Saturday, December 03, 2011

Happy Meals live on in SF

I protested when San Francisco began cracking down on Happy Meals with its cleverly worded edict to prohibit restaurants from giving away toys aimed at children with food that did not satisfy its nutritional standards. But perhaps I despaired too soon. As it turns out, the magic of the market, the ingenuity of McDonald’s, and the incompetence of lawmakers have liberated the Happy Meal toy from the clutches of the paternalistic progressives posing as public health promoters.

The fast-food chain has figured out how to comply with the ordinance while giving customers what they want: From now on, the restaurant will charge ten cents for the Happy Meal toy, giving the proceeds to the Ronald McDonald House charity. What a heroic way of dealing with those pesky local planners! Parents win. Kids win. McDonald’s wins. And charity gets a boost as well!

Liberty has still suffered, however, since now customers are forced to buy the food if they want the toy. Before, parents could purchase a Happy Meal toy by itself for a little over $2. Because of the way the law is written, this option is now gone—another unintended consequence of a bad law, since now, on the margin, customers will sometimes opt to buy the greasy food targeted by the law just so they can get the toy, when before they would have not bought the food.

Still, the Happy Meal lives, and this is just one more reminder that the market will outsmart the state in ways even those of us always on the lookout will miss. Last year, I was enraged that San Francisco (and my home county of Santa Clara) would wage war on American childhood in this manner. Yet I should have stopped and realized that as horrible as this law was, it was not going to stop the wonders of the market from bringing a smile to all those children.

How excellent that, just in time for Christmas, we once again see the market triumph over the efforts of politicians to destroy what fun is left in this country. To all the Hamburglers and Grinches in the world, I plead that you join in the holiday spirit of commerce and voluntarism, and reject the Scroogish sanctimony of socialistic city planning. Do I believe in magic? Of course I do. We see it every day in the glory of the market economy.


Could a simple pill costing 30p a day be the answer to getting pregnant?

A small study on an a-typical group

A 30p multi-vitamin pill could more than double a woman’s chance of having a baby, according to a study. It found that 60 per cent of those taking the supplements while undergoing IVF became pregnant compared to just a quarter who did not take them.

Researchers say the pills contain nutrients that may boost fertility such as vitamins A, C and E, zinc and selenium, that are often absent from our diets.

The study carried out at University College London involved 56 women aged 18 to 40, who had all tried unsuccessfully to fall pregnant using IVF for at least a year.

Half were given a multi-nutrient pill to take every day and the other half given folic acid pills to take daily. The micronutrient pill also contained folic acid which prevents birth defects and has also been shown to help boost fertility.

The team found that 60 per cent of women taking the multi-nutrients fell pregnant, and did not miscarry in the first three months when it is most common.

This compared to 25 per cent of women in the group taking folic acid who were still pregnant after three months.

The study published in the journal Reproductive Biomedicine also found that women taking the micronutrients needed far fewer attempts to become pregnant. Of those who fell pregnant, 75 per cent conceived in the first course of IVF.

By comparison just 18 per cent of those on folic acid who became pregnant did so after the first IVF course.

The particular pill, Vitabiotics Pregnacare-Conception,contains folic acid, vitamin B, vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin C, zinc, selenium and some antioxidants. It costs just over £10 over the counter for a month’s supply.

Lead researcher Dr Rina Agrawal said: 'The implications of this study are far reaching as they suggest that prenatal micronutrient supplementation in women undergoing ovulation induction improve pregnancy rates. 'There is a large body of evidence establishing the relationship between placental development, foetal growth, pregnancy outcomes and adequate nutrition, particularly vitamin intake.'

But other scientists pointed out that the study was very small so the results should not be taken too seriously.

Dr Allan Pacey who specialises in fertility at the University of Sheffield said: 'The influence of nutrition on our fertility is of general interest to the public and professionals, but there are relatively few studies which have examined this systematically and few which have shown direct benefits of taking supplements to enhance things.'

'Therefore, on the face of it, this study is interesting but we should acknowledge that this is a relatively small number of patients and the study would need to be repeated in a larger trial before we could be certain of the results.'

A woman’s fertility is known to be affected by a number of factors including her age, weight, alcohol consumption, whether she smokes. High levels of stress and even drinking too much coffee have also been shown to reduce the chances of falling pregnant.


No comments: