Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Has our country become mean-spirited: Denying food to children

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In ThinkProgress, Bryce Cover has a summary report of what strikes me as a new and mean-spirited attitude:

First grader Xavier says that when the lunch lady at his Snohomish County School District school was recently handing out bagged lunches to all the students, she told him, “Guess what, you can’t have a lunch.”

His father says Xavier is on the school lunch program, but he was sent home without eating and with a slip saying he had a negative lunch balance.

A school spokesperson told Q13 Fox News that if a student’s account goes $20 or more into the red, he should still get a cheese sandwich, a drink, and unlimited fruits and vegetables. But Xavier says he didn’t get anything to eat, and his father argues that this shouldn’t apply to his son anyway since he gets federally funded lunches. “My question was never answered as to why he was denied,” he said.

“It happened to me as a child and I can still feel that hurt and I can only imagine what he went through,” Xavier’s dad said. “It made me feel really bad for him. That’s not right. That’s like saying, ‘Hey, you don’t have your book bag so you can’t have your education.’ You can’t do that. Feed them. They need to eat. They need to concentrate. They can’t concentrate without eating. I just don’t want this to happen to any other kid. It’s hurtful.”

But these kinds of incidents are not uncommon. A school in Utah threw out about 40 elementary students’ lunches because their parents were behind on payments. [Threw out the food rather than have the children eat it! I thought Utah was religious. – LG] A school in Texas threw out a student’s breakfast because his account was 30 cents short. [Again: better to destroy food than allow children to eat it. – LG] Those who get free lunches have also been humiliated, as students in a Colorado school who had their hands stamped in front of better off classmates. A Congressman even floated the idea that students who get free meals should be made to earn them by sweeping school floors.

Some school districts are taking a different approach that could do away with hunger problems, public shaming, and fights over account balances altogether. They’re participating in a federal program that allows them to give all students in the district free breakfast and lunch, regardless of income. So far districts in Boston, Chicago,Dallas, Indianapolis, and Winston-Salem, North Carolina have signed up, and New York City has explored the idea. The change reduces paperwork for parents and for schools, which reduces costs, while it also helps parents who had originally fallen just outside income eligibility limits.

It also addresses the hunger crisis in America’s schools. Three-quarters of the country’s teachers say they have students regularly showing up to class hungry. More than one in five children live in a food insecure household. Hunger has a particular impact on the young, as it can hamper their cognitive and social development and puts them at greater risk of mental illness. If more students got free breakfast, it would mean a significant boost to test scores and graduation rates and a drop in absences.

In districts that haven’t enrolled in the federal meals program, however, some private citizens have stepped in. A man in Texas paid off students’ balances so they could keep eating full meals. A first grade teacher in New Mexico started a program to send students home with backpacks full of food.

There is something seriously wrong with the attitude reflected in these stories.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 November 2014 at 10:04 am

What texting does to the spine

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By all means, read (and heed) the article.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 November 2014 at 1:43 pm

Got Milk? Might Not Be Doing You Much Good

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Since we started the low-carb, high-fat mode of eating, we have had little dairy. The Wife likes a small bowl of yogurt in the evening, and I like to have sour cream (and heavy cream) on hand for cooking, and butter is still used, but the daily drinking of glasses of milk has vanished altogether.

And now Aaron Carroll notes in the NY Times that we’re not missing much:

Almost no one will dispute that when a baby is born, breast milk is the best nutrition a mother can provide. All mammals nurse their young, and breast milk benefits a newborn infant in ways above and beyond nutrition. In fact, until 1 to 2 years of age, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization, the Institute of Medicine and more promote breast-feeding as optimal.

Unfortunately, breast-feeding until that age is often difficult, if not impossible, because mothers have to return to work, and children go off to preschool or day care. So we often replace human milk with the milk of cows or other animals. But at a certain point, we have to acknowledge that we are the only mammals on the planet that continue to consume milk after childhood, often in great amounts.

More and more evidence is surfacing, however, that milk consumption may not only be unhelpful, it might also be detrimental. This is in spite of the fact that the United States Department of Agriculture and other organizations advocate that even adults should drink at least three cups a day.

More than 10,000 years ago, when human beings began to domesticate animals, no adults or older children consumed milk. Many people don’t drink it today because they are lactose intolerant. They do just fine.

But if you believe the advertising of the dairy industry, and the recommendations of many scientific bodies, they are missing out on some fantastic benefits to milk consumption: that milk is good for bones, contains calcium and vitamin D, and “does a body good.”

There’s not a lot of evidence for such claims.

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 November 2014 at 5:06 pm

Posted in Business, Food, Health, Science

The Art of Breeding ‘Super Bastard’ Chickens

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They are not so much “bastard” chickens—chickens don’t tend to marry, with the result that extra-marital eggs are the only eggs laid—but rather the opposite of “purebred”: instead of coming from a narrow gene pool, the chickens are deliberately bred from as broad an ancestry of modern chickens as possible: chickens from across the globe brought into the flock, as it were.

