Gulp, crunch, slurp

In healthy food, Public Health on Mai 30, 2016 at 9:05 am

chips-photocaseofhc454c56268291- johny schorle

I just went to the bio store around the corner from my office and got myself chips, chocolate, and sparkling white wine. Yes, you guessed right. I have to write about healthy eating, and as a reflex I feel like eating the worst the shelf has to offer. Unfortunately, I was chatting with Ulla, the woman behind the counter and a former colleague of mine, and didn´t double check my shopping basket. At my office I unpacked dark chocolate which I hate, paprika chips which I hate as well, and white wine which doesn´t taste good. Maybe my subconscious is into healthy eating.

I promised myself not to over-research the topic at hand, which is about industrial trans-fats and whether the EU should ban them. But nutritional topics always get me, and after two glasses of sparkling wine I find myself reading about everything pubmed has to offer.

Anyway. As I always tell my friends who don´t care about the science I want to share: trying to lose weight or eat healthy seldom or never works. I sit at my best friends’ kitchen table and find books there like “losing weight during sleep”, “low carb diet”, “go vegan”. Its two o’clock at night, no sleep, and cookies and chocolate on the table, white wine in our glasses. I start to lecture her, coming as close as possible to my deepest wish to be a university professor:

Forget it, throw these books away. To live longer you don´t need a diet but the right politicians. The ones who make the laws that make it easy for you and everybody else to live healthy. If you cannot change individually, let´s do it as a population together. I have some ideas on how this should be done. But they are vague. And my friend always changes the way the conversation is going – she is lecturing me about Hanna Arendt or something I really don´t have a clue about. It´s clear I need more data.

And I just found a paper that talks about what I need to know. I want to read it with you. Here we go. (Curr Cardiol Rep. 2015; 17(11): 98.)

“While individual-level and health care system-based behavioral change efforts can be partly effective, policy changes at organizational, community, and government levels can have broader, more equitable, and more sustainable impact.”

Yep, I like, thumbs-up!

We systematically reviewed the evidence for effectiveness of specific policies to improve dietary habits and reduce cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors.

Go ahead

e.g.: mass media campaigns, food and menu labeling, taxation and subsidies, local built environment, school procurement policies, worksite wellness programs, and marketing standards

I´m surprised:

mass media campaigns to promote eating more fruits and veggies and to use less salt seem to help (a little bit).

Not surprised:

Special food or menu labeling seem not to help. (If they do, they help mostly the rich and well educated, so forget it. They don´t need help unless with training in compassion for the poor.)

Yeah, money talks (would be great if my local discount baker would offer apples for less than a Euro):

Lower prices for healthy and higher prices for unhealthy food do the trick. E.G.: Mexicans drink less coke and other sugared drinks since Mexico introduced a ten percent soda tax in 2014. Espec in low income families.

Sad but true:

In sum, current evidence for effects of the local built food environment on diet or diet-related risk factors remains surprisingly limited.

Jaja, target the school kids, good luck:

In sum, changes in school procurement policies appear effective for either increasing healthful or reducing unhealthful choices, while setting of nutrition standards have less consistent benefits.

Really? Worksite wellness interventions work? Who is paying my worksite wellness? I want a freelancer worksite wellness intervention. Now! (Gulp, crunch, slurp):

In sum, comprehensive worksite wellness interventions appear effective at improving diet and diet-related risk factors.

No more ads for unhealthy foods (= less advertisement money for the media, less money for free journalists, only if at the same time a culture tax is introduced, and everybody who writes and sings gets an income just for breathing in and out)

Based on broad observations, it is evident that marketing influences food choices in both children and adults. Quality standards or restrictions on such marketing present a promising strategy for improving population choices;

And what about laws to restrict unhealthy ingredients such as industrial trans-fats? Well I need to read more. Gulp, crunch, slurp.


Photo credit: photocase.de / johny schorle





Here is the shovel, now bury your dream

In Ehrgeiz, Journalismus on Februar 17, 2015 at 8:41 pm


A short note on self-marketing. Every freelancer and especially every journalist takes classes in self-marketing. Me too. According to whatever book or guru, the heart of self-marketing is to find out what you really really want. Deep down. (The popular book that is going around right now: Don´t be who you are, be who you want to be). Let´s say, you always wanted to combine a sushi café and a blues bar. Well, if you really really want it, you probably will be good at it. Open up a sushi blues bar, practice your two-five-ones, and let the algae roll. Or more often: write a book, write for the New Yorker, start an organic farm, start a business to replace plastic, develop an app that can tell you which plant you are looking at, advise developers of computer games on ancient Greek history, start a children’s book plus app editing firm, become a gallerist (very popular), become a yoga teacher, study at Harvard, start a vegan wellness farm (I just made that one up), spend the winter months as a renowned international journalist in Key West, be (omg) an artist.

But here is the bad part. To drag them out of fantasy land into reality it costs real money, and real time. So far, none of the above fantasies have become true, despite hard wishful thinking and even a bit of doing. Usually the self-marketing victim spends a couple of months or years on her idea. They work on their brilliant idea in their spare time. It takes up their nights, weekends, and half of their already meager income or the inheritance from their hard-working parents. The screenplay sits half-written in the drawer, or else it has already been rejected half a dozen times. Key West turns out to be a depressing place if you are not as rich as Hemingway’s wife, and the rent of the yoga studio is twice what your yoga class brings in. The book project ended up on the couch of a well-paid psychoanalyst. The truth is, some make it, most don´t. But the latter get told they have to try, and spend their money on trying. First, on those classes, then on websites, image videos, social marketing, photos, brochures, more education, elevator pitch classes, crowdsourcing strategies, networking cloths, expensive domains such as keywest-media.com. Then there’s the sun studio, permanent makeup, business cards, Christmas postcards to potential clients, haircutters, cool glasses, voice training, and advanced body language. All for nothing. My advice: be who you are, an average shmuck, and spend your time and money on something that makes more sense; a trip to the Bahamas, a comfortable bed, a voucher for a three star restaurant for your parents 60th wedding anniversary. Whatever, but stay out of lala-land.

