Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Stop Dying!?

To resolve the issue of what to do with our dead - we must stop dying.  I suppose that isn't going to happen anytime soon and if it did, then we'd have to stop being born - or we'd run out of space.  Still run out of space we might, for the burying of our dead and because we bury our dead- or specifically,  burying of our dead in cemeteries with head stones and such.
  I do not want to think of my death in any detail at all, but I have thought that cremation would be my final act.  Less muss, fuss, taking up space etc.  Truly the whole conversation wigs me out.

And now I hear that burning bodies are bad for the environment TOO.  We put chemicals and metals in our bodies which are released into the air - at least during traditional cremation procedures.

There is something called eco cremation that strives to decontaminate before incinerating - or something like that.  

Perhaps we should consider just letting our bodies go straight into the ground and then building and growing over and around them.  OR
We could just stop dying - if death is going to lead to climate change we really must avoid it :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mexico Gets Bold

It was just a day or so ago that I made reference to the low rate of HPV vaccinations in American girls.  Today I learned that Mexico is making the vaccine a mandatory or routine immunization for all  girls at age 9.  Mexico has a public and private health care system - I guess this is something that will be covered by the government.
This is a boon for the drug company who I imagine will continue its push to get boys vaccinated as well.

See the story here.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The CFSAN Responds

I have posted about my label issue in the last two Sunday's Odds and Ends - it started with this one....

Carbon Monoxide?! - I have an issue with the fish I buy at Walmart.  I shop at Walmart because it has the lowest prices.  (I also shop at higher end grocers and health food stores, but only when I cannot find what I need at Walmart).  I have made my Walmart statements in the past, but I feel the need to reiterate.  The people that work there are EMPLOYED.  I know that they may not have the highest wages, but maybe the people who pay better would not higher these same people.  I also wonder if the employees are as unhappy as the antiwalmart folks claim that they are.  Seems like a good research study question to me.
That said - I am upset about the fish that I buy at the store.  I did not realize it was a Walmart product, but the Tilapia and Salmon have the exact same calories per gram - 100 calories per 113 g serving.  This is not possible because they do not have the same nutrient profile.  While looking at the label in order to find the contact information to alert them to this MISTAKE - I saw these words (on the tilapia) "carbon monoxide treated to retain coloring."  No kidding.  I am waiting to hear back from Walmart on both issues.  Next stop - FDA.  The FDA is in charge of safety and labeling.

And last night I wrote this:
FDA Update - No word from Wal-Mart regarding my two concerns about their fish so I composed and sent an email to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Outreach and Information Center today.  You see - I have gumption.

And today I received this response from the Center for Foods Safety and Applied Nutrition or CFSAN

Dear Ms. Dingman, the use of carbon monoxide is safe and has been used for meats for several years.  The gas does not cause an issue with the meat.  Under the regulations the manufacturer sets the serving size and is required to have accurate information on the label.  I don't know why they are using the same label information if it is not accurate.  They may be rounding and the counts may not be that dissimilar.
Ms. Jeannine Ertter-Prego
Consumer Affairs Specialist

I did ask her two or three more questions - but youget the gist of it - and no - I wasn't satisfied with either of those answers.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Odds and Ends

Navigating Obesogenic Environments - Once again, my hero Boyd Swinburn PhD, writes a fascinating article regarding obesity.  This is one of four articles that are published in the journal Lancet (subscription needed for the full articles) this month.  The articles come out in preparation for a UN General Assembly Meeting in NYC next month.  So much is said in the first article that bears repeating - that if you can get a hold of it you should read it.  I will try to link the summaries.  He and the co authors say important things, like " obesity is the result of people responding normally to the obesogenic environments they find themselves in."  Obesity causing (obesogenic) is usually defined this way: the environment makes walking or cycling difficult, makes energy dense, nutrient poor food readily available, tasty (addictive?) and cheap and markets that food incessantly. 
The best lines in the article are on p 809 " Undoubtedly, the final decision to consume a particular food or beverage, or to exercise or not, is an individual decision.  However, to negotiate the complexity of the environment and the  choices it poses, (makes) many of these decisions automatic or subconscious."  Another term used in the paragraph is "passive over consumption."
What I want to add here is what persons such as myself and many of you may take for granted, the agency to navigate these food deserts or obesogenic areas.  A real life example from my weekend grocery shopping:  At the store the yogurt was in multipacks and I did not want to buy four of one kind.  I said, never mind - I will not be forced into buying what the grocer wants me to buy.  I decided (my choice) to go somewhere else.  While I was somewhere else, I found sales on items that I really like and saved several dollars.  I was able to go to the other store because of several factors that people with such privilege take for granted;  1) I have gumption (agency) 2) I had the time (i.e. hours in a day), 3) I had transportation, 4) I had money to buy something else, 5) I did not have a child demanding I buy something they saw on TV, 5) there WAS another store I could go to... and such... this is navigating an environment that makes its MUCH easier to get the cheap, bad for me food.  Additionally, at store one, the type of lettuce I always buy was not stocked.  I found someone, asked for it and then waited for it. I had assertiveness and time - people with such attributes and luxury often remain oblivious to the fact that others may not have them- and so when we say that an individual has a choice we need to think that through a little further.
(also read the article for a wonderful discussion on why individual causal factors need to be given less of a focus - here is a summary page for the articles)

Dinosaurs and Fruit - I saw a package of plums in the produce department.  They were in a net like bag which had a cardboard label on the top.  It was decorated with dinosaurs and I guess it was a brand - like Dinosaur brand fruit.  I did not look at the price but imagine it cost more than Tony the Tiger's Frosted Flakes - still this is the kind of population level change that makes sense for obesity prevention.  We cannot make people eat fruit or anything for that matter, but we can make fruit as alluring as junk food AND as cheap.  We can level the playing field and then individual level programs might be more effective.

