The best diets to follow in 2012
It goes without saying that when January hits every year one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is to eat healthily, lose weight and improve health after gluttonous indulgence during the festive period. However, boffins have suggested that by January 9, most people will have given up on this resolve. Besides, there’s still all the left over Christmas chocolates that need to be eaten.
Many people are put off by the strict, restrictive elements of diets, whether they are pursuing their own healthy eating regime or have signed up to a commercial diet plan. However, in an age of ever-increasing obesity the weight loss market is becoming inundated with healthy eating tips and new diet methods.
In the New Year, US News & World Report, famous for its analysis and rankings, published its second ever ‘Best Diets’ list for 2012. Twenty-five diets were investigated and reviewed by international diet experts for the report, judged on their simplicity, effectiveness, safeness and suitability for those with diabetes and heart disease. There are seven accolades in total: Easiest Diets to Follow, Best Diets Overall, Best Commercial Diet Plans, Best Weight-Loss Diets, Best Healthy Eating Diets, Best Diabetes Diets and Best Heart-Healthy Diets.
Commenting on the rankings, the director of the project, Lindsay Lyon from US News & World Report, said: “The Best Diets ranking is designed to guide each dieter to the diet or diets best suited to his or her goal, whether that’s weight loss, management of diabetes, healthy eating, or something else.”
As is often the case with any type of award or recognition programmes, there were some contenders that outshone others. The hugely popular and internationally recognised Weight Watchers was one of them. It was named as number one in three categories; the easiest to follow diet, the best diet for weight-loss results and the best commercial diet plan. Overall, it earned a rating of 3.9 of a possible 5.0; third place in the rankings.
The addition of the Easiest Diets to Follow category was new to the 2012 rankings and has been one of the most sought after accolades this year. That’s because dieticians believe the easier a plan is to follow, dieters are more likely to stick with it and therefore will enjoy a bigger weight loss.
Weight Watchers offers dieters the unique ‘ProPoints’ plan, which gives each food a points value and doesn’t cut any items out. Dieters are then allotted a daily quota of points which they should aim to stay within. Typically this starts off at 26 points and increases depending on age and BMI level. The beauty of ProPoints is the flexibility of the plan, especially the additional 49 ‘weekly’ points dieters are given to use as they wish; spreading them across the whole week or using them all at once for a meal out.
Although Weight Watchers came off well in this year’s listings, the DASH Diet topped the list earning a score of 4.1 out of 5.0. It was named as the Best Diet Overall and the Best Diet for Healthy Eating. It was also named as the Best Diet for Diabetes, tied with the Biggest Loser Diet.
The DASH Diet was specifically designed to reduce and prevent high blood pressure and is recommended for those with hypertension and other health issues rather than for those looking to shed pounds. The diet itself is well balanced, rich in fruit, vegetables and fibre and low in fat and salt. It has been claimed that after just two weeks of following the DASH plan hypertension starts to diminish.
Although it wasn’t ranked as the best in one particular category, the TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes) Diet was second overall in the rankings with a score of 4.0. Like the Dash Diet, this one is solely aimed at improving health. The TLC plan helps its followers to reduce cholesterol levels cutting out saturated fat and high-cholesterol foods. It claims to be able to reduce levels of bad cholesterol by 8-10 percent within the first six weeks.
The other two diets that made it into the top five of US News and World’s Report 2012’s Best Diets were the Mayo Clinic Diet and the Mediterranean Diet, both receiving a score of 3.9 and coming joint third with Weight Watchers. Other well-known diets that didn’t fare so well were Slim-Fast (#11, 3.3 out of 5.0), the Zone Diet (#17, 2.9), the Atkins Diet (#22, 2.3) and the Dukan Diet (#24, 2.0).
Weight Watcher' 2012 'Play' advert
The challenges to vaccine distribution affecting everyone
While it is comforting to know that vaccines against COVID-19 are showing remarkable efficacy, the world still faces intractable challenges with vaccine distribution. Specifically, the sheer number of vaccines required and the complexity of global supply chains are sure to present problems we have neither experienced nor even imagined.
Current projections estimate that we could need 12-15 billion doses of vaccine, but the largest vaccine manufacturers produce less than half this volume in a year. To understand the scale of the problem, imagine stacking one billion pennies – you would have a stack that is 950 miles high. Now, think of that times ten. This is a massive problem that one nation can’t solve alone.
