World Health Organization
The World Health Organization is calling on world governments to make fast food less attractive to citizens after a new study found that every fast food meal a person eats causes their body mass index (BMI) to go up 0.03 points.
BMI is a globally used measurement for obesity based on a person’s weight and height. More than two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, based on this scale.
Researchers in Ireland and the U.S. linked fast food to obesity rates using data on fast-food sales per capita from 1999 to 2008 in high-income countries.
“While the average number of annual fast food transactions per capita increased from 26.61 to 32.76, average BMI increased from 25.8 to 26.4,” researchers reported in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization.
The highest increase in fast-food intake and average BMI were found in Australia, Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand.
“The more aggressive market-liberalized countries have a higher consumption of fast food,” explained study lead author Dr. Roberto De Vogli of the department of Public Health Sciences at the University of California, Davis.
“Unless governments take steps to regulate their economies, the invisible hand of the market will continue to promote obesity worldwide with disastrous consequences for future public health and economic productivity,” De Vogli said.
De Vogli and colleagues from Queens University Belfast and the University of Texas say that government must take responsibility and disincentivize highly-processed fast food production.
“There is no question,” De Volgi added. “Big corporations have a mission to maximize profit. If we hope and expect that profit-driven businesses will safeguard public health, it is pure illusion.”
“The take-home message is that, although free-market policies are not to be demonized, it appears quite clear that in order to fight the obesity epidemic, a stronger role of government intervention is necessary,” he said.
The World Health Organization agrees.
“This study shows how important public policies are for addressing the epidemic of obesity,” said Dr. Francesco Branca, director of the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development at WHO.
“Policies targeting food and nutrition are needed across several sectors including agriculture, industry, health, social welfare and education,” he said.
The number of lung cancer cases in China is sky high, with some patients as young as eight years old.
An 8-year-old girl in the heavily industrialized Jiangsu province and a 14-year-old girl from smog-choked Shanghai are both undergoing treatment for lung cancer.
A physician at Shanghai's Zhongshan Hospital, Bai Chunxue, tells the Los Angeles Times that it is not uncommon to see teens being treated, who have no history of lung cancer in their family, they do not smoke, and their parents are nonsmokers.
"When I see patients who are not smokers with no other risk factors, we have to assume that the most probable cause is pollution," said Bai, chairman of the Shanghai Respiratory Research Institute.
Nationwide the number of lung cancer deaths in China has increased 465 percent in three decades.
From 2002 to 2011, the Beijing municipal health bureau reported lung cancer cases in Beijing rose from 39.6 to 63 cases per 100,000 people.
Meanwhile, cigarette smoking has decreased in the country since 1996, with only about half of adult Chinese males smoking.
China’s pollution is attributed to rapid economic expansion and lack of enforcement when it comes to environmental protection.
Smog engulfs industrialized areas, much like the London smog of 1952, which lasted five days and lead to about 12,000 premature deaths. The London smog was the result of coal burning, which is still a main energy source in China.
China appears weary of blaming cancer deaths on pollution, instead of smoking.
"Ten years ago, it was sensitive to talk about smoking because the tobacco industry was so important to the Chinese economy. Now it feels safe to talk about smoking. But for pollution, people are not prepared to talk about it," Wei Zhang, a Chinese-born cancer researcher at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, told The Times.
The World Health Organization says air pollution kills about 3.2 million people per year, with 223,000 from lung cancer. Half of those cases are in Asia.
"More than half of the lung cancer deaths attributable to ambient fine particles were projected to have been in China and other East Asian countries," said WHO.
A woman from Northampton County, Pa., became angry after being told by a judge that she could no longer breastfeed her 10-month-old daughter.
Jessica Moser, who has been in a custody battle with her daughter Jasmine’s father, was ordered by a family court judge two weeks ago to stop breastfeeding Jasmine so the child can spend two days overnight with her dad.
Pumping breast milk is not an option because Moser says she can’t pump enough for two days, and Jasmine will not drink from a bottle.
"I'm feeling frustrated, hurt," Moser told WFMZ-TV. "I'm trying to keep myself from crying, it's very emotional."
