Tagged epidemic

Epidemic Obesity: Adaptation Gone Wild

Obesity is unnatural, but it’s natural to try for it.

titian_venus_mirrorThis morning I sat on a panel for medical students; the subject was obesity. Nationally, as anyone who hasn’t been hiding under a rock knows, the picture is not pretty-in fact it’s pretty ugly. By the standard definition, obesity means a Body Mass Index (BMI; weight in kilos over height in meters squared) above 30, and in about 15 years starting in 1990 we went from 22 percent to 33 percent obese.

Now, I don’t care what you call it or Read more

Swine, Flu and Us: 3

Could it be in the end we will thank this virus for bringing us together?

The H1N1 epidemic is not much in the news anymore, but of course it’s percolating along. WHO now calls it “sneaky” because human-to-human spread is rapid and because the virus has the potential to mutate into a more virulent form. As of May 25 the number of countries affected (46) has doubled Read more

Swine, Flu and Us: 2

How can we be sure how serious the threat is? We can’t.

According to the World Health Organization, which is carefully tracking the new H1N1 virus and reporting daily, as of 4 PM today (Wednesday, May 6), 23 countries have reported 1,893 official cases (822 in Mexico) and a total of 30 deaths (29 in Mexico). Since I wrote on this last week,  Read more

Swine, Flu and Us

It’s always wrong to panic, but it’s never wrong to be prepared.

There is an ancient relationship between humanity on the one side, and parasites, microbes, and viruses on the other. It has been rightly called an evolutionary arms race—or more exactly, a series of them—and I will return to that idea in a moment.

But the writer in me prefers another metaphor, used by the virologist Richard Krause as the title of a book: The Restless Tide. As the subtitle explains, Read more

Obesity

Is obesity an epidemic? Is it even a disease? Semantics aside, it’s huge and growing burden.

boys eatingI’m writing this in an airport, and a couple of hours ago as a line of passengers filed past me in the airplane aisle, I noticed, as I often do, that some of them were not just overweight—many are that—but obese. I remembered from yesterday’s news that some airlines are considering charging such people for two seats. It seems unfair, and yet… Read more