Panaceia or Hygeia

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Posts Tagged ‘canada’

Yves Bolduc – Minister of Health and Drug Salesman

Posted by Colin Rose on April 27, 2009

On learning that Quebec spends much more per capita on drugs than the Canadian average, Yves Bolduc, Quebec’s Minister of Health and Social Services, proclaimed that he wanted everyone to know that this was GOOD NEWS and that he was happy to see that Quebec was ahead of the other provinces. He added that in Quebec people take the drugs they need for their diseases while in the other provinces they don’t take the drugs they need and as a result their high blood pressure and cholesterol problem aren’t treated. He also thinks that spending more on drugs is economic because more drugs mean less is spent in other treatments.

Lets examine the Minister’s logic.

If Quebec is ahead of other provinces, in what respect is it ahead? Quebec has the same life expectancy as Ontario but less than British Columbia who spend much less on drugs. Nova Scotia which spends the most on drugs has one of the lowest life expectancies in Canada. So, there is no correlation between drug consumption and the best measure of overall health, life expectancy.

statcan-lifeexpectancyBolduc says that drugs are needed to treat high blood pressure and cholesterol. Not true. Lifestyle change is far more efficient and cheaper than drugs for treating these “diseases” that are in most cases just symptoms of self-destructive lifestyles. He wouldn’t dare say that all weaned citizens of Quebec should follow a low-fat Mediterranean type diet, eat no junk food and have a waist circumference less than half their height before even considering drugs for lifestyle diseases, like hypertension, diabetes and atherosclerosis. Political disaster. If he did so, the highways of Quebec would be instantly blockaded by pig and dairy farmers. All fast food franchise owners, restaurant owners, junk food producers, their employees and their families would never vote Liberal.

There is not  a shred of evidence that spending more on drugs for the diseases of lifestyle to which he refers translates into less spending on other treatment for these diseases.

So why does the Minister like more drug sales in Quebec and everywhere else? Maybe it’s because drug marketing is the largest industry on the west half of the island of Montreal where there are innumerable drug marketing agencies employing thousands of people funded by profits from Big Pharma. If you run a gigantic bureaucracy like the Ministry of Health and Social Services you need a lot of money and all that tax revenue from drug profits helps your Ministry to get bigger and bigger and gives you more power. So buying more drugs is a form of hidden taxation with no significant benefits in most cases. The Minister wouldn’t dare say that most of the expensive drugs are unnecessary and lifestyle change is essential. He would be reducing his own power and making a lot of voters on the West Island, a stronghold of Liberal power, very unhappy.

ledevoir-pic-bolduc-quote1

Posted in cholesterol, death, drugs, statins | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

“Health” spending in Canada hits $172-billion, outpacing inflation

Posted by Colin Rose on November 14, 2008

Drugs now cost more than doctors and the cost is rising faster than inflation. Sooner or later this insanity has to end. Probably sooner. With a likely world-wide depression in the next few years there will be awakening awareness that most of those expensive branded drugs, such as Lipitor and Crestor, are for lifestyle diseases, like Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and atherosclerosis, related to junk food addiction which can be prevented and treated without drugs. But we need to take a $few billion of that $172 billion and put it into addiction research. Addictions of many kinds are at the root of most of the problems of developed capitalist democracies.

Note that Japan which spends per capita on its “health care” system only 38% of the USA and 70% of Canada has a longer life expectancy than either. Ergo, there is no relation between money spent on hospitals, drugs and doctors and life expectancy; if any, there is an inverse correlation. While everyone uses the term “health care” for the activities and effects of hospitals, drugs and doctors, these are really disease care. Some diseases can be cured but most can’t and in a high tech, fee-for-service medical system with an incentive only to do more, more people will be killed by the technology than saved by it.

Jeffrey Simpson in the Globe and Mail suggests as a solution to exponentially increasing costs more private “health” care. That will only increase the total cost as people with just spend more to support their addictions. Doctors in a fee-for-service regime will be only to happy to oblige. The only long-term solution I can see is to put all doctors on a salary. In such a system the driving incentive is to keep people healthy so doctors have less work to do. Paying doctors per disease is like paying firemen per fire. Would there be more or less fires? Would there be any incentive for fire departments to promote fire prevention? In a regime of totally salaried doctors costs would drop dramatically and the health of the population would markedly improve.


Health spending hits $172-billion, outpacing inflation
BY BRADLEY BOUZANE Canwest News Service
National Post
14 Nov 2008

OTTAWA  Health care in Canada will cost $172-billion this year, or nearly $5,200 for every person in the country, according to figures released yesterday by the Canadian Institute for Health Information. The independent statistical agency says that…read more…

cihi-canada-world-healthcare-cost
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From the Globe and Mail, November 19, 2009

Listening to the sounds of health-care silence

JEFFREY SIMPSON

Where did health care go? Pollsters keep reporting that health care is the No. 1 issue for Canadians. We spend way more on it than on anything else. Yet, no one – well, almost no one – talks about it any more, at least not politically.
Sure, citizens recount their experiences with the system to each other. People who work in the system talk about it incessantly, health care being their world.
But as a public policy/political issue, health care has died. Died, despite the Canadian Institute for Health Information’s reporting last week that Canada will spend $172-billion this year on health, about 70 per cent from public sources. That works out to $5,170 per capita.
Health care gobbles up provincial (and federal) resources. It consumes 39 per cent of all provincial program expenditures – that is, spending on everything but  servicing the debt. In some provinces, health care’s share of program expenditures is 45 per cent. Soon, it will be 50 per cent and higher in all of them.
Health care consumed 7 per cent of the nation’s economic output in the mid-1970s, shortly after it was up and running. Now, it consumes 10.7 per cent. That share will keep on rising as the population ages, technology becomes more expensive, and demand grows.
No one knows how to stop the increase; in fact, large increases are hardwired into government spending plans. These increases are not improving the system, but they are keeping it from getting discernibly worse.
The Paul Martin government signed a deal with the provinces for a $41-billion transfer from Ottawa over 10 years starting in 2004-2005, with the transfer indexed yearly to 6 per cent. The Harper Conservatives, then in opposition, signed on to that deal and have never wavered.
Without that federal cash, provincial health-care plans would be struggling or imploding – or provinces would be forced to raise taxes or cut other services. As it is, their annual costs are rising by 4 per cent to 5 per cent after inflation. The federal cash keeps their systems afloat.
That’s one reason why silence surrounds the health-care debate. Caterwauling provinces can hardly complain about parsimonious Ottawa when such mighty rivers of federal cash are flowing their way. Similarly, almost complete silence reigns within federal politics, except for occasional election promises to spend  yet more money for provinces to hire more doctors. But with Ottawa already sending so much money to provincial capitals, these chirpings ring hollow.
It was cheap theatre for provinces to beat up on Ottawa when the federal government seemed to be rolling in dough. But after the Harper government spent the surplus it inherited by shovelling money to the provinces for the ‘fiscal imbalance,’ cut federal revenues through reductions to the GST and let spending proceed above the inflation rate, the surplus almost disappeared.
Now, with the economic tsunami upon us, the small surplus will head into deficit. Even if provinces clamoured for more health-care money, there wouldn’t be any.
The deeper reason for the silence is that no provincial government knows what to do about the system, except to keep it going, fiddle at the edges, try to improve administration here and there, negotiate the best collective bargaining agreements they can.
Nowhere in Canadian public affairs is the gap so wide between what those responsible for policy say and what they do. Privately, almost all of those responsible know that the spending increases are unsustainable and that some means must be found to allow more public services to be delivered privately.
Publicly, none of them dare say so.
Without that debate – and fear of public reaction keeps it closed – politicians spin their wheels, spend lots of money, patch the system, add something new here and there, and carry on.
The only idea for lowering the increase in health-care costs comes from those who claim, rightly, that the fastest-rising part of health-care budgets is the drug bill. Their answer: a national pharmaceutical plan integrated into medicare.
It might be recalled that, in 1997, Quebec introduced such a drug plan. It cost the treasury about $700-million that year. This year, the public cost will be $2.3-billion, a threefold increase in about a decade.

