Taxes on sugary beverages seem to cut consumption, a Harvard public health expert said Tuesday, describing the sometimes controversial tariffs as one path of attack against the U.S. diabetes epidemic.Sara Bleich, a professor of public health policy at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute, said that a preliminary analysis of Philadelphia’s six-month-old 1.5-cent per-ounce tax shows sales dropping 57 percent by volume.“Consuming those drinks is very tightly linked to both obesity and diabetes,” Bleich said of the single largest source of added sugar in the American diet.Philadelphia’s tax-related drop came amid reports that consumption of soda and other sugary beverages has been in decline nationwide, said Bleich, speaking as part of a panel at the Harvard Chan School on the toll of diabetes and the future of treating the disease.LaShawn McIver, senior vice president of government affairs and advocacy for the American Diabetes Association, noted that the metabolic disorder is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S., killing more than AIDS and breast cancer combined, and costs the country $322 billion annually.One in 11 Americans — some 30 million people — has diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many more — about 84 million — have prediabetes. Complicating the picture, McIver said, is that nearly 90 percent of the latter group aren’t aware of the threat.“This is a huge issue from a public health perspective,” McIver said.Diabetes is closely linked to the nation’s obesity epidemic, with nearly 90 percent of those with type 2 diabetes — the vast majority of cases — also overweight or obese. The root problem, Bleich said, is that we live in an environment rich in cheap, convenient, calorie-laden foods, and an era of increasingly sedentary lifestyles.“Diet is a huge driver of the diabetes epidemic, and this is important because a person’s ability to control their diabetes is very dependent on their ability to select foods or be in an environment that allows them to control their blood sugar,” Bleich said.That’s where food policy comes in, she said. Policy can alter the food environment and make consumers less dependent on willpower alone. Taxes alter environment by making cost a more significant factor. Another effective tactic, Bleich said, is requiring calorie counts on restaurant menus, so that customers can consider not just price and taste, but also the health effects of meals.Requiring calorie counts on menus began in New York in 2006 and has since spread to other states, Bleich said. A federal version of the requirement contained in the Affordable Care Act is set to take effect next year. The measures have had less impact on consumer choices than on restaurants, which have been dropping the highest-calorie dishes and adding new ones that average 12 percent less, a difference of roughly 60 calories.“It sounds small, but at a population level, if you can extract that number of calories out of the diet, it can actually have a pretty big impact on levels of both obesity risk and diabetes risk,” Bleich said.Panelists also discussed the role of technology in treating the disease. Continuous glucose monitors use a probe under the skin to keep tabs on blood sugar, with data uploaded for doctors to review. They can also send out help signals.Howard Wolpert, vice president for medical innovation at the Lilly Innovation Center, said that technology can both improve blood sugar control — reducing risk of complications such as blindness, kidney failure, and infections — and make medical care more efficient. People whose blood sugars are relatively stable can see the doctor less frequently, while those with erratic sugars can keep regular appointments.Telemedicine, Wolpert said, has the potential to make a bigger difference, extending the reach of physicians to underserved communities, like Native Americans and Inuits, in which care is scarce but rates of diabetes are high.
One young trader hired by a major European bank as the British lockdown began said remote working had made corporate culture even tougher to navigate.”It’s not exactly easy for your new boss to explain the specifics of office politics to you without putting their foot in it,” she said, declining to be named due to company policy.”It does feel like it’s taking longer to feel loyalty to my new employer than it might have otherwise. I feel loyal to the team but not to the wider bank.”A new joiner at a different, London-based bank said his interviewers had appeared to study his bookshelves and photos while asking questions, and that he does not expect to meet his colleagues in person until next year, although he joined in May. For Sam Thompson, who joined money saving and investment app MoneyBox, a lack of face-to-face contact did make some early interactions with colleagues feel more transactional. But he appreciated the lengths the company has gone to to make it work.”We’ve been getting Deliveroo vouchers and we’ve been sitting around our computers while talking to one another and having lunch,” he said. “It’s probably the best induction into a company that I’ve ever had,” said the Quality Assurance Engineer, who has had several jobs in six years in the industry.Founded in 2016, MoneyBox has taken on 35 new hires during the lockdown to a total headcount of 135. It initially held off from filling roles requiring interaction with multiple teams, such as developers, Jack Johnstone, head of HR and talent, said, but overcame those fears.Its approach mirrors those of major banks including Standard Chartered, Citi and Deutsche Bank, which have all rapidly redesigned their interview and orientation process.Citi hired around 3,840 new staff in its Institutional Clients Group Operations & Technology between March and August.Once a new hire is appointed, MoneyBox and the banks send out a joining manual or welcoming video along with the required technology.Virtual face-to-face meetings are held much more regularly with managers, buddy partners are formed with existing staff and an array of tech platforms are used to maintain communication.Meetings with different teams and online social events are encouraged to help staff build broader networks and replicate the ‘chance meetings’ they may have had in canteens and lifts.Drinks anyone?Andy Halford, chief financial officer of Standard Chartered, told Reuters online drinks and other social events were vital.”Some people find it easier to talk and connect when they are not ‘at work’,” he said. “We want to humanize this situation for everyone.”Professor Nicholas Bloom at Stanford University said new hires unable to meet colleagues in person would struggle with unspoken rules – from how many hours people really work to when to take a break and what to wear.For graduates, who often work long hours when joining banks or big law firms, that poses another risk. “At home it generates a strong incentive for over-communication, so endlessly sending unnecessary emails and slack messages just to highlight the fact that you’re still there,” Bloom said.Still, McKinsey Partner Alexander DiLeonardo said new hires have to work harder to network. “When you aren’t sitting next to your new colleagues or outside your supervisor’s office, you have to be intentional about reaching out,” he said. Topics : Joining a new company can be tough at the best of times, with bosses to impress, skills to learn and new colleagues to befriend.But that task becomes a whole lot harder when the “onboarding” is done during a pandemic that has forced millions to work from home, leaving new hires to judge colleagues on their taste in curtains and conduct on Zoom.The companies that get it right should have an expanded, grateful workforce, but get it wrong and new hires could find it hard to develop team spirit or a sense of belonging to the firm.
Liberia will host the first of four global humanitarian hub events, known as the Voices to Action (VTA) in Sanniquillie City, Nimba County, from September 2-3. The conference is intended to address global humanitarian challenges that affect local communities and how these challenges can be mitigated by prioritizing local solutions.VTA is an initiative of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) and Liberia was fortunate to be one of the four countries, the only one in Africa to be selected by the global humanitarian body to host the events.The VTA will enable voices of communities concerned to be collected through the series of humanitarian hub events around the world, the first of which will be taking place in Sanniquellie next week.The ever increasing humanitarian crises across the globe, especially the just waning Ebola crisis that devastated the entire Mano River Sub-region, are now compelling major global humanitarian organizations to re-strategize in order to make greater impacts through their responses in the lives of the most vulnerable people at the local community levels.Announcing the VTA confab in Monrovia over the weekend, Fayiah Tamba, Sectretary-General, Liberia National Red Cross Society (LNRCS) said participants will include community members and leaders, Red Cross volunteers, staff and partners, civil society organizations (CSOs) actors and government representative. They will discuss local needs and reflect on how to strengthen community-driven action, be it individual initiatives or community partnerships.In the fight against the EVD in Liberia, it was proven that the bottom up approach, which saw the communities taking the initiatives and playing outstanding roles in the fight, was the best approach that eliminated the virus.“We saw that empowering communities is crucial to delivering sustainable assistance. This was clearly evident during the fight against the EVD.”Mr. Tamba noted that the LNRCS is pleased to host the first humanitarian hub event for VTA, and to share the experiences, concerns and needs of communities in Liberia to the highest sitting of the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement.The LNRCS’ needs and ideas identified at the event will be compiled into a report and discussed with world governments at the International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent which will take place in Geneva, Switzerland in December this year, said Tamba.This international conference, which is held every four years, provides a non-political forum for government decision makers and Red Cross and Red Crescent to discuss the most pressing humanitarian challenges and needs and come up with solutions.The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement’s mission is to alleviate human suffering, protect life and health and provide care and relief from disasters and other emergencies.“In Liberia,” Mr. Tamba indicated, “the LNRCS is present in every county and over 95 districts and continues to build stronger communities and address challenges of healthcare, Disaster Risk Reduction, Youth Development, Women’s Empowerment, food security and livelihood in the communities.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)