Friday, December 05, 2014

The Mediterranean myth again

For years health freaks have been claiming that a Mediterranean diet increases your lifespan.  So how come Australians are one of the world's longest-lived groups (longer than any Mediterraneans) and yet traditionally live on a diet that is just about opposite to a Mediterranean one?

A traditional breakfast often includes fried bacon and eggs -- and steak and eggs was pretty common once too, particularly in country areas. Lunch is big on hamburgers, beef pies and sausage rolls (which often ooze fat). Dinner consists of "meat and 3 veg" -- meaning various forms of red meat, usually fried, plus boiled vegetables. All accompanied by bread and butter and followed by "pudding" -- a very sugary dessert of infinite variety.

And the result?  Almost all Australian families have (or have had) a nonagenerian tottering around among them -- after having lived all their lives on the diet I have described.  Japan has its centenarians.  Australia has legions of nonagenarians.  And the result in both cases is long and roughly comparable average lifespans.

The Australian diet has of course changed in recent years but not perhaps as much as one might think.  I asked one of my young stepdaughters last night what she mostly cooked for dinner.  She promptly replied "meat and 3 veg".  So both her kids and her husband could live to 90!

So what is the foundation of the claims below?  It follows the unfortunate precedent set by Ancel Keys long ago.  It looks at just part of the picture rather than the whole.  Keys showed that Mediterraneans have much less frequent heart attacks but forgot to look at other causes of death

The Harvard galoots below looked at telomere length only, which is even more specific than what Keys did.  There is indeed some correlation between telomere length and lifespan but it is miles short of a 1 to 1 relationship -- leaving plenty of room for other factors to come into play  -- including "meat and 3 veg"!


A Mediterranean diet increases life expectancy by protecting the DNA from damage, research shows

Harvard academics studied 4,676 middle-aged women comparing their typical eating habits with the make-up of their cells.

Importantly, they looked at their telomeres – biological caps which are found at the ends of chromosomes that protect the DNA inside.

As we get older, our telomeres get progressively shorter, causing the DNA to become damaged and raising the odds of age-related illnesses such as Alzheimer' s, diabetes and heart disease.

The research – published in the BMJ – found that women whose diets were generally low in fat and high in fruit and veg had longer telomeres.

But this was even more pronounced for those who followed a Mediterranean diet rich in fruit, veg, nuts and pulses.



Those who live in glass houses...

The presidential pardon of a turkey or two every Thanksgiving is just one of the silly events the Washington elite do every year – just like the softball games in summer and the cherry blossom princesses in the spring. But let’s not blame Barack Obama’s daughters Malia and Sasha Obama for being bored by the event.

Elizabeth Lauten, the Communications Director for Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN), critiqued the two teens on Facebook, writing, “Dear Sasha and Malia, I get you’re both in those awful teen years, but you’re a part of the First Family, try showing a little class. At least respect the part you play.” It was a cheap shot, but the Leftmedia jumped down Lauten’s throat: How dare someone say such a thing to the children of the president. Lauten apologized and then resigned from her position.

Yet her criticism was nothing compared to the mockery Slate spewed about Rick Santorum’s daughters, and let’s not forget how the Leftmedia cackled over the Palin family’s birthday party brawl or speculated over Trig Palin’s parentage. Double standard much?



Leftists can do no wrong

If real estate mogul and deep-pocketed White House donor Terry Bean were a Republican, he’d be a household name by now.

Bean’s face would be splashed all over the covers of grocery-stand newsweeklies. The garrulous hostesses of ABC’s “The View” would be haranguing the GOP to return his campaign contributions. Child-welfare advocates would be demanding his resignation from top political advocacy and civic groups.

Media satellite trucks from NBC’s “Today” show would be parked outside the Lane County, Ore., Circuit Court on Dec. 3 for his first appearance.

And The New York Times archives would be teeming with thousand-word editorials and multiple lead stories about his grand jury indictment on horrifying sexual abuse allegations involving multiple victims – including a 15-year-old boy.

Instead, a search for “Terry Bean” on the left-wing paper of record’s website on Tuesday yielded exactly one story dated Jan. 16, 1880, about a Westchester County, N.Y., elder with that name – plus a sponsored advertising link to retailer L.L. Bean.

So, who is Terry Bean? He’s a wealthy, high-flying liberal and celebrated gay-rights activist who co-founded the influential Human Rights Campaign organization. He is also a veteran member of the board of the HRC Foundation, which disseminates Common Core-aligned “anti-bullying” material to children’s schools nationwide.

Bean shelled out more than $500,000 for President Obama and the Democrats in 2012. He was rewarded with an exclusive Air Force One ride with Obama. The president also gave the developer a special shout-out at an opulent fundraiser in Portland, where Bean’s family had established a longstanding political and corporate fiefdom. Bean gleefully rubbed elbows with first lady Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton – and made sure everyone on his Flickr photo-sharing site knew it.

A relentless schmoozer, the campaign finance bundler introduced the commander in chief to his 25-year-old ex-boyfriend, Kiah Lawson. The pair posed for a cozy snapshot beneath an august portrait of George Washington in the White House library in 2013.

Late last month, however, the former lovebirds posed for a seedier set of pics: their creepy mug shots at the Multnomah County, Ore., Detention Center. After a sweeping investigation led by the Portland police department’s sex crime units and two county district attorney’s offices, authorities charged Bean with two felony counts of third-degree sodomy and one misdemeanor count of third-degree sex abuse. Lawson was indicted on third-degree sodomy and third-degree sexual abuse.

Allegations of Bean’s lurid sexual trysts with young men, which Lawson says the Democratic donor secretly videotaped, first surfaced in the local Willamette Week newspaper in June. Police say the pair enticed a 15-year-old boy to a hotel in Eugene, Ore., after meeting him through the iPhone app Grinder, which helps men locate “local gay, bi and curious guys for dating.”

Consider this: Harry Reid has taken to the Senate floor to repeatedly demonize GOP donors and upstanding businessmen Charles and David Koch for exercising their First Amendment rights. Hollywood celebrities Alec Baldwin, Kathleen Turner, Jason Alexander and Stephen Colbert have all targeted conservative Citizens United for its historic role in protecting political free speech. All are mute on a powerful Democratic donor actually accused of heinous sexual abuse crimes against a child.

While The New York Times has spilled gallons of ink on the campus rape epidemic, the GOP’s Mark Foley underage page scandal and the Catholic Church’s pedophilia problem, it has remained silent the past six months on the alleged child rape scheme of one of the Democratic Party’s most prominent campaign contributors and activists.

On Tuesday, the paper saw fit to run a 652-word A-section story on an obscure GOP aide who was forced to quit her job after criticizing Obama’s daughters on her Facebook page.

Nothing on Terry Bean.



Can Racial Discrimination Explain Much?

In the medical profession, there is the admonition primum non nocere, the Latin expression for “first, do no harm.” In order not to do harm, at the minimum, requires accurate diagnostics. Suppose a patient presents with abdominal pains, and the physician diagnoses it as caused by the patient’s ingrown toenails. If that isn’t the cause, the physician can spend all the resources he wants treating the patient’s ingrown toenails and not remedy the patient’s abdominal pains.

The decency of accurate diagnosis should be given to analyzing the problems of a large segment of the black community. Very often, major problems are erroneously seen as being caused by racial discrimination. No one argues that racial discrimination does not exist or does not have effects. The question that’s relevant to policy, as well as resource allocation, is: How much of what we see is caused by discrimination?

Let’s apply this question to the tragic state of black education. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, sometimes called the nation’s report card, the average black 12th-grader has the academic achievement level of the average white seventh- or eighth-grader. In some cities, there’s even a larger achievement gap. If, as some people assert, this is the result of racially discriminatory education funding, then demonstrations, legal suits and other measures might be taken to promote funding equity. Also, resources could be spent to politically organize and elect black people as mayors, city councilors and school superintendents.

If the cause of the black/white achievement gap has little to do with racial discrimination, then focusing on discrimination will lead us to ignore or downplay factors that do affect black education. In some school districts, 700 teachers are annually assaulted and threatened. At one time, Philadelphia employed 500 school police officers. Similar stories of school violence can be told in other cities with large black populations, such as Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit, Cleveland, Oakland, California, and Newark, New Jersey. How useful is it to spend resources on discrimination while allowing unsafe and chaotic educational environments to exist?

Whether a student is black, white, orange or polka-dot and whether he’s poor or rich, there are some minimum requirements that must be met in order for him to do well in school. Someone must make the student do his homework. Someone must see to it that he gets eight to nine hours of sleep. Someone has to fix him a wholesome breakfast and ensure that he gets to school on time and respects and obeys teachers. Here’s my question: Which one of those basic requirements can be accomplished through a presidential executive order, a congressional mandate or the edict of a mayor, a superintendent of schools or a teacher? If those basic requirements aren’t met, whatever else that is done in the name of education is for naught.

Spending more money on education is not a substitute. If it were, black academic achievement wouldn’t be a problem. For example, in 2012, Washington, D.C., public schools led the nation in spending per pupil, at $29,409. In terms of academic performance, “the nation’s report card” shows that over 80 percent of D.C.’s predominantly black eighth-graders scored either “basic” or “below basic” in reading and math. “Basic” indicates only partial mastery of the knowledge and skills fundamental for proficient work at grade level, and “below basic” means that the student doesn’t even have partial mastery.

Other devastating problems that are faced by many blacks and cannot be attributed to racial discrimination are a high crime rate – featured by a homicide victimization rate of 51 percent – over 70 percent of blacks being born to single females and only slightly more than 30 percent of black children being raised in two-parent households.

Solutions to these truly challenging problems will not be found in the political arena or in government programs. For black politicians, civil rights leaders, the intellectual elite and others to blame racial discrimination for the problems of today is dereliction. If a medical practitioner made the same kind of incorrect diagnosis, we’d indict him for malpractice.



Americans Are Spending 42 Percent More on Health Insurance Than They Did in 2007

Data on consumer spending show that spending on health insurance surged 42 percent from 2007 to 2013, according to analysis by the Wall Street Journal. The rise reflects the increasing cost of health insurance and the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that everyone buy extensive health insurance.

Another feature shown by the data is the movement away from home ownership and associated costs. Families are more likely to rent than in 2007, so mortgage spending is down and rent spending is up. Some of the other categories where spending fell – appliances and furniture – are complements to home-owning.

Spending increases are not the same as cost increases. Home internet and mobile phones are the fastest growing expenditure categories because new services are available, not because of rising costs on old services. It’s a good thing when increased spending comes from more people choosing to buy better services.

As any Black Friday shopper can tell you, consumers are happy when they get more goods for lower unit costs. Congress can augment buying power by repealing policies that raise costs, such as trade barriers, the fuel ethanol mandate, and of course Obamacare. Reducing the cost of food, gasoline and health insurance would give American consumers more choice and extra disposable income.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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