Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Is fast food bad for you?

A big study in France set out to answer that and did find a slightly higher rate of death among enthusiastic fast food eaters.  It did however also find that fast food eaters were younger, poorer, less educated etc.  Even after controlling for such factors, however, some effect of fast food itself remained.

There were however two problems with the study.  The first is easy.  The subjects were food freaks. As the study says:  "the participants are more health conscious than the general population". So how well the findings would generalize to the overall population is unknown.  Food freaks may be generally less healthy. I rather wonder why the study was done  with such a severe sampling problem but I guess some information was better than none

The second problem was "when excluding prevalent CVDs and cancer cases, the associations were no longer statistically significant".  Deleting the two main causes of death from the analysis seems wildly hilarious to me.  The "bad" effects of fast food were only shown if you didn't have heart disease and cancer. Remove the heart and cancer patients and you remove a lot of the deaths.  

I am struggling with the logic of that but it seems to me that you are "fiddling" your sample and that it is only in your fiddled sample that bad effects are found.  Putting it another way, it looks like heart disease and cancer had a protective effect -- protecting you from death due to bad food.  Which is surely borderline insane.  Or maybe not.  Maybe fast food is good for you.

However you look at it, however, the problem is the non-representativeess of the sample.  You take a population of health nuts (at least some of whom may be health nuts because of health problems) and then make the sample even less reprsentative by subtracting from it the more ill component (people with heart and cancer symptoms) and then use that as your study sample. It's a parody of good survey research that may tell you nothing about the whole national population.

Poor sampling is endemic throughout the social science and medical literature but that does not mean that we should treat it as better than it is

Anyway, it seems that the bad effects of fast food are still at this stage "not proven', to use the old Scottish verdict. Journal abstract below.

Association Between Ultraprocessed Food Consumption and Risk of Mortality Among Middle-aged Adults in France

Laure Schnabel et al.


Importance  Growing evidence indicates that higher intake of ultraprocessed foods is associated with higher incidence of noncommunicable diseases. However, to date, the association between ultraprocessed foods consumption and mortality risk has never been investigated.

Objective  To assess the association between ultraprocessed foods consumption and all-cause mortality risk.

Design, Setting, and Participants  This observational prospective cohort study selected adults, 45 years or older, from the French NutriNet-Santé Study, an ongoing cohort study that launched on May 11, 2009, and performed a follow-up through December 15, 2017 (a median of 7.1 years). Participants were selected if they completed at least 1 set of 3 web-based 24-hour dietary records during their first 2 years of follow-up. Self-reported data were collected at baseline, including sociodemographic, lifestyle, physical activity, weight and height, and anthropometrics.

Exposures  The ultraprocessed foods group (from the NOVA food classification system), characterized as ready-to-eat or -heat formulations made mostly from ingredients usually combined with additives. Proportion (in weight) of ultraprocessed foods in the diet was computed for each participant.

Main Outcomes and Measures  The association between proportion of ultraprocessed foods and overall mortality was the main outcome. Mean dietary intakes from all of the 24-hour dietary records available during the first 2 years of follow-up were calculated and considered as the baseline usual food-and-drink intakes. Mortality was assessed using CépiDC, the French national registry of specific mortality causes. Hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% CIs were determined for all-cause mortality, using multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression models, with age as the underlying time metric.

Results  A total of 44 551 participants were included, of whom 32 549 (73.1%) were women, with a mean (SD) age at baseline of 56.7 (7.5) years. Ultraprocessed foods accounted for a mean (SD) proportion of 14.4% (7.6%) of the weight of total food consumed, corresponding to a mean (SD) proportion of 29.1% (10.9%) of total energy intake. Ultraprocessed foods consumption was associated with younger age (45-64 years, mean [SE] proportion of food in weight, 14.50% [0.04%]; P < .001), lower income (<€1200/mo, 15.58% [0.11%]; P < .001), lower educational level (no diploma or primary school, 15.50% [0.16%]; P < .001), living alone (15.02% [0.07%]; P < .001), higher body mass index (calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared; ≥30, 15.98% [0.11%]; P < .001), and lower physical activity level (15.56% [0.08%]; P < .001). A total of 602 deaths (1.4%) occurred during follow-up. After adjustment for a range of confounding factors, an increase in the proportion of ultraprocessed foods consumed was associated with a higher risk of all-cause mortality (HR per 10% increment, 1.14; 95% CI, 1.04-1.27; P = .008).

Conclusions and Relevance  An increase in ultraprocessed foods consumption appears to be associated with an overall higher mortality risk among this adult population; further prospective studies are needed to confirm these findings and to disentangle the various mechanisms by which ultraprocessed foods may affect health.

JAMA Intern Med. 2019;179(4):490-498. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.7289  

It’s the British establishment who are the extremists

The casualness with which they threaten to override democracy is alarming.

In the nearly three years since 17.4million of us voted to leave the EU, we’ve been told that extremism is on the march in the UK. That the Brexit referendum unleashed an ugly, alien and liberty-threatening worldview. That a section of British society wishes to do away with the social order as we have known it and propel Britain into a reactionary, even far-right future. All of this feels increasingly true. But not in the way suggested by the predominantly Remainer establishment that has been raising these extremist fears. They think it’s us, we Leave voters, who are the extremists ripping up the political and democratic fabric. It isn’t. It’s them.

This is perhaps the greatest trick that has been played since the referendum: under the guise of standing up to ‘extremism’, the establishment and its cheerleaders have mainstreamed genuine extremism. They have made it normal to be anti-democratic. They have made it not only acceptable but also celebrated to talk openly about disenfranchising the public. They have injected into the heart of British politics the kind of worldview that rightly horrifies us when it is propagated by a Pinochet or a Kim – a worldview that says the masses cannot really be trusted with making major political decisions and therefore politics should once again become the purview of small numbers of experts and the educated. This is the extremist idea doing most harm to the UK right now.

In recent weeks, the mask has fallen from the reactionary Remainer establishment. There have been three stages to elite Remainerism since the referendum in June 2016. First there was shock. The vote to leave the EU was a thunderbolt to technocrats and mandarins who are so used to getting their own political way. They responded by paying lip service to the democratic ideal. The result cannot be overturned, they said. We must vote to invoke Article 50, they insisted. Then came the second stage: the invention of new terms and a slippery, borderline Orwellian political language to justify the slow-motion undoing of the Brexit vote. We need a Soft Brexit, they said, using a phrase not one single person used during the referendum campaign. We cannot let the ‘extremists’ win, they argued. And so they established the idea that Brexit was too firm and dangerous an idea – you stupid voters – and that it fell to them to temper and soften it.

And now we are in the third stage. The stage where much of the camouflage of the Soft Brexit language has been dispensed with in favour of a more honest statement of the Remainer establishment’s worldview: that the public made a grave error and that error must now be corrected. This idea – this extremist, pre-20th-century idea – is now loose in the political and public realm. You hear it in MPs’ casual conversations about revoking Article 50 and opting for ‘No Brexit’. We saw it on the middle-class march in London on Saturday where people openly boasted of their intellectual superiority to the masses – we have degrees and can spell correctly, placards declared – and demanded that Brexit simply be halted. ‘Revoke this shit’, one banner said. ‘Shit’ – they mean democracy.

What is even more alarming than the elites’ explicit antipathy to making Brexit happen – Brexit having been voted for by the largest number of voters in UK history, remember – is the underlying belief that motors this antipathy: the belief that democracy is a mistake. This, arguably for the first time since all adults were enfranchised in 1928, is now an utterable and even cheered sentiment in Britain’s political and chattering circles.

In some ways, this isn’t surprising. The establishment knows full well what Brexit represents – a clear challenge by a massive section of the public to the idea that politics is better done by them, the experts, than by us, the plebs. And if the establishment lets this idea pass, lets it become established in law via a clean break from the EU, then it will be denuding itself of its presumed moral and political authority; it will be abandoning its own claim to have better, keener insights than the uneducated, unhealthy, un-PC public; it will be undercutting the very basis upon which its political rule has been based for three or four decades now. Its explicit and extremist turn against the democratic ideal is a desperate survival mechanism: in order to save their political style, they’re willing to destroy the promise of democracy.

The extremists aren’t the people who are saying, ‘Let’s leave the EU’. They’re the people saying, ‘I’m cleverer than you and therefore I should have more say’. They’re the people saying, ‘Let’s just cancel the largest democratic vote in UK history’. They’re the people who have backtracked on centuries of bloody struggle by stamping all over the principles of democracy. It is true that there was latent prejudice and hatred lurking in British society and that the vote for Brexit unleashed them into the world. And those prejudices and hatreds were among the ruling sections of society. And how they have been unleashed! Everywhere one turns, a deceptively polite and twee politician or commentator is expressing the deeply prejudicial and extremist idea that the little people, the moronic masses, must have their votes overruled and their rights curtailed. This is the dangerous idea stalking Brexit Britain. This is the true prejudice. This is the ugly face of extremism. And we mustn’t stand for it anymore.


