Lego Noodle Bowl

Calories In and Calories Out. But What About Legos?

It’s an old and misleading cliché. Obesity is [supposedly] all about calories in and calories out. But of course, different foods have different physiologic effects. And not all calories are absorbed in the same way. Hence the importance of the glycemic index. And not everything swallowed gets absorbed. So that brings us to today’s subject. Legos in and Legos out.

A Study of GI Transit Time for Legos

That’s right. Today’s featured study is all about how long it takes to pass one of those little Lego pieces that kids swallow now and then. The authors seem to be a mischievous  group of pediatric professionals who call themselves Don’t Forget the Bubbles.

They conducted a tiny study (n=6) where volunteers (the investigators) swallowed little Legos. SHAT (stool hardness and transit) scores provided a baseline for pre-ingestion bowel habits. FART (found and retrieved time) scores served as the primary outcome measure.

The FART score averaged 1.71 days. So now we know. Small Legos can quickly pass through adult volunteers with no obvious complications.

Serious Limitations

This study has many. Obviously, it’s a small sample size and kids are not just little adults. So, don’t try this at home. Please.

But if we succeed in getting one person to think more broadly than just calories in and calories out, maybe this post and this little study are worth it. It’s a narrow preoccupation. So let it go.

On a more serious note, if you want to read up on children swallowing and excreting foreign objects, click here and here. For the study of Legos, click here. And finally, if you want more of the messy details behind the Lego study, click here.

Lego Noodle Bowl, photograph © clement127 / flickr

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November 27, 2018

4 Responses to “Calories In and Calories Out. But What About Legos?”

  1. November 27, 2018 at 9:47 am, Donna Kasznel said:

    This is really funny; gave me a laugh this AM. I’m glad that health care professionals have a sense of humor sometimes!!

  2. November 27, 2018 at 9:47 am, John DiTraglia said:

    I think the standard teaching is that the intestinal tract is hugely redundant and every single calorie that passes your lips and stays down gets absorbed.

  3. November 27, 2018 at 10:03 am, Angie Golden said:

    Just a perfect bit of humor!

  4. November 27, 2018 at 3:03 pm, Ted said:

    John, you are largely correct. But I’ve been taking orlistat for about 16 years and I can guarantee that I don’t absorb all the calories I consume.