Posted in atherosclerosis, diabetes, diet, drugs, statins | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Medical Devices – No Controlled Trials

Posted by Colin Rose on July 24, 2008

“I’m not allowed to prescribe one pill unless it has gone through years of trials,” said Dr. Colin Rose, a Montreal cardiologist. “Why can they license these [devices] — which can be just as dangerous — with no controlled trials? What is the difference?


MEDICAL IMPLANTS
BY TOM BLACKWELL
National Post
24 Jul 2008

Late in the 1990s, Health Canada licensed a new artificial lens, the latest in an innovative generation of implants for treating cataracts. Made from a foldable material, it could be inserted in the eye with a smaller incision than usual and less-invasive surgery. It did not matter, under the department’s rules, that the device had been tested on relatively few people before being approved.

As thousands of the newly licensed lenses were installed worldwide, however, doctors started noticing a serious defect with many of the implants: they were turning opaque inside patients, and in some cases had to be removed with a much more complex operation through the individual’s temple.

“ The ophthalmologists were petrified,” said Dr. Pierre Blais, a former Health Canada official who now does consulting work on medical devices for insurance companies. “They said, ‘We can’t trust these [regulatory] agencies. We have to do our own trials.’ ”

But the eye implant case was no exception. Health Canada routinely approves surgical devices after limited — or no — study on humans, far less evidence than is required for the certification of prescription drugs. And now some experts are raising serious concerns about the process.

The number of devices being inserted into Canadians’ bodies is soaring, and there is no doubt many work wonders: saving patients’ eyesight, relieving debilitating joint pain or preventing lethal heart irregularities.

In a recent article, however, several prominent obstetricians and gynecologists accuse Health Canada of failing in its ethical duty to protect patients, and call on the regulator to impose the same kind of strict approval criteria for devices as for drugs.

“Most people assume that … any surgical device licensed in Canada must be safe for human use,” notes the paper, co-authored by the president of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. “As things currently stand, this assumption is not justified.” The paper, published in the society’s scientific journal, cites Health Canada’s approval in 2006 of a new surgical implant to combat female incontinence. At the time, the device had never been tested on a single person. Within a year, though, the freshly approved “vaginal tape” had been permanently installed in more than 1,000 Canadian women.

Individual case reports have so far been generally positive, but a clinical trial proving they are safe and effective has yet to take place. Concerns reach beyond gynecology. A trial published last year found that angioplasty — a widely hailed procedure that uses a tiny balloon to clear harmful plaque from clogged arteries — did no better than much cheaper, intensive drug treatment and exercise to treat stable heart patients. The device had been used for years on about 40,000 Canadians annually, most of them stable.

“I’m not allowed to prescribe one pill unless it has gone through years of trials,” said Dr. Colin Rose, a Montreal cardiologist. “Why can they license these [devices] — which can be just as dangerous — with no controlled trials? What is the difference?”

Other doctors and the industry, though, argue that requiring devices to be extensively studied before approval would be impractical and hamper important innovation. With changes and improvements constantly being introduced, devices have a much shorter shelf life than drugs, meaning companies could not recoup the tremendous investment needed to conduct pricey clinical trials, they say.

“It would be great to have a perfect system that makes sure we understand what the benefits and risks are of everything,” said Dr. David Urbach, a Toronto surgeon who has studied how new surgical techniques are adopted. “But if it took 10 or 15 years to bring a device to market, you’d never use any devices, because they’d be obsolete. We still use drugs, antibiotics, developed 50, 60 years ago. We don’t use devices from even 10 years ago.”

Paul Duschene, a Health Canada spokesman, said the department submits devices to a “robust” approval process, including demands for information showing they are safe and effective. But devices do not need to be vetted the same way drugs do because “the hazards and risks posed to the patient are much different with a medical device,” he said.