FDA Update - No word from Wal-Mart regarding my two concerns about their fish so I composed and sent an email to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Outreach and Information Center today.  You see - I have gumption.

HPV Vaccine Update - The other day I mentioned a recent MMWR that was released by the CDC.  I focused on the obesity rates between USA and Canada but in that same report there was information on vaccines and specifically the vaccine used to prevent some strains of the human papillomavirus.  I have written about this - mostly in 2006 or 07.  I am not fond of this vaccine - but it is more a bias then anything "medical."  It is expensive, takes 3 doses and does NOT prevent cervical cancer nor obviate condom use and pap smears.  According to the CDC report, only about 49% of the target population (girls who are not yet sexually active) have had the vaccination -  have had one dose of it- even less have had all three.  Poor Merck - that must hurt.

More on Social Constructs - In the last year I have heard a lot about things being socially constructed.  It is taking me some time to wrap my mind around this as it was not so popular of a concept the last time I was involved in academia.  As I am specifically teaching about gender identity to undergraduate students, I want to better grasp this.  I found a nice video recently and from there my mind went to this:  We, the people of a society, country, culture etc , define what masculine and feminine are.  We decide what a man must do, look like, sound and act like to be MANLY or masculine just as we define what is WOMANLY.  We define it - it is not something that our genes or biology tells us - it is what our parents, peers, leaders, movies, songs, books ETC tell us.  That means it is socially constructed.  A woman who does not wear high heels and makeup and who works in construction is not considered "feminine" but she is a woman - she may or may not identify as a female - and she is expressing herself as she wants - that is not WRONG - not ABNORMAL - it is just what it is.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The more prevalent the disease the cheaper the drug - and vice versa

When a company or a financial analyst reports that a drug will be a block buster - it means one of two or three things - there are a helluva lot of people who need it (like an obesity drug), it is better than another drug that many people need (like lower side effects or more effective), or it is the ONLY treatment for a fatal disease.
The last is the case for Pfizer and its new NSCLC drug.  I am referring to non small cell lung cancer.  According to my own post - which I had to reread because my brain is getting full and leaking info - non small cell lung cancer, of which there are four categories, accounts for 80% of lung cancer cases.  In actuality, not that many people get lung cancer each year - but 80% of those are NSCLC.  The other 20% is SCLC - almost always due to smoking.

The ACS estimates 220,000 new cases of lung cancer for 2011.  The type of cancer that Pfizer's drug treats (by shrinking tumors) is thought to be found in 1 to 7% of 80% of that number - get it?

According to an article in Bloomberg news, the drug, which is available immediately, could
"generate sales of $540 million by the end of 2015."
To me this is a heads up - a kind of treatment that only a millionaire can afford.

To give you some perspective, because 220,000 does sound like a lot - there were close to 2 million cases of diabetes diagnosed in 2010 alone according to the HHS' National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

Friday, August 26, 2011

Canada - Our skinny (?) neighbor

In the current issue of the CDC Weekly Mortality and Morbidity Report is this information about obesity rates in recent years.  Adults in the USA are much heavier than those in Canada.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

How gay and straight men and women view SEX

These generalizations are complements of the text book referenced below.  The author's present them in regards to research that I have not personally reviewed.  That being said, the information comes with a credible backdrop, makes sense intuitively and is quite interesting.  So as I will be teaching next week....-

Heterosexual men can separate sex from love relatively easily however, they report better sex with women to whom they do have an emotional attachment.
Gay men are also able to separate love from sex and in fact have the most casual sex of the four groups listed here (makes sense - they do not have to contend with those emotional women!)
Heterosexual women are not as inclined to separate love from sex and less likely to have casual sex.  However, I wonder if this is a societal construct more than a "woman" difference. Heterosexual women have their self esteem tied to their involvement in "committed" relationships.
Lesbian women have more of an emotional and physical intimacy with their partner.  They initiate sex later in the relationships (regardless of what the L Word shows!) and have sex less often.  They have more touching, caressing and similar intimacies.

In addition to these groups are celibate persons who choose not to "do it" at all and may be more productive individuals because of this abstinence and asexual persons who feel no attraction to either sex.  I wonder if celibacy can lead one to become asexual.  Asexuals do continue to have sex in spite of their lack of attraction (according to the text) where as the celibate have the attraction and not the sex!

