Friday, June 30, 2006


What do Malkolm Alburquenque, Kirk Alyn, Dean Cain, Stephan Bender, Gerard Christopher, Bud Collyer, Timothy Daly, Danny Dark, Tim Dutton, Jeff East, Paul Hasenyager, Bob Hastings, Ralph Hodges, Emmanuel Jacomy, Yuri Lowenthal, Jason Marsden, George Newbern, John Newton, Michael O'Hearn, Sam Parker, Christopher Reeve, George Reeves, Johnny Rockwell, Brandon Routh, Aaron Smolinski, Beau Weaver, Blayne Weaver, Tom Welling, Chris Wilson and David Wilson have in common? That's right they have all played Clark Kent\Superman.

I've been a huge fan ever since I was a boy and I'm really looking forward to the new movie coming out; Superman Returns.

The press seem to be trying to create some controversy though. Have a read of this article from the Melbourne age .....

Up in the sky, it was a superhero straying to fey. Studio bosses hope director Bryan Singer has stopped the rot in the latest outing.

WHEN the first big-screen Superman, Kirk Alyn, hit the mean streets of Metropolis in 1948's Superman, a man in a uniform still got respect; even if the uniform comprised a red cape, a tight blue body suit, calf-high red boots and a pair of Jantzen-style swim trunks with faux belt.

Despite Superman Mark I's showy get-up back in 1948, no one drew on its silliness to speculate about the Man of Steel's sexuality or even workday fashion sense. The obvious rhetorical question was, "What was he thinking when he put that outfit together?" The Cold War was on and Superman fought for "truth, justice and the American way". The fact that he could fly made people think, in the iconography of the day, more of Pan Am than Peter Pan; more of steel-bodied jet than boy who wouldn't grow up."

But then all the gay stuff started cropping up on the internet and then ... The LA Times ran a long piece," says Bryan Singer, the man behind Superman's latest and most expensive big-screen outing. "I actually think Superman is probably the most heterosexual character in any movie I've ever made. I suspect the reaction is more a judgement about me and some of the themes I pursued in X-Men, and Superman is an innocent bystander."

What Singer is talking about is that, on the eve of the release of Superman Returns, Singer's $US260 million ($A355 million) relaunch of the clean-cut crime fighter and mildmannered reporter, there's a very 21st-century media frenzy playing out. It boils down to this.

Doesn't Superman seem a little, well, gay? Not that there's anything wrong with that, as Seinfeld would say, but in both his incarnations, crime fighter and reporter, he also seems a bit closeted. The Las Vegas chorus-boy clothes, the lame excuses about why he couldn't ever marry, the Jimmy Olsen thing (whatever that was). It's hardly an unusual area of speculation in Hollywood, although it usually centres on reallife action stars rather than comic book superheroes.

Fearful that the emphasis on the Man of Steel's softer, sensitive side might turn off the legion of hard-core fans who want to see Lex Luthor brought low, the Superman PR machine has been in overdrive to straighten out his image before the film's debut."

When I made the first two X-Men movies," Singer says, "I did actually throw in a few metaphors about the mutants facing the same lack of understanding. I had this coming-out scene in X-2 where the mother says to the kid, 'Have you ever thought about not being a mutant?' So I suppose it put the issue in people's minds. But we're trying here to revive the oldest superhero franchise, so I was pretty focused on the Superman-Lois romantic dynamic."

It's partly to do with the fact that Singer resisted studio pressure to go with a well-known actor for his leading man, as Christopher Nolan did in casting Christian Bale for his Gotham City crime fighter in Batman Begins last year.

Instead, Singer opted for an unknown, the very boyish Brandon Routh, 26, and stuck with his choice despite a stand-off with studio honchos. The execs preferred someone better known but would have settled for anyone with a macho swagger. But first the gay news magazine, The Advocate, went with a cover story last month that posed the question: "How Gay Is Superman?" And suddenly it was out there.

The latest pantheon of superheroes and their studio handlers don't make it easy for themselves. The rather theatrical outfits they get around in - the capes, the tights, the stylised bat and and, in Superman's case, the muscular "S" logo and a penchant for garish colours - definitely have a flamboyant quality.

And then there's the fact they're either loners (Daredevil, the Ben Affleck character who brings to mind the 1980s New York subway vigilante, Bernard Goetz) or have close mentoring connections with younger males (Superman's Jimmy Olsen or Batman's Robin).

When the openly gay director, Joel Schumacher, did his second Caped Crusader foray, Batman and Robin (1987), he went all-out on the swish factor: George Clooney, as another celebrity Caped Crusader (following Michael Keaton and Val Kilmer), had prominent nipples and he and Robin, Chris O'Donnell, got around Wayne Manor like a pair of dilettantes. The franchise went into limbo and Singer might be smart to steer clear of celebrity casting.

Superman Returns cost $US260 million. This film is serious business. It would have to do even better than last year's Batman Begins, which made $US370 million worldwide, to be judged a success because Batman Begins cost less.

Before Singer dug a steel trench around his boy, Routh, almost as many names had floated in and out of contention for Superman as later swirled around James Bond.

Brendan Fraser, Josh Lucas, Scott Speedman, Jude Law, and Martin Henderson were among them. Tom Welling, of the Superman TV spinoff Smallville, was also a contender. But the guy the studio wanted was actor Jim Caviezel, Mel Gibson's Jesus Christ in The Passion of the Christ, and there was quite a standoff between studio and director.

Singer resisted and his ambivalence is understandable. After all, they're both messianic types with distinctive sartorial styles on the job - Kal-El, the ethnic Kryptonese name Superman changed to a WASPy Clark Kent, had a better haircut - who both use a superlative in their stage names. But Superman isn't Superstar and each brings way too much baggage for a neat fit: overlay a Christian cross over the man of steel's S and the result looks like a dollar sign.

That's not a good box-office look; not for a $US200million sci-fi extravaganza that requires clear, uncomplicated narrative lines. Suddenly, any number of action scenes could ignite a full-scale theological debate.

In one, Superman loses his footing, takes a deep sea plunge, fails to walk on water, gets a lungful, then has a sort of baptism: enough competing scriptural kryptonite to blow the scene. And then there's Lois Lane. In this film she's a mum and, while engaged to a rich newsroom executive at The Daily Planet, has never married. So after 60 years of honest newspaper journalism, and a little judicious flirting, is she now Mary Magdalene?

"I felt that our Superman needed to look like he came out of a certain evolutionary process and fit a certain look that we're familiar with, but that it just doesn't work if we see him and immediately think of actor X or Y," says Singer."

We're trying to reinvent the Superman franchise, 20 years after the last Christopher Reeves film (Superman IV: Quest for Peace), so we're not going to hitch our fate to someone's celebrity."

For Christ's sake, it's only a film!!! Sit down, shut up, and enjoy it.....

Thursday, June 29, 2006

A history of Diabetes (timeline)

Antiquity through Renaisssance

1552 BC
Ebers papyrus written in Egypt. First document referring to something that could be diabetes.

late 3rd century BC
Apollonius of Memphis describes a condition with the terms "without retention" (of urine) and "without delay" (of urination).

Apollonius of Memphis
late 2nd century BC
First known use of the word diabetes, by Demetrios of Apameia.

1st century AD
Celsus writes an encyclopedia on medicine that includes a description of a condition likely to be diabetes, calls it "excessive pouring out of urine" and causing "emaciation and danger.".


2nd century
Aretaeus writes first clinical description of diabetes, says it is infrequent.

ca 160
Galen, considered the most influential physician of Roman period, writes short description that emphasizes thirst, says he has seen only two cases and that it is a kidney disorder.


ca 500
Date very approximate, quite likely earlier. Diabetes recognized in Hindu medicine during what is called the Brahman period. First descriptions of sugar in the urine and occurrence in obese individuals (type 2).

Avicenna, most prominent of the Arab physicians (although he was Persian), describes diabetes based on Galen's work, adds details such as the presence of carbuncles.

The word diabetes first appears in an English book, though it is in Middle English - diabete.