Moser says she has been the only one taking care of Jasmine since she was born last December.
If Moser does not comply with the judge’s ruling that Jasmine stay with her father overnight, she will lose custody.
She is not trying to keep Jasmine away from her father, but wants to continue breastfeeding.
"I'm very passionate about having that right to breastfeed," Moser tells WFMZ-TV. "The breast is best, and that's what I'm trying to do for her."
The World Health Organization suggests that all babies be exclusively breastfed for the first six months, then start eating solid foods, while continuing to nurse for at least two years.
"He did say something along the lines like, ‘well she should be on formula,’ or ‘why isn't she on formula,’ ‘she should be able to have formula at ten months,’” Moser said.
The TV station contacted Jasmine’s father’s attorney Friday afternoon, but no calls have been returned.
Writing on Mommyish, blogger Frances Locke saying the father should “be ashamed.”
“Custody battles are complicated, personal and often brutal,” she wrote.
“With this situation we don't have all the facts so it's hard to point fingers, but I don't think this has to be an either-or situation.
“This child should be able to see her dad and continue nursing - and the judge should encourage this option, not tell mom to stop nursing and use formula.
“It’s important for a child to have a bond with both parents and for a baby to be nourished with her mother’s milk.
“Unless there are details that haven't come out yet, I think ... the father should be ashamed.”
Some 35 percent of all women globally will experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, according to a report released by the World Health Organization on Thursday.
WHO reported one in three women will experience violence from a sexual partner or non-partner. The data shows 38 percent of all women murdered globally were killed by intimate partners. The study found intimate partner violence to be the most common violence against females, affecting 30 percent of women worldwide.
“These findings send a powerful message that violence against women is a global health problem of epidemic proportions,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO. “We also see that the world’s health systems can and must do more for women who experience violence.”
Partner violence results in a woman being twice as likely to experience depression, twice as likely to have alcohol-use problems, 1.5 times more likely to acquire sexually transmitted diseases, twice as likely to have an abortion, and have a 16 percent greater chance of having a baby with low-birth weight.
A woman physically or sexually abused by a sexual partner is 1.5 times more likely to contract syphilis, Chlamydia, or gonorrhea. In Sub-Saharan African, these women are even 1.5 times more like to contract HIV.
The report says stigma is a barrier in the collection of violence against women data, which means the numbers could very well be higher than their estimates.
“This new data shows that violence against women is extremely common," said Professor Charlotte Watts from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. "We urgently need to invest in prevention to address the underlying causes of this global women’s health problem.”
WHO is calling for new clinical and policy guidelines to crack down on rape culture that creates tolerance for violence against women and girls. There hope is that guidelines will help health sectors respond. They recommend that the health sector not require woman to disclose the cause of their injuries or illness when they seek medical treatment.
“The report findings show that violence greatly increases women’s vulnerability to a range of short- and long-term health problems; it highlights the need for the health sector to take violence against women more seriously,” said Dr. Claudia Garcia-Moreno of WHO. “In many cases this is because health workers simply do not know how to respond.”
WHO recommends health providers be trained on how to approach violence, put standard operating procedures in place, ensure confidentiality and consult in private, give referrals to related services and be equipped to respond to mental and physical health consequences stemming from sexual assaults.
A new respiratory virus that originated in the Middle East may be more deadly than the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2002, according to reports from Saudi Arabian doctors.
More than 60 cases and 38 deaths have been cause by the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in the past year, according to the World Health Organization. While there are some resemblances between MERS and SERS, the new virus seems to have no origin and has baffled scientists.
Some hypothesize that infected bats may be contaminating dates, a fruit commonly harvested and eaten in Saudi Arabia.
What scientists do know is that the virus spreads easily between people within hospitals, and that close contact is not always necessary for the virus to infect another host.
In a striking difference between the two viruses, MERS has a 65 percent fatality rate, while only 8 percent of SERS carriers died.
"As long as it is around, it has every opportunity at the genetic roulette table to turn into something more dangerous," Michael Osterholm, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Minnesota, said.
Dr. Trish Perl, a senior hospital epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Medicine, added that under the right circumstances the spread could be explosive.
