World’s diet worsening with globalization, major study finds: TRFN

admin   •   February 24, 2015   •   2323

Food is seen on a table at a restaurant at the port of El Masnou, near Barcelona May 16, 2008.
CREDIT: REUTERS/ALBERT GEA

ROME (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The world’s diet has deteriorated substantially in the last two decades, a leading nutrition expert said on Monday, citing one of the largest studies available on international eating habits.

Poor countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia are seeing the fastest increases in unhealthy food consumption, while the situation has improved slightly in Western Europe and North America, said Dariush Mozaffarian, Dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

Between 1990 and 2010, middle and low income countries saw consumption of unhealthy foods increase dramatically, Mozaffarian said, citing information in a study he co-authored for the March edition of The Lancet Global Health journal.

The “globalization” of western diets – where a small group of food and agriculture companies have disproportionate power to decide what is produced – is partially causing the shift to unhealthy eating, Mozaffarian said.

Processed foods high in sugar, fat and starch are driving the growth of unhealthy foods.

The study reviewed 325 dietary surveys, representing almost 90 percent of the world’s population, in what is thought to be the largest study yet of international eating habits.

China and India recorded some of the highest increases in unhealthy food consumption, the study said. Some countries in Latin America and Europe saw an increase in both healthy and unhealthy food consumption.

Between 1990 and 2014, roughly the same period as the study, the number of hungry people worldwide dropped by 209 million to 805 million, according to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

“Most global nutrition efforts have focused on calories – getting starchy staples to people,” Mozaffarian told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “We need to focus on the quality of calories for poor countries, not just the quantity.”

Old people displayed better eating habits than the young in most of the 187 countries covered in the study.

This is a worrying development, Mozaffarian said, as rates of obesity and chronic diseases like diabetes are set to increase if young people continue eating unhealthy foods.

“Young people are growing up with much worse diets than their parents or grandparents,” he said.

(Reporting By Chris Arsenault; Editing by Ros Russell)

Robocop-style helmets help Rome airport check passenger temperatures from a distance

UNTV News   •   May 7, 2020

Helmets are a common sight in Rome, worn by the thousands of vespa riders whizzing around the ancient city.

But now you’ll see them inside the main international airport too.

Fiumicino is now the first in Europe to use ‘smart helmets’ to check the temperature of travellers – helmets equipped with portable thermoscanners that can screen people for symptoms of the new coronavirus at a very safe distance of up to 7 metres.

Airport staff wear the big black Robocop-style helmets along with masks, gloves and their uniforms – and like the 1987 icon, they too are helping to protect their citizens.

Attached to the helmets are a camera and a thermoscanner that can measure body temperature.

A view of the scan is transmitted to the visor inside the augmented reality helmet, so whoever is wearing it can see the full body scan right in front of their eyes.

“This is a smart helmet, a helmet equipped with a thermal camera capable of detecting the infrared heat emissions of bodies passing through its range and a normal camera,” explained Massimiliano Moretto, senior engineer of Sielte Spa, one of the companies that developed the helmet.

“It is able to detect the temperature of the single person but also of groups and can signal to the operator if there is a person with a temperature above a threshold set by the Italian National Institute of Health,” he said.

So far, three smart helmets are operational in the airport, used by staff walking around the terminals.

They hope to increase the number to five in the near future as passengers gradually begin to start travelling again.

The same type of helmets are already in use in airports in Asia.

Fiumicino airport has ramped up its safety measures after Italy began ‘phase two’ on Monday (May 4), a gradual lifting of its strict lockdown measures that have been in place for almost two months, sanitising every nook and cranny of the terminals from the roads outside to the suitcase trollies.

Fiumicino is Italy’s busiest. In 2019 it had over 43.5 million passengers and in January of this year, there were over 2.7 million passengers in just one month.

Since the COVID-19 crisis, passengers are down by over 95 percent compared to the same period last year. The airport closed Terminal 1 in March and has massively downsized their boarding areas.

Despite the slight relaxation of the rules, the airport was still near-deserted on Wednesday (May 6), after two months of being virtually closed for business while tourists are banned from entering and Italians stay at home. (Reuters)

(Production: Cristiano Corvino, Emily Roe)

Trump urges U.S. to halt most social activity in virus fight, warns of recession

UNTV News   •   March 17, 2020

President Donald Trump urged Americans on Monday (March 16) to halt most social activities for 15 days and not congregate in groups larger than 10 people in a newly aggressive effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in the United States.

Announcing new guidelines from his coronavirus task force, the president said people should avoid discretionary travel and not go to bars, restaurants, food courts or gyms.

As stocks tumbled, Trump warned that a recession was possible, a development that could affect his chances of re-election in November. The Republican president said he was focused on addressing the health crisis and that the economy would get better once that was in line.

The task force implored young people to follow the new guidelines even though they were at lesser risk of suffering if they contract the virus. Older people, especially those with underlying health problems, are at the greatest risk if they develop the respiratory disease.

Reporters staggered their seating, sitting in every other seat in the White House briefing room, to follow social distancing measures.

Trump said the worst of the virus could be over by July, August or later. He called it an invisible enemy.

The president has taken criticism for playing down the seriousness of the virus in the early days of its U.S. spread. On Monday, when asked, he gave himself a good grade for his response.

“I’d rate it a 10. I think we’ve done a great job,” he said.

Trump said a nationwide curfew was not under consideration at this point.

Normally a cheerleader for the U.S. economy, he acknowledged the possibility of a recession while brushing off another dramatic decline on stock markets as investors worried about the virus.

“We’re not thinking in terms of recession, we’re thinking in terms of the virus. Once we stop, I think there’s a tremendous pent up demand, both in terms of the stock market and in terms of the economy,” Trump said. The president has long considered soaring stock markets to be a sign of his administration’s success.

Trump said the administration had talked regularly about domestic travel restrictions but hoped not to have to put such measures in place.

He said he thought it would still be possible for G7 leaders to meet at the Camp David retreat in Maryland in June. Trump upset European countries, which make up a large part of the G7, by instituting travel restrictions from European countries without consulting with them first. (Reuters)

(Production: Katharine Jackson)

Streets deserted in Milan during coronavirus lockdown

UNTV News   •   March 11, 2020

A handful of people were seen on the streets of Milan on Wednesday morning (March 12) following stringent measures imposed to contain the coronavirus.

Shops and restaurants closed, hundreds of flights were cancelled and streets emptied across Italy on Tuesday (March 10), the first day of an unprecedented, nationwide lockdown imposed to slow Europe’s worst outbreak of coronavirus.

Just hours after the dramatic new restrictions came into force, health authorities announced the death toll had jumped by 168 to 631, the largest rise in absolute numbers since the contagion came to light on Feb. 21.

The total number of confirmed cases rose at a much slower rate than recently seen, hitting 10,149 against a previous 9,172, but officials warned that the region at the epicentre, Lombardy, had provided incomplete data.

The government has told all Italians to stay at home and avoid non-essential travel until April 3, radically widening steps already taken in much of the wealthy north, which is the epicentre of the spreading contagion. (Reuters)

(Production: Marissa Davison)

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