Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Obesity is the new starvation in Africa

A South African businessman

 Obesity rates are skyrocketing in sub-Saharan Africa, as in most parts of the world. But here the obesity problem has an unusual and particularly worrying shape.
While child hunger has traditionally been the more pressing problem in African countries, researchers say that malnourished, growth-stunted children are turning into overweight adults.
In South Africa, the most developed country in sub-Saharan Africa, 61 percent of adults are obese, according to research released by GlaxoSmithKline
This means that countries still wracked by malnutrition, as well as infectious diseases such as malaria and HIV/AIDS, are facing a battery of chronic health problems such as diabetes and heart disease.
What’s more, new research has found that babies born to overweight or obese mothers are far more likely to die — a devastating problem in sub-Saharan African countries that already have some of the world’s highest infant mortality rates.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Boko Haram isn't about economics, it's jihad, says Nigeria president

In an interview with Christiane Amanpour yesterday, President Goodluck Jonathan stated that poverty and economic challenges are not the main drivers of the Boko Haram insurgence in Nigeria suggesting that it is all jihadism.  He described the group as a local terrorist group that if unchecked poses existential threat not only to Nigeria but to other countries in West and central Africa.
Here is the interview:

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Wanted: ‘Adventurous female’ to give birth to Neanderthals

A US scientist is looking for an “adventurous female” who he claims can give birth to the Neanderthals - close human relatives who went extinct about 33,000 years ago.
The Harvard Medical School Professor of Genetics, George Church’s wild ambitions include genetically engineering humans so they can live up to the ripe age of 120 or even 150, make them immune to viruses and cancer resistant, in addition to recreating Neanderthals. Neanderthals may be thought as primitive cave dwellers, but new research has shown they were more like humans than previously thought, and may even have interbred with Homo sapiens.
Church told the German newspaper Der Spiegel that he’s gathered the DNA of Neanderthals, will work some laboratory magic on it, and could then be ready to recreate one - provided he can find an “adventurous” human surrogate mother, reported.
Neanderthals may be thought as primitive cave dwellers, but new research has shown they were more like humans than previously thought, and may even have interbred with Homo sapiens.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Nations that consume a lot of milk also win a lot of nobel prizes

Mo Yan, Chinese writer, receiving his Nobel Prize in 2012
Nations that consume a lot of milk and milk products also tend to have a lot of Nobel laureates among their populations, suggest the authors of a letter, published in Practical Neurology.
Research published last year in the New England Journal of Medicine reported a strong association between a nation's chocolate consumption and Nobel laureate prowess, speculating that the flavonoid content of chocolate was behind the boost in brain power.
They looked at the 2007 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization on per capita milk consumption in 22 countries as well as the information provided by the author of the chocolate theory, and found a significant association.
This got the letter authors thinking. As chocolate is often combined with milk, could it be the amount of milk/milk products consumed per head that fuels Nobel Prize success?
Selma Lagerlöf, Swedish writer, first female writer to win Nobel
They looked at the 2007 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization on per capita milk consumption in 22 countries as well as the information provided by the author of the chocolate theory, and found a significant association.
Sweden has the most Nobel laureates per 10 million of its population (33). Although, it hosts the Nobel committee, which some might argue could introduce an element of bias; it also consumes the most milk per head of the population, getting through 340kg every year.
And Switzerland, which knocks back 300kg of the white stuff every year, has a Nobel haul of similar proportions (32).
At the other end of the scale, China has the lowest number of Nobel laureates in its population. But it also has the lowest milk consumption of the countries studied -- at around 25kg a year.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Obesity bigger health crisis than hunger - Report

Obesity is a bigger health crisis globally than hunger, and the leading cause of disabilities around the world, according to a new report published Thursday in the British medical journal The Lancet.
Nearly 500 researchers from 50 countries compared health data from 1990 through 2010 for the Global Burden of Disease report, revealing what they call a massive shift in global health trends.
Every country, with the exception of those in sub-Saharan Africa, faces alarming obesity rates -- an increase of 82% globally in the past two decades. Middle Eastern countries are more obese than ever, seeing a 100% increase since 1990
"We discovered that there's been a huge shift in mortality. Kids who used to die from infectious disease are now doing extremely well with immunization," said Ali Mokdad, co-author of the study and professor of global health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, which led the collaborative project.
"However, the world is now obese and we're seeing the impact of that."
The report revealed that every country, with the exception of those in sub-Saharan Africa, faces alarming obesity rates -- an increase of 82% globally in the past two decades. Middle Eastern countries are more obese than ever, seeing a 100% increase since 1990.

