Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Palatability, Satiety and Calorie Intake

WHS reader Paul Hagerty recently sent me a very interesting paper titled "A Satiety Index of Common Foods", by Dr. SHA Holt and colleagues (1).  This paper quantified how full we feel after eating specific foods.  I've been aware of it for a while, but hadn't read it until recently.  They fed volunteers a variety of commonly eaten foods, each in a 240 calorie portion, and measured how full each food made them feel, and how much they ate at a subsequent meal.  Using the results, they calculated a "satiety index", which represents the fullness per calorie of each food, normalized to white bread (white bread arbitrarily set to SI = 100).  So for example, popcorn has a satiety index of 154, meaning it's more filling than white bread per calorie. 

One of the most interesting aspects of the paper is that the investigators measured a variety of food properties (energy density, fat, starch, sugar, fiber, water content, palatability), and then determined which of them explained the SI values most completely.

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Soda-Free Sunday

Last Thursday, I received a message from a gentleman named Dorsol Plants about a public health campaign here in King County called Soda Free Sunday.  They're asking people to visit www.sodafreesundays.com and make a pledge to go soda-free for one day per week. 

Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), including soda, is one of the worst things you can do for your health.  SSB consumption is probably one of the major contributors to the modern epidemics of obesity and metabolic dysfunction.

I imagine that most WHS readers don't drink SSBs very often if at all, but I'm sure some do.  Whether you want to try drinking fewer SSBs, or just re-affirm an ongoing commitment to avoid them, I encourage you to visit www.sodafreesundays.com and make the pledge.  You can do so even if you're not a resident of King county.

New Thoughts in Public Health and Head for the Hills...

Last Friday 24th February the Centre for Public Health at MMU hosted a talk by Dr Ruth Hussey OBE, entitled Public Health England: A New Approach to 21st Century Public Health Challenges. It was a significant and interesting presentation as it is a critical time in public health development in the UK, and her work entails the smooth transition from the existing model to an emerging, and as yet, not fully formed vision.

Citing the work of mid Victorian physician, John Snow, and his emerging understanding of cholera, Dr Hussey illustrated how, over 100 years later, we are still learning from these experiences, as she explained the Fifth Wave in public health, where we adapt to societal and political changes that impact on population and individual health.

Expanding on the importance of telling the emerging public health story, and generating a shared vision through new relationships, it was clear that there was an emerging role in the public health lexicon for the arts. In the search for new ways of tackling old problems and engaging with communities in ways that are relevant to them, creative approaches should be central to our shared future. Describing her own experience of working with diverse communities, she hit the nail on the head when she reflected that one community member commented, ‘We’ve all got knowledge, but it’s different kinds of knowledge.’

In the drive to understand the impact and reach of public health interventions, the arts/health community is increasingly defining itself in similar language. Similarities can be drawn both in the need to have new ways of understanding our value and our impact through models like Social Return On Investment, and the understanding that focusing on assets over deficits, enables the co-design of practice. This is very much an arts/health model, and the move from illness to wellness is emphasised in the NHS Confederation publication of the same name, which illustrates the place of culture and the arts in the ‘wellness’ movement.

Significantly, Arts for Health at MMU featured explicitly a couple of times during her presentation, which she astutely described as a growing movement, and I would suggest that by engaging at a national and local level, and embedding thinking around the impact of creativity, culture and the arts alongside the scientific model, we will develop a robust approach to 21st Century public health that moves away from narrow reductivism and embraces a more genuinely holistic approach to health and well-being.

Professor John Ashton CBE is Joint Director of Public Health for Cumbria Primary Care Trust and Cumbria County Council. John is well known for his work on planned parenthood, Healthy Cities and for his personal advocacy of public health.  He was also a member of the British delegation to Macedonia during the Kosovo emergency and played a prominent role in resolving the fuel dispute. He has played an active part in developing government policies for public health and under his leadership, the North West became regarded as a centre for pioneering initiatives, including his consistent support of Arts for Health, and whilst he was Regional Director of Public Health, he was the Department of Health sponsor for the Invest to Save Arts in Health Project. He has been instrumental in the development of part one of the manifesto for arts and health.