Human Sexuality: Diversity in Contemporary America by William Yarber, Barbara Sayad, Bryan Strong - McGraw-Hill Higher Education (2009) 


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ethical Obligation??

When I read this story and the quote by Co CEO J Mackey  I was shocked.  I said out loud, "Are you kidding me?"  Whole Foods wants to open a Wellness Club to help people understand how to eat healthy.  
The CEO said that people are "woefully" ignorant and he felt an ethical obligation to help them.  This Whole Foods altruism comes with a not so ethical cost - 700+ dollars for a year.

Here is a link to the story that I read.  BTW, in case you couldn't catch my opinion - I think the idea is terrible.  It is not accessible to the people who most need it.  Besides,  - it is the job of the FDA/USDA to educate people and to do so for free.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Another Problem with Gastric Bypass

Readers of my blog know that I am passionately against  surgery or any extreme measures (even diets, pills, patches etc)that are intended to help people lose weight.  I believe that with access to healthy foods and an understanding of what is healthy and how calories impact weight, lifelong changes can be made (without sacrifice or discomfort).

I do not mean to imply that anyone needs to be as disciplined or stubborn as I am with my  eating, but that what and how much we eat IS the issue and temporary or extreme measures do not change this truth.

Some of you may  know that someone very close to me has had a Gastric Bypass so I get an inside scoop every now and again.  

I wish I had the time to follow my thoughts with a literature review (what are the experiences of other persons who have had this surgery, for example) but I do not.

Here is the "other" problem (besides it being an invasive process with a very high side effect profile) with the procedure.  It leaves one with a pocket rather than a 'stomach' for their food.  The person has to eat only ounces at a time HOWEVER, as you know from my volumetrics commentaries - there is not always a direct association between size or volume and energy (cals).  A person with an egg sized stomach can still consume far too many calories than is necessary for them.  
My friend is not on target with her weight loss and her weight loss moderator has suggested the culprit is - SUGAR.  My friend said she has trouble with greasy foods and thus avoids them, but she does not have problems with high fat foods necessarily - ie full fat cheese and meats.  

This surgery will not stop you from wanting foods that are calorically dense - instead learning to cook and eat differently can attend to this issue. 

I mean to say that a small, (or tiny) stomach does not lead directly to lower energy intake.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Odds and Ends

Bladder Cancer - A new study adds to the evidence that cigarette smoking is a cause of bladder cancer.  As I listened to a discussion about this study, which included one of the main researchers, I made two notes.  One is that the results showed that the difference in diagnosis of this cancer between people who never smoked and those who were current smokers was substantial.  Smokers were 4x more likely to get the disease.  The second thing that struck me was a statement that a listener made when she called in to the show.  She said that her husband had been diagnosed with bladder cancer and his doctor told him that it was 100% related to his smoking.  The wife said, "sure they knew about heart disease and lung problems, but bladder cancer"?  Which begs the question... "if you knew about the other fatal illnesses related to smoking - why were you still smoking?"  The answer would have to be - addiction.  There are exceptions, but the majority of people do not play Russian roulette.

Environmental Literacy
"Environmental literacy is essential for life in the 21st century.  No Child Left Inside will provide students with the knowledge and experience they need to grow up healthy in a sustainable world with strong respect, concern and understanding of the eco-system in which they live," said Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Water and Wildlife Subcommittee. "This bill represents a critical investment in the future of our nation and the children who will be responsible for answering the most critical questions of our time."

The words above are taken from an article that I read on the Senators own website which you can access here.

In re to the above -On NBC News this week, it was said that the environmental health literacy component of MDs curriculum was now official.  Students would have to pass a course on this or a subject test in order to graduate.  As I listened to that story (strong work by Sen. Cardin and his colleagues), I found the opposition's complaints ironic.  The argument against this curriculum requirement was concern that the students did not have time to learn about sustainability and environmental issues because children from China and India were scoring better on tests in math, science, what have you, then American students.  Two things - scoring higher on a test only means scoring higher on a test, it is not a measure of intelligence or productivity. Second - SERIOUSLY - China and India are the biggest users and polluters of the earths resources!

Butter - Remember that straw poll that they had at the Iowa State Fair?  Wagering bets on upstart politicians was not the only craziness that ensued.  It seems that these days the thing to do at a fair is to eat the most outlandish unhealthy item that a vendor has concocted.  I believe the winner this year is Fried Butter on a Stick.  I feel nauseous just reporting it.

Communication Flaws - Ah - this is a sentence from my text book and it is a good one.  It is regarding communication between couples and things we come to notice over time - you know, after the halo effect of a new relationship fades.... "then we become aware of our limitations in communication or more often, our perceptions of the limitations of others."  (Human Sexuality, Yarber, W. et al)

Carbon Monoxide?! - I have an issue with the fish I buy at Walmart.  I shop at Walmart because it has the lowest prices.  (I also shop at higher end grocers and health food stores, but only when I cannot find what I need at Walmart).  I have made my Walmart statements in the past, but I feel the need to reiterate.  The people that work there are EMPLOYED.  I know that they may not have the highest wages, but maybe the people who pay better would not higher these same people.  I also wonder if the employees are as unhappy as the antiwalmart folks claim that they are.  Seems like a good research study question to me.
That said - I am upset about the fish that I buy at the store.  I did not realize it was a Walmart product, but the Tilapia and Salmon have the exact same calories per gram - 100 calories per 113 g serving.  This is not possible because they do not have the same nutrient profile.  While looking at the label in order to find the contact information to alert them to this MISTAKE - I saw these words (on the tilapia) "carbon monoxide treated to retain coloring."  No kidding.  I am waiting to hear back from Walmart on both issues.  Next stop - FDA.  The FDA is in charge of safety and labeling.

Graphics - Big Tobacco is challenging one (at least) of the components of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.  They do not want the graphic labels, of which I have previously spoken, to be on the packs.  This was discussed on several programs this week - including World Have Your Say.  My feeling is that a person who is addicted to tobacco is going to "not see" those labels just like they do not "hear" the warnings.  People who do not smoke - our youth- may very well be discouraged by the labels.  Remember the cigarette company ads lead young persons to believe that they will be tough like cowboys, suave like well dressed black men, or thin like models - just by smoking.  The graphic labels will give the TRUE outcomes associated with smoking - lung disease, clotted arteries, wrinkly skin and emphysema.

(I did have seven points to make today - but now it seems too much - so I am skipping the last one)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Turn the Table

Tonight I link you to a great article published in the New York Times.  It speaks to my passion of making unhealthy food less affordable and health promoting foods more so.

I only regret that I did not see the story when it was printed nearly a month ago.  I  came across it by accident.  It was listed on a website where Dr. Kelly Brownell was discussing the soda tax on a radio show. I caught wind of that from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.. and so on.  Read the article here.

 I am not opining further.  I did save 7 notes during the week for tomorrow's O&Es so stay tuned for that.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Exercise - the comfort of a PLAN

It has not been that long since I posted my exercise plan with the hopes of swimming 2x a week through August, etc.

The past two weeks were challenging.  I was able to keep things as planned  when I had the day long classes the week before last.  I only had to shift times, not days or actions.

This week I had one all day event that interrupted my running time on Wednesday, but worse - or in addition, the fitness center was only open on Monday and Friday and the pool was closed all week. 

The fall schedule is now posted for the center and the pool and I know my class schedule (though not my "work hours").
First I will explain how I did my work-around this week and then I will share my plan for (oh my gosh)the whole fall.  YIKES.  Can I commit?
Sigh - well - it gives me leverage with my walking buddy.

Oh yes, let us start there.  The real deviance began last weekend. My pal called (before my alarm was due to go off - dang it) to say that she and her son's dog (pet sitting) had been attacked by yellow jackets.  Her hand was hurt and she worried over the dog so we postponed.  It began to rain and rained most of the day.  Instead of an hour long walk, I did an hour of step aerobics (in my living room to a DVD).
Sunday my friend's hand had swollen badly.  She went to Prime Care where she received a shot.  I took a run around my neighborhood because I figured the trail would be too muddy to navigate, but I still ran.

Monday the pool was closed so I cycled about 12 miles and then later did my weight training - in the PM - not AM.
My Tuesday went as planned. Wednesday I had to be somewhere early and did not run first.  I felt bad all day so I decided to run that night - it helped.  I ran Thursday too because the gym was closed.

Today I cycled another 12, and I had company :).  I went to do my weights at 1:30 and that is where I decided that I was going to blog about this tonight.  (oh and since I did not run today I will run tomorrow.  This weekend we will walk on Sunday instead - just so I can end the week as off schedule as I started!)

School is back in session and the younger students are back.  I have been lifting weights at 9:30 am all summer and even during school, I bet that time will be less crowded.  I was NOT intimidated by all the boys/men in the weight room today - as I was one year ago.  Still, it was crowded.

The advice I want to offer you - besides mapping out your weekly exercise routine- is to plan the weight training you will do before you walk in the door. It is far less daunting if you know exactly what machine and or free weights that you will use and in what order.  Just walk in with a mission, do your thing, and get out :)

So the schedule is up and I have just committed myself to continue swimming twice a week.  I made recurring appointments on my Google calendar for weight training Mon and Thurs at 9:30 and swim Monday at 12 and Thursday at 4 (after my class).  I was frustrated last fall/spring because the swim schedule is inconsistent - but with a plan in place, I think I can do this.

HA - this picture is at least 5 years old and at yet another gym!
I will try my running and walking on the other days as has been.  X fingers and welcome Fall Semester.  I am SO thrilled to be in this comfortable place with a general understanding of the expected course work.  It is so much better than a year ago!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

More to support the meat link

It has only been a few weeks since I highlighted the conclusion of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans regarding fat intake and diabetes.  You can refresh your memory in that regard by clicking here.

I was alerted to a study that offers the same conclusion about red meat and processed meats - such as sandwich slices, bacon, bologna etc.  It is discussed in the current Harvard School of Public Health Newsletter.  

Instead of reviewing it for you or with you, I am just going to link it.  It is about an hour past when I usually write my blog posts as I had to clean my house for a morning visitor.

