Going Back to the Classics

first_imgThis week visual arts in Oxford was nowhere near boiling-point. The new exhibitions in the Ashmolean such as Spectacular Impressions and An Englishman’s Travels in Egypt, despite their promising titles, were more lukewarm than usual. The former, showcasing prints from the 15th to 17th centuries by artists such as Mantegna, Durer, Rembrandt and Van Dyck, was definitely enlightening. Every one of the images on display has been recognised internationally as to be of the highest quality, and each could probably inspire an exhibition in itself. However, to the untrained and uninformed eye, they were impressive more in terms of technical skill than emotive power. Similarly, the Englishman’s Travels in Europe though interesting in its revival of the story of Edward Lane, a renowned Arabic scholar and fine draughtsman, invited only a passing glance.In the same way, Ornamentation: drawings for the decorative arts, running in the Christ Church Gallery from 30 April to 30 July, seemed to me to be pleasant but entirely insipid, drawing on the College’s existing collection of graphic art and featuring particularly prominently the designs of Giulio Romano. Apart from a slight physical resemblance to Punch cartoons, the collection was unremarkable, offering plenty of faint drawings of ornamental vases, curlicues and seals.In comparison to these, the permanent collection of paintings in Christ Church seems much more impressive. Needless to say, the 300 odd Old Master paintings and almost 2 000 drawings are definitely overwhelming in their grandeur and scope. I particularly enjoyed the detailed work in paintings such as The Devil, where a certain Abba Moses the Indian (i.e from Ethiopia) is painted a lurid shade of green, with sagging breasts, a beard, tails, winds and bird feet in one of the Nine Scenes from the Lives of the Hermits (Tuscan Schoolc.1440- 1450). Other gems include the Fragment from a Lamentation by Hugo van der Goes (the tears on the Virgin’s face glisten with tangible emotion), and Filippino Lippi’s The Wounded Centaur, which beautifully depicts the dangers of playing with love.These, of course, are just a few examples of the wealth of delights provided by this small gallery, mentioned in every tourist guide, but under-utilised by the members of the University to whom, after all, admission is free (on presentation of a Bod card). In fact, I would recommend any bored visual arts buff to go spend an afternoon at Christ Church. More often than not, the permanent collection of the  college shows more dynamism and promise than newer arrivals to the city.ARCHIVE: 2nd Week TT 2003last_img read more

