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"Worthwhile Canadian Initiative":

No, it seems legit, according to the New York Times Nick Kristof, though "earnest and dull" -- spreading salt iodization throughout the world. Thanks to JustOneMinute for the pointer.

Steve2:
Huh. You know, I've seen uniodized salt in the grocery store, and wondered why anyone was still making or purchasing it. Didn't realize there are places it just plain isn't available.

Anybody know if the salt used in commercial food manufacturing is iodized or not?
12.6.2008 7:28pm
RRM:
A while back, a Canadian radio program had a contest. They asked listeners to submit suggestions for the Canadian version of the American phrase, "as American as apple pie." The submissions had to begin with "as Canadian as...".

The winning entry? "As Canadian as possible, given the circumstances." I always thought that summed up the country pretty well.
12.6.2008 7:54pm
Cornellian (mail):
The NYT article also has this little gem:

(Years ago, New Republic magazine held a contest for the most boring headline ever. The benchmark was from a Times Op-Ed column — not mine — that read "Worthwhile Canadian Initiative."
12.6.2008 8:04pm
Bama 1L:
In America, iodization is pretty much limited to table salt, which has to be labeled as to whether it contains iodine. You generally can't count on processed food containing iodized salt.
12.6.2008 8:20pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
As someone whose wife suffered from a bout of thyroid some time ago, which was cured by (among other things) being sure I used iodized salt in the cooking, this may not seem as "dull" a proposal as it sounds.
12.6.2008 8:27pm
David Warner:
"Worthwhile Canadian Initiative"

"earnest and dull"

But he repeats himself. The importance of earnestness is underrated, I'll grant...
12.6.2008 8:27pm
Norman Bates (mail):
Cost-effective and cost-beneficial public health initiatives that can save literally millions of lives usually will not get headlines for their sponsors which is why they frequently remain unfunded. As one example, a few tens of millions of dollars spent on vitamin supplements for African children could save more lives and prevent more misery than the hundreds of millions spent for AIDS-related health measures on that continent. But the elites in this country get more publicity from AIDS than they would from preventing infant diarrhea so to hell with the children. Bless the Canadians for their initiative, common sense, and decency.
12.6.2008 10:37pm
Grant Gould (mail):
If only high explosive contained iodine, the US could be doing its part here as well.
12.7.2008 6:51am
eyesay:
Norman Bates: Thank you for your comment, but I think you may be mixing up two extremely effective low-cost life-saving treatments.

In countries where respiratory infections are common, child mortality can be reduced by one-third by providing each child with megadoses of vitamin A about twice a year, at the cost of just pennies per child. This would also avert hundreds of thousands of cases of blindness annually caused by vitamin A deficiency. However, I am not aware of the use of vitamin supplements to prevent diarrhea.

Diarrheal dehydration, the world's second-leading killer of children, can usually be averted through oral rehydration therapy, which also costs just pennies.

UNICEF estimates that 25,000 children under age 5 die per day from inexpensively preventable causes.

Libertarians may argue that humanitarian foreign aid is not a legitimate use of taxpayer resources, but opinion polls of actual taxpayers have consistently shown great support for foreign aid targeted to saving children and addressing the worst aspects of hunger and poverty. Liberals and Conservatives alike applaud President Bush's PEPFAR (President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief). At the same time as we spend money to prevent and treat AIDS, we should also target our foreign assistance dollars to the programs that focus on low-cost, high-impact interventions that save lives for pennies.
12.7.2008 1:31pm
John A (mail):
Good idea (as are hydration, vitamin supplements...) and cheap enough - perhaps too cheap? But I won't hold my breath. OTOH, I expect tomorrow (Monday) to bring forth a spate of retorts on the dangers of hypertension (yes, West African groups are more sensitive to excess salt than other mass-groupings such as East Africans, Caucasians, far-East Asians ...) and excess sodium (still can't quite figure out why NaCl leaves sodium behind but not chlorine) and hyperthyroidism and perhaps the dangers of "processed" foodstuffs.
12.7.2008 2:09pm
Cornellian (mail):

Libertarians may argue that humanitarian foreign aid is not a legitimate use of taxpayer resources, but opinion polls of actual taxpayers have consistently shown great support for foreign aid targeted to saving children and addressing the worst aspects of hunger and poverty.


Leading to the not exactly shocking inference that libertarians are a small minority of the U.S. electorate, despite their disproportionate presence in the blogosphere.
12.7.2008 2:22pm
Steve2:

Libertarians may argue that humanitarian foreign aid is not a legitimate use of taxpayer resources, but opinion polls of actual taxpayers have consistently shown great support for foreign aid targeted to saving children and addressing the worst aspects of hunger and poverty.


