07 April, 2009

Dishonesty In Science Media (Toaster Burns Bullshit #1)

Sometimes one reads things so egregious that they can't help but let out a snarl under their breath at the dishonest pomposity of it. Today I was combing the Huffington Post, hoping, perhaps naively, that there'd be some good science coverage there. Instead, I found this. I did a double take, reading it twice to see if this dude really thought we were stupid enough to buy into his bull. Then I saw that he was in earnest, and I literally roared at the screen. Luckily I am alone in the lab today, or else my lab mates might think me even more daft.

So I turned off the Dr. Dre and turned on Tricky thinking that perhaps it wouldn't seem so stupid after I'd calmed down a bit. I spend 2h splattering data here and there trying to distract myself, but, no, I am still pissed off at this bullshit.

So here is #1 in what is probably going to become a dihearteningly long series:
Toaster Burns Bullshit. Point by point:

(Context: It should be noted that Fred Hahn is pouting, spouting, and posturing here after appearing on the Dr. Oz show.)

What was not discussed, to my great chagrin, was the issue of diet and obesity.

This issue is of great concern to me, having two daughters in public school where the cafeterias are obesity central.

Here we see Fred Hahn trying to scare up some parental street cred. Teh Stupid comes later, so bear with, please.

I was quite shocked that Dr. Oz failed to ask me a single question on the issue. Either he didn't read my book or found what I had to say on the issue too diametrically opposed to his views. But whatever the case may be, he ignored the issue. A shame, because he has the power to sway millions of Americans as to how they should eat for optimal health.

Here's the pouting.

If your child is eating real food, you are on the right track. Real is defined by foods that once either walked, crawled, swam, flew or grew.
Logically, this includes bugs. "Real food" does not include wax fruits, plastic pancakes, or Play-doh. Nor your Doritos. So if you're not banning your children from everything that came in a plastic bag or a can or made your life a little bit easier in any way whatsoever, then YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG!!!11!! And therefore you're obviously a nasty, horrible person who doesn't love your kids as much as Fred Hahn loves his.
If your child is eating food that was manufactured, you are on the wrong track.
See? You're a failure. Shame on you!!!
The mainstay of your child's diet should be fat and protein. Next in line -- vegetables and some fruit.

This is the opening shot of Teh Stupid.

Refrain from grain in all its forms. In the end, grain is nothing more than sugar, and sugar is caustic to the system. Perhaps this is why Dr. Oz did not bring up the issue. He would have had to debate me on this since he supports eating grains and is essentially anti-low carb. Low carb diets have been shown over and over again to be healthful as well as the most potent formula to combat obesity and diabetes.

And here's the rest of the can.

This, right here, is what pissed me off right thoroughly. This is dishonest, and this is bullshit.


C6H12O6 (aq) + 6O2 (g) → 6CO2 (g) + 6H2O (l) ΔG = -2880 kJ per mole of C6H12O6

This is kind of important. You know, it's just the chemical reaction that drives ATP synthesis and allows metazoan cells to live. But, ZOMG!, it starts with SUGAR! And SUGAR is CAUSTIC to "THE SYSTEM"! Therefores, the glycolysis that drives cellular respiration must also be CAUSTIC and that means it's EVIL and is singlehandedly responsible for the obesity epidemic in the U.S.A.! Damn you, thou sinister hexokinase! How could you ever do this to us, o' glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase!? ZOMG ZOMG ZOMG! Teh Evil Grains!

Figure A: Bread is evil, you just don't know it.

Yes, fats can be oxidized and made into sugar to be used in cellular respiration for energy, but to recommend that children eat a diet primarily made up of fats and proteins is irresponsible and dangerous. Mr. Hahn is making a broad prescription here when a much more nuanced dietary solution is called for (maybe you get that if you buy his book). Letting a child eat lard and Slim Jims fufills his requirements (and both lard and Slim Jims once walked about), but this isn't going to help them at all, and in fact will make them worse off in the long run (if nothing else, due to the nitrosamines in the Slim Jims). Low carb diets work for some obese adults, but that does not make them a panacea, especially not for children who are naturally going to need a diverse array of nutritious foods to develop normally. It is one thing to recommend not allowing kids to eat candy and soda, but it is quite another to tell parents, who may be just as poorly informed as Fred Hahn himself, that the whole wheat bread of their childrens' peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich is making them fat (more likely to be the minivan and X-box than anything else, really).

FURTHERMORE, since he has demonized natural starches as being nothing more than evil sugar, I find it puzzling that he has not also condemned meats due to their high glycogen content. What's up with this? Just as starch in grains is a polymer of glucose, so too is glycogen, just with a different tertiary structure. Seriously, if you're going to be stupid, please at least be consistent.

It's a tad sad when an expert as famous as he is side-steps science in favor of a personal agenda. This is not to say Dr. Oz is purposefully keeping the truth from the public. It is to say, however, that he has an immense responsibility to learn all there is to know on the subject if he is going to place himself in the public eye and wield such enormous influence.
And here's the egotistical posturing, which Mr. Hahn manages to pull off with all the grace and subtlety of a 4-year-old brat. It is also dishonest for him to try to question Dr. Oz's credibility and authority when he didn't cite a single research article, nor even a newspaper article.

It should also be noted that Fred Hahn is the CEO of Serious Strength* and has never heard the term "conflict of interest" before.

*Located in the Upper West Side and Waldorf-Astoria of New York City, New York. Perhaps the rather insular environment has fostered his ability to deceive those who buy his book, his clients, and maybe even himself. Here's a gem from the Serious Strength website FAQs: "The exercise scientists use a treadmill fatigue/oxygen uptake test to guesstimate a person's level of fitness."


DuWayne Brayton said...

This guy gives legitimate food nutters a bad name!!! Seriously.

I really get irritable when people start going off on wack-job tangents about food like this. While it may not be my thing, I can respect vegetarians - not my thing but it is really easy to stay quite healthy and not eat meat. Having spent significant portions of my life, living with vegetable people, I can even cook some kick-ass veggie foods (I have to admit that I have actually added beef or chicken broth to TVP (whey type), though never when actually cooking for a veggie).

I can even understand vegans, though I am not as comfortable with the health aspects.

But this guy's bullshit is actually quite unhealthy. Not much different than loony diets, such as the orange juice and oranges diet, or the no protein diet. It's all fucking bullshit that keeps people from getting the nutrition that the human body requires. Bad enough when these loons do it to themselves - but it seems pretty evile to do that to one's kids. We don't know what the lack of certain nutrients does to the developing human body and sorry, but when we have absolutely no clue, it really isn't a good idea.

Toaster Sunshine said...

I tried to be a vegetarian for 3 year and wound up losing ~15kg. I just couldn't get enough calories per stomach volume to keep weight on, although I might have been able to if I'd been willing to eat much more processed soy fake meat. It's simply not for every metabolism.

We do know quite a bit about the effects of many nutrients' absence on developing children. No vitamin D leads to rickets. No iodine leads to cretinism. Too little prenatal folate increases rates of spina bifida and encephalocele. I'm sure there're other examples that I just can't recall at the moment. However, cutting out all starches could seriously screw up the developing insulin-blood sugar balance, even if doing so might help some children lose a few kilograms of chub.

Hermitage said...

These are the same mging dingbats who try to put their cats on vegetarian diets because they can't 'bear' to live with a meat-eating organism. It took 1000 kabillion eons for humanity to work out how to raise babies without rickets or knock-knees or some shit. Don't go f-ing with it now.