Category Archives: Science

UPDATE: N.Korean satellite successfully launches into space

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December 11, 2012

An American space expert says North Korea has succeeded in launching a satellite into space.

Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics says the three-stage Unha-3 rocket launched early Wednesday morning delivered the satellite into orbit and constituted “a perfect success for North Korea.”

He says that based on his own calculations an object identified by U.S. space command as “39026, 2012-072A” was from the North Korean satellite.

The apparent North Korean success comes after two earlier failures with the Unha-3 rocket, including one in April that flamed out after only 90 seconds.

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BREAKING: North Korea Launches Satellite Missile

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UPDATE: N.Korean satellite successfully launches into space

The following article below was originally published by NK News

BREAKING: North Korea Launches Rocket

December 12, 2012

North Korea launched its rocket just before 10am this morning from its Sohae Satellite Launching Station on the West coast of the Korean peninsula, and has claimed to have successfully put its satellite in orbit . A report from North Korean state moutpiece the KCNA said:

The launching of the satellite ‘Gwangmyongsong-3′ using the “Unha-3″ rocket was a success, and the satellite has entered into its planned orbit.

According to some, it is too soon to feasibly confirm if the satellite launch has been a success, but the KCNA has announced that there will be a special broadcast on state television in the next five minutes.

South Korean government spokesman Kim Min-seok told South Korean media gathered for a press conference at the Ministry of Defence in Seoul:

At 0951 this morning, the [North Korean] rocket was launched from the Tongch’ang-dong Space Launch Center. The rocket was tracked until 0958, when the object passed over the West of Okinawa

Kim also told reporters that there were indications of the launch since yesterday, but this information was not revealed to the public. South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has reportedly called an immediate national security meeting and Japan has requested that the UN Security Council convene today [Wednesday] and Japanese Prime Minister Noda has called a national security meeting for 1055 Tokyo time.

Speaking to CNN, a senior US official said that they were “surprised” by the launch and that it was “not expected”.

A Japanese government spokesperson also said they estimate rocket debris to have  fallen in Korean coastal waters at 0958KST, and that the first stage of the rocket is likely to drop in the Pacific Ocean, 300km to the East of the Philippines.

Most analysts had predicted the rocket would not be fired until after December 21st. Only yesterday, South Korean media reported that the rocket had been dismantled, and a North Korean press release announced that they had extended the launch window to December 29th.

Speaking from Seoul, John Swenson-Wright, Senior lecturer in East Asian International Relations at the University of Cambridge told NK News “It’s difficult to determine, at this point, whether the launch constitutes a success, but the range of the missile – with reports indicating that it has overflown Okinawa and landed well east of the Philippines may indicate that Pyongyang has succeeded in its ability to test a long-range rocket.”

“Japan’s decision not to intercept the missile in flight was doubtless a wise-one and will not have raised questions about the reliabilty of its missile defence capabilities in the first instance.”

“The decision by Japan and the ROK leaderships to convene two separate national security meetings is a measure of the gravity of the situation. It is likely that this will be seen as a success on the part of the North Korean leadership, which has again demonstrated its independence and ability to challenge and surprise the international community” said Swenson-Wright, who is also a Senior Consulting Fellow at Chatham House.

Nicholas Hamisevicz, Director of Research and Academic Affairs at the Korea Economic Institute in Washington D.C. said “The launch definitely indicates that Pyongyang has calculated that the immediate benefits from a launch outweigh the perceived gains they may receive in 2013.”

Markets have remained stable in response to the news so far, with the Japanese Nikkei up 5%.

More details to follow on NK News. Follow us on Twitter @nknewsorg for more breaking news updates

Governments of Venezuela, Belarus sign accords in strategic areas

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June 27, 2012

Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko (left) with Venezuelan presidnt Hugo Chavez (AVN)

Caracas, 27 Jun. AVN.- On Tuesday, the governments of Venezuela and Belarus signed over 20 accords in matters of mining, petroleum and energy, as well as housing, food security, technology and communication.

The signing was headed by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez in  a meeting at Miraflores Presidential Palace, in Caracas, with Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko.