Earlier this month, Prof John Ashton co-signed a letter in the Independent defending the Royal College of GPs' chair, who opposes reform in the NHS. NHS Cumbria said in a letter to Prof Ashton that he should not express his personal views and told him his actions were ‘inappropriate’’ asking him to attend a meeting planned for last Friday.

John featured prominently in the broadcast media and printed press last week, commenting, “As a public health director and as the advisor for public health to the county of Cumbria... I have the freedom to speak out on matters of interest...I am not acting politically, I am acting professionally, drawing on the evidence of what will happen if we go down the road to private health insurance.”

Whilst John wasn’t acting politically, this is a critical agenda for us all to be engaged in, and regardless of our political allegiances, our health is political and the arts are political too.

Please click on John's photograph to go to his article in the Lancet: The Art of Medicine, Defending Democracy and the National Health Service.

For the last couple of years I have had some engagement with the Asia Europe Foundation (ASEF) and have actively worked with them on Scenario Planning around possible future pandemics. The work is gathering momentum and ASEF have produced a number of films to tell the story. They are also developing strategy for delivering this work. More information and short films can be found by clicking on the logo above.

And, purely for ironic entertainment...

Manchester Histories Festival 
Arts for Health’s Archive goes public for the first time this weekend with a small exhibition and a talk by Dr Langley Brown at the Manchester Histories Festival’s Celebration Day on Saturday, 3 March.

The Arts for Health exhibition is one of 80 displays on local histories that will take place in the Main Hall of Manchester’s magnificent Town Hall. It will introduce the Archive, and present ‘work-in-progress’ towards a larger exhibition that is to be a centrepiece of celebrations this April of the 80th anniversary of the Kinder Scout Mass Trespass, an event which helped pave the way towards the formation of the British National Parks and the steady growth of public access to wild countryside.  

This ‘work-in-progress’ previews Head for the Hills, a small-scale replica of a mosaic mural that was opened in 1986 by countryside access campaigner the late Benny Rothman. The mural was designed and made by users and staff of Manchester’s mental health services with artists of Hospital Arts (now Lime), but demolished in 2006 during rebuilding at Manchester Royal Infirmary. It was envisaged as celebration of and a lasting monument to the shared experiences, in wild landscapes, of a disparate group of people embodying a kaleidoscope of experience and skills who had only come together through the adverse circumstances of mental distress.

This project is not just the overdue resuscitation of a monument to a kaleidoscope of shared experiences from over a quarter of a century ago; it is also a potential catalyst for innovative approaches in art, wellbeing and ecology that will draw on lessons learnt from history.

The original Head for the Hills project ran during the time that the arts and mental health organisation START in Manchester evolved from Hospital Arts. START went on to inspire further developments including START in Salford, ARC in Stockport, and Connected in Oldham.

The completed replica, made by a group of Manchester Metropolitan University History of Art and Design students led by Langley Brown, will be accompanied by additional documentation on the original project and texts on topics arising concerning art, activism, environment, walking, wilderness and wellbeing, and will feature at the Edale Moorland Centre as part of the celebrations of the 80th Anniversary of the Kinder Trespass in April.

Events on Saturday 3 March:
Arts for Health Archive: Head for the Hills ‘work-in-progress’: 10am-5.30pm, Main Hall, Manchester Town Hall

Talk by Dr Langley Brown: 3.30pm, Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount St, Manchester M2 5NS 
KInder Trespass 80th anniversary events 20-29 April 
Head for the Hills exhibition: Moorland Centre, Edale (exact dates/times to be announced)
For more information email: langley.brown@mmu.ac.uk
Head for the Hills is supported by Derbyshire County Council.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Is Sugar Fattening?

