4:59 PM on May 18 [6 favorites]


To partially answer my own question, here's a Grist interview that presents the paper's lead author with criticisms that have been leveled at the study. The study does seem to be different from the impression given by the linked article at the Princeton site.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:00 PM on May 18 [1 favorite]


something I'm seeing more and more of from Mother Jones lately. This kind of cherry-picking has discredited them a little, in my mind.

I've haven't read MJ closely recently, but I had housemates who subscribed back in the day and it was never shy about taking sides in this kind of debate.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:01 PM on May 18


Also, it's pretty fair to judge an organization based on the integrity of the events it plans.

Well, I think this has at least as much integrity as those Spring Break events where students were given pizza and beer if they promised not to sign up for Obamacare.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:12 PM on May 18


I am actually finding it hard to get my head around this. This is a wicked and corrupt organization that's knowingly and actively promoting dietary choices proven to cause heart disease, diabetes and cancer to its members -- so that they can promote it to the community under the guise of improving their health!

This is like a pulmonary doctors' conference inviting Marlboro to give professional development seminars on improvements in cigarette filters.

Why doesn't every member simply resign on the spot?
posted by dontjumplarry at 5:13 PM on May 18 [6 favorites]


triggerfinger: "how the corporate sponsors are talking about GMOs being safe"

GMOs are safe. There is not a single credible scientific study indicating otherwise.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 5:17 PM on May 18 [32 favorites]


The problem with HFCS may not be the mere existence of HFCS.

The problem with HFCS is that they put it in ever-goddamn-thing.
posted by winna at 5:18 PM on May 18 [71 favorites]


....and a lunch catered by McDonald's.

I'm kind of surprised that "catered" and "by McDonald's" actually fits in the same sentence without sort of jumbling itself, like magnets that repel each other. Seems like that should be a law of nature.
posted by zardoz at 5:19 PM on May 18 [5 favorites]


Fists O'Fury: I think you're missing the point.

She claimed that the sponsors did not influence any of the content in the program. "We like to think that our dietitians have a thought process and that we are presenting them with what is out there," she said. "They need to make their own decisions on what they have listened to and apply that to their client base."

"But it's hard to make a decision if you're only hearing one side of the story," I countered.

She told me that she hadn't known beforehand that the Corn Refiners panel would be composed entirely of its own representatives. And yet, when I asked her how the panel was chosen, she explained that it was approved by a committee. She also confirmed that the Corn Refiners had paid for the panel, but she declined to say how much.


So, here we have a situation where apparently the only people talking about the nutritional impact of corn syrup were representatives of the corn refiners. Her claim that sponsors do not influence the content of the program looks like - a bald face lie. It doesn't pass the laugh test.

This isn't about HFC, or GMOs, or any specific nutricianal concern - it is about the corruption of a professional organization (which is undoubtedly all too common). I'm sure if they got better press spokespeople they'd insist that without sponsors it would be impossible to hold their event.

The fact that this organization tried to deal with previous criticisms by disallowing photographs of its exhibition hall speaks volumes as to their integrity.
posted by el io at 5:25 PM on May 18 [31 favorites]


Why doesn't every member simply resign on the spot?
I don't think you can just resign if you want to be a legitimate nutrition professional in the US. In the US, any quack can claim to be a nutritionist, and the people with credentials are Registered Dieticians. The AND is the organization that certifies Registered Dietitians, and you need to be an RD to work in a hospital or nursing home or be covered by people's insurance or whatnot. They also certify RD programs at universities. You need to do continuing education like going to this conference to maintain your status as a Registered Dietician.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:26 PM on May 18 [11 favorites]


ArbitraryAndCapricious: So a certified registered dietitian is the non-quack? And their continual education has been brought to them by the Beef Council and the Corn Refiners?

Where do I find these quacks again?
posted by el io at 5:29 PM on May 18 [4 favorites]


Is this level of corporate influence in the health sector a US-specific thing? I find it hard to imagine that UK or Australian dietitian associations would require their members to attend soda companies' lectures on the benefits of Fanta to maintain their licenses. Maybe I'm wrong though.
posted by dontjumplarry at 5:33 PM on May 18 [2 favorites]


Do Australia or the UK allow vending machines in their schools? If so, no, it is not a US-specific thing.
posted by maryr at 5:43 PM on May 18


The Wheat Council hosted a presentation about how gluten intolerance was just a fad, not a real medical problem.