The accords endorsed include a memorandum of understanding between Venezuela’s petroleum and mining ministry and Belarus to design and construct a gas pipeline as part of a national gas development plan.

A framework contract to commit Belarus to foreign-economic cooperation between China and Venezuela, aimed at constructing and launching a thermoelectric power plant in the western state of Barinas was also signed.

Furthermore, a memorandum of understanding was signed with Venezuela’s petrochemical venture Pequiven for technical accompaniment, analysis and assessment in the petrochemical development industry, also in Barinas.

Venezuela’s ministries of industries and housing signed a memorandum of understanding with Belarus’  ministry of industries to set up a second production line in a blocks factory in the central state of Miranda.

In addition, a memorandum of understanding was signed to set up a formwork manufacturing plant for Venezuela’s housing mission.

In matters of agriculture, the two nations signed a memorandum of understanding to carry out agroindustrial communes projects in the eastern states of Anzoategui and Bolivar and in the western states of Zulia and Barinas.

Another memorandum of understanding was signed to bolster industrial capacity in Venezuelan food-processing plants.

The governments of Venezuela and Belarus endorsed agreements in the areas of technology transfer and scientific knowledge for innovative activities. The plan is to coordinate public institutions in the two countries in the areas of housing, development, health, food security, information and communication technology, as well as alternative energies.

In the last six years, Venezuela and Belarus have signed around 200 accords in matters of science, technology, agricultural and industry.

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‘No one has right to find fault with DPRK’s satellite launch’

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The following article below was originally published by the Korean Central News Agency

Pyongyang, March 24 (KCNA) — The National Leading Council of the Diversity Unity Party of Indonesia released a statement on March 20 in support of the DPRK’s plan for launching a working satellite.

The DPRK is not big in the territory but it manufactured the satellite by its own efforts and with its indigenous technology despite the blockade and pressure of the U.S. and the West and succeeded in launching experimental satellites twice, the statement said.

Some hostile forces are strongly opposed to the DPRK’s launch of Kwangmyongsong-3 because they dislike to see it emerging a space power and it is also an extension of their hostile policy toward the DPRK, it noted.

It reiterated its full support for the DPRK’s plan for launching the satellite for peaceful purposes aimed at scientific researches and economic development.

Garib Newaz, president of the Bangladesh People’s League, in a statement on March 19 said that the DPRK would successfully launch Kwangmyongsong-3 and thus demonstrate once again before the world the mightiness of the country and its independent dignity.

M. M. Alhassan, chairman of the Nigerian National Committee for the Study of the Juche Idea, and Than Tun, general director for Administrative Affairs of the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited, in their statements on the same day said that no one has right to find fault with the DPRK’s satellite launch.

People’s Korea to launch satellite

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The following article below was originally published by the Korean Central News Agency

North Korean space shuttle replica on display at the Children's Palace in Pyongyang.

Pyongyang, March 16 (KCNA) — The DPRK is to launch a working satellite, Kwangmyongsong-3, manufactured by itself with indigenous technology to mark the 100th birth anniversary of President Kim Il Sung.

A spokesman for the Korean Committee for Space Technology said this in a statement Friday.

After successfully launching two experimental satellites, DPRK scientists and technicians have steadily conducted scientific researches to develop and utilize working satellites indispensable for the country’s economic development in line with the government’s policy for space development and peaceful use.

Through the researches they have made a drastic progress in the field of space science and technology and laid solid material and technological foundations for working satellite launches and operation.

Kwangmyongsong-3, a polar-orbiting earth observation satellite, will be blasted off southward from the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Cholsan County, North Phyongan Province between April 12 and 16, lifted by carrier rocket Unha-3.

A safe flight orbit has been chosen so that carrier rocket debris to be generated during the flight would not have any impact on neighboring countries.

The DPRK will strictly abide by relevant international regulations and usage concerning the launch of scientific and technological satellites for peaceful purposes and ensure maximum transparency, thereby contributing to promoting international trust and cooperation in the field of space scientific researches and satellite launches.

