Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The technology works, but it would require millions of carbon dioxide filters across the planet at a cost of trillions of dollars a year.

By Alan Zarembo, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

April 29, 2008

Here's a simple solution to global warming: vacuum carbon dioxide out of the air.

Klaus Lackner, a physicist at Columbia University, said placing enough carbon filters around the planet could reel the world's atmosphere back toward the 18th century, like a climatic time machine.

After a decade of work, his shower-sized prototype whirs away inside a Tucson warehouse, each day capturing about 10 pounds of the heat-trapping greenhouse gas as air wafts through it.

Only a few billion tons to go.

In the battle against global warming, technology has long been seen as the ultimate savior, but Lackner's machine is a clunky reminder of how distant that dream is.

He estimates that sucking up the current stream of emissions would require about 67 million boxcar-sized filters at a cost of trillions of dollars a year.

The orchards of filters would have to be powered by complexes of new nuclear plants, dams, solar farms or other clean-energy sources to avoid adding more pollution to the atmosphere.

Despite the scope of the proposal, the allure of high technology is irresistible for modern humans. Salvation has arrived again and again over the last century: the automobile, the jet, the Internet, the iPod.

That dream has pushed scattered groups of scientists to work on massive schemes to reengineer the planet.

One idea is to block sunlight, either by constructing artificial volcanoes to blast sulfur particles into the atmosphere or by launching millions of tiny satellites into space and arranging them into a giant mirror.

Another concept is sprinkling iron over the oceans to nurture plankton colonies that would absorb carbon dioxide from the air and transfer it to the depths.

But while the science of dialing back the planet's thermostat is straightforward, the execution is fabulously expensive, complex and grandiose on a scale that boggles the mind.

"Nobody doubts it is possible to take CO2 out of the air," said David Keith, a professor of engineering and economics at the University of Calgary in Canada and one of several scientists around the world working on the problem. "The issue is, 'What does it cost?' "

Some policy experts argue that blind faith in technology is a harmful distraction from the hard sacrifices needed to control global warming.

"The temptation is to say, 'Let's get John Wayne on horseback or Bill Gates . . . and solve this problem,' " said Dale Jamieson, director of environmental studies at New York University.

But some scientists say that the potential of such ideas cannot be ignored given the world's political paralysis on controlling emissions and its myopic addiction to cheap and dirty coal.

"There are not that many alternatives," Lackner said.

The attraction of a technological silver bullet lies in the failure of the world to solve global warming through the obvious solution: reducing emissions.

The 1997 Kyoto accords were supposed to bring the world together to address the problem, but the two biggest polluters, the United States and China, have refused to cap their emissions, and Europe is failing to meet even its modest targets.

Worldwide annual emissions of carbon dioxide -- the main culprit in global warming -- have climbed 28% over the last decade, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The rise has been largely driven by industrializing countries, such as China and India, which argue that they have the right to exploit their coal reserves to catch up with the West.

It is clear that cheap energy is a drug that civilization will not give up. But big technological solutions could allow society to keep its drug.

Among the options, carbon filtering is the most direct and best understood. If industrialization is a process of transferring carbon stored in the earth to the atmosphere, filtering seeks to put it back.

The technology is decades old. Bottled oxygen used in hospitals started out as plain air before nitrogen, carbon dioxide and other gases were filtered out. Space capsules and submarines extract carbon dioxide to maintain breathable air for crew members.

The process for removing atmospheric carbon involves putting one compound, usually a hydroxide, in contact with the air, setting off a reaction that grabs CO2 and incorporates its carbon atoms into a carbonate compound.

Then, in a reaction that requires a large input of heat, the carbonate compound is broken apart, reconstituting and trapping the carbon dioxide.

Researchers propose pumping the captured CO2 into the ground, a practice already used to increase the pressure in oil wells. Geologists say there is room in subterranean rock formations to lock it away forever.

The beauty of carbon capture is that it scrubs the planet without intruding on it, unlike artificial volcanoes and sun reflectors, which could cause enormous planetary damage in the form of acid rain or giant shadows that stunt crops.

The filters could be placed anywhere in the world, since carbon dioxide disperses throughout the atmosphere.

For all its appeal, the process is hideously inefficient. Carbon dioxide makes up less than 0.04% of the atmosphere, and removing climate-changing quantities of it requires filtering massive amounts of air.

Lackner calculated that sucking up all 28 billion tons of CO2 released worldwide each year would require spreading out his machines over a land area the size of Arizona.

That seems like a reasonable sacrifice to save civilization, until you consider the expense.

