# blueollie

## Affordable Care Act and current policy cancellations

So these insurance cancellation notices. I hear a lot about them. What’s the deal?
Let’s start with the very basics here. About 15 million people purchase health insurance policies on the individual market. That’s about 5 percent of the population. When they do so, they typically purchase a 12-month contract with an insurance company. And when that contract runs out, both the individual and the insurance plan have an escape hatch. The individual can decide to no longer purchase the plan — and the insurance company can decide to no longer offer the plan.
Most individuals don’t stay in the individual market very long: One study, published in the journal Health Affairs, found that 17 percent of individual market subscribers purchased the same plan for two straight years or longer.
There are some restrictions on how insurance companies can terminate products. HIPAA, a health law passed in the 1990s, does require that insurance companies offer subscribers the opportunity to renew their policy, so long as they continue to pay monthly premiums. If they want to discontinue a subscriber’s policy, the insurance plan must provide 90 days notice and “the option to purchase any other individual health insurance coverage currently being offered by the issuer for individuals in that market.”
And these are the notices that insurance plans are sending out right now, to hundreds of thousands of subscribers: notices saying that they do not plan to offer the policy anymore, and information about what policies will be available.
So why is this happening right now?
Some — or maybe even most — of the plans offered on the individual insurance market right now don’t meet certain requirements in the health-care law. They may not offer preventive care without co-payment, for example, or leave out coverage of maternity care, one of the health-care law’s 10 essential benefits.
Some of these plans have stuck around for a little bit. The health law allowed plans that existed back in March 2010, when it became a law, to keep selling coverage. These are known as “grandfathered plans:” They don’t meet the health law’s requirements, but as long as they don’t change much, insurers can keep offering them.
Insurance companies typically do like to change their insurance plans, making changes to cost-sharing or the benefits they offer. That means that grandfathered plans have disappeared. We don’t have great data about how quickly this is happening in the individual market, but we do see it in this Kaiser Family Foundation survey of the employer market.

click on the link to read more.

So, what is really going on? Via Matt Yglesias:

Rather than (foolishly) try to ensure that nobody could ever lose their insurance, the actual Affordable Care Act accelerated the demise of a certain class of plan. Politically, that’s now an embarrassment for the White House. Substantively, it’s a huge achievement.

The ACA cracks down on insurance rescission. It was famously difficult on the old market for people with “pre-existing conditions” to get coverage. That’s because insurance companies don’t want to cover people who are actually sick. Even healthy people generally want health insurance coverage because they might get sick. But an insurance company has no desire to actually foot the bill for a seriously ill person’s medical treatment. Hence, in the individual market the standard practice was to earn a profit selling peace of mind to healthy people, only to pivot as quickly as possible toward cancellation of the plan as soon as major bills started coming in. The ACA, rightly, puts a stop to this scam.

Since insurance companies now won’t be allowed to collect premiums while you’re healthy only to yank coverage when you get sick, they have no choice but to pre-emptively cancel plans that wouldn’t be financially beneficial to actually pay out.

That’s the story of Obamacare “victims” such as Lee Hammack and JoEllen Brothers, loyal Democrats aged 60 and 59 who enjoyed miraculously low premiums until the ACA ruined the party. Hammack and Brothers are certainly entitled to feel miffed about losing their apparently sweet deal. But they ought to reflect on the overwhelming likelihood that their pre-ACA circumstances were a happy illusion. They were both, by their own admission, quite healthy and thus profitable to insure. Had one of them actually fallen ill, the plan would have become a loss center for the insurer and canceled as swiftly as a pretext could be found. It’s being canceled now because under the new rules it’s now or never for the insurer. Charging premiums only to yank the policy retroactively is no longer on the table.

Insurance cancellation sob stories have been full of picayune details about new coverage mandates for services the policyholder doesn’t want: gender reassignment surgery, for example, or maternity care for women in their 50s. But no insurer worries about being forced to offer you services that you won’t want to use. New regulations will only lead to policy cancellation if they make the policy unprofitable to offer. And in the majority of cases, that’ll mean the policy is being canceled because it never made financial sense for the insurer to actually pay up in the case of major illness.

Clearing the landscape of this kind of mirage insurance and making sure that everyone has proper coverage—which, yes, may be more expensive—is a feature of the Affordable Care Act, not a bug. The White House has every reason to hold its head in shame over the shambolic state of healthcare.gov, but the wave of cancellation letters is part of Obamacare doing what it was supposed to do. There’s little to regret about these plans vanishing from the earth.