The upcoming launch will greatly encourage the army and people of the DPRK in the building of a thriving nation and will offer an important occasion of putting the country’s technology of space use for peaceful purposes on a higher stage.

Fidel Castro’s Reflections: The best President for the United States

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January 10, 2012

A well known European agency transmitted the news the day before yesterday from Sydney, Australia. “A group of Australian investigators from the University of New South Wales announced the creation of a wire 10,000 times thinner than a human hair, with the same electrical current carrying capability of copper.”

“… Bent Weber, head of the project at the Australian university, in an article published by Science magazine, explained, “Interconnecting wiring of this scale will be vital for the development of future atomic-scale electronic circuits.”

“The wire was created by Australian and U.S. physicists by precisely placing chains of phosphorus atoms within a silicon crystal, just four atoms wide, one atom tall.

“This finding is essential to the international race to develop the first quantum computer, super-fast machines capable of processing enormous quantities of data in a few seconds, doing complex calculations which would take current computers years or even decades.

“In a traditional copper wire, electricity flows as copper electrons move along the conductor, but as the wire or conductor becomes smaller, resistance to the flow of electricity is greater.

“To overcome this problem Weber and his team used a process called scanning tunneling microscopy which allowed them to place atomically thin layers of phosphorus in silicon crystals.

“This allowed the nanowire to function like copper, with the electrons flowing easily, without resistance problems. Weber said that with this technique makes possible reducing the size of components to the atomic level.

“If the semi-conductor industry continues to miniaturise devices then eventually they will reach the atomic scale,” observed Michelle Simmons, director of the research project

These unabated technological advances which should serve humanity’s well-being reminded me of what I had just written four days ago about global warming and the increasing development of shale gas, in a world which in 200 years has consumed fossil energy produced over a period of four billion years.

I imagined Obama, very articulate with words, for whom, in his desperate attempt to be reelected, the dreams of [Martin] Luther King are more light years away than the closest inhabitable planet.

Even worse: any one of the Republican Congress members considering the Presidency or any man or woman leading the Tea Party are carrying more nuclear weapons on their shoulders than ideas about peace in their heads.

Imagine, readers, for one minute, this powerful quantum computer cable of processing an infinite number of times the data processed by modern computers.

Is it not, perhaps, obvious that worst of all is the absence in the White House of a robot capable of governing the United States and preventing a war which would put an end to human life?

I am sure that 90% of U.S. citizens registered, especially Latinos, Blacks and a growing number of those in the middle class, the impoverished, would vote for the robot.

Fidel Castro Ruz
January 8, 2012
6:18 p.m.

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Black, Asian teens less likely than whites to abuse drugs, Duke study concludes

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By Jay Price
November 8, 2011

Black and Asian adolescents are much less likely than their white peers to abuse or become dependent on drugs and alcohol, according to a Duke University-led study based on an unusually large sample from all 50 states.

“There is certainly still a myth out there that black kids are more likely to have problems with drugs than white kids, and this documents as clearly as any study we’re aware of that the rate of . . . substance-related disorders among African American youths is significantly lower,” said Dr. Dan Blazer of Duke’s Department of Psychiatry, a senior author of the study.

The findings, based on analysis of confidential federal surveys of 72,561 adolescents ages 12 to 17 from 2005 through 2008, were released Monday and appear in the November issue of the journal Archives of General Psychiatry.

About 9 percent of the white teenagers in the study sample used substances in ways that indicated they had disorders, meaning abuse or dependency. That’s nearly twice the percentage of blacks nearly three times the rate for a group classified as Asian/Pacific Islander, which were mostly Asians.. The prevalence of disorders was by far highest among Native Americans, at 15 percent.

Abuse was defined as substance use that caused at least one problem such as legal or relationship issues. Dependence meant meeting several criteria from a list that included inability to cut down, giving up other activities and continued use despite problems.

Across all racial and ethnic groups, 37 percent reported using drugs or alcohol in the past year and nearly 8 percent met the criteria for a substance abuse disorder.

Among kids who abused illegal drugs, marijuana was the most prevalent choice, followed by prescription opioids such as oxycodone, which have passed inhalants such as glue as a means of getting high.

