Michael's blog

"Abstinence first, absolutely."

Long-time readers will recognize this format:: I ask interview subjects questions of 10 words or less, and ask them to respond in kind (please, no counting). I've done about a dozen in this style on people working in sustainability, and now I hope to do a set with people working on some part of the obesity problem.

PHIL WERDELL, 68, Sarasota, Fla.
Cofounder, Acorn Food Dependency Recovery Services
Phil Werdell, Acorn cofounderWhat did you want to be when you grew up? “A leader.” Someone you admired in childhood, outside your family “Robert McNamara.” Someone you admire today, outside your family “Bill Wilson,” cofounder of Alcoholics Anonymous. What do you do for a living? “I work intensively with late-stage food addicts and write about food addiction.”

Social engineering

If you've read this blog even once before, you likely know I used to lean to the left, but now am permanentaly bent that way. I favor actions like sugared soda taxes as a way to encourage people not to drink them — I think of them as a market solution to a community problem. I don't purposely single out sugared sodas, but consider them an excellent beachhead because they add empty calories without delivering any nutritional benefit.

Good observation, wrong conclusion

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Restricting sugary foods could lead to overeating, according to a new rat study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    Many people try to lose weight by going on a diet. But this new research, funded by the National Institutes of Health, suggests that restricting certain foods for a set time period in the manner of dieting could cause withdrawal symptoms similar to those associated with drug abuse and increase cravings for those foods. This could lead periodic dieters to gorge on forbidden foods when they have the opportunity, the researchers suggest.

Oy frickin' vey.

The implication of this seems to be, don't ever stop eating this stuff, because it'll go bad for you when you come back, and you will.

On Tiger (ugh)

My strong reaction to the Tiger Woods story is revulsion, not at him but at the incredible focus so many people seem not only willing but compelled to devote. The Globe editorial board opined on his presentation yesterday, and I happened upon the talkers on WTKK-FM discussing it yesterday as well. I only turned them on because both sports-talk stations were parsing the golfer's words to death, of course, and I was trying to find something else. And these are only the examples I couldn't completely avoid.

But one serious issue does attend the episode; you shouldn't be surprised that the one I identify is addiction. I don't know if Woods is an addict; it seems fair to discuss it publicly only because he's the one who disclosed publicly that he entered a rehab facility.

If he is, then he has an illness, which should be more than credible, considering the outrageousness of his purported actions, particularly against the backdrop of his wealth, his golden touch, and his apparently idyllic family.

Colorado to end tax break for soda, candy

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I would rather report that it was done for reasons of public health, but it appears the Centennial State is merely trying to find tax revenue in a down economy. [link to story]

I wonder how those tax breaks got in there in the first place. To help the disadvantaged candy and soda businesses compete against the entrenched forces of broccoli?


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I have also been late in addressing the recent announcement of pending changes in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association that regard eating behaviors. The DSM is in its fourth edition; the fifth is due in 2013.

You may know that the only substance abuse disorders regarding food in the DSM IV are anorexia and bulimia. There is another category, ED-NOS, which stands for eating disorders not otherwise specified, but they are mostly A/B-related, with exceptions.


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