Experts estimate that it would cost up to $200 a ton to filter and store carbon dioxide from the air. That means the yearly vacuuming bill could reach $5.6 trillion.

Even filtering the greenhouse gas from smokestacks, where it is hundreds of times more concentrated and thus much cheaper to capture, is still deemed too expensive for commercial use.

The enormous cost raises the question: Who would pay?

It is the same impasse that has stymied efforts toward a global agreement to reduce emissions. China argues that the West should foot the bill because it created the problem over the last two centuries. The United States says China must accept its share of responsibility as the world's new top polluter.

The cost of the technology will surely fall over time, but without government action that is unlikely to happen soon enough to stave off the worst effects of climate change.

Without at least a 50% cut in emissions by mid-century, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that the temperature rise will exceed 2 degrees, resulting in worsening drought, a dangerous sea level rise and widespread extinction of species.

Paul Crutzen, a Nobel Prize-winning atmospheric chemist at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany, said that the failure to cut emissions might force the world to reshape the environment through drastic use of technology.

The risks could be enormous, but the risks of failing to reduce emissions could be greater, he said.

Crutzen said that only out of a "sense of despair" had he come to favor the last-ditch option of spewing more than a million tons of sulfur a year into the air.

It's a dirty proposition that, in some ways, is its own environmental crime. But it works, as shown by the 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines, which temporarily cooled the planet by almost 1 degree Fahrenheit. "It might be the last escape route from the problem," he said.

The power to reengineer the planet raises another question: Who gets to control the thermostat? Despite the perception that climate change is a global problem, it is in reality a series of regional transformations that benefits some places and harms others.

Countries in the far northern latitudes have less incentive than tropical countries to counteract the warming. Russia has already laid claim to the North Pole in hopes that the arctic thaw will open access to new oil reserves. Canada is pondering the possibility of its vast expanse of tundra becoming a breadbasket.

With enough carbon filters, a single country or even several rich individuals would have the power to set the world's temperature.

"No matter how you go about it, there will be a lot of politics," Lackner said.

For now, his machine, a solitary prototype, continues to hum away in the Tucson warehouse. With no good place to store the carbon dioxide it traps, the gas is simply released back into the air.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hackers hit one in 10 big companies: study

LONDON (AFP) - More than one in 10 big British businesses has detected computer hackers on their IT networks, a government report said Tuesday, warning of a rampant rise in such activity.

Thirteen percent of large businesses have detected unauthorised outsiders, said the study drawn up by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, published at the Infosecurity Europe show in London.

That represents a 10-fold increase in the last two years, warned the report.

"Very large companies remain the main target for hackers and 20 percent detect hundreds of significant attempts to break into their network every day," it said.

"Eighty-five percent of very large businesses were attacked. Telecoms providers are most likely to be attacked, three times as likely as average."

According to the hacking community, only a tiny proportion of penetrations are detected by network owners, the report added.

"Large corporations are being actively targeted by hackers, often working in cahoots with organised crime, and looking to steal confidential customer data which can be used for identity fraud," Chris Potter, the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) partner who led the research, told the Financial Times.

The report also found that 96 percent of companies with more than 500 employees were affected by security breaches.

In the worst case, the cost of security breaches for a small business was around 15,000 pounds, while that figure rose to 1.5 million pounds for very large companies.

Two thirds of companies were doing nothing to prevent confidential data leaving on USB memory sticks, while four-fifths of companies that have had computers stolen have not encrypted their hard drives.

Companies were urged to start taking preventative rather than retrospective action.

Business Minister Shriti Vadera said: "New technology is a key source of productivity gains, but without adequate investment in security defences these gains can be undermined by IT security breaches."

"The survey shows increasing understanding by business of the opportunities and threats, but challenges remain."

Data security has become a hot topic in recent months after a government department lost two disks containing the personal details of roughly half the population. The disks went missing in the post and have not yet been found.

The survey urged businesses to learn more about the security threats they faced, target security investment at the most beneficial areas, integrate security into normal business behaviour, deploy integrated technical controls and respond quickly to breaches.

by Robin Millard


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Health: New Weight Loss Surgery

There a several different kings of weight loss surgeries. Now researchers are finding one, which uses a sleeve like contraption to reshape the stomach, can be especially helpful for people who are too heavy for traditional gastric bypass.

Jorge Avila has lost 165 pounds in the last 10 months.

"Just losing weight, exercising, feeling good," said Jorge.

He wanted to have gastric bypass surgery, but at 600 pounds his doctor thought it was too risky.

So they did a "sleeve gastrectomy" instead.