Even if we have a vaccine – can we make enough? Based on current projections, Pfizer expects to produce up to 1.3 billion doses this year. Moderna is working to expand its capacity to one billion units this year. Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine producer, is likely to produce 60% of the 3 billion doses committed by AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi. This leaves us about 7 billion doses short.
Expanding vaccine production for most regions in the world is complicated and time-consuming. Unlike many traditional manufacturing operations that can expand relatively quickly and with limited regulation, pharmaceutical production must meet current good manufacturing practice (CGMP) guidelines. So, not only does it take time to transition from R&D to commercial manufacturing, but it could also take an additional six months to achieve CGMP certification.
The problem becomes even more complex when considering the co-products required. Glass vials and syringes are just two of the most essential co-products needed to produce a vaccine. Last year, before COVID-19, global demand for glass vials was 12 billion. Even if it is safe to dispense ten doses per vial, there is certain to be significant pressure on world supply of the materials needed to package and distribute a vaccine.
It is imperative drug manufacturers and their raw material suppliers have clear visibility of production plans and raw material availability if there is any hope of optimizing scarce resources and maximising production yield.
It is widely known by now that temperature is a critical factor for the COVID-19 vaccine. Even the regions with the most developed logistics infrastructures and resources needed to support a cold-chain network are sure to struggle with distribution.
For the United States alone, State and local health agencies have determined distribution costs will exceed $8.4 billion, including $3 billion for workforce recruitment and training; $1.2 billion for cold-chain, $1 billion vaccination sites and $0.5 billion IT upgrades.
The complexity of the problem increases further when considering countries such as India that do not have cold-chain logistics networks that meet vaccine requirements. Despite India’s network of 28,000 cold-chain units, none are capable of transporting vaccines below -25°Celsius. While India’s Serum Institute has licensed to manufacture AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which can reportedly be stored in standard refrigerated environments, even a regular vaccine cold chain poses major challenges.
Furthermore, security will undoubtedly become a significant concern that global authorities must address with a coordinated solution. According to the Pharmaceutical Security Institute, theft and counterfeiting of pharmaceutical products rose nearly 70% over the past five years. As with any valuable and scarce product, counterfeits will emerge. Suppliers and producers are actively working on innovative approaches to limit black-market interference. Corning, for example, is equipping vials with black-light verification to curb counterfeiting.
Clearly, this is a global problem that will require an unprecedented level of collaboration and coordination.
Disconnected information systems
While it is unreasonable to expect every country around the world will suddenly adopt a standard technology that would provide immediate, accurate and available information for everyone, it is not unreasonable to think that we can align on a standard taxonomy that can serve as a Rosetta Stone for collaboration.
A shared view of the situation (inventory, raw materials, delivery, defects) will provide every nation with the necessary information to make life-saving decisions, such as resource pooling, stock allocations and population coverage.
By allowing one central authority, such as the World Health Organization, to organize and align global leaders to a single collaboration standard, such as GS1, and a standard sharing protocol, such as DSCSA, then every supply chain participant will have the ability to predict, plan and execute in a way that maximises global health.
Political influence and social equality
As if we don’t have enough stress and churn in today’s geopolitical environment, we must now include the challenge of “vaccine nationalism.” While this might not appear to be a supply chain problem, per se, it is a critical challenge that will hinge on supply chain capabilities.
In response to the critical supply issues the world experienced with SARS-CoV-2, the World Health Organization, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) formed Covax: a coalition dedicated to equitable distribution of 2 billion doses of approved vaccines to its 172 member countries. Covax is currently facilitating a purchasing pool and has made commitments to buy massive quantities of approved vaccines when they become available.
However, several political powerhouse countries, such as the United States and Russia, are not participating. Instead, they are striking bilateral deals with drug manufacturers – essentially, competing with the rest of the world to secure a national supply. Allocating scarce resources is never easy, but when availability could mean the difference between life and death, it becomes almost impossible.
Global production, distribution and social equality present dependent yet conflicting realities that will demand global supply chains provide complete transparency and an immutable chain of custody imperative to vaccine distribution.
The technology is available today – we just need to use it. We have the ability to track every batch, pallet, box, vile and dose along the supply chain. We have the ability to know with absolute certainty that the vaccine is approved, where and when it was manufactured, how it was handled and whether it was compromised at any point in the supply chain. Modern blockchain technologies should be applied so that every nation, institution, regulator, doctor and patient can have confidence in knowing that they are making an impact in eradicating COVID-19.