A king-size obesity epidemic

“Almost 30 years ago, when I arrived in Canada, the first thing I noticed after the spectacular scenery was the fast-food joints, ‘all you can eat’ buffets and gas-guzzling cars moving people from home to corner store,” writes Jackie Smith, a former public health manager who teaches nursing ethics at York University, in The Globe and Mail Feb. 24. “It didn’t take a nutritionist to conclude that the major mid-life destination for many Canadians would be hospital beds,” says Smith, adding that North America was headed for a king-size obesity epidemic, with a related rise in diabetes, strokes, heart and kidney disease, blindness and amputations. “The current obesity tab is $1.8-billion a year in health costs and lost wages.”

Are city sprawl warnings falling on deaf ears?

The latest attempt to tame the Toronto land-gobbling monster, the Central Ontario Smart Growth Panel, of which York University President Lorna R. Marsden is a member, could be doomed to failure, writes columnist Murray Campbell in The Globe and Mail Feb. 22. This is not a comment on the panel’s report, released this week, or the quality of the 18 people who prepared it, he says. The panel swears fealty to the sound principle that growth can be managed to protect the environment. It calls for massive investment in public transit as a way of guiding growth away from farmland and natural areas. But because its report is a discussion paper, it provides no details, and, alas, history tells us that this is where good intentions founder.

If King was No. 1, how does Chrétien rank?

It was Jack Granatstein, the long-time York University history professor, now chief executive at Ottawa’s Canadian War Museum, and Norman Hillmer, professor of history and international affairs at Carleton University, who, four years ago, rated Mackenzie King as our No. 1 leader and Kim Campbell last, writes an editor at The London Free Press on Feb. 22. The editor’s opinion piece was about how history will rank Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.

A beacon to Canadian folk artists

“Bernie fostered the second wave of great Canadian singer-songwriters, the ones who followed Joni Mitchell and Neil Young, the Tysons and Lightfoot, the ones who didn’t go, or didn’t want to go, to the States,” says Rob Bowman, music professor in York University’s Faculty of Fine Arts and Grammy award-winning musicologist. He was quoted in a Toronto Star profile Feb. 22 of music producer Bernie Finkelstein.

Latest schoolyard threat: e-bullies

Debra Pepler, a psychology professor in York University’s Faculty of Arts, recently completed a four-year study into the bullying tactics of school-age children between ages six and 12. Along with colleagues at Queen’s University, Pepler found that parents and teachers are increasingly concerned about text bullying, reports The Ottawa Citizen Feb. 23.

Prostitution – better to regulate than ban

In the 19th century, the Dutch were not alone in thinking it is better to regulate than ban the oldest profession, reports The Ottawa Citizen Feb. 23 in a feature on prostitution. Under English Common Law, says Alan Young, a professor of criminal law at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, there were offences related to “bawdy houses” but the “rationale was nuisance, not the regulation of sexuality.”

Human resources a good career

“Human resources is a good career because there are wonderful education programs, the chances are good you will get a job and get paid well, it’s growing, the work is so interesting and there is such a wide range of things a person can do – from employee assistance programs to benefit administration to training and development,” said Monica Belcourt, the newly sworn in president of the Human Resources Professional Association of Ontario and professor of human resources management at York University, at the HRPAO conference in Toronto, reports The London Free Press Feb. 24.