Diet Innovators

Blackburn:  We really think the behavior scientists are who we're waiting for in this area, that we need new techniques in our thinking.  We need new approaches that will pay-- which will value the selection of healthy foods.  Leadership in this area is coming from the University of Pennsylvania, Tom Waddens and that group which has expanded now that their colleagues have gone to Temple University.  Obviously we're very interested in the children's programs.  And of course in Boston we have David Ludwig at the Children's Hospital in his optimal weight control approach.  I think it's well-recognized.  We certainly salute the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation working with the Clinton Foundation as far as school lunch is concerned and getting new education to children.  We want to draw attention to women who appear taking the lead to stop gaining work, particularly the Hispanic and non-Hispanic white women.  They, of course, are the best teachers for the children, so that this is another avenue that we want to address.  The American Dietetic Association has 60,000 members who are all knowledgeable in how to take advantage of the science of nutrition to help with these medical problems.

Question: How can the poor eat better?

Blackburn: We worked on a black America lifestyle intervention program that was quite helpful because we just told them what was healthy and then let them take charge of implementing it in their community.  So culturally, and ethnic and racial groups have a cultural diet.  And we can re-engineer that to get out some of the calories, particularly oils and fat in this area, and slowly implement locally-grown vegetables and produce in this area.  So it's remarkable when you're talking about getting just two to 400 calories out of the diet per day, how you can engineer out in these culturally-specific recipes unnecessary fats and sugar in this area.  So it is a simple solution that has to be adopted locally.

Question: Where is the best information on dieting?

Blackburn:  I would think that now almost every community has access to nutrition educators who can go over food choices.  I've emphasized before, of course you want to build it into the My Pyramid, which has as its base vegetables and whole grains followed by fruits and low fat dairy and small portions of meat, poultry and fish in the area.  But this really all starts with what you've selected, what's in your grocery basket today, and then to construct that into recipes, because people eat meals.  So that's what you need to have built correctly.  And so you get one a day of a healthy meal, and then be guided from that to what the other meals and the breakfast is going to look like.  But we do have to keep it simple.  We have to understand that we're just talking about selecting food that we eat slowly.  We take each bite and chew it until it's a liquid.  We get rid of our hunger.  We get pride in how happy you are that it is healthy food.  And we know it's healthy food because it doesn't have added fat and sugar in it.

Question: What should we know more about?

Blackburn:  I think people don't know what a calorie is.  I think people don't know what a healthy food is.  I think they don't know how their set point is regulated particularly as far as hunger is concerned.  So that the surgeon general, Richard Carmona emphasized that, that we have to get a health literacy so oriented here so people understand these simple realities so that they can eat less because they know how many calories they should be eating, how many in an individual meal there is, and then they need to know where does my hunger come from and how do I get, you know, rid of it in this area.  And then they need to have a simple mark, a simple identify on foods that says this is a healthy food.

Question: What is a calorie?

Blackburn:  Right.  So a calorie, of course, is an expression of the energy that's contained in a food, or the energy that's expended when you stand up.  For example, as we're sitting down, if we stand up that would be a 50 percent increase in the calories we were burning from a little over one calorie to one-and-a-half.  You know, if we stand up it's another 25 percent.  So that I think the way for people to know about calories is to buy a frozen dinner, see how many calories it is and then look at what's in that package knowing that I want to learn on a package that it's 450 calories.  Now most diet or lean cuisine-type frozen dinner only have 250 calories, so you need two of those.  Because if you eat over 20 minutes, 450 calories in this area, you can learn yourself, "I was hungry when I started, and now the hunger is gone."  So that's the best way.  And then of course the other one is that I know that my body burns 15 calories per pound per day.  And so if I'm 150 pounds, that's 225 calories.  You know, if it's 170, then of course it's 85 on top of the 170.  And so it's easy to know with 15 calories per pound how many calories I'm burning.  Then you get on the scale and if it stays the same, I say, "Wow.  I consumed 225 calories, I'm 150 pounds in this area, and my weight's the same.  If you lose weight, then you know that you're consuming less calories than this 15 calories per pound.

Question: Are Americans schizophrenic when it comes to their weight?

Blackburn:  Well, it's the old adage of talking the talk versus walking the walk, that, you know, there's so many things that we want, but we're not willing to put in the effort to do them.  And I think this is a perfect time to be talking about this subject, because it does appear, you know, that we're going to have to use less gasoline, and less oil, and waste less fuel for our car.  And we waste a lot of food, and we eat too much food.  So this is a good time to take action.  And I think people are ready.  We already have the statistics that the 21st century is associated with stopping weight gain.  That's the first step to go from eating equal, to what you need, to under-eating versus what we were doing the last 20 years of the 20th century, and we were overeating.

