Sunday, October 31, 2010

Odds and Ends

When I called my (only living paternal) aunt today, as is my Sunday custom, I told her that I had read and written so much in the last two days that I felt brain dead. There was more yet to read when I called her- but I will take a break from all this school madness to write for my beloved blog :)

Obesity Drug OUT: It seems that the name starts with an O, but you know what, it doesn't really matter what the name is. I am categorically and theoretically against this class of drugs. This week the FDA denied the application of the most recent pharmaceutical hopeful and I cheered. Almost without question we have seen that these drugs do more harm then good. The resultant weight loss in minuscule and the risk to health - i.e. heart attack and stroke - is great. Of course, some will argue that the obese person is already at increased risk for adverse health outcomes, but that is no reason to medicate them and hurry that heart attack along.

Physical Activity: I am very happy to say that I have been invited to present (speak) at the upcoming "The Heart of a WiseWoman" conference that is being held in Greensboro. It is a program of the NC Department of Public Health and its Cancer Control and Prevention Branch. The topic is the importance of physical activity especially in regards to heart health. I of course said, "YES!" It is November 20th so I have to work on that presentation forthwith!

Breast Cancer: I interviewed a breast cancer survivor on Friday who is also a health advocate. She is a member of a health disparities collaborative which recently completed a research study. That study sought to determine the differences, if any, between the care received in the treatment of breast cancer between races. The study only pertains to a small sample of women in a particular city with access to care at one medical center, however, differences were found. I am not sure if this was deduced from this particular study, titled CCARES or in previous studies, but my interviewee told me that black women are more likely to have estrogen receptor negative breast cancer (and advised to take medicine like tamoxifin anyways) and are less likely to be offered breast reconstruction. Nationally, more white women are diagnosed with breast cancer than women of color, but the mortality rates are higher in black women.

Seen at the Gym: A girl reading a book. No not on the cardio machines. She was reading while using the adductor machine, you know, the machine where you squeeze your knees together, with weights.

Metabolism: A friend who is an insurance coder, asked my opinion regarding the purchasing of a high caliber machine that can "purportedly" determine a persons caloric needs, which could be used in doctor's offices and of course, BILLEd to insurance. OMGosh - did I have an opinion - ha ha. And what is cool is that I am more and more often being consulted as the expert I wish to become :) So here were my thoughts - The first issue is the device itself. How was it tested and who is providing the data on its efficacy and sensitivity? For example, did they do studies on accuracy as compared to some gold standard test? Did they test same person variability - i.e. the same person blowing but blowing for different 'testers' and different 'testers' using the machine on the same person? I expect that the results, even if pretty accurate, because they will not be totally accurate, are only so at that given time. So many things will affect a persons burn rate. The point of course is to tell the patient how many calories they REALLY need in a day. This in theory, would motivate them to balance their in and out accordingly. My second comment to my friend was that I did not think it would motivate anyone or lead to the change the insurance company was seeking - i.e. weight loss. The final reason that I think that this would be a waste of money is that there are currently few tools available to the general public (i.e access and affordability) that could accurately tell them the number of calories they were consuming or burning. So even if the machine said, "you need 1500 calories a day or 2000 if you burn 500 in exercise", how would that person know they accomplished either. Of course, I hope to make it easier for people to know the intake part, but that infrastructure isn't out there now. The people who are knowledgeable about food and exercise and their own bodies, do not need a machine to tell them their needs and those that need a machine aren't really motivated to change in the first place - in my humble but educated opinion - the machine is a huge waste of money. It costs over 4000 dollars )

Friday, October 29, 2010

If you See it Read it

There is a push for front of package nutrient content information and it looks like it is going to happen. Unfortunately, it also looks like sugar content may not be as readily available. Some say this is due to the difficulty in capturing and quantifying the full amount of sugar - others say, and I am beginning to believe them, that the sugar or beet industry from which some of our sugar is produced, is fighting this part of the so far voluntary action, because they do not want to lose business.

When I see things like this, the positive part, the labeling, I realize that all my little ideas are 1) not impossible and 2) not unique!

Anyone remember when I was doing my MPH internship at the Sarasota Health Department (January 2007)? They did a phenomenal job of getting stickers on the vending machine items to designate healthy options and I pushed for putting the items in backwards so we could read the labels before we chose an item. That didn't happen of course, (no one listens to interns) , but if we have front of package food labels - TADA - problem solved!

Okay, just wanted to touch base, let you guys know I hadn't forgotten you and as my greatest passion, within the obesity prevention realm, is Informed Eating - I had to make a statement on this latest step in that direction.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pumpkin Pages

I am a fan of the pumpkin. It is a winter squash and it is loaded with vitamins and phytochemicals that help clear up some of the naturally and not so naturally occurring free radical damage in our bodies.

For a list of the nutrients in a 100 grams of boiled pumpkin click here. You can use this website to choose different types to evaluate; canned or raw and by different measures; i.e cups or ounces. Oh did I say it is very low in calories for all the nutrients it provides? It is. The pumpkin is remarkable.

That was the topic of a recent USA Today story about the benefits of pumpkin and how these benefits are often lost in processed pumpkin dishes and even our own homemade pumpkin pies. If you make your own pie you have a lot more control over the added ingredients and which to leave out - for instance, there is no need to add fats or oils and if you aren't opposed to artificial sweetener you can use Splenda instead of sugar. Even if you use sugar, I bet you could use less.

If you have diabetic relatives/ friends (and chances are you DO) you can serve this pumpkin cake which continues (as recently as last friday) to WOW my friends of all ages and geographic regions - though I am not sure if any men have tried it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Evidence Builds

Study results that you may have seen or heard in the popular media this week might include these: Moderate tobacco (smoking only) use in middle age can substantially increase the risk of both vascular and Alzheimer's type dementia. This is not ground breaking data. We (scientists and those who consume science) have known for some time that smoking is one of the modifiable or changeable behaviors that affect this disease risk. This is ANOTHER study and so it adds weight.

I am a health education specialist and I KNOW that I can not scare anyone out of an addiction - but I want to make this statement in the hopes that it might frighten a smoker into seeking treatment for that addiction (nicotine) or for quitting on their own, which is harder, though not impossible. If you love a smoker - you can't make them quit either - sorry fact of life, that one is.

I digress:

If you were told you that you could do something that would significantly reduce the odds of getting a disease that literally left gaping holes in the brain - wouldn't you want to do it? Quitting smoking IS that thing - and there are others - so eat well, exercise daily and don't smoke - and that isn't all....... laugh, love, learn, hug, play :)

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Flour Isn't the Issue

Oh my readers - I wish you could have been in the room with me this morning. The room being the elementary school cafeteria. It was a small group meeting and we were discussing the lunch offerings.(I have begun my GoSlowWhoa quest.) The cafeteria manager was telling us (me, health department, school principal) about some changes that had happened so that the kids were getting healthier breakfasts. She said that "the honey buns were now whole wheat." Before you could say, "filter yourself," I said, "It's STILL a honeybun." On a positive note, the principal said to get rid of the honeybuns.

The manager also talked about the whitewheat bread that replaced the white bread. Guess kids aren't ready for the whole whole grains.

On another positive note, all the milk is skim or 1%.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Odds and Ends

Holy Cannoli - I am still that busy :)

Euphemisms: I heard some mukety mucks talking on Market Place or CNBC. The topic was whether or not businesses would start to use and purchase corporate jets again. EXCEPT - they were calling them "business airplanes." WHAT?! too funny. Which reminds me of a comment my sister/reader made, that you may not have seen. When I posted about the FDA and what was it, knee replacements?, anyway - I said, influenced and Annie said, "you mean bought." so sad.

Thyroid Radiation: People who have thyroid cancer often receive radiation treatment that involves the ingestion of radioactive substances. This was discussed in the report on radiation exposure released this past summer. The news stories this week were about the cancer patients infecting hotel rooms and other people. We really do over radiate.

SOY: A study has found that women who have had breast cancer (even the type that is related to estrogen in the body) may have less chance of recurrence if their diet has a certain amount of soy in it. The interesting thing is that many people have shied away from soy and many people have over consumed it. I said this before and I will say it again - when a study supports a certain food or nutrient it does NOT refer to mega doses and almost always refers food sources. So there is still a concern with soy shakes, powders, bars and such. I use soy flour and use soy meat substitutes, that is all.

Dr. OZ - DJ?: At the Student Rec Center this afternoon I heard Dr. Oz on the satellite radio station. He was advocating music to work out by. He came on every ten minutes or so with some research tidbit and motivation. Pretty funny. The music was mostly of the hip hop genre.

Diabetes: A report which I have not had the chance to review suggests that the number of persons with diabetes in the USA is expected to triple in coming years. Diabetes is often associated with obesity. Thus, if the OECD is correct and we are going to have an adult obesity/overweight rate of 75% in 2020 - this makes perfect sense. African Americans have higher rates of obesity and diabetes than do whites, however, the rates have increased substantially for all of us.

Asthma Friendly Schools: (another thing I haven't been able to look up) A peer referred to an initiative that aims to reduce the amount of emissions that are released when cars idle at school entrances. Pollution from cars is a cause and an exacerbater of asthma.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Worth the Trouble

This morning I got up a little earlier than is usual for me. I wanted to get in my Friday morning run before the workshop. It was forecast to be one of the coldest (relatively speaking) mornings this fall, but was not. Either way, I had convinced myself the night before that I was going to do this because no matter how uncomfortable or out of my box this early morning run would be - it was FAR better than the discomfort of not doing it.