The World Health Organization will meet in Cairo to discuss guidelines for next month’s Ramaden, when millions of Muslims will be visiting Saudi Arabia.
The World Health Organization is warning of a new SARS-like virus that has killed 27 people.
The virus, called MERS-CoV, has mainly affected those who have traveled or live in the middle east. Saudi Arabia is the source of most of the cases.
On Tuesday, a man died in France after contracting MERS. There have been 49 confirmed cases worldwide.
The virus was first identified in humans in September.
Dr. Margaret Chan, head of the WHO, said, "We understand too little about this virus when viewed against the magnitude of its potential threat. We do not know where the virus hides in nature. We do not know how people are getting infected."
"Until we answer these questions, we are empty-handed when it comes to prevention. These are alarm bells. And we must respond."
She said the virus is a "threat to the entire world."
People infected with it had traveled to Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan or Pakistan. There were also cases in Britain and Germany.
Last week, a case in Tunisia was revealed.
They believe the virus spreads mainly from person-to-person but have not confirmed this yet. They think the initial transmission came from animal to human.
French authorities have been handing out leaflets at airports to warn travelers to the middle east that they should wash their hands and limit contact with animals.
On March 31, China announced that the virus was discovered in humans for the first time. There were 21 confirmed deaths and 104 confirmed cases by Monday.
The fear is that the virus will mutate and become transmissible between humans, triggering a pandemic.
But for now, there seems to be no evidence of human-to-human transmission.
Keiji Fukuda, assistant director general for health security and environment at WHO, said they have spent the last three days meeting government officials in Shanghai and visiting the agricultural market.
Officials acknowledged that certain "family clusters" exist, where members of one family become infected, but they are saying this is not related to human-to-human transmission.
Fukuda said it is "not clear why we have these small clusters."
He said there are certain families where more than one person contracted the flu and likely caught it from animals.
"With other avian influenza viruses we have seen where you can have limited, person-to-person transmission, so there's always the possibility," he said.
The difference between "sustained" transmission and "limited" transmission is that limited transmission happens between family members or medical personnel caring for the ill, but no one else.
Many cases in Shanghai are the limited type, including a man who contracted the virus from his father and a man whose wife had the flu.
"Family clusters in general do not change our understanding of the characteristics of the disease," Feng Zijan said.
"It is still passed from poultry to people and there is no evidence of human-to-human."
Experts say giving European prison inmates drug substitution treatments, needles and condoms are key ways to help curb addiction and HIV infection.
“We support opioid substitution treatment and harm reduction measures, including needle exchange programs. These measures are crucial, otherwise we cannot tackle HIV and other infections in prisons,” said Stefan Enggist of the World Health Organization.
According to Heino Stover, a professor at Frankfurt University, only 60 prisons around the world conduct needle and syringe exchange programs. Some countries forbid condom distribution in prisons, reports Raw Story. Poland does it for religious reasons.
Statistics reflect that drugs are an almost inescapable part of the European prison system. 15 to 25 percent of Europe’s inmates were convicted of drug-related offences and one prisoner in six is a drug user. Inmates usually share needles, which leads to the transmission of blood-borne viruses, especially HIV and hepatitis C.
Professor Stover said that a study conducted in 11 prisons has shown that needle distribution does not lead to an increase in drug use. During the course of the study, no needles were used as weapons and no new cases of HIV were recorded.
The executive secretary of the Council’s Pompidou Group, a drug policy agency, believes authorities need to confront the drug problem from two angles. “[They need to] reduce drug supplies and deal with the consequences of addiction,” said Patrick Penninckx.
Opioid substitution treatment is also a way of dealing with drug-using inmates. “This will reduce illegal drug use, prevent infectious diseases and eventually save lives,” said Hans Wolff, head of the Geneva University Hospitals Unit of Penitentiary Medicine.
Seven prisons in Moldova provide methadone to inmates. Prison psychologist Svetlana Doltu has seen some positive results from this somewhat unorthodox practice. Inmates getting the methadone treatment have been “more willing to work and more tolerant,” she said.
Source: (Raw Story)