Paracelsus, major Renaissance physician and author, refers to diabetes at least five times in his works.


ca 1550
Geronimo Cardona (a physician but better known as a mathematician) finds that the volume of urine is less than the fluids consumed by a person with diabetes. The idea that urine is greater had been introduced by Galen 14 centuries previously, and persisted into the 19th century.

Over 100 authors mention or write about diabetes.

Seventeenth and eighteenth centuries

Thomas Willis (England) states that the urine of diabetics is sweet, a fact not recognized since the time of early Hindu medicine. Also associates diabetes with "good fellowship and guzzling down of ... wine." His observations initiate a new era of diabetes research in England.

Matthew Dobson (England) evaporates diabetic urine and finds substance like brown sugar in appearance and taste. Also finds a sweetish taste of sugar in the blood of diabetics. Observes that diabetes is fatal in less than five weeks in some, and is a chronic condition in others - type 1 and type 2.

John Rollo (England) successfully treats a patient with a high fat and protein diet after observing that sugar in the urine increases after eating starchy food. Considered the first significant approach to the treatment of diabetes. <----Hello? Diabetes Association? 1797!!!
Nineteenth and early twentieth centuries

Claude Bernard discovers that sugar is formed by the liver (glycogen), and this is the same sugar found in the urine of diabetics.

Claude Bernard

Paul Langerhans, while a medical student in Berlin, describes islands of cells in the pancreas. These were later found to be the source of insulin, and were called the "islets of Langerhans."

Paul Langerhans
Minkowski and von Mering (University of Strasbourg) find that removing the pancreas from dogs results in diabetes.

Oatmeal diet ("cure") introduced by Von Noorden. Daily allowance is approximately eight ounces of oatmeal mixed with eight ounces of butter, prepared as a gruel, eaten every two hours.

George Ludwig Zuelzer extracts a pancreatic substance that he then injects into five patients. Sugar is reduced or disappears but the patients experience unacceptable side-effects.

Jean de Meyer (Belgium) proposes the name "insulin" (Latin: insula, island) for the unknown substance in the pancreas.

S.R. Benedict devises new method to measure urine sugar (Benedict's Solution).

Jean de Meyer
Frederick Allen introduces "starvation treatment," or "starvation diet."

1921 - 1979

Nicolae (Nicolus, Nicolai, NC) Paulescu (Paulesco), a distinguished Romanian scientist, publishes article describing his successful isolation of insulin, calling it "pancreine." Publication is several months before Banting and Best publish their results. Obtains patent for it in 1922. Achievement not recognized until 50 years later.

Frederick Banting and his student assistant Charles Best successfully isolate insulin (initially called "iletin) from dog pancreases at the University of Toronto (using facilities and resources provided by MacLeod). James Collip works on purifying it. Findings are published in early 1922.

Frederick Banting

In Toronto, Leonard Thompson, age 14 and 65 pounds, (143kg) is the first human treated with insulin. Initial attempt (January 11) not satisfactory. Collip further purifies it, and the second injection succeeds (January 23).

Eli Lilly and Company (Indianapolis) start commercial production of insulin. Although the Toronto group had by now decided to call the substance "insulin," Ely Lilly names their product "Isletin Insulin."

Banting and MacLeod awarded the Nobel Prize, share proceeds with Best and Collip.

ca 1925
Home testing for sugar in the urine. Procedure is to mix in a test tube 8 drops urine with 6 cc (1 tsp=5 cc) of a solution provided by the doctor (Benedict's solution). The tube is then put into boiling water for five minutes. If sugar is present, the liquid is greenish (light), yellow (moderate) or red/orange (heavy).

An oral medication called "horment" or "glukohorment" developed in Europe by a commercial firm. Originally claimed to be a replacement for insulin, but (as with earlier non-commercial efforts), side-effects were unacceptable.

First national diabetes association formed: the Diabetic Association (UK). Founders were HG Wells (the writer) and Dr RD Lawrence. Both had diabetes.

In a series of research papers published from 1936 to 1939, Himsworth (UK) finds that diabetics fall into two types based on "insulin sensitivity."

August Loubatières (France), while evaluating an anti-bacterial drug for the treatment of typhoid fever finds that some patients died of prolonged low blood sugar. He discusses this with a colleague and research starts that ultimately results in the development of the first acceptable oral medication for type 2 diabetes in the mid-50's.

Food exchange system introduced. (The American Diabetes Association, the American Dietetic Association, and the U.S. Public Health Service.)

Lawrence and Bornstein (UK) are able to measure the amount of insulin in the blood of a group of ten diabetics, and find that those who are young have no insulin, and those who are older and obese show insulin.

Yallow and Berson develop radioimmunological assay (RIA), a procedure that can be used to measure insulin with much greater precision than earlier techniques. Yallow awarded Nobel prize in 1977.

First strips for testing blood glucose (Ames).

First blood glucose meter (Ames).

Type 1 and Type 2 formally recognized by the American Diabetes Association. (Err this was worked out in 1776!! Does the American Diabetes Association always work this fast? Sheesh!) Type 1 was also called Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM), and Type 2 was called Non Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (NIDDM). These names were dropped in 2003.

Since 1979
Insufficient time has passed for a historical perspective to develop about key events since 1979. The only one that almost certainly will be regarded as a milestone is the the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT), which confirmed a relationship between blood sugar levels and the development of complications.

Principal sources:

American Diabetes Association. Milestones in Diabetes Treatment. Diabetes Forecast 1998;61:76-80.

David Mendosa. Meter Memories (, and History of Blood Glucose Meters (

Notelovitz, MB. Milestones in the History of diabetes - A brief survey. South African Medical Journal 1970;44;40; 1158-61. Verlag; 1989.

Papaspyros NS. The history of diabetes mellitus (second edition). Stuttgart: Georg Thieme Verlag; 1989.

Sanders, LJ. The philatelic history of diabetes:In search of a cure. Alexandria, Virginia: American Diabetes Association.

von Engelgardt, Dietrich (ed). 1989. Diabetes:Its medical and cultural history. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

A couple of funnies

Q: Ever wonder about people who pay $2 for a bottle of Evian water?
A: Just spell "Evian" backwards!
From "the Late Show with David Letterman"

Top ten ways to annoy your waiter

10. Eight hour lunch, two dollar tip.
9. Ask, "Excuse me, are you a really bad singer, or a really bad actor?"
8. After he describes each special, you shout, "Garbage!"
7. Whenever he walks by, cough and mutter, "Minimum wage".
6. Every few seconds, yell, "More waffles, Cuomo!"
5. Insist that before ordering, you be allowed to touch the London broil.
4. Tie tablecloth around neck and say, "You wouldn't charge Superman for dinner, would you?"
3. Every time you eat or drink, cough really hard.
2. As he walks by to the kitchen, scream, "He's gonna spit in the chowder!"
1. Three words: eat the check.

No fish diet can make you depressed

The Melbourne Age had this article a couple of days ago, stating that "People with a diet low in fish oil are more likely to suffer mood disorders, cardiac problems and other health conditions"

I have reproduced some extracts and I have added some comments.

A study by researchers at Sydney's Black Dog Institute found there was a plausible link between high rates of depression and bipolar disorder and low consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids. Full paper here.(pdf)

These important fats are found in seafood, wild game and plants, but are rapidly disappearing from the western diet.

There has been, for some years now, an increase in popularity for game meats and seafood. Also, the popularity of pasture fed farm animals (as opposed to grain fed) is increasing as well.This is an encouraging sign as people are increasing their Omega-3 EFAs, albeit, unknowingly.

The study also found that mothers who had lower levels of Omega-3 in their breast milk were more likely to suffer from postnatal depression.

Image of Professor Gordon Parker from the Black Dog Institute's website

Lead researcher and institute director Professor Gordon Parker (above) said Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, found in fish, have in many cases been replaced by saturated fats from farm animals and Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids from common vegetable oils.

"These changes have led to a 10-fold increase in the ratio of omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids in the Western diet," Prof Parker said. The Omega-3 to Omega-6 ration is a subject touched upon by Drs. Eades and Dr.Loren Cordain. I strongly suggest you browse their websites for further research.