Tackling childhood obesity with a text message

first_imgTwo interventions that link clinical care with community resources helped improve key health measures in overweight or obese children at the outset of a study, as reported in JAMA Pediatrics.Developed by investigators at Harvard-affiliated MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) and Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, a practice of Atrius Health, both programs not only improved body mass index (BMI) in participants but also increased parents’ sense that they had the information and resources to address their child’s weight problem.“More and more we recognize that, if we don’t assist families in tackling the social and environmental conditions that impede their ability to make changes to their obesity-related behaviors, we will not be successful in pediatric weight management,” said Elsie Taveras, chief of general pediatrics at MGHfC, who led the study.“To help us create our interventions, we looked to families with children who had managed to improve their BMI, often under challenging environmental and social settings. These ‘positive outlier’ families provided guidance on the content of health coaching, available resources in the community, language to use in motivating other families to change, and the importance of building parents’ confidence in taking on the challenge of reducing their child’s excess weight.”The Connect 4 Health trial was conducted from June 2014 through March 2016 at six Harvard Vanguard pediatric practices in the Boston area and enrolled 721 children, ages 2 through 12, with a BMI in the overweight or obese range. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two interventions — enhanced primary care (EPC) or enhanced primary care plus coaching (EPCPC).Parents of those in both groups received educational materials focusing on key goals — decreasing screen time and consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, improving diet quality, increasing moderate or vigorous physical activity, improving the quality and duration of sleep, and promoting social and emotional wellness. The EPC intervention — incorporating practices introduced at Harvard Vanguard in recent years — included a monthly text message to parents with links to publicly available resources to support behavioral change and a Neighborhood Resource Guide listing supportive facilities in their communities.Parents of children in the EPCPC group were contacted every other month by specially trained health coaches by telephone, via videoconference, or in person. The health coaches provided individualized support through motivational interviewing, discussion of strategies for addressing and managing obesity risk factors, and identification of supportive resources in families’ communities. Parents in the coaching groups also received additional educational materials after each coaching session and twice-weekly text messages or emails. Families were offered a free, one-month family membership in local YMCAs and invited to attend a program on healthy grocery shopping.“If we don’t assist families in tackling the social and environmental conditions that impede their ability to make changes to their obesity-related behaviors, we will not be successful in pediatric weight management,” says Dr. Elsie Taveras, professor of pediatrics at HMS. Credit: MGH Photography Department“Combating obesity is an enormous challenge in pediatrics and identifying tools that are proven to make a difference in the health and well-being of our patients is essential,” said co-author Daniel H. Slater, chairman of pediatrics at Atrius Health. “Our collaboration with Dr. Taveras’ team and Connect 4 Health has been extremely rewarding and builds on the work that we have done together for more than a decade. Improvements — which include the electronic health record flagging of children with an unhealthy BMI, clinical decision support tools to help clinicians provide high-quality care, and educational materials for parents to support self-guided behavior change — have all laid the groundwork for the two interventions tested in this study. It is gratifying to see that we can make a difference and improve our patients’ health as well as their quality of life.”Along with comparing participants’ BMI z-scores — an age-specific measure used for children — at the beginning and end of the one-year study period, the investigators surveyed parents regarding their child’s health-related quality of life and their own sense of empowerment in managing their child’s weight. At the end of the study parents were asked whether they had received and were satisfied with study messages and materials and how their participation in the program affected their satisfaction with their child’s health services.In general, participants in both groups had improved BMI z-scores at the end of the study period, with slightly greater improvement among those in the EPCPC group. Comparisons with measurements taken a year before the outset of the study indicated that these reductions did not reflect previous trends towards a lower BMI; in fact, both groups had showed trends toward increasing BMI in the year before the study.Parents of children in the EPCPC group reported significant improvements in the child’s health-related quality of life, and parents in both groups reported an increased sense of empowerment. Most parents reported receiving and being satisfied with text messages and the Neighborhood Resource Guide, and satisfaction with the additional services provided to the coaching group was also high. Overall, 63 percent of parents in the EPCPC group and 48 percent of those in the EPC group felt their participation in the program increased their satisfaction with their child’s health care services.Study co-author Earlene Avalon, who chaired the Youth and Parental Advisory Board that helped create the two programs, said “This is such a relevant and important study because it takes a multipronged approach, not only looking at what the experts in the field are saying, but also asking people who walk the walk and deal with this daily to be architects of interventions and programs to tackle obesity. It is essential to consult people who have been successful and help them feel empowered to contribute and share best practices. To promote the diversity of opinions we seek, we have to go above and beyond solely consulting the literature for true creativity and innovation to occur.” Avalon is on the staff of Boston Children’s Hospital and is an assistant professor of health management and health science at Northeastern University.Taveras, a professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, said, “Our findings are pretty conclusive that there are three aspects of interventions for childhood obesity that work: improving clinical practices for obesity management; engaging and supporting families in behavior change; and linking families to community resources for further support. We’re now testing a family-based intervention that starts working with mothers in pregnancy and their children ages 2 and under to support prevention and developing more aggressive weight management approaches for children with the most severe obesity, for whom the interventions in this study were not successful.”Additional co-authors of the JAMA Pediatrics study are Lauren Fiechtner, Christine Horan, Monica W. Gerber, and Sarah N. Price; Richard Marshall, Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates; Mona Sharifi, Yale University School of Medicine; John Orav, Brigham and Women’s Hospital; and Thomas Sequist, Partners HealthCare System. Support for the study includes grants from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute and National Institutes of Health.last_img read more

Playtech confident of 2019 prospects as governance seeks new Chairman

first_imgShare Retail closures have ‘severe’ impact on Playtech August 5, 2020 Related Articles Jason Ader – No Boogeyman… Activism will play a vital part in reshaping gambling August 20, 2020 StumbleUpon Submit Playtech goes live in the US with bet365 August 7, 2020 Share FTSE250 gambling technology group Playtech Plc has reaffirmed its 2019 corporate earnings guidance ahead of its annual-general-meeting (AGM).Updating investors, Playtech governance maintains its position that ‘adjusted EBITDA’ for 2019 is expected to be in the €390- €415 million range.In its update, Playtech details that it has made significant progress on its growth strategy and strengthening its corporate governance – both key directives following 2018 adjustments.“To meet the changing demands of our dynamic industry, the Board has evolved significantly over the course of the last year with Susan Ball, John Krumins, Anna Massion and Ian Penrose joining Playtech as Non-Executive Directors,” the AGM statement read.Meanwhile, the group also confirmed that it has begun the process of ‘identifying a new chairman’ to replace current incumbent Alan Jackson.“With these appointments now in place, the board, led by Alan Jackson, will now turn its attention to overseeing a full, thorough succession planning process to identify a new chairman, allowing for a period of stability and integration.”Alan Jackson has served as Playtech Chairman since 2013, guiding the company through its London main market listings and significant M&A activity, diversifying Playtech group products and services.Detailing strong 2019 prospects, Playtech highlights renewing its long-term services and products agreement with GVC Holdings. Furthermore, the technology group renews its Sun Bingo contract which has been extended for a further 15 years, with the contract “expected to be profitable in 2019”.“Management is confident that actions taken in 2018 and in 2019 to date have delivered a strong platform for further strategic and operational progress in 2019 and beyond,” Playtech added.last_img read more