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Get Schooled Can schools stop obesity? Should they even try?

Children's Health • • ObesityMar 23 10

As an editorial writer, I met with representatives of national groups advocating dozens of good and worthy causes, from physical fitness to drug awareness to improved civics literacy.

In many cases, ground zero for the advocacy groups was the schoolhouse. Advocates felt that they needed to reach children to achieve the necessary changes/improvements.

But if all these well-meaning groups prevailed, we’d have two options: Reduce the class time for actual reading and math instruction or expand to a 12-hour school day.

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Santa Clara County’s next stab at obesity: No toys for fatty fast foods

ObesityMar 23 10

As 5-year-old Jena Rosetta chomped down a “yummy” lunch of Burger King chicken nuggets on Monday and slurped down a soda, her mother dug into the Club BK kids meal box and presented Jena with her reward: a Pinkalicious plastic doll that perfectly matched her pink blouse.

“We like the toys,” said Jena’s mother, Susan Barragan.

But if Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager gets his way, there may be no more dolls, race cars or toys of any sort to entice kids like Jena — and their parents — to feast on fried, fatty fast-food.

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Pepsi to cut salt, sugar and saturated fats

Dieting • • Fat, DietaryMar 22 10

PepsiCo Inc said on Sunday it would cut the levels of salt, sugar and saturated fats in its top-selling products.

The company, which owns the Pepsi, Frito-Lay and Quaker brands, said it plans a reduction of 25 per cent the average sodium per serving in major global food brands in key markets by 2015.

It also would reduce the average saturated fat per serving by 15 percent by 2020, and cut the average added sugar per serving in key global beverage brands by 25 percent by 2020.

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Risky drinkers less likely to take good care of themselves and seek medical care

Public HealthMar 22 10

Women and men who engage in frequent heavy drinking report significantly worse health-related practices, according to a Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research study in the journal Addiction Research & Theory.

For the study, researchers surveyed 7,884 members of the Kaiser Permanente Northwest integrated health plan in Oregon and Washington. They found that risky drinkers have attitudes and practices that may adversely affect their long-term health and that people who drink at hazardous levels were less likely than other categories of drinkers to seek routine medical care.

Risky drinking was defined in three different ways to account for both short and long-term alcohol-related risks: 1) those who, on average, drank three or more drinks per day, 2) women who consumed four or more drinks during one sitting, or men who drank five or more drinks during one sitting, or 3) people identified as at-risk drinkers using a commonly used screening tool.

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Extreme obesity a growing problem in American children

Children's Health • • Obesity • • Public HealthMar 21 10

More and more cases of extreme obesity are being reported in US children, a slap in the face for a country trying to lose weight.

This news comes following a study conducted by researchers from Kaiser Permanente in Southern California, featuring more than 710,000 children between two and 19 years of age.

Many would say “why spend money on a study like this when we already know what the outcome will be?”

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Philadelphia gets $25 million to reduce obesity, smoking

Obesity • • Public HealthMar 21 10

The city of Philadelphia has been picked for two federal grants that could make residents healthier.

Philadelphia will get $25.4 million in federal money to fight obesity and smoking. Dr. Donald Schwartz is the city’s health commissioner. He says the money will be put to use in education and enforcement campaigns.

“The ability to conduct broad-based campaigns like these to reduce smoking and affect obesity is unprecedented for Philadelphia,” Schwartz said.

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Vitamin D, Weight Loss, and Obesity

Obesity • • Weight LossMar 21 10

Vitamin D continues to make headline news. Findings suggest adequate levels may break barriers with individuals battling excess weight.

Research reveals a relationship between vitamin D levels in the body, vitamin D intake, and body weight. While the exact relationship is not entirely understood, a growing body of evidence suggests an association between obesity/excess body weight and D levels exists.

In addition, the link is supported by the fact that obesity and low D are co morbid (occur at the same time) with diseases such as: disease, hypertension, diabetes, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, depression and even periodontal disease.

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Rare ATM gene mutations, plus radiation, may increase risk of a second breast cancer

Cancer • • Breast CancerMar 19 10

Certain rare mutations in the ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) gene, combined with radiation exposure, may increase a woman’s risk of developing a second cancer in the opposite breast, according to a study published online March 19 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Breast cancer survivors are at increased risk of developing a second cancer in the other, or contralateral breast, compared to women who have not had breast cancer. The ATM gene is known to play a role in cells’ response to DNA damage caused by ionizing radiation, another breast cancer risk factor. But it has been unclear whether women who carry ATM mutations are especially susceptible to radiation-induced breast cancer.