Research has shown that changes in the level of fatty acids in the diet are linked to the rise in cardiovascular disease, depression and other neurological disorders.

Omega-3 supplements are becoming increasingly popular among people with mood disorders because they're believed to be a practical and simple treatment. Good examples of Omega-3 supplements are Cod liver oil (liquid form) and Flaxseed oil capsules.

Flaxseed Oil
Cod Liver Oil

Prof Parker said much work is still needed to be done to determine which Omega-3 fatty acid, and in what ratio to Omega-6 fatty acids, was likely to have the greatest benefit and in what dosage. As stated above, people are increasing their Omega-3 oils by eating more fish, pasture feed beef, game meat and supplements. Research by Dr. Loren Cordain and Drs. Eades (also mentioned above) suggest that the ideal ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 should be as close to 1:1 as is possible.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

School Doughnut row

As a follow up to this article, some more information was published in today's Herald-Sun.

It seems a 24 hour store with a drive through is not enough for Krispy Kreme. Now they are using schools as franchisees. Perhaps Victorian schools should follow the example from Williamstown North Primary School. They swapped their chocolate fundraiser in favour of staging a fun run that earned them just as much as the chocolate drive.

Up to 50 Victorian schools have signed up with Krispy Kreme doughnuts to raise funds, leaving health experts and parents' groups furious.

The American doughnut chain -- which opens its first Victorian store in Narre Warren today -- will provide kids with cut-price doughnuts to sell to raise cash for their schools.
Nutritionists are horrified the international chain is encouraging children to eat fat-laden doughnuts while the nation is in the grip of an obesity crisis.

Almost 400 NSW schools ran Krispy Kreme fundraisers within months of the first Australian store opening in 2003.

A glazed Krispy Kreme doughnut has about 836 kilojoules (200 calories), with half coming from fat.

A fundraising box of a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts costs $8.

Schools on-sell them for $13, netting a $5 profit per box. There is a minimum purchase of 50 boxes.

A company spokesman yesterday said about 50 not-for-profit Victorian organisations had registered to raise funds through Krispy Kreme, but would not disclose how many were schools.

The company will launch the details of its Victorian fundraising policy in the next two weeks.

Statistics show about 10,000 Victorian children become obese or overweight every year.

Kelly Neville, from Nutrition Australia's Healthy Eating Schools program, said the Krispy Kreme fundraising was appalling.

"It is horrifying. Krispy Kremes are very high in saturated fat and are larger than other doughnuts," the dietitian said.

She said the fundraising program would encourage children to eat more doughnuts and contribute to the obesity problem.

Nutrition Australia recently released a Fundraising Ideas for Healthy Kids manual which lists a number of alternatives.

"We have seen some schools take the risk and drop hugely successful junk-food drives in favour of staging a fun run," Ms Neville said.

Obesity expert Professor Boyd Swinburn said Krispy Kreme was undoing the programs to reduce childhood obesity.

"They are undermining all the hard work that the State Government, schools and parents are doing," he said.

"All junk food should absolutely be banned from school fundraising."

Parents' groups have joined the experts in calling for junk-food bans.

They say chocolate, lolly, pie and especially doughnut drives should be dropped.

The State Government plans to ban sugary soft-drinks at schools.

But parents say schoolground bans are pointless when their children return home with boxes of junk food to sell.

Parents Victoria president Elaine Crowle said schools with good healthy eating policies were hypocritical by raising money through junk-food drives.

"They really defeat the purpose of having healthy eating at school," she said.

Ms Crowle urged schools to be wary of Krispy Kreme.

"I suggest schools look very carefully at the nutritional value of Krispy Kremes and not just at the dollar signs."

Victorian Parents Council executive officer Jo Silver said junk-food drives should be used in moderation.

"Parents need to consider the health food messages their children are learning at school and should think about other fundraising alternatives."

Williamstown North Primary School scrapped its chocolate fundraiser -- that netted about $4000 per year -- in favour of staging a Golden Circle fun run that earned them just as much.

Latest edit: A colleague at work has just told me that at 10 O'clock this morning, the queue at Krispy Kreme was two hours long!!! He was going to stay but had more important things to do.....

I didn't realise how many people have been suckered in by this glazed poison. Kind of makes me wish I had gotten in to cardiology as a career.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Horde of the rings

Is it the sugar, the fat or the secret ingredient? Chris Johnston investigates what makes Krispy Kreme doughnuts so popular.

THE hordes queue up to eat Krispy Kreme doughnuts - but the hordes also queue up for the honour of working for them.

At a football club in the outermost of Melbourne's outer suburbs, 1000 people - school leavers, students, mums, dads, grandmums, granddads and new Australians - lined up to work for the American superbrand.

The footy club was the Casey Scorpions. It provided the venue for the fast-food chain's imminent arrival in Melbourne, hosting a vast recruitment drive for a day last month. There were 110 jobs going at Krispy Kreme's first Melbourne store, at Fountain Gate, and at its factory in Dandenong South.

The hopefuls waited for their turn to shine in a footy function room, all dressed up before a panel of doughnut managers, in a scene not a million miles from an Australian Idol audition. Some hopefuls waited five hours, during which they were indoctrinated into the corporate thinking behind the food cult that is Krispy Kreme.

The company's human resources manager, Michelle Filo, ran the show, co-ordinating group exercises such as the "human knot" to detect "leadership qualities" and "the ability to have fun". Applicants also addressed the group as a way of assessing their confidence.

Then she introduced the product - the fabled doughnuts. A buzz of anticipation filled the room. "Stand up if you have never tasted a Krispy Kreme," she said, at which point company staffers at the back of the room - in uniform - scurried forth with boxes, holding them aloft in one hand like silver-service waiters carrying Michelin-rated exotica. People whooped and hollered. Doughnuts were inhaled. "What do you think?" asked Filo. "Yum, huh?"

She then asked the mob to recite where the first Melbourne store will be, when it will open and what time - 6.30am - which, amazingly, they all know. She gave a spiel about the company and how great it is: "Who would have ever thought a doughnut shop would have a 24-hour drive-through!" She outlined the bubbly attitude necessary to work there. "It's all about helping people," she said. "Helping your workmates and the customers. Helping someone to their car with 20-dozen Original Glazed, helping the barista to make milkshakes if he is snowed under, cheering up a customer if they come in with a bad attitude."

Applicants then waited for one-on-one interviews, in which they were asked questions about expectations, frustrations, accomplishments, personality type and conflict resolution. Later, Filo says the detailed hype-laden process is to find "people aligned to our culture, people with bounce, energy and passion". She says the company subscribes to the famed Fish! Philosophy, from the "cold and smelly" Pike Place fishmarket in Seattle where all the workers are constantly happy and productive.

"It's about keeping the energy levels alive," she says. "We hire primarily for attitude, then train for skill.

"Krispy Kreme is about giving a customer a magic moment."

Krispy Kreme is a cult brand. It is a fast-food item that sells virtually of its own accord; the company has a policy of hardly advertising at all, instead relying on rabid word-of-mouth and public expectation.

Forbes magazine recently defined a cult brand as something that "seizes the imagination of a small group who spread the word, make converts, help turn a fringe product into a mainstream name". This is how Krispy Kreme works - in Melbourne, long before a store even showed signs of opening, expectation was built by people coming back from Sydney, where the company has operated since 2002, with boxes of the doughnuts, to be lapped up by those who were deprived of the opportunity.

The product was recognisable from popular culture: David Letterman gives them away on TV, Jay Leno had a woman high-jumper leap over a pole ringed with them, Sex and the City's Miranda was a big fan, as are Homer Simpson and Tony Soprano. Madonna and Nicole Kidman have been photographed eating them.

There's a mythology surrounding these doughnuts; that they are good, the best, aspirational, a must-have item. In the US they sell 3 million a day. In Sydney they have proved so popular that two more stores are opening next month. That one of the best-performing stores is at Sydney airport is significant; airports these days are shopping malls with planes. They theme themselves as both suburban and romantic, as does Krispy Kreme.