Plus, when you wake up a sleeping dream – let’s say, to start a noncommercial podcast on public health with the intent of mobilizing people to fight against health inequality, and you work hard for it, and it fails, then disappointment sets in. Let me put that into perspective with an analogy from the medical world. You have a terrible migraine, and you take a homoeopathic pill against it. It doesn´t do anything. Now you take a couple of ibuprofen: because the first pill didn’t do a damn thing, the ibruprofen is less effective. It is all operant conditioning. And just to remind my readers: I did my PhD on that. Every treatment that raises hopes, but fails, makes it harder and harder for the next treatment to work. So be careful, be very careful with raising hopes, with experimental therapies, with dream your dream classes.

To make it short: I offer for all self-marketing-class-victims a course on “how to become who you are (mediocre like all of us but yet somehow lovable)” and stop dreaming. I promise a great side effect. Your bank account will grow, and you will have more free weekends, relaxed evenings, and less disease-inducing status/happiness/fame envy.
20.8.-21.8.2015: “Bury your dream”, weekend class with expert Fabienne Hübener, on the North Cemetery, Munich. Bring a shovel. http://www.buryyourdream.com


Photo: Jewe! / photocase.de

Spiel nicht mit den Schmuddelkindern

In soziale Mobilität on Januar 23, 2015 at 8:12 pm


Ich bin ein Schmuddelkind. Obwohl ich in die Oberstadt zu meinem Bruder gezogen bin. Hat nichts genutzt. Von was ich jetzt wieder rede. Von sozialer Mobilität (und diesem Song hier). Jetzt ist einfach mal Schluss mit der Vorstellung, dass man Kraft seines Geistes, seiner Intelligenz, seines Fleißes auch einen guten Platz am Trog bekommt.

Um an den Futterplätzen der gehobenen Mittelschicht anzukommen, braucht man keinen Geist. Man braucht Manieren und das zuckersüße, unbestimmbare Gefühl: Ich gehör dazu, ich bin da rein geboren, ich verdiene das. Erzählt man einer Schulklasse, dass Kinder mit blonden Haaren und blauen Augen schlecht in Mathe sind, schneiden die Blonden und Blauäugigen in der nächsten Matheklausur schlechter ab. Umgekehrt: Erklärt man schwarzen Studenten in den USA, dass der Einstieg an der Uni schwer ist, aber dass es allen anderen auch so geht, schneiden sie später genauso gut ab wie weiße Studenten.

Du leistest, was du dir und was dir die Gesellschaft zutraust. Eigentlich schön. Nur: Subtil sagen die, die traditionsgemäß das Sagen haben: Die mit dem falschen Stallgeruch, die könnens eher nicht schaffen. Die, die nicht wissen, wozu die vielen Gabeln im Ein-Sterne-Restaurant gut sind, könnens nicht schaffen. Die, die nicht den Unterschied zwischen Fuge und Kantate kenne, nicht in die Oper gehen, die sich nicht die Serviette auf den Schoß legen. Eben die, die nicht schon von Mutterleib gelernt haben, wie man sich unter ihresgleichen – der gehobenen Mittelschicht – zu benehmen hat.

Sicher, in der Scheune mit den Schmuddelkindern macht es mehr Spaß als in der Oberstadt. Aber irgendwann gehen die Kinder nach Hause und da gibts wieder nur Fertigpizza und Cola. Dann werden sie fett. Kinder aus sozial benachteiligen Schichten werden siebenmal häufiger dick als andere. Dann sieht man Scheiße aus und keiner will mit einem spielen. Dann fängt man das Rauchen an und setzt sich vor Frust vor die Daddelmaschine.

Dann kriegt man Diabetes, keinen Job und Hartz 4. Dann hat man noch weniger Freunde. Weniger Freunde erhöhen das Risiko für alle möglichen Erkrankungen, unter anderem Herzinfarkt. Die gehobene Mittelschicht sitzt beim Italiener und nagt an Salatblättern. Die ersten Krankenhausaufenthalte, noch eine mittelgradige Depression dazu und schon ist das Leben der Schmuddelkinder mit Anfang 60 fast rum. Während die Salatnager sich drüber aufregen, dass die Unterschicht so ungesund isst und sich nicht ausreichend bewegt. Dann beißt Mr. Schmuddelkind mit 64 ins Gras. Zehn Jahre vor Mr. Salatnager. Und es kann doch nicht nur mein subjektives Gefühl sein, dass daran etwas so grundsätzlich falsch ist, dass es zum Himmel stinkt. Stall oder Palastgeruch, das ist die wahre Frage.

Und wer das jetzt nochmal in gewählter Sprache nachlesen will, wird hier fündig: Michael Marmot: The Status Syndrome.

Und hier die aktuelle Meldung dazu: (Materielle Deprivation und Gesundheit von Männern und Frauen in Deutschland Ergebnisse aus dem Sozioökonomischen Panel 2011; Timo-Kolja Pförtner, Uni Köln; Bundesgesundheitsbl 2015 • 58:100–107, DOI 10.1007/s00103-014-2080-7). Das PDF gibt es leider nicht frei Haus.

Foto: photocase / grany187