Buckle your seat belts, ladies and gentlemen-- we're going on a long ride through the scientific literature on sugar and body fatness.  Some of the evidence will be surprising and challenging for many of you, as it was for me, but ultimately it paints a coherent and actionable picture.

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Monday, February 20, 2012

Deller and New Evaluation...

Short and Sweet this week, but two things of interest to keep us ticking over...C.P.

Be Creative Be Well: arts, wellbeing and local communities, an evaluation
Over three and a half years, the Well London programme empowered some of the capital’s most deprived communities to take a proactive role in enhancing their health and wellbeing. Within this programme, there were a number of strands of work with Be Creative Be Well representing the importance of art and creativity in health agendas.

This report is an independent evaluation of Be Creative Be Well, looking at the impact that the quality of the arts and cultural activity can have in community engagement and in improving health and wellbeing.

The Hayward Gallery will be holding a retrospective of Jeremy Deller, which starts on Wednesday and runs until 13th May, titled Jeremy Deller: Joy in People, it will bring together documents of past collaborative events, films, books and banners.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

By 2606, the US Diet will be 100 Percent Sugar

The US diet has changed dramatically in the last 200 years.  Many of these changes stem from a single factor: the industrialization and commercialization of the American food system.  We've outsourced most of our food preparation, placing it into the hands of professionals whose interests aren't always well aligned with ours.

It's hard to appreciate just how much things have changed, because none of us were alive 200 years ago.  To help illustrate some of these changes, I've been collecting statistics on US diet trends.  Since sugar is the most refined food we eat in quantity, and it's a good marker of processed food consumption, naturally I wanted to get my hands on sugar intake statistics-- but solid numbers going back to the early 19th century are hard to come by!  Of all the diet-related books I've read, I've never seen a graph of year-by-year sugar intake going back more than 100 years.

A gentleman by the name of Jeremy Landen and I eventually tracked down some outstanding statistics from old US Department of Commerce reports and the USDA: continuous yearly sweetener sales from 1822 to 2005, which have appeared in two of my talks but I have never seen graphed anywhere else*.  These numbers represent added sweeteners such as cane sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and maple syrup, but not naturally occurring sugars in fruit and vegetables.  Behold:

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Where is the VISION in Politics? - Artists in the NHS, Yayoi Kusama, Cultural Champions and more...

Dementia is a burgeoning health issue, here in the UK and globally. We’re all familiar with the bullet-point ‘facts’, as peddled by the media and more recently by the reporting of neglect by the Patients Association and Care Quality Commission (amongst others). The National Dementia Strategy highlighted the pressing need to address the over-prescribing of anti-psychotic medication and the value of non-pharmacological approaches to dementia care services.

This agenda should be central to the public outrage at NHS reform! This is not just a health issue, this is a political issue. We should expect politicians from all parties to demand cultural change in the way our elders are cared for, particularly the most vulnerable. Where are the politicians who have vision? Where are the politicians who don’t just wait to defend the next policy, or react to media baiting? Where is the dynamic vision in 21st century politics? Step forward and engage. We are your allies and can help create change. Culture and the arts will be central to innovation across society, enabling 21st century well-being that is so much more than a passive acceptance of an intolerable future.

This is a call for a generational shift in the way we think about aging, and plan and deliver care for those who have been the bedrock of our country, its workers, families and free-thinkers.

I am thrilled to announce that Arts for Health will be working with colleagues from around the UK on understanding the impact and reach of the arts on Dementia and the Imagination, with funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. More details of this will be available very shortly.

ARTISTS IN THE NHS - in pictures
To raise awareness of the devastating NHS reforms proposed by the health and social care bill, writer Niru Ratnam and Frieze Art Fair curator Sarah McCrory set up a new blog, Artists for the NHS, and have asked artists to make thought-provoking posters. Click on the Alistair Frost poster above.