Nearly 26 percent of the kids using marijuana had problems with abuse or dependency on the drug.

The study should give researchers a starting point for further study into topics such as the specific reasons that substance use and disorders are less common in some groups than others, Blazer said.

It’s widely known among substance-abuse counselors and psychiatrists who work with Native Americans that problems vary greatly from one tribe to another, Blazer said. A shortcoming of the data is that it couldn’t be broken down into smaller subsets such as tribes, or to separate the Asians and Pacific Islanders, to make it easier to dig deeper into the questions raised by the study, he said.

In addition to three Duke researchers, the study also involved a scientist from the University of Pennsylvania and another from the Veterans Health Administration in Washington.

Earlier studies, in some cases restricted to narrower slices of population or geography, had previously indicated that black kids were less likely to have drug problems than white adolescents, Blazer said. But the new study uses a particularly broad and representative sample, with large numbers surveyed in each racial and ethnic group.

Given the strength of the data, the findings should give policymakers firm facts to use in making decisions about how to better tackle drug problems among kids, Blazer said.

“It’s very hard when you look at data like this to say we don’t have a problem,” he said. “Then it becomes sort of an imperative to do something.”

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New data on global corporate control confirms Lenin’s ‘Imperialism’

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By Deirdre Griswold
October 27, 2011

Researchers in Zurich, Switzerland, have used a powerful computer database to analyze which transnational companies dominate the world economy. Their findings, called “The network of global corporate control,” appeared this summer at arxiv.org, an online publisher of scientific material.

Using information from the financial database ORBIS, which provided them with data on “37 million economic actors, both physical persons and firms located in 194 countries, and roughly 13 million directed and weighted ownership links (equity relations),” the team of scientists from ETH Zurich, headed by Stefania Vitali, used a new mathematical analysis to tease out the structures linking transnational corporations to their subsidiaries and to each other.

The result? Out of this vast number of corporate actors, in 2007 “a mere 147 companies controlled nearly 40 percent of the monetary value of all transnational corporations,” wrote Rachel Ehrenberg in an article summarizing the group’s findings. (“Financial world dominated by a few,” Science News, Sept. 24)

The authors say their work is the first attempt ever made to plot the myriad connections among the transnationals, defined as companies that have at least 10 percent of their wealth in more than one country. They describe the structure that emerged as resembling a “bowtie,” with lots of corporate entities in the periphery but a small group at the center controlling the flow of wealth.

While the global capitalist economy today is vastly larger and more complex than a century ago when V.I. Lenin wrote his groundbreaking book “Imperialism,” this attempt by mathematicians to penetrate the murky world of corporate and finance capital confirms what the leader of the Russian Revolution wrote in 1916.

Lenin showed how even then the big banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions of Europe and the United States had grown to dominate over all other forms of capital. He used the data then available to show that they had formed giant cartels that divided up the world markets into “spheres of influence.”

Written during World War I, the book explained what drove capitalist nations to half-exterminate each other in the struggle for superprofits around the world. The message was clear: War and exploitation will continue as long as there is capitalism.

There is no such message in these recent findings. Rather, the research is directed at capitalist governments and multinational institutions that the authors hope will shape better policies.

However, coming at a time when the capitalist system is in a deepening crisis of overproduction that is being felt all over the world, this study dispels the theory that capitalism has somehow become more democratic because, for example, millions of people have to rely on pensions that invest in mutual funds.

As the Occupy Wall Street movement says, only a tiny number of the world’s people really control the wealth. They are really much less than 1 percent and are concentrated in the major imperialist countries.

The top 50 control-holders in the world are listed in a table at the end of the study. Twenty-four of them are from the U.S. Most of their names are obscure: FMR Corp., The Capital Group and State Street are among the largest. But behind these names are many of the same old ruling-class families that have picked presidents and secretaries of state for generations to ensure that the U.S. government puts their class interests before anything else.

In the recent period, this has meant getting their hands on trillions of dollars in government bailout money when the markets turned sour, even as millions of workers lose their jobs and homes.