But these stories are making the ACA unpopular and many Democrats are picking up on that.

This bit of weak-knees disgusts Robert Reich:

Democrats are showing once again they have the backbones of banana slugs.

The Affordable Care Act was meant to hold insurers to a higher standards. So it stands to reason that some insurers will have to cancel their lousy sub-standard policies.

But spineless Democrats (including my old boss Bill Clinton) are caving in to the Republican-fueled outrage that the President “misled” Americans into thinking they could keep their old lousy policies — and are now urging the White House to forget the new standards and let people keep what they had before.

And some congressional Republicans are all too eager to join them, and allow insurers to offer whatever crap they were offering before — exposing families to more than \$12,700 in out-of-pocket expenses, canceling policies of people who get seriously sick, failing to cover prescription drugs, and so on.

Can we please get a grip? Whenever industry standards are lifted — a higher minimum wage, safer workplaces, non-toxic foods and drugs, safer cars — people no longer have the “freedom” to contract for the sub-standard goods and services.

But that freedom is usually a mirage because big businesses have most of the power and average people don’t have much of a choice. This has been especially the case with health insurance, which is why minimum standards here are essential.

And I can see the point of view of the politicians: they don’t want to hear it. If you tell someone what the policy that they liked really might have bit them had they really gotten sick…well, they won’t hear any of it.

Groan; this sort of change is never easy.

Personally, I’d prefer single payer but there is zero chance of getting that right now.

November 14, 2013

## I am glad that President Bush is doing well; two comments.

President Bush is recovering from a stent procedure; he had a 95 percent blockage in an artery.

Two comments:

1. President Bush kept himself in good shape (running and then cycling). That probably saved his life.

2. It is my *opinion* that all Americans deserve decent health care. This is why I back the Affordable Care Act (originally a Republican idea, by the way) even though I wish it were a stronger act.

And yes, I wish President Bush well.

October 15, 2013

## Health Insurance and society

Ok, I was one of those who thought that Obamacare didn’t go far enough; I preferred the House version (which had a small public option) but by then we had gone down to 59 votes in the Senate. Hence it was either pass the Senate version in the House (and include some small fixes via reconciliation) or nothing.

Still, overall, we should be better off (on the whole).

Small ways this helps: if you look at my recent history, I had a rotator cuff problem, knee surgery in 2010 and some physical therapy for my back. None of these were life threatening but health insurance helped me with these problems, and as a consequence, I can do my job pain-free and even engage in a reasonable amount of athletic activity.

I may well have been on my way to being physically disabled without, at least, the physical therapy.

Sometimes simple things can make a big difference, even when the problem isn’t grave at the moment, and sometimes having health insurance can keep small problems from turning into big ones.

September 29, 2013

## Exercise pills, weight, large viruses and other topics

Fun: watch this video of a raccoon eating cat food, and watch the end when it scampers away on its hind legs.

Social Science and Human Behavior and Health

Have you mistakenly told the same story to a person multiple times? Have you ever repeated back a story to a person, who was the one who told you the story to begin with? The latter happens sometimes but the former acts more. Here is one reason why. In a nutshell: when you are telling a story, you are spending more mentally energy focusing on telling the story correctly and less on taking in the person you are talking to. When you are listening to a story, you are focusing not only on the story, but also on the story teller. Via: Mano Singham.

Monsters in our society It is helpful to remember that society’s worst criminals are often someone else’s loved ones and that the monster in question might appear to be normal, or even likable when you see them. Villains don’t always look like Dick Tracy caliber freaks. Randazza’s blog post talks about this.

Human health:
It is possible that some of the benefits of exercise might be obtained via a pill. But I wonder how this would pertain to a “training effect” (PT, weight lifting versus swimming versus running, sprinting versus marathon running, etc.). And there is no way this would compensate for not seeing the ladies in their spandex workout gear.

Obesity What about genetics and obesity?

The mice were eating their usual chow and exercising normally, but they were getting fat anyway. The reason: researchers had deleted a gene that acts in the brain and controls how quickly calories are burned. Even though they were consuming exactly the same number of calories as lean mice, they were gaining weight.

So far, only one person — a severely obese child — has been found to have a disabling mutation in the same gene. But the discovery of the same effect in mice and in the child — a finding published Wednesday in the journal Science — may help explain why some people put on weight easily while others eat all they want and seem never to gain an ounce. It may also offer clues to a puzzle in the field of obesity: Why do studies find that people gain different amounts of weight while overeating by the same amount?