Those evil bastards! Who are they to tell me seitan isn't actually the devil!?

Well, at least the anti-gluten fad isn't enriching any corporations.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:45 PM on May 18


Well, at least the anti-gluten fad isn't enriching any corporations.

I lolled for real.
posted by mhoye at 5:51 PM on May 18 [14 favorites]


The Wheat Council hosted a presentation about how gluten intolerance was just a fad, not a real medical problem.

I do feel a little sorry for those guys, they've gotten burned twice in a row by fads, first Adkins said wheat was bad because of carbs, now wheat is bad because it has protein (gluten).
posted by 445supermag at 5:59 PM on May 18 [3 favorites]


dontjumplarry: Nutritionists aren't certified in the UK. Their voluntary organization seems to try to keep the continual education credits non-corporate (more info). Dietitians apparently require membership with this group.

In Australia, nutritionists are not certified, but dietitians are. The dietitian conference has sponsors similar to those of the California conference. While they do have corporate sponsored talks, it looks like you have to get up early in the morn[pdf] to see them.
posted by el io at 6:01 PM on May 18 [1 favorite]


More on Australia (warning, Alex Jones style agitprop 6 min video of dietitians conference).
posted by el io at 6:10 PM on May 18 [1 favorite]


Hail seitan.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:22 PM on May 18 [20 favorites]


While I wouldn't recommend anyone to wade through the comments in the original article... I learned something today: how to identify quality chocolate.

Also, I found something fairly unusual - a wikipedia article that doesn't exist that should.
posted by el io at 6:28 PM on May 18 [1 favorite]


The Wheat Council hosted a presentation about how gluten intolerance was just a fad, not a real medical problem.

Well, as it turns out, that's correct.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 6:30 PM on May 18 [8 favorites]


PepsiCo sponsored a presentation that argued that Mountain Dew DOESN'T in fact reduce sperm count!
posted by Drinky Die at 6:45 PM on May 18


Well, as it turns out, that's correct.

As medical experts who attended the presentation will happily vouch. (I don't really know enough to have an opinion about gluten sensitivity, though I would think one of the obligations of the medical profession would be for physicians to take their patients' complaints seriously enough to investigate those complaints on an individual patient basis, since any decent doctor will concede there are always medical outliers from time to time; and I also know enough not to be entirely comfortable with the idea that doctors might be satisfying their continuing education requirements by getting their continuing educations from industries that could have a financial stake in misleading them.)

It's absurd that anyone who defends this could do so thinking it's in their own best long term interest that things are so often done this way now.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:52 PM on May 18 [2 favorites]


triggerfinger: "how the corporate sponsors are talking about GMOs being safe"

GMOs are safe. There is not a single credible scientific study indicating otherwise.


Sorry, I didn't phrase my statement very well. I am in full agreement with this. To clarify, the paragraph I'm referring to:

The sessions—the real meat and potatoes of the conference—had food industry sponsors as well. The Wheat Council hosted a presentation about how gluten intolerance was just a fad, not a real medical problem. The International Food Information Council—whose supporters include Coca-Cola, Hershey, Yum Brands, Kraft, and McDonald's—presented a discussion in which the panelists assured audience members that genetically modified foods were safe and environmentally sustainable. In "Bringing Affordable Healthier Food to Communities," Walmart spokespeople sang the praises of (what else?) Walmart.

is making a clear point and implicitly saying that corporations act in their own best interest (true) and therefore everything they say is bullshit (false). Putting a link to the numerous studies (industry and academic) saying GMOs are safe is what they should have done, but would have been aligning them with (in this case) as the corporations. Furthermore, they did provide lots of links on other things (like HFCS), presumably to give science-y credibility to the article, which is what makes the absence on anything on GMOs so stark. This is totally disingenuous, and I actually think that despite all the anti-GMO stuff they've published, MoJo actually knows better.

MoJo has been around a long time and they've done some really excellent reporting - I especially have loved the in-depth reporting they've done on the US prison system. But this kind of thing is such a big black mark in my mind and I expect better from them. I really, really want these news orgs to demonstrate a commitment to trying to find the truth, rather than just push a specific agenda.
posted by triggerfinger at 7:29 PM on May 18 [3 favorites]


I've found that when I eat less calories than I burn my weight goes down and when I do the opposite my weight goes up. I have consumed corn syrup during both periods. So, anecdotes!

