Saturday, September 22, 2012

Rural living could be an obesity risk factor

The United States is currently going through an obesity epidemic, and public health experts and others are understandably very concerned. There isn't a single state that has an obesity rate of under 20 percent and the medical costs associated with obesity were estimated to be approximately $147 billion in 2008.

Many researchers have wondered whether there might be a rural-urban divided as regards obesity rates, and a team of scholars at the University of Kansas and the Unviersity of Florida has done some work on the subject that is garnering attention.

Using data from the National Center for Health Statistics, the team found that 39.6% of people in rural areas were obese, as compared with 33.4% of those in urban areas. The team of researchers also noted that several factors were associated with higher rates of obesity, including being married, consuming a high daily calorie intake or a higher percentage of calories from fat, or being of African-American descent.

One of the investigators, Professor Michael G. Perri, noted that

"Rural areas have fewer resources to assist residents with lifestyle changes related to weight management."

It remains to be seen what might be done to address this disparity, but one solution might be to use the expertise of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Cooperative Extension Service, which has offices in just about every county in the United States.

Read the full article at the Los Angeles Times

>From The Scout Report,
Copyright Internet Scout 1994-2012.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Canada celebrates Organic Week Sept. 22-29, 2012

OTTAWA, September 21, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - For the third consecutive year, the Canadian Organic Growers and Canada Organic Trade Association are partnering with groups across the country to celebrate Organic Week in Canada.

This energized week recognizes the environmental and community-building contributions of organic growers and businesses in both urban and rural communities. From organic farm tours to harvest meals to wine tastings—there are dozens of events taking place across the country. A school contest is also encouraging children to get their hands dirty and better understand farming.

"In Canada, there are more than 3700 organic growers," said Beth McMahon, Executive Director of the Canadian Organic Growers. "Organic Week is an opportunity to applaud their commitment to the environment and a healthy food system. We really encourage people to get to know their farmers."

Organizers of Organic Week are also taking the opportunity to highlight the strong growth of the sector: with 66.5% growth in organic farms since 2001, according to the latest Census of Agriculture. The value of the organic market is now valued at more than $2.6 billion in sales, and has grown by 160% since 2006.

"Organics are a tightly regulated and inspected system, which prohibits synthetic toxins, GMOs and many additives in growing and processing," said Matthew Holmes, Executive Director of the Canada Organic Trade Association. "As people continue to look to reduce exposure to synthetic chemicals and genetically modified ingredients, as well support environmentally-friendly choices, demand for organics will only grow."

To find out more about events in your area, visit

Organic Week was made possible this year by champion sponsors Nature's Path Foods, Hain Celestial Canada, The Big Carrot, Mill St. Brewery, Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods & Oils, The Canadian Health Food Association, and UNFI Canada; as well as national supporters Ambrosia Organic Growers, Beretta, Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, Earthbound Farm, Ecocert, Ethical Bean Coffee, Fruit D'Or, Grainworks Inc., Kamut International, Left Coast Naturals, Nature's Fare Markets, Organic Garage, Organic Meadow, ShaSha Bread Co., Silk Soy Beverage, SunOpta, Taste of Nature, and USC Canada.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Paper Explores Environmental, Economic Costs of Dam Removal

GUELPH Ontario - September 11, 2012 - University of Guelph News Release - It’s a “dam” dilemma for more and more resource managers. Remove a dam to help restore sport fishes in the Great Lakes or to save endangered lake sturgeon, for instance, and you risk allowing parasitic sea lamprey to harm the fishery or further decimate a threatened species.

A new review paper whose authors include University of Guelph biologists discusses tradeoffs and possible economic or environmental costs of removing dams or creating fishways, an increasingly popular option among resource managers.

The paper was published online this month in the journal Fish and Fisheries.

“There’s a large push for new fish passageways and dam removal,” said Rob McLaughlin, a professor in the Department of Integrative Biology and the paper’s lead author.

He and former master’s student Eric Smyth worked with fisheries scientists in Michigan, Massachusetts, Ontario and British Columbia.

More resource managers are looking to fishways and dam removal to help build up migratory fish populations and to restore stream biodiversity and natural ecosystems.

Referring to fish and invertebrates that can harm native or desirable fish, McLaughlin said,

“The reality is that dams can be good if they’re blocking aquatic invasive species. There’s a need for a more nuanced approach as opposed to a bandwagon, one-size-fits-all approach to the problem.”

The team looked at almost 200 research publications involving more than 40 fish species and numerous dam locations across North America, Europe and Australia. Their paper discusses tradeoffs and effects of dam removal and fishway construction on various species, and ways to assess costs, benefits and tradeoffs.

The authors highlight an example involving invasive sea lamprey, highly prized walleye, and endangered lake sturgeon and northern brook lamprey at the Black Sturgeon dam in northern Lake Superior.

Smyth studied the Black Sturgeon River for his master’s thesis at Guelph. Referring to competing interests from sport fishers to environmental groups to government agencies, he said,

“There is no simple way to resolve the tradeoffs. No matter what, there’s going to be some negative consequences to management.”

Around the Great Lakes, a number of dams were built initially to control water levels and later modified to thwart sea lamprey. These parasitic fish entered the Great Lakes in the early 20th century.

Canada and the United States created the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC) to control sea lamprey. McLaughlin has worked with the GLFC on lamprey control, and came to Guelph in 2002 under a GLFC-funded ecosystem program.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Ministers of Education Mark International Literacy Day

TORONTO, September 8, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Provincial and territorial education ministers are joining today with governments, business and labour, nongovernmental organizations, and individuals from around the world to celebrate International Literacy Day (ILD).

ILD was established in 1965 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to highlight the fundamental value of literacy and promote greater literacy around the world.

UNESCO has chosen the theme "Literacy and Peace" for ILD 2012 to underscore the role that literacy can play in resolving conflict and promoting civic engagement and social harmony.

"Ministers of education are pleased to add their voice to the global call for greater literacy for all peoples," said the Honourable Ramona Jennex, Chair of CMEC and Minister of Education for Nova Scotia. "We recognize that literacy is a one of the pillars of an open and democratic, economically strong, and socially inclusive society."

Provinces and territories continue their efforts on literacy through a wide range of programs and initiatives adapted to meet the varied needs of their respective populations. This flexible approach — a hallmark of Canada's education systems — ensures that government resources are used to maximum effect and successes are shared among provinces and territories and on the international stage.

Canadians can learn more about literacy in Canada by visiting

Literacy also remains an integral part of the work of CMEC and is addressed in a variety of programs and activities, including education data and learning assessment, international engagement, and early childhood education.

Of particular note is CMEC's participation, in partnership with the federal government, in OECD's flagship assessment of adult skills and learning, the Programme for International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). PIAAC will provide Canadians with one of the most complete portraits ever of adult skills in Canada, including literacy, and will inform policy development for years to come. The first results from PIAAC will be released in fall 2013.

About CMEC

Founded in 1967, CMEC is the collective voice of Canada's ministers of education. It provides leadership in education at the pan-Canadian and international levels and contributes to the exercise of the exclusive jurisdiction of provinces and territories over education. For more information, visit us at