"In a sleeve gastrectomy, what we're doing is trimming down the stomach over a special calibrating tube to one third or one fourth of it's current size," said Dr. Amir Mehran, Director of Bariatric Surgery at UCLA.

It's usually done to help morbidly obese patients lose some weight before they have a gastric bypass.

But surprisingly, for dozens of patients, the less-invasive surgery was all they needed to lose more weight than expected.

"Sure enough, I eat maybe and eighth of what I used to eat at a meal and I feel full and you're satisfied and I'm satisfied," said Jorge.

A sleeve gastrectomy is still major surgery and more research is needed. But eventually it could become more common than a gastric bypass.

"If an operation can do it in a safer way and simpler way and really not burning any bridges for anything in the future, that's probably the way to go," said Dr. Mehran.

The Hospital of University of Pennsylvania currently does this procedure and Temple University Hospital is expected to begin doing it within the next six months.



Weight Loss

Weight Loss Surgery


Sleeve Gastrectomy

Morbidly Obese

Gastric Bypass

Friday, April 18, 2008

New diet pill: risky or real?

Retailers can barely keep it on the shelf for more than a day. GNC stores have the logo on the front door: DEXC20. Some local stores even have customer wait lists.

"I had to wait an extra day and a half to get mine," said Julie Fried, who's been taking the DEXC20 for about four weeks.

The manufacturer promises a suppressed appetite and increased metabolism with no caffeine. Julie Fried forked over $40 for one month's supply.

The main ingredient is Caralluma Fimbriata, a plant eaten in rural India for centuries. Tribesman are known to take the plant on a days hunt to suppress appetite.

"They're not doing it for weight loss. They're doing it because they don't have enough food," explained Dr. Carol Roberts, a medical doctor who specializes in holistic care.

She says there's not a lot of information about the product in the US and how it could affect Americans with a much different eating habit.

Dr. Roberts pointed out one known study, not done by the manufacturer, which was done in India. It didn't show any apparent health risks. It also didn't show any weight loss.

However, the results of that trial are confusing, reporting a suppressed appetite and a reduced waist line. Julie's hoping it will help her lose 10-pounds. She said she doesn't use a scale, but her jeans are already fitting better.

"It has definitely calmed my appetite down, to a point where I can eat half a meal and feel satisfied," she said.

Dr Roberts insists any supplement should augment weight loss efforts, rather than replace a healthy diet and exercise.

"Losing 5 to 10 pounds a month is a good goal and then stop when you had enough," said Roberts.

She cautions some weight loss supplements may lead to symptoms like insomnia and mood swings and advises you consult your physician before taking anything.


Diet | Health | Diet Pill | DEXC20 | Suppressed Appetite | Increased Metabolism | Caffeine | Caralluma Fimbriata | Weight Loss | Food | Healthy Diet | Exercise | Insomnia

Source: http://www.dietseasy.info

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Mapping Genetic Abnormalities in Autism

A new project to study the brains of people with autism in unprecedented detail could finally pinpoint subtle neurological changes that underlie the disorder. Researchers will use an innovative set of tools developed to study gene expression to analyze exactly where early brain development goes awry.

"The technology now exists to be able to examine in fine detail the organization of brain cells--for example, whether brain cells have their proper number and position," says Eric Courchesne, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Diego, who is leading the project. "This could provide a major insight into the cause of autism."

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in language and social behavior. While the brains of people with autism appear broadly normal, previous brain-imaging studies have revealed unusual growth patterns in very young children with the disorder. "It's clear that in the first two years of life, the brain grows too large, too fast," says Courchesne.

Scientists don't yet understand the reason for the strange growth spurt--whether it's caused by too many neurons in a particular part of the brain or a failure to prune extraneous neurons, a common occurrence in normal development. They hope that an unusual set of tools developed for the Allen Brain Atlas, a database of gene expression in the mouse brain, could finally yield clues.

To create the map, researchers at the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle, WA, painstakingly created a comprehensive set of DNA probes that highlight the expression patterns of individual genes. While previous studies have only been able to look at the expression of a handful of genes at a time, these probes can provide a wealth of information by revealing the expression of many genes simultaneously.

Researchers at the Allen Institute have been sifting through the toolbox for probes that can identify different cell types in the human cortex--the most recently evolved part of the brain. The team will use them to study the expression of approximately 25 genes in samples of postmortem brain tissue collected from very young children with autism. "This will give us a much clearer look at how things are disorganized, rather than just saying they are disorganized," says Ed Lein, director of neuroscience at the Allen Institute.

