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Thursday, December 01, 2005


"Poverty" makes you fat 11/30/2005

Which shows how absurd conventional definitions of poverty are

Residents in Sydney's [poor] south-west are among the fattest in the state, with more than half the inhabitants of the Campbelltown and Camden area overweight or obese, new figures reveal.

Meanwhile, Sydney's affluent eastern suburbs and North Shore have the lowest percentage of overweight and obese residents, with just one in five women above the healthy weight range.

Figures from the NSW Health Department, compiled for The Sun-Herald from the 2002, 2003 and 2004 adult health surveys, highlight the correlation between weight and wealth. They come as doctors grapple with the nation's obesity crisis and experts call for the regulation of food outlets and subsidising of healthy, fresh food. Compiled from interviews with 32,877 people across the state over three years, the figures also draw attention to the disparity between obesity levels in rural and city regions.....

Social researcher Neer Korn, a director of research organisation Heartbeat Trends, said the figures showed the direct correlation between socio-economic status and obesity problems. "People from a lower socio-economic background eat more junk food and they have less time to care for themselves," Mr Korn said. [Another nitwit! Has she never heard of the long hours at work that many middle-income put in?] "If you have a nanny and you're not working, you have all day to go shopping for food to get something nice to cook for dinner which is healthy, and you can afford gym membership." Mr Korn said Australia's obesity problem was more pronounced in rural areas because fresh food was more expensive [What rubbish! He hasn't got a clue! He must never have lived in a country town and found out how much informal exchange of fresh fruit and vegetables there is] and the health message was a lower priority for residents there. "Try getting fruit and vegies in Wilcannia - it's so expensive there, it's much cheaper just to go to Maccas," he said.

Ian Caterson, Boden Professor of Human Nutrition at the University of Sydney, said the availability of food was a major contributor to the increasing obesity problem. He told a WeightWatchers-hosted discussion forum on obesity last week that an American study found the abundance of food outlets accounted for 68 per cent of the increase in obesity levels. He recommended introducing legislation to police the number and type of food outlets [No disguising the Fascism there!] that could be built in any one area to ensure people could obtain, say, fresh fruit as easily as fast food....

More here

That greater self-discipline might make you both richer and slimmer is not of course mentioned


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Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Another robust letter in today's Herald (no point in linking it because they will be subscription only after today):

The importance of the current debate on nuclear power to the Scottish nation can hardly be underestimated. I suggest that the opposition to nuclear electricity over the last 40 years has been largely a displacement activity for reasonable but ineffective opposition to our nuclear weapons. If so the nuclear family is in trouble.

55% of our power comes from Hunterston & Torness which are due to close in 2011 & the early 2020s respectively. To make matters worse much coal production will have to close down in 2015 when new emission controls come in. All in all we will lose 2/3rds of our electricity & without new nuclear reactors, with Kyoto making new conventional power stations illegal, & with windmills, despite immense subsidy, making less than 2% we have no way of replacing this loss. If that happens the last person to leave Scotland will not have to turn out the lights.

By comparison, in England they depend on home produced nuclear for only 20% of their power & are currently importing 5% power from France, who use nuclear to produce 85% of it - a figure which the French are happy to increase.

Despite what several correspondents & your own Ms Collins (Saturday article) say nuclear is actually the lowest cost option at 2.3p a unit compared to 5.4p & 7.2p for wind & off-shore wind respectively (Royal Academy of Engineers figures). If this were not so it would obviously be impossible for France to not only remain solvent on their power but also to profitably sell it to all their neighbours.

Equally the hysteria about burying waste is completely overblown. The only argument the last government commission on (they have them regularly) accepted was that the problem with burying a cubic metre per reactor year of waste in a state of the art sealed container was that it would be impossible to recover when the isotopes became valuable.

The opposition are clearly increasingly desperate for any alternative. They originally rejected tidal & ocean turbines in favour of wind as being expensive, prone to damage & not usable in the short term. Useless as windmills clearly are, the proportionate judgement still stands. Hydrogen & the Grunard project are storage mediums largely irrelevant without the initial power & even as storage, relatively inefficient. Knocking down a million houses & rebuilding them with state of the art insulation is worse. Fusion is 40 years from being commercially feasible - & has been for 40 years. They are correctly worried that a 'highly materialistic electorate who fear the lights going out" will not appreciate the advantages of hypothermia.

Since 24,000 pensioners die each year from fuel poverty because of unnecessarily high power costs they are quite right to.
Yours Faithfully
Neil Craig
The Herald didn't edit it leaving it the longest letter of the day in the central position under a photo of Hunterston. This contains repitition of things I had put into the Scotsman so it wouldn't have worked there. It is however the first time I have said the bit about displacement activity & the first since I have been fully aware of the closures of coal plants which makes our situation much worse. It also has a bit of humour.

All in all I am extremely pleased with this. I will be interested to see if anybody can take up cudgels on it - I would welcome it. On Saturday the Herald had their summation of the week in which they said the split on letters on the subject was 25/75 against nuclear so I thought it important to say something.


In reply to in the Scotsman
Waste Neil Craig (Letters, 22 November) says: "We know that nuclear power costs 2.3 pence a unit." However, does this take into account the £50 billion cost of cleaning up waste from the first generation of British reactors? And does the 2.3p figure also include an allowance for any extra security to protect reactors from bombs dropped by terrorists?

Stephen Salter

Subsidies Neil Craig's figures for power costs do not include the hidden subsidies provided for nuclear plants that amount to billions of pounds. Taking these costs into account, we find that nuclear power is hideously expensive, unsafe, polluting and is a constant security risk.

John Rogerson
I replied
Nuclear Stephen Salter (Letters, 24 November) questions my figure of 2.3p per unit for nuclear electricity. It came from the Royal Academy of Engineering, and covers all costs, including disposal. In fact, using modern reactors, with a level regulatory playing field, old reactors left 50 years to "cool" rather than being dismantled immediately (and expensively), and built in four years rather than 12 (the extra being to allow for expensive inquiries), the actual cost could be much further reduced.

Neil Craig Glasgow

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