Diets are changing every day and so is terminology. The newest way people are talking about a diet is Healthy Lifestyles. Is this a mind trick? Through experience, it works. By using this terminology over the last two years and changing a few things through…
I recently met Frank Hone, a man who has worked in the healthcare industry for twenty years. Some of this time was spent working with pharmaceutical companies in their DTC (direct-to-consumer) marketing of prescription drugs beginning in the early 90’s and then through the period…
Lately the media has reported new findings regarding the rise in childhood diabetes and its dire consequences. This news has once again sounded the alarm about the growing epidemic of obesity in our children and youth. The problem is so serious that experts are recommending drastic changes in the way our children eat. But could complacency, denial, and ignorance among the adult population be hindering our young people from getting the help and education they need to make these drastic changes?
Dinner Tables and School Cafeteria Trays
During a recent school-screening visit to a high-ranking eastern college for one of my daughters, I had the opportunity to raise questions about the quality of the food available through the campus cafeteria. Was the food being served at their school free from pesticides? Was it non-GMO? What about meat sources? Were the students being served factory farm animals injected with hormones and antibiotics? Were there natural, healthy and organic food options available in the cafeteria – as adopted by some of the more cutting-edge schools across the nation such as Yale, UC Berkley, Duke and Oberlin Colleges?
The question seemed to stump the college staff member. She said she wasn't sure of the quality of the food in the cafeteria. She didn't know if there was any kind of focus being placed on providing students with natural, vegetarian or organic options. It was not clear that the school provided nutritional fare that addressed some of the grave health concerns that are confronting Americans at younger and younger ages … visions of an array of fried foods, processed starches, and sugary desserts covering cafeteria trays swam before my eyes.
This reaction seems somewhat typical of school professionals at every educational level. I recently had the opportunity to ask food service directors of our local educational institutions about nutritional quality and education in elementary, middle and high schools. I was told that kids wouldn't eat healthy-looking food and that they only wanted the kind of food you could find in any fast-food restaurant. Further, they implied that it was not the responsibility of the school system to provide healthy food options for kids. That's the parent's job.
While I agree that healthy eating habits start at home and that parents need to demonstrate them for their children in the kitchen and at the dinner table, it doesn't dismiss our educational system from its responsibility to teach good nutrition. Our schools must provide information and training about the elements of a good diet and must lead by example. That means clean, healthy cafeteria food. And healthy does not and should not imply "unappealing to kid's taste buds". Healthy, natural food, prepared with good recipes, can be far more delicious than the fast food that now holds sway on the school cafeteria lunch menu.
Sadly, political concerns have impeded the progress of the campaign for better school food. We cannot afford to turn a blind eye to this important issue and allow big food conglomerates to dominate school cafeteria fare simply by default.
Healthy Eating from Romper Room to Retirement
A foundation for lifelong healthy eating begins in early childhood. If we introduce kids to healthy, natural foods, give them dietary knowledge, and teach them how to prepare delicious meals, they are likely to carry good eating habits forward into adulthood.
Taking children to the local Farmer's Market to shop for produce, is an example of expanding on the way we learn about and shop for food.
We need a revolutionary approach to changing our food system. Taking on cafeteria school food is vital if we are to stave off childhood overweight, malnutrition, and illnesses caused by poor quality nutrition for our youth. The evolution of food on our planet depends on a gentle but firm revolution in the market, the kitchen, and in the cafeteria.
Making a healthy lifestyle change can be quite challenging, even if you have attempted to undertake such a change before. Many of us mortal humans have tried and failed on countless occasions to make these seemingly simple adjustments in our daily or weekly routines. The…
We all dream of a life in which we are more fit and productive: We wake up earlier, we eat healthier, we work out more often and get more things done during the day without suffering from any chronic pains or bad health conditions. But…
The temperature increase in the atmosphere is more specifically referred to as global warming. But the climate change is the term currently favored by scientists, as it explicitly includes not only Earth’s increasing global average temperature, but also the climate effects caused by this increase.
Any gas, which has the property of absorbing infrared radiation emitted from Earth’s surface and reradiating it back to Earth’s surface, is called greenhouse gas. Carbon dioxide, methane, and water vapor are the most important greenhouse gases. Other greenhouse gases include, but are not limited to, surface-level ozone, nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, hydro fluorocarbons, per fluorocarbons and chlorofluorocarbons.