Somehow this doughnut - described by a food blogger as "little rings of lard wrapped in a thick glaze of liquid sugar" - has an X-factor that makes it more desirable than perhaps it should be.

In terms of taste, they are good, if you like that sort of thing. There are 15 basic varieties - plus the occasional seasonal special - sold in Australian stores. The flagship doughnut, the Original Glazed, is sweet but not cloyingly so, and light, very light, almost fluffy, in the middle. The outside is fried crisp and the yeast-raised inside is contrastingly buttery, which is appealing.

There are filled doughnuts, cake-like doughnuts and iced doughnuts, plus coffee, milkshakes, ice-cream and juices called "chillers". In Australia the company is developing pineapple, caramel and choc-mint doughnuts. The standard recipe hasn't changed in 70 years, and there is a secret ingredient. It has been suggested this is as simple as vanilla in the flour (which is imported), but no one's telling. "The recipe is locked in a vault in America," says Melbourne operations manager Brett Hannah. "Only two people in the world know it, and those two people never fly on the same plane."

A known key factor, though, is heat. At selected factory stores, the doughnuts are made in full view of the customers and when they're ready, and hot, a neon light flashes on saying "Hot Doughnuts Now". The company calls this process "doughnut theatre". The neon signs themselves are retro looking, with 1950s styling. And a hot Krispy Kreme doughnut melts in the mouth.

Ingredients are listed in small print, tucked away in the depths of the American company website. They include "enriched" flour, dextrose, dried egg yolk, wheat gluten, yeast, skim milk, calcium peroxide, diammonium phosphate, amylase, pentosanase, locust bean gum and, of course, sugar. An Original Glazed is 23 per cent fat (more than half of it saturated or trans fat) and 19 per cent sugar.

Customers are regularly given free samples in the stores. "It's the best feeling," says Adrian Romei, who has trained for nearly three months in Sydney to be Melbourne's first store manager. "People don't expect something for nothing. Their eyes light up when you say, 'Here you go mate, have a hot one on me.'"

Krispy Kreme is as American as apple pie. Although there are now stores in Australia (Sydney was the first outside the US), Britain, Mexico, Canada and Korea, it is steeped in a history strictly tied to its small-town American roots.

In 1937, a man named Vernon Rudolph, in North Carolina, bought the recipe from a New Orleans chef. Doughnuts by this time were already an American staple, having been brought to Manhattan - then called New Amsterdam - by the Dutch in the 1800s. Rudolph was soon was selling direct to customers through a hole cut in his factory wall.

The 1960s saw the growing number of stores standardised, all with folksy green roofs and "heritage" road signs. Production of the doughnut mix was centralised. Beatrice Foods bought the company but then, during the 1980s, the company was bought back by a group of franchisees. In 2000 it was publicly listed, but in 2004 trouble brewed in the US when it was investigated for corporate tax infringements. Profits took a dive but have recovered. Last year a new chief executive officer was appointed and the company restructured.

Some American stores are run by franchisees and some by the company itself. Here in Australia, it is entirely company run. The owner, trading as Krispy Kreme Australia, is the Sydney-based Food and Beverage Company, which is majority owned by Hunter Bay Partners (in partnership with Soul Pattinson Equity Limited), an investment firm helmed by Australians John McGuigan, John Atkinson and Neil Whittaker. The Food and Beverage Company also owns Jester's Pies and Little Creatures beer. McGuigan and Atkinson are both former international lawyers with the world's biggest firm, Baker & McKenzie, in Asia and the US. McGuigan ran the firm out of Chicago. Whittaker is a former CSR and Woolworths executive.

McGuigan admits the investment was initially a gamble. "Doughnuts are not the highest item on the Australian food totem pole. A lot of people were sceptical and wondered if we could get Australians excited about eating a doughnut. Bringing anything new into a sophisticated market has risks. And if we're honest with ourselves, it didn't elicit an immediately positive reaction."

But now Krispy Kreme Australia is firing. There are 15 stores in Sydney and another is opening before the end of next month. A Canberra store will open this month and Melbourne's Fountain Gate store in Narre Warren, on Thursday. In a rapid expansion schedule, the company hopes for up to five Melbourne outlets before the end of the year.

A big part of its strategy is grassroots "consumer" marketing. This means it eschews big-budget advertisements or billboards in favour of word-of-mouth and goodwill through involvement with communities around the stores.

Already Krispy Kreme has spread its tentacles deep into local organisations near the Fountain Gate store; for example, helping to raise $14,000 in charity money for a new sports scoreboard at the Hallam Reserve.

It has also become involved with AFL clubs, particularly Hawthorn, VFL clubs such as the Casey Scorpions, south-eastern suburbs' schools, the Starlight Foundation and the Good Friday Appeal. At the end of July, it will sell a special blue-sprinkled doughnut to help raise funds for Jeans for Genes. It has given away a lot of doughnuts.

McGuigan says that in the lead-up to the Fountain Gate opening he can detect a lot of "pent-up enthusiasm". Company marketing director Chris Edwards says it's an old-fashioned marketing tool.

"Just get out to the community and to the people who we hope we will be our customers and see how we can help them, and get them to try the product before we open the store," she says. "I call it a non-traditional and old fashioned - let the people be the judge of the brand without telling them what it is and why they should come and see us."

So there it is. They want to be your friend. They want to light up your life with a magic moment or two. They want to make communities better, the world a better place. And it's not food, as such, it's a "brand". Albeit a brand made of sugar and fat.

"We've never said anything but that we are a treat," says Edwards. "Wouldn't the world be horrible if all treats were ruled out? We're just like good-quality ice-cream and chocolate. As part of a balanced diet everyone should be able to treat themselves indulgently from time to time. We're not trying to be anything that we are not. We don't have low-fat doughnuts. It is what it is."

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Some people need motivation to excersise

Here's mine!

Click on the image for supersize! lol

Her name is "Bonny" and she'll be three in October of 2006. We get 40 minutes a day brisk walk, plus she also gets 10 to fifteen minutes in the "off-the-lead" park chasing a tennis ball.

In an earlier blog, I mentioned the raw meaty bones newsletter. Those people do good work. They, as I, believe in a diet for canines (and felines) of raw meaty bones. I have found that the best source for these are either the local butcher or Lenards chicken stores.

She started straight from the mother's teat on chicken necks. It used to take her about five minutes to consume each one.

By the time she started swallowing them whole, I moved her on to what "Lenards" called a chicken casserole mix.

Basically it was just a full chicken carcase (sp?) with the wings and legs cut off, then the body is quartered. The whole lot goes into a bag for $1.99 a kilo. (No innards though unfortunately) At the butchers next door they have "pet's delight" which is just roughly diced organ meat, so I get a kilo of that too.

1 kilo of each feeds her for four nights because she also gets all table scraps (except cooked fowl bones and onions) and a medium handful of dried biscuits. Twice a week she gets a raw chicken's egg cracked over the meal too.

Once every four to six weeks she gets a bone that would be over half a metre long (some sort of thigh bone) and I don't see her for a couple of hours or more after that. Usually when I do she has dirty paws and nose.

At Christmas and her birthday (1/OCT) I get her a whole rabbit from the butcher. Probably spoiling her but she was my only companion until I met "her indoors" so she is special to me.

I only feed her five to six times a week, because I believe that as an animal in the wild her genetic bretheren don't eat every day so neither should she.

For those that are curious about her breeding, her mother is a Red Heeler, sometimes called a Queensland heeler, and her father is a German Shepherd Rottweiler cross.

The new food challenge

Here is an article that appeared in The Melbourne Age on the 15th of June.

The latest official advice on nutrition sets the dietary bar higher than ever.

In 1954, the year Germany won the World Cup and Marilyn Monroe married Joe DiMaggio, health authorities published Australia's first Recommended Dietry Intakes (RDI)- the amounts of nutrients considered essential to keep Australians healthy and prevent deficiencies that caused problems like scurvy and rickets.

Half a century later, new dietary recommendations, including updated RDIs released by the National Health and Medical Research Council in May, show how far nutrition science has come in recognising the power of food to help fight disease.