Health Canada divides devices into four classes, depending on how much risk they pose to patients. The higher the class, the more evidence is required of a product’s safety and efficacy. Those considered to be incremental modifications of earlier products require less proof.

Class three — which includes gynecological implants such as the vaginal tape, and artificial hip replacements — and class four, including pacemakers and other heart devices, are the most controversial. The vaginal tape was approved based on lab tests and studies on animals, said the paper by the gynecology group.

Another, similar tape approved with no human studies a few years earlier caused considerable problems, frequently eroding inside bodies and triggering infection, said Dr. Sue Ross, a University of Calgary scientist and one of the paper’s authors.

Similar problems occurred with a sling used to reconstruct the uterine cavity in women who had had hysterectomies. The device was meant to prevent collapse of the cavity, but the mesh straps at the core of it would often deteriorate after a couple of years, causing abscesses and other problems, Dr. Blais said. He said the foldable lens — one version of a concept that has generally proven successful — was likely implanted in about 1,000 Canadians, many of them in Alberta, before being recalled.

Then there were heart valves coated with silver, an innovation meant to avoid infection but not tested widely in patients before being licensed in about 1997. As the device was widely distributed, doctors discovered the silver coating sometimes impeded proper melding of the valve with natural tissue, leading to leaks that may have killed some patients, Dr. Blais said. They were later recalled and are now the subject of class-action lawsuits.

In contrast to devices, drugs are regulated in a separate system that requires them to be studied on hundreds of people in a series of clinical trials, which compare the new product against a control group of patients taking a placebo or other treatment.

But Dr. Martin McKneally, a retired surgeon and bio-ethicist at the University of Toronto, argues that clinical trials cannot be carried out for devices when they are first introduced, since the products’ impact differs depending on how it is used by individual doctors, and techniques are honed over time. He believes the key is to adequately inform patients that the implant or other device they are about to receive is novel and has been tested on only a handful of other people.

“You have to learn in patients and keep modifying as you go along,” Dr. McKneally said. “The fact we have such excellent devices is a credit … in part to the patients.”

Even Dr. Blais, once fired and later reinstated over his outspoken comments while at Health Canada, said it may be unrealistic to expect the government to demand extensive clinical trials be done on surgical devices, except those with the highest risk.

It would be more practical for the regulator to simply be up front about the limited vetting that devices undergo before being licensed, and let patients decide if they will accept the risk, he said.

As it stands, Health Canada’s approval of devices “is a licence to test out an idea on somebody else, if possible at government cost,” Dr. Blais said. “What is happening now is we are becoming a nation of uninformed and unremunerated laboratory rats.”

Posted in atherosclerosis, cardiology, professionalism, surgery | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

CALIPSO

Posted by Colin Rose on July 9, 2008

Here is a good example of a “study” of statins written by a non-medically licenced employee of a statin-peddling drug company, Merck Frosst Schering, with the names of prominent “experts”, many known to be financially associated with drug companies, shown as secondary authors.

What a nice name! Reminds one of sunny Caribbean islands. Except they had to use an “I” instead of a “y”. Guess they couldn’t find an acronym that fit easily. What was done? Doctors were paid to collect data on patients to whom they prescribed statins. Results? Horrors of horrors, many of them did not reach “target” LDL (bad blood cholesterol). Conclusion? You guessed it. Not enough people are taking enough statins. Suggestion? “Strategies should be implemented to promote achievement of lipid treatment goals…”

Who sets these “targets” anyway? Again, you guessed it, the same sort of doctors as the authors listed in CALIPSO, most paid by drug dealers in one way or another. See the evidence in the US and Canada.

More than half of the subjects had no history of cardiovascular disease, so statins were being used for primary prevention and there is no overall benefit of statins this class of patient.

Note that the first author is employed by a Merck, a big seller of statins.