The ACLU’s shameful role in promoting antisemitism

There is perhaps no more guilty party in the current wave of antisemitic attacks on pro-Israel Americans than the American Civil Liberties Union.

By falsely portraying state anti-BDS laws as requiring "loyalty oaths," the ACLU is appealing to latent and blatant antisemitism.
To understand why, one first has to understand that the essence of modern antisemitism is not so much hostility to Jews as individuals, but a conspiracy theory in which Jews, collectively, exercise hidden power over events for the benefit of Jews at the expense of everyone else.

Given this essence of antisemitism, people and organizations who make false or wildly exaggerated statements about the doings of the "Israel Lobby" are contributing to antisemitism, regardless of whether they have any personal animus toward Jews. Consider, for example, those who have made the not-just-wrong-but-utterly-wacky claim that the lobby (a) somehow managed to persuade George Bush, Dick Cheney, 3/4 of the Senate, most of the House of Representatives, and so on, against their better judgement that going to war with Iraq was a good idea, and (b) that the lobby did so on behalf of Israel's interests. These folks are giving aid and comfort to antisemites, regardless of their feelings about Jews. Indeed, but for the latent idea that Jews are disloyal to the U.S. and have special power to pervert national agendas to their own agenda, no one would take this conspiracy theory seriously.

Let's turn to the ACLU. Various states have passed legislation that bans their state governments from contracting with businesses that refuse to do business with Israeli-affiliated institutions and individuals. This could be anyone from the Israeli government itself to American students who study in Israel, and everything in between. These laws are controversial as many people think that political boycotts of this sort shouldn't be penalized in any way by the government. The other side argues that first of all it's quite rich for boycotters to complain about being boycotted, and second that the boycott movement against Israel is both in its origins and in its practical effects antisemitic, making them in effect an adjunct of antidiscrimination laws. We need not resolve that debate here, but simply to note that the ACLU takes the side of the laws' opponents, and has launched both a litigation and public relations campaign against the laws. (I've explained why the ACLU's legal arguments are wrong here.)

There's nothing inherently wrong with that, but there is something wrong with the ACLU publicly arguing that when states require contractors to sign a certification that they do not boycott Israel-related entities, that the contractors are being forced to sign a "loyalty oath" to Israel.

Here are just a few examples:

ACLU political director Faiz Shakir: "And if a state is going to say that we're not going to do business with an American citizen because they refuse to take a loyalty oath, for example, the courts have struck that down."

The ACLU blog reprinting an article stating that the law requires "a loyalty oath to the state of Israel before he can be paid."

An ACLU blog entry: "That means [the government] cannot impose ideological litmus tests or loyalty oaths as a condition on hiring or contracting. This principle was famously tested in the McCarthy era, when many state laws required government employees to declare they were not members of the Communist Party or other "subversive groups" in order to keep their jobs. The ACLU successfully challenged many of those laws on constitutional grounds, and anti-Communist loyalty tests have been mostly relegated to the dustbin of history. The same rule applies when the government asks someone to certify that they are not engaged in a boycott of Israel."

ACLU brief in Koontz v. Waston: "There is no plausible justification for ... the loyalty oath."

This is complete nonsense. Contractors certifying that their businesses don't boycott Israel-related entities is no more a "loyalty oath" to Israel than certifying that they don't refuse to deal with black or gay or women-owned business, or or that they will deal only with unionized businesses, is a "loyalty oath" to blacks, gays, women, or unions. Contractors who sign anti-boycott certifications are free to boycott Israel and related entities in their personal lives, and they and their businesses are free to donate to anti-Israel candidates and causes, and even to publicly advocate for BDS.

To further illustrate, let's compare a typical McCarthy-era loyalty oath to the certification contractors are being asked to sign.

Here's California 1950s loyalty oath for state employees:

I further swear (or affirm) that I do not advise, advocate or teach, and have not within the period beginning five (5) years prior to the effective date of the ordinance requiring the making of this oath or affirmation, advised, advocated or taught, the overthrow by force, violence or other unlawful means, of the Government of the United States of America or of the State of California and that I am not now and have not, within said period, been or become a member of or affiliated with any group, society, association, organization or party which advises, advocates or teaches, or has, within said period, advised, advocated or taught, the overthrow by force, violence or other unlawful means of the Government of the United States of America, or of the State of California. I further swear (or affirm) that I will not, while I am in the service of the City of Los Angeles, advise, advocate or teach, or be or become a member of or affiliated with any group, association, society, organization or party which advises, advocates or teaches, or has within said period, advised, advocated or taught, the overthrow by force, violence or other unlawful means, of the Government of the United States of America or of the State of California . . .

