Tag: diet

Could Banning the Big Gulp Lower Crime in Baltimore?

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New York Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed soda law has got a number of people up in arms about the government’s priorities. One big reason: If this law and Governor Cuomo’s bill are both passed, you’ll get fined more in New York for selling a 17-ounce soda than possessing 24 grams of weed. For us in Baltimore, I think it should call attention to another debate: The government’s role in our city’s health.

(Watch Jon Stewart talk about New York’s new legislation)

Obesity is a problem for Baltimore. According to our most recent statistics, the city has a higher overweight and obese prevalence than both the state and national prevalence. 67.7 percent of Baltimore City residents are overweight or obese, while only 32.3 percent are at normal weight, down from 38.4 percent in 2002.  And it’s actually the people with the least money who are suffering the worst from these weight issues.

Basically, fruits and vegetables are expensive and junk food is cheep. Today, one dollar can buy you around 1200 calories of potato chips or 875 calories of soda, but only 250 calories of vegetables or 170 calories of fresh fruit. Many of Baltimore’s residents live in what are called “food deserts,” industrialized areas where healthy, affordable food is difficult to get. Even if you live in a city, if you don’t have a car and haven’t been told where to look, finding fresh foods can be really hard – just think about how many fried chicken and lake trout joints you pass by for every family grocer.

This Week in Research: Show Less Skin, Eat More Avocados

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How much skin you’re showing affects people’s opinion of your abilites and self-control, according to a study by scientists at Harvard, Yale, Northeastern, and the University of Maryland. The researchers showed subjects photographs of men and women’s faces, and then the same image zoomed out to show the face plus a bare torso. When asked to judge how much experience (defined here as the ability to perceive and feel) and agency (self-control, the power to make decisions) the people in the photos had, the subjects said the face-only folks had plenty of both. But the skin-showing photos were judged as both more reckless and less composed. In other words, the more revealing your clothes, the less perceived personal power you have.

Meanwhile, researchers at Johns Hopkins think you should eat more avocados and less pasta. According to research by Meghana Gadgil, a postdoctoral fellow in internal medicine, certain sources of unsaturated fats (avocados, olive oil, nuts) help manage insulin levels. Gadgil and her fellow scientists weren’t interested in helping subjects lose weight; they wanted to see how diets affected cardiovascular health. So they fed subjects three different diets — one with lots of carbs, one with lots of protein, and one with lots of unsaturated fats. The unsaturated fats won out. The extra good news here is that the healthy-heart effects were apparent even without the subjects shedding pounds:  “What we found is that you can begin to see a beneficial impact on heart health even before weight loss,” Gadgil says.

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