Sugar Tax To Hit Sugary Cereal Sales

Due to information collected through a new study conducted in the UK, a proposed 20% sugar tax could potentially prohibit consumers from buying the unhealthy, sugary breakfast cereals.

Over one thousand individuals living in the United Kingdom participated in the study. They were given £10 to spend specifically on cereal and sweetened beverages. The researchers classified the products by healthier or less healthy based on their nutritional value.

The participants were asked to complete ten tasks on a supermarket shopping website. Five of the ten tasks were to buy cereals and the other five were to buy drinks sweetened by sugar. They had the option to not buy these items and were free to veer away.

Data reflects that the demand for sugary cereals would drop 48% if the consumers knew a tax was being applied and alternately would purchase healthier cereals. 

Researchers conducting the study observed the impact of a 20% and a 40% tac on sugary cereals and soda beverages with sugar. Researchers also examined whether or not telling the subjects that they were being taxed would influence the way that they shopped for groceries.

Here is what the research shows overall:

  • A 40% tax would reduce the purchasing of both sugary cereals and drinks
  • A 20% tax would reduce the consumption of sugary cereals but not beverages
  • A 20% tax would likely decrease the frequency of purchasing unhealthy items by about 50%

So what are the key takeaways from this study?

  1. A sugar tax will effect consumer markets on any sugary products
  2. Shoppers should be aware of how much they are being taxed for the items they are purchasing
  3. This tax and probably other food taxes will mark an effect on shopping behavior

 

Cancer Research Progresses, but Still Not Enough for Many

Cancer takes the lives of approximately 600,000 North Americans every year. These are staggering numbers considering the array of treatments and medicines that exist to fight cancer cells and their spread. Although medical science has made major strides to combat the disease, it seems that we are still far from any foreseeable breakthrough in cancer’s defeat.

So, what exactly is cancer? According to Cancer.gov, the disease involves the abnormal and rapid growth of cells within specific sectors of the human body. The cell growth has the potential to grow and spread to other portions of the body. What makes it most deadly is its ability to adapt and disguise itself from the body’s immune cells and other natural defenses. Once it spreads, it is extremely difficult to defeat.

Since the mid 1990’s there have been three new alternative treatments to chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Gleevec treats a particular type of leukemia by targeting an abnormal enzyme and remedying it. Deaths by this form of cancer were cut by more than half in the United States. Herceptin treats women with breast cancer by blocking a growth receptor in breast tumors. The treatment has saved thousands of women year after year. Yervoy aids immune cells that attack melanoma cancer, improving survival rates for those suffering from the condition. Another immune drug Keytruda shrinks tumors in that same disease. The media is calling these new treatments “revolutionizing” in the medical field. Although the new treatments have proven successful to some extent, they are far from actually effectively “beating” cancer.

New drugs and treatments are tirelessly cranked out by medical researchers, each of which produces slightly better results than the last. Although their efforts are commendable – every advancement in the field is a step closer to defeating cancer – many are troubled by the use of superlatives to describe these new treatments.

What does this mean? Use of superlatives in news media such as “revolutionary” and “game changing” to describe new remedies can be misleading.

Melvin Konner of the Wall Street Journal who lost his wife to cancer in 1998, has been outspoken on his criticism.

“Yes, there are exciting frontiers: genetics, immune therapy, sparing normal cells, cutting off tumors’ blood supply. The trouble is that these were the frontiers over 20 years ago, when I sought any news to help my wife.” said Konner.

Obviously “slash, burn, and poison” techniques have improved a great deal during the last decade. Unfortunately however, they are still unable to defeat cancer. Konner, as well as many others, are calling for more tempered language when conveying current cancer treatments.

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Zika Virus Worries Grow as Summer Months Approach

The Canadian Press is publicly addressing the possible Zika Virus outbreak that could swarm the western hemisphere this coming summer.

According to the Canadian Press, The Public Health Agency of Canada has issued a public warning for all individuals who hope to get pregnant in the coming months. The Agency suggests waiting two to three months to get pregnant for individuals recently arriving from countries where Zika Virus outbreaks are circulating.

In Brazil especially, the virus has possibly been linked to thousands of newborn mutations. Risks of malformations increase within mothers infected with the virus before or during pregnancy.