Coca-Cola weighs in on obesity fight

It's a statistic we've been hearing far too often -- and for far too long. Two-thirds of American adults are either overweight or obese -- and the problem is only getting worse.
Even Coca-Cola, the world's largest beverage company, is now calling obesity "the issue of this generation."
The world's most valuable brand took the last seat at a crowded table Monday, when it launched an ad campaign aimed at "reinforcing its efforts to work together with American communities, business and government leaders to find meaningful solutions to the complex challenge of obesity."
The first commercial of the campaign, a two-minute video called "Coming Together," begins with a voice-over: "For over 125 years, we've been bringing people together. Today, we'd like people to come together on something that concerns all of us: obesity." The spots are scheduled to run on television, including CNN, beginning this week.

Coca-Cola points out in the video it offers 180 low- and no-calorie beverages out of more than 650 beverage products.
"beating obesity will take action by all of us, based on one simple, common-sense fact: All calories count, no matter where they come from. ... And if you eat and drink more calories than you burn off, you'll gain weight." - Coca cola
Coke has come under increased fire over the past year as a predominant target of an anti-obesity crusade, led in large part by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, also known as the CSPI.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Python on aircraft wings shocks passengers

A python on a plane wing shocked passengers on a Qantas flight over Australia, according to a Jan. 11 WHO TV report. Somehow, the 12-foot python was hanging on the plane's wing at 30,000 feet. That is rather astonishing news! It truly was a snake literally on a plane.
The Qantas flight was about 20 minutes into a flight from Cairns in northern Australia to Papua New Guinea when somebody looked out and noticed the python on the plane wing. One passenger was even able to get a video of the snake's valiant fight.
Robert Weber, a passenger on the plane where the python hitched a ride, said, "there was no panic. At no time did anyone stop to consider there might be others on board."
It is a good thing that there were not any more pythons on board the plane. Otherwise passengers may have gotten a bit more worried about the bizarre situation.
The python actually hung onto the plane's wing for the duration of the flight. Unfortunately, it died during the ordeal.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Court halts Kenya's digital switch

Kenya's high court has ordered that the date for the switch off of the analogue television signal be delayed, preferably until after the March poll.
Justice Isaac Lenaola said an immediate move to digital would be unfair to Kenyans keen to follow the polls on TV.
The Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) had wanted to turn it off last month, ahead of a 2015 global deadline.
But a consumer group challenged its decision, arguing that Kenyans had not been given enough time to prepare.
According to Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper, the Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek) said the first notice about the analogue signal switch-off, planned for 31 December 2012, was given on 7 December 2012.
The cost of set-top boxes needed to receive digital transmissions meant it would be prohibitively expensive for most Kenyans, Cofek argued.

Flu reaches epidemic level in US

A woman takes the flu shot in a local hospital
A Reuters report today quotes the US Centre for Diseases Control (CDC) as saying that 7.3 per cent of all deaths reported in the United States last week were as a result of pneumonia and the flu.
"That is above the epidemic threshold of 7.2 percent, CDC said. Nine of the 10 regions of the United States had "elevated" flu activity, confirming that seasonal flu has spread across the country and reached high levels several weeks before the usual time of late January or February," the report states.
According to, 47 out of the 50 states are now reporting 'widespread' activity.
Experts recommend the vaccine for everyone over 6 months of age. Even if it does not prevent flu, it can reduce the severity of the illness, preventing pneumonia and other life-threatening results of flu.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Elephant poaching in Kenya on the rise