I could have waited to run after the workshop, and another time I might, but that wasn't my choice for today. Instead it was up and at 'em - well - coffee first, but just after the sun came up I was out the door and running. My thoughts were of empowerment, satisfaction and accomplishment. I was able to get up early, still run in shorts* (with a long sleeved shirt), was just a few minutes late to the workshop but totally present and productive once I got there. I thought while running - HA "I own this day now." That was after I set off the alarm in the Arboretum - guess the trip wire didn't know it really WAS daylight. I sort of thought I was in Jurassic Park - scared me good when the speaker came on instructing me to leave immediately by the nearest exit.

With regards to your daily exercise routine - Just do it - you'll be glad.

*I am trying to see how long I can go before getting out my running tights/pants and gloves and such - so far I have outlasted several people who are NOT from Florida and that makes me feel tough. So I am conditioning myself for more cold than my body is accustomed to.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Lake

WOW - I like to think that I come up with clever and memorable ways of saying important things - and maybe I do sometimes, but what I heard today was better than anything I have said to date.

I am attending a two day workshop in Greensboro. The workshop title is Undoing Racism. Though this comment wasn't specifically about health - and health disparities by race certainly exist - it made me think of my efforts to shape the environment so that it is conducive to healthy weight management. Obviously if I want to attack the environment it must be that I think that the environment is more to blame for our obesity epidemic than specific obese individuals.

Here is what the trainer was credited with saying:

If we find a fish belly up in the lake - sure we cut it open, examine it and try to figure out what was wrong with that fish. If we find another fish we probably would do the same thing. But if we show up and half the fish in the lake are belly up, we have to ask, "What is wrong with this LAKE?"

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fat Talk

I am going to put this here even though I do not fully embrace the concept. The reasons I don't have been explained in the blog before - but I will briefly note that I fear that too strong a message on accepting one's body regardless of weight could work to support unhealthy weights which can have life expectancy and quality impacts.

For the women who are shamed and hurt by fat talk, however, I have empathy and I have had experience - and though I think weight is an important measure of health - I do not think weight should be a measure of intellect or esteem.

At the school Rec Center today I saw a new sign and it said, "Friends Don't Let Friends Fat Talk." This slogan comes from an event being sponsored by the Delta Delta Delta sorority and it is a nationwide campaign. It is a week long event and awareness program.

Here is a link to the Facebook page - you should be able to view it regardless of your Facebook status.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Show me the MONEY - doc

Ah the challenges of limited time - there is SO much I could explore and share based on the work of ProPublica - a journalism website - if there were more hours in my day.

The bare basics are thus: This group has used available information - meaning there is more that we do not know- to put together a report on the dollars big Pharma gives to docs and to which docs that money goes.

There are lists of the top giver and top receivers and there are lists by states and a searchable database. I have already found one doctor that I have always thought a fraud for other reasons and now I see he is the recipient of over 3000 dollars from Pfizer. The data is quarterly - not years, not lifetime. BTW, Pfizer is NOT at the top of the list for pay outs, it is fourth.

So if you ever wonder if your doctor is giving you a prescription for a medicine that he or she is a paid promoter of - ASK and of course, then check for yourself.

Here is the link. I have a few more doctors to enter in the search box!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Odds and Ends

Wow - I have been a busy little student this week - but it was also fall break so I had a few extra moments :)

Subsidizing Fat: In my research this week I came across three references, three different sources, to the practice of subsidizing (price control, direct payments, land grants, etc) certain crops, fuels or livestock in the USA and how some of that inadvertently or directly leads to overconsumption of high caloric foods. For example, dairy, red meat and corn syrup. Thus, the government might not be ready to suggest we limit some of those things in our diet.

Disabled or Fit: I heard, in passing, that a European country was instituting a policy that required a fit test for people who were submitting disability claims based on physical inability, weakness or disease. My reaction? "Oh please let us do that here."

IU/HCC: Well that is the note I wrote for myself days ago that I now have to decipher. Indiana University and a Healthy Community Collaborative - no Healthy Cities - oh bother - the point is - these two partnered on a project and their main goal was to "Make the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice." Which I love. It sounds a little like my drive to make healthy choices socially possible not just socially acceptable.

