Book your FREE consultation today! Click Here or call: (613) 730-0264
Study Finds Giving Prebiotics To Kids Doesn't Change Their Energy Intake And Ups A Major Hunger Hormone Yet Still Concludes Prebiotics Have Potential To Help With Childhood Obesity?
Today will be discussing a study that had kids randomly assigned to taking either 8g oligofructose enriched inulin (prebiotic) per day or placebo (maltodextrin) for 16 weeks.

The study's pre-registered primary outcome measure, as recorded in ClinicalTrials.gov, was change in baseline fat mass at 16 weeks.

Secondary outcome measures (as recorded) were changes in baseline appetite at 16 weeks (assessed with visual analog scales and an eating behavior questionnaire), and objective appetite measures including a weighed breakfast buffet, weighted 3-day food records, and serum satiety hormone levels.

(Not preregistered as an outcome of interest? Body weight change or BMIz score.)

Outcome wise, here's a snapshot of the study's abstract:
Reading through the study, here's what I found as outcomes:
  • According to their 3 day food diaries (but be aware, food diaries are notoriously inaccurate), there was no difference in 3 day energy intake between the prebiotic and placebo arms.
  • When all ages were included in the analysis, there was no difference in all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet energy intake between the probiotic and placebo arms, BUT, by dividing the kids into those between the ages of 7-10 and 11-12, suddenly, but only in the older group, kids ate less breakfast in the prebiotic arm, while in the younger group, they ate more.
  • The hunger hormone ghrelin was found to be significantly elevated in those taking the prebiotic (an increase of 28%) from baseline, whereas placebo was not demonstrably different from baseline (an increase of 8%).
  • There was no difference reported in subjective post-breakfast buffet hunger in either group
  • There was no difference reported in subjective eating behavior questionnaires between groups, but parents reported improvements in fullness, but equally in both prebiotic and placebo groups.
  • The primary outcome of change in baseline fat mass was not mentioned anywhere in the study.
The authors' conclusions about a prebiotic supplement that was shown to markedly increase hunger hormone levels, that didn't decrease 3 day food diary energy intake, that didn't change all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet energy intake (unless you arbitrarily after the fact divided up the kids into those aged 7-10 and 11-12), and where the study's registered primary outcome wasn't mentioned in the study itself sure look differently than what you might expect, with their concluding sentence being,
"This simple dietary change has the potential to help with appetite regulation in children with obesity"
I also found it surprising that the study was free to read, and given the incredibly unexciting findings, it's more difficult to imagine the authors paying for its open access. Easier to imagine the company that makes the prebiotic that a randomized controlled trial published in an impactful journal explicitly concluded, "has the potential to help with appetite regulation in children with obesity" (even though it didn't), paying the extra fees as open access articles generally gather more citations.

As to what Beneo, the manufacturer of the prebiotic used in this study had to say, I found these quotes in an article published on the trade-zine Nutraingredients at the time of the study's publication,
"Beneo regards this research of highest importance",
and despite the study not even remotely coming to this conclusion also added,
"The intake of 8g of prebiotic inulin (Orafti Synergy 1) in a glass of water prior to dinner is a simple dietary intervention that supports children in their weight management efforts. The results show that they were naturally eating less (YF: no they didn't) than the control group having maltodextrin"
Beneo also put out an excited press release to publicize the study.

And you can bet your bottom dollar, it's studies and conclusions like this one that supplement companies use to suggest great benefits to their products, and it's also studies like this one where I wish the journal employed open peer review as I can't fathom how this one got through as is.

Lastly, while the authors didn't report any conflicts of interest with this particular study, the supplements and placebos were provided by Beneo, and it was noted that one of the authors had previously enjoyed funding from Beneo. Unfortunately there is no mention as to who paid for this study's open access.
Saturday Stories: Useless Multivitamins, Menopause, and Jordan Peterson
Timothy Caulfield, on NBC think, on the uselessness of multi-vitamins for all (happy to find this story for reader Pug Piper).

Jen Gunter, on her blog, with her combined personal and professional take on menopause.

Laurie Penny, in Longreads, covers Jordan Peterson, the intellectual this generation deserves.

[And if you don't follow me on Twitter or Facebook, here's a recent podcast I did where we chat about a whole slew of things including the app we're (slowly) developing, research on the DIET score, and why I think social media and physician champions are likely to extend the lifespans of today's fad diets]
Book Review: The Complete Guide to Weight Loss Surgery
Today's guest post comes from our office's newest RD Alex Friel who has reviewed a book for people considering or having bariatric surgery (full disclosure, was provided with a feee copy of the book by the authors)
Thinking about weight loss surgery? You’re not alone. Bariatric surgery has been shown to be one of the most effective treatments for obesity and the number of people who undergo the procedure is steadily rising every year. Here at BMI, I work with many different clients. Some are considering bariatric surgery, others are actively preparing for it, and still more have undergone the procedure and are adjusting to life with a new anatomy. At every stage of the weight loss journey, it helps to be well informed.

