Friday, February 29, 2008


Nature activities losing to Internet, TV
CHICAGO (UPI) -- Nature recreation like hiking dropped about 1 percent annually in the United States from 1981 to 1991 in favor of sedentary activities like watching movies. Oliver Pergams of the University of Illinois at Chicago and Patricia Zaradic of the Environmental Leadership Program, Delaware Valley in Bryn Mawr, Pa., call the shift to sedentary, electronic diversions "videophilia." "The replacement of vigorous outdoor activities by sedentary, indoor videophilia has far-reaching consequences for physical and mental health, especially in children," Pergams said in a statement. "Videophilia has been shown to be a cause of obesity, lack of socialization, attention disorders and poor academic performance." The researchers analyzed longitudinal survey data on various nature activities in the United States from the past 70 years. The researchers compared figures for backpacking, fishing, hiking, hunting, visits to national and state parks and forests and found from 1981 to 1991 the outdoor activities declined at rates from 1 percent to 1.3 percent per year, depending on the activity. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found the typical drop in nature use since the early 1980s has been from 18 percent to 25 percent.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Your Health: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Controllable With Proper Treatment
Rallie McAllister, M.D., M.P.H.

A recently identified genetic factor may help explain why obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) runs in families. Although scientists have long known that close relatives of people with OCD are as much as nine times more likely to develop the condition than those without a family history of the disorder, the reason remained a mystery. Two new studies, published in the July 2006 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, may help provide the answer. The results of the studies point to a link between OCD and a gene called SLC1A1. In individuals with OCD, inherited variations of the SLC1A1 gene may alter the flow of glutamate, a neurotransmitter that facilitates communication among brain cells.

"Obsessive-compulsive disorder has two parts," explained clinical psychologist Mark Crawford, Ph.D., author of "The Obsessive-Compulsive Trap: Real Help for a Real Struggle."

"There are obsessions, which are intrusive thoughts, images and worries that come out of the blue and cause tremendous anxiety; and there are compulsions, which are behaviors, rituals or patterns that are performed to alleviate the anxiety."

Common obsessions of OCD-sufferers include fear of contamination after touching doorknobs, money or items in public restrooms. Some individuals develop hoarding obsessions, which render them virtually incapable of throwing anything away, while others experience doubting obsessions that cause them to constantly question their own behaviors. The nature of the obsession often determines the subsequent compulsive behavior. People who fear contamination may feel compelled to wash their hands dozens -- or even hundreds -- of times a day. Individuals with hoarding obsessions often fill their homes with so much junk that they run out of space to store it all. Those with doubting obsessions may spend hours checking and rechecking to make sure they unplugged the coffee pot, locked the door or turned off the lights. Some OCD-sufferers engage in behaviors that seem to be completely unrelated to a particular obsessive fear or doubt. These "random" compulsive behaviors include repeating specific words or phrases, counting, and touching, tapping or rubbing various objects.

"People with OCD may realize that the obsessive thoughts are irrational or illogical, but the anxiety they experience is very real," explained Crawford. "These individuals feel powerless to avoid engaging in specific behaviors that are intended to temporarily eliminate the anxiety, or to prevent something bad from happening."

Although scientists are still unraveling the mysteries of OCD, low levels of a brain chemical known as serotonin appear to play a key role in its development. Research suggests that two major areas of the brain are also involved: structures known as the basal ganglia and the orbital frontal region.

"The basal ganglia and the frontal orbital region of the brain normally work together to process and filter information received from the environment, and to help control thinking and behavior," said Crawford. "In people with OCD, the brain doesn't filter out irrelevant information as well as it should."

As a result, OCD-sufferers are constantly bombarded with disturbing thoughts and images, and are driven to engage in compulsive behaviors. Because these behaviors are frequently repeated numerous times throughout the day, people with OCD often feel consumed by the demands of their disorder. The good news is that with proper diagnosis and treatment, most people with OCD can find relief. Numerous studies show that when OCD-sufferers are treated with serotonin-boosting drugs, including certain antidepressants, symptoms frequently improve. Non-pharmacological treatments for OCD typically include cognitive therapy and behavior therapy. Cognitive therapy involves learning to replace illogical, obsessive thoughts and beliefs with those that are more rational, while behavior therapy consists of exchanging destructive, compulsive behaviors for more productive responses. One of the most effective treatments for OCD is a therapy known as exposure and response prevention. Working in cooperation with a therapist, the patient is gradually exposed to anxiety-producing thoughts, while resisting the urge to engage in the compulsive behaviors that typically follow.

"When the patient refrains from performing the compulsive behaviors, the anxiety produced by the obsessive thoughts eventually peaks and goes away," said Crawford. "The more times a patient does this successfully, the greater the chances of controlling the symptoms of this disorder."

While the appropriate therapy provides significant relief to the majority of patients with OCD, education about the nature of the disorder is a critical part of every treatment program.

"It's important for patients and their families to understand that OCD is a disorder of brain functioning, and not a problem caused by a psychological weakness," he said.

======== Rallie McAllister, M.D., M.P.H., is a family physician in Kingsport, Tenn., and author of "Healthy Lunchbox: The Working Mom's Guide to Keeping You and Your Kids Trim." Her Web site is To find out more about Rallie McAllister, M.D., and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at Copyright 2006 Creators Syndicate Inc.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Report: E. coli on rise again
WASHINGTON (UPI) -- U.S. food safety officials say the potential for dangerous E. coli bacteria is on the rise in spinach and other fresh foods, a report said. Since 2006, when an E. coli outbreak in spinach swept the nation, outbreaks of the bacteria have become more varied, in large part because of the growing appetite for raw fruits and vegetables, which can harbor dangerous bacteria, HealthDay, reported in a syndicated story appearing in USA Today.. In the last two years, various pathogens in food have killed at least three people, sickened more than 1,300 others and touched nearly every state in the country as well as Canada, HealthDay reported. The problem is difficult to police because the food-surveillance system is outdated, underfunded and overwhelmed by the emergence of mega-farms, mega-distribution centers and mega-transporters, HealthDay said. "Before, it was just bad produce coming from one farm," said Michael Hansen, a senior scientist with Consumers Union.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Monday, February 25, 2008


JUNEAU, Alaska (UPI) -- Alaska is one of 12 U.S. states considering making salvia, a potent natural hallucinogen which is a species of sage, illegal. The hallucinogenic salvia divinorum is not banned by the federal Controlled Substances Act and is only illegal in six states, The Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News reported Saturday. Republican state Sen. Gene Therriault, who said the substance's effects are dangerously powerful and similar to LSD, has been the heading the charge to ban it in Alaska A user said the drug made her and her boyfriend "melt to the wall," the newspaper said. "The jury's still out because there's not been a lot of study. But whenever there's uncertainty with a substance of this potency, there's a need to prevent injuries," said Therriault's legislative aide, Dave Stancliff.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Sunday, February 24, 2008


Health ministers to push for fluoridation
LONDON (UPI) -- Health officials in England plan to lobby Parliament for fluoridation as an effective and inexpensive way to help prevent dental problems, it was reported. Only two areas in England -- the northeast and the West Midlands -- currently have fluoride automatically added to their municipal water supplies, The Mail on Sunday reported. Health Secretary Alan Johnson says the plan will help poorer children avoid developing dental cavities. "I want the NHS to do much more to prevent rather than just treat disease," he was quoted as saying. "Fluoridation is an effective and relatively easy way to help address health inequalities, giving children from poorer backgrounds a dental health boost that can last a lifetime." Proponents point to studies indicating that children living in non-fluoridated Manchester are twice as likely to have dental caries as children in Birmingham, where fluoride has been added to the water supply for over 40 years, the newspaper reported. Critics, however, contend adding fluoride amounts to forced medication that could cause lasting damage, including pitting of the teeth. A spokesman for the National Pure Water Association, which opposed mandatory fluoridation, said the practice would violate individuals' "human right to refuse consent to any medical intervention." Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Saturday, February 23, 2008


