A weighty issue


Hong Kong women are popping thousands of slimming pills a day, despite the danger to their health.

In 2004 the Hong Kong Association of Obesity made an interesting discovery: it found that the men in Hong Kong had been getting fatter since the early 1990s, while the women had been getting slimmer. Three years later it finally discovered why. It seems that Hong Kong women are addicted to popping pills to lose weight and some have carried it to a dangerous extent.

Travel footnotes


Fell sick on your last trip? Your hotel room may be to blame.

I once had a boyfriend whose family members communicated with each other via scribbled notes, left where the intended recipient could not fail to see them. The house was a treasure trove of missives, but the one that really gave me pause was left by his mother on his father’s reading chair: “I see you are no longer using your cream. Congratulations on beating your fungus.” Yikes.

Vegan? Here, have some leaves


Does eating a special diet mean that you have to take your kitchen with you in a cabin bag? It is time for people with specific food requirements to stand up and be counted.

Recently, I took a luxury cruise where I spent almost every day going hungry, and later, a cooking class where I ate like a prince and learnt something about being on a special diet while travelling.

Moral anaesthesia


Cost cutting at his clinics has cost wealthy Nevada-based physician Dipak Desai his reputation.

More than 30 years ago, a young Indian doctor called Dipak Desai landed in New York looking for fame and fortune. Since then he has found fortune. On September 27, 2009, he will have national, if not international, fame, though not the way he might have wanted it.

10 things you don't need to know about wasabi

1.  Most sushi bars, even those in Japan, serve imitation wasabi – powdered horseradish, mustard seed and green food colouring, mixed with water – because authentic wasabi is expensive.

2.  Real wasabi is grated from the root of the wasabi plant, which grows naturally in the mountains of Japan.

A malaria-free future?


It prevails in 105 countries and kills more people than AIDS and tuberculosis combined. Its victims include both old and young, and nearly half of those infected are in Asia. As another year dawns, are we any closer to eliminating malaria at last?

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), malaria is responsible for nearly 3 million deaths worldwide each year. It remains the most important and widespread tropical disease, and its treatment and control have become more difficult with the spread of drug-resistant strains of parasites and insecticide-resistant strains of mosquito vectors.

Northbound migratory mosquitoes

  • Mosquitoes and the diseases they harbour aren't the only ones making the move northwards. Something similar is happening with the phlebotominae, known commonly as the sand fly. These flies normally feed on the blood of bats and inhabit the caves of South America. They are the primary vectors of leishmaniasis, or sand fly fever, a disease typical of the world's tropical areas.

Recommended Reading


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100 DAYS

100 days blogAn imaginary factual blog of General David Petraeus, Commander, United States Central Command