The researchers will focus on the prefrontal cortex, an area in the frontal lobes involved in higher-order social and emotional communication, and one of the brain regions most affected by abnormal early overgrowth. The DNA probes will allow researchers to compare the location and organization of specific cell types, such as excitatory neurons that connect to brain areas outside of the cortex and inhibitory neurons that form local cortical circuits.

"It's fundamentally important to identify the cause of that overgrowth," says Courchesne. "It may help us understand how best to tailor interventions for autism, not just behaviorally, but for medical and chemical interventions down the road."

The project will be the first to use the tools developed at the Allen Institute to study the neurobiology of human disease. The data will be made publicly available via the Web for other scientists to study, as data from the mouse brain study is now.


Health | Autism | Genetic Abnormalities | Brain Development | Neurological Changes | Brain Cells | Children | Individual Genes | Brain Science | Human Disease | Chemical Interventions | Medical Interventions

Source: http://www.happykidsclub.info

Friday, April 11, 2008

Macadamia nuts can be included in heart healthy diet

Macadamia nuts included in a heart healthy diet reduced low-density cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and should be included among nuts with qualified health claims, according to researchers.

"We looked at macadamia nuts because they are not currently included in the health claim for tree nuts, while other tree nuts are currently recommended as part of a heart healthy diet," says Dr. Amy E. Griel, a recent Penn State Ph.D. recipient in nutrition and now senior nutrition scientist at The Hershey Company. "Macadamia nuts have higher levels of monosaturated fats, like those found in olive oil compared with other tree nuts."

Along with Brazil nuts and cashews, macadamia nuts are not included in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's list of nuts with qualified health claims because the cut-off point is 4 grams of saturated fat per 50 grams of nuts. Macadamia nuts have 6 grams of saturated fat per 50 grams, cashew nuts have 4.6 grams and Brazil nuts have 7.6 grams of saturated fat per 50 grams of nuts.

"Epidemiological studies showed that people who are frequent nut consumers have decreased risk of heart disease," says Penny Kris-Etherton, co-author and distinguished professor of nutritional sciences.

The researchers used a controlled feeding study to compare a heart-healthy diet with 1.5 ounces – a small handful – of macadamia nuts to a standard American diet. The participants had slightly elevated cholesterol levels, normal blood pressure and were not taking lipid-lowering drugs. Researchers randomly assigned participants to either the macadamia nut diet or the standard American diet and provided all meals for the participants for five weeks. The participants then switched diets and continued eating only food provided by the researchers for another five weeks.

The Healthy Heart diet with macadamia nuts did reduce total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglyceride levels compared with the standard American diet. The researchers reported in the current issue of the Journal of Nutrition, that the macadamia nuts reduced total cholesterol by 9.4 percent and low-density lipoprotein by 8.9 percent.

Individual calorie levels were used for each participant so that they did not gain or lose weight during the study. Both diets were matched for total fat, containing 33 percent calories from total fat. The Heart Healthy diet with macadamia nuts had 7 percent saturated fat, 18 percent monosaturated fat and 5 percent polyunsaturated fat. The standard American diet had 13 percent saturated fat, 11 percent monosaturated fat and 5 percent saturated fat.

"We found that the reduction in LDL or bad cholesterol we observed was greater than would be predicted by just the healthy fats in the nuts alone," says Griel. "This indicates that there is something else in the nuts that helps lower cholesterol."

The macadamia nut diet included macadamia nuts as a snack, mixed into meals, as a salad topping and in cookies and muffins. The total fat was the same in both diets. Macadamia nuts were substituted for other sources of fat and protein in the diet. Switching skim milk for 2 percent milk and adding some macadamia nuts kept fat levels even.

"I think the bottom line is that Macadamia nuts probably should be included in the list of nuts to have a qualified health claim," says Kris-Etherton.


Health | Diet | Heart Healthy Diet | Food | Macadamia Nuts | Cholesterol | Nutrition | Monosaturated Fats | Heart Disease | Blood Pressure | Standard American Diet

Source: http://www.dietseasy.info

Thursday, April 10, 2008

New technology for cameras, robots, medicine measures smiles

The breadth of a smile can be measured by new technology from Japanese electronics and health care company Omron Corp.

The software technology, shown to reporters Thursday, scans a video image to detect faces. It can find up to 100 faces in an image, according to Yasushi Kawamoto of Omron.

"Okao Catch," which means "face catch," then analyzes the curves of the lips, eye movement and other facial characteristics to decide how much a person is smiling using data collected from a million people and their smiles, he said.

