The power of a Twinkie

Twinkies...the new diet aid?

“Four out of five dentists recommend sugarless gum for their patients who chew gum.” Do you remember that slogan? Have you ever thought about that slogan, about the sheer inanity of that slogan? What does it mean? That one out of every five dentists recommend sugar-saturated Bubble Yum over the sugar-free alternative?

I don’t know about you, but I have never met a single dentist who advised me or my children to chomp on sugar-laden bubblegum. Not one. Yet 20 percent apparently were counseling patients to coat their teeth with sickeningly sweet, caloric, cavity-inducing chewing gum. Why is that?

Because in any study, any collection of information, any data sampling and analysis, there will be a shockingly high percentage of people, (often impressive, well-degreed people), who espouse a point of view that is not only patently untrue, but may actually border on the edge of absurdity.

Think about it. We know beyond the shadow of a doubt that there is no link between autism and immunizations. There have been countless, international, meta-analyses to prove this. Yet an entire subculture of parents is out there proliferating this hogwash and exposing their children to deadly diseases like polio, measles, and whooping cough. Why? Because celebrities like Jenny McCarthy insist that the evil medical industry is responsible for sickening her child with autism. (Not to worry though. She changed his diet and cured him!).

Never mind the facts. There will always be someone who will say something insane, unsound and idiotic about anything.

I have numerous friends who are currently on the HCG hormone diet. This diet allegedly resets your metabolism and you lose tons of weight in a mere three-week period. Here’s the catch: You are only allowed to ingest 500 calories a day for 21 days. This new diet craze, which incidentally first appeared in the 1940s, has been conclusively shown to be dangerous, even deadly, in several circumstances. But all it takes is some “expert” on television touting its benefits, and millions of people rush to the naturopath for a dose of the delightful diet aid.

To prove a point, Mark Haub, a professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University, put himself on a Twinkie diet. For two months, he only ate Hostess Twinkies, snack cakes and other equally junky munchies. He lost 27 pounds. His point? It doesn’t matter what you eat. Just eat less, burn more calories, and you’ll shed the extra weight.

But we want to believe in miracles. We want to uncover the truth that someone somewhere is conspiring to keep from us. The truth that will make us thin, cure our kids and ultimately set us free.

Keep this in mind: if there is even one licensed dentist in this country recommending sugar-filled Bazooka to their gum-chewing patients, you can pretty be pretty sure there are plenty of other people who will say something illogical, irrational and idiotic about almost anything.

My advice? Trust no one. Question everything. And never, ever underestimate the power of a Twinkie.

Autism hysteria: look at the facts!

The facts:
1.Autism is a neural development disorder.
2.Autism is genetically based.
3.There is no cure for autism.

A recent study in the Journal “Pediatrics” suggests that 1 in 100 children have some form of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Thatʼs about 1% of children.

It sounds scary. But letʼs pretend weʼre Nancy Drew or Encyclopedia Brown for a moment. Letʼs start by examining how the data was collected:

In phone interviews of 78,000 families, parents were asked if their child was ever told by any health care provider that he had an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). (Keep in mind that includes autism, Aspergers and pervasive developmental disorder).

Honestly, Iʼm not sure I know anyone who wasnʼt told at some point by someone that their child had ASD. Either kids were stacking cans, refusing to socialize, or throwing tantrums at Target. Whatever the negative behavior, there are plenty of health care providers out there who are all too willing to label the first signs of antisocial behavior as ASD. However, the mere asking does not dictate the disease.

The investigators also asked a follow-up question: Did these same ASD children still have the disease? The answer? 40% of parents and guardians said no.

OK, I know how inconvenient factual evidence can be, but letʼs glance back to the three undisputed facts at the top of the page. Check out number 3. There is no cure for Autism. Get out your magnifying glass and fingerprint duster kit. Itʼs not going to take much detective work to figure this one out. Obviously, 40% of kids included in the ASD numbers did not really have autism at all. Why am I the only one who sees this clearly? Do you think nearly half of all ASD sufferers were touched by some kind of Godly miracle? Maybe these lucky kids were prayed for by a group of extremely pious Tibetan monks? Or maybe they never had autism to begin with!

Iʼm tired of the hysteria. There are more cases of autism and ASD today because thatʼs how weʼre classifying every childhood behavioral abnormality. Have you ever bothered to notice that the numbers of children labelled mentally retarded has decreased in direct proportion to the increase of ASD sufferers? Wow, what a starting coincidence.

But what really pisses me off is that people want to believe in a cure that doesn’t yet exist. We want it so badly that we’re willing to believe anything. Look, I think we will find a cure, and hopefully soon. It will more than likely involve some highly advanced genetic engineering. Scientists are working hard to locate the Autism genes and find ways to repair or replace them. But it could take years. And I think itʼs a shame that so many families are shelling out good money to charlatans who promise to end Autism thru detox, diet, exercise, chiropractic adjustments, and laser treatments. If your child truly has autism, these fads are a waste of money and hope.

Don’t get me wrong, Iʼm all for giving your child all that you can in terms of love, resources, encouragement, education. If you have a child who does truly suffer from Autism, my deepest wish is that a cure will be found and that you and your child can live a relatively normal life. All I ask is that we donʼt insist that every childhood behavioral quirk is part of the Autism Spectrum. Letʼs use the resources and money we have for the children who really need it. That way we really can concentrate our efforts on solving the mystery of this debilitating disease.