Though a naturally occurring phenomenon, the greenhouse effect results in a warming of Earth’s surface and troposphere – the lowest layer of the atmosphere. Of the greenhouse gases, water vapor has the largest effect.
Some important causes of greenhouse effect include burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas, deforestation, increase in population, farming, and industrial wastes and landfills.
Greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere. With higher than normal concentrations, they lead to unnatural warming. The main cause of the current global warming trend is human expansion of the greenhouse effect, a warming that results when the atmosphere traps heat radiating from Earth toward space.
Even a small global temperature increase could lead to troubling consequences like rising sea levels, population displacement, disruption to the food supply, flooding, and ill-effects on health. As a matter of fact, human health bears the greatest brunt of the consequences of the climate change.
Ill-effects of climate change on health –
Climate change can affect human health mainly in two ways: first, by changing the severity or frequency of health problems that are already affected by climate factors and second, by creating health problems in places where they have not previously occurred.
Effects of temperature increase –
Increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases lead to an increase of both average and extreme temperatures. This can compromise the body’s ability to regulate its temperature. Loss of internal temperature regulation can result in a cascade of illnesses, including heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heatstroke and hyperthermia in the presence of extreme heat, and hypothermia and frostbite in the presence of extreme cold. Temperature extremes can also worsen chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, cerebro-vascular disease, and diabetes-related conditions.
People working outdoors, socially isolated, economically disadvantaged and those with chronic illnesses are more vulnerable to the impact of temperature increase.
Effects of air quality –
Climate change has modified weather patterns, which in turn have influenced the levels and location of outdoor air pollutants such as ground-level ozone (O3) and fine particulate matter. Increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) levels also promote the growth of plants that release airborne allergens. Higher pollen concentrations and longer pollen seasons can increase allergic sensitization and asthma episodes, thereby limiting productivity at work and school. Poor air quality, whether outdoors or indoors, can negatively affect the human respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
Effects of extreme events –
Climate change causes an increase in the occurrence and severity of some extreme events, which can have health impacts such as death or injury during an event, for example, drowning during floods. Health impacts can also occur before and after an extreme event, as individuals involved in activities such as disaster preparation and post-event cleanup put their health at risk. The severity and extent of health effects associated with extreme events depend on the physical impacts of the extreme events themselves.
Vector borne diseases –
Vector-borne diseases are transmitted by vectors, which include mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas. These vectors can carry infective pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, and protozoa, which can be transferred from one host (carrier) to another. The seasonality, distribution, and prevalence of vector-borne diseases are influenced significantly by climate. Climate change is likely to have both short- and long-term effects on vector-borne disease transmission and infection patterns, affecting both seasonal risk and disease occurrence over decades.
Water related diseases –
Climate change is expected to affect fresh and marine water resources in ways that will increase people’s exposure to water-related contaminants which cause illness. Water-related illnesses include waterborne diseases caused by pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. Water-related illnesses are also caused by toxins produced by certain harmful algae and by chemicals introduced into water sources by human activities. Exposure occurs through ingestion, direct contact with contaminated drinking or recreational water and through consumption of contaminated fish and sea food.
Effects on mental health –
Mental health consequences of climate change range from minimal stress and distress symptoms to clinical disorders such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, and suicidal tendencies. The children, elderly, women (especially pregnant and post-partum women), people with preexisting mental illness, economically disadvantaged, and homeless are more exposed to its mental health consequences.
Effects on food safety and quality –
Climate change is very likely to affect global, regional, and local food safety by disrupting food availability, decreasing access to food and making utilization more difficult. Higher concentrations of CO2 can lower the levels of protein and essential minerals in a number of widely consumed crops, including wheat, rice, and potatoes, with potentially negative implications for human nutrition. Poor nutritional quality of food is more likely to affect adversely the vulnerable sections of the population.
The bottom line –
Over the last 50 years, human activities have released sufficient quantities of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to trap additional heat in the lower atmosphere and affect the global climate. According to WHO (World Health Organization):
- Climate change affects the social and environmental determinants of health – clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter.
- Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress.
So, in view of the serious repercussions of climate change on human health, we all have to make concerted efforts to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases through better transport, food and energy use choices so as to improve our health particularly through reduced air pollution.