Smokers are Sleep Deprived

BALTIMORE (UPI) -- Cigarette smokers are four times as likely as non-smokers to report feeling unrested after a night's sleep, U.S. researchers found. Study author Dr. Naresh M. Punjabi of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore said smokers spend less time in deep sleep and more time in light sleep than non-smokers, with the greatest differences in sleep patterns seen in the early stages of sleep. The researchers speculate nicotine's stimulating effect could cause smokers to experience nicotine withdrawal each night, which may contribute to disturbances in sleep. "Smokers commonly experience difficulty falling asleep due to the stimulating effects of nicotine," Punjabi said in a statement. "As night evolves, withdrawal from nicotine may further contribute to sleep disturbance." Punjabi and colleagues compared the sleep of 40 smokers with that experienced by 40 non-smokers. All of them underwent home polysomnography -- a recording of the biophysiological changes that occur during sleep. The study, published in the journal Chest, found smokers had a lower percentage of delta power, or deep sleep, and a higher percentage of alpha power, or light sleep.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Friday, February 22, 2008


BERLIN (UPI) -- A German study suggests people considering surgery should control their drinking habits and be honest with their doctors about their drinking. The study, published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, determined that in mice chronic consumption of alcohol -- the equivalent of prolonged moderate drinking -- can result in a severe form of pneumonia following surgery. Claudia Spies of the University Hospital Charite Universitaetsmedizin Berlin says about 20 percent of adults admitted to a hospital drinks three beers or two glasses of wine on a daily basis for a prolonged period. "These patients can exhibit a higher rate of pneumonia after surgery, a higher rate of cardiomyopathy or heart muscle disease, a higher rate of confusion post surgery and significant increased bleeding complications," Spies said in a statement. The researchers gave 32 female mice either alcohol or saline for eight days and then all mice underwent abdominal surgery. After 10 days, the mice were nasally exposed to either K. pneumoniae or saline. The researchers found worse clinical outcomes among the alcohol-exposed mice than the saline-exposed mice.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Diabetes Makes Blood Vessels Hard to Relax
AUGUSTA, Ga. (UPI) -- One way diabetes is bad for your blood vessels is by creating too much competition for an amino acid that helps blood vessels relax, U.S. researchers found. Lead author Dr. Maritza Romero, a post-doctoral fellow at the Medical College of Georgia, said the enzyme arginase breaks down the amino acid L-arginine to urea, which helps the body eliminate toxins resulting from the proteins eaten. Diabetics have a lot of arginase activity, which means they use a lot more L-arginine. It also means too little L-arginine is available to help nitric oxide synthase make nitric oxide, the powerful vasodilator that helps blood vessels relax, Romero said. The researchers also found the amino acid, L-citrulline, as well as statins -- compounds known to lower cholesterol -- prevent elevation of arginase activity. Their findings, published in Circulation Research, help explain why L-arginine supplement, marketed to treat hypertension, chest pain, heart failure and more, may not work long-term.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


More Beijing Women Taking Up Smoking
BEIJING (UPI) -- The number of women in Beijing who smoke cigarettes has risen in the past decade, research has found. Government-funded research determined that in 1997, only 8.76 percent of women in China's capital and second-largest city smoked cigarettes but that percentage increased to nearly 10.4 percent by 2004, China's state-run news agency, Xinhua, reported Saturday. The study was conducted by the tobacco control organization, Think Tank Research Center for Health Development, which added "the smoking rate among Beijing women was still rising." Yet the report did find that smoking throughout Beijing as a whole has declined during the same time period. The study said that at the end of 2007, the smoking rate was at nearly 23 percent compared to the 34.5 percent found in 1997. "Beijing's anti-smoking efforts have proven as effective as those of New York City," the report said, "with an annual 1.08 percent decline in smoking rates since a regional smoking ban in public areas took effect in 1995."
Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


