Beating a thriving horse on guns

I thought to myself, do I really need to post again about how addressing mental illness will so not solve our mass shooting problem?  And then I read this article about Rubio and NRA spokespuppet Dana Loesch, and thought, hell yes:

Senator Marco Rubio and a spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association were repeatedly heckled at a nationally televised forum on Wednesday night in Florida after they refused to back new gun control measures.

The spokeswoman for the N.R.A., Dana Loesch, offering the group’s first public comments after a shooting last week at a Florida high school, strongly defended the gun advocacy group’s positions in front of students and teachers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

“People who are crazy should not be able to get firearms,” she said, insisting that enforcement of mental health laws, not new gun restrictions, would prevent future massacres.

So, yeah, it’s a dead horse here, but it’s thriving in NRA reality.  Great piece in Business Insider about the reality.  I would say throw these facts around at your friends in social media debate, because that will change so many minds :-).

Stone said many people assume that because someone has committed a deadly act, that must mean they’re crazy. But that’s not true.

In fact, according to the American Psychiatric Association, people with serious mental health problems account for just 3% of all violent crime, though as many as one in five people in the US experience a mental illness every year.

Most mentally ill people are never violent. Information from the National Center for Health Statistics similarly shows that fewer than 5% of the 120,000 gun-related killings in the US between 2001 and 2010 were perpetrated by people diagnosed with mental illness. Only 1% of discharged psychiatric patients commit violence against strangers using a gun. And the mentally ill alsoaccount for less than 3% of all violent acts with guns. [emphases mine]

Data from American Psychiatric Association suggests Americans are about 15 times more likely to be struck by lightning than to be killed by a stranger with a mental diagnosis.

Of course, in a sane world, facts like this would actually matter.  Of course, in a sane world, we wouldn’t have our current president right now.

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Eat less and lose weight!

Shocking development, I know.  But there’s a very new cool study comparing low-carb and low fat diets and the end result is a healthy (i.e., less processed food, less refined sugar, etc.) low fat or low carb diet are pretty equivalent for weight loss.  Drum with a nice summary:

This is just one study, and it’s hardly the final word. Somehow, though, every time we study this stuff, it seems as though it makes less and less difference what we eat. As near as I can tell, the bottom line is that if you want to lose weight, eat less. If you want to get healthier, exercise more. Beyond that, it’s hard to say with confidence that anything makes a very big difference.

The NYT story on the study emphasizes the healthy eating angle:

But a new study, published Tuesday in JAMA, may turn that advice on its head. It found that people who cut back on added sugar, refined grains and highly processed foods while concentrating on eating plenty of vegetables and whole foods — without worrying about counting calories or limiting portion sizes — lost significant amounts of weight over the course of a year.

The strategy worked for people whether they followed diets that were mostly low in fat or mostly low in carbohydrates. And their success did not appear to be influenced by their genetics or their insulin-response to carbohydrates, a finding that casts doubt on the increasingly popular idea that different diets should be recommended to people based on their DNA makeup or on their tolerance for carbs or fat.

The research lends strong support to the notion that diet quality, not quantity, is what helps people lose and manage their weight most easily in the long run. It also suggests that health authorities should shift away from telling the public to obsess over calories and instead encourage Americans to avoid processed foods that are made with refined starches and added sugar, like bagels, white bread, refined flour and sugary snacks and beverages, said Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist and dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

No, you don’t need to obsess over calories, but if you eat healthier (i.e., carrot sticks instead of a brownie) you’ll almost surely take in less calories.  And very likely weigh less as a result.  So, yeah, in the end, it still really is calories in versus calories out.  Drum’s follow-up:

It’s true that the researchers didn’t emphasize calorie counting. They recommended generally healthy eating combined with an emphasis on either low-carb or low-fat diets. The result, however, was that participants ended up consuming about 500 fewer calories per day. That’s a huge amount, and is almost certainly the reason for the weight loss. In fact, I’m surprised the average weight loss wasn’t more. But what underlies this large reduction in calorie consumption? Here’s what the lead author, Christopher Gardner, told Examine.com:

We did not “prescribe” a specific caloric restriction. We focused on reducing foods high in fats or foods high in carbs, and we advised the participants that they needed to find the lowest level of fat or carb intake they could achieve while not feeling hungry….We wanted for them to find a new eating pattern they could maintain without even thinking of it as a “diet”….Table 2 in the paper shows that the participants reported “achieving” a ≈500 calorie deficit, without us prescribing one … and it was fairly consistent through the 12 months. Now, I honestly think they likely exaggerated the caloric restriction. But in fact they did lose >6,500 lbs collectively…So they must have eaten less. I think this is an important area to explore.

That highlighted section has been the advice of nutritionists forever. If you think of something as a “diet,” you’ll eventually fall off the wagon. But if you think of it as making a permanent, sustainable lifestyle change, you’ll…

…well, as near as I can tell, you’ll probably still fall off the wagon eventually. But it will take longer. In any case, there’s exactly zero that’s new here. And the general advice to eat more vegetables and cut back on processed foods, added sugar, and refined grains is likewise of longstanding. My take is that there’s just nothing new in this part of the study. What’s new is comparing low-fat to low-carb diets in a fairly rigorous way, and then checking the insulin secretion theory of the low-carb diet. So that’s what I emphasized.

So, in the end, losing weight comes back to eat whatever diet works to help you consume fewer calories.  And that effort will surely be dramatically easier if you focus on eating more whole foods of any kind and less processed food.

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