No attempt was made to alter high risk lifestyles (42% had abdominal obesity and 17% smoked). That’s hard work and takes a lot of time. But, why bother? Surely, after years of medical terrorism by drug dealers, everyone knows that atherosclerosis is caused by bad blood cholesterol and there is a very profitable strategy for attaining “lipid treatment goals”; pay doctors to give statins to reach those arbitrary targets as is now happening in parts of the USA.

The Canadian Journal of Cardiololgy, at least 80% of whose revenue comes from drug companies, does not require financial disclosure by authors but we have found them from another source. In the Acknowledgements those nice people at Merck and  BioMedCom, contracted to do the “study”, are thanked.

While BioMedCom claims to do “scientifically rigorous” work, CALIPSO is not science at all. It is a highly biased sample of what doctors will do if paid to report on the patients to whom they prescibe statins. There is no proof that if the patients had reached “target” they would have benefitted at all. There is no control group who did not receive statins and there is no indication of outcome at all. This is not science, but another attempt at medical terrorism to sell more drugs and any doctor who would put his name on such a study cannot claim to be an expert in “hypercholesterolemia” nor should he or she be part of any group advising other doctors like the “Working Group” in Canada.

Why would all those “experts” in the author list need to hire BioMedCom, to do this “study”? What did these doctors do to justify putting their names on the “study”? And why is an employee of Merck first author? We leave the answers to the reader’s imagination.

 

Financial Conflicts of Interest Not Reported in CALIPSO Paper

 

Posted in atherosclerosis, cardiology, cholesterol, drugs, obesity, professionalism, statins | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The farm vote is more important than health and the environment

Posted by Colin Rose on May 4, 2007

In spite of all the breast-beating from politicians about the need to stem the obesity pandemic and clean up the environment, when it comes to keeping the farm vote obesity and the “environment” disappear from the radar screen.

Whey is about as ideal a food as can be found except for the lactose intolerant. Very nutrient dense, low fat and cheap. But dairy farmers need to sell butter fat because they are paid by the total amount of solids in the milk and fat is a large component of milk solids. Due to the apportionment of ridings, a rural vote is worth twice an urban vote. Also, the majority of Canadian dairy farmers are in Quebec and the minority Conservative government is desperate to increase its members from this crucial Province.

The sole goal of a democratic government is to get re-elected. So, politicians will do anything to keep the farm vote, including ignoring threats to the survival of our species, let alone a lot of other species.

Here are two reports on this exercise in raw politics from both of Canada’s national newpapers.

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Government’s cheese plan stinks

 

New laws would favour dairy industry over good health

 

National Post

nutrition@nationalpost.com

 

Recent initiatives by Health Canada might have you believing that the Canadian government is looking out for our health. But appearances can be deceiving. While Ottawa is offering up recommendations along with resources on healthy eating, they’re also readying to slash the availability of some of our more nutritious and tasty food choices, namely lower-fat cheeses.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has been trying, very quietly, to bring in legislation that would change the rules of how cheese sold in this country can be made. And it’s a push that could significantly undermine our ability to implement the government’s own healthy eating recommendations.

The availability of lower-fat cheeses makes meeting the required number of servings from the milk and alternatives group an easier task. Besides offering protection against high blood pressure and osteoporosis, their lesser quantities of saturated fat also impact the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Saturated fat is not just a culprit in boosting blood cholesterol readings but has also been linked to a decrease in insulin sensitivity — the first step towards developing type 2 diabetes.

Currently in the making of lower-fat cheeses, processors can decrease the fat content in their products but, to make their cheeses more palatable, add milk components like milk solids and whey. The added protein from the whey affects the mouthfeel of cheeses, making them taste like higher-fat products.

But if the CFIA has its way, many of the lower-fat cheeses now available would be illegal because of the added whey.

Using whey makes cheesemaking more economicaland leads to better prices for consumers. Incorporating it to make lower-fat cheese also lessens the impact of any waste products from cheesemaking on the environment. At the same time, most people would not be interested in eating lower-fat cheese. Anyone who remembers the taste and texture of the first versions of low-fat cheese understands this.

