Sunday, July 07, 2013

British children's diets worse today than in wartime: And now illnesses of 1940s are making a comeback (?)

There is so much politically correct dishonesty in this article that one wonders if there is any truth in it all.  We see no mention  that most of the rickets observed is in brown-skinned people originating from the Indian subcontinent  -- particularly among Moslems who cover up a lot.  Brown skin is not very efficient in turning sunlight into vitamin D and shrouding most of your skin in  billowing garments reduces that capacity manyfold.  And in the weak sunlight of Britain that matters. It is mainly immigration and cloudy skies, not fast food that lies behind the upsurge in rickets.

A secondary cause is the modern tendency to keep children indoors for "elf 'n safety" reasons.   That also prevents skin from doing its job.  Again, food is not the culprit.

One notes that no figures are given on the vitamin content of (say) a Big Mac meal.  I think I know why.  A Big Mac meal in fact has lots of nutrients.  If eating bread, meat, salad and potatoes is an unhealthy meal we are all in trouble. 

I don't know enough about the demographics of citrus-eating to comment on the claims about scurvy but I imagine that the claims about it are as dishonest as the claims about rickets.  I note however that tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C and McDonald's hamburger fillings do include tomato. I note also that potatoes are rich in several micronutrients, especially vitamin C and potato chips are of course a prominent part of a McDonald's meal

The onus of proof for their claims is clearly on the pundits below and they have not even tried to give evidence for their claims.  It is all just careless assertion

Wartime diseases are making a comeback among children because their junk food diets are worse than during rationing, warn experts.  Conditions such as scurvy and rickets are being fuelled by too many takeaways and microwave meals, it is claimed.

But poor nutrition has not stopped many from becoming obese, it is feared, as they are putting on weight from eating the wrong sorts of food.

Doctors’ leader Mark Temple said it was a ‘great tragedy’ that some families gain less goodness from their food than those coping with rationing in the Second World War.

‘Food standards are worse now than they were during the rationing during the war,’ he said. ‘That’s a strong indictment on the food industry.’

Latest figures show that  10 per cent of pupils are obese when they start school. The  proportion doubles to almost 20 per cent in those about to start secondary education.

Dr Temple, chairman of the  British Medical Association’s  public health medicine committee, said: ‘Obesity is a major health threat and we ought to be doing something about it.’

Sioned Quirke, a member of the British Dietetic Association, warned that relying on fast food was leading to a rise in diseases last commonly seen during the early 20th century.

Working in the Rhondda Valleys, South Wales, she has seen rising numbers of childhood illnesses thought to have been eradicated.

‘Rickets and scurvy are coming back,’ she said. ‘When I was training ten years ago, we thought we would not come across them.   ‘These conditions are long-term. If the bones are affected by vitamin deficiency, they are affected for life.’

Last year, child health experts said the incidence of rickets  rose four-fold in the last 15 years as young children were not getting enough vitamin D.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said cases went up from 183 in 1995/96 to 762 in 2011.

Latest figures for 2008 show that 94 children were treated in NHS hospitals for scurvy. However, many health authorities classify it as malnutrition rather than as a separate condition.

Miss Quirke said: ‘For some groups, diet and nutrition has reverted to being as poor as it was 100 years ago.  ‘The difference between now and then is that this is out of choice. People say fruit and vegetables are not affordable when they are.’

Rickets is caused by a lack of  calcium and vitamin D from foods like oily fish and eggs, making bones soft and malformed. Scurvy can be caused by a lack of vitamin C, which is vital to make collagen. If this protein is not replaced, tissue breaks down, leading to muscle and joint pain. The gums may also bleed and swell.

Vitamin C cannot be made by the body so must come from food.

Rationing began in January 1940 and one person’s typical weekly allowance was: a fresh egg; 4oz margarine and bacon (about four rashers); 2oz butter and tea; 1oz cheese; and 8oz sugar.

The RCPCH has issued a series of leaflets for doctors highlighting signs of deficiency.


The trans fat hysterics have a new target

For the facts on Trans fats, see here

A BATTER-LADEN fried fish dish which packs two weeks' worth of harmful trans fat in a single serving has been named the worst restaurant meal in America.

The Big Catch meal, sold at the fast food chain Long John Silver's, contains 33 grams of trans fat and 3700 milligrams of sodium, said the Centre for Science in the Public Interest.

People should limit themselves to two grams of trans fat daily, according to the American Heart Association, and most people should eat 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day, according to the Institute of Medicine.

"Long John Silver's Big Catch meal deserves to be buried 20,000 leagues under the sea," CSPI executive director Michael Jacobson said in a statement announcing the group's pick of worst restaurant meal in America.

"This company is taking perfectly healthy fish - and entombing it in a thick crust of batter and partially hydrogenated oil. The result? A heart attack on a hook."

The fish is battered and fried in partially hydrogenated soybean oil, and sold with onion rings and hush puppies (deep-fired cornmeal batter). Its total calorie count is rather low for a fast food meal - just 1320 (5520kJ), CSPI said.

But its artery-clogging trans fat is twice the level of the worst KFC dish, which had 15 grams of trans fat before a 2006 CSPI lawsuit led the chicken chain to stop using partially hydrogenated oil.

"Trans fat from partially hydrogenated oil is a uniquely damaging substance that raises your bad cholesterol, lowers your good cholesterol, and harms the cells that line your blood vessels," said Walter Willett, nutrition department chair at the Harvard School of Public Health.

"It might have been defensible to use hydrogenated oil in the 1980s, before trans fat's harmfulness was discovered, but no longer."

Long John Silver's introduced the "Big Catch" in May, describing it as "the largest fish we have ever offered weighing in at 7-8 ounces (200-225g) of 100 per cent premium Haddock caught in the icy waters of the North Atlantic."
But that claim did not stand up to the scrutiny of CSPI inspectors, who picked apart the breading from the fish and said they found "an average of about four and a half ounces of actual fish and almost three ounces of oil-soaked batter."'

Long John Silver's, which calls itself the "largest quick service seafood restaurant in the world," did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

CSPI said it plans to sue the chain if it continues to use partially hydrogenated oil in its deep-fryers and if it continues to misrepresent the amount of fish in the meal and the nutrition information for the side items.

The group's researchers found that the meal's onion rings were advertised to contain seven grams of trans fat but actually contained 19.5 grams.


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