What distinguishes the 2006 RDIs from those produced in 1954, and the years in between, is that they come with a companion set of guidelines that aims to help prevent modern plagues such as heart disease, cancer, macular degeneration and Alzheimer's disease.

Eating nutrients in the amounts suggested in the new RDIs will help keep us in acceptable health, but these extra guidelines, called Suggested Dietary Targets, encourage us to eat even greater amounts of selected nutrients, because evidence shows that eating them at higher than recommended daily intakes may help prevent chronic disease.

This drives home the message that we do have some control over our health and that what we choose to toss into the shopping trolley or the saucepan really makes a difference - a point recently underscored by the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, which ranked low consumption of vegetables, fruit and fish as just as bad as smoking for human health.

It also raises the bar both for us and Australia's food industry. If you're already struggling to reach the current target of five servings of vegetables a day and two of fruit, for instance, you'd better lift your game. To reach the new recommendations for some vitamins, you may need to eat six to seven serves of vegetables and three or four serves of fruit, estimates Professor Sandra Capra, head of the School of Health Sciences at Newcastle University and a member of the working party that developed the new guidelines.

More challenging still could be shrinking our sodium levels to sidestep the high blood pressure affecting one in six of us. The upper limit of the old RDI for sodium was 2.3 grams; the new SDT is 1.6 grams daily - less than a teaspoon of salt from all food sources.

Capra says this is probably achievable by not adding salt to food, eating more fresh produce, and giving most processed food and takeaways a wide berth, but many people will find it a struggle.

Still, if that seems unrealistic, chew on this: is it any more unrealistic than expecting bodies that evolved to eat plants and wild game to thrive on instant noodles?

Part of the solution will be getting the food industry to lower salt levels in processed food - which, along with takeaway food, is the source of 75 per cent of Australia's sodium intake - suggests Dr Caryl Nowson, who is professor of nutrition and ageing at Deakin University and one of a panel of experts who reviewed research for the NHMRC working party.

It's a strategy already in force in Britain, where major food chains such as Sainsbury's, and Marks and Spencer, have lowered the salt content of their bread.

So what do the new Recommended Daily Intakes and Suggested Dietary Targets mean when it comes to breakfast, lunch and dinner? At this stage, these recommendations are more a guide for health professionals and a basis for changing food labels - as yet, there's no healthy eating plan available to show us how to apply them to what we eat and it may be some time before the Federal Government produces one.

Meanwhile, this snapshot of some of the recommendations will give you an idea of the challenge.

The RDIs for calcium have risen for children and adults of all ages, but they're especially high for teenagers, women past menopause and men over 70, who now need 1300 milligrams a day - about four serves of dairy foods. The reason for the rise is evidence that some calcium is lost in sweat. How to get more Low-fat dairy products aren't the only calcium food (canned fish with edible bones and almonds are among others, as are green, leafy vegetables), yet they're considered the best because lactose helps you absorb calcium.

Three serves of dairy products could deliver the old target of 1000 milligrams daily for teenage girls and women over 50. However, Nowson isn't sure that adding a fourth serve to meet the new requirements is ideal - except perhaps for active adolescents - as it hardly fits with the goal of eating a wide variety of foods. Her advice is to choose dairy products fortified with extra calcium, while older people may need a supplement.

This B vitamin (called folacin in its synthetic form) reduces levels of an amino acid called homocysteine, which is thought to increase the risk of heart disease, and also seems to help prevent cancer in a number of ways - including reducing damage to DNA. Drinking alcohol increases the body's need for this vitamin. The new RDI for folate is now double the amount of the last (1991) RDIs - as much as 400 micrograms for adults and teenagers, for example.How to get more Vegetables, including dark green, leafy vegetables are good folate foods, but given our woeful vegetable consumption - studies suggest only 12 per cent of our vegie intake comes from leafy greens, while 42 per cent comes from potatoes - the chances are many of us aren't close to getting even the old RDI for folate.

Meeting the new RDI means not just getting serious about more fruit and vegetables, but choosing them carefully. Compared to a nutritional lightweight - iceberg lettuce, for instance - vegetables such as spinach, broccoli and beetroot have more folate. Other good folate foods include liver, oranges, avocado, lentils and chickpeas.

"While we can keep telling people to eat more and more vegetables, the reality is many people won't reach the targets," Nowson says. "Eating more foods such as fruit juice and wholegrain breakfast cereals that are fortified with folic acid may be more realistic."

Food is the best way to get your daily folate because of all the other nutrients that come with it, but folate in supplement form is well absorbed, Capra adds.

The Suggested Dietary Targets for some vitamins, including vitamins A and C, are much higher than the Recommended Daily Intakes. The new RDI for vitamin C for men is 45 milligrams daily, for instance - roughly the amount in a medium mandarin - though the Suggested Dietary Target is almost four times this amount.

The reason is that these vitamins act as antioxidants that may help prevent some chronic diseases. Carotenoids, which are found in red, yellow and orange vegetables (and which your body needs to make vitamin A) may reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration, for example. How to get more Recommended amounts for both vitamins are higher, but this doesn't mean you need to eat more food, just better food. Out go nutrient-poor drinks and foods - in come brightly coloured vegetables and fruit, and legumes.

In the past we had no guidelines for vitamin D intake; it was assumed Australians got enough from sunlight. Now there's evidence that some people - including elderly people in nursing homes, people with darker skins and women who are veiled for cultural reasons - don't get enough and are at risk of osteoporosis. Without sufficient vitamin D, we can't absorb enough calcium to keep bones in good shape. How to get more Unless you're big on eel or mackerel, it's difficult to get enough vitamin D from food, Nowson explains. Without enough sunlight, you'll need a supplement, or foods fortified with vitamin D. "Ideally, of course, we'd be redesigning nursing homes and increasing staff levels, so it would be easier to get elderly people out into the sun each day," she adds.

The NHMRC recommends 10 micrograms daily for people over 50 and 15 micrograms for over-70s. But too much can be toxic - the NHMRC sets an upper limit of 80 micrograms for adults.

For enough sunlight for your body to make vitamin D, you need to expose hands, face and arms (or an equivalent area of skin) to sunlight for about five to 15 minutes, four to six times a week. People who are elderly or who have darker skins need more sunlight exposure; about 15 minutes, five to six times a week.

The Suggested Dietary Target for omega-3 fats - found mainly in oily fish - is a high 610 milligrams for men and 430 milligrams for women, but that's the level at which the research says there's a benefit for reducing heart disease and stroke. There's also emerging evidence that these healthy fats may protect against rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, depression and dementia. How to get more. About 10 per cent of Australians meet the new Suggested Dietary Target of omega-3 fats, but most people average less than 100 milligrams daily, says Andrew Sinclair, professor of human nutrition at Deakin University. He's the first to admit that it isn't easy. Many rich sources of omega-3 fats - fresh salmon, rainbow trout and snapper, for example - are expensive, while others including, canned mackerel or sardines, aren't hugely popular.

As for canned tuna, you'd need to eat two to three 100 gram cans daily to reach the SDT. However, a weekly splurge of fresh salmon (about 150 grams for a woman and 200 grams for a man) would provide around seven days' supply of omega-3 fats in one hit (but doesn't solve the problem of depleting fish stocks if there's a rush on oily fish).

The best advice, says Sinclair, is to eat oily fish regularly (trevally is a cheaper option) if you can, include walnuts, and flaxseed oil (which help your body make omega-3 fat), and foods such as eggs that are enriched with omega-3 fats.

Lean red meat has some omega-3s - 30 to 60 milligrams per 100 grams. Good quality fish-oil capsules arealso a safe option, he adds.

The new recommendations, including the RDIs and SDTs, as well as the maximum safe intakes of nutrients, are in the report Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand, and can be seen at:

The link above points to a PDF file. If you don't already have Adobe PDF reader, you can download it (free) from the logo on the left.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Low Carb Dave Blog

I've just had a look at Dave's informative blog on the low carb way of life and I have been honoured with a post all about "Against the Grain"! Thanks Dave - and it's only right that I return the favour. His blog is called lowcarbdave and is packed with lots of info for any low carbers out there.

