Livin' on the MDedge

Step right up, folks, for a public dissection


Chicken nuggets and the meat paradox

Two young children are fighting over the last chicken nugget when an adult comes in to see what’s going on.

Liam: Vegetable!

Olivia: Meat!

Liam: Chicken nuggets are vegetables!

Olivia: No, dorkface! They’re meat.

Caregiver: Good news, kids. You’re both right.

Olivia: How can we both be right?

At this point, a woman enters the room. She’s wearing a white lab coat, so she must be a scientist.

Dr. Scientist: You can’t both be right, Olivia. You are being fed a serving of the meat paradox. That’s why Liam here doesn’t know that chicken nuggets are made of chicken, which is a form of meat. Sadly, he’s not the only one.

A plate of chicken nuggets and fries pxfuel

In a recent study, scientists from Furman University in Greenville, S.C., found that 38% of 176 children aged 4-7 years thought that chicken nuggets were vegetables and more than 46% identified French fries as animal based.

Olivia: Did our caregiver lie to us, Dr. Scientist?

Dr. Scientist: Yes, Olivia. The researchers I mentioned explained that “many people experience unease while eating meat. Omnivores eat foods that entail animal suffering and death while at the same time endorsing the compassionate treatment of animals.” That’s the meat paradox.

Liam: What else did they say, Dr. Scientist?

Dr. Scientist: Over 70% of those children said that cows and pigs were not edible and 5% thought that cats and horses were. The investigators wrote “that children and youth should be viewed as agents of environmental change” in the future, but suggested that parents need to bring honesty to the table.

Caregiver: How did you get in here anyway? And how do you know their names?

Dr. Scientist: I’ve been rooting through your garbage for years. All in the name of science, of course.

Bedtimes aren’t just for children

There are multiple ways to prevent heart disease, but what if it could be as easy as switching your bedtime? A recent study in European Heart Journal–Digital Health suggests that there’s a sweet spot when it comes to sleep timing.

Sleeping person with alarm clock in foreground Tumisu/Pixabay

Through smartwatch-like devices, researchers measured the sleep-onset and wake-up times for 7 days in 88,026 participants aged 43-79 years. After 5.7 years of follow-up to see if anyone had a heart attack, stroke, or any other cardiovascular event, 3.6% developed some kind of cardiovascular disease.

Those who went to bed between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. had a lower risk of developing heart disease. The risk was 25% higher for subjects who went to bed at midnight or later, 24% higher for bedtimes before 10 p.m., and 12% higher for bedtimes between 11 p.m. and midnight.

So, why can you go to bed before “The Tonight Show” and lower your cardiovascular risk but not before the nightly news? Well, it has something to do with your body’s natural clock.

“The optimum time to go to sleep is at a specific point in the body’s 24-hour cycle and deviations may be detrimental to health. The riskiest time was after midnight, potentially because it may reduce the likelihood of seeing morning light, which resets the body clock,” said study author Dr. David Plans of the University of Exeter, England.

Although a sleep schedule is preferred, it isn’t realistic all the time for those in certain occupations who might have to resort to other methods to keep their circadian clocks ticking optimally for their health. But if all it takes is prescribing a sleep time to reduce heart disease on a massive scale it would make a great “low-cost public health target.”

So bedtimes aren’t just for children.


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