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Surging Food Supply Linked to Global Obesity Epidemic
Surging Food Supply Linked to Global Obesity Epidemic
July 2, 2015

The global obesity epidemic is linked to an oversupply of food available for human consumption, a new study suggests.

There are enough extra calories available to explain the weight gain reported in many countries around the world, the researchers found.

"Much of the increase in available calories over the decades has come from ultra-processed food products, which are highly palatable, relatively inexpensive and widely advertised, making overconsumption of calories very easy," study author Stefanie Vandevijvere, a senior research fellow in global health and food policy at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, said in a World Health Organization news release.

These findings suggest government officials need to implement policies that will result in a healthier food supply and reduced rates of obesity.

In conducting the study, researchers examined increases in the global food supply - also called the food energy supply - and the rising rates of obesity. They included information from 69 countries that ranged from high- to low-income.

They compared information from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization database with the average adult body weight from various databases, including the World Health Organization global database on body mass index (BMI) between 1971 and 2010.

Countries' food supplies are estimated by balancing imports, local production and country-wide stocks with exports and agricultural use for livestock as well as farm and distribution waste.

Between 1980 and 2013, the number of overweight men went from 29 percent to 37 percent. During that same time, overweight in women went from 30 percent to 38 percent, the researchers said.

Food energy supply increased in 81 percent of these countries along with body weight. The researchers noted the increase in available calories for consumption was more than enough to explain rising rates of obesity in 65 percent of the countries. Food waste also increased significantly in these regions, the study found.

The study was published June 30 in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization.

Vandevijvere said factors such as increased urbanization, dependence on cars and jobs that don't require any physical activity all contribute to the global obesity epidemic.

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Posted by Ken at 1:43 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

Fireworks can spark bump in air pollution
Fireworks can spark bump in air pollution
July 2, 2015

Most Americans know that fireworks can injure the eyes and hands, but these Fourth of July favorites can also take a toll on the lungs, a new study finds.

Researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found fireworks produce air pollutants, including tiny particles found in the air known as particulate matter.

These microscopic particles of dust, dirt, soot, smoke and liquids can get inside the lungs and cause coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. They can also lead to long-term health issues, such as asthma attacks, heart attack, stroke and even death in those with heart or lung disease.

Using observations from 315 U.S. air quality-monitoring sites recorded from 1999 to 2013, the NOAA researchers quantified the surge in particulate matter that occurred on the nation's birthday. Specifically, they looked for particles that are two and one half microns in diameter (PM2.5).

Hourly concentrations of fine particulate matter typically reach their highest levels in the evening on July 4, the study revealed. On average, the sharpest increase occurred between 9 and 10 p.m. The levels subside by noon on July 5. Starting at 8 p.m. on July 4, average concentrations in particulate matter for the next 24 hours are 42 percent greater than the days before or after the holiday, the study published June 30 in the journal Atmospheric Environment revealed.

"We chose the holiday, not to put a damper on celebrations of America's independence, but because it is the best way to do a nationwide study of the effects of fireworks on air quality," study co-author Dian Seidel, a senior scientist at NOAA's Air Resources Laboratory in College Park, Md., said in an agency news release.

"These results will help improve air quality predictions, which currently don't account for fireworks as a source of air pollution," Seidel added. "The study is also another wake-up call for those who may be particularly sensitive to the effects of fine particulate matter."

The researchers found that the concentrations of fine particulate matter varied among the locations tested, with proximity to fireworks displays and weather conditions playing a role in these differences.

Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not regulate fireworks, the agency does advise people who are sensitive to particle pollution to limit their exposure.

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Posted by Ken at 1:43 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

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