This is nothing like merely signing a certification that your business does not boycott those doing business with or in Israel. It's also worth noting that while the anti-boycott legislation applies only to businesses contracting with the state, "loyalty oaths" were imposed on individual employees.

By spreading the false meme that no-boycott certifications amount to not just loyalty oaths, but loyalty oaths to a foreign government the ACLU has spread the canard that the pro-Israel (read, overwhelmingly Jewish) organizations and their members want to use the force of the state to require everyone to be "loyal" to Israel.

And this has indeed fueled antisemitic fires, and given credence to antisemitic statements like those Rep. Ilhan Omar regarding how Congress has been bought off to be loyal to Israel. I can't tell you how many times I've read in response to criticism of Omar's claim that American Jews are buying the government's loyalty to Israel, "she's right, what about the anti-BDS loyalty oaths?" For example, here is Paul Waldman in the Washington Post arguing that Omar has been "unfairly smeared," and pointing to imaginary state laws that "literally" require contractors to "pledge [their] loyalty to Israel."

Some commentators, meanwhile, have taken the ACLU's exaggerations and upped the ante. Andrew Sullivan, for example, recently portrayed a federal bill permitting states to refuse to deal with contractors who boycott those doing business with or in Israel entities as a bill that would have "made it illegal for any American to boycott goods from the West Bank, without suffering real economic consequences from their own government."

I understand that ACLU lawyers have a responsibility to their clients to win the p.r. war to help with its legal battle, but the organization has disgraced itself by using the "loyalty oath" canard that it had to know would play on latent and blatant antisemitic sentiment. The real shame is that I don't think that the poobahs at the ACLU care.


Unassimilated Islamic Enclaves and 'No-Go' Zones: Ticking Time Bombs Proliferating in the West

“The operation to take Islamic State’s last enclave in eastern Syria looked close to an end,” Reuters recently reported, “as U.S.-backed fighters said they were combing the area for hidden jihadists…  Its enclave at Baghouz was the last part of the massive territory it suddenly seized in 2014, straddling swathes of Iraq and Syria, where its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a new caliphate.”

While this is welcome news, it also prompts one to wonder: what of all those other Islamic enclaves, those unassimilated ticking time bombs that proliferate throughout the West, which are packed with ISIS-sympathizers, not to mention ISIS members, and which the West largely fails to recognize as such? I am referring to those many so-called “no-go" zones: Western cities and regions that have effectively become Islamic ghettoes. There, Sharia is the de facto law; Muslims are openly radicalized to hate infidels; non-Muslims, even police, are afraid to enter lest they get mugged, raped, or killed.

In short, the ISIS worldview dominates—not in some distant theater of war, but right smack in the West itself (an internet search for terms such as “no-go" zones and “Muslim enclaves” demonstrates how prevalent and problematic this phenomenon is).

Although these Muslim enclaves are recent and unique phenomena, they have precedents in history and even a nomenclature in the Islamic consciousness.

Wherever the jihad was stopped, there, on the border with their infidel neighbors, jihadis formed strongholds, hotbeds of jihadi activities.  These became known as the ribāt (رباط), an Arabic word etymologically rooted to the idea of a tight fastening or joining and found in Koran 3:200: “O you who have believed, persevere and endure and remain stationed [رابطوا] and fear Allah that you may be successful.” In Islamic history, the ribāt referred to the chains of jihadi fortresses erected along and dedicated to raiding the borders of non-Muslims.

The word ribāt lives on, though few recognize it. For example, Rabat, the capital of Morocco, is so named because in origin it was a ribāt, whence centuries of Barbary/pirate raids on the Christian Mediterranean were launched.  Similarly, Almoravids—the name of an important eleventh-century North African based jihadi group—is simply a transliteration of the Arabic al-murābitun, which means they who fight along the ribāt (not unlike mujāhidun, they who wage jihad). In 1086 these “Almoravids” invaded Spain and crushed the Castilians at the battle of Sagrajas (or Zallaqa); afterward they erected a mountain consisting of 2,400 Christian heads to triumphant cries of “Allahu Akbar.”

