Category Archives: Diet & Nutrition

Nudging students to make healthier choices

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applesBy Tara Bostock
Public Health – Seattle and King County

It turns out that encouraging students to make healthier choices in the lunchroom can be accomplished affordably and without a major overhaul of the cafeteria.

Research shows that small changes like making the salad bar the highlight of the lunchroom, displaying fruit in attractive baskets, or placing healthy foods by the cash register can influence what students select to eat.

In Washington State, the Kent School District is leading the way by changing their cafeterias to

How the Kent School District is bringing behavioral economics principles to their lunchrooms.

encourage students to pick healthier foods. With the help of funding from the Community Transformation Grant, the District partnered with the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs to run a pilot program reaching over 6,000 students in six secondary school cafeterias.

The goal: to increase the number of students choosing healthy foods like fruit, vegetables, white milk, or healthy entrées. And the District saw positive changes.

How does behavioral economics work in the lunchroom?

Continue reading

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Paying Medicaid enrollees to get check ups, quit smoking and low weight: Will It pay off?

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wellness-incentive-570By Phil Galewitz
KHN

When Bruce Hodgins went to the doctor for a checkup in Sioux City, Iowa, he was asked to complete a lengthy survey to gauge his health risks.

In return for filling it out, he saved a $10 monthly premium for his Medicaid coverage.

In Las Cruces, N.M., Isabel Juarez had her eyes tested, her teeth cleaned and recorded how many steps she walked with a pedometer.

In exchange, she received a $100 gift card from Medicaid to help her buy health care products including mouthwash, vitamins, soap and toothpaste.

Taking a cue from workplace wellness programs, Iowa and New Mexico are among more than a dozen states offering incentives to Medicaid beneficiaries to get them to make healthier decisions — and potentially save money for the state-federal health insurance program for the poor.

The stakes are huge because Medicaid enrollees are more likely to engage in unhealthy practices, such as smoking, and are less likely to get preventive care, studies show. Continue reading

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Smiley Faces May Help Kids Eat More Health Food Says Study : Tech Times

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Smiley_FaceA new study presented at the annual Pediatric Academic Societies conference in San Diego, California, suggests that placement of “Green Smiley Faced” emoticons at healthy foods and awarding small prizes to children purchasing nutritious foods could be an alternative way to avoid poor food selection in school canteens, an identified cause of childhood obesity.

Source: Smiley Faces May Help Kids Eat More Health Food Says Study : LIFE : Tech Times

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U.S.-African diet swap has dramatic impact on colon cancer risk | Reuters

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Illustration of the colon from Gray's AnatomyBlack Americans who switched to a high-fiber African diet for just two weeks saw a dramatic drop in risk factors for colon cancer, a study published on Tuesday found.

A group of Africans who went the other way and started eating American food rich in animal proteins and fats saw their risks rise over the same short period, according to the paper in the journal Nature Communications.

Source: U.S.-African diet swap has dramatic impact on colon cancer risk | Reuters

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The Salty Truth: Many Popular Foods With Unhealthy Amounts of Salt – ABC News

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pizzaYou may be consuming more salt than you need — and the salt shaker is probably not to blame.

When researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sought to shake out how much sodium — a major component of table salt — was in various food items nationwide, they found that the biggest high sodium offenders were pizzas, pastas and meats, nearly 75 percent of which exceeded national sodium thresholds. Additionally, more than half of cold cuts, soups and sandwiches contained more than a healthy amount of sodium.

via The Salty Truth: Many Popular Foods With Unhealthy Amounts of Salt – ABC News.

 

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Steer Clear of Raw Milk, Researchers Warn – WebMD

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Photo by Maciej Lewandowski

Photo by Maciej Lewandowski

Raw milk causes more than half of all milk-related foodborne illnesses in the United States, even though only about 3.5 percent of Americans drink raw milk, according to a new report.

The researchers warned that people are nearly 100 times more likely to get a foodborne illness from raw (unpasteurized) milk than from pasteurized milk.

via Steer Clear of Raw Milk, Researchers Warn – WebMD.

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Kids’ fast food consumption on the decline | Reuters

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Fast FoodBetween 2003 and 2010, the number of U.S. kids eating fast food on any given day went down, and the calories from some types of fast foods have declined as well, according to a new study.

According to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, in 2003, almost 39 percent of U.S. kids ate fast food on a given day, which dropped to less than 33 percent by the 2009-2010 survey.

via Kids’ fast food consumption on the decline | Reuters.

