Tag Archives: weight

Junk food vending machines in public schools

I’m amazed that we are well into 2014 and schools can still sell junk food to students in vending machines. Below are four photographs just in case you haven’t been to school recently.  In first, some breakfast cereals: Frosted Flakes, Cocoa Krispies, and Apple Jacks, with 37%, 40%, and 43% sugar, respectively.  I’m sure that the Vending Machine Committee for this school decided that if they avoided Kellogg’s Honey Smacks (55.6% sugar), they could argue that the actual offerings are “healthier options.”  Photographs 2 and 3 show candy and chips.  Photograph 4 is for viewers interested in obesity among minorities.

In Pennsylvania (where photographs were taken), 15.9% of high school students are overweight.  11.8% of adolescents are obese.  With rates that high, many students don’t even need healthier forms of calories — they need to stop snacking.  Vending machines promote snacking.

Colin Purrington Photography: Obesity &emdash; junk-food-vending

Colin Purrington Photography: Obesity &emdash; public-school-vending-machine-radnor

Colin Purrington Photography: Obesity &emdash; junk-food-school-vending-machine

Colin Purrington Photography: Obesity &emdash; public-school-vending-machines

Posted in Biology, Education, Food, Graphic design, Photography, Science | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sugared beverages and obesity

Like everyone else, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying New York’s recent proposal for banning supersized containers of sugared beverages. Unlikely to pass, but nice to think about how to affect change somehow, since the tax-paying public ends up paying for the medical consequences of other people’s obesity.  Wish we could try to following:

1.  Somehow mandate that sugared sodas cost 25% more than diet options; and that water should be free (OK, you can charge for the cup).

2. Mark the calorie counts on the side of the supersized versions so that people have a visual sense of how many calories are contained. Diet drinks would come with their caloric values, too (zero, at least darn close to zero).

3.  Mandate funny or gross labels like those that are on packages of cigarettes. Writing, “excess calories cause weight gain,” over and over again is clearly a waste of ink and doesn’t seem to reach your average sugar fan. Need something interesting or irreverent.

My quick sketches of #2-3 are below, on a typical large beverage (7-11’s Double Gulp is 64 oz, by the way).  And, yes, I know that sugared drinks vary in calorie content, that hamburgers vary in calorie content, and that not all people find jiggly fat repulsive.

Warning labels for sugared beverages


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Example of bad scientific poster

When I give lectures on poster design, I sometimes show examples of horrific posters I’ve found on the internet. There are thousands to choose from. Indeed, they are pretty much all bad. Someday, though, the author of a poster I’m critiquing is going to be in the audience, probably in the front row, and probably carrying a concealed weapon. So I thought it was time to construct my own terrible poster, one I could also use on my website. The final product is below and is titled, “Pigs in space: effect of zero gravity and ad libitum feeding on weight gain in Cavia porcellus.” I’m especially ashamed of the bad logos, which I designed so as not to anger actual entities like NSF and SpaceX. I encourage teachers to print the poster and show to students a month before actual posters are due. The reason is that students won’t read instructions until several days before the due date, so if you show them something snarky in advance they might pay attention and take some tips to heart. The printable PDF is on my “Designing conference posters” page. Below the image on this post is a partial list of why the poster sucks. Believe it or not, the poster got published in the journal Nature. But it’s also true that there are posters at conferences that are much worse than what I’ve dreamed up … I just couldn’t bring myself to that level, even though I tried.

Example of bad scientific poster (copyright colin purrington)

If you want to view a large version, here you go: bad-scientific-poster-example.jpg.

Some reasons for its badness:

  1. Background image is distracting, wastes ink.
  2. Text box backgrounds are dark, which makes text hard to read (and wastes ink).
  3. Text box backgrounds are all different colors, for no reason (thus annoying).
  4. Text boxes are different widths (and annoying).
  5. Text boxes not separated from each other by pleasing “white” space.
  6. Text box edges not aligned, which is annoying.
  7. Text justified, which causes bad inter-word spacing. Also makes reading harder (brain uses jaggedness of left-justified text).
  8. Logos are pretentious (true of any logo).
  9. Logos crowd the title.
  10. Title perspective is annoying (unless you like Star Wars).
  11. Title is in all caps, which is harder to read and obscures Latin name).
  12. Title is italicized, which obscures Latin name.
  13. Author font and color is annoying (comic sans should be reserved for comic books).
  14. Author font color is too loud relative to other text.
  15. Too much text.
  16. Results are presented in sentences instead of visually with charts.
  17. Section headers have more than one type of formatting (big font, bolded, italicized, underlined, and colored — ack!).  Choose one. [Note: I forgot to number the sections…that would have been even worse.]
  18. Terrible graphic of Guinea pig on scale.  Need one of the actual set up (pigs eating while weightless, for example). [UPDATE: Or should have bribed Jeff at joegp.com, who apparently has a comic series about Guinea pigs in space suits. Awesome]
  19. Inclusion of an Abstract gobbles up space needlessly.  Abstract section should be banned from posters.
  20. Plus the science is terrible!  (Bad science is correlated with bad graphic design, by the way.)
Posted in Education, Graphic design, Science | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments