SMU Department of Economics

Federal school lunches linked to childhood obesity, says SMU research

School%20lunch%20kids1b.jpgThe school lunch and breakfast programs sponsored by the federal government feed millions of school children annually in hopes of giving them a healthy start.

But new research has found that children who participate in the National School Lunch Program are more likely to become overweight, according to economist Daniel L. Millimet, a professor in SMU’s Department of Economics. Millimet’s school-lunch research was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which sponsors the National School Lunch Program.

USDA officials, says Millimet, are concerned about a la carte offerings and other school add-ons to the government program because those foods aren’t required to meet USDA nutritional standards.

The USDA is partnering with First Lady Michelle Obama to fight what experts say is a childhood obesity epidemic among America’s school children. The First Lady on May 18 released the results and recommendations of The White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity report.
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Africa’s cell phone boom can’t trump dire need for schools, roads, power, water

Well%2C%20Senegal%2C%20Africa%20cropped.jpgSMU economist Isaac M. Mbiti has seen in his native Kenya how cell phone use in Africa is booming. The fast-growing use of cell phones in Africa — where many people lack the basic human necessities — has made headlines worldwide the past few years.

The surprising boom has led to widespread speculation — and hope — that cell phones could potentially transform the impoverished continent. Cell phones are making a difference, says Mbiti, but his latest research also reveals, however, that cell phones alone can’t drive development. Continue reading

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Boston Review: Africa Calling — Can mobile phones make a miracle?

Isaac%20Mbiti.jpg
SMU economist Isaac M. Mbiti has seen in his native Kenya how cell phone use in Africa is booming. He and Jenny C. Aker, Tufts University, wrote about the phenomenal growth of cell phones — and their impact — in the March/April 2010 issue of the Boston Review.

Cell phones can do only so much, say the researchers. Many Africans still struggle in poverty and still lack reliable electricity, clean drinking water, education or access to roads.

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Appendicitis linked to flu-like virus outbreaks

flu%20virus%2Clorez.jpgThe research of SMU faculty Thomas B. Fomby and Wayne A. Woodward has been published in the January issue of the journal Archives of Surgery. Fomby is a professor and chairman of the Department of Economics and Woodward is a professor in the Department of Statistical Science.

The research described in the article “Association of Viral Infection and Appendicitis” looks at the relationship between appendicitis and seasonal viral infections. The scientists reviewed 36 years of hospital discharge data and concluded there is a relationship to a flu-like virus.
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Biodiversity: Some species may always be endangered

graywolfcredittracybrooksmissionwolf72dpi.jpgOnce hunted to near-extermination, the Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolf reached an important milestone recently. With a population estimated at 1,500, the wolf re-established itself in the Yellowstone National Park area, and in March 2008 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed it from protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Almost immediately, hunters began petitioning the state offices of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming for permits to hunt the wolves, perhaps down to as little as 20 percent of their current numbers in some areas. Such a weighty issue begs the questions: How much hunting is safe for a given species? How many gray wolves can die before the species loses its chance at recovery?
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