Helmets: I wear a helmet when I ride my bicycle. It is to prevent injury. In NC and in some form or another in several other states, children under the age of 16 are required by law to wear a helmets for cycling. On Saturday, I passed a lot of cyclists on my run. At one point, a group of maybe ten people entered the Greenway as I was leaving. They appeared to be between the ages of six and fifty, with teenagers included. The "parents" or adults in the group were NOT wearing helmets. It made me think - the law covers those under age 16 as we might expect that until that age common sense is lacking - apparently people over age 16 also lack sense. And really, parents?!? If you can't do it why do you expect your kids to? The only thing geeky about helmets is not wearing them.

Too THIN: People say the darndest things to people who are of low weight - and that is a relative concept in the context of a 30% prevalence of normal weight people in the USA (around 3% of kids and under 2% of adults are actually underweight according to BMI). Are you doing the math? Over 66% of adults in the USA are OW or Obese. Anyway - the other afternoon I was walking near my apartment which is near a beautiful arboretum - when a man maybe five to ten years older than I, walked by. To be clear, I was strolling and he was walking for exercise. He came by and looked back over his shoulder to say, "You're too thin to be walking." SO - Oh SO. My friend who I told this story to later is stunned that I didn't give him one of the responses I am famous for - but you know, I just wasn't in a "teachable moment" mood that day. I smiled and said, "I am just taking a break from my studies and going for a little stroll." AAAAGH - Things I could have said, "I don't expect I am thin because I don't take walks." or "Better than sitting on my ass eating bon bons." or "Guess that 8.5 mile run this morning wasn't a good idea either." or "Well you certainly aren't! (too thin to be walking)" But you know, what he said adds to the evidence that people really believe physical activity is the be all end all for weight control - when what it really does is prevent disease.

Kids say the Darndest Things Too: In the undergraduate epidemiology class with which I assist, we discussed ecological studies this week. Those are studies that look at groups of people to suggest correlations amongst them that might relate a disease to an exposure. They do not show causes of disease - they are not experiments. The class looked at a scatter plot that showed percent of fat consumption per capita. In other words, countries were plotted out by the amount of fat consumed and the amount of breast cancer cases. From the chart it appeared that countries who consumed more fat had more cases of breast cancer. The chart does NOT tell you if the women who had breast cancer were the people in the country eating all the fat. As it turns out, obesity is related to cancer, but that has been determined elsewhere. Our class is broken into groups and at one table I overheard at least two disturbing comments. One young lady - 19 or 20- commented that if she didn't have the breast cancer gene it didn't matter what she did or didn't do. Another, a young man, offered that he didn't see what being overweight had to do with breast cancer. For those of you who also wonder, fat cells cause the release of estrogen and in some cases, estrogen promotes breast cancer.

BTW - I have some extra school things on the agenda this week and may not be able to post every day - sorry :(

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Changes for RA

Nope - not rheumatoid arthritis - Reynolds American.

In the past I have written about new smokeless tobacco (SLT) products - the newest are the Strips, Sticks and Orbs that have been created by Reynolds American. In this blog or in my presentations, I have commented that the CEO of Reynolds American - who has been pursuing SLT as a new revenue stream, was fond of the tobacco strips. The strips are similar to the breath strips that melt on ones tongue, except these contain nicotine.

I am not sure if Ms. Ivey, the CEO, really likes these products (might just be what she needs to say) but if she is using them instead of smoking, she's at least reducing her risk of lung cancer.

I bring this all up today because she is stepping down from Reynold's American after 30 years in tobacco. The company, according to the WSJ, is doing very well and that may be due to acquisitions and new products. On Friday, the stock was valued at over 60 dollars.

This link should give you a list of posts by me regarding some of the issues related to smokeless tobacco products. I am ambivalent on most SLT but unequivocally oppose cigarettes and smoking.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Knees -

Knee surgery and knee replacement are options that only hold minimal benefit in many cases - though to be fair - they are life changing in others.

The very best thing is to take care of the knees that you have by maintaining a normal weight and engaging in regular physical activity - walking and running included, especially if you are not overweight and do not have gait imbalances.

Avoiding stress injuries that can happen in sports; tennis, soccer, basketball and football is also protective.

Sadly - news out today reports that the FDA which has the authority to approve and regulate not only drugs, but medical tests and devices, is said to have been influenced by the makers of several types of knee replacements and may not have done due diligence in approving them.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Unexpected Outcomes

Back to being busy with studies so just a note:

A peer gave a presentation on his dissertation topic this week. He is studying the HIV testing behavior in black men who have sex with men. MSM is the term that is used by the CDC and in research to describe men that have sex with men, this can include men who do not consider themselves to be or identify with homosexuals.

Any way - the CDC encourages HIV testing based on the theory that testing will reduce incidence of new disease. Others in public health support testing, but do not emphasize it more than behavior change - i.e. condom use, monogamy, etc.