Unlike the famous Jimmy Moore who is kicking butt in maintenance, Dave and I are still in the "on going weight loss" stage of our lifestyles so keep in touch both here at Against the grain and over at Dave's site to check on our progress and keep us honest.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Delete your greens

Haters of broccoli, rejoice - many cultures thrive while avoiding vegetables.

Shortly after recovering from the tale of Louise Arnold - a British woman who has a phobia for peas - news reaches us of the Scottish brothers who never eat vegetables.

The Campbell brothers of Aberdeen have all defied medical advice to live to ripe old ages, despite the fact that John, 91, Jim, 88, Colin, 85, Sid, 82, and Doug, 78, have spurned vegetables in all their guises. "'I've never liked them and I avoid them all the time," John told the papers. "I can't think of anything worse than a plate of carrots."

Apart from two plates of carrots, one imagines. Still, it is a tale that shakes to the very foundations not only the food pyramid on which modern nutritional advice is built, but also pretty much everything we ever believed in. Roswell? Man on the Moon? Elvis's death? We're questioning all of it. But, first, let us look at who else has rejected the way of the broccoli and lived to tell the tale.

The Inuit

In his explorations of the Arctic in the early 20th century, Vilhjalmur Stefansson found that the Inuit survived on almost nothing but meat and fish, with fruits, vegetables and other carbohydrates accounting for as little as 2 per cent of their total calorie intake. And yet they appeared healthy, and somehow avoided scurvy, despite the fact that we are forever being told that avoiding scurvy is all about lemons and oranges.

It was Stefansson's contention that the Inuit sourced their vitamin C from meat that was raw or barely cooked, and on his return to the West he put that theory to the test. He followed a meat-only diet for one year under medical supervision at New York's Bellevue hospital - and he, too, remained scurvy free.

Vitamin C can apparently be found in a variety of Inuit delicacies, including the organ meats of sea mammals, the stomach contents of caribou and the skin of beluga whales, which is said to contain as much vitamin C as the aforementioned oranges.

The Masai

Vegetables are largely alien to the diets of the Masai of Kenya and Tanzania, who rely on their humped zebu cattle for food. Rather than eat the meat, the Masai feast on the milk and blood drawn from their cattle.

The blood is mixed with the milk to make, one assumes, a sort of gruesome milkshake. There are apparently variations on this blood and milk theme: blood and milk can, for example, be thickened to produce a concoction with the consistency of scrambled eggs and served with rice.

This may not sound that tempting to the Western palate, but then it appears not to have done the Masai much harm. Any recent degeneration in the health of the Masai can arguably be attributed to Ernest Hemingway who, in The Green Hills of Africa, writes of introducing some of the tribe to the delights of bread, canned mincemeat and pudding.

Remote Swiss villagers

In the 1930s, an Ohio dentist, Dr Weston Price, embarked on a 10-year expedition to see if those cultures regarded as "primitive" by our swaggering Western culture might, in fact, consume a diet promoting rude health and fine gnashers.

One of his findings was that the dairy-rich, vegetably impoverished diet of the inhabitants of a remote Swiss village, Lotschental, resulted in hardly any dental cavities and few childhood illnesses.

The villagers dined on unpasteurised milk, butter, cream and cheese, rye bread, meat on occasion, bone broth soups and the limited number of vegetables they could cultivate during the short summer months.

Admittedly, the children's teeth were covered in green slime, but at least they didn't have to eat brussels sprouts. You win some, you lose some.

Dr. Atkins and Co.

A couple of years ago, about one in 11 adults was following the Atkins diet, which extols the virtues of a low-carb, high-protein eating plan.

A typical Atkins menu looks a little like this ... Breakfast: fried bacon and eggs. Lunch: chicken with mozzarella. Dinner: pan-fried rump steak with soured cream. Snacks: 17 slices of ham, 12 prawn cocktails, large brie, small bucket of saturated fat. Note: this is just the "Induction Phase of the Atkins "diet". Later stages allow for far more vegetables.

There was little room for vegetables in the Atkins plan, other than a small, decorative smattering of lettuce. The Atkins plan had various side-effects, ranging from halitosis to weight loss, some of which were more desirable than others.

Sadly, Dr Atkins died in 2003. But this is no reflection on his low-veg diet: in fact, the bad breath and constipation that accompanied his plan were not his undoing; rather, the good doctor slipped on an icy footpath and hit his head.

Heart attacks follow weekend binge

UK medical researchers have suggested that weekend binge drinking may be linked to a peak in deaths from heart attacks on Mondays.

A letter to the British Medical Journal from Lauren Chenet and Annie Britton of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said alcohol, particularly when consumed in a binge, acts as a trigger for heart attack.

"The Monday peak in cardiovascular mortality and morbidity has been documented in various settings," they write.

Studies that look at the pattern of drinking, either directly or indirectly, have consistently found an increased risk of cardiovascular death (particularly sudden death) with binge drinking.

In countries such as the former Soviet Union and Scotland, the Monday peak is pronounced and is accompanied by slight increases in mortality on Saturdays and Sundays.

Physiological studies suggest moderate drinking (between seven and 14 drinks per week) has a protective affect on the heart possibly through boosting high density lipoproteins ('good' cholesterol) and reducing the risk of blood clots.

Binge drinking, on the other hand, appears to cause dehydration and may actually promote clotting after heavy drinking stops.

Binge drinking also changes heart rhythms, increases blood pressure and may damage the lining of blood vessels and the heart muscle which is especially sensitive during withdrawal.

Australian cardiovascular expert, Professor Lawrence Beilin from the University of Western Australia, said he was not aware of any similar Australian studies.

He said, however, the argument put forward by Chenet and Britton was plausible and he suspects the same situation exists here.

More of "The Great Cholesterol Con"

I have mentioned this book by Anthony Colpo in a previous Blog. At the time, it was only available from I am sure that Anthony will be proud of the fact that it is now also available from Amazon in the US, Canada and Britain.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

State of Origin - Game 2

A total bummer! Not because I barrack for the Blues - I don't. The bummer is that due to a combination of events I missed the game!!

1) Channel 9 in Melbourne, in their infinite wisdom, broadcast the E.J. Whitten Legends game instead of Origin 2.

2) I don't control the remote (at work) so the Wogball World Cup was put on and I didn't catch the Origin 2 coverage that started at 11pm.

Anyway ......

It seems the Maroons kicked arse this time around, ensuring a 55K+ crowd at Telstra Dome on Wednesday the 5th of July. Before last night fewer than 5000 tickets remained for Origin 3 and you can bet that they'll be snapped up smartly now. The final score was 30 - 6.

Perhaps the Maroons were inspired by this event at Suncorp Stadium. Looks like the tool that did it might just have caused the Maroons to fire up and see red!!! lol

My money (and hopes) are on the Maroons in three weeks in Melbourne. Go boys. Kick some cockroach arse!

Lollies cause Coke geyser

A HANDFUL of Mentos lollies dropped in a Diet Coke bottle produces an explosive soda geyser - and a multitude of internet videos of giddy people trying the experiment in backyards and bathtubs.

Hundreds of videos have sprung on the internet of people carefully slipping four or five Mentos into the two-litre diet soft drink bottles and high-fiving each other as they watch the Coke fountain jet about two metres high.

The amateur films, which can be seen on popular websites such as and Google, have been welcomed by Mentos, while the Coca-Cola Company appeared less enthusiastic about the phenomenon. Two Americans, Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz, took the stunt a step further as they aspired to duplicate a huge fountain from a Las Vegas casino with 523 Mentos and 101 coke bottles.

Their two-minute feat, posted on, grabbed the US media's attention and has pleased Perfetti van Melle, the Italian company that makes Mentos.

"We have spoken with the gentlemen of eepybird," said Pete Healy, vice president of marketing Perfett van Melle USA.

"It's possible that we'll sponsor them to do bigger demonstrations for example."
Coca-Cola had a different take on the furor that has sparked a bevy of internet videos.