I'm glad you showed up to health class today, because if you'd played hooky you might've missed the test!

1. How many calories did you burn today, and also yesterday? Show your work and explain your method of measurement.

2. How many calories did you consume today, and also yesterday? Of these calories, how many did your digestive system absorb, and how many were passed along into your urine or feces? Show your work and explain your method of measurement.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:33 PM on May 18 [18 favorites]


Is this the part where we get to discuss how we measure kilocalories by lighting things on fire and approximating the heat released? That's my favorite.

Because as we all know, the human metabolism is heavily influenced by evolutionary remnants of our shared dragon ancestry.
posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 7:48 PM on May 18 [35 favorites]


are you after my hoard of dorite because i am warning you it is guarded most ferociously
posted by elizardbits at 7:51 PM on May 18 [21 favorites]


Re: lighting food on fire (and, on preview, Dorite), try lighting a Dorito on fire. We did that once at a meetup years ago, the thing burns slow like a candle. Very, very scary.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:51 PM on May 18 [6 favorites]


triggerfinger: why bring the corporations in to make self-serving statements (even if they are true)?

The bigger question is are professional organizations corrupted by the influence of large corporations? Well, I think that probably is true. These orgs have a lot of venues to express themselves, why should their propaganda (even if true) be a dominant feature of a supposedly neutral professional association (whose membership is mandatory for professionals)?

But if ya'll want your nutritionists educated by McDonalds and Nestle, don't let me stand in your way (if anyone wants to point me to an organization that gives out nutritionist credentials that might be trustworthy, let me know, because this one isn't - see their no photography rule to judge their integrity).
posted by el io at 7:53 PM on May 18


GMOs are safe. There is not a single credible scientific study indicating otherwise.

We're doing a great job straw-manning TFA, whose actual quote was "panelists assured audience members that genetically modified foods were safe and environmentally sustainable".

You do of course realize that there are criticisms of GMOs beyond whether they directly impact the health of individuals who consume them, and I hardly think the idea of Monsanto Agriculture being environmentally sustainable is beyond debate.
posted by crayz at 7:55 PM on May 18 [29 favorites]


Well, as it turns out, that's correct.

Yeah, but would it change their presentation if it weren't?
posted by pompomtom at 8:15 PM on May 18 [1 favorite]


why bring the corporations in to make self-serving statements (even if they are true)?

Hey, I hear ya. We're on the same side. My issue is with news orgs doing such knee-jerk biased reporting when I think they could and should do better. Believe me, there's no love lost between me and Monsanto or Walmart. And I fully agree that the reason that so many people are so likely to not believe a single thing Big Corn/Oil/Pharma or whatever says is because of their pretty dire record of the dissemination of self-serving studies and half-truths.

In a perfect world, professional orgs would not be corrupted by corporate money. But considering that our actual government is essentially run by corporate interests at this point, I don't really see that happening in my lifetime.
posted by triggerfinger at 8:21 PM on May 18 [2 favorites]


I have regarded the nutrition sciences with great suspicion ever since the professor told us how diets high in red meat were conclusively linked to lower incidences of heart disease. If there was ever a time in my life I wanted to hold up a sign that said [citation needed] that was it.

I'm sure it had nothing to do with his lab's sponsorship by a major cattle company. Later on we had the pharm rep teach us about how diabetics need to stick to carbohydrate heavy meals.

It's not just the radio station that does pay for play.

All I can conclude is there are a lot of factors at work (environmental, epigenetic, communal, systemic, psychological, endocrine) in the pathogenesis of obesity, nutrition is still in the dark ages, and anybody claiming to have the full answer at this point is trying to sell you something.
posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 8:31 PM on May 18 [4 favorites]


This thread appears to be a conflagration of people all of whom are in agreement viciously arguing.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:44 PM on May 18 [12 favorites]


While I wouldn't recommend anyone to wade through the comments in the original article
I look like Bruce Lee from the neck down
posted by unliteral at 9:36 PM on May 18 [1 favorite]


This thread appears to be a conflagration of people all of whom are in agreement viciously arguing.

YOU ARE WRONG
posted by elizardbits at 9:40 PM on May 18 [14 favorites]


I'm glad you showed up to health class today, because if you'd played hooky you might've missed the test!

