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Monday, October 24 2016 @ 02:07 PM UTC


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Animals Are Becoming Obese Like Us, Says Study

Health & Environmentfrom TreeHugger

fat cat measured photo Photo: Yukari* / CC

Obesity rates among people worldwide have soared over the last several decades -- but it turns out that humans aren't the only ones packing on the pounds. According to a recent study from the University of Alabama, many animals that spend time living around humans are evidently more prone to becoming overweight, and researchers aren't entirely sure why.

David Allison, who studies obesity at the UA Birmingham, discovered an inexplicable trend of weight gain in small primates kept in the the university's laboratory. In hopes of learning more about the phenomenon, Allison compared his findings with 24 other data samples collected for animals ranging from domesticated dogs and cats to feral rats and chimpanzees used for research -- and what it pointed to was quite troubling. Animals are getting fatter, just like we are.

There was no single thread running through all 24 data sets that would explain a gain in weight. The animals in some of the data sets might have had access to richer food, but that was not the case in all data sets. Some of the animals might have become less active, but others would have remained at normal activity levels. Yet, they all showed overall weight gain.

The skyrocketing rates of obesity among humans over the last several decades has been attributed to unhealthy diets and increasingly sedentary lifestyles -- but, to Allison's surprise, those factors don't appear to be responsible for the animals in the study getting pudgier. In fact, at least for the lab's primates, they should be getting thinner.

"We can't explain the changes in [the animals] body weight by the fact that they eat out at restaurants more often or the fact that they get less physical education in schools," the researcher quipped in an interview with LiveScience. "There can be other factors beyond what we obviously reach for."

In the absence of any obvious reason why animals are getting fatter, some researchers are beginning to suspect the culprit may be a bit more surreptitious. Chemical additives and genetically modified food sources have been linked to childhood obesity -- and a similar process seems to be taking place within animals.

Unfortunately, this disturbing trend could mean that the overall health of the animals around us is in decline, which might have broader-reaching implications not yet fully understood. But there is one bright spot -- while it may become harder to get your chubby pooch to play fetch, teaching him to roll over and stay will probably be a bit easier.

Via Natural News

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Air Pollution Raises Obesity Risk For Young Animals, Regardless of Diet

Health & Environment"A new study shows that exposure to polluted air early in life, at levels that correspond to the amount of fine particulate pollution found in many US cities, can lead to increased accumulation of abdominal fat and insulin resistance, even if a healthy diet is followed."
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Volt, Schmolt; Get a Bike Instead

Health & Environment"If the LEAF is charged from a coal plant, it might not be much better than a gasoline car"

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U.S. Obesity Rate May Hit 42% by 2050

Health & EnvironmentResearchers say the more obese people you know, the greater your chances of gaining weight

By Kathleen Doheny HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Nov. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Despite reports that the rate of obesity among U.S. adults might be slowing down, a new projection from Harvard University and MIT suggests otherwise.

Instead, using a sophisticated model that views obesity like an infectious disease, the team predicts that adult obesity rates will rise for another 40 years before leveling out. And before reaching that plateau, 42 percent of adults will be obese, the team predict.

For the last few years, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has placed the adult obesity rate at 34 percent, with another 34 percent of Americans overweight but not obese.

&quot;It's definitely true that the percent of obese people has slowed down,&quot; said study author Alison Hill, a graduate student in Harvard's Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, Biophysics Program. &quot;But our results suggest it is not the end.&quot;

The study is published this week in the journal PLoS Computational Biology.

The prediction is a ''best-case'' scenario, said Hill and Dr. David Rand, a research scientist at Harvard who was also involved in the study. That means the obesity rate might rise even higher than 42 percent.
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We're losing an acre of farmland every minute, according to new data

Health & Environmentfrom Switchboard, from NRDC › Kaid Benfield's Blog by Kaid Benfield

    location unknown (by: US EPA)

41 million acres of rural land has been permanently lost in the last 25 years to highways, shopping malls, poorly planned sprawl and other development, according to a new analysis by the American Farmland Trust.  Of that amount, 23 million acres (an area the size of Indiana) was agricultural land.  The rate of recent farmland loss has been an astounding acre per minute.