Scientists have long thought explanations for why some people get fat might lie in their genes. They knew body weight was strongly inherited. Years ago, for example, they found that twins reared apart tended to have similar weights and adoptees tended to have weights like their biological parents, not the ones who reared them. As researchers developed tools to look for the actual genes, they found evidence that many — maybe even hundreds — of genes may be involved, stoking appetites, making people voraciously hungry.

This rare gene-disabling mutation, though, is intriguing because it seems to explain something different, a propensity to pile on pounds even while eating what should be a normal amount of food. Investigators are now searching for other mutations of the same gene in fat people that may have a similar, but less extreme effect. The hope is that in the long term, understanding how this gene affects weight gain might lead to treatments for obesity that alter the rate at which calories are burned.

There are genes that regulate hunger and others that regulate metabolism. Of course, nothing here means that people can’t be “trained” to eat the right amount of food FOR THEM; it doesn’t matter if someone else can/should eat more.

Astronomy
Spaceships will be taking a photo of Saturn with earth in the deep background. People are being invited to wave at Saturn and at the probes.

It should look something like this:

Evolution Why distinguishing scientific truth from religious myth and superstition matters. From Jerry Coyne’s website.

Microbiology
The largest virus yet has been discovered. This virus has many genes which have not been seen before. Is this virus of ancient origin?

“We believe that those new Pandoraviruses have emerged from a new ancestral cellular type that no longer exists,” he says. That life could have even come from another planet, like Mars. “At this point we cannot actually disprove or disregard this type of extreme scenario,” he says.

But how did this odd cellular form turn into a virus? Abergel says it may have evolved as a survival strategy as modern cells took over. “On Earth it was winners and it was losers, and the losers could have escaped death by going through parasitism and then infect the winner,” she says.

Eugene Koonin, who wasn’t involved in the research, isn’t buying this theory. “These viruses, unusual as they might be, are still related to other smaller viruses,” he says.

The virus’s size is probably part of its survival strategy. Amoebas and other simple creatures could mistake it for bacteria and try to eat it, opening them up to infection. “The internal environment of the amoeba cell provides a very good playground for acquiring various kinds of genes from different sources,” Koonin says. He thinks that the Pandoravirus’s unusual genome may be a mishmash of random genetic material it’s sucked up from its hosts.

Nevertheless, Koonin says, the new virus is fascinating. And he predicts this is only the beginning. “We are going to see many, many more giant viruses discovered around the world, some of which, probably will be bigger than Pandoraviruses.”

Follow a discussion among life scientists at Larry Moran’s blog.

July 19, 2013

## Guts, politics and gaming the system….

I was wide awake before 4 in the morning. But I am not going to run long as last weekend was tough and I have to watch that left leg, so I’ll do something gentle on the treadmill and then stretch.

At my age, I have to worry about injuries just a bit more. More training might cut my potential marathon time by a minute or two, but might increase my risk for injury which would mean no marathon at all. So I have to play it safe.

Articles
Every now and then I’ll change what I eat and eat something less healthy (sometimes while travelling). Usually one day of this makes me feel sluggish and and almost ill. There might be a reason for that:

A few years before Super Size Me hit theaters in 2004, Dr. Paresh Dandona, a diabetes specialist in Buffalo, New York, set out to measure the body’s response to McDonald’s—specifically breakfast. Over several mornings, he fed nine normal-weight volunteers an egg sandwich with cheese and ham, a sausage muffin sandwich, and two hash brown patties.

Dandona is a professor at the State University of New York-Buffalo who also heads the Diabetes-Endocrinology Center of Western New York, and what he observed has informed his research ever since. Levels of a C-reactive protein, an indicator of systemic inflammation, shot up “within literally minutes.” “I was shocked,” he recalls, that “a simple McDonald’s meal that seems harmless enough”—the sort of high-fat, high-carbohydrate meal that 1 in 4 Americans eats regularly—would have such a dramatic effect. And it lasted for hours.

One of the keys is the interplay between bacteria in our gut and what we eat.

Over the next decade he tested the effects of various foods on the immune system. A fast-food breakfast inflamed, he found, but a high-fiber breakfast with lots of fruit did not. A breakthrough came in 2007 when he discovered that while sugar water, a stand-in for soda, caused inflammation, orange juice—even though it contains plenty of sugar—didn’t.