1. How many calories did you burn today, and also yesterday? Show your work and explain your method of measurement.


The estimate I am working for my current gender, weight, and body size before additional daily exercise is around 2650 calories maintenance. I eat 900 calories fewer than that for a target of around two pounds of weight loss a week. The total amount of calories I eat per day varies depending on the amount of exercise I do, recored by the runkeeper app on my phone as walking is my primary exercise. The 900 calorie deficit is maintained regardless. This guidance and the numbers are provided to me by MyFitnessPal.com. I have so far followed them to 53 pounds of weight loss over 220 days with about that same amount remaining before I reach my goal.

The math of weight loss is stupid simple, especially with the awesome tools now available to people who can afford a smart phone. PG, you are way too smart to come at me all, "HERP DERP burn more calories than you eat but HOW DRINKY DIE!?"

Come on.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:42 PM on May 18 [6 favorites]


(The WORK of weight loss is of course stupid hard, don't get me wrong)
posted by Drinky Die at 9:43 PM on May 18 [1 favorite]


Your (actually quite valid) argument is a lost cause in these parts, Drinky. Save yourself the aggravation and just agree that nobody can lose weight ever and if they do, they'll just get fat again so you might as well never try anything.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:50 PM on May 18 [7 favorites]


Your (actually quite valid) argument is a lost cause in these parts, Drinky. Save yourself the aggravation and just agree that nobody can lose weight ever and if they do, they'll just get fat again so you might as well never try anything.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:50 PM on May 18


Eponyronic?
posted by CrystalDave at 9:56 PM on May 18


I don't understand what your particular dieting techniques have to do with whether the AND is tainted by its association with food industry money. It just seems really not at all relevant to the discussion that the rest of us are having.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:56 PM on May 18 [3 favorites]


Your (actually quite valid) argument is a lost cause in these parts, Drinky. Save yourself the aggravation and just agree that nobody can lose weight ever and if they do, they'll just get fat again so you might as well never try anything.

I'm not trying to make any argument that should be perceived as a refutation of how people feel about their own situations. My own experience is that the mental difficulties that lead to this situation have much less to do with food or willingness to exercise than one might expect and a lot more to do with deep personal issues that people aren't going to share.

My frustration is with our society that promotes a lot of bad science and confusion in the face of people who have made personal decisions to change how they operate.

So, when I see things like the anti-GMO or anti-gluten or other fads of the day scares making the issue more unnecessarily complicated for vulnerable people...that irritates me. If the corporations are the only ones willing to refute it, well, okay. Maybe they SHOULD have a place at this table?

Maybe someone should point out that you really can fit a small carton of chocolate milk into a healthy balanced diet and demonization of individual ingredients is not the best course? I honestly believe reasonable dietitians will say the same thing, they are the group that asked for the sponsors for their conference after all, right?.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:09 PM on May 18


I'm not interested in losing weight, Drinky Die. My weight is fine. I'm interested in not getting osteoporosis, which I'm at very high risk for. So I would really like to know whether I should be consuming dairy (which gives me an upset stomach and which I don't particularly like) or whether I can get just as much benefit from eating a lot of green leafy vegetables. And unfortunately, I have a hard time trusting the advice that I get from dieticians on this issue, because the American Dairy Council is totally intertwined with the American dietetics establishment. And I realize that this is not nearly as exciting as your fascinating Runkeeper app, but it's a dietary issue that is important to me and that can't be settled with some facile formula about calories.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:21 PM on May 18 [4 favorites]


hi i haven't addressed any comment to you so I have no idea why you are asking me.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:24 PM on May 18 [4 favorites]


I'm not asking you anything, Drinky Die. I'm saying that it certainly seems like you're trying to turn this thread into another argument about weight loss, and that seems like a big derail.

It's not, on the other hand, a derail to say that it's ok for the AND to sell out to corporations because there's an easy formula to lose weight. I would argue that it's not a very good argument, for all sorts of reasons including that there are important dietary issues that don't have to do with how to lose weight, but it's not a derail. So carry on.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:31 PM on May 18 [1 favorite]


[A couple of comments deleted. Let's the discuss the article posted, and people who want to have personal conversations with each other go to email, please.]
posted by taz at 10:41 PM on May 18


Avoid milk, ArbitraryAndCapricious. WebMD says "calcium appears to be ultimately pulled from bones to escort digested animal protein from any source -- not just dairy products -- on its trek through the body" and "women who ate lots of dairy products had higher rates of bone fractures than women who rarely touched the stuff".

