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Monday, 31 October 2011

Happy Halloween: Public health in the news: 7 Billion and growing, Texting and driving, Income disparity, Chocolate and health, Nutrition, Listeria

Public health stories that should be catching your attention. First the world turns 7 billion today - check out the future of our global demographic http://www.unfpa.org/swp/ 

Texting and driving is turning out to be more dangerous that talking on a cell phone.   Not surprising, but until now the “evidence” was lacking.  Texting and driving.   The cell phone debates of the past decade which have resulted in numerous provincial laws were taken to a new level with the ability to text using cell phones.   The more common term is “distracted” driving, which potentially could include talking to passengers and listening to the radio.   Inherently texting while driving requires multiple fine and gross motor activities combined with concentrating on both driving and the messaging.   Yet, there is still a need in this day and age to have specific “evidence” before undertaking actions.   The study adds to this mounting body of common sense knowledge.
Sir Richard Wilkinson lecture on income disparities.  If you have 15 minutes, I would encourage you to watch the attached, it is a wonderfully constructed analysis of how it is disparity that contributes to poorer outcomes more than absolute incomes.     Wilkinson lecture  
Halloween treats may be good for reducing cardiovascular risk.   Chocolate lovers will embrace the meta-analysis in the BMJ (Buitrago-Lopez A et al. Chocolate consumption and cardiometabolic disorders: Systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ 2011 Aug 29; 343:d4488)  showing that there is a health benefit to be accrued through chocolate consumption.   All things in moderation.
As a balance to the benefits of chocolate, check on the new effort by WHO to build an e-library on nutrition and interventions.   While the first efforts are focused on malnutrition, developing concensus on nutritional interventions would be a major benefit for countries like Canada where overnutrition is the growing problem.  The site has minimal content at this time, but worth watching into the future.  WHO nutrition project 
Listeria outbreak  As the US cantaloupe outbreak reaches 133 persons with 28 deaths and one known miscarriage, the time is coming to review our approach to food safety.  The Canadian processed meet outbreak of 2008 affected 57 confirmed individuals and 22 deaths.   As we have improved both the disease detection techniques as well as environmental monitoring for Listeria, more confirmation of outbreaks should be expected and an improved understanding of the illness and its consequences will develop. Listeria CDC update site  

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