General Mills Study Backs Cereal For Breakfast

Girls who regularly ate breakfast, particularly cereal, were slimmer than those who skipped the morning meal, says a new study from Maryland Medical Research Institute scientists, who tracked 2,400 girls for a decade.

Interesting conclusions.

So the study — which was published in the September Journal of the American Dietetic Association — concludes that cereal for breakfast helps you have a lower BMI? Sounds good to me.

In fact, the study’s author Bruce Barton, the Maryland Institute’s president and CEO concludes that "not eating breakfast is the worst thing you can do, that’s really the take-home message for teenage girls."

But why are we just looking at cereal for breakfast? Why not omelettes or tofu or salmon and vegetables and fruit, for that matter.

Well, let’s look at who funded this grain-promoting study. Ahah, guess who footed the bill?

None other than General Mills, Inc. and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Now, this is getting mighty interesting. Within two days, we’ve learned about two breakfast studies — both of which just happen to be backed by cereal companies. (Quaker Oats funded the other study, which I just wrote about yesterday and which found that oatmeal breakfast eaters fare better than Cap’n Crunch eaters.)

Curiously, as Barton observed to CNN, the General Mills study didn’t distinguish between low-sugar and high-sugar cereals despite growing evidence that people who consume low-glycemic foods have a lower risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Forgive my misgivings and skepticism. But, seriously, what else could you expect if a major cereal maker funds a breakfast study?

To not distinguish between low-sugar and high-sugar cereal is outright scandalous.

When oh when will a non-biased company fund a legitimate breakfast study?

Mea Culpa! Major Omission in My Dieting Bloggers Entry

Mea culpa. Well, I blew it — but big!

I made some major omissions in my Weighing in On Astute Bloggers With A Weighty Mission. (That’s what I get for burning the midnight oil instead of sleeping!)

OK, here goes:

Connie’s Omission # 1:

First off, I should have stated succinctly and right away that although I am a journalist, it was my own horrific sugar experiences that piqued my interest in the dangers of sugars and refined carbs in the first place! That’s why I ultimately wrote my upcoming book SUGAR SHOCK! — because I do not want others to suffer as I once did!

How the heck could I have neglected to talk about (much less remember) my horrific sugar nightmare of 1998 (and before) when talking about my own blogging qualifications?

Today, seven-plus years after my "turning point," as I call it, I simply find it quite entertaining that I’d forget to mention in semi-quasi detail (at the least) how I become so focused (OK, obsessed) about this sugary subject!

Am I so far removed from my days of suffering from "brain fog," seeming endless fatigue, heart palpitations that me feel my ticker would jump onto the sidewalk, and mood swings (which made my boyfriend dump me) that I simply forgot to state upfront that I am a former sugar addict?

I mean I suffered 44 hypoglycemic symptoms! That’s why my doctor said, "Connie, quit this stuff now, and you’ll feel better."

Perhaps it’s that I’m simply still mortified by my behavior when under the influence, so to speak, of sweets. (I now jokingly call myself a "Sugar Shrew No More!" Check out my Connie cartoons, in which I poke fun of myself.)

Here’s my favorite one:

Connie’s Story: That Was Then… This is Now…

Anyhow, although my background as a sugar addict was instrumental in triggering my interest in the subject, it’s now my journalism background that comes to my rescue and assistance when working with health researchers (who helped me review medical studies) and in putting together my book.

So, all said and done, you could call me an evangelistic, "Sugar Shrew No More" anti-sugar blogger-journalist!

Got a better name for what kind of blogger I am? Tell me!

(See next post for another omission!)

Inhaled Insulin Approved

A Food and Drug Administration panel recommended approving the first inhaled form of insulin (Exubera).

They’re giving it the go-ahead despite questions about what how it might affect people with lung disease or those exposed to secondhand smoke. That makes me a bit nervous, because those and other concerns exist, too.

However, in theory, studies on long-term effects of Exubera are proposed to go until 2019, Yahoo reports.

"We understand the need to assess the long-term effects on pulmonary function," Dr. Neville Jackson of Pfizer told the press.

Well, that sounds promising — at at least they’re looking into it further to find out about more side effects.

Frankly, I’m always puzzled by stories that purport to help people with diabetes — and yet, you find NO mention of the role the patient plays in all of this!

(more…)

Junk Food Pervasive at Most Schools

Soda, candy, pizza and other nutrient-deprived snacks compete with nutritious meals in nine out of 10 schools, found a new survey from the U.S. General Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress.

The GAO report discovered that 83 percent of elementary schools, 97 percent of middle schools, and 99 percent of high schoools offer these "competitive" foods — meaning foods outside the National School Lunch or School Breakfast Programs, Reuters reported.