Lenin called imperialism “the highest and last stage of capitalism.” How much longer will such a horrible system be allowed to endure?

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China’s ‘heavenly palace’ rises to skies

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September 29, 2011

China has successfully launched experimental module Tiangong-1 into space, marking the first ambitious step to building the country’s very own space station.

The space laboratory’s carrier rocket Long March-2FT1 blasted off into orbit at 13:16 GMT on Thursday from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern China.

The module is designed to test docking technology with the country’s Shenzhou spacecraft.

Three additional spacecraft will be launched later to connect with Tiangong-1. Two unmanned spaceships, Shenzhou-8 and Shenzhou-9, and piloted Shenzhou-10, are expected to attach to the Tiangong-1 module, Xinhua news agency reports.

The space station – dubbed “Heavenly Palace” – is expected to remain in orbit for two years.

While the US is not planning any manned launches in the near future and Russia does not plan to concentrate on piloted programs in the long term, China may launch a manned mission to the Tiangong-1 in the next two years.

The Shenzhou-10 may be piloted by a female taikonaut who will test manual docking with the module.

In 2003, China sent its first manned mission into space, becoming the third country to launch a human into orbit.

China has emphasized the peaceful nature of its space program. Zhou Jianping, chief designer of China’s manned space program, said as quoted by Xinhua: “China’s ultimate intention for developing space technologies is to explore space resources and make use of them for mankind’s well-being.”

China now has what other space powers do not – significant government investment, Jack Linchuan Qiu, Associate Professor at the School of Journalism and Communication, Chinese University of Hong Kong, told RT.

The launch of the Tiangong-1 marks the beginning of a new chapter for China’s space industry, he noted.

He admitted, however, that China has a long way to go to catch up as “Russia and the United States have already mastered the technology of building a space center three decades ago.”

The competition that China has sparked with its latest move is not necessarily a bad thing, Qiu claimed. “NASA can now argue in front of the US Congress for more funding,” he explains.

“For Russian, Japanese or Indian colleagues it can be good news as well,” he told RT.

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There Is No Biological Reason to Eat Three Meals a Day — So Why Do We Do It?

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By Anneli Rufus
September 23, 2011

We grew up believing in three meals a day.

When we skip meals, eat extra meals or subvert paradigms — spaghetti breakfasts, pancake suppers — we feel naughty, edgy and criminal. “Three meals a day” resonates like a Bible phrase.

But it’s a cultural construct.

People around the world, even in the West, have not always eaten three squares. The three-meals model is a fairly recent convention, which is now being eclipsed as, like everything else, eating becomes a highly personalized matter of choice. What and when and how frequently we eat is driven less and less by the choices of our families, coworkers and others, and more and more by impulse, personal taste and favorite nutrition memes, and marketing schemes such as Taco Bell’s promotion of late-night eating known as “Fourthmeal: the Meal Between Dinner & Breakfast.” Selecting how and when we eat is like loading our iPods.

A torrent of new studies explores the health effects of eating three squares. Their findings are far from conclusive. A US Department of Agriculture study found that eating just one large meal a day versus three normal-sized meals lowers weight and body fat but raises blood pressure; three meals per day lowers blood pressure. A National Institute on Aging study found that eating one large meal a day rather than three raises insulin resistance and glucose intolerance: two key features of type-2 diabetes.

A University of Maastricht study found that eating at least four small meals daily reduces obesity risk by 45 percent. This Dutch study also found that people who skip breakfast are five times as likely to become obese as regular breakfasters. Yet a University of Ottawa study found that eating many small meals doesn’t promote weight loss. So did a French National Center for Scientific Research study, which trashed grazing: “Epidemiological studies which have suggested that nibbling is associated with leanness are extremely vulnerable to methodological errors,” its authors warn.

UC Berkeley study found that “alternate-day fasting” — feasting one day, fasting the next, ad infinitum — might decrease the risk of heart disease and cancer.

Researching the effects of meal frequency is notoriously tricky, because it involves so many variables: nutritional content, time of day, exercise, genetics. So the scientific jury is still out.

