Science News #004

Effective approaches to reduce Covid-19 spreading and the consequences of decades of global nutrition transition which impacts both humanity as a whole and our planet in today’s science news.

Article 1: Researchers examine which approaches are most effective at reducing COVID-19 spread

Before you read, here’s an important aspect mentioned at the end of the article:
„The novel coronavirus is relatively new but the science continues to evolve and increase our knowledge of how to effectively treat and prevent this highly contagious virus. There is still much that we do not know and many areas requiring further study.“

Date: 22/11/2020
SD-Date: 20/11/2020
Source: Simon Fraser University
ScienceDaily Summary: „Researchers have found that physical distancing is universally effective at reducing the spread of COVID-19, while social bubbles and masks are more situation-dependent. The researchers developed a model to test the effectiveness of measures such as physical distancing, masks or social bubbles when used in various settings.“

Method of Research

The professors Paul Tupper and Caroline Colijin from the Simon Fraser University looked at key factors like transmission intensity, duration of exposure, the proximity of individuals and degree of mixing — then they examined what methods are most effective at preventing transmission in each circumstance.

The data incorporated by the researchers were from reports of outbreaks at a range of events, such as parties, meals, nightclubs, public transport and restaurants.

The events were categorized into ’saturating‘ (high transmission probability) or ‚linear‘ (low transmission probability).


  • Phyiscal distancing was effective in reducing Covid-19 transmissions in all settings
  • The effectiveness of social bubbles depended on whether the chances of transmission were high or low
  • [strict] Social bubbles were able to reduce the spreading of Covid-19 in setting where there is mixing and the probability of transmission is high, such as crowded indoor places, bars and night clubs, high schools,
  • Social bubbles were less effective in low transmission settings or where there is mixing such as engaging in outdoor activities, working in spaced offices or travelling on public transportation wearing masks
  • Masks and other physical barriers may be less effective in saturating, high transmission settings (like parties, choirs, restaurant kitchens, crowded offices, nightclub and bars); if they halve the transmission rate, it may have not much of an impact on the transmission probability (and thus on the number of infections)


Article 2: Starved, stuffed and squandered: Consequences of decades of global nutrition transition

Date: 22/11/2020
SD-Date: 18/11/2020
Source: Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)
ScienceDaily Summary: „Just a handful of rice and beans – a part of our world is starved. Hawaiian Pizza and ice-cream – another part of our world is stuffed, throwing away food every day. This gap is likely to worsen, while food waste will increase and pressure on the environment will go up, a new study shows.“

Method of Research

„Researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) assessed the consequences if the current nutrition transition, from scarce starch-based diets towards processed foods and animal products, continues — the calculations combine, for the first time, estimates for under- and overweight, food composition and waste.“

An open-source model was used that forecasts how much of the food demand can be attributed to factors like population growth, ageing, increasing height, growing body mass index, declining physical activity and increasing food waste. The study provides a consistent, long-term view on a continued global nutrition transition from 1965 to 2100.


  • By 2050, more than 4 billion people could be overweight and 1.5 billion of them obese
  • 500 million people would continue to be underweight
  • That amounts to 45% of the world population where 16% of which is obese
  • That’s an increase by +16% and +7% respectively, compared to 2010
  • An increased demand of animal proteins means that there will be less space for plant-based food, and the environmental impact of the agricultural system „will spiral out of control“
  • If current trends continue, then the global food demand will increase by 50% between 2010 and 2050
  • The food system is responsible for 1/3rd of global greenhouse gas emissions, an increase in animal protein demand requires more animals and more space (trees that store Co2 are cut down and release it to the additional Co2 emissions of the animals)


The Co-author Prajal Pradhan from PIK explained in the article:
„There is enough food in the world — the problem is that the poorest people on our planet have simply not the income to purchase it. And in rich countries, people don’t feel the economic and environmental consequences of wasting food.“

Moreover, a distribution of food alone doesn’t solve the problem, because both the rich and the poor eat poorly. This is due to a lack of knowledge about a healthy way of life and nutrition.


Sabine Gabrysch, also a Co-author of the study and head of the PIK’s Research Department on Climate Resilience, said that the study „could provide valuable orientation about the potential development pathway of different countries and regions. It could also support much-needed pro-active policies for a qualitative transition towards sustainable and healthy diets“.

In order to promote healthy eating, she advises to pass binding regulations for unhealthy snacks which limit their marketing while promoting sustainable and healthy meals in schools, hospitals and canteens.

Furthermore, there should be a stronger focus on nutrition education – from early education in kindergarten to counseling by medical doctors and nurses.

I conclude the article with the last sentence of Ms Gabrysch: „What we eat is of vital importance — both for our own health and that of our planet.“


Veröffentlicht von thomasbaroque

Ich schreibe über politische, wirtschaftliche und wissenschaftliche Themen. Meine eigenen politischen Ziele ebenso. / I write about politics, the economy and science (my English isn't that good, though). My own political goals and ideas as well.

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