George Blackburn explains the latest innovations in the science of dieting, and the practical implications this knowledge has on public health.

Videos
  • Beethovan and Picasso are the perfect examples for mastering the creative process.
  • Behind each of their works are countless studies and sketches.
  • The lesson? Never erase anything, keep iterating, and find new paths to familiar destinations.


After death, you’re aware that you’ve died, say scientists

Some evidence attributes a certain neurological phenomenon to a near death experience.

Credit: Petr Kratochvil. PublicDomainPictures.net.
Surprising Science

Time of death is considered when a person has gone into cardiac arrest. This is the cessation of the electrical impulse that drive the heartbeat. As a result, the heart locks up. The moment the heart stops is considered time of death. But does death overtake our mind immediately afterward or does it slowly creep in?

Keep reading Show less
Big Think
Sponsored by Lumina Foundation

Upvote/downvote each of the videos below!

As you vote, keep in mind that we are looking for a winner with the most engaging social venture pitch - an idea you would want to invest in.

Lumina Foundation and Big Think have partnered to bring this entrepreneurial competition to life, and we hope you'll participate! We have narrowed down the competition to four finalists and will be announcing an audience's choice award and a judges' choice award in May.

The creator of the winning video — chosen by Big Think's audience, the Lumina Foundation, and an independent panel of experts (bios below) — will be flown to New York for a taping in the Big Think studio as a way to further promote their vision for a new, disruptive idea in post-secondary education.

Thank you to all of the contestants who spent time submitting applications, and best of luck to our final four competitors.

Finalist: Greater Commons - Todd McLeod

Greater Commons, founded by Todd McLeod and Andrew Cull, is an organization that helps people live happier, more successful and fulfilling lives through agile learning. The current education system is inefficient and exclusionary, in which many students who end up earning a degree, if at all, enter a career not related to their field of study. Greater Commons solves this problem and gap in post-high school secondary education in a variety of ways. Passionately and diligently, Great Commons helps others obtain skills, knowledge, wisdom, motivation, and inspiration so that they may live better lives.

Finalist: PeerFoward - Keith Frome

PeerForward is an organization dedicated to increasing the education and career success rates of students in low-income schools and communities by mobilizing the power of positive peer influence. PeerForward works with partner schools to select influential students as a part of a team, systemizing the "peer effect." Research in the fields of sociology of schools, social-emotional learning, adult-youth partnerships, and civic education demonstrates that students can have a positive effect on the academic outcomes of their peers. PeerForward is unique through its systemic solutions to post-secondary education.

Finalist: Cogniss - Leon Young

Cogniss combines technology and best practice knowledge to enable anyone to innovate and share solutions that advance lifelong learning. Cogniss is the only platform to integrate neuroscience, through which it solves the problem of access by providing a low-code platform that enables both developers and non-developers to build sophisticated education apps fast, and at a much lower cost. It addresses the uneven quality of edtech solutions by embedding research-based learning design into its software. App creators can choose from a rich set of artificial intelligence, game, social and data analytics, and gamification to build their perfect customized solution.

Finalist: Practera - Nikki James

Practera's mission is to create a world where everyone can learn through experience. Today's workplaces are increasingly dynamic and diverse, however, costly and time-consuming experiential learning is not always able to offer the right opportunities at scale. Many students graduate without developing the essential skills for their chosen career. Practera's team of educators and technologists see this problem as an opportunity to transform the educational experience landscape, through a CPL pedagogical framework and opportunities to apply students' strengths through active feedback.

Thank you to our judges!

Our expert judges are Lorna Davis, Dan Rosensweig, and Stuart Yasgur.

Lorna Davis is the Senior Advisor to Danone CEO and is a Global Ambassador for the B Corp movement. Lorna has now joined B-Lab, the non-for-profit that supports the B Corporation movement on an assignment to support the journey of large multi nationals on the path to using business as a force of good.

Dan Rosensweig joined Chegg in 2010 with a vision for transforming the popular textbook rental service into a leading provider of digital learning services for high school and college students. As Chairman and CEO of Chegg, Dan commits the company to fulfilling its mission of putting students first and helping them save time, save money and get smarter.

Stuart Yasgur leads Ashoka's Social Financial Services globally. At Ashoka, Stuart works with others to initiate efforts that have mobilized more than $500 million in funding for social entrepreneurs, engaged the G20 through the Toronto, Seoul and Los Cabos summits and helped form partnerships with leading financial institutions and corporations.

Again, thank you to our incredible expert judges.