Friday, October 29, 2010

Mean Maura Offends in her Anti-Obese Blog

A right to free speech does, in most cases, include the right to offensive speech. And offend she did. This week, a Marie Claire magazine blogger made snarky comments about obese people kissing on TV – specifically the obese couple on the TV show Mike and Molly.  Here are just a few of Maura Kelly’s nasty comments:


  • “I think I'd be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other ... because I'd be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything.”
  • "To be brutally honest, even in real life, I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room — just like I'd find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroine addict slumping in a chair."
While Ms. Kelly certainly has the right to be turned off by the sight of fat people kissing and canoodling – she should have the sense to keep her personal prejudices to herself. But, let me play devil’s advocate: perhaps her admission simply reveals the prejudice that obese people face but may be ignored by the politically correct.

If you’ve not seen Maura Kelly's blog, take a look. See what you think. Yes, she apologized but is that apology merely a defensive tactic to protect her now shaky reputation (and salvage book sales of her upcoming novel)?

I’d love to see your comments on this. I could bore you with the abundance of research data that shows that obese people do indeed face discrimination in education, the work place and in the health care system. But I won’t. Maura has already taken care of driving that point home.

Beth Kitchin MS RD
Assistant Professor
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Department of Nutrition Sciences

Friday, October 22, 2010

Food Court: Cheese VS Constipation


In the world of food and nutrition, some foods get charged with causing some pretty bad things. But what's the evidence? If we took them to food court, would they get convicted based on the evidence? Let's take cheese to food court for causing constipation. And yes, i am the judge.

Charges against cheese: Quite a few of my patients tell me that cheese makes them constipated. I became curious about the scientific evidence for and against this charge because I am a daily eater of cheese and have never had any problems.

Evidence: So what’s the evidence for cheese causing constipation? Not much as it turns out. I found two studies that looked at this quesion. The first study is an observational study – meaning that the participants in the study were asked about their diets and about their bowel habits. In this study, people who ate cheese, fruits and vegetables regularly were less likely to have constipation. The people who did not eat cheese, fruits or vegetables regularly were more likely to have constipation. Does this mean that cheese does not cause constipation? Not necessarily. This kind of study cannot show cause and effect. It could mean that people with constipation simply avoided cheese. But it is interesting that regular cheese eaters did not have as much constipation.

The second study I found was a clinical trial – the kind of study that can show cause and effect. The researchers looked at the effect of eating cheese on constipation of older people living in a retirement home. The researchers found that cheese did not have any effect on constipation.

Verdict: Not guilty based on the evidence. There is not enough evidence at this time to charge cheese with causing constipation. If you have trouble with constipation, you may want to focus more on eating lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Beth Kitchin MS RD
Assistant Professor
Department of Nutrition Sciences
University of Alabama at Birmingham

Sources:

Sandler RS, Jordan MC, Shelton BJ. Demographic and dietary determinants of constipation in the US population. American Journal of Public Health. 1990;80:185-189.

Mykkanen HM, Karhunen LJ, Korpela R, Salminen S. Effect of cheese on intestinal transit time and other indicators of bowel function in residents of a retirement home. Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology. 1994;29:29-32.