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Avoid Cancer, Lose Weight, Look Great, Attract a Mate, Be Happy … and Stop Global Warming

Alan AtKisson, WorldChanging
The industrialized world seems to be rushing its inhabitants towards a kind of choice point, a Meaning of Life Moment, an existential fork in the road.

The choice is this: Do we want to be happy, healthy, safe, and wise? Or stressed out, sick, scrambling for protection from terror-bomb blasts, and cursing ourselves for having been too stupid to act wiser, sooner?

One hopes the right choice is obvious. And yet, our behavior as a subspecies (homo sapiens consumptionus) is enough to make one wonder.

The most rigorous study on cancer ever, by the World Cancer Research Fund, has recently released its findings. Based on over half a million published studies, as reviewed by nine institutes over a six-year period, researchers concluded the following:

To avoid cancer, don’t eat too much. Stay lean. Avoid red meat. Walk.

Oddly, recommendations like these turn up on virtually every list of virtues one should cultivate if one is also to help save the planet — or to be somewhat more precise, to save the planetary biosphere’s climatic stability, ecosystem resilience, and biological diversity.

And it hardly needs a literature review to establish the fact that staying lean and healthy does no harm to a single person’s chances out there in the relationship market.

It turns out that “being good,” you might say, is good for you, good for your sex life, good for the environment.

Why, then, is it so hard to be good — at least in the sense of taking care of our physical bodies?
(15 November 2007)

Healthy body, planet: Scientists suggest cutting calories can help cut carbon dioxide

Seth Borenstein, Associated Press
America’s obesity epidemic and global warming might not seem to have much in common. But public health experts suggest people can attack them both by cutting calories and carbon dioxide at the same time.

How? Get out of your car and walk or bike half an hour a day instead of driving. And while you’re at it, eat less red meat. That’s how Americans can simultaneously save the planet and their health, say doctors and climate scientists.

The payoffs are huge, although unlikely to happen. One numbers-crunching scientist calculates that if all Americans between 10 and 74 walked just half an hour a day instead of driving, they would cut the annual U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas, by 64 million tons.

About 6.5 billion gallons of gasoline would be saved. And Americans would also shed more than 3 billion pounds overall, according to these calculations.

…In a little-noticed scientific paper in 2005, Paul Higgins, a scientist and policy fellow with the American Meteorological Society, calculated specific savings from adopting federal government recommendations for half an hour a day of exercise instead of driving.

The average person walking half an hour a day would lose about 13 pounds a year. And if everyone did that instead of driving the same distance, the nation would burn a total of 10.5 trillion calories, according to the scientist, formerly with the University of California at Berkeley. At the same time, that would cut carbon dioxide emissions by about the same amount New Mexico produces, he said.

“The real bang for the buck in reducing greenhouse gas emissions was from the avoided health expenses of a sedentary lifestyle,” said Higgins.

But it’s not just getting out of the car that’s needed, said Dr. Robert Lawrence of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. A diet shift away from heavy meat consumption would also go far, he said, because it takes much more energy and land to produce meat than fruits, vegetables and grains.
(15 ? November 2007)
Another aspect to the argument is that it takes several calories of fossil fuel energy to produce and deliver one calorie of food. Reducing one’s intake of food calories would result in a multifold decrease in fossil fuel calories. Although the article was pessimistic about this happening, “the magic of the markets” may help matters along by making food and fuel more expensive. -BA

UPDATE (Nov 18) Contributor Carl Etnier writes:
Mention is made of a 2005 paper by Paul Higgins. I believe the paper is the same one found here:

Would you consider adding that link below the AP story? In my work, I have more confidence when I can refer to a scientist’s publication rather than an AP summary of it, and I suspect others are similar.

Hunger Stalks World’s Wealthiest Country

Abid Aslam, Inter Press Service
More than one in 10 people in the United States go hungry, according to new official figures that suggest government food programmes are falling short in the world’s wealthiest country.

More than 35 million people in a country of some 294 million went hungry last year, 390,000 more than in 2005, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest Household Food Security report.

Of the total, 12.63 million were children. Put another way, nearly one in five U.S. children either went without enough food during the course of the year or had food but could never take future meals for granted.

The report, released Wednesday, comes as Congress debates the 2007 Farm Bill, a five-year piece of legislation affecting everything from agricultural subsidies to nutritional programmes for the poor.
(16 November 2007)
Also at Common Dreams.

Childhood obesity spreading around the globe, experts say

Aaron Derfel, Montreal Gazette
Childhood obesity is no longer a North American problem but is spreading to China and other countries around the world as a result of globalization, says the organizer of an international conference held in Montreal this week.

It’s not just poor nutrition choices that are responsible for childhood obesity, suggested Laurette Dube, a professor of consumer psychology at McGill University. The underlying cause for much of the problem is unchecked economic expansion.

And China is an ideal example, she added. In 1985, only 5.3 per cent of Chinese boys and 3.3 per cent of girls were considered overweight or obese. By 2000, the rates had soared to 29 per cent for boys and 17.3 per cent for girls.
(8 November 2007)