And as the manifesto transforms from a pupa to a butterfly, here are a few reminders of part one’s content. (available in plain old black and white too)

YAYOI KUSAMA @ Tate Modern
The Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama has a retrospective at Tate Modern until 5th June. She’s an interesting person and there’s lots to read in the national press. For this blog, its her honest account of her mental ill-health that is interesting, which began in childhood when she started hallucinating the dots, nets and flowers which frequently appear in her paintings and sculptures. She voluntarily resides in a mental institution in Japan. An interesting interview with her from 1999 can be found at Bombsite, and here is a sample to whet your appetite.

Grady Turner There has been so much interest in your life story as a result of your retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. Do you ever fear people may be interested in your biography at the expense of your art?

Yayoi Kusama No, I have no such fear. My artwork is an expression of my life, particularly of my mental disease.

GT We are conducting this interview by fax because you live in a mental institution in Tokyo. Is it true you committed yourself?

YK I was hospitalized at the mental hospital in Tokyo in 1975 where I have resided ever since. I chose to live here on the advice of a psychiatrist. He suggested I paint pictures in the hospital while undergoing medical treatment. This happened after I had been traveling through Europe, staging my fashion shows in Rome, Paris, Belgium and Germany.

GT Even though you are institutionalized, you are a prolific writer and artist. Where do you work?

YK I work at my condominium-turned-studio near the hospital as well as at a studio I’ve been renting for some years, which is just a few minutes walk from the hospital. I also created a large sculpture in the big yard of the hospital—a store-bought rowboat completely covered with stuffed canvas protuberances. I have made about five or six hundred large sculptures so far.

GT Do you still work around the clock for days at a time, as you did in the 1960s? Or is your work routine different now?

YK I work very hard even now, but probably not as hard as I did when I was in New York.

GT You say your art is an expression of your mental illness. How so?

YK My art originates from hallucinations only I can see. I translate the hallucinations and obsessional images that plague me into sculptures and paintings. All my works in pastels are the products of obsessional neurosis and are therefore inextricably connected to my disease. I create pieces even when I don’t see hallucinations, though...

Continued on Bombsite.

Arts and Business are inviting you to consider who you would like as a Cultural Champion. Below you’ll find advice as to what a Cultural Champion is and the types of support they are celebrating. If you would like to nominate someone, then please do go to http://artsandbusiness.org.uk  or email peter.collins@artsandbusiness.org.uk or call 0121 248 1200 for further details.

Looking at poetry in relation to the manifesto and stumbled upon work by Harold Pinter, who I naively only knew as a playwright. How blind! Writing an essay for another piece of work about how we die, I was exposed to the blistering piece by Pinter called, American Football (Please don't click on this link to this poem if your easily offened, or blind to the violence of war). For those of you who are interested in how artists respond to the politics of war, and where work is not embraced by the mainstream media, I recommend it to you. You can read it hear. American Football.
To celebrate all things valentine however, here is a short and sublime piece of writing by Pinter

It Is Here

What sound was that?

I turn away, into the shaking room.

What was that sound that came in from the dark?
What is this maze of light it leaves us in?
What is this stance we take,
To turn away and then turn back?
What did we hear?

It was the breath we took when we first met.

Listen. It is here.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Cigarette Smoking-- Another Factor in the Obesity Epidemic

Obesity rates in the US have more than doubled in the last 30 years, and rates of childhood obesity and extreme adult obesity have tripled.  One third of US adults are considered obese, and another third overweight.  This is the "obesity epidemic".

The obesity epidemic has coincided with significant changes in the US diet, which are clearly involved.  However, there's another probable contributor that's often overlooked: declining smoking rates.  

