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Washington University boasts Smithsonian collaboration

Wednesday, 08 January 2014 11:15 Published in Local News
A small patch of forest in St. Louis County could be a big part of understanding global climate change.  In November, the 60-acre plot at Washington University's Tyson Research Center near Eureka was named a Smithsonian Institution Global Earth Observatory.
The land between Lone Elk and West Tyson County Parks is now part of a network of 52 forest plots in 23 countries around the world being used to study climate change and bio-diversity.  
Together, the forests contain about 85-hundred species and 4.5 million individual trees, comprising the largest, systematically studied network of forest-ecology plots in the world.
In part, the Smithsonian project is examining both how climate change affects forests and how forests affect climate change.
The Tyson plot is expected to provide a lot of information because scientists have been monitoring it since the 1980s and have collected data covering two of Missouri's worst droughts in 1988 and 2012.
 
 
 
 

JUST 1 IN 4 YOUNG TEENS MEET US FITNESS GUIDELINES

Wednesday, 08 January 2014 11:27 Published in Health & Fitness

CHICAGO (AP) -- Young teens aren't exactly embracing the government's Let's Move mantra, the latest fitness data suggest.

Only 1 in 4 U.S. kids aged 12 to 15 meet the recommendations - an hour or more of moderate to vigorous activity every day.

The results are based on about 800 kids who self-reported their activity levels and had physical exams as part of the 2012 National Youth Fitness Survey.

Government researchers won't call the results disappointing, but lead author Tala Fakhouri of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, "There's always room for improvement."

The CDC released partial results Wednesday from the fitness survey, which involved kids aged 3 to 15. Other results from the same survey are pending and include fitness data based on more objective measures including treadmill tests.

Fakhouri said the nationally representative results provide useful information for initiatives that aim to increase kids' fitness, including the Let's Move anti-obesity campaign launched by first lady Michelle Obama in 2010.

Kids in the survey reported on which physical activities they did most frequently outside of school gym class - basketball for boys and running for girls.

While few met guidelines established in 2008 for activity that raises the heart rate and makes you breathe harder, most said they did at least an hour of exercise at that level during the previous week. Overall, about 25 percent said they got an hour of that kind of exercise every day

Obese kids were less active than normal-weight girls and boys. Overweight girls were slightly less active than normal-weight girls, but levels were similar among overweight and normal-weight boys.

"It's definitely very concerning to see that our kids are engaging in such a limited amount of physical activity each day when we are still battling" an obesity epidemic, said Dr. Stephen Pont, an Austin, Texas, pediatrician and chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics' section on obesity.

Data suggest obesity may have decreased slightly among some kids but the overall rate for children aged 2 to 19 is 17 percent, or about 12.5 million obese kids.

Pont said schools can do more to help by not cutting recess and giving kids more time for physical activity. He said research suggests kids who get physical education at school may do better academically.

Recent national data on kids' fitness levels is limited. A 2009-10 CDC survey involving kids ages 6 to 11 found about 70 percent met the physical activity guidelines, although levels dropped off among older kids in that age group. The results came from parents, who may be inclined to over-report how active their kids are because of "social desirability," the researchers said.

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AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner can be reached atHTTP://WWW.TWITTER.COM/LINDSEYTANNER

© 2014 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

STUDY: TOBACCO CONTROL HAS SAVED MILLIONS OF LIVES

Wednesday, 08 January 2014 11:26 Published in Health & Fitness

CHICAGO (AP) -- Anti-smoking measures have saved roughly 8 million U.S. lives since a landmark 1964 report linking smoking and disease, a study estimates, yet the nation's top disease detective says dozens of other countries do a better job on several efforts to cut tobacco use.

The study and comments were published online Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. This week's issue commemorates the 50th anniversary of the surgeon general report credited with raising alarms about the dangers of smoking.

In one study, researchers used national health surveys and death rates to calculate how many deaths might have occurred since 1964 if Americans' smoking habits and related deaths had continued at a pace in place before the report.

More than 42 percent of U.S. adults smoked in years preceding the report; that rate has dropped to about 18 percent.

The researchers say their calculation - 8 million deaths - equals lives saved thanks to anti-smoking efforts.

Their report also says tobacco controls have contributed substantially to increases in U.S. life expectancy. For example, life expectancy for 40-year-olds has increased by more than five years since 1964; tobacco control accounts for about 30 percent of that gain, the report says.

The conclusions are just estimates, not hard evidence, but lead author Theodore Holford, a biostatistics professor at Yale University's school of public health, said the numbers "are pretty striking."

Yet smoking remains a stubborn problem and heart disease, cancer, lung ailments and stroke - all often linked with smoking - are the nation's top four leading causes of death.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says about 443,000 Americans still die prematurely each year from smoking-related causes.

"Tobacco is, quite simply, in a league of its own in terms of the sheer numbers and varieties of ways it kills and maims people," Dr. Thomas Frieden, the CDC's director, wrote in a JAMA commentary.

Frieden said the United States lags behind many other countries in adopting measures proven to reduce tobacco use, including graphic health warning labels on cigarettes, high tobacco taxes and widespread bans on tobacco advertising.

"Images of smoking in movies, television and on the Internet remain common; and cigarettes continue to be far too affordable in nearly all parts of the country," Frieden wrote.

Frieden cited data showing 32 countries have done better at raising tobacco taxes, and at least 30 have adopted stronger cigarette warning labels. These include Australia, Brazil, Canada and Uruguay, and research has suggested that gruesome labels can help persuade smokers to quit.

Tobacco companies have fought U.S. efforts to adopt similar labeling and an appeals court last year blocked a Food and Drug Administration mandate for stronger labels.

Other articles and studies in the journal show:

-Smoking declined an average 25 percent among men in 187 countries from 1980-2012, and by 42 percent among women. Because of population growth, the number of smokers worldwide has increased and rates remain high in many countries. More than half of men smoke in Russia, Indonesia and Armenia, and more than 1 in 4 women smoke in Chile, France and Greece.

-Smoking rates among U.S. registered nurses dropped to 7 percent in 2010-11, from 11 percent in 2003, and remained low among doctors, at just below 2 percent. The rate was 25 percent among licensed practical nurses, who have less advanced education than registered nurses.

-Drugs including nicotine patches, Chantix and Zyban, work better than dummy treatments at helping smokers quit at least temporarily but many often resume after a year.

-Electronic cigarettes may help some smokers quit but conclusive research is needed and their long-term safety is unknown. Users inhale nicotine vapor from the battery-operated devices and they could lead to nicotine addiction among nonsmokers, according to a review article.

---

Online:

JAMA: HTTP://JAMA.AMA-ASSN.ORG

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AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner can be reached atHTTP://WWW.TWITTER.COM/LINDSEYTANNER

© 2014 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

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