Have you ever eaten a single potato chip or French fry that sent you spiraling into nearly uncontrollable gluttony? Scientists are now saying that these sober binges are actually quite similar to pot smokers’ notorious bouts of the munchies: fatty foods cause your body to release marijuana-like chemicals called endocannabinoids, and this likely compels you to continue stuffing your face.
It’s been making headlines all week (“Twinkie diet helps man lose weight” and “Trying To Lose Weight… Try The Junk Food Diet” might be some of the worst health-related headlines I’ve seen in awhile) as the Ding-Dong Diet or the Twinkie Diet, but let’s just call it the worst diet ever for short.
The newsplosion came from an experiment by Mark Haub, an associate professor in the department of human nutrition at Kansas State University. In an effort to prove to his class the importance of calories in weight gain and loss, he decided to drastically change his eating habits.
He embarked from the shores of a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, grains, and meat (totaling about 2,600 calories per day) to a junk food diet consisting of Twinkies, Hostess and Little Debbie snack cakes, and Doritos–with sides of vitamin pills, protein shakes, and small portions of vegetables. He lost 27 pounds in 10 weeks. Why? Because he restricted his new diet to a total of 1,800 calories per day.
He expected to lose weight, but was unsure about the other health outcomes of the diet. Ten weeks later his blood tests showed that both his lipid levels and glucose had lowered, a fact that would put him in a healthier heart state, according to the American Heart Association‘s guidelines. According to ABC News, Haub even felt better:
The thing is, he began to feel healthier. He had more energy, stopped snoring, and not only did he lose enough weight to drive down his overall cholesterol and body mass index (BMI), his good HDL cholesterol crept up two points and his blood glucose — despite all that cream filling — dropped 17 percent.
Discoblog was skeptical about the hype over Haub’s junk food binge, so we asked some nutritionists and doctors what they thought of it. We came back with several different takes, but one general message. In a loud and clear voice, these nutritionists are telling America that this diet is a bad idea, and pleading with people not to try it.
The Web site for POM pomegranate juice makes some pretty extreme claims, strongly implying that the juice can prevent or help treat diseases like cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and even erectile dysfunction. Now, the Food and Drug Administration has said such claims are misleading and are not allowed on food products, according to a report in The New York Times. If POM wants to make such claims, the FDA stated, it will have to be regulated as a drug.
In a crackdown on companies with misleading labels, the FDA shot off warning letters asking 17 companies to clean up their act.
In the latest installment of “science ruins your guilty pleasure,” a new report confirms what everyone pretty much already knew–movie popcorn is terrible for you.
Via the Los Angeles Times:
A medium-sized popcorn and medium soda at the nation’s largest movie chain pack the nutritional equivalent of three Quarter Pounders topped with 12 pats of butter, according to a report released today by the advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Popcorn from Regal Entertainment Group, AMC and Cinemark, were analyzed in lab. Regal was the worst offender, packing 1,200 calories, 60 grams of saturated fat, and 980 milligrams of sodium into a medium popcorn–before adding butter! The gooey buttery sauce adds 200 calories and 3 grams of saturated fat per 1.5 tablespoons.
Both Regal and AMC pop their popcorn in coconut oil, which is about 90 percent saturated fat, noted the study’s authors. Cinemark uses canola oil, which is healthier, but a medium popcorn from Cinemark will still add around 760 calories and 3 grams of saturated fat to your diet, according to the analysis, which is published in the December issue of CSPI’s Nutrition Action HealthLetter.
On a positive note, no trans-fats were detected in any of the samples.
Apparently, there aren’t any plans to include a low calorie popcorn at any of the movie chains’ snack bars, so if you want healthier options, just do like everyone else and sneak in your own food.
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Discoblog: Just Like Humans, Crows Embrace Junk Food…and Pay the Price
Image: flickr / jennie-o
We already knew that a diet based on junk food is bad for people and crows. Now a study shows that the health of cockroaches also suffers when the critters eat an unbalanced diet.
In fact, roaches fed a poor-quality diet matured more slowly and were fatter than those fed a well-balanced one. Females who ate badly also were less willing to mate than their well-nourished peers. LiveScience reports:
[Researchers] picked young female cockroach nymphs and divided them into two dietary groups. Half were fed a good-quality balanced diet of protein-rich fish food and high-carbohydrate oatmeal, while the rest were raised on fish food only. Both groups were allowed to eat as much as they wanted….When the nymphs became adults, the team switched the diets of some animals.
Half of the cockroaches raised with good quality diet lost their oatmeal, while half of the bugs fed poorly were promoted to a good-quality diet. Eighteen days after the switch, the diet control ended and some of the surviving cockroaches were dissected. The effects of unbalanced meals continued throughout the cockroaches’ lives, even for the few that were switched to good-quality food.
High in calories but low in nutrition, junk food isn’t exactly optimal fuel for kids. And, it turns out, it’s not the best for baby crows, either.
A steady diet of scavenged discarded doughnuts and French fries has had deleterious effects on crow chicks in suburban areas, according to researchers at Binghamton University. The urban crows are smaller and have lower levels of blood protein and calcium than chicks living in rural areas, the study found.