Monthly Archives: April 2014

Breakfast of Chumps

Rather than working to further distinguish itself from the burger-slinging joints, Taco Bell has leapt into a seemingly industry-wide competition to turn breakfast into the worst meal of the day.

Taco Bell’s new breakfast menu launched last month, though the company had been hyping up certain items for weeks—especially the Waffle Taco and the A.M. Crunchwrap. Meanwhile, Dunkin’ Donuts launched its portable-but-not-potable Eggs Benedict Sandwich. McDonald’s is considering extended breakfast hours and has been offering free coffee to lure customers.

Taco Bell’s sausage A.M. Crunchwrap clocks in at 710 calories, 46 g of total fat, 14 g of saturated fat, and 135 mg of cholesterol. Breakfast should wake you up—not send you spinning into a nutritional nightmare!

taco-bell-breakfast

Then there’s the Waffle Taco, which Taco Bell considers its breakfast coup d’état. It’s a waffle folded around a sausage patty, egg, and cheese. The Waffle Taco looks like something that can stain your shirt and clog your arteries at the same time.

With 370 calories, 23 g of total fat, 7 g of saturated fat, and 115 mg of cholesterol, the sausage Waffle Taco will certainly leave its mark on your waistline.

PCRM has deemed Taco Bell the April recipient of its SICK (Social Irresponsibility towards Consumers and Kids) Award because of its marketing of these new high-cholesterol items. Presented to companies that heavily promote unhealthful foods, the SICK Award highlights the role marketing plays in America’s nutrition crisis.

So what can you do on those busy mornings when you don’t have time to cook? Try making a big pot of oatmeal at the start of the week and dish it out in travel-sized containers. Or if you’re at Taco Bell, try the bean burrito. You can order it “Al Fresco” and reduce the fat by swapping the dairy for pico de gallo.

Fast food doesn’t have to be bad food!

Vegetables Less Healthy than Fried Chicken? Don’t Fall for Clickbait Headlines.

Catchy headlines equal clicks, clicks equal readers, and readers equal money. It’s a formula the ever-changing news industry uses more frequently, as newsrooms get smaller and readers move quickly to the next trending topic.

benefits-of-eating-vegetables

So it’s no surprise that when PloS One published a study that offered the counterintuitive assertion that vegetarians are unhealthy, news outlets jumped in with “clickbait” headlines.

No, it wasn’t true. But it was a very clickable message. And in case you were drawn into that headline, here’s the truth behind it:

An Austrian research team wanted to see how different diets affected health. But because they did not have enough vegetarians to study, they lumped together people eating fish and people who ate meat only occasionally—and called them all “vegetarians.” And, indeed, this group looked less healthy overall than the dyed-in-the-wool carnivores.

However, the study looked at individuals during a snapshot in time and did not separate cause and effect. For example, individuals with health problems who adopted a fish/vegetarian diet in hopes of losing weight or curing heart disease were lumped in with others who had followed a fish/vegetarian diet for many years. The researchers themselves note this on page six:

“Potential limitations of our results are due to the fact that the survey was based on cross-sectional data. Therefore, no statements can be made whether the poorer health in vegetarians in our study is caused by their dietary habit or if they consume this form of diet due to their poorer health status.”

Large prospective studies and randomized clinical trials showed just the opposite: vegetarians have much better health, compared with non-vegetarians. They have lower rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and lower BMIs. The Physicians Committee’s recent multicenter GEICO study also showed better quality of life. Another recent study showed that eating seven servings of fruits and vegetables per day increases longevity.

So if someone at the water cooler starts telling you about how they’ll be swapping their smoothies for sausage patties, let them know that just because it’s trending, doesn’t mean it’s true.

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