These poor kids are besieged by junk food options from the minute they walk in their schools. How can we expect them to make positive food choices when they’re surrounded by candy, soft drinks and other such low-caliber crap?

"Parents should know that our schools are now one of the largest sources of unhealthy food for their kids," Sen. Tom Harkin, who asked for the study, told the Associated Press.

"Would anyone advocate that we take the fences off the playground for elementary schools and just let kids run around in the streets?" Harkin, D-Iowa, said.

"By the same token, why would we allow schools to sort of poison our kids with junk food?"

Good for Harkin to take a strong stand and call junk food "poison."

Of course, as the GAO observed, the reason these quickie carbs and other undesireable foods are offered is money, money, money.

(more…)

Weighing in On Astute Bloggers With A Weighty Mission

As a traditionally trained, experienced journalist, who now blogs daily about the subject of my upcoming book SUGAR SHOCK!, I’m intrigued (and perhaps a bit chagrined) by — the attitude of some members of the mainstream media (called the "MSM" by blogger/author Hugh Hewitt) about us bloggers.

Specifically, a recent article, "Weighty Blogs Dish on Diets," by the Washington Post’s "Lean Plate Club" columnist Sally Squires, got me thinking about the credibility and background of bloggers covering health and obesity topics.

Squires — a nationally known, award-winning medical and health writer, for whom I have respect and admiration — blasted a particular genre of these scribblers — "weight-conscious bloggers."

She describes them as "amateurs willing to share their own experiences and tips, which may — or may not — be smart, scientifically verified or even safe."

To stress her point, Squires singles out some mighty unprofessional blogs, including one (Hello, I am Fat) where the writer, Anne, lost 50 pounds but regained 48 of them. (Oh goodness! That’s the example she picked?)

Squires then goes on to rattle off certain, unflattering traits of weight loss bloggers.

They "agonize over food cravings, struggle to find time to work out and often give themselves a public flogging — make that a webflogging — for taking a nutritional detour. They vow time after time to steer themselves back onto the road of doing better — tomorrow. And they share their triumphs and their tragedies, from eating the whole bag of peanut butter cups to becoming one with their couch."

Frankly, I was struck by the unprofessionalism of the blogs she singled out, and I was flat out embarrassed to even call myself a blogger.

Yikes! If this is the company I’m keeping, then who the heck will believe that I’m a bona fide reporter — even having a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and thousands of clips from mainstream media outlets such as the Los Angeles Times?

(more…)

Oatmeal Beats Out Cap’n Crunch for Kids’ Cognition

Kids who eat whole grains for breakfast do better on tests than those who eat sugary cereals such as Cap’n Crunch, a new study in the August journal Physiology and Behavior finds.

This is just the latest in a string of research studies that show children who consume that first meal of the day do better in school, points out The Los Angeles Times.

Researchers from Tufts University psychologists conducted two experiments with 60 schoolchildren — one group aged 6 to 8 and another 9 to 11.

Sure enough, both groups showed major learning improvement eating the oatmeal over eating Cap’n Crunch.

The 9-to-11-year boys and girls showed enhanced spatial memory and girls demonstarted better short-term memory after chomping on oatmeal.

And the oatmeal-eating 6 to 8 year-olds had better spatial memory and better auditory attention and girls exhibited better short-term memory.

Interestingly, Quaker Oats — maker of both products used in the study — funded the research.

Researchers suggest that the mixture of protein, fiber and complex carbs may account for the differences in test performances.

The researchers believe that "oatmeal may provide a slower and more sustained energy source and consequently result in cognitive enhancement compared to low-fiber, high-glycemic, ready-to-eat cereal," the researchers observe.

"These results have important practical implications, suggesting the importance of what children consume for breakfast before school."

In other words, what you eat can affect how you think and perform.

Well, I’m certainly happy that this study was conducted — and I’m particularly pleased that Quaker Foods backed it — but really, it reveals nothing new.

Much as people like to sneer at people still following a low-carb diet and insist that low carb is dead, it — and, in particular, Atkins — played a vital role in making the public at large realize that there are good carbs and bad carbs. (I prefer to call them quality carbs and inferior carbs.)

Those slower-acting carbs like oatmeal and other whole grains are vastly preferable to quickie carbs like sugary cereals. (Bear in mind, though, that vegetables and fruits also are carbs, and, in many experts’ opinions, much desired over grains, even if they’re whole grains.)

What puzzles me about this study is that they didn’t have a third study group of kids eating something with no grains — say, a vegetable omelette, and 1/2 a grapefruit.