Sorry - but I leave you with this trusted source for today's bit of education.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


At long last I was able to attend a CATCH training.  I have spoken of the program many times.  It is an evidence based multi component school based obesity prevention program.

The trainer who delivered the curriculum and came from Texas to teach the school how to implement it, left me flat and disappointed.  In fact, I did not even stay for the whole event.

I was disappointed by the presentation style, use of old information (my pyramid), the referencing of policy not related to this state, and the lack of connection to this school district.  These things greatly impacted the trainers ability to create or provide MOTIVATION and a great opportunity  was LOST - 

You can bet I tried though - interspersing when I could.  Truly - I would have done a better job at engaging the audience even with my outsider knowledge of CATCH.

Still there was some interest and sparks of life.  Some good connections between lessons and messages were made.  The activity breaks were pretty cool and provided examples that the teachers could replicate with their students. 

I was disheartened to hear talk about parents consistently using fast food restaurants, children not wanting to try new things and similar misconceptions or blaming.

It is true. People are responsible for their choices but those of us who are not living in poverty are responsible for understanding the context under which people make those choices.  MONEY, time, location, marketing and other pressures. 

Even more so now as today I heard on the news that 1 in 5 children or 15 million, are living in poverty.  Sorry to say - but healthy food is not cheap food and these are challenges that are faced by the parents of those 15 million children - not all of them are selfish and lazy - in fact, most of them are not.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

TV and Early Death?

A study linking TV time with years of life lost allows me an opportunity to distinguish between population level results and individual factors.

The study is out of Australia and I have NOT reviewed it. Listening to Brian Williams report that watching TV was as bad on our health and longevity as smoking and obesity, gave me pause.

It is not watching TV as much as what we might be doing while watching TV.  This could include spending too much time on our bottoms and/or eating junk food. However, if you are watching TV while walking on your treadmill (and not eating chips)- it would likely extend your life.

Just things to consider. 

Whereas, being obese and smoking have physical consequences in and of themselves,  watching TV is only (i expect) detrimental because of what we do or do not do because of it.

Monday, August 15, 2011


I forgot to tell you the best thing about the Farmer's Market we had a couple weeks ago.  I thought of it today because it had to do with muscles, mine specifically :)

When the event ended, several of us pitched in to take down tents and tables, put away supplies and pack up cars.  The church pastor had been selling bottled water and there was still an unopened case of water on his table.  This water was to go home with one of the ...hmmm - not middle aged, and I don't like old or older, so higher aged? -  higher aged women.  I told her not to try to lift it, but I wanted to see if I could.  It was not heavy really, so when I saw that I could lift it without hurting myself, I just began walking to her car.

She and some of the others were surprised.  First they said, "Oh No - you can't lift that, " and then saw that I very well could.  I said, I am strong because I lift weights :)  Then I put the water down and made a 'bicep'.  They exclaimed, "Oh, she has muscles!"

Indeed.  So today, my normal weight training day, when I felt overwhelmed with school requirements, I thought.. just for a second, "I could skip the workout."  But you know - I couldn't and we can't.  If you "don't do it" once it becomes acceptable and you will "not" do it again. How many of you took a day over a year ago - from something - and never went back?

As it is, I only work out with weights twice a week for 40 minutes each time- still double the lowest PAG recommendations but not that much.  I HAD 40 minutes to spare today and I lifted my weights.  I must - the higher aged women are counting on me :)

BTW- notice how I took the opportunity to point out that my strength is related to something I do - just as I remark that my size is related to how I eat and not my genes.

AND - I finished my syllabus today - for the class I will start teaching next week - it is SIX pages long :)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Odds and Ends

It would seem that most of the items on my list for this Sunday's O&E ended up being a blog post during my very hectic 'work' week.  I will give you what is left.

I Can't See Anything: Oh my.  I watched a lady trying to back out of a parking space earlier this week, as I was walking to my car.  She had began her endeavor by asking a couple loading/unloading (?)their groceries if she had room to back up.  She pulled back in and back out.  She ran into a white SUV with her white luxury car.  She hit it pretty hard and I sure saw it coming.  She then got out of her car and looked at the SUV bumper and turned to the people who had helped her the first time and said, "I can't see anything.  I don't think I did anything."  I continued walking to my car but I was thinking, "Oh my gosh.  No lady, you CAN"T see anything."  The way she said it was pretty funny too.  She acted like the SUV was at fault for being in the parking space behind her.

Employee Wellness and Benefits:
If you are already healthy a financial incentive from your employer (like lower premiums) can come later, but if you need to change a behavior - i.e. stop smoking, the incentive needs to be immediate, so says, behavioral economics.  You can read about it here

Produce Advice:  I was in the produce aisle at my local grocery store yesterday when a young woman who was shopping with a young man asked me how to tell if a pepper was "good".  I was delighted that the youngster (:)) felt comfortable asking and that she was buying veggies.  YEAH!

Family of Helmet Wearers and then ?  As I walked through my little arboretum park this afternoon, I was passed by what appeared to be a mom and dad with their two children.  All were riding bicycles and wearing helmets!  A few minutes later a young man rode by on his bicycle.  He was also helmeted but I am pretty sure the strap was not fastened.  So um, what's the point?