From the start of the Islamic conquests in the seventh century till the mid-eleventh century, the quintessential ribāt existed along the Muslim/Byzantine border in Anatolia (modern day Turkey). There the oldest extant Arabic manual on jihad, Kitab al-Jihad (“Book of Jihad”), was compiled by Abdullah bin Mubarak. Born less than a century after Islamic prophet Muhammad’s death in 632, Mubarak committed his life to studying and waging jihad on the Anatolian ribāt until his death in 797. According to a modern historian, Mubarak was a paradigmatic murābit: he “served as a model of zeal in volunteering. His piety and asceticism gave him enormous strength”—he was known to “bellow like a bull or cow being slaughtered” when warring on infidels—and “his fellows continued to be drawn to his power after his death.” His Book of Jihad remains a classic among militant Muslims around the world.

With the coming and military successes of the Ottoman Turks, the Anatolian ribāt continued edging westward, until it finally consumed Constantinople, the last bastion of the Byzantine empire, and most of the Balkans, reaching Vienna twice (in 1529 and 1683).

Another important frontier formed along the Duoro River in Spain, separating the Christian North from the Islamic South. For centuries, it too became “a territory where one fights for the faith and a permanent place of the ribāt,” to quote another historian. As in other borders where Muslims abutted against non-Muslims, a scorched no-man’s land policy prevailed in the ribāt of Spain. Ibn Hudhayl of Granada (d.812) once explained the logic:

It is permissible to set fire to the lands of the enemy, his stores of grain, his beasts of burden—if it is not possible for the Muslims to take possession of them—as well as to cut down his trees, to raze his cities, in a word, to do everything that might ruin and discourage him, provided that the imam deems these measures appropriate, suited to hastening the Islamization of that enemy or to weakening him. Indeed, all this contributes to a military triumph over him or to forcing him to capitulate.
After explaining how the Muslims intentionally devastated the Duero region—they later named it “the Great Desert”—French historian Louis Bertrand (b. 1866) elaborates:

To keep the [northern] Christians in their place it did not suffice to surround them with a zone of famine and destruction. It was necessary also to go and sow terror and massacre among them. . . . If one bears in mind that this brigandage was almost continual, and that this fury of destruction and extermination was regarded as a work of piety—it was a holy war [jihad] against infidels—it is not surprising that whole regions of Spain should have been made irremediably sterile. This was one of the capital causes of the deforestation from which the Peninsula still suffers. With what savage satisfaction and in what pious accents do the Arab annalists tell us of those at least bi-annual raids [across the ribāt]. A typical phrase for praising the devotion of a Caliph is this: “he penetrated into Christian territory, where he wrought devastation, devoted himself to pillage, and took prisoners”. . . . At the same time as they were devastated, whole regions were depopulated. . . . The prolonged presence of the Musulmans, therefore, was a calamity for this unhappy country of Spain. By their system of continual raids they kept her for centuries in a condition of brigandage and devastation.
Why does this history lesson matter?  Because in many respects, the Muslim enclaves and “no-go" zones that proliferate throughout the West function as the historic ribāts: hotbeds of radicalization and jihadi activities targeting their immediate infidel neighbors—or in this case, their non-Muslim hosts.

From here one understands why two Muslim men from “a hardline Islamic enclave in Dewsbury, one of the UK’s most religiously segregated areas, ”were “arrested by armed police on suspicion of a terror plot.” Or why “the largest Muslim sect in the UK, controlling half of Britain’s Mosques [most of which are in enclaves], hosted an Al-Qaeda associate of Osama bin Laden who spoke to numerous future terrorists as he toured their mosques across the country.” Even in the U.S., “Muslim children attending mosques and Islamic schools are being taught to hate America, our government, our military personnel and its non-Muslim population.”

There is, of course, one crucial difference between history’s ribāts and today’s Muslim enclaves. Ribāts traditionally formed wherever Muslims could not, by force, go any further, thereby becoming frontier zones whence the jihad resumed. Conversely, today’s quasi-ribāts—AKA “enclaves,” “no-go" zones, etc.—are not located on the borders of non-Muslim regions but rather in the middle of European nations; moreover, those entering in and turning these Western regions into Islamic enclaves did not do so by force of arms but rather because they were welcomed in with open arms.

If Islam continues to grow in the West and if Western peoples continue to retreat (in a myriad of ways), it is only a matter of time before the West’s many Muslim enclaves evolve into their most natural forms: ribāts dedicated to waging full-blown jihad on their infidel neighbors—a scenario that makes the fall of the Islamic State’s last ribāt in Baghouz pale in significance.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The food freaks neglect to consider the simple fact that humans are omnivores and are therefore designed to accommodate a wide variety of food sources and a great variety in diet and subsist on those diets.

Therefore to claim a specific food is bad for you is to proclaim your ignorance.