Cases of Zika have reached near-epidemic levels in some latin American regions like Brazil, Central America, the Caribbean, and some parts of South America.

In the both the United States and Canada, individuals have been diagnosed with Zika after visiting Zika “hotspots” in the last few months. The virus is spread by infected bites from mosquitoes carrying the disease.

At the moment, transmission of the virus is still ambiguous. In a select few cases, the virus may have been sexually transmitted from male to female.

Canada’s federal agency suggests the use of condoms during sex for those who have recently travelled to areas where the virus has circulated. Until more is known about the disease, men and women who are “at risk” of having Zika should wear protection before having sex with their partners. The agency also suggests that women who are pregnant reconsider or postpone travel plans to infected areas.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations have been a bit more measured than those of The Canadian Public Health Agency. The CDC has issued travel advisories for pregnant travellers, as well as guidelines for protecting oneself against mosquito bites. The CDC’s website also recommends practicing enhanced precautions if travelling to any area with Zika virus outbreaks.

Zika is currently circulating in subtropical and tropical areas, and has yet to spread with any significance into the United States. However as the United States approaches the summer months, American cities may see a surge in infections in warmer weather. For the time being, the Washington Post reports that the disease is expected to spread with some significance throughout all countries in the Americas except for Canada and Chile because of climate conditions.

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Salt: We Can’t Decide If It’s Bad For Us

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Many scientific and medical studies have researched and observed the effect salt has on the human body. However, the jury is still out on this one when it comes to public opinion on the matter.

While the majority of medical officials will advise against too much salt intake, the analysis of scientific data and comments reveal the debate is polarizing.

Opinions vary, but the majority either falls under the belief that salt should be dramatically decreased or that salt isn’t all that bad for you!

Overall, in analysing a number of studies and data on the subject and public opinion, Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health reports that about 54% are in support of the ideas that overall reduction of salt intake reduces health risks. Conversely, about 33% are not in support of this hypothesis, and about 13% are neutral on the subject.

The researchers of the study at Columbia Medical methodically reviewed over 269 academic reports that were published between 1979 and 2014. These reports varied and included primary studies, meta-analysis, clinical guidelines, consensus statements, comments, letters, and narrative reviews.

Each instance of collected data was organized and separated by varied opinion on whether or not salt intake is related to reduced heart disease, stroke, and death. Over half of these reports investigated were gathered after 2011, suggesting increased interest in the subject in later years.

So, what conclusions can we draw from this information? Overall, it is clear that reduced salt intake does result in healthier living. However, for some, salt is not a worrying factor in their diet, and can live completely healthy lives without reducing salt consumption.

If you have a history of heart disease and stroke in your family, a diet of reduced salt might be a smart preventative decision. If not and you do not believe your salt consumption is of concern, you may have little to be concerned abo

Canadian Rocky Air Sells Out In China

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As the smog increases in China, bottles of Canadian Rocky air are flying off the shelves.

Earlier this December, for the first time in history, Beijing issued a red alert for smog, and Canadian Rocky air is selling out. Vitality Air, a company in the business of bottling and reselling air from Banff, Alberta and Lake Louis in Banff National Park, has already sold out of it’s first shipment in China. Each canister of Vitality Air comes with an attached face mask the user can breathe through.

According to the Vitality Air website, their intention is as follows: “We want our customers to experience breathing the way it was intended. Free of city pollution, fragrances and waste; our Banff and Lake Louise lines of clean air are unmatchable in quality.”

While China is Vitality Air’s biggest market, the company also sells bottles of oxygen and fresh air in the Middle East, India, and North America.

The company obviously has a great marketing team because Vitality Air is now offering mini bottles of fresh air and suggesting they be purchased as unique stocking stuffers this holiday season.

The cofounders of Vitality Air started their business as a joke back in 2014. Originally, as a gag, Moses Lam and Troy Paquette sold plastic bags filled with air on eBay, for as little as $.50 per bag. They knew their prank was turning into a serious situation when one of these bags of air was sold for $160. Paquette and Lam knew there was a market and demand out there they needed to tap in to.

The pollution in China had actually improved in the first three quarters of the year. However, smog can be seen from space over China. Beijing was forced to terminate outdoor activities in schools for a time and close some roads due to decreased visibility.

Is this perhaps the most economical and important prank in history?