Monday, 15 September 2014

From Micro-Chips to Oven-Chips...

Lo, and it came to pass, that a micro-chip was created that could cure all life's ills! Well, not quite, but it seems that as a counter-blast to low fat oven-chips, scientists have their eyes on providing us with the ‘magic-bullet’ to tackle the big beast of potential money-makers - obesity. You see, it’s all to do with our hormones and not those irresistible itsy-witsy fast-food offers that are thrust down our throats at every turn that we just simply can’t resist. 

Obesity is one of the greatest burdens on the NHS increasing the risk of conditions including diabetes, some cancers, heart, liver and kidney disease, gallstones and reduced fertility. The National Obesity Forum says that a quarter of adults are now considered obese and that, based on current trends, this could exceed one in every two by 2050. About 12,000 hospital appointments every year are for obesity-related conditions, the group says.

Behind the much fabled micro-chip is Professor Steve Bloom, who has combined the disciplines of physics, psychiatry and chemistry to tackle what he describes as the greatest killer of the modern day. His career has been focused on gut hormones and the discovery that the oxyntomodulin hormone reduces appetite and could offer a potential new treatment for obesity, This led to the creation of his company Thiakis, which was sold to the US pharmaceutical company Wyeth in 2008 for $150 million! Wyeth has significant ongoing research in metabolic diseases and is a ‘leader in the development and commercialisation of biotechnology-based drugs.’

As well as your gastric band, your weight-watchers, your faddy diet, packets of pills and mindfulness, we’re now on the brink of having, ‘an "intelligent microchip", which can send signals to the brain to stop the urge to eat.’

So, bugger the guilt and purchase your implant and I’m sure there’ll be shed-loads of data gathered from your inner recesses that might be sold-on to other sales teams. Who knows, if all else fails, google-glass might come up with a canny way of making us see ourselves as the perfect svelte creatures we’re told we should be, whilst harvesting shed loads of your personal data and flogging it on to the highest bidder.

Remember obesity is absolutely nothing at all to do with cheap supersized meals, cheep booze, sedentary lifestyles, lack of aspiration, poverty, being made to feel like dirt and told all your dreams need to be purchased and paid for on credit - a 4x4, flat-screened, double-glazed, upgraded, index-linked lifestyle! Our phone-ins, small-add lonely hearts, lottery fixated, overpriced care homes, privatised sports centres, comfort eating, disconnected, too thin-too fat obsessed tabloids, page 3 ‘girls’ side by side with anorexics, booze guzzling, armchair-phone-voting-TV-addicted, technologically deluded spoon-fed nanny-state-sponsored prescriptions, market-driven consumer lifestyle, has no part whatsoever in this ‘obesity epidemic’ - honestly.

Oh, and I understand that dear old MacDonald's has started an oh-so-needed delivery service for those of us so unable to leave our armchairs, and they'll bring super-sized slops straight to us. Hey, one day they may purĂ©e it and provide us with our very own clown-carer to spoon feed us to. 

Obviously, this is a serious issue and innovations like the micro-chip are potentially groundbreaking, but continuing to pathologise ‘diseases’ that are socially influenced, divorces us from personal choice and the consequences of our actions and our glib dependence on mopping up after the event. What about the governments ‘nudge unit’ that I understand has been part privatised! Where’s the evidence of the Behavioural Insights Team on affecting systemic lifestyle change? Obesity is a public health issue and a political issue.

Tracking study reveals public interest in the arts
A slightly higher proportion of UK adults have an interest in arts and culture (87%) than have an interest in sports (84%), according to the latest research into attitudes to the arts, although there are significant differences between men and women, with sports interest biased towards men, and arts and culture skewed towards women. Among young adults, almost as many think of themselves as an ‘arty person’ (49%) as a ‘sporty person’ (51%), and whilst only a quarter of all adults rate their general knowledge of arts and culture ‘much better’ or ‘a bit better’ than most, this figure is much higher (36%) among 16 to 29 year olds. The under-45s are also far more likely than those aged 45 and over to agree that arts and culture are important in helping them to understand the world around them. Find out more at:

Youth Arts and Health Conference
Rochdale Youth Service are looking to hold a Youth Arts and Health Conference in early March 2015. They are looking to develop a programme of young people’s health related projects, including a visual arts exhibition and a showcase of dance, drama and music. With interactive young people’s workshops and a series of speakers who could talk to professionals and young people on related themes, they are very interested to hear from anyone who might like to contribute to this conference. Please email Vicky Lomax at Rochdale Borough Council

Conrad Botes. Secret Language II. 2005. Lithograph, composition: 17 11/16 x 14 15/16" (45 x 38 cm). Publisher and printer: The Artists’ Press, White River, South Africa Edition: 30. The Museum of Modern Art. General Print Fund. © 2011 Conrad Botes
From our own correspondent... 
More from Victoria Hume in South Africa.
"...communities and patients seem far more open to arts as a tool for allowing their voice to be heard, allowing them to become empowered."

Granada Foundation Grants Programme 
(North West England)
The Granada Foundation has announced that the next closing date for applications is the 24th September 2014. Through its grants programme, the Foundation wishes to encourage and promote the study, practice and appreciation of the fine arts, including drawing, architecture and landscape architecture, sculpture, literature, music, opera, drama, cinema, and the methods and means of their dissemination. The Foundation also welcomes applications which aim to engage and inspire young people and adults to take an interest in science. The Advisory Council meets three times a year at regular intervals to consider applications. There is a clear preference for new projects; although the Foundation will support festivals and other annual events, this should not be regarded as automatically renewable. Prospective applicants are advised, in the first instance, to provide a brief outline of the project for which funding is sought by completing a short enquiry form or by telephoning the Administrator for an informal discussion, on 01244 661867. Read more at: 

Digital Projects with a Social Impact
Next grant deadline: 22 September 2014
The Nominet Trust which provides funding and support to imaginative social technology ventures has announced that the next funding round of its Social Tech Seed Investment Programme will open for applications on the 22 September 2014. Social Tech Seed is an investment programme that offers early-stage investment of between £15,000 and £50,000 to entrepreneurs who are looking to develop new ventures using digital for social impact. This programme provides funding and support to help entrepreneurs nurture, develop and test their ideas. The Trust is looking for applications that demonstrate the potential of technology to tackle some of the big social issues in sectors including education, employability, healthcare and the environment.The Trust are hosting a series of pre-application events and web chats to give potential applicants the opportunity to find out more about what the Trust are looking for in a social tech venture and ask any questions about their project. Read more at 

Dementia Hub Project Manager 
(West Cornwall)
The essential requirements for the job are:
  • Knowledge and experience of cutting edge practice in person centred dementia support
  • Knowledge and experience of the role of participatory Arts in enhancing quality of life and wellbeing
  • Knowledge and experience of support work
  • Capacity to self direct, research and build supportive connections between formative evidence based learning and service improvement
  • Experience at working in partnership with multiple agencies and stakeholders. 

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