There are cheeses like Gouda with many vitamins that might be otherwise useful, but do your homework on any cheese of which you plan to eat lots. Also, raw coconut oil makes an awesome non-dairy replacement for butter, wonderful stuff. We should all eat more green leafy vegetables for numerous reasons, if osteoporosis concerns get you there, fine.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:29 PM on May 18


GMOs are safe. There is not a single credible scientific study indicating otherwise.1

1 Bell, W., Jones, D. R. & Sharp, N. "Genetic Hybridisation: A Brave New World?", Fringe Science 4:20-1 (2012).
posted by Sonny Jim at 1:03 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Roundup is toxic to humans and remains in food. Who cares if the Roundup-ready genetic modification is safe? Those crops are designed specifically to encourage using excessive quantities of Roundup!

I'm all in favor if you want to genetically engineer a bacteria, fungus, or virus that attacks specific pests while ignoring the crop. Or design an implant for bunnies that lets them eat the weeds but shocks the shit out of their cute fuzzy asses if they eat the crops. Almost anything that outright poisons one eukaryote will harm others at high enough concentrations.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:10 AM on May 19 [9 favorites]


I don't know what the answer is about leafy green versus dairy for calcium, but I wouldn't rely on a 14-year-old Web MD post to settle it.
It is possible to have industry sponsors for a professional conference and still have dependable science, but the sponsors can't be allowed to determine or provide the content. Shocking.
posted by gingerest at 2:17 AM on May 19


The math of weight loss is stupid simple, especially with the awesome tools now available to people who can afford a smart phone. PG, you are way too smart to come at me all, "HERP DERP burn more calories than you eat but HOW DRINKY DIE!?"
The article linked above (Always Hungry? Here's Why) does a great job of laying out the argument for why thinking of weight loss in a simplistic calories in - calories out way is a bad idea, but I'm going to give it another shot in this comment, just because I feel that no one else has laid the case for that out in this thread.

Please bear in mind, I was as skeptical as you are of anything beyond the eat less, exercise more kind of losing weight advice. But it is a mistake to think of the human body as a passive box. It is trivially true that calories ingested must equal calories expended, but that expenditure can take one of many forms. The term that people use for the different ways in which calories ingested can be used is partitioning. Thus the calories ingested can be partitioned into calories that are expended in the form of work (going about day to day activities, running, walking etc.), excreted in the feces (as mentioned above) or stored on the body in glycogen stores or fat cells.

What determines how the calories you ingest are partitioned? Many things, but most scientists in this field are likely to agree that the hormonal mechanisms in your body play a very important role. For example, the higher the levels of insulin you have, the more of those calories likely to be stored as fat. Other hormones play important roles too. Thus the very same calorie ingestion can have different effects on different people, depending on their hormonal makeup. For some people, it makes them corpulent (more of the calories stored as fat), for others it might make them more energetic (more of the calories expended as work).

But what determines the hormones that you have floating around in your body? Again, there are many complicated mechanisms involved, but one of the things we've known about for a really long time is that it depends upon the kinds of food that you eat. Ingesting foods rich in sugars and carbohydrates increases the level of glucose in your blood, which tends to increase the levels of insulin, and thus fat storage. So, all other things being equal, if a larger percentage of your diet comes from carbohydrates, you are likely to have higher levels of insulin in the blood and thus more of the calories you consume will be partitioned towards fat storage (and, not say, into work).

If you think about that, that's quite sad! Rather than using the calories you've ingested to do useful work, your body is endlessly preparing for some kind of future starvation, by laying up stores of fat. But today, you still need to do work and you need energy to do that with. The ultimate consequence (through a number of different signaling pathways) is that you feel hungry and eat yet more food. If a large percentage of that food is again carbohydrate, you are again likely to store much of that as fat, leading to a vicious cycle of excessive eating, fat storage, and feeling hungry.

Bear in mind, this happens to a different degree with different people. For some people, energy partitioning is slanted towards doing immediate work even with high levels of carbohydrate in the diet. The hormones and signals that regulate energy partitioning in your body are way more complicated than this - this is a first-order view of why thinking of weight loss in a calories in - calories out way is a mistake. You have to think in terms of what the body is doing with those calories, and how that affects your appetite.
posted by peacheater at 4:06 AM on May 19 [20 favorites]


How Corporations Corrupt Science at the Public's Expense, previously.
posted by Blasdelb at 4:45 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


[Guys, this is a plea: It's not a weight-loss article, and we've done the "just burn more calories than you eat" argument A MILLION TIMES here. I'm sure everyone will get the chance to do it a million times more, but maybe we can save it for a post that's actually about that?]
posted by taz at 5:00 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


But HFCS isn't any worse than sucrose from sugar cane or sugar beets.