Ah, yes, an egg or vegetable organization wasn’t paying for the study; a cereal company was.

Nonetheless, I contend that if kids are given the exact same tests after getting more protein (like an omelette), fiber and some healthy oil, their test scores would be even higher.

But then again, who’s going to foot the bill on that study?

Had Fun Chatting This Morning on IRIE Radio

I had a lot of fun and laughs this morning on the Bulldog and the Rude Awakening Show on IRIE Radio, based in Ocean City, Maryland.

Rude Awakening Show

We chatted about actress Rachel McAdams and her horrendous maple syrup-drinking habit and about the nightmares of "SUGAR SHOCK!"
Rachel McAdams
CREDIT: GREGG DEGUIRE / WIREIMAGE
Bulldog lived up to his nickname. He gave a rather heated, dogged, but good-natured (and chuckle-inducing) defense of the "joys" of candy bars, soda, and junk food. He even elicited some chuckles from me when he called pizza "a complete food group."

In short, this radio host — like most Americans — didn’t even want to think about giving up, much less cut back on, sweets and Much-Like-Sugar carbs. Can’t say I blame him. That’s the way I once was!

Of course, when I described how my life had turned around in 1998 upon kicking those quickie carbs, I piqued his interest somewhat. Bulldog asked me about those "Sugar Shrew" days, and he, the Dude and Snoopy laughed about my fatigue, moodiness and bitchiness, that made the boyfriend go packing.

Naturally, yours truly also discussed how eating too many sweets and quickie carbs could lead to obesity, hypoglycemia, and diabetes, as well as much-less-talked-about outcomes as "brain fog," mood swings and decreased libido — that latter comment intrigued him, not surprisingly.

"Yes, you can get a transitory pleasure from red licorice," I admitted.

"But eating a lot of sweets and simple carbohydrates — that’s the killjoy," I maintained in between laughter.

"I’m much happier, more energetic, enthusiastic and focused than I ever used to be. And you’re darn right, I did not want to give up my red licorice at all."

I spoke persuasively — at least, I hope! — about the amazing things that can happen when a person changes his or her diet.

In fact, at one point, I encouraged Ocean 98 listeners — who I envisoned were downing donuts on the way to work — to see how they felt three hours later. (Were they hit by a late-morning slump?) And I urged them to think about how changing their diet could improve the quality of their lives.

Just heard from my L.A.-based friend Cynthia (what was she doing up at 4:30 am PST time?!) and my KickSugar group assistant moderator Myra Pinkham — alas, both tried to sign onto the IRIE website and got no sound so they missed the interview.

If you’ve come to this blog after listening to the Bulldog and the Rude Awakening Show, I invite you to sign up for your free newsletter, check out my free online KickSugar group, and have fun posting comments here on this blog.

For those of you new to this blog, who who want to kick sweets — or at least think about it — this article, 7 Tips to Kick Your Sugar Habit might help. And if you have children, you might appreciate this Stump the Savvy Sugar Sleuths column, "We Help the Mom of a Sugar-Loving Tot."

Listen to Me on IRIE Radio at 7:30 am EST Tomorrow

If you can get in front of your computer at 7:30 am EST tomorrow, listen to me get interviewed on IRIE radio (Ocean 98) on the "Bulldog and the Rude Awakening Show" in Ocean City, Maryland.

Looks like I’ll be having a lot of fun with Bulldog, The Dude and Snoopy. We’re going to talk about actress Rachel McAdams’ horrendous maple-syrup drinking ways, which I’ve written about three times previously here. Ocean 98 found out about me because flashnews.com ran a story based on a press release I wrote.

Meet Bulldog and his two sidekicks, as introduced by IRIE Radio on its website:

Bulldog

Bulldog

"Bulldog grew up in Chicago and spent way too much time hanging around radio stations. After freezing his ass off for 35 years he relocated to the Caribbean island of St. Maarten where he introduced his Rude Awakening Show to "the Friendly Island" on Laser 101.1FM. The show climbed to #1 in less than 4 months and remained there until he moved back to the states 6 years later. During his time in St. Maarten, he met Leighton Moore, owner of WOCM, through their mutual friend Mancow and had WAY TOO MUCH FUN to say "No" when Leighton offered him a position at WOCM."

The Dude

The Dude

"The Dude was born in the backseat of a greyhound bus, rolling down Highway 41. He has been wandering around Delmarva his whole life. He’s been surfing this area for just as long. He is also trying to cross breed himself with a panther so he can run a little faster from the authorities. The Dude is also the lead guitarists from the band, ‘Lower Class Citizens.’ They are testing the realms of reality with every bone-chilling note. Inspired by Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Zappa, etc., the Dude looks to do serious damage to the music scene in the near future. Look out."

