Tag Archives: childhood obesity

Beware of investment opportunities that tug on heartstrings

An Irvine, Cal., man persuaded 40 people to invest $2.4 million in his Newport Beach-based business that claimed to sell a product combating childhood obesity, but instead of making money for them he spent all of their money on himself, according to federal prosecutors.

In an indictment unsealed last week by a federal grand jury, Charles “Chuck” Davis, 53, was charged with 10 felony counts of defrauding investors. He pleaded not guilty in court Monday and was released on a $160,000 bond, according to a story in the Daily Pilot of Newport Beach, Cal.

Between January 2007 and November 2008, Davis operated LifeRight Holdings Inc. of Newport Beach, a company he told customers would air TV infomercials of a product that fights child obesity, according to the indictment.

Instead, prosecutors allege, Davis just gathered together investors and spent the money on himself.

Davis is accused of using the investments — in sums ranging from $25,000 to $50,000 and possibly larger — and paying himself, his family and his girlfriend. He bought clothes and jewels, paid for his rent and utilities, and even paid lawyers’ fees for unrelated lawsuits using LifeRight investors’ money, authorities claim.

He promised his victims a 15 percent return after 13 months, told them that the company already had a significant number of investors and said he wouldn’t take a paycheck until the product started selling, according to the indictment.

A tentative trial date is scheduled for Feb. 22.

Computer models to tackle childhood obesity problem

Everyone agrees childhood obesity is a problem. What to do about it? More bike paths? A soda tax? Family dinners?

IBM is hoping it can help ferret out some answers, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal. It will put computer models to work analyzing the reams of available data on the different factors that might affect obesity, things such as consumer behavior, the location of grocery stores, the availability of physical activity facilities and even community transportation options.

“When you take a look at obesity, at first blush it’s about how much you eat and how much you exercise,” Paul Maglio, a research scientist at IBM’s Almaden, Cal.

By running computer simulations, the scientists hope to bring policymakers some guidance on which levers to pull to most effectively influence obesity. For example, the models might answer the question of whether it’s best for a given community to put resources towards more P.E. classes or to build a new park.

The project will take place over the next year or so.

Junk commericials lead to junk food, obesity

It’s long been held that sitting in front of the television for extended periods, and not getting exercise, may lead to childhood obesity.  But now,  new research suggests it’s the TV commercials kids watch that lead to the problem, according to a story in the New York Times.

In a study of more than 2,000 children, researchers from UCLA compared the time the kids spent viewing television and video. They asked caregivers to track children’s media use during one weekday and one weekend day during 1997, then again in 2002.

The findings showed that the amount of television a child watched wasn’t a predictor of obesity risk. Instead, risk for being overweight increased the more television commercials a child was exposed to. There was no association with television viewing and obesity for those who watched videos or commercial-free programming.

Fred Zimmerman, the study’s lead author and chairman of UCLA’s Department of Health Services, said television commercials for sweetened cereals, junk food and fast food chains probably had an bad  influence over a child’s food preferences.

The more television commercials a child is exposed to, the more likely he or she will be to try those foods and want to continue eating them, which then increases risk for weight gain.