Category Archives: Diet & Nutrition

Cholesterol guidelines could mean statins for half of 40s

Three red-and-white capsulesBy Richard Knox
MARCH 20TH, 2014

This story was produced in collaboration with 

When sweeping new advice on preventing heart attacks and strokes came out last November, it wasn’t clear how many more Americans should be taking daily statin pills to lower their risk.

new analysis provides an answer: a whole lot. Nearly 13 million more, to be precise.  Continue reading

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FDA explains proposed changes to food labels

Nutrition Facts Label: Proposed Changes Aim to Better Inform Food Choices
An FDA Consumer Update
Feb 27, 2014

new food label

The proposed Nutrition Facts label (above) will emphasize the number of calories and servings per container; update % Daily Values for nutrients such as fiber and calcium; update serving sizes; list the amount of added sugars; require listing of potassium and vitamin D if present, and no longer require the labeling of Vitamins A and C.

A lot has changed in the American diet since the Nutrition Facts label was introduced in 1993 to provide important nutritional information on food packages.

People are eating larger serving sizes. Rates of obesity, heart disease and stroke remain high.

More is known about the relationship between nutrients and the risk of chronic diseases.

So the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposes bringing this familiar rectangular box—which has become one of the most recognized graphics in the world—up to date with changes to its design and content.

“Obesity, heart disease and other chronic diseases are leading public health problems,” says Michael Landa, director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

“The proposed new label is intended to bring attention to calories and serving sizes, which are important in addressing these problems. Further, we are now proposing to require the listing of added sugars. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends reducing calories from added sugars and solid fats,” Landa said.

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Women’s Health — Week 26: Heart Disease

tacuin womenFrom the Office of Research on Women’s Health

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among American women. The good news is that you can greatly reduce your chances of developing heart disease.

Making healthy changes in daily habits, learning about your personal risk factors, and taking needed medication as prescribed are all important keys to heart health.  Continue reading

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Youth obesity rate drops in King County school districts participating in local public health initiative

Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 11.23.21February 20, 2014

New findings published today by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that youth obesity dropped significantly in low-income school districts that were part of a King County-focused obesity prevention initiative.

The CDC report shows a 17 percent decline in youth obesity in King County (from 9.5 percent to 7.9 percent) after Public Health – Seattle & King County partnered with schools and community organizations to implement a two-year Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) obesity prevention initiative ending in 2012.  Continue reading

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Health news headlines – February 8th

Typewriter-Spelling-NEWS

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Women’s Health — Week 22: Eating Disorders — Anorexia and Bulimia

tacuin womenFrom the Office of Research on Women’s Health

Eating disorders are marked by extremes. An eating disorder can be an extreme reduction of food intake or extreme overeating, or feelings of extreme distress or concern about body weight or shape.

A person with an eating disorder may have started out just eating smaller or larger amounts of food than usual, but at some point, the urge to eat less or more spirals out of control.

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Women’s Health — Week 20: Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) develops when a muscle at the end of the esophagus does not close properly. In adults, this causes frequent heartburn, also called acid indigestion. When the esophagus is not fully closed, acidic digestive juices can rise up from the stomach. Refluxed stomach acid in the esophagus causes a burning-type pain in the throat, chest, behind the breast bone, and/or in the mid-abdomen.tacuin women

Occasional heartburn or reflux is common and does not necessarily mean you have GERD. Persistent reflux that occurs more than twice a week is considered GERD, and it can eventually lead to more serious health problems. People of all ages can have GERD. Some adults and most children under 12 years of age have GERD without heartburn. Instead, they may have a dry cough, asthma symptoms, or trouble swallowing. Why some people develop GERD is still unclear. Factors that may contribute to GERD include obesity, pregnancy, and smoking. Continue reading

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Cafeteria ‘traffic light’ promotes healthier eating – study

Stop light meal

A workplace cafeteria used “traffic light” labeling to indicate the healthiness of food and drinks and rearranged items so that healthier, green-labeled items were more visible. According to a study of 2,285 Massachusetts General Hospital employees who regularly used the cafeteria sales of healthy items jumped, and after two years, employees continued to make healthier choices. – Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reports. To learn more go here.