Here is one reason why testing is not enough or perhaps not THE best message. A certain percent of people (I didn't write the number) who test positive for HIV WILL in fact change their behavior and use condoms or practice abstinence. However, NOT 100% will change so the disease can still be spread. A larger percent of people who test negative will NOT change their behavior and can then become infected and infect others.

In other words, testing can give some persons a false sense of security. It doesn't matter who you have sex with - safe sex is smart sex.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fit, Fat or Fried?

An NPR journalist interviewed the current Texas Governor and some of his constituents this morning. The interview took place at the State Fair. It was noted that people were in line to try things like fried peanut butter and jelly, fried moon pies and oh, my favorite - fried butter.

It just made me wonder what the stats on fat for Texas might be. Remember the Trust for America's Health report that came out last summer? It gives state rankings but also has state specific web pages. That is where I went for my information. ACTUALLY - I have the page open in another tab and I haven't even looked - yet - so here goes - I might have egg (fried) on my face - but I will tell you true...

Wow - first of all they are in the top five (one is worst) for Alzheimer's and Cancer cases and for childhood obesity they are in the top 10, as is so for diabetes and inactivity. The adult obesity rate is number 13 in the country - again one is worst.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Veracity Vs Clout

In one of my readings today I came across this little gem from Rogan Kersh and James Morone in their Politics of Obesity. I will summarize their point.

An assertion or finding does not have to be true to create change. Science about a health issue is important but so is the power of the message and from whence it comes.

The three issues they noted were tobacco, alcohol and sexual expression. Tobacco turns out, really does kill people - but we didn't start moving against it until the US Surgeon General made a big deal about it. Alcohol is not 100% evil, but we had prohibition when the government said it was, and many men feared blindness from being oversexed, when apparently that is not a real consequence. Now the government pays for ED drugs. (that part's from me :))

We have gotten to the point that obesity is associated with disease and the US Surgeon General and others have spoken on the seriousness of this problem and so - expect those policies to start happening.

Monday, October 11, 2010

October IS

Domestic or Intimate Partner Violence Awareness Month

I know this because I have spent most of today looking into the matter of IPV for a class discussion that I am going to lead a week from today. The course I am taking is not about any particular health problem - it is about involving communities in identifying and solving problems - or Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR). The readings for the week in question regard deconstructing a problem and finding hidden transcripts and capacity. Yes capacity. Researchers often come in seeing only what is wrong. Identifying what is right is empowering. CBPR always includes acknowledging disparities with regard to race, gender and socioeconomic status when they exist.

My class activity is going to be deconstructing a music video. The song came out in July of this year and had a pretty big impact on me. Since I did my research today, the impact is even more intense. The song is Love the Way You Lie. It was written by the white rapper Eminem. I was familiar with him, his history and his work prior to that video and prior to today. I do NOT dislike the man or his music. In this song, the chorus is sung by pop star Rihanna. She is younger than Eminem, from Barbados, and in my opinion, very beautiful with an angelic voice. Eminem has experienced violence in his childhood and in his previous marriage. Rihanna was the victim of a very public incident of violence between she and her equally famous boyfriend. The couple who are in the video are also celebrities.

Both stars deny any connection between this song and real life events. The lyrics are available on line as is the video. I downloaded both today for my class, but I have heard the song many times and seen glimpses of the video. Today I bought the video and watched it with complete attention. It upset me greatly.

It is really difficult to have a clear picture of domestic violence in this country. Our numbers are subject to disclosure - whether or not someone wishes to disclose. We have what is reported to police or gleaned from ER records. The CDC does a telephone survey as well. It is expected that the numbers are higher than our statistics show. I have been all over the WEB today - tracking down legitimate sources and trying to find current numbers. DV/IPV is not my area of expertise. I did find from the CDC, the National Institute of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Statistics - the following: 4.3 per 1000 females and .8 per 1000 men are victims of partner violence each year. Females are the victims of 70% of fatal assaults. It is reported that the incidence is down significantly from its peak- likely due to attention and programing. However, there is again room for error. The current expectation is 1.3 million females and 835,000 men are victims each year. With regard to race, there is a big difference between whites and American Indian/Alaskan Natives and some difference between whites and blacks.

I was curious about age differences due to the song. More violence occurs in the 16-24 age group in general, but more deaths occur in the 35-49 age group. There are 20 cases per 1000 white women and 29 per 1000 black in the 20-24 age group. Rihanna is 22 years old.

The reason this got my attention at all is because the song has broken all kinds of chart records. It has been number one for most of the 15 weeks that it has been out. It has been number one on pop lists, rap lists and lists in many other countries. It is the top digital download and the top ring tone. It broke a You Tube video record.

WHY?! It is going to be very important for us to know WHY these young persons identify with this song so very much. For my class activity, I am going to have us as I said, deconstruct this video - and we are going to have to look at what the "community" is seeing as positive here. That is a scary but necessary challenge.

