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Grasshoppers have evolved to be heard over traffic noise

Grasshoppers evolve a sound that allows them to be heard over traffic
While humans might not be making too much noise in the oceans, above ground it's a whole different story. In fact, even insects are having to adapt to the huge amount of noise pollution created by humans — grasshoppers are having to up the volume to be heard over traffic. That's according to German researchers, who compared the mating sounds of male bow-winged grasshoppers between those captured near busy roads, and those from the quiet countryside. Lo and behold, the grasshoppers that live near roads made a substantially different song to those from quiet locations, significantly boosting the low frequency component of their mating call. The researchers theorize the change is to be heard over the background roar of traffic.

November 12, 2012

PTSD is common amongst the urban poor

Welcome to the City of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder | Philadelphia magazine
Between January 1, 2001, and May 29th of this year, 18,043 people were shot in Philadelphia. That equates to about one shooting every six hours. In that same time period, there were 3,852 murders—a new body yielded up for disposal nearly every day. The entire length of the conflict in Afghanistan hasn’t produced as many dead Americans as we’ve picked up off our city’s streets. Unfortunately, political debate over urban violence reduces to opposites: On the left, politicians blame economic factors, bad schools and ineffective, even racist law enforcement; to the right, conservatives preach personal responsibility, citing out-of- wedlock births, absentee fathers and the welfare culture. But many decades of violence—equivalent to a protracted shooting war in neighborhoods like Kensington’s Norris Square—have yielded a more pressing problem. According to some medical experts, a diagnosis we most commonly associate with troubled military combat veterans now fits many thousands of people in our poorest neighborhoods: post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD symptoms include intrusive, upsetting memories; nightmares; chronic anxiety and fear; memory loss; diminished interest in life; emotional numbing and angry outbursts. But it’s the effect of these symptoms that tears at the fabric of families and communities and produces the dysfunctional neighborhoods we see today. A war vet who suffers from PTSD is more likely to be unemployed, stuck in an abusive relationship, addicted to drugs or alcohol, mired in poverty and subject to violence. The same is true of people living in this city’s most impoverished neighborhoods. And it’s not a coincidence. PTSD has been studied most in soldiers. But in research conducted in Philadelphia, Drexel doctors John Rich and Theodore Corbin have found PTSD rates of more than 70 percent among young men who survive being shot or stabbed. Steven Berkowitz, of Penn’s psychiatry department, citing the research conducted so far, suggests the PTSD rate among the urban poor at large could be as high as 40 percent. “We’re talking about huge portions of entire communities that are impaired in terms of their basic functioning,” says Rich, chair of Drexel’s Department of Health Management and Policy. “These people are suffering and require medical attention, or the cycle will continue.”

November 06, 2012

Why are American kids so fat? Fast food, processed food and soda

New study with no real surprises but more hard data on how bad eating out is for you. Cooking at home is the way to go. New study confirms our worst fears about why kids are getting fat
In a study published in the latest issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, researcher Lisa Powell and her colleagues at the Institue for Health Research and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago examined the eating habits of close to 10,000 kids between the ages of 2 and 19. (Data was collected from the CDC's National Health and Nutrition Survey.) The investigation was the first to examine fast-food and full-service restaurants separately in comparison with meals eaten at home, with home-eaten meals defined as having been a) prepared at home, or b) brought home from a restaurant in the form of takeout. Some key findings from the study: Kids in this country eat out ALL THE TIME. About one third of kids ages 2—11 consume fast food on any given day. If you look just at adolescents, that number jumps to over 40%. Nutrient intake in kids falls to shit when eating outside the house. Overall consumption of sugar, total fat, saturated fat and sodium were all shown to be significantly higher at fast food and full service restaurants alike than meals eaten at home. Want specifics? On days that adolescents consumed fast food, they took in an additional 309 calories, while 2 through 11-year-olds took in an additional 126. Full-service dining led to a daily caloric surplus of 267 in teens and 160 in children. Just being out of the house is bad for you. Kids who picked up food to go and ate it at home were found to consume half as much soda as those who opted to eat at the restaurant. "We attribute that to the free refills," said Powell in a statement. There's more, of course. The researchers add even more data to the growing body of evidence that suggests fast food has an even more detrimental effect on health and diet in poorer populations. Low-income teens, for example, took in more sugar, total fat, saturated fat and sodium than their higher-income peers.