USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts & Sciences > Blog

July 29, 2011

Obesity and Diabetes

Filed under: Class,Oxford — USC Dornsife @ 4:02 pm

by Kelly Morgan

According to the Association of Public Health Observatories, the UK has the highest level of obesity in Europe. It is evident that the British public has embraced the fast-food culture which America has taken to heart and exported across the globe. Here are three Brits enjoying a bit of lunch from McDonalds in Oxford’s main square. Photo by Judy Haw.

When Dr. Karina McHardy, a physician who is currently working on her Ph.D. in the Department of Public Health at Oxford University, enthusiastically explained that her lectures would cover the topics of obesity and diabetes, two topics of particular interest to me, I couldn’t wait for her to begin. I have been working as a clinical research intern for TrialNet, an international network of researchers exploring ways to prevent, delay and reverse the progression of Type I Diabetes, at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles in the Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism. When my aunt suffered and eventually passed away from Type II Diabetes, I knew I wanted to become further educated on all aspects of the disease, as well as the affect of obesity on the onset. Therefore, with the opportunity I have at Children’s Hospital, I have seen the impact of diabetes on the lives of patients firsthand. The lecture included the statistic that up to 80 percent of all cases of Type II Diabetes would not exist if there was no obesity, which stresses the significance of the public understanding the direct correlation between the two medical conditions.

Dr. Katina Hardy lectures to the USC students on Diabetes Mellitus. Photo by Judy Haw.

Dr. McHardy revealed the fact that obesity is now categorized as a “medical condition,” which is evident by the statistic that by 2030, 86 percent of Americans are estimated to be overweight or obese. Nutrition has taken a substantial role in my life because I firmly believe in the importance of a healthy lifestyle, and how diet and exercise determines your state of wellbeing. Dr. McHardy eloquently stated that “when more than half of your population is affected, it can no longer be considered an individual problem.” Society has become fixated on freedom of choice, or what Dr. McHardy characterized as the “illusion of choice,” therefore justifying poor eating habits through the idea that one should be able to choose to eat what tastes best, and most importantly what they want to eat, without considering the consequences. Obesity has become “the new smoking,” and just as individuals excuse smoking by focusing on the short-term pleasure, rather than choosing to deal with uncertain negative outcomes in the future, people savor the comfort of unhealthy food ignoring “what could happen.” The lecture encompassed the dangerous truth that misclassification is occurring, as perceptions shift from what was once thought of as a normal, healthy weight. As society becomes larger, obesity has become more accepted, and when ideas become engrained in a culture, they are difficult to change.

Public health education I believe is the reason why I, along with my fellow students from USC, am currently at Oxford, and notably why we have a unique connection. Our education is what will contribute to educating the greater community, and hopefully in the future, the greater population worldwide. My interest in global health topics is not only for my academic success, but in turn for the eventual accomplishment of my goals to improve the statistics I continue to learn about. Further learning gives me the tools to make a difference so individuals in the world don’t become merely another statistic, but instead are informed to make the life choices that help avoid preventable causes of mortality, such as obesity.

Kelly Morgan is a junior studying Health Promotion and Disease Prevention from San Francisco, California.

July 28, 2011

Greatness

Filed under: London,Sights — USC Dornsife @ 9:31 pm

by Gabe Bouz

USC students at Shakespeare’s birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon. Photo by Judy Haw.

After a week of multiple captivating lectures by inspired professors and physicians with different backgrounds and interests, we as a group were fortunate to travel to Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace and hometown of a man whose work is famous and distinguished among all cultures of the world—William Shakespeare. Studying at Oxford University, one of the oldest teaching institutions in the world, I wondered why the incredibly creative Shakespeare wasn’t an alumnus. Saturday morning at Shakespeare’s actual home, now an exhibition, my question was answered; John Shakespeare his father was a glover, a job of the lower class so William didn’t have the money to attend Oxford or Cambridge. After being educated in a grammar school until the age of 14 and getting married four years later, young Shakespeare began his quest to greatness.

Mallory Jebbia and Gabe Bouz in Anne Hathaway’s family garden. Anne was Shakespeare’s wife. Photo by Judy Haw.

Seeing the bed Shakespeare slept on, walking through the hall where he ate his meals, and sitting on the very steps by the garden where he may have sat and thought of his brilliant ideas and stories, I analyzed every detail of the walk. This was an experience that I would share with my kids one day. Next up was the house of his older wife, Anne Hathaway. She was 26 years old when she married the younger 18-year old Shakespeare, who apparently had to work hard for her hand in marriage. According to the guide, Anne Hathaway made frequent visits to the town of Stratford and Shakespeare spent a lot of time courting Hathaway for her love. After marriage, Shakespeare went on to London where he joined a theatre company and composed works that became favorites of Queen Elizabeth. He earned enough to retire and live in the second-largest house of his hometown, Stratford.

USC students in front of the Royal Shakespeare Theater prior to seeing Macbeth performed. Photo by Judy Haw.

Now as the day was coming to a close, one of my classmates mentioned to the group the conspiracy surrounding whether Shakespeare was a fake. We all looked at each other, shook our heads, and knew—after a day filled with accurate facts and concrete evidence of his works, home, and existence—that the conspiracy wasn’t true. The conspiracy questions how a man who received education from a rural town grammar school up to the age of 14 became the greatest playwright of all time and undoubtedly influenced the linguistic patterns and phrases of the English language. After visiting Stratford, my fellow classmates and I were convinced. Using a quote from Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night, “some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ‘em.” William Shakespeare was a man of all three.

Gabe Bouz is a sophomore double majoring in biology and psychology in USC Dornsife.

July 27, 2011

Great Expectations!

Filed under: Oxford,USC — USC Dornsife @ 5:09 pm

by Geena Haney

USC students head towards the Radcliffe Observatory located in Green Templeton College at Oxford University. Photo by Judy Haw.

I entered USC as a business administration major with an international relations emphasis, but I’ve spent the last few semesters taking science classes to pursue a natural science minor with a pre-health mindset. You can tell, I’m the classic college student with dreams as far apart as becoming a business woman one day, policy maker another, and a health practitioner the next. So when I discovered that USC added a brand new class on global health to the Problems Without Passports program, I jumped on it.

So here I am, staying at the University of Oxford at Lady Margaret Hall with 12 other USC students to explore the many facets associated with global health. We’ll be studying and discussing a wide range of global health issues — maternal and child development, malaria, tuberculosis, nutrition, AIDS, sexually transmitted infections, and non communicable diseases. As the only non-science or pre-health related major, I find it especially interesting to examine the economics and politics behind the challenges to providing people around the world with basic health care. Dr. Nair, specialist in maternal and child health, explained to us that to improve health for all people we really have to improve the system we develop from the ground up. The only way we can begin to tackle interrelated challenges to providing care in the form of adequate housing, a stable political environment, heating, clean water, food, and medicine is to enlist the help of professionals from many fields.

USC students in the tower of the Radcliffe Observatory. Professor Terence Ryan, a professor of dermatology and archivist of the history of medicine at the home of Sir William Osler, joins the students. Photo by Judy Haw.

The last three years of college have been a journey of academic and personal exploration for me, but the past few days at Oxford have required me to draw on all three academic fields I have studied at USC. To me, the program presents the opportunity to link my studies of business, international relations, and science in a single course that requires interdisciplinary thinking to tackle some of the world’s most pressing issues. I can’t wait to meet and learn from Oxford’s top medical experts, all united in their effort and desire to help others around the world. I am grateful to be among some of the world’s most renowned scholars eager to join this front to change the world.

Geena Haney is a senior double majoring in business administration and international relations while also working on a natural science minor.

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