Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tuesday, February 14: Bureaucracy In Healthy Eating Dollars Hard To Digest

By Sylvia Gurinsky

A few days ago, first lady Michelle Obama was in South Florida celebrating the second anniversary of her "Let's Move" initiative that promotes healthy eating and lifestyles.

But the way federal money meant for healthy lifestyles has been spent is giving plenty of people indigestion.

Miami New Times has published an article and a chart detailing how federal stimulus money intended for healthy programs has been spent:


From feds to county to cities, not enough has been spent on nuts and bolts - or nuts, fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods - and too much has been spent on planning and aspects that are very loosely defined as support systems.

Dollars were allocated to the Miami Police Department for training school crossing guards "to promote child physical activity by providing safe routes to and from school"; to Miami-Dade County's Parks and Recreation for accessibility to park land and street planning changes and to the city of North Miami for "Share the Road" signage, among others.

Too few dollars were allocated to farmers' markets and community gardens. New Times mentions the delays to some farmers markets.

Among those shut out entirely were Roots of the City in Overtown, which could have used the dollars to expand - and perhaps avoid the political whims of former Miami City Commissioner Richard Dunn, whose posturing caused the Roots garden to be closed for a while.

Both the Centers for Disease Control and Miami-Dade Health Department needed better organization for the allocation of money. The first key to a healthy diet is changing eating habits - which includes making healthy foods more accessible. That should have come first.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wednesday February 8, 2012: Syria Crisis Needs NATO Intervention

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Some would say that a new Cold War has developed between Russia and the West over Syria. But there's nothing remotely cold about the increasing number of casualties from the crackdowns dictator Bashar al-Assad has inflicted on the Syrian people.

Last Saturday, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice reflected perfectly the world's frustration over Russia and China blocking international efforts to improve the situation in Syria. Both countries keep saying No to the UN.

That leaves NATO. Russia is a partner country to NATO, but not a member, and thus couldn't block the international organization if it decided to take action in Syria.

There's certainly precedent for NATO to act - in Bosnia and Kosovo during the 1990s, and in Libya just last year.

The civil conflict in Syria has been going on for almost a year, and gets bloodier by the day. How many more lives will be spent before something is done?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Monday February 6: Improved Exercise & Diet the Answers In Sugar Battle

By Sylvia Gurinsky

How does this country solve its obesity/poor health crisis? Some are saying it's time to regulate sugar, much as alcohol and tobacco are regulated.


The problem is not that sugar isn't regulated. Sugar was around long before Americans started having serious health problems. But fast foods and processed foods weren't around, for the most part, until the 1950s. And an increased emphasis on both is where many of the problems lie - along with a decreased emphasis for children on physical education and recess in schools.

Unfortunately, school administrators have been looking for places to cut budgets and increase student preparations for tests. Phys Ed and recess have been among the first programs cut in many places.

That means numerous children don't get the exercise they need. Combine that with the many hours kids spend in front of televisions or computer screens, and you have most of the reasons they grow up into adults who are in bad shape.

And for most adults, the lack of time is a problem. That leads to more fast food meals and frozen dinners at the expense of naturally prepared meals - and health.

Almost 60 years ago, President Dwight D. Eisenhower created the organization that is known today as the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition. With such programs as First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign and former President Bill Clinton's efforts to get healthy foods into schools, there's no question of continued efforts to lead Americans to healthier lifestyles.

But regulation, in this case, is no answer. Sugar doesn't need to be regulated - just managed.