Saturday, May 19, 2007


It is a matter of some concern that dieting can thin out your bones. This is a particular concern among older women -- who are at higher risk of brittle bones anyway. The study below purports to reassure such women -- but it is garbage. What on earth can we infer from 44 women of unknown representativeness examined over a very short time period? The small sample size alone would make it unlikely that statistically significant differences would be detected. That such a piece of nonsense was published is probably best explained by the fact that it suits the obesity warriors -- who are quite prepared to risk people's health with their socially-driven (not medically-driven) propaganda

Adequate and High Calcium Intakes Protect Premenopausal Women from Bone Loss during Weight-Loss Dieting

Premenopausal weight loss increases women's risk of later osteoporotic bone fractures, a risk that is greater for overweight than obese women. However, it is unclear whether high calcium intakes prevent bone loss in overweight women who are losing weight. Reporting in this month's American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Riedt and colleagues conducted a study at Rutgers University to measure the effects of normal (1.0 g/day) or high (1.8 g/day) calcium intake during weight loss on bone mineral density and bone mineral content in overweight premenopausal women. Forty-four women with an average body mass index (in kg/m2) of 27.7 were divided into 3 treatment groups: weight loss with high calcium intake, weight loss with normal calcium intake, and weight maintenance with normal calcium intake. The study included 1 month of calcium supplementation alone and 6 months of weight-loss treatment plus calcium. Calcium was administered via calcium citrate tablets and calcium-rich foods, and subjects also received 400 IU of supplemental vitamin D each day. Women receiving weight-loss treatment lost an average of 5.5 kg over 6 months, with equal losses in the normal- and high-calcium groups. Both weight-loss groups maintained pretreatment bone mineral density. Furthermore, although fractional calcium absorption declined in all groups over the first 6 weeks of weight reduction, the subjects appear to have absorbed enough calcium to stay in calcium balance. Bone turnover markers such as osteocalcin; plasma concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D, an index of vitamin D status; and concentrations of parathyroid hormone, which is secreted in response to low blood calcium, were all stable throughout the study. The authors conclude that a moderate rate of weight loss does not endanger bone health in overweight premenopausal women who have normal or high calcium intakes.


Journal Abstract

Premenopausal overweight women do not lose bone during moderate weight loss with adequate or higher calcium intake

By Claudia S Riedt et al.

Background:Weight loss is associated with bone loss, but this has not been examined in overweight premenopausal women.

Objective:The aim of this study was to assess whether overweight premenopausal women lose bone with moderate weight loss at recommended or higher than recommended calcium intakes.

Design:Overweight premenopausal women [n = 44; x(~SD) age: 38 ~6.4 y; body mass index (BMI): 27.7 ~ 2.1 kg/m2] were randomly assigned to either a normal (1 g/d) or high (1.8 g/d) calcium intake during 6 mo of energy restriction [weight loss (WL) groups] or were recruited for weight maintenance at 1 g Ca/d intake. Regional bone mineral density and content were measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, and markers of bone turnover were measured before and after weight loss. True fractional calcium absorption (TFCA) was measured at baseline and during caloric restriction by using a dual-stable calcium isotope method.

Results:The WL groups lost 7.2 ~ 3.3% of initial body weight. No significant decrease in BMD or rise in bone turnover was observed with weight loss at normal or high calcium intake. The group that consumed high calcium showed a strong relation (r = 0.71) between increased femoral neck bone mineral density and increased serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D. No significant effect of weight loss on TFCA was observed, and the total calcium absorbed was adequate at 238 ~ 81 and 310 ~ 91 mg/d for the normal- and high-calcium WL groups, respectively.

Conclusion:Overweight premenopausal women do not lose bone during weight loss at the recommended calcium intake, which may be explained by sufficient amounts of absorbed calcium.

Cosmetics cruncher

Few people can drop words such as avobenzone or dipotassium into a conversation with confidence. Paula Begoun can. The make-up artist turned self-styled "cosmetics cop" has been applying, assessing, smelling, blotting and smearing make-up and skincare her entire adult life. She knows her emollients from her silicones better than most cosmetic chemists. Her self-published beauty "anti-bible", Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me, which set out to torpedo the beauty industry's more outrageous claims about the efficacy of their formulations, has sold more than 1.5 million copies worldwide and a seventh edition is about to be released.

And Begoun's work extends beyond the page. The Seattle author is holding a series of seminars around Australia aimed at helping women understand the hollow promises behind much of the goop they put on their face. The two she scheduled in Melbourne for this Sunday sold out quickly after they were advertised online.

Begoun's reputation for dished up common sense and the odd tirade about false cosmetic claims, precedes her. "I'm a very strange woman," she says. "Every time I think I'm over it, I get passionate again, even after 30 years. I talk to a new reporter, I get worked up. The amount of money I see people wasting on really bad products never fails to astound me."

Begoun's suspicions that the fairy dust being spruiked by the cosmetics companies might often be little more than pretty packaging surfaced in 1977. As a young make-up artist, she took a job on a cosmetics counter pushing Calvin Klein and Elizabeth Arden make-up lines. Her scepticism was immediate. Personal experience making up other people's faces told her that astringents weren't good for unclogging pores - yet that was what her bosses insisted she tell customers. Products claiming to treat acne would often make skin red and irritated. And mascaras that claimed to be flake-proof deposited blankets of black dandruff over the wearer's face.