So why is the CFIA proposing these new regulations? While the agency’s mandate is to “protect Canadians from preventable health risks,” the CFIA is not under the jurisdiction of Health Canada. The agency, in fact, reports to the Minister of Agriculture, and the minister may be making dairy farmers very happy with these proposals. The CFIA is proposing a maximum ratio of two proteins found in milk — whey and casein. Limiting whey would force cheese makers to use more fluid milk — and therefore more money for dairy farmers.

But it would potentially be at the expense of the health of Canadians.

Health Canada has started to take a more active stand on a variety of nutrition issues as of late and, through its new food guide, recommends we look for “reduced fat or lower fat cheeses. Lower fat cheeses generally have less than 20% milk fat (M.F.).”

When told that there could be a problem with the availability of lower-fat cheeses, Health Minister Tony Clement stated, “I’d be concerned about that.”

It appears, though, that on this issue Health Canada has been asleep at the wheel. Renée Bergeron, a Health Canada spokesperson stated, “Based on our initial review, Health Canada considers that the proposed changes to cheese standards would not be expected to compromise the nutritional quality of cheeses and cheese products. However, we will continue to work with CFIA on this file as comments are received as part of the consultation for the regulatory process.”

Initial review? These proposals were announced in February. And it seems that the CFIA didn’t notify or invite comments from wellknown health advocacy groups that might have had some interest in the proposed legislation. When members of the Dietitians of Canada asked their association to respond to the CFIA about their concerns, the organization was denied an extension to provide their comments.

The cheesemaking industry is also up in arms. The Dairy Processors Association of Canada (DPAC/ATLC), Canada’s nationalassociation representing the public policy and regulatory interests of the Canadian dairy processing industry, has asked for an immediate halt to the process. In a news release in May, the association stated that these new regulations on cheese could result in $1.5-billion impact on Canadian consumers, trade and the economy. Prices for all cheeses would increase substantially. And many imported cheeses would not meet the new criteria.

Health Canada’s Bergeron also stated: “For information about work being done by industry on the development of innovative low-fat cheeses, Health Canada suggests that you contact Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada or the CFIA.”

But has anyone asked the industry about its advancements in the production of low-fat cheeses? According to Don Jarvis, president and CEO of the Dairy Processors Association of Canada, there have been a number of innovations that the cheese industry has developed over the past decade to produce healthier options — it’s these new techniques that the CFIA is attempting to stamp out.

We’re finally making headway in combining taste and good nutrition, so why does the government want us to take a step backwards?

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto based consulting dietitian in private practice and is author of The Enlightened Eater’s Whole Foods Guide: Harvest the Power of Phyto Foods (Viking Canada).

 

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Mr. Strahl, it’s not the Canadian whey

OTTAWA — Like Little Miss Muffet, Canadians have been consuming their curds and whey – and helping the environment at the same time. By choosing “light” cheeses at the supermarket, products that recycle whey, Canadians have exponentially increased the country’s consumption of a waste product traditionally bereft of commercial uses. Since residual whey is a significant industrial pollutant, this marketplace adaptation has produced a fine symbiotic relationship. Fewer calories for people. Less wastes for industry.

In this allegorical construct, the next character we encounter should be the Spider. Enter Agriculture Minister Chuck Strahl as Spiderman. When Mr. Strahl addressed a convention of dairy farmers in February, he announced that he had directed federal food regulators “to launch a regulatory process related to the compositional standards for cheese.” He had taken this action, he said, “to protect consumer interests and to promote choice in the marketplace.”

The federal guardian of supply-management farming had come to help Canadian consumers? This was more ominous than it sounded. Run, Miss Muffet. Run.

As subsequently translated, Mr. Stahl’s announcement meant that the government proposed to compel Canadian food processors to use more “full-fat” milk to make “light” cheese, prohibiting the use of recycled whey in some instances, restricting it in others. As you might suspect, however, the actual work was already well advanced. The regulations will require, for example, that mozzarella contain 63 per cent full-fat milk, that cheddar cheese contain 83 per cent full-fat milk, that “fine cheeses” contain 98 per cent full-fat milk.

