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

The Biggest Loser… Is the Audience

I watched The Biggest Loser last week – as well as the prior week’s opener, thanks to TiVo. I know what you’re thinking, but, hey, it’s my job and it has to be done. Truth is, I figure it’s about time someone shook America by the lapels and exposed the myths and fallacies in this show, which has become one of the most popular on TV. With all the glowing coverage, the average viewer is starting to think The Biggest Loser somehow represents the indomitability of the human spirit and the triumph of modern bariatric medicine. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. It’s a made-for-TV spectacle that has morphed into a cruel hoax perpetrated on the typical overweight person in America who is desperately looking for the weight-loss secret. It shows precisely how NOT to lose weight. Talk about two steps forward and three steps back. A few years ago, I suggested in this post that there were a few things right with the show (I still took them to task for their sponsor choices) but I’ve changed my mind. If this season’s opener, in which two morbidly obese, untrained contestants nearly died trying to race a mile in the heat, is any indication, nothing will do more to prolong the current obesity epidemic than a fixation on the Biggest Loser and its yelling, screaming, puking, crying, collapsing, extreme dieting, six-hour workout mentality. Hell, if I were an obese person watching all this, I’d be thinking, “dude, if this is what it takes to lose the weight, pass me another Twinkie and let’s see what’s on VH1.”

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Food Labeling Nonsense

I thought I’d forgo my regularly scheduled “Dear Mark” Monday post (or “Dear Readers” as the case may be) for a subject very near and dear to my heart: the constantly-evolving, ever-confusing ways of the food rating labelers. Whether it’s the AHA-approved red “Heart Healthy” stamps that implore overweight diabetics to stuff themselves with “healthy” whole grains or the mention of antioxidant and fiber content somehow making that sugary breakfast cereal good for your kids, packaged food distributors seem to love making outlandish claims that bear little to no fruit. It’s incredibly effective, though, for the same reason people will believe anything they hear on TV or uttered by someone with an official title. We’ve already got a far-reaching bunch of bureaucrats at the FDA deciding which macronutrients to highlight and which to demonize on the official nutritional labels that adorn the back of every packaged food item, so the natural next step is a mishmash of extraneous labeling that tries to make nutritional recommendations based on the FDA data (which is itself based on flawed, misguided, or even blatantly false science).

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Purposely Misleading Marketing Lingo: Sunscreen Edition

As you may know, I’m not a huge fan of sunscreen lotion. I just don’t think it’s all that necessary. If you’ve had enough Vitamin D skin production for one day, and you’re worried about burning up, using physical barriers – like shirts, hats, umbrellas – to impede the sunlight is better than slathering your skin with powerful chemicals. Still, in the event that the only thing standing between you and a second-degree sunburn is the application of some lotion, have at it. Just be aware that, according to a recent NY Times piece, there is some seriously misleading marketing lingo circulating in regards to SPF counts.

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Taxing Sweet Drinks

Earlier this month, The New England Journal of Medicine featured an opinion piece about taxing nutritionally empty, sweetened beverage items. The article, entitled “Ounces of Prevention – The Public Case for Taxes on Sugared Beverages,” specifically highlighted the proposal considered but recently dropped in New York State. Governor Patterson of New York late last year proposed an 18% sales tax on soda and fruit beverages containing less than 70% juice. In Maine a wholesale tax on sodas and the sweetening syrups used for their production had been implemented by lawmakers but was recently overturned by voters. With these proposals and related studies in the spotlight, public officials and health experts have increasingly been pressing the beverage tax possibility.

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The Red Scare

It’s a headline you’ve probably seen by now splashed all over the news sites and channels – “Eating More Red Meat Ups Mortality Risk.” (Red meat once again wears the black hat: surprise, surprise.) Actually, millions of readers/viewers have likely stumbled across the caption and unfortunately taken it at face value. But you know us by now. It’s just too much fun being the merry skeptics when it comes to these sound bites of misinformation.

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Bitter Divisions and Murky Motives: Fibromyalgia Treatments

In yet another display of their unlimited zeal for the treatment (not prevention, mind you) of mysterious and “murky” illnesses (usually, believe it or not, with the aid of expensive pills), pharmaceutical companies last year spent hundreds of millions of dollars (including $6 million in grants to “non profit” medical conferences and “education campaigns”) to establish the controversial fibromyalgia as a legitimate, serious illness requiring the kind of treatment only Big Pharma could possibly provide. On the surface, this seems like a relatively selfless act of goodwill and honest research – just a couple of multinational pharmaceutical companies tossing their money around and savin’ lives… right?

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Off-Label Cosmetic Prescriptions

Last month we brought you news (and humble perspective) on the pharmaceutical industry’s off-label marketing practices. Just a couple weeks after the fact, what before our wondering eyes should appear? News that a glaucoma drug (Lumigan) was just approved by the FDA for off-label use as an eyelash enhancer. Call us suckers, we know, but we couldn’t resist taking the bite. Finding new uses for existing poor selling drugs has become a cottage industry. Reminds me of the old SNL skit, “Shimmer. It’s a dessert topping AND a floor wax!”

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Off-Label Pharmaceutical Promotion

What can we say? We’ve got Pharma on the mind this week! On Monday Mark offered commentary on the latest “study” being spun to further promote statins to the general population. It seemed like an opportune time to bring you news of a recent report on the “unofficial” business of off-label pharmaceutical marketing and the clever manipulation of drug approval rules and research dissemination.

Two researchers with significant experience in the pharmaceutical industry, Adriane Fugh-Berman, M.D., an associate professor in the GUMC Department of Physiology and Biophysics, and Douglas Melnick, M.D., a preventive medicine physician in the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health have published a report in the free online journal PLoS Medicine shedding light on risky and legally questionable practices that have become commonplace in the industry.

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Statin Insanity

Don’t know whether to laugh or cry (I have already screamed), but the headline in today’s LA Times and in many major papers across the country seemed like a paid advertisement for Big Pharma.

“A New Front on Heart Disease: Stain drugs can cut cardiac and stroke risks in people with normal cholesterol levels, researchers say.”  Wow! As I predict Dr. Michael Eades will say, “Jesus wept.”  As I say, “here we go again digging a hole to place the ladder in so you can wash the basement windows.”

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Heart Attack Grill – Take Two!

We first introduced you to the Heart Attack Grill – home of the Double Bypass Burger – back in December 2006 and again in March and April of last year (what can we say, we’re really just couldn’t believe it). This ridiculous “concept” eatery is up to the same old nonsense, but a reader sent in some absurd images that just we had to share.

Located in Chandler, Arizona, the Heart Attack Grill was founded in 2005 by Jon “Dr Jon” Brasso (who, incidentally, also wears a white lab coat to work) as a means to provide patrons – or as he calls them, patients – with food that is “so bad for you it’s shocking.” The menu boasts single-, double-, triple- and quadruple-bypass burgers.

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