By Michael D. Lemonick (TIME MAGAZINE)
It may seem as if J. Craig Venter is on an extended vacation as he sails his 95-ft. luxury yacht on a 25,000-mile voyage around the world. But the iconoclastic scientist who took on a consortium of national governments in a race to map the human genome--and fought them to a photo finish five years ago--is actually hard at work. He's prospecting--not for gold but for DNA, applying the same techniques developed to decode human genes to the genes of microbes scooped from the ocean and out of the air. On a pilot voyage, through the Sargasso Sea in the North Atlantic, he found more than 1,800 new species of bacteria and viruses--a surprise, since he had always thought of the Sargasso as a biological desert, relatively devoid of life.
Indeed, half a decade after Venter and his archrival, Francis Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, stood together at the White House to announce that the human genome had been sequenced, biologists have come to re-evaluate just what that milestone really meant. Back then, it was widely assumed that the emerging science of human genomics would quickly lead to spectacular cures for cancer and other diseases and even allow couples to have "designer" babies with desirable traits plucked from a catalog.
Although researchers around the world have made solid progress in understanding the genetic basis of disease--and the pharmaceutical industry now relies on gene sequencing in its search for new drugs--revolutionary new treatments have yet to emerge. "It's actually extremely exciting," says Collins. "But we're still probably a decade or maybe 15 years away from the real revolution in medicine that genomics promises."
At the same time, however, scientists have come to appreciate what can be gained from decoding other genomes, from modern chimps and ancient cave bears to microscopic bacteria and viruses. As the cost of sequencing each base pair has dropped, from $10 in 1990 to less than 9¢ in 2002 to 1/10 of 1¢ today, researchers are doing more all the time. Although 99% of the planet's genomes have yet to be decoded, researchers have identified hundreds of thousands if not millions of genes, dwarfing the paltry 24,000 or so we carry in our DNA.
Additionally, scientists are getting a much better understanding of what individual genes do, no matter where they're from. The challenge, explains Venter, is to identify the genes that allow some microbes to change sunlight into sugars, others to absorb carbon dioxide from the air and still others to transform dead plant matter into clean-burning hydrogen.
So researchers have set out to look for those genes--and not just in the ocean. Venter is also sampling the air over New York City, and other scientists are looking into hot springs, digging into the ground and even testing toxic-waste sites. "You can pick up a gram of soil," says Aristides Patrinos, who oversees the Department of Energy's genome program, "and there's DNA in it. By sequencing that DNA, you can infer what's there in terms of diversity." As a rule, the more diverse a given ecosystem--the more genes present, even at the microbial level--the more resistant it is to damage.
It's not easy to culture wild microbes in the lab, but much can be learned by sequencing the genes contained in a sample of earth, air or water. Just this past April, scientists from the Joint Genome Institute (JGI), a Department of Energy lab in Walnut Creek, Calif., announced in the journal Science that they had for the first time identified the unique mixes of microbes that thrive in different sorts of ecosystems. In farm soil, for example, there are any number of genes that produce substances that break down plant material--rotting genes, you might call them. In seawater, by contrast, there are very few rotting genes but lots of genes that process salts. By understanding the microbial gene profile of a healthy environment, scientists will be able to gauge the health of other ecosystems.
In the Sargasso Sea, meanwhile, Venter was shocked to find nearly 800 genes for making light-sensitive proteins like those found in the human retina--quadrupling the number of photoreceptors known to science. "This suggests," Venter wrote in New Scientist last May, "that some new type of light-driven biology may explain the Sargasso Sea's unexpectedly high diversity of species."
But environmental indicators and surprising biology are only part of what makes wholesale gene prospecting so promising. Hydrogen has been touted as a clean-burning replacement for fossil fuels, for example, and, says Patrinos, "there are already bugs out there that produce hydrogen." If gene prospectors could isolate the responsible gene, he explains, and splice it into a common bacterium, just as genetic engineers have done for years with the gene that produces human insulin, "we can duplicate it on industrial scales."
Or take ethanol, the gasoline substitute manufactured today mostly from corn. It currently takes a lot of harsh chemicals to process ethanol, but microbes could do the same thing. "I think it's doable within this decade," says Patrinos, "that we will develop a superbug that can make that conversion in a very clean way." Indeed, JGI, in collaboration with the San Diego-based biotech company Diversa, is sequencing communities of bacteria from the guts of termites in an effort to find genes that make hydrogen and ethanol. It's also looking for genes that enable microbes to metabolize radioactive waste.
Hundreds more equally promising samples are being fed into the sequencers at JGI, at the J. Craig Venter Institute Joint Technology Center in Rockville, Md., and at other labs around the world. Venter's take from the Sargasso Sea was impressive enough on its own, but he is taking a new ocean sample every 200 miles or so as he circumnavigates the globe. Some 85% of the gene sequences he hauls up are unique to that site, suggesting that each 200-mile stretch of ocean represents a vastly different ecosystem. And that's just from scratching the surface, says JGI director Eddy Rubin: "There are whole domains of life that haven't been touched yet."
With reporting by Melissa August/Washington, Laura A. Locke/Walnut Creek

