Tuesday, February 20, 2007

TV still being demonized

Strange that no good effects of TV are mentioned -- typical of propaganda. For just a few examnples of the good effects that might have been mentioned, see here. Anything popular is hated by the Left and there is a lot of Leftism and its accompanying low ethical standards in academe so all the adverse findings about TV must be viewed with deep skepticism. For the record, I personally almost never watch TV, although I have two of them -- very old ones

Watching too much television as a child may trigger serious health problems such as autism and obesity, and in girls the early onset of puberty, a scientist has claimed. So great are the dangers, says Aric Sigman, that watching television should be banned for children under three years old and severely restricted as they grow older. Writing in the journal Biologist, Dr Sigman says that the average six-year-old child in Britain will have already spent a year watching television, and claims that the simple act of staring at a bright television screen, regardless of a programme's content, can damage a child's health.

Dr Sigman identified 15 negative effects that, he says, television can have on youngsters, ranging from short-sightedness and diabetes to premature puberty and autism. "We may ultimately be responsible for the greatest health scandal of our time," he writes. "Given the evidence, it would be prudent to cordon off the early years of child development as a time when screen media is excluded and then introduced judiciously as the child matures. "To allow children to continue to watch this much screen media is an abdication of parental responsibility. Truly hands-off parenting."

Dr Sigman's report, which is based on his analysis of 35 scientific studies, claims that television viewing affects levels of melatonin, a hormone linked to when puberty occurs in girls. Melatonin levels increase in the evening, at the onset of darkness, but staring into a bright screen during this period hinders its production.

Research has shown that melatonin affects puberty in females more than males. "Animal studies have shown that low melatonin levels have an important role in promoting an early onset of puberty and linked to reproductive function in several sexually mature animals," Dr Sigman says. Girls have been reaching puberty earlier since the 1950s, which previous research had blamed on an average increase in female weight, but he claims that lower melatonin levels may be another cause.

Dr Sigman, a member of the Institute of Biology and associate fellow of the British Psychological Society, says that watching television also damages sleep patterns, causes over-eating and increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. "Television may induce us to eat more [by] causing our brain to monitor external non-food cues - the television screen - as opposed to internal food cues telling us that we have stuffed ourselves and can stop eating." Low attention spans and poor educational achievement could also be linked to television viewing habits.



But the dishcloths etc. must be WET first

Sponges and dishcloths are a common source of pathogens which cause food poisoning because the bacteria, which come from uncooked eggs, meat and vegetables, thrive in the damp conditions. It has been estimated that a kitchen sponge may contain 10,000 bacteria, including E. coli and salmonella, per square inch.

Professor Gabriel Bitton, a expert in environmental engineering at the University of Florida, and colleagues contaminated kitchen sponges and plastic scrubbing pads in dirty water which contained faecal bacteria, viruses, protozoan parasites and bacterial spores.

They then zapped the cleaning equipment in a microwave for varying lengths of time. After two minutes on full power, 99% of bacteria were inactivated. And E. coli bacteria were killed after just 30 seconds.

Bacillus cereus spores - which are largely associated with vegetables or foods in contact with soil and are normally quite resistant to radiation, heat and toxic chemicals - were completely eradicated after four minutes in the microwave.

Professor Britton said it was likely to be heat, rather than radiation, that proved fatal as microwaves worked by exciting water molecules. He recommended microwaving damp not dry sponges to minimise the risk of fire and to only microwave non-metal scrubbing pads. Two minutes every other day would be sufficient for people who cook regularly, he said.

"Basically what we find is that we could knock out most bacteria in two minutes. "People often put their sponges and scrubbers in the dishwasher, but if they really want to decontaminate them and not just clean them they should use the microwave," he said.

The team also looked at whether the microwave oven could be used to sterilise contaminated syringes. It was found to be an effective method but took far longer - up to 12 minutes for the Bacillus cereus spores.

Professor Hugh Pennington, a food safety expert at the University of Aberdeen said heating was an effective way of sterilising kitchen equipment. "If you want to make sure you have a clean sponge there's nothing wrong in popping it in the microwave but I'd rather people didn't use sponges."

He added that most cases of food poisoning occurred when people were preparing raw chicken and then used the same surface to prepare ready to eat foods such as salad. "I don't think it would make a difference to food poisoning figures but I can't see anything wrong in it. He said heat was an obvious method of sterilisation.


Surprise! Severe headaches make you depressed

WOMEN who suffer from severe headaches are more likely to be depressed, according to a new study in Neurology this week. Researchers surveyed 1032 women from six headache clinics in the US. Of these, 593 reported episodic headache (fewer than 15 headaches per month) and 439 had chronic headache (more than 15 headaches per month). Overall, 90 per cent of the women experienced migraines, and 18 per cent suffered from current major depression. Those with chronic headache were four times more likely than those with episodic headache to have symptoms of major depression. Among women diagnosed with severely disabling migraine, the likelihood of major depression increased 32-fold if the patient also reported other physical symptoms, including low energy, trouble sleeping, nausea and muscle pain.



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.