public health

The State(s) of Obesity

There are big differences between states, but this really is a national epidemic.

State of Obesity, a joint project of the Trust for America’s Future and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, has released a fascinating report about adult obesity.  There are large national disparities.  The obesity rate is over 35% in West Virginia and Mississippi, but only 21% in Colorado. Despite these disparities, obesity rates have grown everywhere since 1990, …

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The NAACP and the Politics of Race and Regulation

There’s a bit of a kerfuffle going on about the NAACP’s defense of over-sized soft-drinks.  In an amicus brief challenging New York City’s new ban on the super-size, the NAACP (joined by the Hispanic Federation and an association of Korean grocers) takes a surprisingly libertarian stance against government regulation.  It laments that the ban is …

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Public Health and the Changing Electicity Mix

The electricity mix has changed dramatically, as discussed by my colleagues from the Haas School recently. The following chart tells the tale: Notice that the blue line (coal) is diving, while the orange line (natural gas) is picking up the slack. The change seems to be due to the rapid decline in gas prices. The …

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Placing a Ceiling on Protection for Public Health

Governor Romney has endorsed an idea called regulatory budgeting, but it really means capping protection for public health.  Romney’s position paper explains the concept as follows: To force agencies to limit the costs they are imposing on society, and to provide the certainty that businesses crave, a system of regulatory caps is required. As noted, …

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The PM2.5 Risk: Even Greater Than We Thought

The more we find out about ultra-fine particles called PM2.5, the more dangerous to health they seem to be.  E&E News reports: The Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center study, published in tomorrow’s Archives of Internal Medicine, found a “strong association” between exposure to fine-particle pollution and strokes. The study was funded in part by U.S. …

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Curling Up In Front of the (Carcinogenic) Fireplace

Everyone loves to sit in front of a cozy fireplace — not surprising, given the role of fire in the evolution of our species.  Hominids who hated campfires probably didn’t survive to leave many descendants. Sadly, our Stone Age instincts are leading us astray.  Firewood should probably carry the same kind of warnings as cigarettes. …

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Does Public Transit Improve Air Quality?

Yihsu Chen and Alexander Whalley of UC Merced think they know.  They have analyzed some useful data from the opening of Taipei’s new subway, in a recent article in the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy: The transportation sector is a major source of air pollution worldwide, yet little is known about the effects of transportation infrastructure …

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New nonprofit Harbor Community Benefit Foundation launches, seeks Executive Director to oversee millions of dollars in community benefits projects in Los Angeles’s near-port communities

A historic agreement between the Port of Los Angeles and various stakeholders has resulted in the founding of a new nonprofit organization, the Harbor Community Benefit Foundation.  HCBF’s mission is “to carry out mitigation and other public benefit projects that assess, protect, and improve health, quality of life, and the natural environment, with a focus …

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Bring Out Your Dead!

For instance, if you’ve been married five times, and each of the five spouses has drowned in the bathtub soon after writing a will in your favor, that “statistical” evidence is enough for a conviction. Similarly, if hospital admissions and ER visits for asthma go up on days when air pollution spikes, it would be irresponsible for the government to ignore that evidence.

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No Butts About It

The New York Times has reported on a stealth environmental crisis, one that the public has heretofore regarded as the mere detritus of a serious public health controversy. But discarded cigarette butts constitute a major environmental crisis as well, and public attention to that crisis is long overdue. In its recent story, the Times notes …

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