[...]

The Florida Department of Citrus, a state agency, was so excited it underwrote a subsequent study, and had fresh-squeezed orange juice flown in for it. This time, along with their two-sandwich, two-hash-brown, 910-calorie breakfast, one-third of his volunteers—10 in total—quaffed a glass of fresh OJ. The non-juice drinkers, half of whom drank sugar water, and the other half plain water, had the expected response—inflammation and elevated blood sugar. But the OJ drinkers had neither elevated blood sugar nor inflammation. The juice seemed to shield their metabolism. “It just switched off the whole damn thing,” Dandona says. Other scientists have since confirmed that OJ has a strong anti-inflammatory effect.

And yes, I drink a lot of orange juice.

What else is going on:

Those subjects who ate just the McDonald’s breakfast had increased blood levels of a molecule called endotoxin. This molecule comes from the outer walls of certain bacteria. If endotoxin levels rise, our immune system perceives a threat and responds with inflammation.

Where had the endotoxin come from? One possibility was the food itself. But there was another possibility. We all carry a few pounds’ worth of microbes in our gut, a complex ecosystem collectively called the microbiota. The endotoxin, Dandona suspected, originated in this native colony of microbes. Somehow, a greasy meal full of refined carbohydrates ushered it from the gut, where it was always present but didn’t necessarily cause harm, into the bloodstream, where it did. But orange juice stopped that translocation cold.

I always had viewed my orange juice as something I enjoyed and liked; I never realized that it was something that was good for me too.
I admit that I like hash browns but I also can’t eat them too often, else I get a stomach ache.

Gaming the system
Ok, the state pays for “senior citizen centers” where old people, presumably of reduced physical and mental capacity, can spend the day. These centers are for profit. So, how do you make them profitable? Well, one way is to get healthy, alert old people to become your clients!

Politics
Long term joblessness is bad for people in many ways. One way: those out of a job the longest will have the hardest time getting a new one:

For the overriding fear driving economic policy has been debt hysteria, fear that unless we slash spending we’ll turn into Greece any day now. After all, haven’t economists proved that economic growth collapses once public debt exceeds 90 percent of G.D.P.?

Well, the famous red line on debt, it turns out, was an artifact of dubious statistics, reinforced by bad arithmetic. And America isn’t and can’t be Greece, because countries that borrow in their own currencies operate under very different rules from those that rely on someone else’s money. After years of repeated warnings that fiscal crisis is just around the corner, the U.S. government can still borrow at incredibly low interest rates.

But while debt fears were and are misguided, there’s a real danger we’ve ignored: the corrosive effect, social and economic, of persistent high unemployment. And even as the case for debt hysteria is collapsing, our worst fears about the damage from long-term unemployment are being confirmed.

Now, some unemployment is inevitable in an ever-changing economy. Modern America tends to have an unemployment rate of 5 percent or more even in good times. In these good times, however, spells of unemployment are typically brief. Back in 2007 there were about seven million unemployed Americans — but only a small fraction of this total, around 1.2 million, had been out of work more than six months.

[...]

The key question is whether workers who have been unemployed for a long time eventually come to be seen as unemployable, tainted goods that nobody will buy. This could happen because their work skills atrophy, but a more likely reason is that potential employers assume that something must be wrong with people who can’t find a job, even if the real reason is simply the terrible economy. And there is, unfortunately, growing evidence that the tainting of the long-term unemployed is happening as we speak.

One piece of evidence comes from the relationship between job openings and unemployment. Normally these two numbers move inversely: the more job openings, the fewer Americans out of work. And this traditional relationship remains true if we look at short-term unemployment. But as William Dickens and Rand Ghayad of Northeastern University recently showed, the relationship has broken down for the long-term unemployed: a rising number of job openings doesn’t seem to do much to reduce their numbers. It’s as if employers don’t even bother looking at anyone who has been out of work for a long time.

To test this hypothesis, Mr. Ghayad then did an experiment, sending out résumés describing the qualifications and employment history of 4,800 fictitious workers. Who got called back? The answer was that workers who reported having been unemployed for six months or more got very few callbacks, even when all their other qualifications were better than those of workers who did attract employer interest.

So we are indeed creating a permanent class of jobless Americans.