In a demonstration, a camcorder took videos of journalists covering the announcement. Percentage numbers indicating how much each person was smiling popped up in bold blue letters next to their faces on a monitor, flashing higher or lower as their expressions changed.

The numbers ranged as high as 89 percent for a person who was grinning, while a somber face registered 0 percent.
Sony Corp. already has a similar Smile Shutter function for its digital cameras which automatically clicks the shutter when people in the image break into a smile.

But Kawamoto said Omron hopes to used its technology in the medical field, to assess the emotional state of patients, or pack it in mobile phones.

Okao Catch can also be useful for people who want to perfect their smiles, or for robot communication to make it easier for machines to decipher human reactions, according to Omron.

Okao Catch was part of a larger exhibition of new technology opening this week in Tokyo.

Also on display was a robot dog for home assembly from HPI Japan, a maker of radio-controlled cars. The robot is to go on sale worldwide for about $800 later this year.

Far more primitive than Sony's pricey discontinued robot dog, Aibo, it managed to walk, hop, get back up on its feet and even stand on its head.

My Spoon, a robot arm with utensils at the end, helps disabled people feed themselves by using a joystick controlled by their chin. Tokyo-based Secom Co. said it has sold 250 of the My Spoon kit for about $4,000 each in Japan and Europe.







Video Image



Emotional State

Human Reactions



Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Common food additives 'to be banned by 2009' to cut hyperactivity in children by 75%

A ban on certain additives in food could be in place as early as next year after research showed it could cut hyperactivity in children by a third and reduce anti-social behaviour.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) wants six artificial colourings to be removed from products after an official study branded them as damaging to children's brains as the lead in petrol.

A meeting tomorrow will consider recommendations that manufacturers should be told to voluntarily remove the additives from their products because of the research by Southampton University.

Officials have already told the Agency, after discussions with British companies, that it is likely they would be able to introduce satisfactory alternative ingredients by the end of this year but a ban could follow if they fail to do so.

A website set up by the Food Commission lists more than 1000 items containing the colourings, ranging from Pepsi Max, Galaxy Minstrels, Cadbury's Creme Eggs and Haribo sweets.

Their removal could lead to the total demise of some products such as mushy peas and Turkish delight, which the FSA has warned "might be lost to the market temporarily or even permanently".

In a £750,000 study published in September, Southampton University concluded the E-numbers were significantly damaging children's intelligence.

The six colourings, including tartrazine (E102) and sunset yellow (E110), were found to be causing temper tantrums in normal children.

Professor Jim Stevenson, who lead the research, said he believed they posed a threat to children's psychological health.

More research is now being carried out on a preservative, sodium benzoate, which is used in a lot of fizzy drinks.

The FSA was criticised by health groups for failing to ban the additives in the wake of the devastating report and choosing instead to rely on the Committee on Toxicology's view that they only had a moderate effect on some children.

It decided to work with manufacturers and await the verdict of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which last month said the research had only provided "limited evidence of a small effect" on the activity and attention of some children.

But apparently angry at the lack of action, Prof Stevenson recently to the agency calling for something to be done immediately.

His letter, published in the Independent, warned: "We would argue that the findings from our own study and the previous research overviewed by the Efsa would lead to the same conclusion as was reached by Professor Sir Michael Rutter in relation to lead in 1983 - namely that for food colours there is 'justification for action now'."

Leaded petrol was finally phased out in 2000, almost 20 years after researchers warned it was stunting the development of children's brains.

In tomorrow's meeting, the FSA will also consider several options including taking no action, asking for point-of-sale notices in stores, removing the colouring only from foods eaten extensively by children or restricting their use to products where there are no alternatives.

The other four colourings are Quinoline yellow (E104), Carmoisine (E122), Ponceau 4R (E124) and Allura red (E129).


Health | Food | Kids | Children | Hyperactivity | Anti-social Behaviour | Food Additives | Childrens Intelligence | Temper Tantrums | Psychological Health

Source: http://www.happykidsclub.info

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Donna Fish: What is Your Food Personality and How Does it Differ from that of Your Kids?

Just like we have different temperamental traits, genetic endowment with body type, different hair and eye color, we can have different 'food personalties'. Some of us liike to eat small meals all day long, some of us can go for hours without eating. Some of us hate to eat breakfast despite hearing that it is the most important meal of the day, and some can't stop eating past dinnertime.

So, as we find that we all have different food styles, and habits, so do our kids. In my roughly 20 years of experience working with people of all kinds of eating issues and with children, I have loosely grouped food styles of children as such:

The Picky Eater - Those kids who eat maybe 3 - 5 things and won't try anything else
My brother was like this; you can imagine the horror when my mom sent him to live with a family in France with a jars of peanut butter!

