A 'Quick Fix' to combat obesity

January 12, 2012

The struggle to eat healthy for many Americans has expanded as fast as our waistlines. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates about one-third (33.8 percent) of adults are considered obese, while nearly 12.5 million (17 percent) of children and adolescents aged 2-19 are obese. The dramatic increase in obesity over the past 20 years has created an urgency to educate the public on proper dietary habits coupled with regular exercise.

Obesity contributes to conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Fighting obesity can prevent these medical conditions and also lessen the risks to ensure a lasting life. "Healthy eating is not complicated, hard or expensive,” said Robin Miller who hosts a program on cable TV. “It's a balance between a variety of different foods: complex carbohydrates, protein, dairy, fruits and vegetables." Food Network host Robin Miller Download Full Image

Last November, Robin Miller, host of Quick Fix Meals with Robin Miller on the Food Network, conducted cooking demonstration and answered questions from attendees on how to create quick healthy meals at an event sponsored by the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion and College of Nursing and Health Innovation.

Miller earned her master's degree in food and nutrition from New York University, has written nine cookbooks dedicated to healthy eating and is a contributing writer to a number of publications including Cooking Light. Her current book, "Robin Takes 5,” contains 500 recipes that use five ingredients or less, are 500 calories or less and can be made five nights a week.

Growing up, Miller gained an appreciation of good food from her mother who would garden in the family’s huge backyard. “Our food was from the garden to the dinner table. I grew up with healthy good food and exercise. I would go outside to play until it was dark.”

As a busy athlete at college, Miller mostly relied on her roommates to prepare less than nutritious meals. While she maintained a strong understanding of nutrition, it wasn’t until she was living on her own that she truly began to be passionate about cooking and fixing healthy meals.

Her first book, “The Newlywed Cookbook,” was a compilation of recipes for newly wed couples to create easy meals, which also included a guide to common cookware and a spice index for novices in the kitchen. “As a new wife, I was unsure of the difference between a sauce pan and a skillet or which spices I should be using. I thought, if I have this problem, then maybe others do, too,” Miller said.

As her life changed from a young wife to a full-time working mom with two boys, she learned to relate to many families who struggle with time constraints to get dinner on the table. Her approach today is to create “stress free meals” by cooking pastas, chicken or rice ahead of time. When it comes to meal times, it’s a matter of assembling or reheating and serving a fast nutritious and delicious dinner.

With obesity getting the national spotlight individuals can become confused with slick advertising for pills and shakes that promise to eliminate fat fast. Miller simply stated, “There is no fast fix.” She does suggest people take steps today towards a lifestyle they can live with. Miller believes it’s important for individuals not to give up anything you can’t live without and don’t take on an exercise regime you know you’re not going to sustain.

According to the nutritionist and TV host, being healthy can and should be a family effort, and it’s something many modern families lost along the way. She’s firm in the belief that parents need to instill healthy habits in their children by being good role models. This can include exercising together as a family by taking an evening walk or cooking together so kids can appreciate food preparation.

Learning to be healthy shouldn’t stop in the home. Miller suggests middle and high schools should include nutrition classes that combine an understanding of how to eat and how to prepare wholesome foods. That early education should also be extended to the college level so young adults, who are on their own for the first time, can be reminded of the importance of healthy eating.

Obesity cannot be fixed overnight but Robin’s insights allow time-strapped Americans the ability to embrace a healthier life in an attainable approach. By being a role model, children can learn smart habits. Busy families can enjoy a healthy meal by preparing ingredients ahead of time and avoiding processed foods. “When you cook at home you can control what is going in your mouth and body. And that will ultimately help your weight,” said Miller.

Contributed by Laurie Trowbridge.

Cosmic thinker Paul Davies to explore time travel in lecture at ASU

January 12, 2012

Time travel is a favorite science fiction theme, but can it really be done?

“Well, maybe,” said Paul Davies, author of the popular best-seller “How to Build a Time Machine.” Paul Davies, ASU cosmologist Download Full Image

Davies, a Regents’ Professor and internationally acclaimed cosmologist, astrobiologist and theoretical physicist at Arizona State University, will discuss the concepts of time travel, causal loops and worm holes on Jan. 31 at ASU when he presents the annual Sci-fi Meets Sci-fact lecture hosted by the BEYOND Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science.

“I think everyone is captivated by the idea of time travel,” said Davies. “It’s been a great science fiction idea since H.G. Wells’ ‘The Time Machine’ but people always want to know ‘Can it really be done?’”

The purpose of the Sci-fi Meets Sci-fact lecture is to look at a popular idea in science fiction and see its basis in scientific fact, explained Davies, who directs the BEYOND Center, a cosmic think tank he established at ASU in 2007.

“In the case of time travel, we’ve known for 100 years that it is possible to travel into the future. In fact, it’s actually been demonstrated,” said Davies.

“But, most people’s fascination is going back in time, not forward. This is a tougher proposition,” he said. “In the past few years some intriguing suggestions have been put forward and that is what I’m going to talk about in the lecture.”

The lecture begins at 7 p.m. in Neeb Hall on ASU’s Tempe campus. It is free and open to the public; seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. RSVPs are requested. More information is at http://beyond.asu.edu or 480-965-3240.

This is the fifth anniversary of the Sci-fi Meets Sci-fact lecture at ASU. Previous speakers were Lucy Hawking, author of “George’s Comic Treasure Hunt”; Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI Institute; and Michio Kaku, theoretical physicist and author of “Parallel Worlds.” The inaugural lecture in 2007 was a conversation between Armin Shimerman, who played the “Star Trek” Ferengi character Quark, and Lawrence Krauss, an ASU theoretical physicist and author of the new book “A Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather than Nothing.”

Davies is a professor in the Department of Physics at ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, where he is a co-director of the Cosmology Initiative. His research is steeped in the branches of physics that deal with quantum gravity – an attempt to reconcile theories of the very large and the very small.

His published research ranges from how black holes radiate energy and what caused the ripples in the cosmic afterglow of the big bang, to why life on Earth may have come from Mars. He also is director of the Center for the Convergence of Physical Science and Cancer Biology at ASU, one of 12 Physical Sciences-Oncology Centers receiving funding from the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute.

Davies is a prolific author or co-author of some 30 books, both popular and specialty works, most recently “The Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence.” Among his other books are: “The Goldilocks Enigma: Why the Universe Is Just Right for Life,” “The Origin of Life,” “The Last Three Minutes,” “The Mind of God,” “The Cosmic Blueprint” and “The Big Questions.”

He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 1995 Templeton Prize, the 2001 Kelvin Medal by the Institute of Physics, and the 2002 Michael Faraday Prize from the Royal Society. This past year, he was this recipient of the Robinson Prize in Cosmology from Newcastle University in the UK and an award for excellence in astronomy research and education by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

Davies completed a bachelor’s degree program in 1967 and earned a doctorate in physics in 1970 from University College London, which is consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the world. More about Davies at http://cosmos.asu.edu.