New York City’s effort to outlaw soft drinks larger than 16 ounces is leading soda companies to display the calorie listings for drinks in some vending machines. Here’s a hint: The diet pops have the least calories.
To avoid government limits treating consumers like children, producers feel compelled to implement information campaigns that treat consumers like morons. Regulators seem to think Americans don’t know that 20-ounce sodas are sugary.
They even have studies to bolster their case. The New England Journal of Medicine published three studies last month linking sugar-sweetened beverages to weight gain. Stop the presses!
In spite of the PR moves and countermoves, anti-soda initiatives are unlikely to do much to improve health outcomes. Beverage makers note caloric intake from sugar-sweetened drinks declined more than 20 percent between 2001 and 2010, yet obesity rates continued to rise.
Oklahomans are fat, and getting fatter.
That in a nutshell summarizes a report issued this week by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Researchers concluded that 31 percent of Oklahomans are obese. They estimated the total could climb to 66 percent by 2030.
News of our current obesity rate, however, is a dog-bites-man story. In any number of studies through the years, Oklahoma has been rated as one of the most obese states in the country. The obesity rate of our residents has climbed steadily in the past two decades or so.
That climb has translated into soaring numbers of children with Type 2 diabetes, which carries many health risks. That form of diabetes used to be found primarily in adults as they grew sedentary and out of shape. The problem is that too many of our youngsters now fit that description.
This report will surely spur calls in some circles for the state to “do something” to address this problem. But government mandates, such as New York City’s ban on large soft drinks, aren’t the answer. Instead the solutions must begin in the home, with parents insisting their kids turn off the video games and go outside, or urging them to eat healthier foods.
The term “pothead” has long been used to describe someone as being less-than-bright. Now that characterization is backed by scientific data.
New research concludes teenagers who routinely smoke marijuana experience a long-term drop in IQ. The study tested the IQ of more than 1,000 13-year olds in New Zealand, then conducted five follow-up interviews through the years, and concluded with another IQ test when the individuals turned 38.
The study recorded mental decline only for participants who regularly smoked marijuana before age 18. Many teenagers will turn down a cigarette because of its association with health problems, but see marijuana as harmless.
For a government survey, roughly 23 percent of American high school students reported smoking marijuana, compared with just 18 percent who smoked cigarettes. It appears that if they smoke enough marijuana, they may lose the ability to mentally make that distinction.
Knock on wood, there have been no reported cases in Oklahoma this summer of a child dying inside a broiling hot vehicle. We made it through a merciless July, which saw temperatures exceed 110 degrees on some days, without one of these tragedies occurring.
Other states haven’t been as fortunate. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, at least 23 children have died from heat stroke this year, including eight during a seven-day stretch at the start of August.
That rash of deaths prompted a national alert by the organization. The message: Never leave a child alone in a car, and always lock empty vehicles’ doors and trunks to keep curious kids from getting inside; create reminders — place your cellphone on the back seat while driving, for example — for you or your caregiver to keep from forgetting a child; and if you see a child unattended in a vehicle, call 911.
Good advice, considering that even on mild days, temperatures inside a car can jump nearly 20 degrees in just 10 minutes. And we still have plenty of 90-plus degree days ahead.
Dogs. Is there nothing they can’t smell?
We ask because of news that the state’s only bed bug-sniffing canine has been dispatched to Tulsa to check out the books and the furniture in the downtown library. Ms. Liberty Belle, a beagle, will do the sniffing.
With recent outbreaks of bed bugs in the hotels of New York, trained dogs have become the front line (no pun intended in relation to flea treatment) for detection of the blood-sucking parasites. A New York Times story in 2010 placed the accuracy of the dogs at 97 percent for finding the bugs or their eggs.
Tulsa’s library will get a scent scan from a beagle whose ability to read is somewhat limited but whose snout is worth a thousand words.
The mayor of Cambridge, Mass., likes what New York’s Michael Bloomberg is trying to do to save people from themselves, and has decided to follow suit. Bloomberg, citing U.S. obesity rates, wants to prohibit that city’s restaurants, food carts and other licensed food service establishments from selling soft drinks larger than 16 ounces. Cambridge Mayor Henrietta Davis this week proposed the same thing and asked her city’s health officials to look into the idea. Progressive home to Harvard and MIT, Cambridge is filled with bright people, but apparently they aren’t smart enough to make dietary choices for themselves. Davis says she’s all for free will in society, but that “with a public health issue, you look at those things that are dangerous for people, that need government regulation.” This is the liberal orthodoxy in full bloom — no matter the question, more government is the answer.
The Salvation Army began giving away box fans this week to help Oklahoma City residents cope with the heat that’s sure to come this summer. Those eligible for a fan must be 62 or older or have children younger than 6 months in the home or be disabled with chronic conditions such as emphysema or cardiovascular disease. Oh, they also had to provide a photo ID for all adult household members, along with proof (such as an electric bill) that they live in the city limits. The majority of those who would need a fan are low-income residents. They, and senior citizens, are among the groups that liberals say are being put upon via passage of Republican-backed laws requiring voters to show identification at the ballot box. The Salvation Army’s rules for this good cause help fan the flames of rebuke to the overheated arguments against voter ID laws.
Nicole Soto had no chance. Just 3 months old, Nicole died last weekend of starvation. Her parents told Oklahoma City police they “forgot” several times to feed the girl, who weighed just 3 pounds when she died — less than half her birth weight. The parents did find time every day to smoke dope, though. They admitted as much to investigators. The father, 20, is a known gang member, according to police. The mother is just 19. Nicole has two siblings, who are 22 months old and 3 years old. Both have now been removed from the family’s apartment, which police said was filthy and roach-infested. Would that this were a rare story in Oklahoma. Instead it’s all too common. During fiscal year 2011, about 66,500 child abuse or neglect cases were reported to the Department of Human Services. Of those, 8,110 were confirmed.
Although most of the more than 3,000 soldiers from Oklahoma’s 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team have returned from Afghanistan, more than 285 remain on active duty…because they are at military hospitals. That’s a somber reminder of the price these men and women paid to defend the rest of us. Those soldiers are undergoing rehabilitation for wounds suffered during their service, and recovery is expected to continue for years for many. When we think of military sacrifice, our thoughts usually go to the fourteen soldiers killed in action during the nine-month deployment. The news that hundreds of Oklahomans suffered serious wounds that have prolonged their service is a somber reminder of the enormous debt we owe them. Even those who make it back home often have a long road ahead. They deserve our thanks and strongest support.
Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Once upon a time, advertisements for junk food were part of Disney programs for kids. But in 2015, such ads on TV, radio and websites will be banished from the Magic Kingdom. The Walt Disney Co. announced new nutrition guidelines today, furthering a 2006 initiative to make food at its theme parks and resorts healthier. “The emotional connection kids have to our characters and stories gives us a unique opportunity to continue to inspire and encourage them to lead healthier lives,” CEO Bob Iger said. He hopes to influence not only children but also companies. Though advertising revenue may initially decline, Iger’s goal is for companies to eventually create products meeting Disney’s standards. Ultimately, individuals and families make the decisions about what food to purchase and consume; government attempts to set the menu aren’t the answer to our nation’s health challenges. Disney’s effort at self-imposed corporate responsibility and media pressure is a fresh approach. We hope this change will help children live happily, and healthily, ever after.
AP File Photo