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FDA finds little evidence of antibiotics in milk – AP

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Photo by Maciej Lewandowski

In response to concerns, the agency in 2012 took samples of raw milk from the farms and tested them for 31 drugs, almost all of them antibiotics.

Results released by the agency Thursday show that less than 1 percent of the total samples showed illegal drug residue.

Photo by Maciej Lewandowski

via News from The Associated Press.

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Mediterranean Diet associated with lower heart disease risk

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Olives MediterraneanAdults who adhere to a Mediterranean style diet—one that stresses eating fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, fish, olive oil and moderate consumption of red wine—were 47% less likely to develop heart disease than peers, according to a Greek study.

The diet is more a suggested eating pattern than a strict prescription for food intake. It calls for avoiding sugar, refined carbohydrates, and red meat.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Sanja Gjenero

via More Good News on Mediterranean Diet.

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Both High and Low Intensity Exercise Benefit Weight, Waist –Doctors Lounge

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Running shoes full shotFor people who are obese and sedentary, any exercise can help trim abdominal fat, but it may take a bit more effort to get other health benefits, a new study suggests. The findings were published in the March 3 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

via Both High and Low Intensity Exercise Benefit Weight, Waist –Doctors Lounge.

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Coffee may not be bad for you but jury’s still out about whether it’s good for you – The Washington Post

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Photo by Jean Scheijen

The reality is that there’s a growing body of research that supports the idea that coffee, in reasonable amounts, may not be as bad for you as people once thought. Brewed coffee, for instance, has been found to contain a tremendous amount of good-for-you antioxidants. In fact, the nation’s top nutrition panel earlier this year weighed in on coffee for the first time in its history, saying that “strong evidence” shows it is “not associated with increased long-term health risks among healthy individuals.”

The key words here are “healthy individuals.” Due to its high caffeine content, brewed coffee may always be a source of insomnia, irritability, acid reflux and other negative side effects for others, especially those with underlying conditions, such as anxiety disorder or heart disease. More importantly, there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done to make the leap between coffee not being bad for you and coffee being the cause of better health. [Photo by Jean Scheijen]

via Coffee may not be bad for you but jury’s still out about whether it’s good for you – The Washington Post.

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Should America go vegan to ward off obesity and save the environment? Medical News Today

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Brocolli ThumbThe researchers placed employees of the auto-insurance firm GEICO who had type 2 diabetes and a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or above on a low-fat, low-glycemic, high-fiber vegan diet.

The employee cafeteria menu featured vegetable hummus sandwiches, seasonal leafy green salads, black bean chili and various fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins and minerals during the study period.

The authors report that study participants lost an average of 10 lb and experienced a 13-point drop in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, as well as improved blood sugar control.

via Should America go vegan to ward off obesity and save the environment? Medical News Today.

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Few seniors benefiting from Medicare obesity counseling

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ScaleBy Sarah Varney
KHN

VISALIA, Calif. — In the farming town of Exeter, deep in California’s Central Valley, Anne Roberson walks a quarter mile down the road each day to her mailbox. Her walk and housekeeping chores are the 68-year-old’s only exercise, and her weight has remained stubbornly over 200 pounds for some time now.

“You get to a certain point in your life and you say, ‘What’s the use?’”

For older adults, being mildly overweight causes little harm, physicians say. But too much weight is especially hazardous for an aging body: Obesity increases inflammation, exacerbates bone and muscle loss and significantly raises the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Dr. Mylene Middleton Rucker, a primary care physician in Visalia, Calif., is using the new obesity counseling benefit with her patients, but many doctors aren’t aware of it yet. (Sarah Varney/KHN)

Dr. Mylene Middleton Rucker, a primary care physician in Visalia, Calif., is using the new obesity counseling benefit with her patients, but many doctors aren’t aware of it yet. (Sarah Varney/KHN)

To help the 13 million obese seniors in the U.S., the Affordable Care Act included a new Medicare benefit offering face-to-face weight-loss counseling in primary care doctors’ offices.

Doctors are paid to provide the service, which is free to obese patients , with no co-pay. But only 50,000 seniors participated in 2013, the latest year for which data is available.

“We think it’s the perfect storm of several factors,” says Dr. Scott Kahan, an obesity medicine specialist at George Washington University.

Kahan says obese patients and doctors aren’t aware of the benefit, and doctors who want to intervene are often reluctant to do so. It’s a touchy subject to bring up, and some hold outmoded beliefs about weight problems and the elderly. Continue reading

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