To address this issue, Jonine Bernstein, M.D., of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and colleagues, compared ATM mutations among women who had developed a second cancer in the contralateral breast to mutations in those who had a cancer in only one breast. The women were participants in the Women’s Environment, Cancer, and Radiation Epidemiology (WECARE) Study, an international case–control study. There were 708 case subjects—women with contralateral cancer—and 1,397 control subjects who did not have a second cancer but were similar to the case subjects in other respects, such as age and race.

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Treating Blood Infections Tops Annual Hospital Cost Increases

Public HealthMar 19 10

The hospital costs for treating septicemia increased by an average of nearly 12 percent each year from 1997 to 2007, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Treating this potentially deadly blood infection increased from $4.1 billion in 1997 to $12.3 billion in 2007.

After adjusting for inflation, the federal agency also found other conditions that saw high annual increases in hospital costs in each of the 11 years between 1997 and 2007:

o Osteoarthritis, up 9.5 percent each year ($4.8 billion to $11.8 billion)
o Back problems, up 9.3 percent each year ($3.5 billion to $8.5 billion)
o Acute kidney failure, up 15.3 percent per year ($1 billion to $4 billion
o Respiratory failure, up 8.8 percent per year ($3.3 billion to $7.8 billion)

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Childhood obesity: A growing problem

Children's Health • • ObesityMar 18 10

Obesity has emerged as the No. 1 health problem facing children in the United States, according to a report from the National Institute of Health.

Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the last 30 years. The percentage of obese children ages 6 to 11 increased from 6.5 percent in 1980 to 19.6 percent in 2008, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

These alarming rates have pushed national organizations such as the Elk Grove Village-based American Academy of Pediatrics to team up with first lady Michelle Obama and the White House last month in launching “Let’s Move,” an initiative to reduce the nation’s population of overweight and obese children by encouraging healthier eating and increased physical activity.

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Obama wins first convert in healthcare push

Public HealthMar 18 10

President Barack Obama picked up his first convert in the push for healthcare reform on Wednesday as Democrats in the House of Representatives prepared for a close weekend vote on final passage.

Representative Dennis Kucinich, one of the most liberal members of Congress and an ardent supporter of nationalized healthcare, became the first House Democrat to switch from “no” to “yes” on the overhaul.

“This is a defining moment for whether or not we’ll have any opportunity to move off square one on healthcare,” Kucinich said in announcing his switch two days after Obama lobbied him on an Air Force One flight to Kucinich’s home state of Ohio.

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New Technique Reduces Tobacco Smoke Damage to Lungs in Mice

Tobacco & MarijuanaMar 18 10

Researchers in Australia have demonstrated that blocking a certain protein can reduce or prevent cigarette smoke-induced lung inflammation in mice. Inflammation underlies the disease process of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and many other smoking-related ailments.

The findings have been published online ahead of print publication in the American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Cigarette smoking causes lung inflammation, which can lead to oxidative stress, emphysema, small airway fibrosis, mucus hypersecretion and progressive airflow limitation. Since the inflammatory reaction to cigarette smoke responds poorly to current anti-inflammatory treatments, there is intense research to identify more effective therapies for cigarette smoke-induce lung damage.

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Obesity inches down in young Chicago children, but rates still much higher than nationally

Children's Health • • ObesityMar 17 10

There’s a glimmer of hope in new data on obesity in Chicago kids.

The percentage of Chicago youngsters aged 3 to 7 who are obese fell to 22 percent in 2008, from 24 percent in 2003.

That’s according to the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children. The consortium’s Dr. Adam Becker says the 2 percent drop represents about 700 fewer obese children.

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Common Cold Symptoms Not Washed Away by Nose Irrigation

Flu • • InfectionsMar 17 10

Washing out your nose with a spray or spout of salt water is safe and might even get you back to work sooner after a cold or acute sinus infection. However, there is not enough evidence to show that it can reduce your symptoms significantly, according to a new research review.

The three studies in the review included small numbers of patients and varied widely in their details, “which means small beneficial effects may be missed,” said lead author David King, M.D., of the University of Queensland, in Australia.

One study found that people were more likely to return to work sooner after using the nose washes, and there was some intriguing evidence that nasal washes might reduce antibiotic prescriptions among those who seek the saltwater treatment.

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British TB cases at highest since 1980s

Infections • • Public HealthMar 17 10

Cases of tuberculosis (TB) in Britain rose by 5.5 percent in the past year and are at their highest levels since the 1980s, health authorities said on Tuesday.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said there were more than 9,150 cases of TB in 2009, most of them among immigrants.

The main burden of infection was in London with 3,476 cases reported in 2009, accounting for 38 percent of the nationwide total. Nearly three-quarters of all cases were in people born outside Britain, the figures showed.

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