Sunday, November 27, 2011

Odds and Ends

HPV Vaccines: The UK has opted to cover Gardasil only, not Cervarix which also protects against HPV and vaginal warts.  To the best of my understanding, certain strains of HPV produce greater risks for both cervical and oral cancers.  They are not necessarily the same strains. I recall reading that Cervarix had studies supporting its efficacy in preventing oral cancer.  I remember because at the time I couldn't understand why that would matter.  A few years later, oral cancer cases associated with HPV have greatly increased  and the company that makes Cervarix is not pursuing those earlier findings.  Isn't that odd?
BPA - We are used to hearing that BPA is present in some plastics and it is harmful.  This knowledge encourages many of us to reduce the use of plastic and to buy reusable plastic bottles that are BPA free.  It should also motivate us to avoid microwaving in plastic containers or to use plastic food wraps that are specifically noted as being "microwaveable." I actually thought BPA was banned but not quite.  This week news came out that BPA was also found in the blood of animals or people (I forget) who had been eating canned foods. Not to worry said the news report, BPA has only been found to be harmful in animals and babies.  WELL!  If it is bad for animals and babies, why in the world would I think it wasn't bad for me too!  In fact, Canada and the state of CT have banned the use of the chemical - full name is bisphenol A.  The federal government has yet to take action - its under consideration.  I assume that means  the chemical industry is doing some hard lobbying to retain the right produce/use it. 
Restaurants - Last week USA Today published an article that discussed some of the ways restaurants were changing their offerings to meet the finicky eating habits of Americans.  I was hopeful that by finicky they meant healthy - like me!  Not so.  Interesting findings include, more snacks.  One of them being Chicken McBites.  Note to everyone: When something is deep fried (or fried or baked) in smaller pieces, that means more oil and more breading per bite.  In essence, more fat and calories.  People also like to eat breakfast foods at all hours, but I hardly find that news. However, some people like to have yogurt as a snack before they sit down for breakfast.  More disturbing trends - Maple Bacon Sundaes and Red Velvet Pancake Puppies with cream cheese icing, white choc chips and powdered sugar.  There is more, but as a student of obesity prevention, I can't write more without crying.  (after I wrote this, I heard a commercial from Subway - if you buy a 6 inch sandwich before 9 am, you get a second one free!  Guess if people can eat breakfast for dinner.....)
Employee Wellness- Of course, after reading about 95% of McDonald's stores staying open 24 hours a day, this next blurb makes sense.  Employers are using money to get people to change their behavior - more is planned in 2012 then ever before according to a survey of 335 employers.  In fact, this strategy is termed, and I did NOT make this up, "behavior influencing incentives."  Nice (sarcastic comment).  The survey comes from the National Business Group on Health.  The article I read indicates that there will be a "dramatic increase in health care costs because of obesity."  This article also stated that overweight employees cost an employer (productivity, absenteeism and health care costs) about 5000 dollars more each year than a normal weight employee.  In 2012, 80% of those surveyed will be offering monetary incentives.  Some include reduced gym memberships and waived co pays.  In one part of the article, it was noted that obesity is linked to depression. This is true.  In another section, one employer group that was interviewed connected frequency of gym attendance with lower medical costs.  In fact, they had numbers to back them up. In other words, the more the person attended the gym,the more the company saved.  I would like to explore that data because I think that the persons going to the gym the most would have less depression, overall better mood and motivation to adopt healthy eating behavior as well.
Strahan Hero- Just in case you missed it yesterday.  Former NY Giant Michael Strahan is promoting COPD screening in a current public service announcement.  This makes me happy.

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