Last week I was introduced to a new book written by registered dietitians Lisa Kaouk and Monica Bashaw. It’s a worthwhile read so I thought I’d share it with you. ‘The Complete Guide to Bariatric Surgery’ draws from their experiences as Weight Loss Surgery (WLS) dietitians and the many patients they have counseled over the years. Here’s what I liked:
  • It’s from a trusted source. The registered dietitian (RD) credential means that Lisa and Monica are trained in the science and physiology of human nutrition. Their training and practice is regulated in much same way as that of our doctors and nurses so you can rest assured that the recommendations they make are tried, true, and grounded in evidence.
  • Written in a conversational style, the book is an easy and entertaining read (or at least as entertaining as a book about a surgical procedure can probably be). There’s no jargon and you won’t need a degree in medicine or nutrition to make sense of the topics covered.
  • Because the topics are drawn from the real life concerns and questions of more than 5000 patients, the book provides an honest glimpse into the realities of life after WLS. It’s a useful reference, not only for those who are considering WLS and those who have had it, but also for the friends and family who are their cheerleaders and support system.
  • If you’ve ever anxiously wondered if your experience is normal, this book can provide some fast reassurance. The table of contents allows you to quickly skim questions at a glance and is organized into topic sections that range from ‘Tolerance Issues’ to ‘Hair Loss’ to ‘Emotional Changes and Support.’
  • Much like this post, it’s short, sweet, and to the point. You won’t need to set aside hours of time to get through it.
My only critique is that the authors don't provide much information on additional resources, support groups, or further reading. It’s good to be aware of what’s available. Obesity Canada, for example, functions as a resource hub for professionals and lay people alike. In addition to educational webinars and videos, they also link to tools you can use to access greater health benefits for obesity care. The Bariatric Cookery, run by food writer Carol Bowen Ball, hosts a wonderful collection recipes to try at every stage of the WLS journey. As a former WLS patient herself, Carol’s first-hand experience lends the site a level of authenticity that is hard to top. Finally, a quick search on Google or Facebook will undoubtedly reveal a whole host of virtual WLS forums and support groups. Find one that resonates with you.

The Complete Guide to Bariatric Surgery is available for purchase on Amazon. It’s also available as an e-book at www.baritricsurgerynutrition.com.

Alex Friel, MSc, RD is a nutrition science nerd and one of the newest dietitians to join the BMI team. She’s convinced that everyone has a passion for food (even if they don’t know it yet) and is always on the lookout for her next favorite recipe. Alex spent six years living in Atlanta, Georgia where she completed a BSc and MSc in Nutrition Science at Georgia State University. Much to the chagrin of her dinner guests, she also gained an appreciation for collard greens and okra that persists to this day.
Have You Been, Or Are You, On A Diet? Please Take 2 Minutes To Review This Brief Survey About How Easy Or Difficult It Is/Was.
Back in 2012 I first posted my wish for there to be a questionnaire that would serve to help individuals and researchers determine how easy or difficult a particular diet would be to follow.

I called it the Diet Index Enjoyability Total or DIET score, and my hope was that by using a series of simple Likert scales (descriptive scales from 1-10), researchers could set out to evaluate a particular weight loss approach's DIET score where high scores would identify diets that could actually be enjoyed, and where low scores would identify under-eating, highly restrictive, quality of life degrading, dieting misery. This would be useful both to individuals who could use the DIET score to evaluate whatever approach they were considering, but might also serve as a surrogate for shorter term diet studies to give a sense as to whether or not there's a low or high likelihood of long term adherence to a particular study's strategy.

I'm happy to report that the first work on using the DIET score has been conducted by Michelle Jospe at the University of Otago in New Zealand as part of the SWIFT trial, and her and Jill Haszard's early look at the data is promising.

Part of the process required to validate a questionnaire involves a qualitative review to see whether or not it's easy to use, comprehensive, and unbiased.

UPDATE: .....we did it! Thanks to everyone who already clicked! We've collected a sufficient number of responses. Do stay tuned though, because in the next rounds of data collection we'll be looking to explore DIET scores from those who are both doing wonderfully on specific diets, as well as collecting information about those diets people couldn't sustain and we'll need every response we can get!
Saturday Stories: 2 on Corbyn's Anti-Semitism, 2 on Ecological Disasters, And 1 on Weight Bias
Helen Lewis, in New Statesman, on Jeremy Corbyn and anti-Semitism

Jamie Rogers in The Spectator, on how Britain's Labour Party is no place for a Jew

Ian Graber-Stiehl, in Gizmodo, on the ecological disasters that are our front lawns

Nathaniel Rich, in The New York Times, on the ecological disaster that is our planet

And if you don't follow me on Twitter or Facebook, this week I helped with CBC's The Current's story on weight bias in healthcare (listen button is just below the photo)
Apparently Some Parents Are Hiring Fortnite (A Video Game) Coaches For Their Kids. Wish They'd Hire Them Cooking, Budgeting, And Critical Appraisal Coaches Instead
Now I can't imagine it's a commonplace practice, but yesterday the Wall Street Journal published a piece about parents hiring coaches to help their children gain skills and level up in Fortnite, a first person shooter video game.

