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Diabetes Update: Diabetes Searches with Google

Number 51; December 16, 2002

By David Mendosa


This newsletter keeps you up-to-date with new articles, columns, and Web pages that I have written. I list and link most of these on my Diabetes Directory at www.mendosa.com/diabetes.htm

From time to time Diabetes Update may also include links to other Web pages of special interest.

My most recent contributions are:

  • Diabetes Searches with Google
    I think that you know that I try to stay positive. But when it comes to the Google search engine, I don’t have to try. It’s so good that my review in my “About the Internet” column on the Web site of the American Diabetes Association is positively unbalanced.

    There is so much that Google can do that I challenge the readers of my column—and you—to find ideas that are new to you in what I have written. And because of space limitations, I just scratched the surface of what this wonderful search engine can do. Other features that I could have mentioned are linked on Google’s Services & Tools page. Some of the most interesting are Google Answers, where researchers will answer your question for what may sometimes be a very small fee, Google Catalogs, where you can now search more than 5,000 mail-order catalogs online, Google Web APIs, where software developers can query more than 3 billion web documents directly from their own computer programs, and Google Demos, where you can check out ideas that Google is still testing.

    One of my favorite demos is the Google Glossary, which supplements Google’s links to Dictionary.com and Merriam-Webster OnLine. For example, I wanted to be sure what the acronym “API” that I used above meant in this context. The Google Glossary immediately returned four extensive definitions for “application programming interface,” four more for “application program interface,” and one for “academic performance index.” Dictionary.com found “application programming interface” and “Asian and Pacific Islander” in The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, “Application Program Interface” in The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, and “Application Program(ming) Interface” (shown as being the most common) and 41 other API acronyms in Acronym Finder. Merriam-Webster was less helpful, returning only “air position indicator.”

    The URL for my column on Google is http://www.diabetes.org/main/community/info_news/web/default.jsp

  • The Skinny on Nuts, Peanuts, and Peanut Butter
    The Harvard study on “Nut and peanut butter consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes in women” is big news. Dozens of newspapers, magazines, and Web sites around the world reported the startling findings. I know, because I have read many of them as well as the original article in the November 27 issue of JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association. The URL is
    http://www.mendosa.com/nuts.htm

    I like to think that my analysis of the findings in this article will be one of the most comprehensive and firmly grounded that you can read. Unlike the other reviews, I look at the fat content of nuts, peanuts, and peanut butter as well as comparing the amount eaten by the women in the study with what the average American eats. I also look at the article’s relevance to those of us who already have diabetes.

    In researching my article I was intrigued by reading the history of peanut butter. Its origin is unknown, but from studying at least half a dozen Web sites it seems clear that Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and his brother, William K. Kellogg, in Battle Creek, Michigan, received the first patent for peanut butter, after John had experimented with it as a vegetarian source of protein for his patients. John was the staff physician at the Western Health Reform Institute Sanitarium and William was the business manager. All these sites say that the Kelloggs’ patent for the “Process of Preparing Nut Meal” in 1895 described “a pasty adhesive substance that is for convenience of distinction termed nut butter.”

    That’s a good story, particularly because later they invented the corn flake. William saw the commercial potential of the new cereal, sued his brother, and won the rights to the family name. He then built a large cereal industry, and became a well-known philanthropist, while John died in obscurity.

    However, their supposed patent of peanut butter might well be an urban myth. In searching the United States Patent and Trademark Office this 1895 patent is nowhere to be found. In fact, it looks to me like the patent awarded to Marcellus G. Edson of Montreal in 1884 would predate the Kelloggs’ claims in any case. This patent, No. 306,727, says that his peanuts come “from the mill having the consistency of rather thick or heavy molasses or cream [and] after it has cooled down ...will set into a consistency like that of butter, lard, or ointment...” To me that sounds as much like our modern peanut butter as the “pasty adhesive substance” that the Kellogg brothers supposedly invented.

