US researchers warn against harsh diets, say fat can be fit – dpa international

Standing on an escalator, as people are seen doing in this mall in Malaysia, rather than climbing stairs ,is likely to reduce overall fitness (Simon Roughneen)

Overcoming weight-related health problems depends more on hard work and exercise than on cutting calories, according to health researchers in the US.Though excess weight contributes to diabetes and heart disease, crash-dieting not is the answer to a tripling of obesity and surge in related health conditions worldwide since the mid-1970s. When it comes to regaining health and reducing mortality risk associated with excess weight, “increasing physical activity and improving fitness appear to be superior to weight loss,” the researchers said, in findings published by Cell Press.

Business research spending hit by pandemic side effects – dpa international

Medical rubber gloves produced by a leading Malaysian manufacturer, sales of which have surged due to coronavirus. Research spending has gone up in sectors that have grown since the start of the pandemic (Simon Roughneen)

Research and development (R&D) spending in booming sectors such as software and pharmaceuticals has increased since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, while transport and travel, which have been hit hard by the pandemic, have reported falling outlays. Overall spending was up, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), which said that “scientific output, expenditures in research and development, intellectual property filings and venture capital deals continued to grow” last year after a record-setting 2019. WIPO had earlier reported an “all-time high” number of patent filings for 2020, describing the record on Monday as “driven by medical technology, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology.”

Rethink sought for ‘chaotic’ pandemic travel rules – dpa international

The Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, a famous landmark and tourist attraction and likely to be inundated with visitors if tourism revives (Simon Roughneen)

Governments need to “rethink global travel restrictions,” according to the Singapore-based secretariat of the 21-country Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) bloc, which described the pandemic-related curbs as “chaotic.” The frontier rules “are not consistent,” the secretariat said on Wednesday, leading to “even essential travel” becoming “more cumbersome” and “more exclusive” than it has been for decades.

Subsistence hunting labelled a threat to dozens of protected species – dpa international

Images of grinning, gun-toting, khaki-clad hunters posingI over dead lions and elephants have long provoked outrage, scorn and bewilderment. But safari trophy-seekers are not the biggest threat to some protected animals, including several species closely related to humans, according to a report published by the UN’s Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). According to the study, “most migratory ungulates” as well as “all chimpanzee subspecies and three of the four gorilla subspecies” are “experiencing large population declines” that can in part be blamed on them ending up on people’s dinner plates. Of the 105 species covered in the study, which was prepared by the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), 47 are hunted for so-called “bush meat” markets and another 20 are taken for other reasons, including “sport hunting.”

You are what you eat, going by Harvard-led obesity investigation – dpa international

Overeating does not always make you overweight, according to research published by Oxford University Press (OUP), which put the US’s “obesity epidemic” down to processed carbs prompting hormones to cause widespread metabolic mayhem. According to scientists and medics led by David Ludwig, an endocrinologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, gluttony is not really the problem. Instead the culprit is “modern dietary patterns characterized by excessive consumption of foods with a high glycemic load: in particular, processed, rapidly digestible carbohydrates.”

Pandemic shows non-infectious diseases must be taken more seriously – dpa international

The coronavirus pandemic has prompted widespread use of sanitisers, as seen in these dispensers inside a Catholic church, but campaigners think more needs to be done to combat so-called NCDs (Simon Roughneen)

The coronavirus pandemic has “intensified” needs to prevent and treat not only infectious diseases such as Covid-19, but “noncommunicable” illnesses such as cancer and diabetes, say health-issue campaigners. The pandemic “has brought about a greater recognition that the long-held distinctions between infectious and noncommunicable diseases are not as clear cut as once thought,” according to the Noncommunicable Disease (NCD) Alliance and The George Institute for Global Health, who warned in a report that “those with chronic conditions have a significantly higher risk of hospitalisation or death from the virus.”

OECD says more people back at work in July as economies recover slowly – dpa international

Bus stop outside a Dublin café in July (Simon Roughneen)

Unemployment across the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) fell for the third consecutive month in July, the group’s Paris-based secretariat said on Thursday. As countries continued to mostly ease coronavirus pandemic restrictions, joblessness dropped by 0.2 per cent to 6.2 per cent of the OECD-area workforce. However, unemployment remained almost 1 per cent above the 5.27 per cent recorded in February last year, the month before the World Health Organizaton declared a pandemic and most countries imposed lockdowns that froze swathes of their economies. Overall, around 1.6 million people were taken off unemployment registers across the OECD in July, leaving over 41 million people without a job.

All in the rhythm – US doctors claim asthma management breakthrough – dpa international

Asthma inhaler (Simon Roughneen)

An asthmatic can ditch the cigarettes, steer clear of pollen and dust, take regular pulls on a trusty inhaler, and top all that off with running, cycling, swimming – but in the end, all those good habits might not matter as much as previously assumed. At least not at night, because once the sun sets, according to US doctors and scientists, the body’s natural circadian rhythms “have a stand-alone impact on asthma severity, independent of behavioral and environmental factors.”

Europeans feeling less free since pandemic started, survey shows – dpa international

Reduced numbers and mask mandates have been widely imposed on public transport systems as a virus-related restriction (Simon Roughneen)

Only one in five of Europeans claim to “still feel free in their everyday life,” around a third as many as before the coronavirus pandemic. A survey published this week by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) showed 22 per cent of respondents claiming to feel free, “compared to 64 per cent who say they felt free two years ago, before the pandemic struck.” The poll, carried out in May and June and taking in over 16,000 people, suggested 41 per cent of Hungarians and 38 per cent of Spaniards “currently feel free,” the highest among the 12 countries canvassed. Meanwhile one in two Germans, the most of any country, say they are “not free” – despite being put under arguably less onerous restrictions than elsewhere.

Airlines say travel numbers up but still just half of 2019 levels – dpa international

Beach in Ireland, July 2021. Visitors to beaches in 2021 are mosty travellers from within the same country (Simon Roughneen

International and domestic travel demand showed “significant momentum” in July compared to the previous month but remained overall 53 per cent below what was recorded in the same month in 2019, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). “Extensive government-imposed travel restrictions continue to delay recovery in international markets,” said the IATA, which represents almost 300 airlines carrying around 8 in 10 of the world’s passengers. There were huge differences between some regions and between domestic travel, which by July had recovered to within around 15 per cent of pre-pandemic numbers, and international, where the difference was a whopping 73.6 per cent, the IATA said. In June, domestic travel was 22 per cent less than the same month two years ago, while international travel was down 80 per cent. The hardest hit region remains the Asia-Pacific, which in July saw a near 95-per-cent-fall in international traffic compared to 2019, only slightly better than during the worst of the pandemic.