Kenya has suffered its worst single loss of elephants to poachers on record, with 12 members of one family slaughtered and their tusks hacked out in just a few hours last weekend.
Eleven adults and one infant calf died in a “targeted and efficient” attack highlighting the growing professionalism of poachers bankrolled by international criminals supplying soaring demand for ivory in the Far East. The calf, less than a year old, is believed to have been crushed by its dying mother as she fell to the ground.
This was the latest in a surge of elephant deaths that has seen the number of the animals killed for their ivory in Kenya increase sevenfold in five years, from fewer than 50 in 2007 to 360 in 2012
“It is unimaginable, a heinous, heinous crime,” said Paul Udoto, spokesman for the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). “We have not seen such an incident in recent memory, it’s the worst single loss that we have on record, and our records go back almost 30 years. These were professional killers. The attack was targeted and efficient.”
The poachers, armed with automatic rifles, had already fled but there were hopes Tuesday that a massive search involving foot patrols, a dozen vehicles, and three aircraft could still find them.
“Every possible resource is being deployed to track down these criminals,” Mr. Udoto said. “They will feel the full force of the law.”

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Boko Haram: Will the bombs continue this year?

As 2013 takes off gradually, Nigerians, as always, hope for the best. Even though there are many issues that worry Nigerians, the issue of bomb blasts seems to be on the front burner.
When a country like Iraq or Afghanistan is mentioned, what readily comes to mind is bomb blast. Bombs have been exploding in these countries (as well as in Pakistan) so often for close to 10 years now that it is never news again when the device explodes there. Somalia is a different case because it is No 1 in the Failed States Index.
The question that agitates many Nigerians is: If the police and the military are not safe from these bomb attacks, what is the fate of the ordinary Nigerians?
When on October 19, 1986 the first bomb exploded in peace time in Nigeria, killing Mr. Dele Giwa, the editor of Newswatch magazine, Nigerians were shocked to the marrow. Even though all fingers pointed at the government of the day, the prosecution of the case, which was led by Chief Gani Fawehinmi, was frustrated to the point that nobody was found culpable for that dastardly act till date. That incident introduced the use of bomb to kill opponents in peace time in Nigeria. But luckily, it was not copied fast in the 1980s.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Africa can help Sweden in this one

Agbogbloshie refuse dump in Accra
There is something very interesting happening in Sweden, the Nordic country in Europe.  Sweden is in dire need of waste, I mean waste, rubbish or 'doti' as it is called in West African pidgin.  Yeah, it wants as much waste as it can get.
Why?  Only 4 per cent of Swedish garbage ends up in a landfill, according to Swedish Waste Management.  Yet the country needs waste to convert to renewable energy.  The European country started recently to import around 800,000 tons of trash annually from other countries, particularly Norway.
According to an NPR report "Sweden's program of generating energy from garbage is wildly successful, but recently its success has also generated a surprising issue: There is simply not enough trash." As Sweden's demand for waste increases, I read it has its eyes on Bulgaria, Italy and Romania for future waste exporters.
Olusosun landfill in Lagos
A Ghanaian friend says he's sure his government will give Sweden its wastes free of charge.  I dare say same of Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia and Sierra Leone.  
Africa can help Sweden meet this need.  Most cities in Africa suffer from huge litter resulting from poor waste management systems.  From Accra, to Lagos, Freetown, Dakar, Nairobi, Port Harcourt and a host of others.  Waste is a resource that these cities have in huge supply.  These cities can meet your waste need. So Sweden look no further.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Ghana bans importation of used refrigerators, air conditioners

The West African country of Ghana has banned the importation of used refrigerators and air conditioners into the country with effect from January 1, 2013.
The government says the ban is necessary to reduce energy consumption and stop the harmful effect of these products on the environment.
Many old fridges contain chemicals called Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) which damage the Earth's ozone layer
“There has been a complete ban on the importation of used refrigerators, freezers and air conditioners. The ban took effect from today (January 1)," the Executive Secretary of the Energy Commission, Alfred Ofosu Ahenkorah, confirmed to Daily Graphic, Ghana's leading newspaper, on New Year day.
Many old fridges contain chemicals called Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) which damage the Earth's ozone layer.  The refrigerator is the largest power-guzzler in the typical household.