Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Government’s Weight-Loss Program

America is quickly becoming the fattest nation in the world. Results from the 2007–2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) indicate that about 34.2 percent of U.S. adults aged 20 years and over are overweight, 33.8 percent are obese and 5.7 percent are extremely obese.

But, as big of a problem as it may be, is it the right of the federal government to step in and begin regulating the diets of Americans?

Michelle Obama thinks that it is, and is busy launching an initiative that starts with America’s overweight children. Partnering even with Walt Disney, Mrs. Obama has pushed her initiative, “Let’s Move,” with Public Service Announcements, appearing with various Disney stars and even helped some of them plant a garden.

Though Mrs. Obama has recently touted the weight problem amongst school-aged children as her No. 1 priority while she’s in the White House, this isn’t the first time the issue has been discussed.

Eating a proper diet even became a topic at now Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan’s confirmation hearings. When Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma asked her during the hearings if the government can pass a law forcing Americans to eat fruits and vegetables, her answer wasn’t no.

So what does this mean? Does the government have more up its sleeve than just Mrs. Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative?

Some state governments have already taken steps to make its citizens more aware of the fatty, high-calorie foods in restaurants.

In 2008, in California, for example, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation that made it the first state in the nation to have its restaurant chains with 20 or more locations statewide post calorie information on menus and indoor menu boards for consumers. New York passed similar legislation for restaurant chains, but went a step further and ruled that some cities have to have nutritional information posted directly on the menus. New York has also banned the use of all artificial trans fat in restaurant foods.

The federal government followed suit and passed a federal-menu labeling law within ObamaCare. This new law will affect restaurants with 20 or more locations by forcing them to put nutritional information for menu items on the menus themselves, menu boards and even drive-thrus. This law also requires vending machine owners to comply by the same rules.

In April 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a plan to begin limiting the amount of salt allowed in processed foods. Though it does not know what the reduced sodium levels will be, the FDA hopes to implement the plan over a 10-year span.

There is no denying that today’s American diet has a penchant towards salt, but is it the role of the federal government to limit the intake?

“Not only does the federal government not have the Constitutional authority to regulate its citizens’ diets, how could it?” asks Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government (ALG). “The big-government policies of this Administration have failed. What would make the American people think that the government’s handling of their diets would be any different?”

Yet, the White House is still trying. Following the pleas of Mrs. Obama, the Senate passed the Child Nutrition bill — a good start for her “Let’s Move” initiative. This bill would provide $4.5 billion to school lunch and other federal child-nutrition programs.

An Associated Press article on the subject stated that schools wouldn’t do away with popular foods, like hamburgers, but would make them healthier — higher-quality meat and a whole wheat bun perhaps. Also, vending machines would be stocked with less candy and sugar-filled drinks.

The House has yet to pass the bill. Mrs. Obama hopes it might come up for a discussion during a lame-duck session in November.

It seems this Congress and Administration has forgotten that eating at McDonald’s is a choice. Whether the calories are posted on the menus or not, if someone is craving a double cheeseburger, they are probably going to get one.

The more the government intrudes on the lives of Americans, the less freedom its people have. Yes, America has a weight problem, but it’s not the federal government’s job to fix it.


IVF breakthrough helps pregnancy chances

This sounds very good news indeed

THE chances of having a baby through IVF may be hugely improved thanks to a Melbourne breakthrough that could also allow parents to choose their child's sex. Scientists from the University of Melbourne and Repromed have developed a groundbreaking way to measure the health of an embryo and the likelihood of a successful pregnancy through IVF treatment.

By measuring the level of glucose consumed by embryos in the first five days, the researchers can determine which are the healthiest and have the best chance of resulting in a successful pregnancy. The procedure has been tested in 50 patients, with 32 becoming pregnant and 28 babies born as a result. The research could significantly improve birth rates in IVF and help one in six Australian couples experiencing infertility to become parents.

Amazingly, it was pioneered by the university's head zoologist, Prof David Gardner. "The 28 babies resulted from the embryos which had the highest glucose uptake," Prof Gardner said. "Previous studies with animals have shown that the healthiest blastocysts are those with the greatest glucose consumption, indicating the likelihood of a successful pregnancy. "It is exciting to find that this process appears to be the same in people."

In the laboratory, fertilised embryos are kept in a glucose solution to mimic the conditions of the uterus to provide nutrients for the embryos to grow.

By measuring the precise amount of the solution each embryo consumes during the four to five days they are left to grow, the Melbourne team has discovered that those taking in the most solution also have the highest chance of resulting in a baby.

The scientists have also discovered that female embryos appear to take up more glucose than male embryos, providing a possible means of determining their sex before they are transferred to hopeful mothers - something that is causing ethical debate in fertility circles. "This is a very early observation, but it may have the potential to help identify gender at early embryo stage," Prof Gardner said.

The University of Melbourne and Repromed research will be detailed to world experts at the Fertility Society of Australia's annual scientific meeting in Adelaide next week.


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