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LA bans new fast-food restaurants in poor neighborhoods to battle high obesity rates

A Los Angeles McDonald's

(quote)

The Los Angeles City Council has approved a law that bans fast-food restaurants from opening in South LA. People who live in this area have the largest obesity problems. Approximately one in 3 children from South LA is obese, compared to one in five in the rest of the city. Nearly one-third of residents in the city's south are obese, compared with 19% for the overall Los Angeles area and 14% in the wealthier west side area.

The main thing responsible for this condition is poverty, as well as the fact that 73 percent of the restaurants in the southern part of the city are fast-food ones and offer meals that are high in calories and cholesterol. "There's one set of food for one part of the city, another set of food for another part of the city, and it's very stratified that way," Marqueece Harris-Dawson, a community leader in south Los Angeles, told the Washington Post this month.

City Officials Are Restricting Where Restaurants Can Locate

The new law will ban the opening of any fast-food restaurants for a year, but there is the possibility that this period will be increased to two years. According to the new law, “any establishment which dispenses food for consumption on or off the premises, and which has the following characteristics: a limited menu, items prepared in advance or prepared or heated quickly, no table orders and food served in disposable wrapping or containers" is considered to be a fast-food restaurant.  read more »

Rome. World leaders: food prices go higher - wheat might rise by 60%, vegetable oils by 80%

(quote)

Higher food prices may be here to stay as demand from developing countries and production costs rise, says an report by the UN's Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the body for rich nations, the OECD. In its annual Outlook report, the FAO predicted beef and pork prices might be 20% higher by 2017, wheat could be up to 60% more expensive and the cost of vegetable oils might rise by 80%. World prices for wheat, maize and oilseed crops doubled between 2005 and 2007, and while the FAO expects these prices to fall, the decline may be slower than after previous spikes. As well as key factors such as weather, supply and demand and energy costs, speculators are also to blame for making commodity prices more volatile, the FAO says. It is also concerned about the increasing use of crops for biofuels. Looking ahead, climate change may also affect crop harvests, pushing up prices further.

But the hardest-hit by rising food costs will be the poorest people on the planet, where a large share of income is spent on food, the FAO warned. The FAO believes the commodity boom has forced some in the developing world to spend more than half their income on food, particularly those countries that have to import much of their food. But even then, its outlook may be too conservative, says BBC international development correspondent David Loyn, since predicting future oil prices is a near-impossible task. One key assumption made is that crude oil prices will peak at $104 a barrel by 2017 says our correspondent. But as he points out, the price is already well above that, and some reputable analysts are now predicting oil will go to $200 a barrel. And he added that while there may be a drop in food prices in coming years, "there is a sting in the tail. "Prices will level off at a far higher average level than seen before the crisis erupted," he said. "The long era of cheap food is over."  read more »

Cellulosic Ethanol Plant Opens, Uses Waste Biomass to Make Biofuel

Original Source: Technology Review

(quote)

A biorefinery built to produce 1.4 million gallons of ethanol a year from cellulosic biomass will open tomorrow in Jennings, LA. Built by Verenium, based in Cambridge, MA, the plant will make ethanol from agricultural waste left over from processing sugarcane. It is the first demonstration-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in the United States and will be used to try out variations on the company's technology and is designed to run continuously. Verenium wants to demonstrate that it can create ethanol for $2 a gallon, which it hopes will make the fuel competitive with other types of ethanol and gasoline. Next year, the company plans to begin construction on commercial plants that will each produce about 20 to 30 million gallons of ethanol a year. Until now, technology for converting nonfood feedstocks into ethanol has been limited to the lab and to small-scale pilot plants that can produce thousands of gallons of ethanol a year. Since these don't operate continuously, they don't give an accurate idea of how much it will ultimately cost to produce cellulosic ethanol in a commercial-scale facility.

Almost all ethanol biofuel in the United States is currently made from corn kernels. But the need for cellulosic feedstocks of ethanol has been underscored recently as food prices worldwide have risen sharply, in part because of the use of corn as a source of biofuels. At the same time, the rising cost of corn and gas have begun to make cellulosic ethanol more commercially attractive, says Wallace Tyner, a professor of agricultural economics at Purdue University. A new Renewable Fuels Standard, part of an energy bill that became law late last year, mandates the use of 100 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels by 2010, and 16 billion by 2022.

