The Eyes Have It: The National Eye Institute has some helpful information on vision and eye related diseases. Most important is preventative care which includes a healthy diet (lots of fruits and vegetables), not smoking and having regular eye exams - with dilation. The president of the American Public Health Association dedicated a whole column to this issue in the most recent newsletter for that organization. It was enough to persuade me to arrange an exam for myself when I visit home next month - even though my student insurance does not cover it. Get more info at the NEI website by clicking here.
WLS - The Strange Choice: Recently I was speaking with a woman, a bicyclist, who shared that she had had the lap band procedure (a type of weight loss surgery - WLS) some time ago. She had done well with it when she paid attention, she said, but had "fallen off" it. In other words, she was still quite overweight. The lap band procedure is when a surgeon literally places a band around the stomach to artificially shrink it. One can eat as many calories as they want, but they cannot eat large volumes. (the band can be loosened) As you know, the term calorically dense means that a lot of calories are packed into a small amount of food. The exact opposite of how one should eat to maintain a nutritiously obtained healthy weight. I was talking about my interest in point of purchase calorie information when she told me her story. She absolutely supports labeling laws because when she was focused, she used labels to help her to monitor her intake and lost weight.
My walking buddy, the one who had gastric bypass surgery (the more invasive, irreversible WLS) also eats calorically dense foods. She still eats foods high in refined grains, sugar and saturated fat. The other night she had fried breaded, shredded onion rings and had the gastrointestinal complications to prove it. (she knows I talk about her - she is supposed to be working on a guest blog about her surgery, but she hasn't gotten to it yet). Anyway, I do not understand these choices! No procedure stops people from eating calorically dense nutrient poor foods - well - perhaps a lobotomy would.
BMY/Pfizer: A couple of weeks ago, I talked about the CDC recommending Hep C testing for all baby boomers. The rationale is that the generation may have been exposed to the acute virus from IV drug use or a blood transfusion and now keep a chronic infection which causes liver damage. In my understanding of the numbers, I did not expect there to be a lot of new cases. I may be wrong because Bristol Myers Squibb and Pfizer are working on a new drug application - i.e. they are investing $$$$. As you might recall from this post, the problem with Hep C treatment right now is that no drug has been found to rid a patient of all the virus. These drug makers intend to change that. They would have the only drug that clears the virus and in that case baby boomers or not, they'd likely have a block buster.
Colorectal (colon) Cancer and Aspirin: Maybe. If you heard about a new study suggesting that aspirin reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke, as well as colon cancer occurrence and death, you might be thinking of starting a daily aspirin regimen. The recommendation is NOT to do so. There are side effects to taking aspirin and the colon cancer association needs to be explored further. If you are already taking the pill because your doctor suggested it to reduce your personal heart attack and stroke risk - cool - it might also help you out with colorectal cancer. For most of us, it is better to think of non drug strategies. There are risk factors for which you have some control and I strongly suggest you consider them first. The things that increase ones risk (lifetime risk is 5% in general and higher when you have risk factors) are smoking, obesity, diets high in red and processed meats (lunch meat/hot dogs/bacon), smoking, lack of exercise, too much alcohol and not enough fruits/veggies/fiber.
Aisle by Aisle: I just came across videos and pocket cards that are posted on North Carolina's obesity prevention website. NC uses the slogan, Eat Smart Move More. Click here to access their website and to see videos that help you make the healthier choices at a grocery store. The next link is for the pocket guides - see and PRINT the cards there. I really think you should do that. They are pretty darn awesome. I love that these educational components are centered around the food label! Though I am generally opposed to the daily value percents that are on labels (because we all have different caloric needs on which a DV would be based), there is a beneficial way to use them, and the videos emphasize that. For example, the Dietary Guidelines suggest that we limit some items and increase others. You can use the DV% for that purpose. We are to limit saturated fat, added sugar and salt. IF a product provides 5% or less DV of salt/sodium then you can consider it LOW in salt. We also should increase potassium and whole grains. If the label says that the food provides 20% or higher of the DV for potassium, then the food is high in it and that is a good thing. Really - this is a super helpful website. The advice for sugar is to keep it a 5-6 grams per serving or per 100 calories.
Tobacco Deaths/Costs: The latest global atlas is available here. You can explore the website or download the atlas. It includes information on tobacco company behavior, on costs involved with treating cancers, and the impact of second hand smoke. It is projected that worldwide, when the 21st century ends we will have seen 1 billion tobacco related deaths.