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Health News and Reviews

The Health News and Reviews section addresses current health- and lifestyle issues as they are discussed in the press and respective publications. You may search by topic, by key word(s) or by date. At the end of each article, you are invited to leave your own insights, comments or questions.

Not Exactly What the First Lady Had in Mind
Food manufacturers and grocers have announced yet another initiative to improve displays of nutritional information on food packages. Data about calorie-, fat-, sodium- and sugar content will no longer be buried in the fine print of the traditional Nutrition Facts labels on the back of bags, cans and boxes but will be moved to a more prominent place on the front. While manufacturers like to say they are acting in support for Mrs. Obama’s national campaign for healthier eating, the White House has so far been hesitant to applaud their efforts.
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Not Your Mother’s Diet Program
This year, Americans will spend more than $60 billion dollars on weight loss programs and products. Millions will flock to counseling centers or seek advice over the phone and the Internet to shed the extra pounds they added on during the holiday season. Millions will order from diet menus to be delivered conveniently to their homes and work places. Diet companies are more than ready to match the demand. The three industry leaders, Weight WatchersNutrisystem and Jenny Craig, have undergone a number of makeovers themselves in time for their high season.
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A Holiday Season Worth Celebrating
Now that the holiday preparations are finally coming to an end and all the shopping, decorating, gift-wrapping and a thousand other items on the to-do list are taken care of, it may be time for a real holiday – as in vacation. If you feel that way, you are not alone. I’m all for holiday traditions. As a mother and now a grandmother, I have received great pleasure over many years from seeing big smiles on little faces when Santa Claus did his job well. Yet, I can’t help but wondering whether we have lost sight of what the holidays are supposed to be all about and why we celebrate them in the ways we do.
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F.D.A. Considers Obesity Surgery for Less Obese Patients
The pharmaceutical company, Allergan, has asked the Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) to modify its existing policy on surgical procedures for the purpose of weight loss. For now, the F.D.A. considers operations of this kind to be appropriate only for patients with a body mass index (B.M.I.) of 40 and above, or 35 and above in cases where so-called “comorbidities” exist, meaning other serious health issues often connected with obesity, like diabetes and hypertension, among others.
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Upbringing, Education and Health
Comparing ourselves favorably to the rest of the world has become harder these days. According to an international test program conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a Paris-based research group, called the “Program for International Student Assessment” (PISA), the by far highest scores in math, science and reading were all earned by students from China, and in particular by students from the city of Shanghai. Statistics like these will eventually have enormous implications on every level of our lives.
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“Bigger,” Yes, But Certainly Not “Better.”
Now in its third year, the so-called food reality show, “Man vs. Food,”has gained enormous popularity. There are numerous fan clubs on the Internet where followers can share their enthusiasm and exchange tips about the best eateries and the largest servings anywhere in the country. This is not especially good news in the face of our national obesity crisis.
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‘Tis the Season for Weight Gain – And What (Not) to Do When Celebrating the Holidays
T
he holidays are a time for celebration, which means for many of us engaging in some form of overindulgence. With all the good cheer comes the almost inevitable straying from healthy eating habits (if you have them), or things go from bad to worse (if you don’t). Many holiday traditions contribute to the expansion of your waistline, which can be considerable by the time you get to make your New Year’s resolution.
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Dealing With Diabetes and Other Lifestyle-Related Diseases
An article in the New York Times about the cost of treating diabetes was based on the real-life story of Karen Christian, a 74-year old former Red Cross worker who was forced to sell her home in Monterey Bay, California, to pay for her out of pocket medical expenses. Karen lives now with her daughter in a small town near Tucson, Arizona. The move was necessary not only because she ran out of funds, but also because she qualified for Medicaid in Arizona, which she did not in California. Karen’s case is by no means unique.
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Intuitive Versus Conscious Eating
Based on the dire track records of traditional weight loss programs, a number of radically different approaches have been suggested, including the one by two dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, in their book, titled “Intuitive Eating: A revolutionary Program That Works.” According to the authors, “intuitive eating” for weight loss, as opposed to traditional dieting, offers a departure from obsessive calorie counting, permanent denial of dear pleasures and unrealistic body ideals.
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Fighting Obesity – Let’s Take a Nuanced Approach
The health department of New York City has recently launched a media campaign against obesity. Part of this effort is a video posted on YouTube, titled “Pouring on the Pounds,” which has been described by its creators as intentionally “viral.” New York’s health commissioner, Dr. Thomas A. Farley, reportedly favored a strong statement over several watered-down versions. He may have a point.
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