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Brief asides


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POSTED: Monday, September 14, 2009

HEAVY ISSUE

Attack of the sedentary lifestyles

The debate over health care reform so far has centered on medical insurance, and who should pay for it. But a diverse alliance wants policymakers to make the nation's obesity epidemic part of the discussion. Two-thirds of the population is overweight or obese, a rate that has tripled since 1980, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. “;We are in essence addicting our children to sedentary lifestyles,”; says former Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher. we're addicting them to high-salt, high-sweet, high-fat diets,”; he said, “;and then we pay for it later on when they come to us with cancer, heart disease and diabetes.”;

SUNNY IDEA

There's always the weather

A moment of TV snow, if you please, in honor of Frank Batten Sr., the man whose belief in weather created the Weather Channel.

Batten, who died last week at age 82, founded the channel in 1982 amid skepticism that there was a 24/7 audience for storms and temperatures. There was. Last year, Batten sold the channel for $3.5 billion; his net worth in March was $1.7 billion.

HELP ARRIVES

Finally, some welcome news on the H1N1 front

Despite initial concerns and uncertainty, clinical trials of the new H1N1 swine flu vaccine show that only one dose, not two, should offer sufficient protection. That means vaccine supplies should go twice as far as had been predicted, allaying fears of shortages. The expected supplies should be enough to cover the 159 million people considered in high-risk groups: pregnant women, people under age 24 or caring for infants, people with high-risk medical conditions and health workers.

The H1N1 swine flu pandemic has reached 168 countries, reports The New York Times. It arrived in the United States late in the spring and infected more than 1 million people, killing nearly 600 people by the end of August, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

With schools back in session and the close quarters and contact they bring, cases are surging again. The H1N1 vaccine is expected to roll out in mid-October.