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While the links between good nutrition and holistic well-being are well established, A growing number of researchers are tracing specific connections between poor diet and poor mental health—including depression. It's a relationship that's getting attention from big backers, too—including a major project from the European Union, and a trial from the U.S. Dept. of Defense to boost the nutrition of former soldiers in an attempt to stem veterans' high suicide rates. Solid evidence is mounting that the high-fat, high-sodium, high-sugar diet of the fast-food crazed West is doing damage not only to our collective waistline, but also our mental health and happiness.

And the cost of this—culturally, personally, and financially—is very painful. The BBC's David Robson reports: "For [Australian researcher Felice] Jacka, a break in our love affair with fast food can't come quickly enough. According to some predictions, nearly half of all Americans will be obese by 2030 - with countries across the world following similar trends. "If we add depression to the burden of illness that results from unhealthy diet," she says, "no country can afford the cost.""

As you ponder how to promote well-being for yourself and your community, how prepared are you to encourage people toward good nutrition? The effects of diet can be far-reaching, impacting body, mind, and spirit. (And we really don't need research to convince us of that, do we?)

—Paul Pastor, after reading the BBC's "Is Fast Food Making Us Depressed?"

Art Cleverly Disguised as Information

Ours is a day of "infographics," slickly designed visuals charting out key information on topics ranging from geographical political affiliation, to American dialects, to pastors' beards. You've seen them popping up everywhere—from magazines to advertising, to that-thing-you-liked-on-Facebook. But as proof that we're looking to information to do much more than inform, I offer "Info•Rama," a small art gallery showing in Long Beach, California, that closed just before this issue mailed (sorry). The show featured a dozen beautiful, intricately designed and data-packed infographics ranging in topic from leafcutter ants to the life of Nikolai Tesla. While only a minor blip on the cultural radar, it's an interesting one—what does it say about our culture that we now look to data not only for usefulness but for beauty; not only for information, but for inspiration?

A break from generations before, we live in an age of big data on small screens, a day of the sharp image and slick, constant input. Love it? Hate it? Either way, it's shaping our imaginations, and inspiring a generation to create in a world of constantly visible facts.

Let's just not neglect formation in favor of information.

—Paul Pastor, after reading "Art in the Infographic Age" at ...

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Related Topics:CultureResearchResourcesStatisticsTrends
From Issue:Gender & Ministry, September 2014 | Posted: September 2, 2014

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