Krugman goes on to state that we could have helped by providing more stimulus (again, stimulus for times like these, austerity for boom times)

Politics
Some are wondering why President Obama didn’t “twist more arms”; after all 4 Democrats voted against the background check bill (technically Harry Reid did too, but that was a procedural vote so he can bring it up again). Some Democratic/liberal activists are outraged.

My hunch: perhaps Senator Reid saw that the bill (which needed 60 votes) didn’t have enough Republican support to pass; hence he quietly gave the red-state Democrats permission to vote “no”. After all, in such states, raising the ire of liberals might help them win a tough reelection bid in the general election.

But this is just a guess; I have no insider information, etc.

April 23, 2013

## Morbid obesity: a pathway out

This was posted at Daily Kos:

I’ve noticed the recent obesity diaries; presumably they started because of the diary about Governor Christ Christie and his reaction to a doctor saying that he ran a non-trivial risk of dying while in office.

If you are obese and feel good about it, then this diary isn’t for you. This diary is about those who are obese and do NOT want to remain that way. I took the liberty of
1. Gathering some statistical facts about obesity (e. g. actual evidence instead of “what everyone knows”) and
2. Sharing my journey from weighing 320 pounds (size 52 waist) to 190 pounds (size 34 for waist) and staying a normal size since 1995.

Yes, my story is merely one data point among thousands (millions?) and it is not complicated by unusual medical conditions, food allergies and the like.

More below the fold. Part I is a link to resources and part II is a bit more personal.

Note: I do not claim to have a “one size fits all” answer or even an answer that will work for anyone else. But I did find a pathway out that worked for me, and I decided to share it with those who are interested.

Part I: resources about obesity.
I’ve chosen articles that have a base of research to them in order to move beyond mere opinion and to avoid cherry picking factoids that “make sense to me”.

New England Journal of Medicine: this article is behind a pay wall, (I’ve linked to the abstract) but if you are a student or faculty member of a university, your library probably has an online subscription to this journal. This article lists:

1. Popular misconceptions (rebutted by the evidence).
2. Popular “notions” which have neither been rebutted nor confirmed by evidence.
3. Popular “notions” which have shown to be true.

National Institute of Health: Obesity Education Initiative.
This outlines many of the risks. Note: the risks are statistical in nature; in other words, being obese means that one’s risk for certain maladies are higher than a non-obese person’s. This is no guarantee that a fat person will get these conditions nor be inoculated from them by losing weight.

The Scientist Strangely enough, a father’s obesity can induce somewhat harmful epigenetic changes in their offspring! I admit that this sounds counterintuitive to me, but I have no training in this field.

Part II
I’ll start with “before and after” photos. And no, I am NOT “selling” anything! I used no diet industry gimmicks nor did I pay money to quacks; I am careful about what I eat and I do use a “free of charge, non-commercial” support group. And no, I didn’t “give my life to deity X”; I remain an outspoken secular atheist.

The reason for the photos: I posted running photos so my clothes can’t hide my body. I posted a non-running photo as well. As far as the weight loss: I was 320 pounds when the first photos were taken; I reduced to 185 in 1996 and have stayed mostly between 185-195 the entire time (save a time when I got a stomach flu, etc.)

What happens: I’ve found that a 53 year old man needs less food than a similarly active 37 year old man. So I’ll eat a certain way, then the pants (now size 34, down from 52) start to tighten, i weigh, then I reduce the amount of food on my plan, then the weight comes down. So yes, I eat less now than I did in 1996.

Me in 1992:

Me in 2000

Me in 2012

How I do it and other thoughts
Basically I eat 3 times a day and only set amounts; I completely abstain from foods that set me off (mostly the standard “junk” foods, snacks, sugary items etc.). There was a time when this made me feel deprived…not any longer! I honestly don’t miss it.

As far as working out: I work out on most days; I often pick from either:
1. fast walking
2. running
3. weight lifting
4. swimming (not lately)
5. yoga (not lately)

However I don’t do these activities for weight control. Example: a couple of years ago, I hurt my knee (meniscus tear) and couldn’t run; I tried to swim too far with a pull buoy and hurt my rotator cuff. So there was a several month period when all I could do was to walk easily…..and I gained no weight during that period.

Upshot: for me, these are sporting activities; they are part of my “fun”. I don’t do these for weight loss or for health benefits. These are the times when I can pretend to be an athlete.

I also don’t “diet” in terms of “temporary weight loss diet”. I just eat moderately at all times, with no “opening of the flood gates” for special occasions. I’d much rather enjoy the company of others and not be held captive by the food.