Here's a graph of cigarette consumption over the last century in the US (1):
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Monday, February 6, 2012

My TEDx Talk, "The American Diet: a Historical Perspective"

On October 21st, I spoke at the Harvard Food Law Society's TEDx conference, Forum on Food Policy.  The conference kicked off with three talks on nutrition, by Drs. Walter Willett, David Ludwig and myself.  My talk is only 17 minutes long as per TED format, but it's packed with research on both quantitative and qualitative changes in the US diet over the last two centuries.  It contains surprises for almost anyone, and I can guarantee you've never learned this much about the history of the US diet in 17 minutes.  The talk was titled "The American Diet: a Historical Perspective"; you can access it by following that link.

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The Poet and Melancholic, Revolution, Film and Artists Commission

The Poetic and Melancholic...
Just how on earth do we distill the key points of the manifesto into something we can utilize? - something we can brandish and be proud of? Here’s some of the beautiful work of poet and artist Robert Montgomery, whose work hijacks public advertising space.

FilmLife exists to capture the stories of organ donation and transplantation through the eyes of young filmmakers. We believe that more people need to be asking and knowing their loved one’s wishes, and we’re inviting passionate people to spark these conversations by creating films about organ and tissue donation. Whether you’ve been affected by organ donation directly or you’re keen to make your first steps into filmmaking have a lifesaving impact, we want to hear from you! Click on image for more details.

Revolution paintings. Graffiti and Arab public spaces
Casa Árabe inaugurates this exhibition which gathers more than a hundred images taken on the streets of different cities of Arab countries which during the last year were immersed in revolutionary processes. This exhibition gathers the popular creative protest expression through the use of public spaces, both in individual and collective initiatives. (click on image below) 
Place: Casa Árabe’s exhibition rooms in Madrid (c/ Alcalá, 62).

Artsist Commission 
Expressions of interest are invited to create a new public realm sculpture to be sited outside the new headquarters of the INSTITUTE OF MENTAL HEALTH, (IMH) on the Jubilee Campus of the University of Nottingham. 

IMH are keen to ensure that there is artistic and public engagement with people who have experience of mental health difficulties, and that they are actively involved in the design and building process, so that the final work is inspired by issues related to mental health and one with a wide sense of ownership. As is now well-known, around 27% of the UK population will suffer from some form of mental instability in their life-time, and 3% will suffer from a serious and debilitating form of mental illness. successful candidate will lead an engagement programme with local mental health groups to develop the design, which is likely to be installed by early autumn 2012. A Fee of up to £23,000 is available, to include all design consultation, materials and installation.

To receive the full brief or further details, please email: victoria.tischler@nottingham.ac.uk or timharris1@ntlworld.com

Expressions of Interest are requested by 5pm on Fri 2nd March, 2012 (by email), to include your relevant experience of similar commissions, an outline budget, artist statement and your CV.

Mens health
In collaboration with MOSI and Manchester Mencap an exhibition will be opening to the public this week. We have spent the past year participating in a community psychology project aiming to improve the health of men labelled with 'learning disabilities' and to challenge the label of 'learning disabilities'. We have used a variety of visual and creative methods, which will be on show including photography, art, poetry, film, oral histories and debate. Click on photo above.

Asia-Europe Short Films Contest
The Asia-Europe Foundation invites young film professionals, students and enthusiasts to take part in the Asia-Europe Short Film Contest.
Short, up to 3 min films of any type - animation, documentary, fiction, mobile phone video – to reflect Asia and Europe’s connections of the future, the diversity and the interesting challenges, interactions of two regions, cultural differences or individual relationships.

Submit your short film before 9 April 2012 and you may be among the five winners selected by an international jury and online public voting. Winners will be flown to Singapore to take part in the Award Ceremony and will receive a 2-day filmmaking workshop from a renowned school of arts. SGD 5000 will be awarded for the first place winner. Click on logo above.

Thank You...C.P.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

An Interview with Dr. C. Vicky Beer, Paleo-friendly MD

As I was preparing my recent article on the Paleo diet (1), I interviewed a local Paleo-friendly MD named C. Vicky Beer.  I was only able to include a snippet of the interview in the article, but I thought WHS readers would be interested to read the rest of the interview with Dr. Beer:

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