Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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Tag: marketing

Is Your Doctor Getting Cash Payouts from Big Pharma? (plus More Findings from the Drug Biz)

There’s been a lot of news from the Pharma realm these last few weeks. As you all know, I make a point of passing this kind of thing along…. Given the massive role pharmaceutical drugs play in our society’s conventional health care, I like to keep on top of the developments. Speaking of “massive,” first there’s news from the National Center for Health Statistics, which released a report measuring trends in prescription drug use and cost in the last decade. Between 1999 and 2008, prescription drug use rose in all age categories, as did the number of people taking multiple prescriptions. Approximately 88% of people over the age of 60 take one or more prescription medications on a regular basis. A whopping 66% use five or more prescriptions. Not surprisingly, cholesterol-lowering medications topped the list for this age group. In those 20-59, the most popular prescription was antidepressants. In children, 22% take a prescription drug, most commonly asthma medication. In the teenage category, the number jumps to 30%, with ADD/ADHD related meds first on the list. Not surprisingly, what we shelled out for Pharma products soared as well. Already taking inflation into account, Americans in 2008 spent more than twice ($234 billion) what they did in 1999 ($106.4 billion). Against this backdrop, we also learned that two popular prescription drugs were shown to actually cause the very problems they prescribed to prevent. Telling stories and statistics, I’d say. What’s more sobering, however, are a number of recent publications that illuminate the cultural and financial underbelly of the pharmaceutical industry as a whole. I think you’ll find it thought-provoking.

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Yogurt Mania

How did we survive all these years without functional yogurt products? If it weren’t for Yoplait and Dannon enhancing our digestive facilities, I bet we’d never get anything done in the bathroom. I, for one, can’t recall the last time I had a satisfying bowel movement without concurrently sucking on an extra large Purple Gogurt as I sat astride the toilet.

Yoplait and Dannon are responsible for injecting more culture into our lives than Warhol, The Smithsonian, The New Yorker, and ancient Athens combined. I love the way those two superpowers ultra-pasteurize their yogurt so as to rid it of any naturally-occurring, unpredictable, rogue probiotic cultures (unfettered bacterial growth? – no thanks) before supplanting them with nice, orderly probiotic cultures (and not too much of them, thanks). Mother nature? Natural selection? Ha! As if natural foods could improve my immunity and digestive health better than multi-national corporations. You think sauerkraut has your best interests in mind?

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Trusting Authorities (or Not) Based on Appearance

Regina Benjamin, the United States’ 18th Surgeon General, is markedly overweight. She’s a highly trained physician who famously set up a medical clinic for Alabama’s poor hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina, and she’s unquestionably knowledgeable and experienced, but she’s also overweight. Does this negatively impact her role as the public face of health? Does her weight detract from the message?

Or take countless nutrition experts that fit the mold of the dietitian featured in this video? She’s educated, has dozens of books on nutrition and healthy cooking under her belt and, at least on paper, looks like an authority of sorts. But her physique (saying nothing of her healthy eating tips) doesn’t exactly instill confidence in her recommendations (as readers noted in the forum).

On the other hand what about someone like Jillian Michaels? Strong shoulders. Check. Trim waistline and ripped abs. Check and check. She must be doing things right? Right?

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GMOs: Safe for Consumption?

We’ve examined the arguments for and against GMOs in the past. Indeed, there are reasonable and valid points to be made on both sides of the issue. Nonetheless, we concluded that there are just too many red flags to support the industry’s direction in GM technology. Not only do GMOs drive the use of naturally occurring and regionally suited seed varieties into the ground, they lock farmers (including those in developing countries) into a legal deal with the devil – one that often comes back to haunt them. Their rampant subsidization further encourages farmers to raise the same garbage grains and other “staple” crops that undermine our public health. And then there are the nagging, unsettling questions about our physiological response to these organisms. What happens exactly when you eat plants grown from seeds that are synthesized with everything from bacteria to fish to herbicides? What happens when you eat the animals that ate these crops? How much do we really know about these GM crops? With that in mind, a good reader sent this recently published study my way. See what you think.

