Developing Countries Pay Steep Economic and Health Costs Because of High In-car Air Pollution

In an international study published by the journal Environment International, the University of Surrey led an international team of air pollution experts in monitoring pollution hotspots in 10 global cities: Dhaka (Bangladesh); São Paulo (Brazil); Guangzhou (China); Medellín (Colombia); Cairo (Egypt); Addis Ababa (Ethiopia); Chennai (India); Sulaymaniyah (Iraq); Blantyre (Malawi); and Dar-es-Salaam (Tanzania). 

Surrey’s Global Centre for Clean Air Research (GCARE) set out to investigate whether the amount of fine air pollution particles (PM2.5) drivers inhaled is connected to the duration drivers spend in pollution hotspots and socio-economic indicators such as gross domestic product (GDP).

Across all the cities in the study, researchers found that drivers only needed to spend a short amount of time in high-pollution hotspots to inhale a significant amount of PM2.5 particles. For example, drivers in Guangzhou and Addis Ababa spent 26 and 28 per cent of their commute in hotspot areas, which contributed to 54 and 56 per cent of the total amount of air pollution inhaled on their trip.

The researchers found that the cities where drivers were exposed to the highest levels of PM2.5 pollution – Dar-es-Salaam, Blantyre and Dhaka – also experienced higher death rates per 100,000 commuting car population per year. The low PM2.5 levels in Medellín, São Paulo and Sulaymaniyah corresponded with very low death rates.

The international study assessed economic losses by measuring a city’s death rate caused by PM2.5 car exposure against its GDP per capita. It found that, for most cities, lower GDP linked directly to more significant economic losses caused by in-car PM2.5 exposure – with Cairo and Dar-es-Salaam being impacted the most (losses of 8.9 and 10.2 million US dollars per year, respectively).

The team also found that, except for Guangzhou, cities with higher GDP per capita have less hotspot areas during an average route trip, thus decreasing the risk to drivers.

Professor Prashant Kumar, Principal Investigator of CArE-Cities Project, Associate Dean (International) and Founding Director of GCARE at the University of Surrey, said: “Our global collaborative project has confirmed that air pollution disproportionately affects developing countries. Many countries are caught in a vicious cycle where their low GDP leads to higher pollution exposure rate for drivers, which leads to poorer health outcomes, which further damages the economy of those cities. This is discouraging news – but it should galvanise the international community to find and deploy measures that mitigate the health risks faced by the world’s most vulnerable drivers.”

Professor Shi-Jie Cao, a collaborative partner from the Southeast University, said: “If we are ever to make a world where clean air is available to all, it will take a truly global collaborative effort – such as CArE-Cities. We hope to continue to work closely with Surrey and other global partners, sharing knowledge and expertise that will make a cleaner future a reality.”

Professor Adamson Muula, a collaborative partner from formerly University of Malawi and now Head of Public Health at the Kamuzu University of Health Sciences (KUHeS), said: “If developing countries are to not be left behind in the struggle against air pollution and climate change, it is important that we build the capacity and knowledge to gather on-the-ground data. This project is a small but a significant step in the right direction for Malawians; a direction which will lead to better decisions and cleaner air for Malawi.”

Source: University of Surrey

In Pictures: Desserts

For Losing Weight, Calorie Counting Tops Fasting Diets

Dennis Thompson wrote . . . . . . . . .

Intermittent fasting diets are all the rage, but new clinical trial results indicate they don’t work any better than simple calorie cutting.

People who simply cut their daily calories by 25% lost the most weight and fat tissue in three weeks of dieting, compared with two groups following different intermittent fasting regimens, an international team of researchers reported.

There also was no difference between the groups when it came to heart health, metabolism or gene expression related to fat cells, researchers found — in other words, no hidden benefits to fasting.

“Standard dieting may be more effective than intermittent fasting for reducing body fat,” said senior researcher James Betts, a professor of metabolic physiology with the University of Bath’s Center for Nutrition, Exercise and Metabolism in England.

Fasting diets require that people refrain from eating, either on specific days of the week or during certain windows of time during the day.

This clinical trial tested the merits of an alternate-day intermittent fasting schedule, in which people would fast for one day and then on the next consume as much as twice their usual daily calories.

The study was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Researchers recruited 36 lean participants and put them into three groups of 12. One group simply ate 25% fewer calories each day. The second fasted one day and then ate 150% of their normal calories the next, and the third ate 200% of their daily energy intake every other day, fasting on alternate days.

By the end of three weeks, the group following a simple diet had lost the most weight, with an average fat loss of about 3.5 pounds.

The group doing an intermittent fast who ate 150% of their regular diet every other day lost some weight, with an average fat loss of about 1.5 pounds. The group that fasted and then ate double their usual amount showed no significant drops in weight.

The fasters also didn’t have any benefits when it came to their levels of cholesterol, blood sugar or insulin, results showed.

Two U.S. nutrition experts not involved with the study agreed with the findings.

“When it comes to weight loss, modest reduction of calories is what counts regardless of how you achieve that,” said Lona Sandon, a professor of clinical nutrition with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. “In other words, reduce portion sizes by about 25% and limit overeating. Getting caught up in complicated rules and regimens around eating may not be worth it.”

Researchers found that people on a fasting schedule tended to be less active than before they started dieting, which might be one factor that kept them from losing weight.

“People seemed to drop their activity levels a bit, which is certainly something to be consciously aware of on a diet,” Betts said. If you use intermittent fasting, then try to consciously insert opportunities to be physically active into your lifestyle.”

In fact, some of the weight loss in the fasting groups came from losing muscle mass as opposed to burning fat, according to study results.

Given these results, keeping up your physical activity and burning calories appears to be an important aspect of any weight control plan, said Connie Diekman, a registered dietitian in St. Louis and former president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

“Physical activity must remain a part of a daily routine, even if fasting, and that is hard for some people,” Diekman said.

People who are hypoglycemic (severe low blood sugar), pregnant or suffering from chronic medical conditions should talk with their doctor and a dietitian before embarking on an intermittent fasting plan, Diekman said.

“Intermittent fasting is not the easiest routine to adopt,” she said. “As a population we are accustomed to eating when we feel the need. Sometimes that need is not hunger, but we still have the urge.

“Shifting to meal and snack spacing requires discipline, monitoring of eating, adjusting eating to family, work and social environments, and an assessment to ensure that nutrient needs are met,” Diekman concluded.

Source: HealthDay

Cream Cheese Lemon Cake

Ingredients

125 g butter, chopped
125 g packet cream cheese, chopped
3 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1 cup (220 g)castor sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup (110 g) self-raising flour
1/2 cup (75 g) plain flour

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C (325°F).
  2. Grease 21 cm baba cake pan.
  3. Combine all ingredients in medium bowl of electric mixer, beat on low speed until all ingredients are combined.
  4. Then, beat on medium speed until mixture is smooth and changed in colour.
  5. Spoon and spread mixture into prepared pan. Bake in oven about 55 minutes.
  6. Stand few minutes before turning onto wire rack to cool.
  7. Dust cold cake with sifted icing sugar, if desired.

Makes 1 cake.

Source: Quick-mix Cake


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