Diets come and go, like fashion it seems..but the diet that grabbed the headlines last year was the Dukan Diet, said to be the reason the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, managed to shed those pounds to squeeze into her wedding dress for that royal do of the year.
It now transpires that the inventor of the diet, Dr Pierre Dukan,70, is to be hauled up by the French Ethics Council for breach of the medical ethics code. In a book out in January, the star nutritionist proposes bumping up A-level equivalent pupils’ marks if they manage to maintain an acceptable Body Mass Index, a measure of body fat based on height and weight. The French College of Physicians has lodged a complaint against Dr Dukan because his remarks could prove harmful for pupils already suffering from obesity or anorexia.
The good doctor’s intention is quite clear and should be lauded, what with the large proportion of obese children and the hazards it poses towards their health. he said: “There is nothing unhealthy about educating youngsters about nutrition.”
“My idea would change nothing for those who have no need to get thinner. But for those who do, it would only motivate them to lose weight.”
The Dukan Diet has been a rave favorite with celebrities worldwide – its followers include Jennifer Lopez and Victoria Beckham. But it has also drawn quite a bit of controversy. The British Dietetic Diet has branded it the ‘worst diet of 2011’, claiming that there was no scientific basis and that it was harmful to cut out food groups.
What the diet entails is nothing new essentially, it bears resemblance to the time-tested Atkins Diet which has been around for decades. It comprises of a complicated four-stage approach based on eating lots of protein-rich meat and fish and cutting out carbohydrates : the “attack“, “cruise“, “consolidation” and “stabilisation” phases.
During “attack”, which lasts five to 10 days, participants are meant to eat nothing but lean meat, fish, eggs and low-fat dairy products – plus a tablespoon and a half of oatbran a day.
In “cruise” they are allowed some vegetables every other day, but no spuds. Their oatbran allowance goes up half a tablespoon. This can go on for months, until a dieter’s “true weight” has been achieved.
Those strong-willed enough to achieve that aim can then start eating some bread and fruit once more, a period known as “consolidation”.
Finally, participants reach “stabilisation”, when they can eat whatever type of food they like – apart from on Thursdays.(don’t ask me why, but you can eat anything you like on the other days, provided its on the list of the first two phases).
Let me state upfront a disclaimer that I am not a soothsayer or fengshui expert, but some healthcare trends which I can forsee this year were already ‘works in progress’ and therefore have a high chance of seeing the light of day in 2010.
1.Cutting Down The Salt – nothing new, you might say; but recent evidence in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that reducing salt intake to 1 rounded teaspoon daily would “prevent up to 120,000 heart disease cases, 66,000 strokes, and save 92,000 lives in the USA alone every single year.” So, there is a renewed push by health authorities to push for a reduction in the amount of salt in packaged and restaurant foods by 25 percent over the next five years.
2.A Renewed Anti-Smoking Campaign- while the dangers of smoking are widely accepted and smoke-prone countries like India and Turkey have banned smoking in public in 2009, the frontiers where smoking is banned in bars and restaurants will be pushed even further. Such a ban has been imposed this year, for instance, in North Carolina, the leading tobacco-producing state in the US and home of R J Reynolds. Pretty unthinkable a decade ago! Other countries have begun to raise the prices of smokes (quite ineffective, I must say) and even put vivid diseased organ pics on the packs.
3.A Ban on TransFats – eating foods containing transfats, such as french fries, doughnuts, pastries and cookies, causes the bad LDL cholesterol to go up and the good HDL cholesterol to go down, leading to an increased risk of stroke, heart attacks and diabetes. I think we can see a consumerist movement towards banning transfat coming up. In fact, in California, restaurants are banned from using transfats beginning this year.
4.Stem Cells Galore- the progress in using undifferentiated cells to morph into tissues and organs seemed to have spluttered the last decade. But this year should see the explosive use of this technique to repair damaged tissues and organs. Ranging from damaged joints to breast enlargement, the demand is set to rise with improved techniques, such as using one’s own cells (autologous method).
5.Surge in Rejuvenative Medicine- whereas people were content initially to just look good and resorted to cosmetic surgery to achieve this, now there is awareness to also feel good – hence the popularity of antiaging medicine with physical and mental enhancement techniques.
6.Ban on Texting while Driving – using mobile phones have been blamed for many traffic accidents, but the increasing popularity of sending texts may account for more accidents than talking on the mobile( well, at least your eyes are still on the road!). More states in the US (19 to date) have now started to ban texting while driving. This is likely to be the trend in many other countries as well.
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Where there’s a pandemic, there’s profits to be made..and even the most reputable of companies will fall prey to their marketing strategists in order to boost the financial bottom-line. Take the case of the well-known pillar of health foods – Kellogg’s.
Take a closer look at the bottom half of the package and you can sniff the marketing overhype, especially as the world is facing the resurgence of the H1N1 pandemic. Not only is the claim misleading but the timing bad, especially when the H1N1-conscious public is grappling with the shortage of flu vaccines. Some city councils have sent letters to the US FDA asking Kellogg’s to back its claim.(The FDA has jurisdiction over false or misleading labeling. FDA officials are not permitted to discuss specific cases under consideration and declined to comment on this one.)
I’ve written in an earlier posting “Pandemic,Panic and Profits”, about the way some multinationals are using herd psychology in these troubled times to imply, by soft association, the link between H1N1 infection and various remedies. But this one takes the cake..the FDA may have the last word yet..
Update 6 Nov 2009: Kellogg Co just announced that they will pull out the immunity claims from all their cereal boxes. See here.
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No, I’m not going to debate on whether he should be in the White House. Its really about President Barack Obama’s health routine, which is something most Americans would do well to emulate. Those who saw pics of Obama bathing on the Hawaiian beaches last summer will note his lean but muscular physique. Take a look:
So, at 47, how does he keep in shape? Well, by design certainly rather than by accident. Despite his busy schedule as President, he wakes up 6.45 in the morning and does his workouts daily, both cardio and weights. After dressing up, he reads several newspapers and has breakfast with his family before sending off his two daughters to school. Then its a 30 sec walk downstairs to the Oval Office just before 9 am.
Buts its not all sedentary behind-the-desk work, as he has been known to roam the corridors. According to the International Herald Tribune, Obama tends to roam the halls; one day, he turned up in the office of his press secretary, Robert Gibbs, who had his feet up on the desk when the boss walked in. “Wow, Gibbs,” the press secretary recalls the president saying, “Just got here and you already have your feet up.”
For Obama, lunch generally means a cheeseburger, chicken or fish in his small dining room off the Oval Office. There is a new addition to White House cuisine: the refrigerators are stocked with the president’s favorite organic brew, Honest Tea, in Obama’s preferred flavors of Black Forest Berry and Green Dragon.
In the evening,he eats dinner with the family and often returns to work reading briefing papers for the next day, often up to 10pm (unhealthy?). An indication of what he likes to eat is seen by the appointment of his former chef in Chicago, Sam Kass, an advocate of healthy, environment-friendly foods, as a new chef in the White House.
Considering the problem of obesity and today’s preponderance of lifestyle diseases like diabetes,hypertension and heart disease, many would do well to emulate his leadership by example, as far as a healthy lifestyle is concerned. And that includes most of today’s leaders too.