The Beige Food Eater - Kids who only like white or beige food. The most common type of childhood eater according to many pediatricians.

The Spurt Eater - Those kids who can eat nothing for a few days; you think they are living on air, only to play biological 'catch up' when their bodies tell them to.

The Grazer - Kids who eat little bits all day long. Tough sometimes to move them into our civilized way of eating, breakfast lunch and dinner, but perfectly normal; especially for toddlers. ( I still prefer to eat like this.)

Therse are avery typical and normal childhood pattern of eating. Eating from their bodies' signals, as opposed to what they are learning they 'should' or 'shouldn't eat like. Particularly with some very picky eaters, this can be sign of some sensory integration and oral motor problems that are worth investigating that can create an avoidance of chewing. Another medical issue can be their bodies telling them to stay away from some foods as their immune system builds up in order to prevent allergies.

The next two types of eaters, can be prone to developing patterns of eating which can lead to weight gain; eating more than their body's are burning for a variety or reasons:

The Trouble Transitioner, and 'Foodie"

These are kids who need those warnings: "10 more minutes till the t.v. is off, 5 more minutes to dinner." They need help changing tracks I call it. Once they are eating, they can also enjoy the stimulation of the tastes and food in their mouth and how great it feels, that they have trouble transitioning out of this past 3 helpings. You can play 'a waiting game with them to train them that the food is always there, they just are going to need longer to get the signal that they are 'done.'

Some foods also have trouble flipping the "Off Swtich" I call it. sugar, salt. you know that deal. Sometimes just physically distracting them to help you clear the table, do an activity, helps flip the swtich. The food is always there tomorrowl.

The Sugar Demander

This kid is often now in preschool and is exposed to more treats. Figure out your rules, give them some choice. If they insist on the dessert before dinner, remind them they can't have it with their sibs or you guys when you are having it. It won't destroy their meal. Set your rules and give them some choice within that and set limits with whiny, tamtruming behavior in a calm matter of fact way. You won't create an eating disorder. Give them some control within limits that are safe for their bodies.

There are lots of things you can do as you learn about your child that will neither create an eating disorder, or too much of a power stuggle. Tricky part is how one kid might need something altgether different than the other. Think of it as a recipe too; a pinch of this, a pinch of that. Nothing is perfect. Practice does not need to make perfect in parenting. We get to stumble along. Our kids will forgive us some inconsistency. So don't sweat it if you find yourself some days just saying "No, because I said so!" We all have our limits.

Happy eating!


Food | Kids | Body Type | Genetic Endowment | Food Styles | Childhood | Weight Gain | Eating Disorder | Food Personality

Source: http://www.happykidsclub.info

Monday, April 7, 2008

1 in 15 kids hurt in medicine mix-ups at hospitals

Medicine mix-ups, accidental overdoses and bad drug reactions harm roughly one out of 15 hospitalized children, according to the first scientific test of a new detection method.

That number is far higher than earlier estimates and bolsters concerns already heightened by well publicized cases like the accidental drug overdose of actor Dennis Quaid's newborn twins last November.

"These data and the Dennis Quaid episode are telling us that ... these kinds of errors and experiencing harm as a result of your health care is much more common than people believe. It's very concerning," said Dr. Charles Homer of the National Initiative for Children's Healthcare Quality. His group helped develop the detection tool used in the study.

Researchers found a rate of 11 drug-related harmful events for every 100 hospitalized children. That compares with an earlier estimate of two per 100 hospitalized children, based on traditional detection methods. The rate reflects the fact that some children experienced more than one drug treatment mistake.

The new estimate translates to 7.3 percent of hospitalized children, or about 540,000 kids each year, a calculation based on government data.

Simply relying on hospital staffers to report such problems had found less than 4 percent of the problems detected in the new study.

The new monitoring method developed for the study is a list of 15 "triggers" on young patients' charts that suggest possible drug-related harm. It includes use of specific antidotes for drug overdoses, suspicious side effects and certain lab tests.

By contrast, traditional methods include nonspecific patient chart reviews and voluntary error reporting.

The researchers said their findings highlight the need for "aggressive, evidence-based prevention strategies to decrease the substantial risk for medication-related harm to our pediatric inpatient population."

The study is being released Monday in the April issue of the journal Pediatrics.

It involved a review of randomly selected medical charts for 960 children treated at 12 freestanding children's hospitals nationwide in 2002. Triggers mentioned in the charts promoted an in-depth review of the patients' care.

