October 9th, 2009 15:45 EST
H1N1 Vaccines, Soda, Fried Foods, and BPA All Look a Bit Safer Today
By Curtis Porter
H1N1 Vaccine is Safe
A poll conducted by the Associated Press and market research group GfK reveals that more than a third of parents do not want their children to receive the novel H1N1 flu vaccine, citing concern about vaccine safety and a remarkable lack of concern about the virus` severity. ACSH`s Dr. Gilbert Ross took to the nation`s airwaves during morning drive time to assuage fears about the vaccine and encourage parents to play it safe by getting their kids vaccinated this flu season.
I was interviewed on radio stations in five different regions, " says Dr. Ross. Like all flu viruses, the H1N1 flu can kill people, including children, and the vaccine is safe. There`s no reason to risk skipping it. "
The (False) Case Against Soda
Today`s Wall Street Journal features an op-ed by Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent explaining various fallacies behind the notion that soda is a central cause of the nation`s obesity epidemic.
He acknowledges that obesity is a very complex and serious issue, " says ACSH`s Jeff Stier. He also points out -- as we`ve done in the past few years -- that `it`s not just about calories in, it`s also about calories out.` In other words, Americans need more exercise, not another tax. He goes on to mention that, over the past twenty years, while obesity rates have been skyrocketing, sales of regular soft drinks have been decreasing, and the average caloric content of soft drinks is down by nearly 25%, which is attributable to improvements in diet sodas. Basically, there`s no way to make the case that soda is to blame for obesity. "
Food Tech, Deep Fried
The L.A. Times health blog relays some interesting information today from the USDA`s Agricultural Research Service about a breakthrough in food technology that could dramatically reduce the fat content of deep-fried foods: Today, we learn of another invention...a rice-based batter that `absorbs up to 50% less cooking oil than traditional batters,` according to the department`s press materials. Rice flour is more resistant to oil uptake than wheat flour. "
News like this stands out in stark contrast to the discussion about soda, " says Stier. We don`t think the soda tax will have a significant impact on obesity, yet here there is some positive news about the potential role of food technology to decrease calorie intake and fight obesity in a way that may actually work because it doesn`t call for a major upheaval of people`s hard-to-change dietary habits. So why are politicians jumping up and down, calling for a soda tax? Instead they should be calling for more research to provide tools and approaches like those we discuss in our publication on obesity and food technology. "
BPA-Haters Get Desperate
Researchers " are stepping up the effort to blame every single malady that exists on exposure to trace amounts of bisphenol-A (BPA), a chemical used to make plastics and prevent the actual physical threat of botulism. This time, they are falling back on outdated gender norms and saying that BPA is responsible for aggression in girls at age two, though (oddly enough) not boys.
I can`t believe that they would try to measure psychological effects of a chemical using the parents` answers to a behavior questionnaire, " says Dr. Ross. Some people would spin these responses to say these young girls are just being more sociable. If they were less aggressive, they might say it is a sign of less-social behavior, like from autism. They could spin this either way. The whole study is just junk. "
Refuting an article like this on scientific grounds is too easy, " says Stier. Let`s take a little bit of a different approach on this issue. Some people have criticized us for being predictable and `pro-industry` for `defending BPA,` but do they want us to just sit back and let these absurd stories be addressed in such a one-sided way in the media? Would we be more credible in their eyes if we accept that story without even raising questions about it? "
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