All Posts Tagged With: "obesity"
Universities shouldn’t fire scholars just for being mean
Dear obese PhD applicants: If you don’t have the willpower to stop eating carbs, you won’t have the willpower to do a dissertation. #truth.
As you might imagine, cyberspace went nuts, calling Miller lots of nasty names, calling for his resignation, and hinting darkly at the possibility of legal action. Many outlets then took a closer look at some of Miller’s other public statements including the time he wondered whether women might be wise to schedule job interviews while they are ovulating because, he said, they are more sexually attractive then. There are also renewed questions about his ideas and involvement in Chinese eugenics—as in this article which seems to equate wealth with intelligence, and ends with an allusion to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World—Miller seems unaware of the fact that the novel actually condemns biological manipulation for social benefit.
Northern and Atlantic Canadians most likely to tip the scale
Obesity rates are at an all-time high, especially in certain parts of the country, say researchers, who have “mapped” the changes to illustrate how Canadians’ waistlines have expanded over time.
Overall, at least one-quarter of Canadian adults have a body mass index of 30 or greater that puts them in the obese category, concludes a study that provides a comprehensive look at rates across the country, complete with “obesity maps.”
“Our analysis shows that more Canadians are obese than ever before — on average, between one-fourth and one-third of Canadians are obese, depending on the region,” said principal author Carolyn Gotay of the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia.
The Atlantic provinces and the two territories — Nunavut and the Northwest Territories — had the highest obesity rates between 2000 and 2011, with more than 30 per cent of the population in these regions estimated to be obese.
British Columbia had the lowest overall rates, but obesity still increased from less than 20 per cent to almost 25 per cent in that province. In Quebec, the rate stayed at about 24 per cent.
Gotay said mapping regional rates provides more than a decade of easy-to-use visual snapshots that should help researchers, policy makers and the public identify where investments are especially needed to fight the obesity epidemic.
Scott Hems overcame bullying and lost 100 pounds
This story originally appeared in The Aquinian, the student newspaper at St. Thomas University.
In high school, I was a typical big guy. I took a lot of shit from people. I got teased and laughed at. Girls wouldn’t talk to me. I could never eat enough, and I never felt good about myself.
There was one thing did make me happy, though, and that was hockey. I loved hockey in high school, but couldn’t make the high level teams because of my weight. During AAA tryouts one year, the coach called me. He wanted to tell me I was a fantastic goalie and had the heart of a champion.
He followed up the pep talk by saying I was “too fat to present the image we want on this team.”
Important cat research, Blasphemy Day & Justin Trudeau
1. Japanese researchers have published an article in PloS ONE entitled “The Power of Kawaii: Viewing Cute Images Promotes a Careful Behavior and Narrows Attentional Focus.” In sum, viewing photos of cute animals could make you more productive at work. Thank you Japan.
2. Speaking of important cat research, a powerful 2011 earthquake has affected the psychological state of cats in Turkey. They are attempting suicide on a regular basis, according to Abuzer Tas, a lecturer in a local veterinary school. “After the quake… a large number of cats are throwing themselves from heights,” he said. Seriously.
3. A student group at the University of Saskatchewan offered cookies for human souls last week as part of International Blasphemy Day, an annual demonstration on the anniversary of the publication of cartoons depicting Muhammad in Denmark. Visitors to the Freethought Alliance booth could spin a wheel to see which version of hell they would go to. “We’re trying to express that in this country, and all free speaking countries, we are allowed to say things about religion that might not be kind or informed, yet we have the right to say it,” leader Brandon Gerbig told CBC News.
Common chemical may cause obesity
French fries and pizza might not be the only culprits behind the infamous ‘Freshman 15.’
A new study in PLoS ONE has strengthened the link between bisphenol A (BPA) and weight gain.
It showed that exposure to the chemical results in significantly heightened insulin levels. Over time, increased insulin levels can lead to weight gain and Type 2 diabetes, as the body becomes desensitized to the persistently high concentrations of the hormone.
