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AK Beat: Alaska losing fight against obesity

Alaska Dispatch News

Alaskans keep growing fatter and fatter: Alaska is one of six states losing the war on the waistline, according to the Trust for America's Health. In a Thursday report on "The State of Obesity,'' the Trust pegged Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, New Jersey, Tennessee and Wyoming as states where people are still getting fatter. The rest of the country isn't winning the war, but at least it has fought the obesity epidemic to a standstill. Alaska has now climbed to number 28 on the list of America's fattest states and is pound-by-pound inching its way upward, though it has a ways to go to catch fat leaders Mississippi and West Virginia. More than a third of the residents of those Southern states are now considered obese. Alaska is only just closing in on 30 percent fat. "The State of Obesity'' suggests some of the problem is tied to poverty. It fingered particularly high obesity rates among lower-income and less-educated Americans.

Sled dogs in summer: Photographer Katie Orlinsky says she was so unfamiliar with mushing before receiving an assignment to shoot the Yukon Quest she hadn’t even heard the word. But she quickly fell in love with the sport and decided she wanted to document mushers and their teams during the long summer months when they’re out of the spotlight. National Geographic has a post on Orlinsky, complete with a number of photos, from kennels around the state, including those of recognizable names in the sport such as Brent Sass, Joe Redington Jr., and Sebastian Schnuelle. When she visited Schnuelle, at his glacier camp above Juneau, Orlinsky was weathered in for a time: “It’s breathtakingly beautiful, but I went a little nuts,” she told National Geographic. “Sebastian got a real kick out of it all. He said it was good that I got a tiny taste of what it’s like for mushers out on the trail.”

Groundbreaking Arctic ice researcher Hunkins is dead: A pioneering Arctic oceanographer, Kenneth Hunkins, died Tuesday at his home in Tappan, N.Y., reported Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, the institution where he spent his career. Hunkins, 86, was among a group of scientists flown in 1957 to drifting sea ice 500 miles north of Alaska to staff Ice Station Alpha, the first such U.S. research outpost. Hunkins’ work charting the sea floor resulted in the discovery of the Alpha Ridge, a Himalaya-scaled subsea mountain range, and he captured the first photographic images deep underwater in the Arctic Ocean, Columbia said. Much of Hunkins’ career was spent researching ice from work done from other camps and stations set up on drifting floes. “That’s still one of the best ways to understand ice -- to drift on it. You don’t get that intimacy with ice unless you’re living on it,” he said in a 2007 interview. “Of course, today, there’s a lot less of it.” Hunkins officially retired in the late 1990s, Columbia said, but he continued to do research, including study of Lake Champlain.