Thursday, October 28, 2010

In the News Today

copyright Marlith (2008)
 The Heart and Stroke Foundation wants to help fight the obesity epidemic and has put together an expert panel that recommends some pretty new (and controversial) strategies: they want the government to tax soft drinks, subsidize lower-income families to buy more fruit and veggies, and finance an increase in the growth of fresh produce. I agree that we need to put an end to cheap junk "food" - it does, after all, cost less than real food if you do a calorie by calorie comparison. Also, the soft drink tax revenue can help offset the health care costs associated with a poor diet. Meanwhile, the head of the soft drinks industry association feels unfairly targeted, claiming these products "fulfil a function". Sure they do: they contribute to the obesity epidemic. Read the full article here.

copyright Martin Addison (2006)
If avoiding junk food isn't enough to keep you healthy, try cycling - but make sure you wear a helmet. Over in Sweden, some designers have come up with a method of protecting your head while showing off your luscious locks with what is essentially a helmet version of an airbag. You wear a stylish collar around your neck, and when the sensors detect the kind of movement that would imply your cranium is about to collide with the pavement (going over the handlebars, being impacted by a moving vehicle, etc.), the airbag deploys before any damage is done. Will this new technology encourage people who don't like helmets to give cycling a second chance? I'm not convinced, in part because I generally dislike complex solutions to easy problems, but also because in urban areas, there are many other impediments to adopting the bicycle as a primary mode of transportation. Read the full article here, and make sure to watch the crash-test video.


  1. I suppose in Europe where the ratio of transit users/motorists/motorcyclists (scooters included) is much better, other solutions have to be invented. But I'm thinking the cost of these helmets might be a bit extreme, and I'm curious as to the sensitivity and timing of when the air bag is deployed. It just doesn't seem very safe. Then again, I've yet to see a bicycle helmet really protect against cars or pavement. Usually the impact far outweighs the protection those cheap plastic/foam things provide.

  2. While it's impressive to see how the airbags deploy just before the dummy head hits the pavement, it makes me wonder if the helmet is designed for other impacts, such as flipping over the handlebars but hitting a car before hitting the ground. Would the airbag deploy soon enough?