“There is no biological reason for eating three meals a day,” says Yale University history professor Paul Freedman, editor of Food: The History of Taste (University of California Press, 2007).

The number of meals eaten per day, along with the standard hour and fare for each, “are cultural patterns no different from how close you stand when talking to people or what you do with your body as you speak. Human beings are comfortable with patterns because they’re predictable. We’ve become comfortable with the idea of three meals. On the other hand, our schedules and our desires are subverting that idea more and more every day,” Freedman says.

For most of history, meals were very variable. A medieval northern European peasant “would start his morning with ale or bread or both, then bring some sort of food out into the fields and have a large meal sometime in the afternoon,” Freedman says. “He might have what he called ‘dinner’ at 2 in the afternoon or 6 in the evening, or later” — depending on his work, the season and other factors.

“He wouldn’t have a large evening meal. He would just grab something small and quick. Dinner back then tended not to be as distinct as it has become in the last two centuries.”

And it tended to be eaten in daylight — not because eating earlier was considered healthier, but because cooking, consuming and cleaning up is difficult in the dark or by firelight.

“People who were not rich tried to get all their meals eaten before dark. After electricity was discovered, initially only the rich could afford it,” Freedman says. “From that point onward, one mark of being rich became how late you ate. Eating way after dark because you could afford electric lights was a mark of high status, urbanity and class.”

Eating late — or at random times, or more or less than thrice daily — also reflects one’s distance from the two main forces that standardized three squares in America: conventional work schedules and traditional family life.

Throughout most of the 20th century, most workers could eat only at specific times.

“When that factory whistle blew at five o’clock, it was time to go home and be fed. But now all kinds of Americans are eating later and later because they work longer hours than they used to, or because their hours are now more flexible. We are very much losing the three-meals-a-day model, thanks to grazing and thanks to different members of a household having different schedules, and to the fact that the kids might not want to eat what their parents are eating.”

The idea of children being allowed to choose their own meals and mealtimes would have been shocking a few decades ago, when “Eat what’s on your plate” and “Eat your peas or no dessert” were family dinner-table mantras. But the family dinner table is verging on the obsolescent. Which came first: the dissolution of the standard nuclear family or the dissolution of three meals a day?

“American parents have a particular kind of guilt about the disappearance of family meals,” Freedman says. Perhaps for good reason: A recent University of Minnesota study found that habitual shared family meals improve nutrition, academic performance and interpersonal skills and reduce the risk of eating disorders.

Electronic devices are also undermining the three-meals model. They’re at once entertainment centers, workspaces and almost-human companions. Their portability and nonstop availability let us eat whenever we like without having to stop working, without having to be bored, and without having to feel that we are eating alone.

“The disappearance of family meals antedates the invention of hand-held electronic devices,” Freedman says. “It was not initiated by them, but it is exacerbated by them. These days, even if everyone’s sitting around a table together, it’s not clear that they’re all paying attention.”

The three-meals model is also being fought by the food industry.

“The food industry wants you to buy more food,” thus it urges us to eat as much and as often as possible. It’s an easy sell, “because Americans have always liked snacks.”

A snack boom began in the mid-20th century and hasn’t stopped. Thriving through a wrecked economy, the global snack industry is predicted to be worth $330 billion by 2015. In the US alone, retail sales of packaged snacks increased from $56 billion to $64 billion between 2006 and 2010, and are expected to reach $77 billion by 2015.

The blurred borderline between snacks and meals has changed everything.

“The long-term effect is that any time of day has become a time to eat. The decline of three meals a day and the rise of snacks are related, although I wouldn’t say there’s a direct causal relationship,” Freedman says.

Another food-industry strategy is the creation of food niches, based on age, ethnicity, gender, lifestyle and locale. A few decades ago, everyone ate the same foods.

“But now there’s kid food, there’s teenager food and there’s grownup food, so some parents end up buying three times as much food” as their own parents did.

“They’re being manipulated into it, guilted into thinking: I’m so busy all week and I have so little quality time with my kids that the least I can do for them is let them eat as they like rather than making a stand and insisting that we all eat the same thing together.”

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