Friday, March 09, 2007

Global warming bad for health?

This is hilarious deception. It is COLD weather that promotes flu etc. Warm weather is good for you in many ways. Brisbane is warmer than Sydney. Does that mean it is less healthy? There is no sign of it. Australia is so big that people can choose just about any climate they like to live in. They do so now and they always will. Tropical North Queensland or chilly Tasmania? Take your pick!

And the Australian Bureau of Statistics reports: "There were no clear patterns in reporting of health-related actions between States and Territories" (p. 6 here). And note that one of the Territories concerned was the very hot Northern Territory! Both hot and cold climates have their advantages and disadvantages but overall there is a balance.

And if the 0.6 degrees C. warming observed across the 20th century is repeated in the 21st, they will not notice the difference even if they stay exactly where they already are

Children in rural Australia will face health problems as climate change starts to bite, and the impact on adults will go much further than the depression that is already affecting some drought-hit farming communities. A national rural health conference heard yesterday that health effects of climate change on rural communities would also include family stress, breathing and respiratory problems caused by more airborne dust and domestic hygiene and infection problems caused by poorer-quality drinking water.

Disruption to agriculture would affect food production, raising prices and lowering the quality and availability of vegetables and other healthy products. Rates of smoking, alcohol and other drug use could also be expected to rise.

Tony McMichael, director of the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at the Australian National University, said in a keynote speech to open the conference in Albury, NSW, last night that there would also be direct effects, such as the increases in numbers of people killed by heatwaves, storms, floods and bushfires. Research by the centre and the CSIRO has forecast that, among people aged over 65 in Sydney, the death rate caused by heatwaves could rise from the 40 deaths per 100,000 people to between 79 and 239 deaths per 100,000.

Dengue fever and other tropical or mosquito-borne diseases - currently confined to the Top End between Broome and the Cape York peninsula - would also extend southwards as far as Carnarvon on the west coast and just north of Rockhampton on the east. Professor McMichael said recent research by his centre had also shown that parents' stress was conveyed into the family home and increased stress hormones in young children "with immediate and long-term implications for their emotional development and their general bodily health". "We need to be aware of the emerging problems here, and do proper research, and develop intervention strategies," Professor McMichael told The Australian. "We are not talking about new problems that people haven't had before in severe droughts. We are talking about them becoming long-term, and at some level permanent." Suitable strategies included better early-warning systems for severe weather events, better community supports and better infrastructure design.

Tony Hobbs, a GP in the NSW Riverina town of Cootamundra, and chairman of the Australian General Practice Network, said rural doctors were already under pressure and said a significant rise in ill-health would probably force some care to be delivered by nurses and other health workers instead of GPs. "This drought has already had an impact - we have already seen rising rates of depression, including at my practice," Dr Hobbs said. "If this cycle were to continue, that would put an added burden on general practice."



Obese people may have an excuse for being fat - their brains fail to tell them they are overweight. Tests on obese mice found the sensors which detect the fat hormone leptin fail to work. Leptin sends signals to the brain about the body's fat reserves, modifying appetite and energy use. Obesity is therefore due to a lack of leptin response. 'Obesity is not a failure of will power, it is a biological failure,' US researcher Michael Cowley told the journal Cell Metabolism.


Journal abstract follows:

Diet-Induced Obesity Causes Severe but Reversible Leptin Resistance in Arcuate Melanocortin Neurons

By Pablo J. Enriori et al.

Despite high leptin levels, most obese humans and rodents lack responsiveness to its appetite-suppressing effects. We demonstrate that leptin modulates NPY/AgRP and ?-MSH secretion from the ARH of lean mice. High-fat diet-induced obese (DIO) mice have normal ObRb levels and increased SOCS-3 levels, but leptin fails to modulate peptide secretion and any element of the leptin signaling cascade. Despite this leptin resistance, the melanocortin system downstream of the ARH in DIO mice is over-responsive to melanocortin agonists, probably due to upregulation of MC4R. Lastly, we show that by decreasing the fat content of the mouse's diet, leptin responsiveness of NPY/AgRP and POMC neurons recovered simultaneously, with mice regaining normal leptin sensitivity and glycemic control. These results highlight the physiological importance of leptin sensing in the melanocortin circuits and show that their loss of leptin sensing likely contributes to the pathology of leptin resistance.

Exposed: the great brussels sprout power struggle

Most parents could have told the pollsters a survey was hardly necessary. But it's official. The brussels sprout is the vegetable most universally loathed by children. But the much-maligned brassica oleracea may be the victim of prejudice. While 77 per cent of the 500 children polled said they did not like the taste, others said "because everyone hates them" and "it's a family tradition". Some said they hated brussels sprouts even though they had never tasted them.

The survey by the food manufacturer Birds Eye - as part of the launch of a new product - showed children ranked broccoli as their fourth favourite vegetable, after corn and carrots. The potato, preferably deep-fried, came out tops. Peas and mushrooms ranked poorly. And while taste was the criterion for most children, smell, appearance and texture were other reasons why vegetables in general were on the nose. There is hope though. Two-thirds of the children aged two to 14 said they would rather eat a plate of vegetables than clean their bedroom, so parents may have stumbled on the ultimate dinner table threat - or reward. Almost one-third of children said they ate vegetables only if they were forced or bribed.

But parents relying on coercion and bribery may have bitten off more than they can chew. "Once you go down the reward track, kids start approaching any request with 'What's in it for me?'," the parenting educator Michael Grose warns. Offering rewards may be seen as an admission that vegetables do not taste very good, while there was also the danger of turning the dinner table into a battleground. "It comes down to the parent saying 'I will make you' and the child saying 'I'll do what I want'. The food is really secondary."

Mr Grose said he thought the battle to get children to eat greens developed with the baby-boomer generation. "They were the first generation who had plenty of food around," he said. "The depression-era parents certainly didn't have battles with their children over eating the food put on the table." Mr Grose suggested getting children to help prepare vegetables, serving small portions and not being afraid to serve vegetables raw.



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.