Begoun began steering customers away from products she felt were a waste of money and soon found herself out of a job. But as one compact snapped shut, another opened: Begoun decided she wanted to call the industry into line. The result was Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me and her website,, where she analyses ingredient lists and marketing claims using published and peer-reviewed scientific data. Of course, there is also Begoun's own make-up line, sold through her website, which she insists is affordable, well-formulated and avoids pointless marketing hype.

And what hype it is. A brief glance through her book reveals just how many of the products that pop up repeatedly on beauty editors' "best of" lists are duds - at least according to Begoun's research. Maybelline's Great Lash mascara for instance, whose distinctive green and pink tube contains the world's best-selling lash enhancement, "does not," according to Begoun, "build any thickness and has a tendency to smear". The salicyclic acid in Elizabeth Arden's Eight Hour Cream is present in such small amounts as to make it "ineffective as an exfoliant". The Multiple from NARS, a highlighter colour cream that has magazine editorial staff clawing each other during their in-house beauty sales, has an "extraordinary price for what amounts to sheer, shiny colour", Begoun writes.

And don't get her started on the big-name, big-ticket moisturisers such as La Prairie, La Mer and others. "I love Cate Blanchett but she's wrong," she says when asked about the popularity of luxury skin care line SKII, which has the Australian actress as its ambassador. Her voice becomes brisk; "I mean, I'm sure her contract isn't wrong but their formulations are ordinary, their sunscreens are bad and they come in a jar. You'd do better using Olay's Regenerist." And incidentally, this would cost about a fifth the price of SKII.

Begoun's revelations are not new. The last edition of Don't Go hit the bookshelves in 2003 and the cosmetics cop has largely lain low since then. According to one cosmetics company representative in Australia, when Begoun released her own make-up line, her credibility when it came to assessing the formulations of her rivals was shot to pieces. Begoun scoffs at her critics. "You just have to take one look through my book to see that I think there are some fantastic products," she says. "I would hardly praise them if it was all about selling my own stuff."

In the 10 years since the first edition of the book, Begoun says the industry has made huge improvements, with more products approved in the yet-to-be-released 2008 edition. But, Begoun adds, "In terms of misleading claims, false advertising and overpriced products, it has gotten worse". It's the new "miracle ingredients" or "patented secrets" or celebrity endorsements, which crowd our fashion magazines and TV advertisements every day, that raise Begoun's hackles the most. Once analysed, many of these formulations are found to be ineffective or, worse, harmful to the skin. Yet, Australians spend more than $370 million a year on skincare.

For those of us who'd prefer to shell out for something that will benefit our complexions, Begoun says that when it comes to skincare "it must have sunscreen". "Every single minute of every day that your skin sees daylight, it is being damaged. And no cream in the world can reverse it."

She warns against anything that comes in a jar, explaining that any useful ingredients will be rendered useless with excessive contact to air. Begoun's new book also gives detailed recommendations about water binding agents, alcohol content and levels of AHAs and antioxidants.

When it comes to make-up, Begoun believes you can kit out your entire face, easily, for less than $100. She recommends Revlon foundations ("great texture and colours"), Rimmel for eyes and cheeks and lipstick from pretty much anyone. And she says, be wary of lip glosses. There is no need to pay big bucks for a premium brand such as Lancome's Juicy Tubes when practically every line makes a similar product, she says.

It's puzzling why the big cosmetics houses don't improve their products. If exposing products to air destabilises them, why not ditch the jar in favour of something opaque and airtight? If ingredients such as menthol, eucalyptus and camphor irritate the skin, why use them? Begoun believes the answer lies with the consumer. We apparently like the sensation of unscrewing a jar and playing with a cream. We respond well to the tingling sensation of harsh ingredients, believing they're working. Artificial fragrances may trigger allergies but no one will buy a night cream if it smells like petrochemicals.

But it's this preference power that might force cosmetics companies to adopt more face-friendly formulas. Spend your money wisely and more products that protect and enhance the skin should become available. And what to do with all the money you've saved on over-priced but empty promises? Save it for later. Botox and laser resurfacing don't come cheap.



Just some problems with the "Obesity" war:

1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody -- when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike. (It is also typical of Leftist thinking: Scorning the individual and capable of dealing with large groups only).

2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest -- not slim people. So the "epidemic" of obesity is in fact largely an "epidemic" of living longer.

3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat -- not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. "junk food") without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.

4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.

5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?

6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted -- such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.

7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.

8). And when are we going to ban cheese? Cheese is a concentrated calorie bomb and has lots of that wicked animal fat in it too. Wouldn't we all be better off without it? And what about butter and margarine? They are just about pure fat. Surely they should be treated as contraband in kids' lunchboxes! [/sarcasm].

Trans fats:

For one summary of the weak science behind the "trans-fat" hysteria, see here. Trans fats have only a temporary effect on blood chemistry and the evidence of lasting harm from them is dubious. By taking extreme groups in trans fats intake, some weak association with coronary heart disease has at times been shown in some sub-populations but extreme group studies are inherently at risk of confounding with other factors and are intrinsically of little interest to the average person.


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