Archive for April, 2011

PhotoCalorie Featured at Microsoft Connected Health Conference

April 28th, 2011

We are proud to annouce that our co-founder, Mark Boguski, is presenting PhotoCalorie today at Microsoft’s 2011 Connected Health Conference in Chicago. As described on their site, this annual conference brings together stakeholders from across the healthcare ecosystem for learning, networking, and discussion on the most important issues facing healthcare organizations today, including the role of technology in transforming healthcare delivery and personal health management. For a list of all the speakers, click here.

PhotoCalorie is being featured in the On the Go mobile health section, where we will be illustrating how PhotoCalorie can connect with Microsoft Health Vault to download a patient’s medical records and alert them of any dangerous diet-drug interactions.

For example, blood pressure medications such as Procardia, Adalat (Nifedipine) and Plendil (felodipine), are dangerous when combined with grapefruit or grapefruit juice, resulting in higher levels of the blood pressure medications. Some of the negative symptoms may include facial flushing, nausea, dizziness, confusion, palpitations or irregular heartbeat. If people taking these drugs are also using PhotoCalorie, potentially dangerous side effects may be avoided.


Triglycerides report from AHA – History Does Not Agree

April 26th, 2011

The American Heart Association (AHA) recently published a report entitled Triglycerides and Cardiovascular Disease, chronicling the rising rates of serum triglyceride levels and its role in cardiovascular disease in order to “update clinicians on the increasingly crucial role of triglycerides in the evaluation and management of CVD risk and highlight approaches aimed at minimizing the adverse public health–related consequences associated with hypertriglyceridemic states.”

This report is interesting and important for physicians to be aware of, but the major concepts are absolutely predictable with a basic understanding of serum cholesterol responses to carbohydrates in the diet. Simply stated, when people eat carbohydrates their HDL (good cholesterol) goes down and their triglycerides go up. This is uncontroversial, and so consistent that researchers use triglycerides and HDL as objective measures of carbohydrate consumption. Dr. Frank Sacks of Harvard Medical School explains in a recent paper on low carbohydrate diets that “HDL is a biomarker for dietary carbohydrate.” High triglycerides and low HDL means the subjects are eating lots of carbs. The AHA’s report confirms this as well, explaining that “very high intakes of carbohydrate (>60% of calories) is accompanied by a reduction in HDL cholesterol and a rise in triglyceride.” Perhaps the most interesting quote in the report comes in the introduction:

It is especially disconcerting that in the United States, mean triglyceride levels have risen since 1976, in concert with the growing epidemic of obesity, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes mellitus.

It is quite disconcerting, but it is EXACTLY what should be expected. If it is true that triglycerides increase in response to carbohydrates, then at some point around 1976, there should have been an increase in carbohydrate consumption. And there was. It was in response to the first ever Dietary Goals for the United States, issued in 1977 by the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs. Here are the first few recommendations:

  • Increase carbohydrate consumption to account for 55 to 60 percent of the energy (caloric) intake.
  • Reduce overall fat consumption from approximately 40 to 30 percent energy intake
  • Reduce saturated fat consumption to account for about 10 percent of total energy intake

So the recommendation to eat more carbohydrates happened almost precisely at the same time that triglyceride levels began to increase to “disconcerting” levels. The next question is if people actually followed this advice and ate more carbohydrates. And they did:

As you can see, since about 1976 carbohydrate intake increased and dietary fat intake decreased. Here is another graph of carbohydrate intake over the past 30 years (from Gross et al 2004)

As explained in the introduction this report will be of value to the Adult Treatment Panel IV (ATP IV) of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP), from which evidence-based guidelines will ensue.

So what does the NCEP recommend in order to lower our triglycerides? Why nothing more than the exact recommendation we received in 1977:

Very high intakes of carbohydrate (>60% of total calories) are accompanied by a reduction in HDL cholesterol and a rise in triglyceride …. These latter responses are sometimes reduced when carbohydrate is consumed with viscous fiber …; however, it has not been demonstrated convincingly that viscous fiber can fully negate the triglyceride-raising or HDL-lowering actions of very high intakes of carbohydrates…Carbohydrate intake should be limited to 60 percent of total calories.

You can read more about triglycerides, HDL and carbohydrates here.

Try PhotoCalorie for free: Sign up for free at, or download the free iPhone app

Follow us on twitter: @PhotoCalorie, or on facebook:

Dietary Research

Weight tracking made easy

April 20th, 2011

We’ve added the ability to track your weight with PhotoCalorie. Any time you weigh yourself, go over to the Goals page and save your current weight in the text box. All your nutrient goals will automatically adjust.

To view your weight goals over time, choose weight from the drop down menu above the graphs!


Endocrinologist vilifies fructose as “a poison”

April 17th, 2011

Dr. Robert H. Lustig, a UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology gives a fascinating talk on fructose, and how it is poisoning us and contributing to the obesity, heart disease, and hypertension epidemics we face throughout the world.

Fructose by itself has been somewhat under the radar when it comes to blaming the obesity epidemic on something. Possibly because the “healthy halo” it sports, since it is the sugar found in fruits. However, when combined with glucose, whether as sucrose (table sugar), or high-fructose corn syrup, fructose has not been so lucky.

Some main points Dr. Lustig makes in his talk:

  • Fructose intake has dramatically increased over the past 30 years, coinciding with the obesity epidemic
  • A calorie is NOT a calorie regardless of what food source it comes from, and fructose is not the same as glucose
  • You are not what you eat, you are what you do with what you eat
  • Hepatic fructose metabolism leads to all the manifestations of metabolic syndrome, such as hypertension, inflamation, obesity, and CNS leptin resistance
  • Fructose ingestion interferes with obesity interventions
  • Fructose is a chronic hepatotoxin (toxic to the liver), but FDA cannot and will not regulate it

This video was profiled in the cover story of this week’s New York Times magazine, in which journalist Gary Taubes eloquently describes the hazards of sugar.

This talk has gotten over 900,000 views on youtube, no small feat for a 1.5 hour biochemistry lecture. Although not as popular as Rebecca Black’s pop hit Friday(108 million views and counting), Dr. Lustig’s talk is arguably more beneficial to society.


PhotoCalorie: Watch what you eat. Literally.

April 9th, 2011

Check out our brand new Ad, entitled Watch what you eat. Literally. Let us know what you think!

Try PhotoCalorie for free: Sign up for free at, or download the free iPhone app

Follow us on twitter: @PhotoCalorie, or on facebook:


Now Hiring: Overweight crash test dummies

April 5th, 2011

As if obese people aren’t stigmatized enough, a new study has discovered that the obese are more likely to die in a car crash. This news has doctors urging the use of overweight crash test dummies! The research concluded that moderately obese drivers had a 21 per cent increased risk of death, while morbidly obese had a 56 per cent decreased risk of surviving the crash. Given the current projections of obesity, making overweight crash test dummies could be quite a profitable business:

An even more interesting finding in this study was that underweight or normal weight individuals were more likely to die in a crash than slightly overweight drivers. This is an eerily similar finding to studies that show those who are slightly overweight also tend to live longer.

“Crash test dummies have saved lives and provided invaluable data on how human bodies react to crashes,” says study author Dr. Jehle of Buffalo Medical School, “but they are designed to represent normal-weight individuals. If they represented our overweight American society, there could be further improvements in vehicle design that could decrease mortality.”

In the study summary, they don’t mention whether they controlled for seatbelt wearing or not, which could skew the results, assuming that the morbidly obese have difficulty fastening their seat belts.