Saturday, July 28, 2007

Food faddists damage kids' TV

Children are losing high-quality television programmes that reflect their lives because of underfunding and the pursuit of ratings, campaigners say. Floella Benjamin, the former Play School presenter who led the campaign to create a children’s minister, said it was shameful that so little home-grown television was now made as channels increasingly relied on cheap imports. She told the Social Market Foundation in London that more government funding and legislation was urgently needed. Incentives were vital to help not-for-profit organisations to produce high-quality public service shows for children. Doing so, she said, would prove that the Government was serious about its policy of every “child matters”.

The ban on advertising food high in fat, sugar and salt has cut the advertising income generated from children’s programmes by £30 million, a third of the total. ITV responded by scrapping new commissions and long-running hits, including My Parents Are Aliens, pictured right. Drama repeats have replaced children’s programmes on ITV1 at teatime as the channel competes for ratings with Channel 4.

Laurence Bowen, producer of My Life as a Popat, pictured left, the award-winning ITV children’s comedy about an larger-than-life Indian family living in West London, said that the popular series ended because of budget considerations.“Without a broadcasting Bill that can give Ofcom the teeth to really insist that ITV does children’s programmes, and without any other government legislation to follow that, it’s dead.”

Professor Jackie Marsh, of Sheffield University, said her research suggested that television played an important role in a child’s cognitive, linguistic, emotional and social development. The Government needed to encourage broadcasters to make programmes that reflected the daily lives, cultures and concerns of young people. “Not to do so would deny children their rights to a rich and varied diet of cultural activities.”


Switching off genes fights HIV without drugs

THE newest generation of HIV drugs are so potent they can almost eradicate the virus in those who are infected, scientists say. AIDS researchers have outlined the latest cutting edge treatments, including a new class that appears to dramatically limit the effects of the disease. Also showing promise is an experimental therapy in which HIV genes in infected cells are "switched off", effectively allowing sufferers to control their condition without drugs.

An American HIV specialist Dr Joseph Eron told the International AIDS Society conference in Sydney there were more than 20 antiretroviral treatments on the market, but most excitement was being generated by a new class of drugs called integrase inhibitors. These drugs work differently in that they block the HIV virus from infecting new cells. Two drugs are being developed with one, Raltegravir, already available for trials in Australia. Data presented at the congress shows the medication, to be put forward for licensing in the US in September, is more potent than its predecessors and has fewer side effects.

Used in combination with a cocktail of the best drugs available, it was found to be far superior for treating HIV in people who have become resistant to other medications. "There is now an opportunity for even our most treatment-experienced patients to become fully suppressed, to get their viral load to these undetectable levels," said Dr Eron.

Geneticists, too, have come up with new ways to fight the disease. HIV gets into human genes and damages the cells by producing more HIV. A molecular biologist, John Rossi, and colleagues at the City of Hope Beckman Research Institute in California have worked out how to turn off this HIV gene, potentially allowing the disease to be controlled for long periods without drugs.

Professor David Cooper, director of Australia's National Centre for HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research, said drug and genetic developments had put eradication in the spotlight. "These new drugs, new strategies mean we are talking about eradication . and that's very exciting."



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.


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