Modern chemicals with potentially adverse health effects are nothing new—it seems like researchers are warning us about yet another carcinogen every day. But BPA is an especially serious threat for two reasons: it’s nearly everywhere, and even minuscule amounts may impact on your health.
Schools everywhere are stripping away the freedom of students and parents to make their own lunchtime decisions
What’s the difference between school and prison? Not much, if you listen to your kids.
Lately, however, it seems adults have been going out of their way to reinforce this grim connection. In the name of fighting obesity, schools everywhere are taking away the freedom of students, and parents, to make their own lunchtime decisions.
Last week, the Chicago Tribune documented the peculiar and controversial food policy of the Little Village Academy on Chicago’s west side. Bagged lunches have been banned: every student is required to eat lunch in the cafeteria. The reason? Principal Elsa Carmona doesn’t trust parents to pack a proper lunch. “Nutrition-wise, it is better for the children to eat at school,” she told the newspaper sternly. Exceptions are only made for allergies or similar medical reasons. Other Chicago-area schools apparently inspect their students’ lunches and confiscate food deemed unhealthy.
Mandatory cafeteria meals. Confiscation of tasty contraband. Throw up a guard tower and some searchlights and the prison motif would be complete.
Of course this sort of nutritional tough love is not confined to Chicago. In September, Ontario will enforce a strict new food policy in all of its schools—fried food of any kind will be forbidden, meaning cafeterias will no longer be able to sell hamburgers or french fries. Eighty per cent of all meals must consist of fruits, vegetables, whole grains or other healthy options; only 20 per cent of the menu can include processed or higher-fat items such as bagels or cheese.
Quebec already has a strict food policy in place. Other provinces, including British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and New Brunswick, have similar school food guidelines. All this lunchtime dirigisme is driven by concerns about observed rates of obesity among North American children. But will these new rules really produce healthier students? Remember, these are teenagers we’re talking about.
However much we may wish for teenagers to make healthier choices at lunchtime, bans on french fries and other lunch staples seem unlikely to produce a massive increase in fruit and vegetable consumption. Such rules are far more likely to add to the daily exodus of students already fleeing school at lunchtime.
Anecdotal evidence abounds that students eat at nearby fast-food outlets and convenience stores when denied their choice of food in school cafeterias. In New Brunswick and British Columbia, school food sales dropped noticeably following the imposition of new lunch guidelines. These kids do not go hungry. They find ways to escape their food prisons. Regardless of official pronouncements or good intentions, the demands of teenage stomachs will not be placated by whole wheat bean sprout tofu wraps.
Groups advocating strict school food rules are starting to recognize the unintended consequences of these policies. But their proposed solutions are equally impractical and draconian. Last year, for example, the Alberta Policy Coalition for Cancer Prevention demanded that municipal governments use their zoning powers to “protect student health by limiting the availability and accessibility of unhealthy food and beverages in areas surrounding new schools.”
The revised strategy is thus: outlaw favoured foods at school, then outlaw those same foods within walking distance of school. This desire among lobby groups for absolute control over all aspects of food choice should be considered a worrisome trend by students and adults alike. Eating remains a personal responsibility, not a government mandate.
It also bears mention that unhealthy weight gain—in teenagers or anyone else—is the unhappy combination of too much eating and too little exercise. And high school students are getting noticeably less physical activity in school. According to a 2007 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the percentage of Ontario high school students enrolled in phys. ed. fell from 70 per cent to 60 per cent between 1999 and 2005. Focusing solely on food choice ignores the direct role schools have played in other aspects of fitness.
To be successful, any efforts to improve the eating habits of schoolchildren must recognize the practical implications of the policies themselves. Frightening kids away with food bans is no solution. Neither is forcing them to eat in cafeterias against their will. Schools should find ways to convince students to choose cafeteria food based on taste and convenience—and health benefits—but not through coercion.
It is also important to acknowledge—and emphasize—the role parents must play in helping their children make healthy choices. Ensuring all kids benefit from a proper diet is a matter for the family, not the authorities.