Why I enjoy being non-obese:
1. stairs are much easier, so is walking to work.
2. clothes are easier to find.
3. seats at concerts and sporting events: no problem!
4. I can safely play sports that I love.
5. I am not out of breath all of the time.
6. I almost NEVER think about food! When I was obese, I thought about food all of the time. I even remember my vacations, in part, by what I ate and where.
7. I don’t live with that “stuffed to my throat” feeling all of the time; I don’t wake up with food hangovers.

How I got obese
I overate and lied to myself about how much I was eating. Being around normal people was kind of a shock; I didn’t know that humans could exist on so little food!

As far as losing weight: I went the “support group” route; it seemed to work for me.

What I did right as an obese person: I still exercised; I lifted weights and I walked. It may have taken me 36 minutes to walk 2 miles (and that was walking as fast as I could!) but I still got it in…and no, I didn’t like the cat-calls (and I got a few).

February 11, 2013 Posted by | health, obesity | , | Leave a Comment

## Near Miss, 666 and Fat Fathers and superstitions

Workout notes: Weights and stretching only:
rotator cuff
pull ups (5 sets of 10, different grips, broken final set)
bench presses: 10 x 135, 7 x 170, 7 x 170
incline presses: 9 x 135, 8 x 135
super set: hammer rows (210), pulley curls (52.5), pull downs: (rotated grip final set; 160) 3 sets of 10 for each
super set: seated military (15 x 45 lb. dumbbell), rows: 10 x 65 dumbbell, each arm. 2 sets each.
10 x 70 (each arm) machine military.

I stretched and gave my legs the day off. Somewhat sore back.

Posts
Education: University of Oregon allows professors to dictate the rules in the classroom concerning, say, use of laptops.

College students: they make an appeal to high school teachers to get tougher. But I highly recommend reading what the high school teachers say in the comments: much of it is a variation of “I’d love to do these things but when I do, our administrators or YOUR parents complain and get us in trouble.

The dirty secret: many SAY that they want to be challenged, but in reality, few really want to be. Why? Being seriously challenged means that you will fail from time to time, and remember: “there are NO students who fail, just teachers who fail, tasks that are inappropriate, etc.” (yes, I am being very sarcastic, and yes I’ve had classes where students missed questions like $\frac{d}{dx} sin(2x) =$. Really. Or, in one office hour period, I spent some time finally getting a student to be able to perform $\frac{d}{dx} x^n = nx^{n-1}$. Then she came to $\frac{d}{dt} t^3 =$ and she was stumped. I said “we just did that!” Her reply: “but that was with $x$, how do you do $t$?” Under my breath, I cursed myself for not being good enough to get a research job.

Science
Very soon we’ll get a near miss from a “football field” size asteroid.

Epigenetics
Effects from a father’s obesity can show up in their offspring!

Being born to an obese father is associated with epigenetic abnormalities, according to a study published in BMC Medicine yesterday (February 6). Children with obese fathers have different epigenetic markings on the gene for insulin-type growth factor 2 (IGF2)—which is important during fetal growth and development—than children with fathers of normal weight.

“During pregnancy, the mother has to be careful what she eats and drinks, et cetera, but in general, not much is published about the effects of the father,” said lead author Adelheid Soubry, a molecular biologist at Duke University, who suspects that the more than 2 months it takes for sperm to mature are an important window of paternal influence.

Scientists have shown in human studies that some diseases are linked to parents’ environments prior to their children’s birth, but “this is one of the first papers that shows a true epigenetic shift,” said Washington State University biologist Michael Skinner, who was not involved in the study.

The link between parental condition and the epigenetics and health of children is not entirely new. A 2010 Nature paper showed that male rats on a high-fat diet fathered pups that were at elevated risk of developing diabetes, possibly because of epigenetic changes. And a 2008 study showed that Dutch children born during a winter of famine during World War II had different IGF2 methylation than their siblings not born during the famine.

Inspired by these findings, Soubry and her colleagues analyzed umbilical cord blood from 79 babies born in 2005 and 2006 to mothers enrolled in the Newborn Epigenetic STudy (NEST) at Duke University Hospital in North Carolina. Participating mothers filled out a detailed questionnaire, including information about the height and weight of their children’s fathers.