The "crazyness with Mentos doesn't fit the brand personality" of Diet Coke, company spokeswoman Susan McDermott told the Wall Street Journal.

"We would hope people want to drink (Diet Coke) more than try experiments with it," she said.

Check out these videos on
Using Coke
Using Pepsi
Super Burp Parody

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Beer may help against cancer

This is the sort of story I can relate to !!!

ONE of the main ingredients in beer appears to thwart prostate cancer, according to findings released today by researchers at a US university.

However, a person would have to quaff more than 17 pints to imbibe a medically effective dose of xanthohumol, the evident cancer-fighting chemical found in hops, said researcher Emily Ho.

"From my studies, you would have to drink an awful lot of beer to get the amount that I saw," she said. "So the counter effects of the alcohol may outweigh any health benefits from drinking beer."

It was feasible to make pills containing concentrated doses of xanthohumol, a flavonoid, or to bump up the level of the chemical in hops, said study co-author Fred Stevens, of Oregon State University's College of Pharmacy.

Scientists in Germany had already brewed up a beer containing 10 times as much xanthohumol as found with traditional recipes, he said.

"It tastes good," he said of the beer, a microbrew with sales limited to within Germany. "It has a bit of a fresh taste."

The microbrew was marketed as a healthy beer, but any effect on cancer rates had yet to be established, Mr Stevens said.

"Its every man's dream to hear that beer and pizza can prevent cancer," said Richard Atkins, head of the US National Prostate Cancer Coalition, noting that a chemical found in tomato pizza sauce is another believed cancer fighter.

"Our hope is that men know the facts and get tested for prostate cancer. Food no matter how helpful it may be, is not a full preventive for prostate cancer."

While the research regarding xanthohumol is promising, Ms Ho, an assistant professor at the university's College of Health and Human Sciences, cautioned that further study was necessary.

"The one caveat is that all our work is done in a laboratory system using cultured cells with purified compounds," she said.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Low-carb diets don't weaken bones

SOURCE: Osteoporosis International, online May 24, 2006.

Contrary to concerns raised by animal studies, people on low-carb diets don't run a risk of weakening their bones, Florida researchers report.I'd like to know what animals they used for these studies. Carnivore/Omnivore - like humans, or Herbivore - like rabbits?

Scientists had suspected that such diets might leach calcium out of the bones by causing the kidneys to excrete more acid, and research in animals had supported this possibility.

To investigate whether this occurs in humans as well, Dr John D. Carter and colleagues from the University of South Florida in Tampa had 15 people follow a low-carb diet for three months, comparing them to 15 age- and sex-matched "controls" who ate a normal diet.

As described in the medical journal Osteoporosis International, study participants ate less than 20 grams of carbohydrates daily for the first month of the diet, and less than 40 grams of carbs daily for the second and third months.

Carter and his team checked a number of measures of bone breakdown and bone formation at one month and at three months. They found no difference between the two groups in bone turnover, but the men and women on the low-carb diet lost an average of 6.39 kilograms compared with 1.05 kg for the controls.

"Although the relatively short observation period does challenge the generalizability of these findings, we suggest that a low-carbohydrate diet used for weight loss does not increase bone turnover in humans," Carter and his colleagues conclude.

In a press release accompanying the study, Carter stressed that he does not support low-carbohydrate diets for long-term weight maintenance, given that they may stress the kidneys and cause people to eat more fat and cholesterol.I don't support that either. I support, and indeed follow, a low-carb way of life for long term health management. Any weight (read: fat) loss that occurs is just a nice bonus.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

US hospitals spruce up for bigger patients

Recently, I blogged about larger ambulances required for larger people in Melbourne. It seems that the Americans need to go a step further with hospitals "revamping themselves to accommodate an influx of obese patients." The following is from an Article by Reuters.

As Americans keep getting bigger, hospitals are revamping themselves to accommodate an influx of obese patients.

When these patients check into a hospital, they are increasingly likely to find themselves in a room with a wider doorway than the 42-inch standard, a bed that holds up to 1,000 pounds and a ceiling lift system to move them to the bathroom.

Toilets in such a room are extra-sturdy and mounted to the floor instead of a wall.

The number of obesity, or bariatric, surgeries performed each year has quadrupled since 2000, according to the American Society for Bariatric Surgery. The procedures generally involve surgically shrinking the stomach and bypassing the intestines to cause the patient to absorb less food.

The obese - often defined as weighing 20 percent or more than medically recommended levels - are also more likely to suffer from chronic medical ailments like diabetes and severe joint problems, bringing them into the hospital.

As a result, more hospitals are making capital investments to set up separate wings and whole floors for obese patients to keep up with demand.

"There is a huge volume of patients that need services, and until we get a better pill for weight loss, we have a big problem," said Daniel Jones, chief of bariatric surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston. ("A better pill for weight loss"? What the hell? This is the type of "Doctor" that obese Americans are trusting their lives with!!! It boggles the mind. - Steve)

One-third of Americans are obese by US health standards, which measure a person's body fat. The prevalence of obesity has doubled in that past 25 years, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and experts predict a steady rise in coming years.

In January, the 585-bed Beth Israel hospital opened a new bariatric unit after gutting an entire floor to construct 30 new rooms with specially-designed weight-bearing beds.

"Before, we just sent (bariatric patients) anywhere, like at the Holiday Inn," Jones said. "But the problem with that is you need the right equipment and medical staff who are specially trained."

Tenet Healthcare Corp., the second-biggest US hospital chain, recently issued requirements for an obesity programme - including infrastructure-readiness - at its 71 hospitals.

About 30 Tenet hospitals offer bariatric programmes, according to Paulette Sams, director of general surgery.


The number of US hospitals running obesity programmes rose 45 percent to about 840 in 2004 from 2002, according to a survey of about 4,600 hospitals by the American Hospital Association trade group.

San Francisco's Laguna Honda Hospital, which with 1,000 beds is the largest US long-term care facility, is building 24 new bariatric rooms designed with ceiling lifts that can route patients to extra-sturdy toilets.

"We are planning for the future, for this burgeoning obesity epidemic nationally," said Associate Administrator Lawrence Funk. "We would be remiss if we did not."

Laguna hopes the investment will pay off with a reduction in staff injuries, which are common when medical staff deal with the obese population without special equipment, Funk said.

At the 425-bed Froedtert and Medical College of Wisconsin, about 7 percent of new rooms from a recent expansion are specially equipped to handle bariatric patients.

John Balzer, vice president for planning and development, said the $3,200 per room in extra costs was insignificant.

"Even on a project with 10 percent of beds set up this way, it is difficult to show an impact on costs," he said.
Tenet's Sams said that when a hospital specialises in bariatrics, it attracts more of these patients, not just for surgeries, but also for the wide variety of medical care they typically need.

"You are going to have the large population show up at your door if you do these surgeries," she said.

Besides the boost in business, hospitals that specialise in bariatrics also benefit because government and private insurers are more likely to cover the procedures at attractive reimbursement rates.

The US Medicare programme recently said it would only pay for such surgeries at centres certified by medical societies, and private insurers are following that lead, officials said.

Hill-Rom, the hospital furniture unit of Hillenbrand Industries Inc., said sales of its bariatric line are growing rapidly, although it would not provide specific data.

"The first thing to increase was bariatric bed orders, and we expanded the product line to meet demand," said Design Director Dennis Gallant. "Trailing that is the redesign or design of rooms specifically for that purpose."

Tenet will often buy some larger furniture for general use because the additional cost is so small.

For example, Sams suggests replacing an operating table with one that can sustain 1,000 pounds, twice as much as the standard version.

"It's not that much more expensive," she said, "and you have hip surgery patients and heart patients that are extremely large."

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Spare the rod, avoid obesity

Children with strict parents are more likely to be overweight than those with more relaxed parents.

Strict parents and those with low expectation for self-control and discipline in their kids, could be putting the children's long-term health at risk.
A US study on parenting styles and the weight of children at age six found the weight of children often depended on the style of parenting.

The best parenting style to avoid obesity was authoritative where parents were respectful of their child's opinions, but kept clear boundaries.