Monday, February 18, 2008


The "pill" was invented during the 1950s in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.
The oral contraceptive contains hormone-like substances, usually estrogen and progestin, that enter the blood stream and disrupt the production of ova and ovulation, with the aim of preventing pregnancy.
It originated after an unexpected discovery made in a jungle in Mexico in the 1930s. While Professor Russell Marker was experimenting with plant steroids, he discovered a chemical process that transformed these steroids into the female sex hormone, progesterone.
Researchers in the late 1940s began to explore the possibility of an inexpensive oral contraceptive. Chemist Gregory Pincus tested a derivative from Marker's findings on 1308 volunteers in Puerto Rico in 1958 and Searle Pharmaceuticals applied for US Food and Drug Administration approval to market the drug.
The pill came on to the market in the U.S in 1960 and is still widely used today.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


Dutchman, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek was known as the 'father of micro-biology.' He saw bacteria wherever he went and drew scientific attention to it. His research was helped by the different types of microscopes that he developed over his lifetime. From his powerful lenses he was able to ascertain many different types of life form too small for the human eye to see.
It was by observing the build-up of plaque on teeth that the Dutch scientist discovered what we now know to be bacteria.
His initial observations on bacteria make for amusing reading. On September 17, 1683, Leeuwenhoek wrote to the Royal Society about the plaque between his own teeth, "a little white matter, which is as thick as if 'twere batter." He then observed two women and on two old men who had never cleaned their teeth in their lives.
Looking at these samples with his microscope, Leeuwenhoek wrote of "an unbelievably great company of living animalcules, a-swimming more nimbly than any I had ever seen up to this time. The biggest sort. . . bent their body into curves in going forwards. . . Moreover, the other animalcules were in such enormous numbers, that all the water…. seemed to be alive."
He also observed algae on water surfaces and the furry coating of on human and animal's tongues during illness – bringing his theories to the attention of the Royal Society.
Most bacteria are harmless, although some fatal bacterial diseases such as tuberculosis kills about 2 million people a year.
Bacteria are important in the production of cheese and yoghurt, in processing wastewater and in manufacturing antibiotics.

Friday, February 15, 2008

El Descubrimiento de Litio para el Tratamiento de los Trastornos del Humor

Australian psychiatrist John Frederick Joseph Cade once said "I believe the brain, like any other organ, can get sick and it can also heal."
He made huge gains in healing the brain through his work with sufferers of bipolar disorder by discovering that lithium salts – a naturally occurring chemical - could be used to treat the illness.
Previously electro-convulsive therapy and lobotomies had been the major treatments for bio-polar disorder.
After having been a prisoner of war in World War 2 Dr. Cade served as the head of the Bundoora Repatriation Hospital in Melbourne Australia. It was at an unused kitchen in Bundoora where he conducted crude experiments which led to the discovery of lithium as a treatment of bipolar disorder. After trials on humans Dr. Cade speculated that bipolar disorder was a "lithium deficiency disease" and that a dose of lithium had a calming effect.
Dr. Cade published findings in the Medical Journal of Australia in 1949 entitled "Lithium salts in the treatment of psychotic excitement."
He died in 1980. Lithium is still used successfully in the treatment of mental illness to this day.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Great Discoveries
By Brigid Delaney for CNN

Originally called slimmer's disease, as sufferers lost a lot of weight, the first recorded case of HIV occurred in the Congo in 1977. After several infections, a Danish doctor died of pneumonia, which normally doesn't break though the body's immune system. The components of her disease had not yet been placed together, indicating that this was a new form of illness.
Other cases spread in following year around Africa and in homosexual men in New York and San Francisco. By 1980 55 American men had been diagnosed with the disease. Research began in Europe, the U.S and Africa to ascertain what this new disease could be.
The Centers for Disease Control found that the disease was caused by a virus being passed around by bodily fluids such as semen or blood. In 1981 it published its findings, saying the disease attacked T-cells which help the body fight infection.
By 1983 the disease was isolated by teams of American and French researchers. In 1986 an international committee decided the virus should be called human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Education campaigns were unrolled around the world – advising people to avoid risky sexual behaviour, or sharing needles.
By June 1990 139,765 people had the disease with a 60 per cent mortality rate. The progress of the disease slowed down in the West with education campaigns and the development of protease inhibitors which provided sufferers with almost complete remission. However in Africa the spread and treatment of HIV remains a global concern.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008