Snoopy

Snoopy

"I was born in the back seat of a Greyhound bus. No, wait, that was `Ramblin’ Man’– all that Allman Brothers that The Dude plays is starting to rub off on me. Let’s see: I was born   raised in Pittsburgh, PA and I’m a diehard fan of the Penguins and Steelers. My parents named me ‘Snoopy’ because, as my father put it, ‘That’s as close to getting a goddamn dog as you’re ever gonna get!’ I’ve lived all over the country–due mostly to the fact that I can’t hold a job or maintain a relationship. Being the quintessential ‘hopeless romantic,’ I’ve been married 5 times and I only plan to stay married to Number 5 until Brad Pitt comes to his senses and dumps Angelina Jolie, realizing, of course, that he and I are meant to be together…" (Visit the IRIE Radio website for more on Snoopy.)

Here’s the article that grabbed their attention.

RACHEL MCADAMS’ MAPLE SYRUP DIET SOURS HEALTH EXPERTS

NEW YORK (Wireless Flash) — "Red Eye" actress Rachel McAdams is dishing out diet advice that is tough to swallow for one fitness author.

     In a recent survey, McAdams revealed she stays slim by drinking maple syrup until she’s so hyper she runs around like crazy to burn off the calories.

     That leaves a bad taste in the mouth of Connie Bennett, author of the yet-to-be-published book "Sugar Shock!" because she says drinking syrup over time will lead to a blood sugar imbalance — and a crash bigger than anything in "The Wedding Crashers."

     And some of the 250 doctors she interviewed for the book agree, like one M.D. who says "a diet top-heavy in simple carbohydrates can easily can easily lead to pancreatic insufficiency and/or insulin resistance, forerunners of diabetes."

     As Bennett sums it up, "Telling people to drink maple syrup isn’t good diet advice. It’s a recipe for health woes galore."

Thanks ever so much to Myra Pinkham, assistant moderator of my KickSugar group, who pointed out the original AOL story to me in which McAdams professes her love of maple syrup.

Where to Get Cool T-Shirts & More

OK, I’ll tell you.

You see, I’ve been deluged with questions from colleagues, friends and new blogging buddies about where I get these cool personalized mouse pads, mugs, tote bags, notebooks, and other fun products and inspiring wearables that I offer for sale on my SugarShock.com website.

So, here’s the scoop:

  1. First off, it’s very easy to get your own stuff! You can have, for example, Inspiring Wearables or Hot, Hip, Humorous Products.
  2. You do not need to keep any in stock!
  3. You do not need to order a minimum!
  4. All you need to do is download your artwork and your items are printed on demand — one at a time!
  5. You decide the price you want to charge for your products.
  6. You can get free help to set up your shop.
  7. You pay a minimal amount per month.

Is this cool or what?

So, just check out one of my products below and you’ll see what kind of a shop you can set up.

And please, do me a favor, when asked by Cafe Press (the company where you set up a shop) how you found them, please tell them that the Stop Sugar Shock store sent you.

Make sure to add the word "Stop," because otherwise I won’t get credit.

Full disclosure here. What do I get by referring you? Exactly 7%, but hey, I’ll be happy to take it, especially if you sell a lot of products. Refer your friends, and you’ll get 7%, too. And so on.

Here are some samples of the kinds of items you can sell. (To see the products, click on the links, not the artwork.)

 Jr. Baby Doll T-Shirt

Fun, Jr. Baby Doll T-Shirt

Fun Stop SUGAR SHOCK! Tote Bag

Fun Stop SUGAR SHOCK! Tote Bag

That Was Then... This is Now Mousepad
That Was Then… This is Now Mousepad

Hot Products Mug
Stop SUGAR SHOCK! Mug

That was then... This was now... Food Journal
That Was Then… This is Now Food Journal

I was inspired to post this, because of my new networking buddy Allison Janse, who was the last in a string of people who’ve asked me about these products, showing me the great demand for a service such as this is.

(By the way, you’ll hear a lot about Allison soon. While her day job is as an editor at HCI Books, she’s also co-author of HCI’s upcoming book, The Germ Freak’s Guide to Outwitting Colds and Flu, which sound like a fascinating book. We met met her in a fabulous media training seminar that we took with Joel Roberts. Now, we’re in a very cool teleseminar, and Allison really shone in her mock interview last week. Keep your eyes open for her on TV.)

Special thanks also to website marketer and developer Jason Saeler, who suggested that I spread the word here.

E-mail me if you set up your own shop, too. I’d love to see them.