It's what's for lunch: Turkey half sandwich with Hellmann's Light (made from soybean oil) on Arnold 7 Grain, 4 oz. Dannon Light 'n Fit strawberry yogurt and slices of fresh California navel orange. But is it good for you?
"Many practices that became common before their effectiveness was tested have become ingrained by tradition and continue to be practiced well after their usefulness has been questioned," notes the WaPo re a new study that shows routine episiotomies during childbirth do more harm than good [You're writing about surgical procedures during LUNCH? --ed]:
One of the most common surgical procedures performed in the United States -- an incision many pregnant women receive to reduce the risk of tissue tears during delivery -- has no benefits and actually causes more complications, according to the most comprehensive analysis to evaluate the practice.
Contradicting the long-accepted rationale for the procedure, called an episiotomy, the analysis found that it increases the risk of tissue tears, leading to more pain, more stitches and a longer recovery after childbirth. In addition, an episiotomy increases the risk of sexual difficulties later and does not reduce the risk of incontinence, the federally sponsored study found.
First the food pyramid was turned on its side. Now this. We never did like the idea of routine surgical intervention in a natural process like childbirth. Well, now we know (or will they have another story next year?).
But how DO you know whom to believe when it comes to what's best for your health? You trust the good doctor, but what if his interests are compromised by the bottom-line demands of an HMO? In the case of the USDA's MyPyramid, the conflicts of interest are blatant. As the Harvard School of Public Health website points out, the USDA graphic doesn't work on a visual level to convey the data behind it, and the data itself is a compromised product of competing interests:
Some [of its builders] are obvious -- USDA scientists, nutrition experts, staff members and consultants. Others aren't. Intense lobbying efforts from a variety of food industries also helped shape the pyramid.
So how do you decide what's good for you? Eat your vegetables, of course, but how much proteins vs carbohydrates vs oils? The experts can't seem to agree, so we suggest you take their advice with a grain of salt and follow the classic moderation in all things. That includes daily exercise and weight control -- one area USDA and HSPH agree on -- which seems like common sense until along comes a study that suggests moderately overweight people may live longer. Perhaps it depends upon what your definition of weight control is. Dr William Cochran, a nutritionist for Pennsylvania's Geisinger Health System, explains:
I think like most things, it's a mixed bag and the truth is not always black and white.
No, but black and white -- like health scares and magic bullets -- sell.