Patient safety experts said the problem is likely even bigger than the study suggests because it involved only a review of selected charts. Also, the study didn't include general community hospitals, where most U.S. children requiring hospitalization are treated.

Study author Dr. Paul Sharek said evidence is needed to show whether a big push to prevent medical errors in recent years has put a dent in the problem since 2002, when the data were gathered.

Homer, of the children's healthcare initiative, said some hospitals have started using trigger methods similar to those in the study. But he added, "we still have a long way to go."

Among triggers on the list was use of the drug naloxone, an antidote for an overdose of morphine and related painkillers. Symptoms include breathing difficulty and very low blood pressure.

More than half the problems the study found were related to these powerful painkillers, including overdoses and allergic reactions.

While 22 percent of the problems were considered preventable, most were relatively mild. None were fatal or caused permanent damage, but some "did have the potential to cause some significant harm," said Sharek, who is medical director of quality at Stanford University's Lucile Packard Children's Hospital.

Other triggers included use of vitamin K, an antidote for an overdose of the blood thinner Coumadin; use of a blood test that detects insulin overdoses; and a lab test that identifies blood-clotting problems that can come from an overdose of the blood thinner heparin and other drugs.

Quaid's twins got accidental life-threatening heparin overdoses in a Los Angeles hospital shortly after they were born last November. The actor and his wife, Kimberly, have since formed a foundation to prevent medical errors. The babies recovered and Quaid said in an interview with The Associated Press on Saturday that "they appear to be normal kids, very happy and healthy."

Quaid praised the new study for raising awareness about an under-recognized problem, and said he'd never envisioned having to play the role of public health advocate before the harrowing experience. He called it "the most frightening time" of his life.

Quaid's advice to parents of hospitalized children?

"Every time a caregiver comes into the room, I would check and ask the nurse what they're giving them and why," Quaid said.

Allen Vaida of the Institute for Safe Medication Practices said trigger methods like those used in the study can help. Still, a more comprehensive approach is needed, he said, to detect the most serious, least common errors like those involving the Quaids.

Voluntary reporting by hospital staffers is still needed, along with methods to detect errors in time to prevent or lessen any harm to patients, Vaida said.


Health | Children | Medicine | Drug Overdose | Health Care | Side Effects | Lab Tests | Painkillers | Breathing Difficulty | Allergic Reactions | Low Blood Pressure | Blood Test

Source: http://www.happykidsclub.info

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Professional Investor: Food producers could provide a rich diet

There is an old saying on Savile Row that fashion celebrates the successful. Whichever industry finds itself in the limelight today tends to have an undue influence on setting the trends of high street fashion. The shoulder pad marked the march of the yuppie in the late 1980s; the Hoxton fin chronicled the internet entrepreneur; and today's smart-cut Mayfair chic celebrates the rise and fall of the private equity brigade. In searching for next year's muse, both sartorial and financial, it would perhaps be best to dust off your Barbour jacket, for farmers have started making some serious hay.

Earning money from food has been a tough task in Britain since the mid-1980s. The rise of big supermarkets such as Tesco and Asda has eaten into the lunch of the butcher or baker who supply them. However, food inflation is fast changing all of that. Rising food prices are leading to bumper profits for anything agrarian. The price of corn is up 44 per cent since last year. A pint of milk has risen 20 per cent. The smartest investment banker I know has traded his pitch book for a pitchfork and his Porsche Boxster for a tractor. The countryside idyll is back in vogue. And the story of rising food prices is the same across Europe – even the French are paying 10 per cent more for their fromage.

So why are prices rising so rapidly? Inventories of soft commodities such as corn or wheat are at 100-year lows. After years of underinvestment, the larder is bare. Even the EU's famous butter mountain has been depleted. As ever, political interference is also a factor. Elections are won and lost on the availability of bread. The Argentineans, for example, have imposed stringent fines on farmers who export their crop abroad. In America, the emergence of bio-ethanol production as a substitute for oil has further crimped global supply. These bottlenecks in the food chain are now forcing prices to rise.

Of course, one way to play this theme is to buy farmland directly. Real estate investors should take note: there aren't many property assets that have actually risen in value this year. Indeed, the Swedish-run Black Earth Farming Ltd has been quick to spot this trend and has quietly amassed 280,000 hectares of arable land in the most fertile part of Russia around the black earth region, so called due to the colour of its nutrient-rich soil.

But in my Continental European fund I have found several other ways to play food price inflation, through companies such as Yara, the Norwegian fertiliser specialist. Demand for fertiliser is booming. With crop prices high, farmers want to maximise the yield from their fields. Generous applications of mineral salts such as potassium and nitrogen can improve the output by a factor of four. German potash producer K+S is also a name to watch in this context.