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Assessing Sanitizers: Cleaning Up the Confusion

If you believe the ads, we live in a squalid hotbed of menacing microbes. Evil germs are everywhere and out to get us – especially the innocent, well-dressed children playing nearby. The smart ones among us, the marketers tell us, navigate this ominous world armed with the right sanitizing defense. Even the grimiest restroom, the ad images show, can become as innocuous as a sparkling, surgery-ready space if we only have the security of hand sanitizer. Yes, the power of the imagination…

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Demystifying Detox

It’s a nebulous term used by snake oil-salesmen to sell products cloaked in pseudoscientific terminology on late night television. Detox. If what they say is true, we apparently have millions of toxins constantly circulating throughout our body, permeating our cells, coating our digestive systems in a poisonous film, bogging down our organs. These toxins cannot be dealt with, nor reasoned with via the standard avenues of diet and exercise; no, they require the aid of special supplements and detox paraphernalia: magic herbs, weird colon-scouring clay mixtures, foot pads that supposedly suck the toxins directly out of the body, lemonade or juice fasting kits, liver flushes. They’ll often bring out a spokesperson who plays doctor well enough to convince your average Cheeto powder-encrusted insomniac that he or she needs this book or that colon cleanse to avoid obesity, cancer, disease, and depression. If you could just flush out all those toxins, you’d be doing great.

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Dear Mark: Canola Oil

I get a lot of questions about differentiating fact from fiction when it comes to all the “healthy” labels out there. Spanning everything from “heart healthy” to “boost your child’s immunity,” these classic marketing ploys are just part and parcel for the food industry. And yet these companies wouldn’t get away with the games if their claims didn’t reflect conventional wisdom on some level. The industry’s marketing tactics simply manipulate already strained, twisted messages about health and nutrition. The consumer is left to wonder what’s truth, half truth and bold-face scheme. Unfortunately, it’s never safe to judge a product by its label. In fact, if it needs a label at all, it’s already subject to questioning. The safest assumption is this: there’s always more to the story.

Dear Mark,

I’ve been adapting my diet to the Primal Blueprint over the last few months. I like olive oil for salads but wonder about the bottle of canola oil sitting in my cupboard. I tend to use it more for cooking, but I don’t see canola oil mentioned on MDA like I do olive oil. The label says something like “good source of omega-3.” Is this true? I’m wondering what your take on canola is. Thanks!

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Marlboro to Introduce “Smoke Rite” 6 Cig Health Packs

Smokers rejoice. There is a new, healthier way to smoke, all thanks to the innovators at Altria (formerly known as Philip Morris). Marlboro has just released Smoke Rites, a new line of health conscious products for modern people with active lifestyles.

The concept was borne over two years of intense research at Marlboro laboratories. Head researcher Dr. Dylan Pantzenfahr explains, “Curing lung cancer is one of Marlboro’s top priorities. And while we can’t change the nature of [tobacco], we can change the way people smoke it.” Pantzenfahr is referring to serving size. To date there is no standard serving size for cigarette consumption. “It’s a tricky question,” says Pantzenfahr, “A man with massive lungs may consume a much larger serving of cigarettes than, say, a tiny person.” Nevertheless, in early 2007 Pantzenfahr and his team of specialists made it their one mission to answer the serving size question.

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Coca-Cola Cares About Your Health

It’s the stuff of quintessential irony. Paradox. An absurdity so egregious it’s painful to type, let alone view on the screen. (There’s actual smoke rising from my keyboard….) We’re talking corporate “public health” sponsorships so ridiculous your eyes will fall out of your head. First, a show of hands. How many of you are familiar with the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP)? Sounds like a thoughtful, professional organization, yes? A group dedicated to noble and intelligent advocacy for good family health, no? Voices of expert reason, rational and practical medical authority, right? A group that would – with sound mind and sobriety – partner with a soda company for a nutrition-focused consumer education program??? Folks, I got my boots on today for a good old-fashioned butt kicking (blog style, that is). Pull up a chair. I’m just getting started.

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Cooking As a Spectator Sport

Unless you live in a cave (not that I would frown upon that), you’re at least somewhat familiar with the phenomenon of Food Network and other offshoot culinary-focused programming. Since the advent of cable television every hobby, interest, niche and daily pastime has been assigned its own channel with round the clock exposition of every conceivable detail. Cooking has been no exception. In fact, the kitchen genre has caught on so much that it’s graduated to network day and evening as well. We’re apparently entranced by watching other people make food – and likely by the images of the food itself. (I’ve heard these shows referred to as “food porn” for their attractive but gratuitous displays.) I’m not much of a T.V. follower, but for years the craze has somewhat confounded me.

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