How does your country rank at the global table?

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A few weeks ago, I wrote about how overconsumption, misuse of resources and waste are leaving some people obese, while others have very little to eat.  Oxfam has just released an interesting infographic, to go alongside the first index of this kind, which shows broadly how each country eats at the global table.

European countries take up the entire top twenty, with The Netherlands, France and Switzerland making up the top three for overall food quality, affordability and availability.  Angola and Zimbabwe endure the most volatile and uncertain food prices, while the United States enjoys the cheapest and most stable.  Chad in middle Africa was found to be worst off overall.

There is another enlightening interactive graph on the Oxfam Food Index website which ranks each country according to their overall score, whether people have enough to eat, affordability, food quality and diabetes and obesity.  Click through to see how your country… click here to read whole article and make comments



How to maintain the brains of aging employees

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More companies are investing in their employees’ health as the workforce ages.  Germany’s main rail service, Deutsche Bahn, is one such company that is embracing – or at least accepting – demographic change and an aging workforce.  It wants to keep its experienced workers until they are over 65, so is taking active steps to do so. 

One such step is a programme which includes regular mental and physical exercise for employees who opt into it.  The mental exercise is aimed at increasing memory and maintaining brain function for longer, while the physical exercise is based around strength exercises.  It also involves instruction on nutrition and living well.  Part of the aim is to make employees realise that there are things you can do to age ‘gracefully’ and better.

So far, the programme, which involves the equivalent of five days of work over several months, has been a success.  An added bonus for the company… click here to read whole article and make comments



USA’s childless women

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The story of changing fertility and demographic structures is continuing to gain media attention in the US. The Pew Research centre has crunched the numbers from a recent UN report, the World Fertility Report 2012.   

According to the UN’s data, US women who are coming to the end of their childbearing years (40-44 years old) are among the most likely to have to childless compared to similar cohorts around the world.  Among 118 countries with comparable data, only six have higher childless rates than the US’s 19%.  So nearly a fifth of all women in the US in the 40-44 year old age category do not have children, and are unlikely to do so. It would be interesting to note how many of these women made a conscious decision to not have children, how many put the decision off until it was too late, and how many… click here to read whole article and make comments



Fewer siblings changes personality

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It has long been known that birth order affects personality to some extent.  I remember observing that quite a few of the people I worked with in a corporate firm seemed to be oldest children.  Their younger siblings often enjoyed more relaxed careers, happy to cruise through life a bit more (although they were often very successful at whatever they cruised into, while somehow avoiding all the achievement angst of their older sibling!).  

In fact, some researchers believe birth order is on par with genetics in influencing behaviour.  A recent study published by Oxford University press noted this and among its conclusions was:

When more than one child is studied per family, it is apparent that siblings in the same family experience considerably different environments, in terms of their treatment of each other, in their peer interactions, and perhaps in terms of parental treatment.

It is interesting to note that no… click here to read whole article and make comments



Chief medical officer warns British women

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The British government’s chief medical officer has recently warned women that they may remain childless if they leave having children too late, once again stirring the debate about the rising age of mothers.  It is a sign of the times that her realistic and purely scientific observation caused outrage among many women.  'How dare she tell us that we should be having children?' was the reaction of many.  Have we really become that disconnected from the facts of life and raising a family?  

Women today are much more likely to be focused on their working life or travel than their mothers or grandmothers were.  Having a baby is often seen as a disruption to be postponed ‘just another year until I’ve done…' or 'saved X amount to afford it'.  Some couples have very sound financial reasons for waiting to have children in an economic climate with high unemployment rates; other more spurious.… click here to read whole article and make comments



Obesity in the UK

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When we think of the future population in many western countries, we think of it as getting older, and if not declining, propped up by fairly large scale immigration. We may have to add getting fatter to that list.  In the UK, a pressure group, the National Obesity Forum has released a report calling for greater action by the government to prevent the bleak, fleshy future for Britain’s population.  In 2007, the Foresight report predicted that by 2050, 50% of England’s population could be obese. The Forum is no stating that this could be an underestimation of the scale of the obesity crisis.  Recently, Public Health England estimated that by 2050, 60% of men, 50% of women and 25% of children could be obese.

So what is the Forum’s call for action entail?  It wants hard-hitting public awareness campaigns similar to the ones used to curb people smoking.  It also wants… click here to read whole article and make comments



Some go hungry, while others are obese

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One in eight people go to bed hungry according to the latest figures.  That’s more than 840 million people every day, despite the fact that enough food is produced to go around. 

Many people like to take the easy way out and say that must mean that there are too many people and we should aim to have fewer.  In fact, Oxfam identifies in a recent comprehensive study that overconsumption, misuse of resources and waste are what leaves many on our planet without enough good food to eat.  A lack of investment in agriculture and infrastructure in impoverished countries also plays a part, as does politics and corruption.

Oxfam studied 125 countries with the objective of discovering the best and worst places to eat.  It is the first study of its kind and identifies the many different challenges various countries face.  Interestingly, but not surprisingly, while some suffer malnutrition, others face obesity epidemics.  In… click here to read whole article and make comments



Good news from India

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How about some good news to start the year off? Thomas is walking, talking a little bit - “dog” “clock” “car” “Mum” (for both me and Shannon!) and the so far undecipherable “g’den”. He also has discovered in the last couple of weeks that he loves the beach! Let’s hope we get some more good weather so that he can spend some more days there in the future.

From further afield, and on a slightly larger scale, there is more good news to warm the cockles of your hearts. (A particularly useful thing for our North American readers at the moment.) India can be declared Polio free since there has not been a reported case in that country since 13 January 2011.  The World Health Organisation, which will officially declare India Polio-free by the end of March, is giving much of the credit to itself and to the Indian government:

click here to read whole article and make comments



More governments are worried about fertility rates

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A recent United Nations fertility report collates some interesting statistics about the fertility of the world as a whole.  Put simply, – and no surprises here – it finds that the developed world is not reproducing at the rate necessary to ensure the replacement of generations.  

Further compounding this problem, a mentality of low fertility may well be passed onto our fewer and fewer children as has happened in China as a result of the one child policy.  No wonder another key finding of the UN report is that there are an ever increasing number of governments who are worried about fertility rates.  The report states that:

Fertility has declined worldwide to unprecedented levels since the 1970s. Total fertility fell in all but six of the 186 countries or areas for which data are available for all three periods considered in the analysis. In the most recent period covered, 80 countries… click here to read whole article and make comments



Wolves are on the comeback

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Happy New Year everyone! I’ve started the year well: I’ve found one answer to the youth unemployment problem that Shannon highlighted in her last post – a European wolf pelt industry.  I’m not serious, the greenies would have a fit, but the opportunity is certainly there, as the wolf is making a comeback across Europe.

For example, in Spain’s newest national park in the Guadarrama hills, the wolf is back after a 70 year absence:

“There have been sightings for several years of lone males, but camera traps recently picked up a family of three cubs, two adults and a juvenile. To the consternation of the farmers who believed that this ancient foe had left the hills for ever, breeding packs are expected to follow.

In the past two months around 100 sheep and cattle have been killed near Buitrago, in the northern foothills of… click here to read whole article and make comments


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Welcome to Demography Is Destiny. We launched this to counter two media memes: that humans are a cancer which is destroying our planet and that world population is spiralling to unsustainable levels. The real story is that intelligent and inventive human will rise to the challenge of climate change and that our real problem is the coming demographic winter. The editors of Demography is Destiny are Marcus and Shannon Roberts, who live in Auckland, New Zealand. Send them your comments and suggestions. 

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