PA "activity":  One of the student teachers in my class this week gave us an activity.  We were putting together a goal plan for a person who was described to us.  For example, a 60 year old woman who wants to maintain her weight and improve her fitness.  The information we were given about the "client" did not contain a very, very important piece of information.  Can you guess what it is/was?  Okay - time is up... the missing information is - "what the person is currently doing!"

Sexual Abuse: I am quite miffed at myself. I wrote down sexual abuse but nothing else on my notepad.  I cannot for the life of me recall what I meant to say unless it related to a great presentation I saw this week.  If so, I do not have the information to share with you.  Dang.  I can tell you that it rephrased things like - instead of women blowing a whistle if they were being attacked, a man should blow the whistle if he is going to attack someone.  Shifting the responsibility for protection to the one perpetrating the offense.  It was awesome.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Genes and Aging

Last Friday, August 5, 2011, the radio show Science Friday, had as a guest, a researcher who studies genetics and aging.  In fact, he is currently engaged in a long term study regarding the characteristics, biological and otherwise, of persons who live past the age of 100 (more often women than men).

I was so happy when I heard the exchange below that I knew I would have to tell you about it.  Of course, I was falling asleep while listening to the show, so I had to find the transcript.  What you can't get from the text below is HOW Dr.Nir Barzilai Director, Institute for Aging Research 
Albert Einstein College of Medicine  Bronx, New York,   gave. his "Absolutely Not" answer.  It was very passionate and it thrilled me to pieces, as it would of course.

The full interview is only about 12 minutes and you can listen to it by going to this website and clicking the arrow on the top left of the page, under the word LISTEN.

The exchange below is from Ira Flatow the host, and Dr. Barzilai

FLATOW: No kidding. So can you then make the blanket statement that forget about all this exercise and good food?
MEDICINE: Absolutely not. You know, those people are rare. They are unique. They are one out of 10,000. And they can do it because they have the genes. Whatever we know is still right for the rest of us, the people who are not naturally going to be 100, if we want to live healthy longer, if we want to get over the age of 80, if we want to live eight years more than others, we do have to go and do all those lifestyle interventions.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Safe Place for Answers

My first step in preparing to teach Human Sexuality involves exploring the textbook and the online resources. 
One of the objectives for the class is for students to be able to openly discuss issues of sexuality.  Others include accepting diversity of sexual and gender expression and knowing where to find reliable answers to questions they may be afraid to ask.
Today I offer you a website that I consider "safe" and credible.  It is hosted by Columbia University.  Numerous topics are covered, some more sensitive than others, and some VERY personal.  You can search for answers, ask questions or browse by subject.

Best of all is the name of the website (below)-  I have tried to link directly to the page that discusses sexuality.  On the left (once you are on the page) is the list of subject areas and you can certainly switch to the one that most interests you.

Go Ask Alice!  

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Financial Health

This short post regards the financial health of the individual who is offered a deal to buy an expensive item on credit when they have NO Credit and the financial health of the country when banks and businesses do that.

I think that it is reckless and leads to economic problems for all of us.

I am inspired to make this declaration after days of hearing the same advertisement from Krazy Kevin Powell while I listen to the radio on line.

I wasn't able to find the ad in text - but to the best of my recollection it involves two or three people giving testimonials about how they had no credit, and were able to buy a motorcycle/or car.

One person specifically says that he had bad credit because "I did not pay my bills" but Krazy Kevin Powell... blah blah blah...

All I can say is "Are You KIDDING me?"

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Men of a Certain Age

I must take a few minutes to post something from this MMWR from the CDC.  It is a Weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report (published last month).  It is referencing visits to a hospital emergency department for a sports or recreation illness or injury.  It narrows that down to heat illnesses.
The study includes persons who visited 66 different hospitals over 8 years.  These people are said to 'represent' the country.  For that part of the study we have national averages.  Males are more likely to visit EDs and the age group that visits most are between 15-19.  You should look at the article which I linked in the opening sentence.

What drew my attention was the change of sport over time (over a persons life time) that led to their heat illness.  I only have time to talk about males right now - but in the two younger age groups, the number one sport/activity related to the hospital visits is football.  From the ages of less than 14 to 19 it is football, from 20-44 it is exercise (all types I suppose), and the number one reason for non fatal heat related illnesses at age 45 and older (males) is GOLF – ha ha , laughing my self silly.  
By the way, the report lists the top five reasons for hospital visits.  I was just giving you the number one. 
Interesting too that bicycling does not even make the top 5  list for men or women until after age 20 and it moves up to number three when men reach 45 or older.   Number three for women over age 45 is GOLF :)

I realize that this post was not well written - and I apologize.  This week of class work has been awesome - but incredibly time consuming!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Learning to Teach

There is a great deal to be said of the title of this post - but alas I cannot.

Today I began my four day crash course for planning my first college teaching experience.  I have to create the syllabus, content, testing, etc.

Tonight we were asked to read three chapters, an article and to write a two page paper.  At this point, my paper is two and a third pages long and I need to edit it.

I may not be able to blog this week - but I am always thinking of you!