The mind boggles.

Dare to dream of an alternate universe, where instead of hiring their children video game tutors, parents hired coaches to help teach their kids life skills like cooking, making and keeping a budget, or critical appraisal. Or better yet dream of parents going out of their way to do so themselves, and of a school system that weaves those sorts of actual life skills throughout their curricula from K-12.

We can dare to dream, can't we?
No Parents, Your Children Aren't "Stealing Food" (And Some Thoughts On How To Silently Cultivate Better Choices)
It's a concern I hear not infrequently when meeting with parents of children with obesity - that their son or daughter is "stealing" food.

I have no doubt too, that in some cases, those kids received some perhaps well-intentioned, but I think very misplaced, ire about it.

The stories are all pretty similar, and often occur on weekends or after school whereby parents come home and find evidence that their child has raided the fridge, cupboard, or freezer by way of wrappers, cans, dirty dishes, or a much emptier than before container.

As to what's happening, some thoughts.

First off, we all did it. I remember "stealing" Voortman Strawberry-Turnovers pretty much every Saturday morning while my parents were sleeping and I was watching cartoons. Some mornings I'd put away 6 of them.

And why did I do it?

Because they're were delicious, and I was hungry, and I was a kid, and they were there, and because I could.

Secondly, we all still do it. Who doesn't grab a handful of this, or a package of that, multiple times a week or even daily?

Plainly put, grabbing yummy, readily available, oftentimes calorie dense and unhealthy foods is part of the human condition.

And though I appreciate that parents who may be concerned about their children's weights and/or eating patterns find this behaviour alarming, believing there to be something wrong with their children, or that their children lack "willpower", is unwise and unfair.

If you're worried about your children's (or your own) grazing habits, here are a few things for you to consider.
  • Take an inventory of the "stolen" foods in your home. Are they cookies, candy granola bars, drinkable ice-creams yogurts,  soda, flat-soda juice, etc.? If so, could you buy them less frequently? And eventually not at all?
  • Are your children's other meals and snacks designed to be filling? Are they large enough? Do they include protein? Are they eating them or do they skip meals? Ensuring you're providing your children with filling, regular meals and snacks may lead them to come home less driven to raid the cupboards. And if they're skipping meals and snacks, are they doing so consequent to your own example?
  • Are your children worried they'll simply never get anything "good"? If your home is highly restrictive around treats, and your children don't know when they'll next be offered one, grabbing one when you're not there is not a surprising outcome. To combat snack and treat based food insecurity, plan them into your child's week and ensure they're made aware that they'll be getting them - and this too may provide you with a great opportunity to work on weekly treat-inclusive menu planning with your family which in turn is an important life skill.
  • Make the stuff you want them to eat more of more readily accessible and inviting. Wash all fruits and vegetables when you get home from the grocery store and leave them in visible, easy to reach, inviting bowls while relocated the stuff you'd prefer they eat less of to cupboards and drawers that require more effort to see. And note, I'm not recommending hiding anything or locking it away, just ensuring that the easiest things to see and eat and the foods you'd prefer that they grab.
So, if your kids are grabbing stuff, instead of approaching them with anger or overt concern, instead try to approach them with genuine curiosity to find out what's going on, and then turn back to that list up above. If they just really like those things they're grabbing, then planning them into the menu may help. If they report they're starving, exploring their daytime eating patterns and choices to look for ways to ensure they get enough to eat so as to not arrive home famished. If they report there wasn't anything good to grab, brainstorm other options and make sure they're readily available and visible.

And lastly don't forget who we're talking about. If the expectation of regularly making healthy choices just because they're healthy isn't a fair expectation for all of us fully grown adults (and it's not), why would it be fair to expect that of your children?
Saturday Stories: Gwyneth Paltrow, Ellen Maud Bennett, and Pauline Mara
Taffy Brodesser-Akner, in the New York Times Magazine, with the best writing of any story I've read this year, on Gwyneth and her GOOP - a rare must read recommendation.

Ellen Maud Bennett's obituary, in the Times Columnist, where her experiences with fat shaming and dismissive physicians are recounted, and where her final wish encourages everyone with obesity not to let medical professionals get away with blaming everything on weight without exploring other possibilities.

Steven Isserlis, in the Telegraph, recounts his wife, Pauline Mara's, alternative cancer treatment.