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2014 SXSW Explores The Future of Food (HINT: Insects Play a Role!)

Just a bit of background in case you are like me and only recently learned about the glorious SXSW. SXSW—which is short for South by Southwest—is a collection of film screenings, “interactive events,” music festivals, and conferences that happens in Austin, Texas every March. (Today is opening day!) It started as more of an indie-music thing but now it’s one of the top tech meet-ups in the world. And there truly is something for everyone, including dozens of food-specific offerings like discussion panels.

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Below, a sampling of this year’s SXSW food-and-health related seminars:

March 8
“Dear Taco Vendor, How Are You Securing My Data?”
This important seminar explores the idea of exchanging personal information as currency. SXSW, like many other festivals and events, offers free swag in the form of clothing, grab-bags, and, of course, food. You’re not often charged money for these items, yet you have to “earn” these free things by logging into your various social networking accounts and promoting the company. This seminar discusses the process from logging in to ways the companies benefit from your information. The security of your personal life is important. Get to know the way of the world in 2014!
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Bobsledding and Lolo Jones: Olympics 2014

If you are like me, you have seen Cool Runnings, the ’90s family film about Jamaican bobsledding, about a million times. If you are not like me, I am really sorry.

For the 2014 Olympics, we got some exciting news. Jamaican bobsledding is back in the games. It’s been twelve years since the nation qualified to participate, but the team pulled it together this year, exciting the world with nostalgia and joy. Seriously—this is an amazing feat.

As for the United States bobsledding team, we are excited to have both male and female teams competing in the 2014 Winter Olympics. There has been considerable focus on Lolo Jones, an already well known Olympic athlete who has joined the Olympic team this year.

lolo Jones
Lolo Jones, at right 


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Obesity Costs More than the War on Terror

bookcover of "i can fix america" by dave duleyIn his book I Can Fix America, author and entrepreneur Dave Duley explores the ways individual Americans can take stewardship of the privileges that come with U.S. citizenship. One of the major premises of the book is that Americans need to take responsibility for their personal health, because the government simply cannot afford the costs entailed by our current obesity crisis. “In my analysis, one of the major issues that jeopardizes the finical stability of our country is our rising health care costs,” Duley tells DietsInReview. He concludes that obesity is unpatriotic.

To further his point, Duley compares the costs of obesity to the cost of the War on Terror. “More people have died in the past ten years from obesity than terrorism. More money has been spent to treat the obese than to engage in the War on Terror, on both the Afghan and Iraqi fronts.” The direct costs of the War on Terror amount to $1.3 trillion, while the costs of obesity amount to $1.5 trillion from 2001 to 2011. The tally of deaths makes for an even more dramatic disparity over the same period of time: the war caused the deaths of 6,850 Americans, while obesity is responsible for the deaths of over one million (see Duley’s sources here). Then there are indirect costs associated with obesity, such as lower productivity and increased numbers of sick days.

“This behavior is hurting America. It’s jeopardizing our whole medical infrastructure system. It’s creating this burned for future generations,” Duley says. “How can we justify that to our grandchildren? We’re doing them a disservice by not taking care of ourselves and ratcheting up this debt.”


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Mississippi Leads the States with Most Obese Children

Childhood Obesity by stateWe know that states in the south lead the nation’s obesity problem, so it’s no surprise that Mississippi and Georgia also have the highest rates of obese children. According to date collected by the National Survey of Children’s Health in 2007, 20 percent of more of children eight U.S. states are obese.

A child is considered obese when he or she is in the 95th percentile of the body mass index, which uses heights and weights established in the 1960s. Slate created an interactive map that shows the rates of obese children by state.


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America’s Health Problems by State

Jeff Wyaski of Pleated Jeans created this map of the United States using information from the census and AmercasHealthRankings.org to illustrate what each state is infamous for in a funny, colorful manner. Here are some of the health-related statistics Wyaski chose to highlight:

Alabama’s Shame: Stroke
Oklahoma and Alabama are tied for the highest rates of stroke at 3.8 percent.

Arizona’s Shame: Highest Rate of Alcoholism

Connecticut’s Shame: Breast Cancer
On Average, 134.1 out 100,000 have breast cancer in Connecticut, according to StateHealthFacts.org.

Georgia’s Shame: Most Sickly
Based on the highest rate of influenza.

Kansas’ Shame: Poorest Health
Based on the highest number of sick days taken per month, at 3.5 per days.

Kentucky’s Shame: Most Cancer Deaths
It’s not surprising to find out that Kentucky also has the highest rate of tobacco smokers, at 25.6 percent of the population.


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