Here is the official website link to view the video - add yourself to the over 150 million views! Note to new rap listeners - the video and song start after a commercial that sounds like a song... :) The lyrics are available on this webpage - they are explicit - meaning - hard language that may offend you - of course, DV should offend you, but expression is important and telling - so let us not censor it. (make sure your pop up blockers are on when you visit the lyrics site :))

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Odds and Ends

YAY! I have a couple this week. O&Es that is.

Dogs: Well - I had to think about how to include this observation - anecdotal story- in my health promotion blog. I try to make sure everything meets my criteria of somehow relating to wellness. let me say - dogs are great. I do not have a dog now, but I have had dogs in my life in the past and loved quite a few. Thing is - they always die and that hurts. Still - they bring joy to many people - note I did not say ALL people. That is another story - oh I should just tell you as it's funny and relevant in regard to dogs and dog parks etc. Dog parks are new to me. I don't think they had them in the 70s or 80s - you know - back when we didn't follow our dogs around in order to pick up their poop ( a good thing, but odd none the less). One of my professors noted that she takes her dog for walks (leashed) and often runs across people who have their dog unleashed in places that it is "not allowed." Dogs run up to her dog and the owners say, "Oh - he's friendly." My professor, rightly aggravated, honestly says, "Mine's Not." Yesterday I went for a run near my home and in two different places - places two miles apart from each other - I came across unleashed dogs. One place was my college campus - it was Saturday. Near the fitness track and the playing fields, a group of people had let four or five dogs (who were likely they same weight as me) loose. ON THE CAMPUS - not a dog park. Back at the Greensboro Arboretum - with signage about poop and leashes, another large dog was loose. I thought - okay - this is it. This is the next mishap that will befall me on this adventure in NC - a dog attack. They did not attack and I didn't get to use my line either. - which is going to go like this. When I am out and some one's little dog runs up to me and the owner says, "Oh don't worry he is friendly." I am going to say, "I am not."
And this is related to health because if I get mauled by a dog it will be bad for my health.

Meridia- I have bemoaned this and all weight loss drugs for some time and am very pleased that the company which makes it, Abbott, has decided to stop selling it in the US and Canada after other countries made the decision FOR them. It is not safe and it hasn't been safe and now it is done. I can tell you what is safe. Eat less and move more :)

Price Alert: Thinking of starting a new section here. I have noted that sugar free/low calorie snacks or foods cost WAY more than full fat and sugared ones. Wheat bread costs more than white and now I see that a similar sized bag of fresh spinach is one dollar more than the less nutritious bag of lettuce.

Sleep My Little One: Moms and Dads help their children sleep. They rock, they sing, they wear them out, they use routines. What happens when the parent can't sleep? Take a pill. No do NOT take a pill. Sleep hygiene has been mentioned here before and you can read about it again. But sleeping pills have so many negatives and drugs in general have many side effects. It becomes a viscous cycle of treating side effects with other drugs that cause more side effects including a huge dent in one's wallet and sometimes addiction. So YAY Mom. She had a regular doctor visit and he asked about her sleep. She noted that she has leg cramps that keep her up sometimes. This has been so for years and years. He tried to prescribe a sleep and/or stress medication and she said, "No thank you very much." I am so proud of her.

UK Kids: Heard just briefly on Radio Scotland news - a review of meals served to children at a hospital had far more fat and salt than is recommended. NICE.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


I have been aware of the following for some years -
the amount of calories one "burns" or expends during exercise has to do with intensity and weight. The EE - is energy expenditure. I have said to friends and probably here that you cannot take a suggestion of "calories burned" per time per activity as literal because it is ALL relevant. So when the commercial says that 30 minutes on the treadmill burns 100 calories, you have to ask - who was the "model" and what was the "pace"?

This I have known. What I hadn't quite wrapped my mind around, prior to reading a few research articles last night, was overall EE.

I am investigating the different impacts of nutrients (i.e. fat, sugar, phytochemicals, PUFAs), physical activity, over consumption, physical activity and sedentary behavior on weight and health. My hypothesis is that EI - energy intake - is the most powerful factor for weight - not health - weight.

So I am doing a lot of literature review - or reading other people's research.

I have found some support of my theory. In several studies, lean and overweight persons are burning the same amount of calories but the overweight people are consuming more. So same EE , different EI. Here is why that is happening.