Whilst most breeders are trying to selectively breed chickens with a limited gene pool, Vanmechelen is doing the opposite. Starting with the cross-breeding of two purebred chickens (Mechelse Koekoek and Bresse), subsequent generations have been further bred with chickens sourced from across the globe—they contain “cosmopolitan genetic material.” The resulting chickens with an abnormally wide gene pool are “super bastards.” These are the opposite of pedigrees and they are sweeping the board with their genetic advantages.

He explains to me how he has proved, by DNA sequencing the 18th generation, that increased genetic diversity of the chickens has led to “an increased fertility and immunity three times greater than commonly bred chickens.” It is an important find, when the selective breeding and domestication of chickens has left them vulnerable to diseases that could wipe out whole populations. Vanmechelen is in consultation with chicken breeders around the world proposing alternatives. “Every organism is looking for another organism to survive, and the same applies to man and chicken,” he says.

The entire Motherboard article by Katharine Lewis is worth reading. It begins:

“This is not a chicken, it is absolutely a piece of art.” This is the announcement with which Koen Vanmechelen, conceptual artist and chicken breeder, begins a TEDx talk. He repeats it to me word for word in the chambers of the Crypt Gallery, deep beneath London’s St Pancras Church, where we stand before a giant photographic print of a chicken.

“What makes this art?” I ask him. He points to the metal ring around the bird’s leg. “That,” he explains. “Man’s intervention.” The chicken before me is not just any chicken; it is a 17th generation, “cosmopolitan” chicken, one of the hundreds Vanmechelen has been breeding over the last 20 years in The Cosmopolitan Chicken Project. It contains a combination of DNA from chickens across the globe; it is unique, and of current scientific interest.

The exhibition Darwin’s Dream, running at the Crypt Gallery till mid December, is the latest instalment of his lifelong project. Koen has brought life, art, and science together within the caverns: work includes a living jungle, giant prints, abstract sculptures, and ranks and ranks of taxidermy. It is an artistic documentation of a scientific process. . . .

Written by LeisureGuy

14 November 2014 at 12:32 pm

Posted in Art, Daily life, Health, Science

Low-carb diets help combat epilepsy

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Very interesting post, particularly for anyone who is or knows a patient. I was surprised to learn that a low-carb diet is a well-established and long-time treatment for epilepsy.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 November 2014 at 9:05 am

Which is better for you, coffee? or tea?

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I am a tea drinker currently, and The Wife is a coffee drinker, so this article was of interest.

Written by LeisureGuy

10 November 2014 at 12:07 pm

Posted in Food, Health

More Than 600 Reported Chemical Exposure in Iraq, Pentagon Belatedly Acknowledges

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I assume the Pentagon acknowledged the problem only because the NY Times was going to break the story. As with Agent Orange (dioxin) from the Vietnam war, the Pentagon refused to acknowledge the problem, denigrated veterans who were suffering from the effects of exposure to the toxin, and in general showed the military’s notion of “Honor,” which now seems to amount to “Cover Your Ass.” It is extremely difficult to respect the military as an organization.

C.J. Chivers reports in the NY Times:

More than 600 American service members since 2003 have reported to military medical staff members that they believe they were exposed to chemical warfare agents in Iraq, but the Pentagon failed to recognize the scope of the reported cases or offer adequate tracking and treatment to those who may have been injured, defense officials say.

The Pentagon’s disclosure abruptly changed the scale and potential costs of the United States’ encounters with abandoned chemical weapons during the occupation of Iraq, episodes the military had for more than a decade kept from view.

This previously untold chapter of the occupation became public after aninvestigation by The New York Times revealed last month that while troops did not find an active weapons of mass destruction program, they did encounter degraded chemical weapons from the 1980s that had been hidden in caches or used in makeshift bombs.

The Times initially disclosed 17 cases of American service members who were injured by sarin or sulfur mustard agent. And since the report was published last month, more service members have come forward, pushing the number who were exposed to chemical agents to more than 25. But an internal review of Pentagon records ordered by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has now uncovered that hundreds of troops told the military they believe they were exposed, officials said.

The new and larger tally of potential cases suggests that there were more encounters with chemical weapons than the United States has acknowledged and that other people — including foreign soldiers, private contractors and Iraqi troops and civilians — may also have been at risk.

Having not acted for years on that data, the Pentagon says it will now expand outreach to veterans. One first step, officials said, includes a toll-free national telephone hotline for service members and veterans to report potential exposures and seek medical evaluation or care.

Phillip Carter, who leads veterans programs at the Center for a New American Security, called the Pentagon’s failure to organize and follow up on the information “a stunning oversight.” Paul Reickhoff, founder and executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said the military must restore trust by sharing information. . .

Continue reading. It’s yet another instance of the military refusing to help their own troops.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 November 2014 at 4:47 pm


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