Processing sugarcane and sugarbeets doesn't require mercury. Neither does HFCS, but it's cheaper to make it that way. Hey, almost all HFCS refiners in the US have phased out using mercury! Offer not valid in HFCS manufactured abroad. No, you don't get to choose which variety goes into your bowl of Lucky Charms. Mercury isn't the only byproduct to find its way into HFCS. So, not only is it not chemically identical to table sugar (I mean, you can taste it. Your own tongue can tell the difference between the substances) it often includes dangerous contaminants that are a byproduct of its manufacture. (Beet and cane sugar may have trace amounts of calcium phosphate, which is actually, no-kidding harmless.) No, imported HFCS isn't tested for safety - hell, the USDA can't even stop importers from substituting industrial grade vegetable oil for Extra Virgin olive oil.

You have been sold a phony bill of goods by agribusiness, and you liked it because you feel like you're all rational/skeptic contrarian and stuff. It's good marketing at work.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:19 AM on May 19 [15 favorites]


It's a damn shame this has descended into bickering over pet subjects. The whole point of the article is that the 'science' being presented to professionals in the field (who are pretty much required to attend conferences like these to stay accredited) by corporations with vested interests in having everyone thinking their products are perfectly safe. As mentioned in the article, a good number of the people there were unaware of the sponsorships, or at the very least expected that the presentations they were attending were on the level. A non-zero percentage of attendees took the conference and its lectures at face value, and will go on to present what they were told as fact. Given the historical examples of industry in America twisting, distorting, or outright fabricating research*, I'd have a hard time believing most of these companies if I was literally on fire and they told me that I should try to put out the fire because burning to death is considered unhealthy.

What's next, a conference on sexuality hosted by the Westboro people? A reasoned discussion of climate change hosted by Fox, BP, and our friends in the coal industry?

*After all, four out five doctors smoke Camels, and think you should too.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:16 AM on May 19 [9 favorites]


WebMD has its own problems as a source of health information. It's a for-profit company that relies heavily on pharmaceutical company money, and there have been many allegations that this relationship directly influences content. So if I get advice about osteoporosis from the AND then I have to worry that it's coming from the American Dairy Council, and if I get advice from WebMD then I have to worry that the point of the exercise is to sell me Evista. It's a problem, and as a secondary problem it makes it hard to fight kooks like the anti-vaxers, because it validates the idea that all medical information in the US is suspect.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:30 AM on May 19 [7 favorites]


GMOs are safe. There is not a single credible scientific study indicating otherwise.

There will never be any single credible scientific study indicating otherwise - as long as GMO remains profitable.

Just as most publicly available nutritional and animal rights studies will forever be skewed sponsored by the food industry.
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 8:50 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


There will never be any single credible scientific study indicating otherwise - as long as GMO remains profitable.

Yeah, that's why there's no studies indicating that climate change is real and anthropogenic.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:03 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


"Just as most publicly available nutritional and animal rights studies will forever be skewed sponsored by the food industry."
If you'd like to test this perception against reality, all you'd need do is search pubmed and look at the conflict statements at the bottom of papers. The vast majority of research done on nutrition and animal welfare, the googleable term d'art, is sponsored by federal grants.

The FDA and NIH have also already wasted an obscene amount of money testing whether the nebulous, and poorly defined from a safety standpoint, concept of Genetic Modification is 'dangerous' and for the last forty fucking years found the obvious.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:06 AM on May 19 [4 favorites]


There will never be any single credible scientific study indicating otherwise - as long as GMO remains profitable.


