Saturday, July 20, 2019

Saturday Stories: Racism, Serena Williams, and Climate Change

Ariel Sobel, with a great piece in Jewish Journal, on how fighting anti-semitism with racism doesn't actually fight racism but rather hijacks real concerns about anti-Semitism to promote other prejudices and in so doing, destroys Jewish credibility

Serena Williams, in Harpers, with just a fabulous first person essay on why she'll never stop speaking up in the face of injustice.

David Corn, in Mother Jones, on the unique burden of being a climate scientist.

Photo By Edwin Martinez - https://www.flickr.com/photos/rhythmstrip/9630755847/, CC BY 2.0, Link

Monday, July 15, 2019

From The Journal Of If Only It Were That Easy: Walking To School Was Not Associated With Lower Weights In 4-7 Year Olds

Walking school buses for kids are often promoted on the basis that if more kids were involved with them, their weights, fitness, and maybe even learning would improve.

Wouldn't that be great? After all, it's a relatively inexpensive intervention and one it seems everyone can at least theoretically get behind.

But does it work?

This is definitely not a good news story, nor frankly is it all that surprising, but here it is - recently the MOVI‐KIDS Study set out to explore whether or not there was an association between active transport in 4-7 year olds and their weights, fitness, and cognition.

The study involved 1,159 children in Spain and they were categorized on the basis of whether the active components of their school commutes totalled more or less than 15 minutes and then tested and measured to explore walking to school's possible impact. Heights and weight were measured, a validated cardiorespiratory fitness test was administered, as were multiple batteries of validated cognitive tests. Efforts were also made to control for familial socio-economic status, as well as of course the children's ages and sexes.

As you might have gathered, the walkers were found to be no better off on any studied variable with the authors very plainly concluding,
"Walking to school had no positive impact on adiposity, physical fitness, and cognition in 4‐ to 7‐year‐old children."
Too bad. Truly.

I have to say too, I did scratch my head reading the next bit of their conclusion though,
"it would be of interest for future studies to examine the intensity and duration of active commuting to school necessary to provide meaningful benefits for health and cognitive performance."
I can't say I agree with them here as I'm not sure lengthy, intense, daily school commutes for 4 year olds is something we need to explore regardless of their impact on anything. Moreover, I don't need to see "meaningful benefits" to want to continue promoting more movement and play in our children, and if we buy into the need for same, we'll risk the cessation of programs that don't prove themselves to provide perhaps broader reaching or more dramatic outcomes than could ever be fairly expected of them.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Only 41% Of People Who Were Given Free Preventive Medications Following Their Heart Attacks Were Still Taking Them 1.5 Years Later

You might think that having a heart attack would be motivating when it came to behaviour change, and that taking medications is a very straightforward behaviour.

And yet.

The Post-Myocardial Infarction Free Rx Event and Economic Evaluation (MI FREEE) trial set out to study whether or not cost had a role to play in why so many patients, even post heart attack, don't take the medications prescribed to them in the hopes of preventing another one by freely providing them with those medications.

Results wise, though the group receiving free preventive medications were taking more of them than the group that did not, at the end 1.5 years, only 41% of those receiving all their medications for free, medications prescribed to them after they had an actual heart attack, were taking them.

So file these results under human beings, even when faced with knowledge, and in this case knowledge coupled with a very real glimpse at mortality, struggle to maintain even the easiest of behaviour changes, and consider that in the context of the trope of education and personal responsibility as the sole means to target diet and weight related diseases. If we want to see population level changes, we're going to need to change the food environment.

Saturday, July 06, 2019

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Cancer Research UK (@CR_UK) Launches Awful New Fat Shaming Advertising Campaign

According to Cancer Research UK's new public advertisements, obesity is apparently the new smoking.

What that means of course is that by formally adopting, amplifying, and promoting the message that obesity, like smoking, is a choice people make, Cancer Research UK fuels hateful weight based stigma.

More amazing perhaps is that the aim of the campaign is to apparently target the environment with their ads steering people, in the small print that people will likely miss and certainly can't click on in train stations, to their web page calling for an end to junk food advertising to kids.

Obesity is the normal consequence of normal people living in abnormal, obesigenic, environments. Obesity often has hugely negative impacts upon health and quality of life (especially at its extremes), fuelled in no small part by the never ending blame, shame, and scorn heaped upon those who have obesity by society, and yet here is Cancer Research UK's campaign to further justify that weight hate.

Shame on them. They absolutely should have known better.