Thursday, April 01, 2010

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IS THERE A HOLE IN THE THINK TANK? As of January 2010, Indonesia planned to raise money for protecting its remaining 400 Sumatran tigers by renting some already in captivity. These tigers would rent for $107,100 a pair - with any cubs produced being government property. The renters would have to be Indonesian; allow quarterly visits by a team of vets, animal welfare officers and ministry staff; and provide cages at least 16 x 19 x 32 feet. However, because the government allows the tigers' natural habitat to be destroyed by concessions to logging companies, renting a tiger seems to lack … "the eye of the tiger". On January 27, 2010 People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals had its own bad idea. PETA wanted Punxsutawney Phil replaced by a robotic groundhog. According to PETA, it's unfair to keep Phil in captivity, subjecting him to bright lights and huge crowds every February 2nd - Groundhog Day - the day he predicts 6 more weeks of winter if he sees his shadow. According to the President of the Inner Circle of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, Phil is well cared for, lives in a climate-controlled environment and is inspected annually by the state's Department of Agriculture. Perhaps PETA was just "groundhogging" publicity. Then there's TV's very public "The Biggest Loser". In 2010 it received criticism from nutritionists and physicians. First, obesity has serious health risks - heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and certain cancers. Second, beginning strenuous exercise suddenly can cause problems with hydration, electrolyte balance and cardiac function; but contestants exercise 5-6 hours daily. Third, a 1-2 pound weight loss weekly is considered safe, but the strenuous exercise plus strict diets result in double-digit weight loss. Losing weight too quickly can cause gallstones, mineral deficiencies, loss of muscle tissue and reduced bone density. This makes The Biggest Loser an unhealthy "weighting game". Writing of unhealthy, a 2010 study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found 1 in 5 prescriptions weren't filled. Of the prescriptions given to approximately 75,000 insured, Massachusetts patients during one year, 22% weren't filled. With first-time prescriptions the rate was higher - 28%. These unfilled prescriptions included ones for chronic conditions with serious consequences. Between 28% and 31% of new prescriptions for diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol weren't filled. However, the prescription least filled - 55% - was for pain medication. Obviously, pain doesn't motivate people to act in a "painstaking" manner.
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ARE EXTRA POUNDS WEIGHTING FOR US? Children's body chemistry may be permanently affected if their mothers are obese. A study done on rats - because rats have human-like physiology - found obese rats gave birth to pups with hyper-response to inflammation. This condition remained after the pups became adults, as well as after they were put on low-fat diets. Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, type-2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease are inflammation-related disorders. Thus it's believed obese mothers put their newborns at greater risk for these disorders later in life. The fact almost two-thirds of pregnant women in the U.S. are overweight or obese gives new meaning to the word "fat-uous". Even after we lose weight there are physiological reasons why it's hard to keep that weight off. Changes in the brain both increase emotional response to food and decrease activity in the brain systems more involved in restraint. Also, after we loose weight our bodies adapt to conserve energy and don't require as many calories. Then there's leptin, one of the hormones that controls appetite. After significant weight loss leptin levels drop, which signals a need for food to the brain. The only food without calories to turn into fat is food for thought. As we age, even more calories are turned into fat and we gain weight. That's because muscles age too. Older muscles shrink because they don't repair themselves as well and then muscle cells die. Those remaining are worn out. Our bodies' energy source is calories and most calories are burned by muscle cells. Metabolism is based on how efficiently the calories are burned. Because older muscles don't burn calories as well, metabolism slows down and unburned calories turn into fat. The good new is exercise - specifically weightlifting - helps muscle cells get bigger and muscles get stronger. The bad news is exercising good judgment doesn't affect muscles. The bad news for dogs is that overweight people are more likely to have overweight dogs. Being overweight puts extra pressure on dogs' bones, heart and other organs. As with humans, a healthy diet and cardio-type exercise - at least 30 minutes a day - are what dogs need to be healthy and what they need to avoid behavior problems like barking, chewing and house soiling. Statistics say over 34% of Americans are obese and approximately 40% of household pets are overweight. What this says is that if our dogs are fat, we need more exercise.

Knight Pierce Hirst

I may be the only writer who has moved to Los Angeles for the weather.

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