So far, however, there are no commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plants in operation in the United States, although a number of facilities are scheduled to start production in the next few years. The Department of Energy is currently funding more than a dozen companies that will be building demonstration- and commercial-scale plants. One of these, Range Fuels, based in Broomfield, CO, plans to open a commercial-scale plant next year. It will have the capacity to produce 20 million gallons of ethanol and methanol a year. Verenium will use a combination of acid pretreatments, enzymes, and two types of bacteria to make ethanol from the plant matter--called bagasse--that's left over from processing sugarcane to make sugar. It will also process what's called energy cane, a relative of sugarcane that's lower in sugar and higher in fiber. The high fiber content allows the plants to grow taller, increasing yield from a given plot of land.

The opening of the demonstration plant, and the current construction of a number of other demonstration- and commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plants, marks a turning point for the industry, Riva says. The development of improved enzymes and fermentation organisms means that no further scientific breakthroughs are needed to make cellulosic ethanol commercially successful, he says. "There's been a tremendous amount of background work in science and technology development," he says. "We've learned so much about the process that the really important thing now is to start to deploy the technology at a commercial scale."

(unquote)

insides of a new cellulosic ethanol plant that converts agricultural waste into fuel

Britain's Couch Potato Children Now among the Fattest in Europe

Original Source: Daily Mail

(quote)

British children are among the worst in a Europe-wide obesity league table, with around a third weighing more than they should. A couch potato lifestyle and a growing appetite for fast food is blamed for boys and girls weighing in near the top of a 27-country fat league.

Scottish girls take second place in the female rankings, with almost 33 per cent overweight. English girls are fourth, with 29.3 per cent too heavy for their height. The heaviest girls are in Portugal (34.3 per cent), while the slimmest are in Latvia and Lithuania (3.5 per cent overweight). Among the boys, Scotland was again second, with almost 35 per cent too heavy for their height. Only Spanish boys are heavier. English boys are in sixth place at 29 per cent - compared to the lean lads of Lithuania, where only 8 per cent are overweight. The figures, which were compiled by the IASO from government and scientific studies, come as British doctors warn they are treating children as young as two for obesity.

Obesity experts said the results could be partly explained by a couch potato lifestyle, in which TV dinners have replaced family meals and computer games are preferred to outdoor play. Dr Tim Lobstein, of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, said: "There is a big industry selling us more TV to watch, more computer games to play, more DVDs to sit and watch. There is a big industry promoting screen watching which is a sedentary behaviour and you just get fatter while you do it."

Dr Ian Campbell, medical director of the charity Weight Concern, said childhood obesity could only be tackled by parents, schools and government working together. Safe, accessible exercise facilities and nourishing and affordable meals should be a priority, he said.

(unquote)

Too much time in front of the TV eating junk food

8 Ideas to Fix the Global Food Crisis

Pakistani woman waits for rice at the Bari Imam Shrine in Islamabad

Australia: severe, six-year drought causes major shortages in grain crops including rice, wheat and barley

Somalia: in Mogadishu, demonstration against record inflation, riots protesting rising food prices

(quote)

The world food crisis has two faces. Here in the United States, shoppers stare in disbelief at the rising price of milk, meat, and eggs. But elsewhere on the globe, anguish spills into the streets, as in Somalia last week when tens of thousands of rioters converged on the capital to protest for food.

The strain on U.S. consumers, grappling with the sharpest increase in grocery prices in years, is small compared with the starvation that toppled Haiti's government, ignited riots around the world, and is deepening the tragedy of Myanmar's cyclone survivors. And yet the connection between the developed and developing worlds will be crucial to solving what one United Nations official has called a "silent tsunami" of food prices that has plunged 100 million people deeper into poverty. To stem the misery, relief officials are calling both for emergency aid and for changes in policy worldwide.

...Among the proposed solutions:  read more »

  • Take a Pause on Biofuels
  • Improve Food Aid
  • Produce Higher Yields
  • Grow Better Crops
  • Curb the Speculators
  • Break Down Trade Barriers
  • Eat Less Meat

RealAge Tip - Don’t Diet! Eat for Good Health

"Focus on your waist, not your weight.

If you've tried every calorie-restricting diet out there but still can't keep the weight off, there's a reason: Diets don't work.

Over time, the majority of dieters regain any weight they may have lost, according to researchers… Instead, your goal should be to eat nutritious foods that make you younger -- and make that a lifelong habit. The good news? Your waist may shrink as a fringe benefit.

..."

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