Though bigger people burn more calories during any activity - they either do the activity for less time or at less intensity as their bodies are less able to handle moderate or vigorous activity. It makes sense. It also means that I am on the right track when I say the message for weight control has to be about calories. The amount of physical activity - and intensity - that is needed for weight LOSS - is most often inappropriate for obese persons. They are not able to do it and they should not do it (joints, blood pressure, etc) until they lose some weight. Let me be clear. All persons should engage in daily physical activity as recommended by the DHHS an the Activity Guidelines for Americans. OW and Obese people may begin with slow pace walking and swimming, perhaps. They cannot start with running or high intensity activities (which BURN calories faster)- and all these messages about moving more may be misplaced for some people.

I have found more research on why we shouldn't sit for long periods of time - regardless of weight or exercise level - but that is for another time.

Today's blog title code: Energy Intake Energy Expenditure Obesity EIEEO

Friday, October 8, 2010

EBT Cards and Soda

The big debate these days is whether or not NYC has the right to prevent people from buying soda or any other food or beverage with their food stamps. (In case you didn't know, most states do not actually use stamps anymore. People who receive this needs based stipend actually get an electronic benefit transfer card - or EBT)

The problem with soda and the attempts to do something about it policy wise have been discussed in past posts. One notes a PSA from NYC and another is in regard to the NYC Health Commissioners attempt to raise the tax on soda. This same health commissioner is working with Mayor Bloomberg in the current soda initiative.

The USDA has to approve restrictions on food stamp purchases. Some people are concerned that this might set a precedent but I am hopeful that it will!
I knew that people on foods stamps could not buy non food items, or alcohol or tobacco, but I hadn't realized that there are NO nutrition restrictions.

Many popular press articles are discussing this NYC proposal so I won't rehash them here. I will say that Bloomberg and Farley are wise to suggest that this is a temporary intervention that can be evaluated and revisited in the future. When I read that the that 75 to 135 million dollars was spent (in NYC from EBT) on sugary drinks in one year, I realized that we could track all items purchased with these cards and THAT is some data I would like to get my "teeth" into :)

BTW - this was also discussed on Science Friday today and my public health hero, Walter Willett was a guest :) We must thank Lee Ann for the call that got me away from my studies to turn on the radio - kisses....

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Bake Sale Do Over

As I was walking with my friend who has had the WLS this evening, she shared that the church had called and asked her to make something for the bake sale. She said yes, even though she didn't have the time (two jobs and in school too!).

She said she didn't know what to make and that she just might get some cookies at the grocery store bakery. I said of course, "Oh NO! You are going to give them that processed, crap." She said, "The kids won't know the difference." To which I exclaimed even louder, "Oh man, they are the one's who need to eat better!"

So she asked me about the cereal bars that I make. She and many of my friends and You Tube fans like them and have incorporated them into their daily diets. We got her all set with the ingredient list and the video instructions - so YEAH - a healthy option at a bake sale.

BTW, I think it was 2007 when I worked at WFUBMC, we had a bake sale. I made a tray of sugar free - low calorie goodies and they sold out lickety split!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Big Soda

Seriously - I was stunned. It was break time during one of my classes and I noticed a sign in the lobby area of the 4th floor of the Science Building. The plaque said, Mountain Dew Lounge.

I pointed this out to one of my peers and then another told me that all the floors have a "soda" named lobby. So I am pretty sure that it would be safe to say that Pepsi helped pay for the building.

Now I do drink a diet Mountain Dew just about every other day (a diet coke on the others) but I consider it one of the less healthy things that I do. Soda probably isn't good for you even without sugar.

I think it is shameful to have soda themed rooms, but at least it wasn't one of the Public Health or Nutrition buildings.

And this is NC - so yes Pepsi rules the south - but what you usually see are buildings and rooms named after RJReynolds or their cigarette brands.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Be Careful with your Everythings

We are told that balance keeps us healthy and that we need to keep a certain mix of things in our lives to be complete.

I think that we have to be careful when we let a person, thing or activity become EVERYTHING to us - for me it used to be running. I had to learn not to let it be the ONLY thing that gave me an endorphin rush or calmed me down - because what if I couldn't run?

When I was young - less mature - or less learned - I might have let people be my everything. A lot of us at any age do that. "I LOVE her - if she leaves me I will die" - etc.

It can be a person, a job, a child, school or a sport but if you make it everything (your very essence of being) and you lose it - for whatever reason, it will devastate you.

All of these can have the highest degree of importance in your life and other things can be second to them but you also have to be able to live without them, should you ever be forced to,

Monday, October 4, 2010

From the First Sign of Life

I just finished a nice little blog from the Time website and then the program deleted it - as IF I have all the time in the world.

My brother in law alerted me to this story and I wanted to pass it on. Scientists are increasingly interested in studying people and conditions in the environment or context where they occur and are influenced by a multitude of factors.

We are learning that genes and ethnicity have a role, but so does the womb. It too is an environment and our experience begins there.