Children with obese fathers were likely to have less methylation, or hypomethylation, on a certain region of the IGF2 gene than children whose fathers were not obese. Hypomethylation in this region has been linked to some cancers, including colorectal cancer, ovarian cancer, and Wilms’ tumor, a childhood cancer of the kidneys.

However, Soubry warned that her study did not link epigenetic changes directly to changes in the children’s health. “It’s too early to confirm if the children will have disease later,” she said. It is also unclear if the epigenetic changes will remain throughout the children’s lives, she added.

Nutrition Obviously those with celiac disease need to avoid gluten, and some others (say, who have irritable bowl syndrome) can also benefit. But for many, “non-gluten” is just a fad.

GMO’s and science: GMO foods won’t harm your health, so please stop nonsense like this. Think about it: we are here because of genetic modification. Now if you want to oppose certain practices for other reasons, fine. But please, stop the woo!

Religion
I am no fan of Islam but putting someone on a no-fly list because of their religion is stupid.

Religions, even Christianity (especially?) can lead to ridiculous superstitions. One man quit his job rather than accept an envelope with his W-2 in it, because it was labeled “666″. It is tempting to dismiss superstitious people like this as useless idiots, but time and time again I’ve seen people who are this superstitious perform their jobs very well; some could fix equipment better than anyone else, some were good yoga teachers, others could work everyone else into the ground, etc.

Sometimes superstitions are so strong, pastors of one religion have had to apologize for taking part in activities such as interfaith vigils after a tragedy!

February 8, 2013

## Onward, ever Onward…

Workout notes 4 mile untimed walk (Cornstalk course) following a weight workout:
rotator cuff
pull ups: 6 sets of 5 (varying grips), 1 set of 10, 3 sets of 5.
incline press: 10 x 135, 3 x 155, 3 x 155, 7 x 145, 8 x 140
dumbbell bench/rows: 3 sets of 10 with 65 each exercise
dumbbell military: 2 sets of 15 x 45, 1 set of 10 with 70 each arm (machine)
pull downs/pulley curls 3 sets of 10 with each (160 with pull downs, 52.5 curls)
abs, etc.

Obesity: Mano Singham directs us to a New England Journal of Medicine article that discusses some common misconceptions about obesity and some common ideas that are without foundation. If you are a faculty member at a university, you probably have access to the article itself, which is behind a paywall for non-subscribers.

It is worth reading; some of what “you know” isn’t so, and some “hasn’t been confirmed, or rebutted”.

February 6, 2013

## Illogical Nervousness

Workout notes I sort of fell prey to yesterday’s 12 miler; the plan was to “run 4 on the treadmill, walk 3 on the track, walk easy 3 outside in the snow”. What happened: the first two.

Run: 42:06 for 4 miles on the treadmill; 1 mile at 0 incline, then 2.2 miles of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (every .2 miles increase, with longer at the “5″ level”) then 3 minutes at 4 and finish the rest at 3.

Then I walked 3 miles (slightly more) on the track (high 13′ish pace; 43:06 for 24 laps.

Then I did abs, stretching and the foam roller for my piriformis (it REALLY seems to help…surprisingly). Then when I got dressed to go outside….I just had no desire…so I just walked to my car and went home. What I learned: it is easier to walk 3 slow miles after 7 slow miles than it is after higher intensity miles.

Tomorrow: blood donation, then weights. I admit that I am nervous about the blood for, well…because I know why I am donating at this time. If I didn’t know WHY it would be easier….and that is illogical. But I just feel sick for the person and the family for the person undergoing this emergency medical procedure. Again, this feeling is illogical; all I have to do is show up hydrated and extend my arm. But the thought of “what if this were for my kid” is hard to shake.

December 23, 2012

## Quackery in the Fitness Industry

Ok, anyone who reads my blog knows that I work out very regularly and that I continue to participate in endurance sports, weight lifting and yoga.

But look at the above photo.

I find this downright insulting.

Why? Well, I certainly agree that working out regularly can increase one’s odds of being healthy as an older person. But that is all one is doing: increasing one’s odds.

An untimely disease can easily lead one to the left photo; since 2007 I’ve had three 50-60 year old friends die of cancer. ALL were fit for most of their healthy lives; one even ran a sub 3 hour marathon at 50 years of age…all had finished multiple marathons.

All were slender and stayed with it as long as they could. But this idea that someone who ends up on the left is certainly to blame for not doing things right is sheer nonsense…in fact it is insultingly stupid.

August 21, 2012 Posted by | health, moron, morons, sports, training | Leave a Comment