Boston University School of Medicine researchers categorised mothers into four groups:

1) Those with high expectations for self-control and high sensitivity were considered authoritative.

2) Mums with high expectations for self-control and low sensitivity were considered authoritarian.

3) Ones with low expectations for self-control and high sensitivity were regarded as permissive.

4) Mothers with low expectations for self-control and low sensitivity were classed as neglectful.

More than 870 children and their mothers took part in the study, which was published in the American Academy of Pediatrics journal Pediatrics.

About 11 per cent of the children were overweight and a further 13.4 per cent were at risk.

Mothers with an authoritarian parenting style were significantly more likely to have overweight children compared with mothers with an authoritative parenting style.

Permissive and neglectful parenting also increased the risk of overweight children.

"A better understanding of how these parenting styles affect child behaviour patterns regarding eating and activity levels . . . may help to guide the development of more comprehensive and more effective prevention and treatment programs for overweight children," wrote lead researcher Dr Kyung Rhee.

Anthony Colpo: Unplugged And Unleashed

Previously I have mentioned "The Great Cholesterol Con" on this blog. Here are some reader reviews at, the publisher.

There is also an article here at written by Jimmy Moore of Livin La Vida Low-Carb fame

Friday, June 02, 2006

BARFMANIA: The junk raw pet-food scam.

The below is an excerpt from the Raw Meaty bones newsletter, and sounds frighteningly familiar to me. (hint: substitute "Vet" for "GP" and "dog/pet" for "human patient")

We humans are an odd lot. We can put a man on the moon but we can’t agree on how to feed a dog. How crazy is that?

Having lived with this conundrum for a few years now, I still find it disturbing. And in my opinion both the problem and the solution lies with the veterinary profession.

Where understanding and certainty exists the room for debate and chatter shrinks almost to zero. That’s how it is regarding the moon’s orbit, rocket propulsion, electrical conduction and differential calculus, the necessary building blocks of a successful moon landing. Experts agree about these things. Universities teach the subjects and the population at large is satisfied that genuine experts are in control.

When it comes to feeding pets, the community can have no such confidence.
The self-appointed but non-genuine experts in this field, veterinarians, are variously cowed, incompetent and in notable instances corrupt. It’s largely by default that veterinarians have been given authority over pet diets. Vets are supposed to know about health and disease and an assumption is made they will be trained to put prevention first –- in keeping with the first rule of medicine ‘First do no harm’. (sounds familiar?)

In reality young vets start their induction in kindergarten. They watch their parents feeding pets out of the can and packet; watch the TV ads and the celebrity vets feeding junk food too. By the time they have come top of their class, passed their exams and been admitted to vet school the young vet students are filled with misplaced assumptions about the world, their position in it and that pets should be raised and maintained on junk food. Doing harm for most budding vets is a way of life.

Nothing at vet school tells them otherwise. In fact nutrition courses are frequently taught by pet-food company guest lecturers and the text book, if there is one, will likely have been supplied by a pet-food company. Courses in medicine and surgery are taught by lecturers receiving pet- food company research money, or by lecturers eyeing the money and hoping their turn will soon come.

In the final years at vet school diagnosis and treatment of disease is the priority focus. Assumptions about diet continue and little or no time is spent thinking about preventive medicine. A raw diet, where it is discussed, is used as an object of ridicule to warn the students of the alleged risks of bacterial disease, parasitic disease, broken teeth, and choked, obstructed and constipated dogs. With the preventive benefits of natural feeding upended and replaced with scaremongering the students dutifully absorb the diagnosis and treatment options in readiness for the final exams.

I pity the new graduates. The first weeks in practice are, for many young vets, a nightmare experience. Attempting to recall diagnosis and treatment options from the textbooks and fit them to real life patients is a scary business with pitfalls at every turn. Small wonder prevention never gets a moment’s consideration. And thus the scene is set for a professional life spent treating animals that are fed the canned and packet junk food displayed in the vet’s waiting room.

There are other nuances, but you get the idea. Vets live in a culture that puts them in charge of pet health care, but they generally know nothing and care little about the benefits of a natural diet. Governments innocently bequeath self-regulatory status on the veterinary profession meaning that vets themselves decide what is and what isn’t good practice.

The veterinary leadership, veterinary schools and veterinary research establishments decided long ago to accept junk food as the norm –- it’s what defines the culture. (You and I know it also makes the vets a lot of money treating the diet-affected animals.)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

That's e-nuff-nuff Sheeds.......

Sheeds may be slipping in his delivery. Last week he passed a comment about Adam Ramanauskas — the coach said he would never play again — that he regretted, having to back away from it the following day. Yesterday (30/5) his description of Collingwood supporters as "nuff-nuffs" sent Essendon's long-time media man Simon Matthews traipsing away from the media conference momentarily with a bemused look on his face.

Sheedy was trying to make the point that Essendon's crowds were second only to Collingwood's. "They've got 5000 more nuff-nuffs. The nuff-nuffs will always go, if you know what I mean. It doesn't matter. You're not going to catch them. They'll go when Collingwood are nought-nought."

It was meant to be funny but it may not be interpreted that way in some circles. When a radio reporter asked Sheedy what he meant by "nuff-nuff", Sheedy fired back: "I'm looking at one."

Just for the record, in 25 years of Sheedy coaching Essendon FC, They have appeared in 7 Grand Finals, and won 4 ('84, '85, '93 and '2000). That means Sheedy has been a successful coach in just 16% of the years he has coached Essendon.

Some more moments I'm sure he'd like to forget:

1990 Grand Final v Collingwood: On the biggest stage of all, against a hated foe, Essendon served up one of its lamest efforts under Sheedy's coaching, kicking just five goals for the game. The Dons became the butt of ridicule by allowing the Magpies to win their first flag in 32 years.As a Collingwood supporter, this my favourite football moment of all time. We beat Essendon by 48 points (Collingwood 13.11.89, Essendon 5.11.41) and we finally won another Grand Final, our first premiership for 32 years.

Hawthorn on drugs: During the 1984 finals series, Sheedy sparked a police investigation into a substance Hawthorn players were sniffing during the breaks. It turned out to be nothing more than eucalyptus, and an embarrassed club considered parting ways with its coach.

Blowing his cool: In 25 years, Sheedy has always managed to keep his composure - except after the Bombers lost by Tony Lockett's famous post-siren point in the 1996 preliminary final. Sheedy's subsequent explosion in the rooms is something the coach has always regretted.

Trading Peter Bradbury/Steve Carey: The pair had been handy defenders in premierships but past their best by 1986 with the Dons starting to hit trouble. Essendon picked up big-name pair Geoff Raines and Mike Richardson but lost two of its most popular clubmen. Morale was not the same among the list for some time afterwards.

1983 Grand Final v Hawthorn: The young Dons had surged through the finals but ran into a well-drilled Hawthorn machine on grand final day and were thrashed by a then-record 83 points. A bitter Sheedy famously ripped shreds off his players at the official dinner that night.

Derek Kickett: Not so much for his decision to drop for the 1993 grand final the dynamic Bomber favourite, who'd played every game and had kicked a bag of eight goals only weeks before, but perhaps for a lack of effort to make peace afterwards with a proud man who'd been badly hurt.

Mitchell White: The Bomber coach, angered by an incident between West Coast's Mitchell White and his own Jason Johnson in 2000, at the break strode towards the veteran Eagle yelling abuse and making throat-slashing gestures. It had him hauled before the tribunal and fined $7500.

1987 v Sydney at SCG: In a rare season out of the finals, this 163-point thrashing at the hands of the rampant Swans, who kicked 36 goals, was the nadir.

1992 v Hawthorn at MCG: One of the darkest days in Sheedy's coaching history - a 160-point thrashing at the hands of the hated Hawks, Jason Dunstall booting 12 goals. The Dons were rebuilding, but that didn't excuse this stinker of a performance.

Martin Pike: Sheedy had taken plenty of recruiting gambles over the years, most paying off handsomely, but when the rugged former Melbourne and Fitzroy player was available in the 1996 draft, he allowed the doubters to hold sway. Pike has since played in four premierships.