I am teaching Human Sexuality this fall so prepare yourself for some interesting blogs :)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Odds and Ends

Gambling - I listened to a debate on a news show this week - probably NBC Nightly News or maybe it was Sixty Minutes last week.  Either way, a politician who had brought gambling to his city was defending his decision even in the face of the reporter/host accusing him of triggering gambling addictions in his citizens.  His defense was that the people who were losing all their money and compulsively gambling even when they had no money left, would have done so whether he legalized the activity or not.  At the same time, an addictions specialist was making the case that gambling could not be considered an addiction - that addictions were related to ingested things, like alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.  I do not know enough about either side to make an informed statement.  I do know that I wrote a note about this when I was listening and it says, "would do it anyway" to which I wrote, "would they?.. people might have a gene that predisposes them to smoking related lung cancer, but if they do not smoke they do not get it "anyway."

Birth Control and More (f/u) - I hardly want to write anything after listening to Stephen Colbert spoof this benefit for women.  He was so very funny.  I did mention a few weeks ago that the Affordable Care Act had provisions to make birth control free (no copay) and that it made sense to me because women were solely responsible for the cost.  (I still advocate condoms!)  The bill also allows for HPV and other sexually transmitted disease testing as well as counseling for domestic violence victims.  I think that it is a very good thing.  Though I am not convinced of the safety or efficacy of the HPV vaccine- Gardasil, I wonder why it is not included as a freebie  - because it is super expensive and should be, but then the drug company would lose its investment dollars.
and I must say, this spoof that Colbert did  had me laughing out loud -

Genetically Obese - Someone who attended a meeting with me this week wanted to separate herself and those like her in the following manner.  The genetically obese and the behaviorally obese.  To me, that is saying "because I have a predisposition for gaining weight, I should not have to take responsibility for eating more calories than I need."  Remember, having an obesity "gene" means that one needs to be particularly careful of over consumption. There are very few cases in which a person is obese without regard for caloric intake - though this rare condition does exist.

Ice Cream is Affordable - I mentioned that there was ice cream at our little farmer's market. Overall - the people who attended were fantastic and only this one example of what everyone talks about occurred.  Two women came up - looking rather disheveled actually - I think one said, "that's too expensive" regarding some produce and the other said, "I'm not buying anything."  The produce that they were referring to was $1.25 a pound.  I immediately felt regret at hearing these words.  I am very aware of the high cost of healthy food and hope to advocate for policy that can reduce those prices - perhaps by suspending the general sales tax.  Anyway - when I turned around and saw the women buying the $1.50 ice cream cups I was truly frustrated.

Merck - In regards to the commercial they keep playing where people say that they are not statistics, or target markets or patients, etc -  are you freaking kidding me - Merck (and co) are the KINGS of direct to consumer marketing of expensive and often unnecessary medication - give me a break - partnership?  Big Pharma makes me nauseous and no, thanks I do not Need a Pill for THAT.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


As I was getting ready to meet my friend for our Saturday walk, I listened to a radio show and the topic at the time was the growing rate of obesity in France.  
Though their adult rate of obesity is far lower than the USA, Australia and Mexico, it is almost double what it was ten years ago.  Today it stands at 14%.
France blames its rise of obesity on immigration and the influence of American TV and culture.  I did catch these few things and cannot deny them.

Americans -
always have something in their hands
open the fridge as soon as they walk into their homes
do not have as many home cooked meals or fresh ingredients in their meals, and
are less likely to teach children the value of sit down meals

I would think that if they eat less processed foods there is a good chance that their meals are also less calorically dense.

I do understand their fear of having the same obesity rates and adverse health outcomes as Americans.  They have several strategies ready to implement and we might want to take notice!

I think you may enjoy listening to the story as I did not have the opportunity to hear it all myself.  Just click here and you should be directed to the audio link.  

If you are interested in exploring the obesity (BMI greater than 30)  in other countries, this table at the World Health Organization's website will help you.  It is many pages long, so you would have to click next page at the bottom of the table to see more countries.  Of course, there could be some measurement errors and certain countries may or may not have made the information available.

Friday, August 5, 2011


For the second time in a month, my low tire pressure light came on.  I went to GoodYear and had air put in the tires.  Tomorrow I will get them rotated - because it has been a year (I hardly drive at all these days:)

I asked the mechanic/technician if he'd noticed anything wrong with my tires - since this had happened not long ago.  It also happened in the past winter.  He said that there did not seem to be a problem.  He had not seen any evidence of a puncture etc.  He told me that this often happens when the temperature changes or weather changes.

Indeed - we had a break from the east coast heat wave today and mostly is was just a big cloudy, heavy, damp, oppressive day - with a ten degree change in temperature.  There was no sun at all.

On days like today - where ever I live - I often feel out of sorts, and "heavy, damp and oppressed!"  I also blame those moody days on the weather.  Today when the technician noted that the air pressure in the tires can change with the weather, I thought of the delicate balance of our body.  The minerals, electrolytes and many metabolic and neurological interactions that occur are sensitive to the environment (internal and external).  