Yeah, this is bullshit. This is why we still don't know that cigarettes cause cancer, seatbelts keep you from dying in a wreck, DDT isn't safe to use as an insecticide, etc. etc. etc....
posted by stenseng at 11:10 AM on May 19


The times, they are a'chaaaangin'
posted by sibboleth at 1:41 PM on May 19


DDT was 40 years ago when even Richard Nixon had to address environmentalist concerns and corporations were learning the danger of independent science. They still don't like it.
posted by gorbweaver at 1:44 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


Wow, Tyrone Hayes is a fucking hero, thanks gorbweaver.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:23 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Tyrone Hayes is a badass of the highest order.
posted by stenseng at 4:00 PM on May 19


jeffburdges: "Roundup is toxic to humans and remains in food. Who cares if the Roundup-ready genetic modification is safe? Those crops are designed specifically to encourage using excessive quantities of Roundup! "

That's a "study" by Séralini, who's a known anti-GMO and anti-herbicide crank. He refused to withdraw his paper that claimed GMOs caused cancer, after heavy scientific criticism against his conclusions, forcing the journal to withdraw it for him. Anything Séralini touches is tainted and can not be trusted.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 6:20 PM on May 19


(Séralini's studies are also extremely iffy because they claim that various GMOs with wildly varying genetic modifications (Bt vs. glyphosate resistance) all cause the same health effects, namely cancers. There's simply no known mechanism for this to happen, unless you believe "GMO" is a monolithic thing, instead of just meaning that the DNA sequence has been altered somehow.)
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 6:23 PM on May 19


Glyphosate definitely has an acute toxicity profile for humans. And Roundup with all its adjuvants appears worse. And humans intake roundup through drinking water as well as food. Also, women have found glyphosate in breast milk.

As I said, the real concerns are simply the quantities of Roundup used because "the dose makes the poison".

Irrelevant derail : I've never even bothered reading about Bt GMOs because anything designed to sell less pesticide sounds like a good idea, but..   Isn't the proposed mechanism simply the "shotgun" way in which the new DNA gets added? I've never heard GMOs themselves criticized except based upon the shear quantity of DNA being injected into the cells. I've never taken such concerns too seriously because : I'd expect one can do the implantation more carefully, like by removing a chromosome from the cell, adding the new DNA along with stuff to splice it in, and reinserting the chromosome.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:12 AM on May 20


Also, I want armies of psyborg bunnies that eat all the weeds while ignoring the crop, both cute and tasty. ;)
posted by jeffburdges at 1:24 AM on May 20


I'm all in favor if you want to genetically engineer a bacteria, fungus, or virus that attacks specific pests while ignoring the crop.

1) This is more or less what Bt corn does, it's just the crop itself that's altered.

2) Introducing a factor outside the crop adds far more risk that anything being done to the crop itself. Ask Australia how well bringing in cane toads to eat the cane beetles went.


Removing an entire chromosome sounds somewhat disasterous. There are various methods of introducing DNA into corn, both by physical "shotgun" methods and biological methods. I've never heard the quantity of DNA as being of concern and I'm having trouble imaging how it could be... The sort of splicing you're imagining takes place in both the physicaly and biological methods I mentioned before - no need to remove the chromosome.
posted by maryr at 8:03 AM on May 20


Well, I'm a Registered Dietitian and as embarrassing as it is for our profession I'm glad this issue is getting a higher profile in the media. There is a large proportion of us (those who don't work for food companies but instead work for hospitals, clinics, and in private practice) who feel that it is a conflict of interest for our professional organization to have food companies as sponsors.

We've been organizing, here's an example. And we've been writing letters to the org.

But we need your help as well. If this has you as disgusted as the rest of us, please voice your concern to the leadership of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Having the public tell them directly that taking food industry funding hurts the credibility of RDs will help us in our efforts to move the organization in a better direction.
posted by antinomia at 2:54 PM on May 21 [2 favorites]


I get the sense from some comments that people think the dietary conference sponsorship described in the article is a sign that food science = quackery. Continuing education credits being provided by corporate sponsors is not limited to the dietary profession, but pretty much every medical accrediting system in existence. Here's an older New England Journal of Medicine perspective piece discussing industry-sponsored continuing medical ed. credits for physicians. It's prevalent in other clinical professions such as nursing, too. Professional conferences for clinicians are sponsored by industry sponsors (pharma, device manufacturers, etc) as well.

Not saying it's right, just noting that it is very wide-spread/not a characteristic unique to the dietary profession.
posted by NikitaNikita at 4:11 PM on May 21 [1 favorite]


Maybe someone other than me will turn this into an FPP:

The Heart Association’s Junk Science Diet

response from the AHA: Chief Science Officer ‘sets record straight’ about diet, science, AHA

response to the response: The AHA’s Absurd Saturated Fat Obsession
posted by and they trembled before her fury at 8:30 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]


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