In many cases, these requirements will prevent the recycling of whey from byproduct into buy-product. Even as Health Canada advises Canadians to consume more “light,” low-fat foods, Agriculture Canada will make it more difficult to do so.

We’re talking huge quantities of whey. Every pound of cheese produces nine pounds of whey – and Canadian cheese makers last year produced 350,000 tons of cheese. The Dairy Processors Association of Canada, representing companies that turn raw milk into products worth more than $10-billion a year, says Mr. Strahl’s restrictions will put 300 million litres of whey back into the environment for disposal. “Environmental regulations,” the association says, “make this disposition almost impossible and very costly.”

Whey is the liquid that remains after the removal of fat from whole milk. It’s rich in minerals and carbohydrates. Farmers used to feed it to pigs. Rural cheese factories used to dump it into rivers and streams. In the past few years, technology has produced a few commercial uses, notably in processed cheeses where it keeps cheese moist. It can be dried into a powder and used to bind fat and water in canned meats and sausages. It can be converted into alcohol – where it has found its way into Baileys Irish Cream. Theoretically, it can be made into ethanol.

The environmental problem is that whey has extremely high BOD, or biological oxygen demand. BOD measures the biologically degradable substances in sewage.

These substances are broken down by micro-organisms that consume oxygen. You can’t dump whey into a river or a lake because these micro-organisms will consume the oxygen and kill the waterway. You can’t dump it into conventional sewage systems because these micro-organisms cling together and clog the pipes. This has been known for ages. One old text advised farmers: “It is a cardinal rule that no milk product ever be dumped into a stream or a sewage system.”

Whey’s BOD can be expressed as 40,000 parts per million. By comparison, the BOD of cream (with 40 per cent butterfat) is 400,000 parts per million; the BOD of skim milk is 70,000 parts per million. The BOD of human waste is 200 parts per million. Try as you can, you can’t avoid a final unpleasant comparison.

BOD comprises 3.5 per cent of whey. Multiply 300 million litres a year of surplus whey by 3.5 per cent. You get 10.5 million litres of BOD – precisely equal to the human waste of 4.5 million Canadians. Run, Miss Muffet. Run.

The Dairy Producers Association of Canada says 30 per cent of the cheese currently imported into the country (value: $100-million) will not comply with the impending rules. Cheddar cheese from the village of Cheddar in Britain’s Somerset County won’t meet the federal government’s butterfat-based definition of “cheddar.” It says the high cost of milk will force food processors to substitute vegetable oils for butterfat – further hurting the dairy farmers Mr. Strahl wants to help.

The moral of this fable? Don’t trust Chuck Strahl with your cheese. You’ll pay more for your curds. You’ll lose your whey – and your tuffet, too.

nreynolds@xplornet.com

Posted in obesity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Child obesity and trans fat, a politically correct scapegoat

Posted by Colin Rose on March 28, 2007

Here is a classic example of politicians trying to deflect responsibility for a problem away from the average voter, whom they are loath to antagonize, to a politically powerless scapegoat. You will never hear a politician say that eating TOO MANY CALORIES because of food addiction is the cause of pandemic obesity. That would upset the whole food supply industry and rural voters whose votes are worth twice a much as city dwellers. So, politicians blame trans fat and recommend building more gyms, changes that will make ABSOLUTELY NO difference but will not injure an delicate voter sensibilities.

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Child obesity an epidemic, Ottawa told

25% OVERWEIGHT: COMMONS COMMITTEE For first time, Canada’s younger generations are expected to live shorter lives than parents

OTTAWA – More Canadian children are overweight and for the first time the country’s younger generations are expected to live shorter lives than their parents because of obesity, says a new Commons committee report made public yesterday.

