Saturday, February 24, 2007

Australia: Brainless Greenie logic arrives in the health field

Read the following report and see if you can find the flaw in it. Answer below

Global warming will take a toll on children's health, according to a new report showing hospital admissions for fever soar as days get hotter. The new study found that temperature rises had a significant impact on the number of pre-schoolers presenting to emergency departments for fever and gastroenteritis. The two-year study at a major children's hospital showed that for every five-degree rise in temperature two more children under six years old were admitted with fever to that hospital. The University of Sydney research is the first to make a solid link between climate changes and childhood illness.

"And now global warming is becoming more apparent, it is highly likely an increasing number of young children will be turning up at hospital departments with these kinds of common illnesses," said researcher Lawrence Lam, a paediatrics specialist. "It really demonstrates the urgent need for a more thorough investigation into how exactly climate change will affect health in childhood."

Dr Lam said the results, collated from The Children's Hospital at Westmead admissions, back up beliefs that children are less able to regulate their bodies against climate change than adults. The brain's thermal regulation mechanism is not as well developed in children, making them more susceptible to "overheating" and at risk of developing illness, he said. "They're particularly at risk of extreme changes, much more than other people."

The study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Health Research, analysed several different climate factors, including UV index, rainfall and humidity, collected from the Bureau of Meteorology in 2001 and 2002. Temperatures were the only negative risk factor, with findings linking heat to both fever and gastro disease but not to respiratory conditions.

Surprisingly, rates of gastroenteritis were lower on days with a high UV factor probably, says Dr Lam, because the rays "sterilised" the ground, killing more germs and reducing risk. He said it was still unclear whether the heat directly triggered the illnesses or whether other heat-related problems, like pollution, were responsible. A longer-term study was needed add strength to the findings, Dr Lam said.


The finding concerned Sydney, which is MUCH cooler than Cairns, in tropical North Queensland, where I come from. The only major difference between Sydney and Cairns is the weather and the scenery so if hot weather causes fever, North Queensland should be RIFE with fever cases, right? I have never heard anyone say that it is, either anecdotally or otherwise, and I am quite sure that it would be widely known in North Queensland if it were true. I have, however, heard many cases of people getting ill when they move to a COLDER climate.

It is true that certain nasty viruses (Ross River Fever, Dengue Fever) thrive best in hot climates so some elevated morbidity from that source would be expected. Overall, however, there is no noticeable inferiority in the health of North Queenslanders -- perhaps because there are also various health problems that are greatest in COLD climates. One notes that elderly people often move to warmer climates for the sake of their health. And surely it is WINTER when 'flu is most prevalent!

Group size dictates how much you eat?

The heading on this study must deserve some sort of medal for overgeneralization. That the result might be situation-specific, age-specific etc. seems not to have been considered. Abstract follows:

Eating in larger group increases food consumption

By Julie C Lumeng and Katherine H Hillman

Objective: To determine if children's food consumption is increased by the size of the group of children in which they are eating.

Design: Crossover study.

Setting: University preschool.

Participants: 54 children, ages 2.5-6.5 years.

Interventions: Each child ate a standardized snack in a group of 3 children, and in a group of 9 children.

Main Outcome Measures: Amount each individual child consumed, in grams.

Results: Amount eaten and snack duration were correlated (r = .71). The association between group size and amount eaten differed in the short (< 11.4 minutes) versus the long (> 11.4 minutes) snacks (p = .02 for the interaction of group size and snack duration). During short snacks, there was no effect of group size on amount eaten (16.7 ~ SD 11.0 grams eaten in small groups v. 15.1 ~ 6.6 grams eaten in large groups, p = .42). During long snacks, large group size increased amount eaten (34.5 ~ 16.0 v. 26.5 ~ 13.8, p = .02). The group size effect was partially explained by a shorter latency to begin eating, a faster eating rate, and reduced social interaction in larger groups.

Conclusions: Children consumed 30% more food when eating in a group of 9 children than when eating in a group of 3 children during longer snacks. Social facilitation of food consumption operates in preschool- aged children. The group size effect merits consideration in creating eating behavior interventions.


Just some problems with the "Obesity" war:

1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody -- when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike. (It is also typical of Leftist thinking: Scorning the individual and capable of dealing with large groups only).

2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest -- not slim people. So the "epidemic" of obesity is in fact largely an "epidemic" of living longer.

3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat -- not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. "junk food") without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.

4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.

5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?

6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted -- such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.

7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.

8). And when are we going to ban cheese? Cheese is a concentrated calorie bomb and has lots of that wicked animal fat in it too. Wouldn't we all be better off without it? And what about butter and margarine? They are just about pure fat. Surely they should be treated as contraband in kids' lunchboxes! [/sarcasm].

Trans fats:

For one summary of the weak science behind the "trans-fat" hysteria, see here. Trans fats have only a temporary effect on blood chemistry and the evidence of lasting harm from them is dubious. By taking extreme groups in trans fats intake, some weak association with coronary heart disease has at times been shown in some sub-populations but extreme group studies are inherently at risk of confounding with other factors and are intrinsically of little interest to the average person.