Thursday, December 18, 2008

5 Surprising Holiday Health Myths

Many supposed holiday hazards are as innocuous as a tepid mug of apple cider. A review article in the current issue of the British Medical Journal cites five fears that can officially be crossed off the holiday worry list.

Myth 1: Sugar makes kids hyperactive.

"There have been more studies on this than on many drugs," said article author Dr. Aaron Carroll of the Indiana University School of Medicine, "all of which show there is no link between sugar and hyperactivity." Even if the kids are "sugar sensitive" or have attention-deficit disorder, he continued, sweets do not change their behavior.

Parents may think their kids become more chaotic after candy and other treats but "it is in their heads," said primary author Dr. Rachel Vreeman, also of the Indiana University School of Medicine. She pointed to a study that told parents their kid was slurping a sugar-loaded beverage, when the drink instead was essentially water. The parents reported the child going bonkers when objective observers thought otherwise, she said.

Lofty's take: I guess my kids have ADD and not sugar buzzes...shit.

Myth 2: Suicides increase over the holidays.

The weather is woeful, the relatives are rude and melancholy moods abound. "But contrary to what many of us think, suicides are actually more common, around the world, during times of year that are warmer and sunnier," Vreeman said. The article also cites a 35-year study conducted in the United States showing that holidays - including Christmas, the Fourth of July and birthdays - are not preferred times to take one's life.

Lofty's take: I know a few people that I wish would just get it over with now...why wait?

Myth 3: Poinsettias are toxic.

Shooing the dog or child away from the perilous plant of holiday cheer? Let the hollering subside. The American Association of Poison Control Centers has a record of 22,793 cases of human poinsettia ingestion and zero resulted in significant poisoning. Ninety-six percent of the poinsettia-eaters didn't even need to see a doctor, Vreeman said. And rats that gobbled several hundred grams of the pureed flower, the equivalent of a human eating 500-600 poinsettia leaves, did just fine. Still, it's best to call the poison control center when any non-food plant is eaten, she said.

Lofty's take: Cool. We're having poinsettia salad on Christmas Day!

Myth 4: You lose most of your body heat through your head.

Your mother said it. Every hat salesman touts it. Even the U.S. Army Field Manual claims "40 to 45 percent of body heat" is lost through the head, the researchers write in this week's article, but it is simply not true. Body heat leaves from any skin surface in proportion to the area exposed, said Vreeman. As for people who claim a hat renders shorts acceptable in cold weather? "Those people are being very, very foolish," Carroll said. "There is nothing special about the head."

Lofty's take: Au contraire...'head' is very special.

Myth 5: Eating at night makes you fat.

While eating late at night has been associated with obesity, midnight munching does not cause obesity. "You shouldn't be afraid to have that midnight snack anymore than a mid-day or mid-morning snack," Carroll said. The article, citing several studies, suggests that Santa's jolly belly is the result of too many calories overall, not just the holiday treats laid out for him in the evening.

Lofty's take: Eating day, night, and everytime in between makes you fat. Shocking, I know. I think we've beaten the fatties down pretty hard this year. Let's try to beat them down even harder next year, eh?

Merry Christmas Everyone! Lofty


  1. damnit obssessing over this stuff was part of our holiday tradition...i'm eating a sugar coated poinsetta at midnite and hope for the best....bah humbug


  3. LOL! What an awesome post Lofti!

    Merry Christmas to my favorite docs too!

  4. I knew there was nothing wrong with giving my kids cake for breakfast and then sending them to school. Well, besides the obvious nutrition flaws in that plan.

  5. That's it! Poinsettia brownies for all with a Koolaid chaser.

  6. Did you gals miss the 'head' thing?


    Don't let my wife see this post!


  7. I saw the head thing and laughed. These kind of comments snuck in are why I come here to read.

  8. Didn't anyone have the black coffee and a Marlboro breakfast like I used to?? Thats what having an early mornin paper route at 14 will do for ya. Might get Emphysema, but you won't be fat...

  9. Frank!!!

    You said Red Man and black coffee!

    No wonder my PCP was looking at me strangely!

    Hell, I just might go to the ER for all my medical needs!

    (Cause everyone's doing it anyway)

    ((And My PCP Doesn't wear Crocs))

  10. Lofty: this post is why I love you. And, yes, in a gay way.

    Eto's take: Put sugar on 'the head' and have a midnight snack while killing yourself like that guy from INXS with a poinsetta up your ass EQUALS great Christmas.

    Peace out.

  11. Super Bad Jack, Red Mans what I use now, since I promised to quit smoking...Marlboros were what I used to tickle those nicotinic receptors at 14...ERs actually not a bad place to get primary care, as long as they keep givin stuff away free, people will take it...

  12. add mistletoe toxicity... i used to climb up and get mistletoe and sell it. no shit. made a good bit of money a couple of Xmases selling little sprigs wrapped with a bow. i know this is really gay but it is true nonetheless... mistletoe is 'poisonous' they say. well, it turns out that if you took, well, about ten thousand mistletoe berries and distilled them down to a fine concentrate that ingesting it might make you puke.

    as far as kids and sugar, i think they are just happy to be eating sugar so they are, in fact, excited. lots of friends raising their kids without refined sugar.. the hearless bastards.

  13. Shoot, %90 of my Kilocalories growing up came from Pixi Stix, that supersaturated powdered sugar in those waxy straws....mmm mmm good.

  14. It is absolutely amazing to read some of these old truisms that have been debunked. Thanks!

    I found a few minutes to read the information in your blog; I am waiting an hour after eating before going back in the water. You don't want to get cramps and drown, you know!

  15. jerry,
    it's 27 minutes for adults and 24.5 minutes for kids or the wind will change and your face will stay that way forever.

  16. yes, but shaving your palms will prevent blindness. and if you use your other hand....

  17. My other hand will be busy placing bars of soap in my bed sheets to stop my restless leg syndrome. I have to do it in the daylight due to my partial blindness. And, don't you hate it when you find hair on a bar of soap?

  18. Ha! My Chriropractor said these are all true, despite what you doctors say. Nice try. I'll never part with my copper bracelets fools!