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We’re going to dispense with formalities this week and go staight to the special mention segment in today’s rants and praise. This week’s special mention goes to Coca-Cola. Despite being the world’s largest producer of obesity-causing sugary beverages, Coca-Cola would like you to believe they care about finding a solution to the obesity epidemic.

Coca-Cola is stepping up to the plate to help bring about a solution to the global obesity epidemic by promoting what they would like you to believe is the cure to the problem. Here it is in a nutshell: quit worrying about calories and get out and move more. That’s right, Coca-Cola wants you to believe that you can exercise your way out of obesity. They want you to believe that you can eat anything you want provided you exercise just a bit more! How nice that would be if it were only true.

 

Corrupting Science

When the facts don’t back up your story, you need to change your story. Unless you have a lot of money that is, in which case you could just change the facts. Coca-Cola has a lot of money and they’ve decided to go with option #2 and buy a few studies to convince people they don’t have to curb their sugar consumption.

 

The New York Times picked up on this and ran an article about how Coca-Cola is funding the Global Energy Balance Network to pay for scientists to shift the blame away from sugar and bad diets. The new tagline could be: Coke has more calories – just burn it up!

 

It’s like a flashback to the 1960’s when the tobacco companies tried to convince us they had seen absolutely no evidence of harm from smoking tobacco.

 

Food and drink manufacturers aren’t alone in this. The drug manufacturers have been using this technique for years to push drugs through the FDA. More on that another day.

 

Bad Science

Dr. Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of the world’s most respected medical journal, The Lancet, recently published a statement declaring that a considerable amount of published research is unreliable at best, if not completely false (read fraudulent).

 

Horton declared, “Much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.”

 

Horton was referring to the fact that major pharmaceutical companies falsify or manipulate tests by taking samples that are too small to be statistically meaningful or hiring test labs or scientists where the lab or scientist has blatant conflicts of interest such as pleasing the drug company to get further grants. At least half of all such tests are worthless or worse he claims.

 

Unfortunately, worthless information like this coming from paid-for studies is being picked up and used by anyone looking to discredit the idea that dieting makes sense if you are overweight. Every day I come across another article suggesting it makes no sense to diet because so many people fail in their attempt.

 

Their solution? Forget about dieting – eat whatever you want, whenever you want. You just need to exercise a bit more!!!

 

Why Crash Diets Fail

There is a reason for the high failure rate in dieting. It’s that people look to find a way to lose weight quickly without giving any thought to the long-term picture. The dieters who approach the problem by using a long-term approach and who choose a diet they can stick to are the ones who find lasting weight loss.

 

If you have a weight problem, your diet needs to be controlled in a permanent fashion. Going on a short term crash diet that has you lose weight quickly only to gain it back down the road is not a solution. This short-term approach is responsible for rebound weight gain and it makes it harder for you to keep your weight in check after the diet because your body adapts and learns to function on fewer calories.

 

PRAISE

 

Your TV might be a low-cost baby sitter but your children could be affected much more than you think by what they are watching.

Did you know that fat cartoon characters lead children to eat more junk food? It’s amazing how simple associations like this have an impact on the behavior of people, especially children. Praise goes to the New York Times for running the article.

 

What’s In A Name? What do you think of when you think of having dessert? Do images of ice cream, cookies and pies come to mind? Is dessert a special treat that is reserved for special occasions?

How we think of things often guides our choices. If you usually avoid dessert because of the calories or the idea that desserts aren’t healthy, you need to reset your thinking and consider fresh fruit. Praise goes to the thekitchn for running this article.

 

Our last praise in this edition of rants and praise goes to James Clear who wrote an article about the power of placebo. We normally see placebo experiments with drugs but James describes how a group of athletes set all-time personal records in every exercise tested when they thought they were being given steroids!

The lifters added an average of 5.8 lbs to their squat during the first 7 weeks of training. When put on fake steroids, they added 41.8 lbs in just 4 more weeks of training. That’s a 7x increase in nearly half the time! Read about the power of placebo here.