Take a look here.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Odds and Ends

So happy that I had a few minutes today to put a list of O&E together, and glad that the NYG are about to play a game on NBCs Sunday Night Football, because NBC airs those Sunday night games live on line, and I am appreciative to blog reader Jess for the tip on freezing your own strawberries -

Slogans - heard on CNBC this week but relevant to my current research paper - America lives by slogans. What the slogan says is what we believe. So when the slogans coming from the government on health promotion are, "Let's Move" or "Fruits and Veggies.. More Matters", those are the things we try to do. However, if we are eating too many calories or consuming only pineapples, bananas, and avocado, the obesity epidemic will continue.

Donuts - One of my FaceBook friends posted a link about the Krispy Kreme burger. Apparently, this is making the state fair tour and is in NC at this time. Totally gross - most people admit - yuck, a burger between glazed donuts - 1000 calories of fun.

Avandia - This newer diabetes drug has been in the news for most of the year. It appears to significantly increase the risk of heart attack or stroke for persons who take it. There are already medications on the market that are as effective as this drug. The FDA has completed its review and has limited access to the drug. In Europe the drug was banned out right. Do they know something we don't? Do they care more? Are they less influenced by pharmaceutical lobbying? Obesity is a risk factor for diabetes, if you are overweight now - try limiting your calories just a bit. Losing weight is usually safer than taking a medication for a disease - though when you have the disease, medication may be your only option.

Heard and Appreciated - So happy to tell you what I heard at the Student Rec Center this afternoon. First, I went to the gym at Noon because that is when it opens on Sunday and usually the free weight room is empty. Usually - HA , I think I went one time at 12 and it was empty so I ASSUMED - anyways, it was not empty - it was full of 20 something year old guys. Anyway, these two young men were doing bench presses and I was very near by. I do not think that they really knew each other, but that the one was spotting the other. I heard one young man say that he was a basketball player. He was tall, but he was a little broader and muscular than many young basketball players. I believe he told his buddy that he had also played football. The young man doing all the lifting said that he had transferred to my school from NC State and that he did miss his friends and such, but "I had to do what was best for me on the court and IN THE CLASSROOM." He said something also about how he needed a good education and his degree. The other fellow said similar things. I was smiling, because - well that is AWESOME. The spotter looked up and met my eyes as I was smiling so I said, "it is so cool to hear you guys say that." I am sure he thought I was faculty anyways as I am old enough to be his Mum.

Letterman NO - Cannot believe Dave "smoked" an electronic cigarette on his show this past week. Wish the FDA would get moving on those things.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


This is a term that I came across in my studies today. It is not in the dictionary just yet and there are at least two spellings.

The way it is most often used is to describe environments - such as one's family or one's community or even country. Let's see if you can figure it out from this sentence.

The United States is obesigenic. In other words, the country is functioning in such a way as to promote obesity. Obesity is promoted by the following:
  • the availability of high fat foods
  • inappropriate portion sizes
  • sugary drinks
  • social customs that promote high fat eating (church suppers, work parties - Thanksgiving - just kidding :))
  • lack of access to low calorie foods
  • unsafe neighborhoods that prohibit physical activity
  • jobs that require sitting
  • family habits, etc
  • genes
In some of the articles I previewed today there seemed a bit of blaming - but you have heard it before - heavy women tend to have certain behaviors that their children model and thus they too are heavy. Not just Mom's or even families for that matter. We tend to do what our friends and coworkers do as well. Researchers are increasingly saying it has to be both genes AND environment and that it is almost never just the genes.

Do you live, work, play in an obesity causing environment? Are you the model of health and fitness instead - what would be the word for health promoting environments? Salubrious I think...

Friday, October 1, 2010


I am a huge fan of strawberries - high in antioxidants - they are free radical eater uppers - and low in calories, sweet but with fiber too.

I like to have a little cup of them with my Walden's Farms almost no calorie chocolate dip - every night - but I don't. Sometimes I have other fruit!

Strawberries are highly perishable - they do not last a week - they are expensive.

Recently I blogged about packages on the shelf that contained rotten ones and since then if not before, I have been keeping my eye out for a frozen brand that I would buy. I have checked several stores and what I have found is that they are still very expensive and for the extra money - this time - you get more calories too. Even when I found some brands that did NOT add sugar or syrup - the calories didn't make sense. I.e. according to the USDA nutrient data base, strawberries have about .3 calories per gram. If the frozen strawberries were just strawberries they wouldn't they be the same?

Today I actually got both areas covered. The package of frozen strawberries was just over two dollars and a cup had 50 calories. They were pretty yummy too.

Guess where and what brand?

Wal-mart - Great Value. I bet they would make a nice sorbet if you whipped them up. They were also clean and whole and not bruised or moldy - how cool....