Committee MPs said they were “shocked” to learn about the increase in overweight children, from 12 per cent to 18 per cent, and obese children, from three per cent to eight per cent, between 1978 and 2004.

That makes about one in four Canadian children overweight or obese.

The report said parents must be in denial, as a Canadian Medical Association survey found only nine per cent report they have a child who is at least somewhat overweight.

The health committee called yesterday for aggressive measures to halt child obesity, and said they share fears of experts that “today’s children will be the first generation for some time to have poorer health outcomes and a shorter life expectancy than their parents.”

Highlights of recommendations are a ban on trans fats as advised by a federal task force; use of a mandatory, simplified, standardized food labelling system; and designation of federal funds to build or replace aging playgrounds, sidewalks, rinks, pools and other community exercise spots across the country.

The report said most Canadian children spend too much time in front of TV and computer screens; don’t get the expert-recommended 90 minutes a day of exercise; eat too much fat and junk food; consume too many sugary drinks and don’t eat the recommended five daily servings of fruit and vegetables.

The committee also reported the “distressing” and “most alarming” number of 55 per cent of First Nations children living on reserves, and 41 per cent off reserves, are overweight or obese.

There is so much poverty among First Nation and Inuit people that many people cannot afford nutritious food, especially in remote northern communities, the report said.

And of more than 500 First Nations schools, only half have a gym.

The health committee proposed Canadians take up a national challenge to halt a 30-year rise in overweight children in just three years – by the 2010 Olympic games in Vancouver. Then targets to reverse the trend could kick in.

“It is ambitious but it is doable,” committee chairperson Rob Merrifield, an Alberta Conservative MP, told a news conference.

“For the first time in recorded history, our younger generations are expected to live shorter lives than their parents due to obesity,” he said in a prepared statement.

“New and aggressive action is required to address this complex and, ultimately, very costly problem.”

The report was welcomed by the Heart and Stroke Foundation, which has long warned “fat is the new tobacco,” and by the Canadian Medical Association.

Foundation chief Sally Brown said overweight children are on “a fast track” to developing hypertension, heart disease and stroke.

New Democratic Party MP Penny Priddy said by chronicling links between poverty, poor diet and lack of exercise, the report busts a myth that overweight children all sit around playing on computers and watching TV. She cited the example of children in poor families being fed Kraft Dinner instead of going to bed hungry.

Kraft Dinner is a brand of macaroni and cheese, an inexpensive food.

Expressing concern that the committee would get into trouble with the Kraft corporation, Merrifield said “I love Kraft Dinner.”

The report said on average, adolescents in Canada spend almost 35 hours a week in front of a TV or computer screen – more time than in the classroom over the course of a year. Studies had shown the less time in front of a screen and the more activity, the less weight.

The committee also postponed a decision on a possible ban on food advertising to children, saying it would assess the impact of self-regulation in Quebec, Sweden and other jurisdictions in a year before deciding on the issue.

Bloc Québécois MPs issued a dissenting report, saying the Quebec government already has a well-defined strategy to deal with juvenile obesity and that the federal government should stick to its own jurisdiction in health, which is confined to First Nations and Inuit people.

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According to studies conducted at the University of Guelph, Canadians consume an average of eight to 10 grams of trans fats per day. At 9 kcal/gm for fat, trans fat account for at most 90 kcal/day. This is the cause of the obestiy pandemic? One pound of fat is about 3500 kcal, so it would take about 40 days to gain or lose one pound of fat if one adds the trans fat or eliminates it respectively. But that trans fat is always REPLACED with another form of fat with the same calories. A gram of trans fat has the same caloric value as a gram of oil or other fat. So one has to reduce the TOTAL FAT and TOTAL CALORIE intake to make any difference.

Here is what is often used to replace trans fat. No cholesterol, no trans fat, omega-3. These slogans are now used by food manufacturers to market even more junk calories. I predict the pandemic will only worsen. Nobody wants to deal with the fundamental problem, food addiction. See my photo essay on food addiction.

Health Food in Costco

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