    For once, I can’t find the definitive answer on the Web. But I have located a Ph.D. dissertation about the life of John Harvey Kellogg that I have on order. When it comes it, that should clear up this question, and I will let you know in due course. Meanwhile, enjoy your peanut butter.

Updates include:

  • Useful Body Parts
    Your body has several parts that are useful for checking your blood glucose levels. No longer do you have to rely on your fingers. For the past three years your arms and legs have been useful too.

    Now you can almost hear that your ears will also tell you what you need to know about your blood glucose.

    On the horizon is a meter that you will be able to stick in your ears for 10 seconds, check how hot they are, and without drawing blood tell your levels. Under development by Infratec Inc., the first published clinical study of this device appears in the December 2002 issue of Diabetes Care.

    While I don’t find any company Web site and the accuracy still seems to leave something to be desired (e.g., a standard deviation of 32 points), I have updated my On-line Diabetes Resources Part 14: Blood Glucose Meters accordingly.

    What could possibly be next? My guess is that your next body part to prove useful will be your eyes. I have personally seen from having participated in a focus group that at least one company is working on the technology to identify changes in blood glucose levels there. Can the nose be far behind?

  • The Meter Market
    Nobody follows the diabetes market like David Kliff, an independent money manager who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 1994. He publishes “Diabetic Investor” newsletter and recently made a presentation to Healthcare Forum 2002 on the meter market. His presentation is currently available on-line at http://www.veracast.com/webcasts/bas/healthcare-forum-2002/id47207189.cfm.

    I consequently updated my On-line Diabetes Resources Part 14: Blood Glucose Meters with some new market share data. David says that Roche and LifeScan dominate test strip sales with about 80 percent of the market. He doesn’t track meter sales, he says, because most of them are given away.

    The diabetes self-test market worldwide is $4 billion, of which the U.S. share is $2 billion. Test strips have “an enormous profit margin,” David says.

    His presentation noted that BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company is poised to announce two meters, the Latitude and the Logic. The BD Latitude has been available in Canada and I have linked it on my On-line Diabetes Resources Part 14: Blood Glucose Meters page for a couple of months. But I hadn’t heard of the BD Logic meter before. BD says that its meters “are based upon state-of-the-art blood glucose meter and strip technology, delivering accurate results in just five seconds and using the thinnest lancet available to minimize pain.” The company currently plans on launched them in New York City on January 8.

Book Review:

    The New Glucose Revolution
  • The New Glucose Revolution
    This is a “comprehensively revised and expanded” edition of the biggest selling book concerning diabetes, The Glucose Revolution, according to Amazon.com sales statistics. The publisher sent me an advance copy of The New Glucose Revolution, which is due to be published in January.

    The first U.S. edition of this, the definitive book on the glycemic index, sold more than 500,000 copies since the first U.S. edition appeared in 1999. The entire series, including three Australian and one British editions, has sold more than 1 million copies. This makes the appearance of this new edition big news that I want to share with you as soon as possible.

    The lead author is Jennie Brand-Miller, a professor of nutrition at the University of Sydney in Australia. We have worked together extensively ever since the first Australian edition of her glycemic index book appeared in 1995. And we have just cooperated as co-authors on a forthcoming book in this series, What Makes My Blood Sugar Go Up...And Down? And 101 Other Frequently Asked Questions About Your Blood Glucose Levels.

    The biggest change in this edition is the incorporation of glycemic load analysis and data. While the glycemic index measures the quality of the carbohydrates in different foods, the glycemic load reflects both the quality and the quantity of the carbohydrates we eat.

    Most people will probably buy the book for its comprehensive glycemic index and glycemic load tables, which take 51 pages of the book. This would certainly be a convenient way to hold this information, which is, however, available three other places. Each of them have their disadvantages:

    More than the glycemic index and glycemic load tables, however, the greatest value of this book is its clear description of what these concepts are all about. Especially if you don’t already have an earlier edition of the book, this expanded new edition is well worth buying. With 348 pages, up from 292 pages in the previous edition, The New Glucose Revolution lists for $15.95. Amazon.com will sell it for $11.17.

Boilerplate:

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