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Posts Tagged ‘Ethics’

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Hold on to your hats folks, this is not good news…

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Kulkarni et al., Popul Health Metr. 2011

Over the years, the life expectancy of an adult in the US has increased dramatically. It is almost a law of nature that with advances in medicine, nutrition, and public health (vaccinations, etc.) life expectancy increases over time. A decrease in life expectancy is a sign of something going seriously wrong.

The figure above is from a recently published paper titled, “Falling behind: life expectancy in US counties from 2000 to 2007 in an international context.” It shows changes in life expectancy for women from 1987 to 2007. You will note from the figure legend that the red on this map depicts counties in which the change was less than zero. That means that the life expectancy of women in those counties has decreased over the past two decades.

This comes on the heels of a report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation titled, “F as in fat: How obesity threatens America’s future.” Here are a few tidbits:

  • Colorado is the only state with an obesity rate below 20% (coming in at 19.8%)
  • A state at 19.8% obesity would have had the highest rate in 1995
  • No state has had a decline in the rate of obesity
  • Over the past 15 years, rates of obesity have doubled in seven states and rates of diabetes have doubled in 10 states

We are experiencing a crisis – and we need to make some changes. There will be no single solution, rather we will have to change our behaviors, policies, environments, practices, etc.

What are you going to change today?


Monday, May 16th, 2011

The NYT is writing about food labeling again and how it seems that products from cereal to yogurt to juice are including claims on their packaging regarding how their product (which is usually packed with sugar) is gonna make your baby smarter or make you poop faster.

These labels tend to bother me as a consumer and as a scientist. It is misleading and unethical to lead people to believe that rice krispies will boost your immunity or that frosted mini wheats will make your kid ace an exam. Moreover, these types of claims often appear on “foods” that have been so processed and refined that I sometimes cannot even tell what they are actually made up of anymore.

As a result, I offer the labels above (which can be printed on Avery US Letter 5160 label paper – wink, wink). They read, “Humans have been on this earth for thousands of years. It is likely that early humans would not have even recognized this product as food.” I consider these labels appropriate for highly processed or refined foods making outrageous health claims. Feel free to use as you see fit.


Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Ok, so this is how it goes down. Word starts circulating around the office or on the floor that so-and-so brought in some extra brownies or cupcakes that he/she made for a child’s birthday or bake sale, or that there is leftover Halloween candy or Christmas cookies in the breakroom. Or perhaps the approach is even more direct and a co-worker offers you a treat saying, “yeah, I just didn’t want to keep all of these at home because we would eat them up.” This is textbook dumping of unhealthy food at work.

In all fairnes, I am used to assuming that the dumper’s intentions are mostly good. It is likely the case that he/she figures that people at work will enjoy the treats and that he/she shouldn’t keep all of that at home because it will be rapidly consumed and (here is the important part) they know that the food in question is unhealthy. So that leads me to my next thought, which is, WTF?! You don’t want to eat all of this yourself so you give it to us?

Now, if you recognize yourself as a workplace dumper, it might be the case that you work with a bunch of folks who can eat anything they want and don’t care about consuming a ton of sugar. Or, you might dislike the people that you work with and either consciously or subconsciously want to fatten them up a bit. However, if these are not the case, and if you care about the health of your co-workers as you care about the health of yourself and your family, then you might consider rallying for a no dumping policy at your workplace. Your co-workers might even thank you for it.

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