Isn't that sort of "hearts &minds" activity a legitimate element of national defense, though? "America's our friend and does nice stuff for us, and can bomb us back into the stone age if we try to mess with them" seems like it would be more effective at preventing foreign attacks than just "America can bomb us back into the stone age if we try to mess with them", you know?
12.7.2008 2:39pm
Kirsten (www):
The problem with Kristoff's article is that he has fallen far short of grasping the enormity of the problem.

Iodine deficiency is widespread right here in the U.S.

This is too huge a topic to tackle in a blog comment. I'll do a brain dump of the high points as they come to me. (And sorry for using raw assertions but this is a topic that is close to my heart — and everything I'm saying can be validated online via medical literature, if you take the time to look.)

The US RDA is far too low at 150 mcg/day. Poorly designed study a few decades ago resulted in even worse public policy. Assuming we're eating enough iodized salt to get even the RDA is equally stupid. Just what you'd expect when we let politicians take care of our health.

The Japanese by contrast consume on average 25 milligrams per day (via seaweed). Japanese women have a much lower rate of breast cancer as a result.

Google Guy Abraham, MD, and the Iodine Project, through which thousands of women are using high dosages (by RDA standards) of iodine to support the healing of fibrocystic breast tissue (the presence of which is a risk factor for cancer). We could lower the incidence of breast cancer at an eye-popping rate if we'd just focus on iodine supplementation. I have personally experienced how iodine supplementation can turn back the clock on breast tissue within a couple of months. Got my girls back, baby.

Up until the 1980s in the US, iodine was widely used as a flour conditioner in bread. Guess when the obesity epidemic took off? When iodine was replaced by bromide — which is molecularly similar but not a nutrient, to put it mildly. Now 2/3 of us are fat.

Next time you have a chance to do some people watching, take a look at their throats — especially people who are carrying some extra pounds. You'll see that their throats look slightly engorged and soft. Part of that is no doubt fat deposits but I'd be willing to bet in many cases it is also evidence of a slightly enlarged thyroid — basically subclinical hypothyroidism.

One study suggests 13 million americans have "thyroid disfunction." study

So what do we do? Load ourselves up on thyroid meds. It's a travesty.

Iodine is taken up by every tissue in the body, from the glandular system to the skin. It's critical for heart health, hormonal balance, cell apoptasis (programmed cell death — the process that ensures that cells go bye-bye before they become cancerous), and dozens of other cellular processes.

Worst of all? Fluoride is molecularly similar. Check the table of elements. Both are halides. So our tax dollars go to putting a substance into our municipal water that among other things contributes to the impairment of brain development in formula-fed babies (because they ingest so much more fluoride than is safe) —

And because we don't eat an iodine-rich diet, we lack what protection sufficient cellular iodine would provide against fluoride consumption.

This may sound like hyperbole — I hope to G*d it is — but iodine deficiency could well be to Western civilization what lead poisoning was to the Romans.

New Zealand has awakened on this topic and is now recommending iodized salt be used for bread to help people get more I in their diets.

NZ gov page on iodine

Let's hope we wake up too, and soon.
12.7.2008 2:51pm
David Warner:
Cornellian,

"Leading to the not exactly shocking inference that libertarians are a small minority of the U.S. electorate, despite their disproportionate presence in the blogosphere."

Small "l", not so much. "Foreign Aid" doesn't imply that its only the government doing the aiding. Many de facto libertarians are actively involved in directly aiding foreigners (though they would call them "fellow human beings") through NGO's, religious and otherwise, that, intentionally, have nothing to do with the Lenny State.
12.7.2008 5:57pm
Steve2:
Bama 1L, that's interesting. And, in light of what Kirsten says, I have to ask: why is iodization limited to table salt - and why is non-iodized table salt even still on the market? Last time I bought a canister of salt, the price difference was all of about 5 cents, which makes it highly unlikely there's a meaningful market of people who can afford noniodized salt but not iodized salt. That being the case, why's anyone bothering to still put an obsolete product (noniodized salt) on the market?
12.7.2008 8:01pm
eyesay:
David Warner, just as the term "black market" refers to illegal transactions and not to a grocery store painted with black paint, the term "foreign aid" refers to government spending and not to private charity. Of course, thank you to any and all who make charitable contributions, but please be aware that U.S. humanitarian foreign aid greatly exceeds private U.S. giving to international charity work.
12.8.2008 2:02am
Steve Sailer (mail) (www):
In the U.S., salt has been iodized and flour iron-fortified since before WWII to prevent medical conditions that lower IQ. One form of fortification started through the competitive market, the other through a New Deal initiative.
12.9.2008 12:21am

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