There has been a resurgence of interest across the country in fresh, healthy, locally grown food.  But the farms that supply local food, those closest to our urban areas, are the most vulnerable and tend to be lost the fastest.  Moreover, farmland close to the urban/suburban edge is frequently our most productive for supplying food on the tables of American families:

“America’s cities sprang up where the land was the richest.  Today, the farms closest to our urban areas produce an astounding 91% of our fruit and 78% of our vegetables, but they remain the most threatened. In addition, many of these at-risk, urban-edge farms are the ones growing fresh food for farmers markets, CSA’s [community-supported agriculture services] and other direct-to-consumer outlets. And our prime agricultural land the farmland that has the ideal combination of good soils, climate and growing conditions are being converted at a disproportionately higher rate.”

More in the linked article
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Americans need to walk more and peer-to-peer car sharing

Health & Environment[B' Spokes:The bit that got my attention from Streetsblog Capitol Hill]
Using pedometers to collect data on 1,136 Americans, researchers found that they averaged 5,117 steps a day. (A mile is roughly 2,000 steps.) Meanwhile Australians averaged 9,695 steps a day, the Swiss clocked in at 9,650, and the Japanese puttered about at 7,168 paces.

The report’s lead author, David R. Bassett of the University of Tennessee, blames America’s poor performance on its auto obsession and lack of public transportation: “People do have to exercise,” he said. “But our overall environment does not lend itself to promoting an active lifestyle.”

Bassett told Reuters, “Five thousand steps is really pretty inactive,” estimating that Americans would need to walk for another 30 to 40 minutes per day to catch up to other countries. Interestingly, findings were similar for suburban, urban and rural dwellers. Maybe some suburbs and rural areas are more walkable than others, and some cities less so.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Bike Portland offers a tutorial on peer-to-peer car sharing, following California’s actions to remove legal hurdles to the activity.
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75% of Americans will be obese by 2020 (MickyD likes this)

Health & Environmentimage
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How Flawed Formulas Lead Down the Road to Sprawl

Health & EnvironmentTo help understand the issue in the linked article I will give the following analogy: Let's us say you own a restaurant where the air quality is a problem due to smokers. Well the solution should be obvious... put in more tables for smokers and hire more staff to service smokers to get them in and out of the restaurant a lot faster and make the non-smokers wait as they don't cause any problems hanging around.

Sounds absurd right? But this is exactly the kind of thinking that drives the bulk of our transportation dollars. See the the link after the fold.
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Losing sight of what matters in America Do we value ‘value’ or just value ‘cheap’?

Health & EnvironmentBy Mary Newsom
And in recent days I’ve written about the new greenway along Charlotte’s Little Sugar Creek. Not a few people have told me how they hate to see the “waste” of public money on things like the greenway’s stone bridges (actually, that stone is inexpensive molded concrete), public art and the rockwork clock tower (clock donated by the Rotary Club). It’s as if people here are so unused to places that celebrate the public that they think it’s wastefully lavish for a public park to hold anything nicer than cinder-block buildings and utilitarian metal bridges.

You’re probably wondering how these things – voice mail and airline travel and parks – are related. To my eye, they all illustrate something about America today: Americans have stopped believing that value is something everyone deserves.

We’ve stopped valuing workers. The country apparently no longer believes people who work hard deserve wages that pay them enough to afford the rent or a modest mortgage, or deserve a pension to keep them from penury in retirement. We’ve stopped expecting those things from employers – or at least they’ve stopped providing them. We’ve even stopped valuing public schools, stopped expecting them to have mowed lawns and drinking fountains that work.

What we value, instead, is cheapness. Rock-bottom prices. Low taxes. So we get tomatoes that taste like crunchy sponges, but at least we don’t pay a lot for them. Instead of percale bedsheets made in the USA we buy sheets made in countries most people couldn’t find on a map, with seams that dissolve within weeks. We buy food with no taste, clothes that unravel and appliances we have to junk after five years. Our public schools have knee-high crabgrass. People get hacked off if our public parks look better than pesticide factories. But at least they don’t cost us too much.

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Study Shows Most Americans Aren’t Active. What About You?

Health & EnvironmentHere’s a shocking report for you, at least it was for us at Balance Gym. Out of almost 80,000 Americans polled about all the non-work, non-sleep activities they had done in the last 24-hours, 95 percent answered “eating or sleeping,” 80 percent had watched TV, 71 percent spent time preparing food or drink, 25 percent had done some lawn or garden work but only 5 percent reported a vigorous activity such as using cardiovascular equipment or running.
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