Obesity and immunity may be linked through hormone activity, two studies by researchers at Michigan State University. The studies, both published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examined the link between the neuroendocrine system and white blood cell function. "These two studies, while not directly related, show that the neuroendocrine system plays a big role in both the immune system and obesity," lead scientist for both studies Pamela Fraker said in a statement. The first study discovered leptin -- a hormone produced by fat cells that control how much food is eaten and how quickly energy is burned -- also supports white blood cell production, which in turn enhances immune function. "This is a brand new role for leptin," Fraker said. "It appears that most obese people may be somewhat immunosuppressed. This finding shows us that the body's resistance to leptin plays a role in that, too." The second study found corticosteroids produced naturally in the body do not suppress the immune system in the way prescription steroids -- such as inflammation-reducing prednisone -- do. "With the pharmacological versions of steroids, you lose some immune function," Fraker said. Copyright 2008 by United Press International

The Nutrition Transition and Obesity
Obesity in the developing world can be seen as a result of a series of changes in diet, physical activity, health and nutrition, collectively known as the 'nutrition transition.' As poor countries become more prosperous, they acquire some of the benefits along with some of the problems of industrialized nations. These include obesity.
Since urban areas are much further along in the transition than rural ones, they experience higher rates of obesity. Cities offer a greater range of food choices, generally at lower prices. Urban work often demands less physical exertion than rural work. And as more and more women work away from home, they may be too busy to shop for, prepare and cook healthy meals at home. The fact that more people are moving to the city compounds the problem. In 1900, just 10 percent of the world population inhabited cities. Today, that figure is nearly 50 percent.

That is not to say that rural areas are immune. Increased mechanization of farm activity leads to reduced physical activity at the same time that more food -- but not necessarily a better variety of foods -- becomes available. Many rural farmers have given up subsistence farming of multiple crops that provide a more balanced diet in favour of a single, high-yielding cash crop.
Importing poor eating habitsAnother element of the nutrition transition is the increasing importation of foods from the industrialized world. As a result, traditional diets featuring grains and vegetables are giving way to meals high in fat and sugar.
Some critics blame industrialized countries for producing leaner cuts of meat for their own citizens but selling the high-fat remainders elsewhere. Turkey tails and mutton flaps (cuts of skin, fat and little meat) are sold to the developing world, for instance, despite the fact that 80 percent of the energy in these items come from fat.
Cities--with their greater choice of food and less active lifestyle--are increasingly home to obesity. A woman shops in a market in Turkey. (FAO/22457/R. Messori)
And as food companies watch incomes rise in the developing world, they are setting their sights on new markets. From Mexico to Morocco, the same foods that jeopardize health in wealthy countries are now tempting poor ones.
Other dietary changes are taking place regardless of outside influences. In China, when per capita income grew fourfold after the economic reforms of the late 1970s, the consumption of high-fat foods soared. And while incomes grew, the income needed to purchase a fatty diet decreased. In 1962, a diet containing 20 percent of total energy from fat correlated with a per capita GNP of US$1 475. By 1990, a GNP of just $750 correlated with the same diet.

In a number of countries, globalization has changed the face of obesity. In Mexico and Brazil, for example, where overweight used to be a sign of wealth, it now often marks poverty. The increased availability of foods at lower prices mean the poor have access to a richer diet. While the elite can choose to adopt a healthy lifestyle, the poor have fewer food choices and more limited access to nutrition education.
The cost of a poor dietThe underweight and overweight share high levels of sickness and disability, shortened life spans and reduced productivity. Obesity increases the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, gall bladder disease and a number of cancers.
And the developing world risks suffering the lion's share of the growing disease burden. For instance, the number of people with obesity-related diabetes is expected to double to 300 million between 1998 and 2025 -- with three-quarters of that growth projected in the developing world.
For nations whose economic and social resources are already stretched to the limit, the result could be disastrous.
To read about FAO's viewpoint on obesity, click here.
FAO links:
FAO's Food and Nutrition Division FactFile: Majority of people to live in cities by 2005 Focus Archive
External links:
World Health Organization: Controlling the global obesity epidemic University of North Carolina (UNC): What is the nutrition transition? UNC: Nutrition transition and its health implications in the developing world