Mike the Psych's Blog

What if psychologists ruled the world? In real life?


Coffee shops told to stop selling calorie-rich cakes

Public Health England (PHE) has criticised coffee shops for pushing customers to buy snacks.

They are working with the food industry to reduce the sugar content of foods in shops and are now looking at food eaten outside the home. Chief nutritionist Alison Teddistone said “Coffee shops have got a long way to go”

A muffin adds about 400 calories to an order. Just because it has a healthy sounding name it’s still part of the problem, she says, with all the little nudges to buy extras.

Major coffee chains have committed publicly to reducing sugar and now it is time for all to raise their game. More action is needed to tackle obesity”.

PHE has set a target for cafés restaurants and coffee shops to reduce sugar in their everyday products by 20% by 2020. They are also concerned about takeaway deliveries who are doing a Facebook and saying they are “only connecting people”.  The government is also keen for restaurants, cafés and take-aways to list calories on their menus.

The WHO has warned this week that the UK was the 5th out of 176 nations for cancer linked to obesity. That is truly a shocking statistic, especially for an advanced country like the UK.

PHE said people know smoking is linked to cancer but don’t realise obesity is also increasing the risk of cancer (and diabetes and stroke).

FYI

  • Costa Coffee Blueberry muffin = 434 calories with 25.7 g of sugar
  • Costa Coffee bonfire spiced hot chocolate whole milk = 311 calories with36.5 g of sugar
  • Starbucks skinny blueberry muffin = 312 calories with 24 g of sugar
  • Starbucks venti oat vanilla latte = 438 calories with 52.2 g of sugar
  • Caffe Nero blueberry-filled muffin = 418 calories with 29.1 g of sugar

NHS advises only 30 g of sugar per day

This is all very well but perhaps if people exercised more then they could enjoy these treats in moderation.

And I’ve previously posted about Costa Coffee’s decision to impose semi-skimmed milk on customers without warning or having signs anywhere. They say it’s for health reasons yet still encourage people to have syrup, marshmallows and chocolate logs in their coffee. How hypocritical is that?

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Brits are fatties and lie about it!

Brits are eating 50% more food than they admit to according to latest research from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

Apparently we are exceeding the official health recommendations by the equivalent of one Big Mac a day.

Men are consuming 3.119 calories – not the 2,065 they own up to. And women are consuming 2,393 instead of the 1,570 they own up to.

The researchers used the National Diet & Nutrition Survey. Amazingly they found that a third of people in the survey actually claimed to be eating less than they would need to stay alive. People say that they are eating less than in the 1970s but it’s just not true as rising obesity levels illustrate.

This time the researchers used gold standard biological measurements of how energy is metabolised on a subset of the 4,500 in the survey. They then compared what this group said they ate and what the test results showed and extrapolated those finding across the whole sample.

Its’ clear you can’t trust self-report surveys when it comes to eating habits (or I suspect exercise habits as well).

See earlier posts on obesity


Some weight loss myths

ulearn2bu

apple_measure_tape_1600_wht_131291   Giving up carbs

Processed carbs can contribute to weight gain but you shouldn’t give up on complex carbs or wholegrain such as brown rice which have a lot of fibre and make you feel fuller longer.

Complex carbs can also have a lower glycaemic index (GI) – which is a measure of the rate at which sugar is digested – so you won’t get highs and lows in blood sugar.

Dietician Dr Sarah Schenker says it’s more about portion control and suggests limiting the calorie-dense healthy carbs such as rice, oats , or pasta, and alternate with lighter ones like butternut squash or corn on the cob which are just as filling.

2   Extreme exercise 

We think that if we expend more energy than we consume we should lose weight. And exercise does increase our metabolism (the rate at which we burn calories) but when we…

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The Water Diet

ulearn2bu

stick_figures_at_water_cooler_pc_1600_clr_3800Not a Gywneth Paltrow gimmick or a Posh Spice suggestion (she only eats lightly salted spinach apparently), although lauded by the likes of Jessica Alba, Gisele Bündchen and Reese Witherspoon.

However there was no scientific evidence that drinking copious amounts of water is necessarily good for us. Until now.

Researchers at Illinois University have published a paper, based on over 18,000 people, in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics which shows that drinking water does actually help you to eat less and have less sugar and cholesterol.

They found that drinking an extra three coups of water a day meant you consumed up to 200 fewer calories which equated to losing a pound of fat in two weeks, regardless of what you ate or how much you exercised.

Scientists are also getting excited about pre-loading; drinking half a litre of water 30 minutes before each meal. Working with overweight and obese patients…

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Breakfast is King – not necessarily

ulearn2bu

whats_for_dinner_1600_wht_11336Many people believe that having a large breakfast prevents overeating later in the day and can help you lose weight. Even doctors have suggested that you eat about a third of your daily calorie intake at breakfast, enhancing breakfast’s reputation as the most important meal of the day. But where’s the evidence?

James Betts, a senior lecturer in nutrition at the University of Bath has dismissed the idea that “eating breakfast like a king” will kickstart the metabolism to burn more energy and prevent unhealthy food choices later on. “These are largely assumptions based on observations which have never been tested” he says.

Do healthy people eat breakfast or does eating breakfast make you healthy? He thought there would be lots of evidence but couldn’t find it. The idea seems to have started as a marketing ploy by John Harvey Kellogg at the turn of the century…

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Crash diets make you even fatter

ulearn2bu

stick_figure_overweight_scale_1600_wht_3853There is a risk that crash diets will damage a person’s capacity to burn calories.

A study of people on a reality TV show, The Biggest Loser,  which challenges obese people to lose weight, found that they are now condemned to a lifetime battle with food as their bodies strive to get back to their original weight.

And to make matters worse they are no longer able to burn calories at the rate they once did.

The show had been criticised previously for irresponsibility in promoting drastic weight loss through dieting and fitness. Almost all the original contestants from 2009 have now returned to their original weight with many now heavier than before.

The study was carried out by Dr Kevin Hall at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases in Maryland, USA. Analysis of their metabolic rates shows that they are physically unable to process a…

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Eat well, live longer

ulearn2bu

over_eating_on_couch_anim_500_wht_6531and look younger? Well according to the Timesnutritionist Jane Clarke you can achieve all those things by eating better.

By which she means eating less (a low calorie i.e. no more than 1,800 a day, healthy diet is claimed to  add 7-10 years to your lifespan). If you are physically active however you will need more than that.

And eating foods high in anti-oxidants will reduce the cell damage caused by sun, smoke, pollution, burnt meat and rancid fat.

Avoid foods low in transfats, salt, and refined sugars which can increase your blood pressure, add to your weight and increase your risk of heart diseases.

So here is her recommended list of super-foods. Look them up yourself to see specific benefits.

  • Avocado
  • Blueberries
  • Carrots
  • Hemp oil
  • Live yoghurt
  • Oats
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Prunes
  • Sardines
  • Black tea
  • Water

There you have it. Eat, enjoy!

It might also help if you get…

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