Just as some tire sensors react to subtle shifts more readily than others, so do some people.  I am one of the atmospherically sensitive people.  In other words - I NEED sun :)  Or need less drastic shifts - full on 99 degree sun to 85 degrees no sun at all - too much difference.  Like the floor dropping out on the elevator!

Thursday, August 4, 2011


WWEIA is What We Eat in America and it is the dietary interview part of the NHANES data.  NHANES
 is the national survey that takes place continuously over two year intervals.  It stands for National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and it provides us with a great deal of information about many subjects.  NHANES data is often used in reports on the changing rates of overweight and obesity and other disease conditions.  It includes a food recall component, a household survey and a medical exam (with laboratory analysis).  Not everyone participates in each component.  Information about health, medicines, supplements, foods and a number of other things, is collected and has been since the 1970s.

 I will be learning a lot about all of this for my dissertation, but I noticed something that I wanted to share.  Unfortunately, I haven't yet figured out exactly when the DHHS/CDC started collecting this additional information- but it was recently.  I do understand why they are collecting it and the fact that they are puts more support behind the associations.

The newer information regards Vitamin D use, breast feeding and FISH consumption (but I think the fish stuff may be older - maybe 1996).  That is the one that caught my attention.  The interviewers ask about certain fish - like salmon, pike, swordfish and shellfish, and so on... I can think of some neat research questions for that data.. 
I hope the lab work is collecting blood (well it is - I know) so we can probably look at mercury levels later.  We can also look at PUFA and Omega 3s and heart disease.... In fact, after writing this I found an article about mercury levels based on some of the NHANES data and data from another study - but did not have time to review it.

So much to do!  I love research :)
Read more about the WWEIA

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Produce in the Desert

Today was an awesome day.  The work of community partners and community members culminated in a test drive of what we hope will be a regular mobile farmer's market in an area that is deemed a food desert. It is explained well in a news article that was published in the local paper (which I have spent the last hour trying to access on line and cannot).  The persons named in the article have worked for almost a year to make this happen.  I am collaborating with them, but contributed very little esp. as the community meetings often take place while I am in class.  
We are seeking grant funding to create a food hub which will include healthy stores and cooking collaborations - yes, I am targeted to lead the recipe sharing, revising piece and thrilled to do it!

The people who attended today were wonderful.  Warm, excited, friendly, hopeful - young and old, men and women, able and disabled.  One of the vendors was especially kind and attentive to the older women - helping them put bags into their walking carts and such.  There were sisters, mothers and daughters and grandmothers too. Men came alone and with their girlfriends or wives.  The pastor of the local church was on hand for some time and even though it was close to 100 degrees, we had a breeze on the hill.  The three local vendors who came said that they were glad that they had and would do it again. 

What a wonderful thing this is :)
Okay - so the really friendly lady also sold homemade ice cream - but it was in small cups:)

Farmer's Market in Warnersville Commuity - Greensboro NC 8-3-2011

The CDC defines a food desert as follows: Food deserts are areas that lack access to affordable fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk, and other foods that make up the full range of a healthy diet.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The column on the right - Potassium

Going to let someone else do the work today.  As you may recall from my many posts about the new Guidelines - we should limit sodium and increase potassium in our diets.
Potassium is linked to lower blood pressure.
The Harvard School of Public Health has a great article about these two minerals and where to find foods that are high in potassium but also lower in things that one might wish to avoid - like calories, etc.

Take a look here - it is really a good article.

Monday, August 1, 2011


The take home message is COCOA.

When I was giving the overview of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans , I mentioned that they had given a statement on chocolate.  The upshot being that it was a source of flavanoids but a highly caloric source.  Since it was not the ONLY source, and most persons do not have room for the extra calories, it was not recommended as a regular dietary component.

I looked at the statement again today because someone had talked to me about eating a piece of a chocolate bar from time to time to feed her craving.  She had(has) the bar in her desk drawer.  There is nothing wrong with that - as long as we keep an eye on what we need in regards to caloric intake and do not regularly - and I really mean - hardly ever - go over that amount, it doesn't matter if we get some sugar and empty cals.  Her qualifier however, was that she enjoyed that chocolate bar BECAUSE of the health promoting properties, antioxidants is what she said.  Flavanoids have antioxidant properties (like fruits and vegetables also have antioxidant properties).  Ah, antioxidants are chemicals that can clean up free radical damage - i.e bad stuff.

It was the flavanoid part of her disclosure that got my attention and drew me back to the DGAs.  She also sent me the nutrient facts panel for her bar and I can tell you that the DGAs are correct - chocolate is incredibly calorie dense - her bar has 5 cals per gram.  It also has a good deal of saturated fat and the first ingredient on the label - thus indicating its predominance- is sugar.

Fruits and vegetables have less than 1 calorie per gram and grains have around 3 calories per gram - give or take of course.  

My Hershey cocoa powder has no other ingredients and has 2 cals per gram and no saturated fat.  I can use a lot of it to get the same 50 calories in my friends part of a chocolate bar and then I add a splenda substitute to sweeten it.

Are you craving chocolate now?  I have two great recipes on You Tube - chocolate cookies and chocolate cake.