In the UK, the menu is smaller but there are still some golden nuggets among Britain's food producers. Names include Northern Foods or Robert Wiseman, the milk supplier that keeps Britain's supermarket shelves stocked with milk. As a general rule, food producers initially struggle to pass on higher input costs. However, once the paradigm of food inflation becomes better understood, food producers become beneficiaries of this inflationary trend through higher prices. As a result, profitability enters a period of gentle recovery. This was confirmed last week by the trading statement of Northern Foods, Britain's largest food manufacturer and home to such brands as Goodfellas pizzas, Fox's biscuits and M&S salads.

In 1896, Northern Foods made Britain's first official Christmas pudding. By 2006, after years of indiscipline, the same company was in danger of not making it through another Christmas. A bloated balance sheet and souring profits threatened the company's very survival. A new management team was brought in to chop out the fat and tidy up the kitchen. Eighteen months later, this diet of financial asceticism seems to be bearing fruit. The 5 per cent dividend was confirmed at last week's results and margins are improving across the board. Importantly, they are now able to pass on the cost of rising food prices as inflation starts to work in their favour. And how much do you pay for this tasty morsel? Barely 11 x earnings, or 85p. Now that's what I call good value.




Food Producers



Food Chain

Food Price Inflation

Mineral Salts


Source: http://www.dietseasy.info

Friday, April 4, 2008

Weight limit protects beach donkeys from overweight children

Ever since Victorian holidaymakers rushed to the seaside to don knotted hankies, the postcard image of children riding donkeys has been inextricably linked to British summer holidays.

But today, the tradition is facing restrictions as new animal cruelty guidelines are introduced, banning overweight youngsters from seaside donkey rides.

A donkey code of practice is being brought in to stop anyone over 50.8kg (8st) from riding the animals amid growing fears that Britain's 850 donkeys are buckling under the weight of heavier children and putting their health at risk.

As childhood obesity becomes an increasing problem, a whole generation could miss out on what has become something of a rite of passage at Britain's seaside resorts.

The latest rules, drawn up by the Donkey Sanctuary in Devon and endorsed by the British Equine Veterinary Association, are targeted at all local authorities with beach donkeys - including Great Yarmouth, Brighton and Torquay.

Blackpool beach, which is home to the largest number of beach donkeys in the UK, is likely to see the biggest impact on its 200 animals.

The resort was approached by the charity to accept the first copy of the new code to hand over to the town's mayor, Councillor Robert Wayne, and Joan Humble, the Labour MP for Blackpool North and Fleetwood, at the north pier today.

The Lancashire resort already has stringent employment rights for its animals, brought in three years ago. These include working no more than six days a week between 10am and 7pm, with one full day of rest, a minimum of an hour's lunch break and a donkey 'MoT' at the start of the summer season to ensure the animals are fit.

Council inspectors also carry out spot checks to make sure the animals' rights are respected. Donkeys are also fitted with a microchip so they can be easily identified. These rules are also being rolled out on a nationwide basis along with the rider weight limits.

Donkeys, which were first brought to Britain to toil down mines and can live to the age of 50, are a common sight in Blackpool, plodding along the beach through sun and rain. During a summer season they can take tens of thousands of children on rides at £2 a go.

Despite their indentured servitude, donkeys are actually very intelligent. They have an incredible memory, recognising places and other donkeys from 25 years ago. They were first domesticated around 4,500 years ago and were a status symbol. But unlike horses, they do not have natural waterproof coats so they must have access to shelter.

Martin Taggart, Donkey Sanctuary's head of welfare, said: "We already see an excellent standard of care for many beach donkeys in the UK, including Blackpool. The code of practice will help to support local authorities to ensure all beach donkeys receive the same levels of care.

"The other purpose of the code is to provide a resource of advice and support to those working with beach donkeys or setting up new businesses. We are here to help in any way we can."

Blackpool councillor Henry Mitchell said: "It is 66 years since we recognised that these animals needed protecting against some owners who would work them day and night if they could. The new code endorses what we do already and gives it the backing of two powerful organisations."

The Donkey Sanctuary is hosting a free workshop on how to look after donkeys in Drumnadrochit, near Loch Ness. Similar classes are also being planned throughout the UK and Ireland. Advice will be offered on dental care, warning signs for when to call for a vet and basic first aid.


Animal | Animal Cruelty | Donkey | Overweight Children | Health At Risk | Childhood Obesity | Employment Rights | Animals Rights | Donkey Code