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Women’s Health – Week 19: Digestive System Overview

Digestive System_v02_ORWH_62309From the Office of Research on Women’s Health

Everyone has digestive problems from time to time: an upset stomach,  gas,  heartburn,  constipation,  or diarrhea. Many digestive problems can be controlled with simple changes in diet. Digestive disorders commonly affect women. The digestive system is made up of the digestive tract – a series of hollow organs joined in a long, twisting tube from the mouth to the anus – and other organs that help the body break down and absorb food.

Organs that make up the digestive tract are the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine (also called the colon), rectum, and anus. Inside these hollow organs is a lining called the mucosa. In the mouth, stomach, and small intestine, the mucosa contains tiny glands that produce juices to help digest food.

The digestive tract also contains a layer of smooth muscle that helps break down food and move it along the tract. Two digestive organs, the liver and the pancreas, produce digestive juices that reach the intestine through small tubes called ducts. The gallbladder stores the liver’s digestive juices until they are needed in the intestine. Parts of the nervous and circulatory systems also play major roles in the digestive system by preparing the stomach for digestion and absorption of food.

Tips for your health
Take the following steps to help keep your digestive system healthy: 

  • Do not smoke.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Learn how to reduce your level of stress.

For more information: www.niddk.nih.gov

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Can a dietary supplement treat a concussion? No

Illustration of the skull and brainA Consumer Update from the US Food and Drug Administration

Exploiting the public’s rising concern about concussions, some companies are offering untested, unproven and possibly dangerous products that claim to prevent, treat or cure concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is monitoring the marketplace and taking enforcement actions where appropriate, issuing warning letters to firms—the usual first step for dealing with claims that products labeled as dietary supplements are intended for use in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease.

The agency is also warning consumers to avoid purported dietary supplements marketed with claims to prevent, treat, or cure concussions and other TBIs because the claims are not backed with scientific evidence that the products are safe or effective for such purposes.

These products are sold on the Internet and at various retail outlets, and marketed to consumers using social media, including Facebook and Twitter.

One common claim: Using a particular dietary supplement promotes faster healing times after a concussion or other TBI.

Even if a particular supplement contains no harmful ingredients, that claim alone can be dangerous, says Gary Coody, FDA’s National Health Fraud Coordinator.

“We’re very concerned that false assurances of faster recovery will convince athletes of all ages, coaches and even parents that someone suffering from a concussion is ready to resume activities before they are really ready,” says Coody. “Also, watch for claims that these products can prevent or lessen the severity of concussions or TBIs.”

A concussion is a brain injury caused by a blow to the head, or by a violent shaking of the head and upper body. Concussions and other TBIs are serious medical conditions that require proper diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring by a health care professional.

The long-term impact of concussions on professional athletes and children who play contact sports has recently been the subject of highly publicized discussions.

A growing body of scientific evidence indicates that if concussion victims resume strenuous activities—such as football, soccer or hockey—too soon, they risk a greater chance of having a subsequent concussion.

Moreover, repeat concussions can have a cumulative effect on the brain, with devastating consequences that can include brain swelling, permanent brain damage, long-term disability and death.

“As amazing as the marketing claims here are, the science doesn’t support the use of any dietary supplements for the prevention of concussions or the reduction of post-concussion symptoms that would enable one to return to playing a sport faster,” says Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., director of FDA’s Division of Dietary Supplement Programs.

The Claims

One of the first alarms raised about dietary supplements being promoted to treat TBI came from the U.S. Department of Defense.

“We first learned from the military about a product being marketed to treat TBI, obviously a concern with wounded veterans. We were taken aback that anyone would make a claim that a supplement could treat TBI, a hot-button issue,” says Jason Humbert, a senior regulatory manager with FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs. “That sparked our surveillance.”

FDA routinely monitors the marketplace. However, with more than 85,000 dietary supplements on the market and no product registration, products making false claims can slip through, at least for a time.

Typically, products promising relief from TBIs tout the benefits of ingredients such as turmeric and high levels of omega-3 fatty acids derived from fish oil. Turmeric is an Indian spice in the ginger family.

For Omega-3, FDA has recommended a maximum daily level of 3 grams per day from all sources due to possible problems with increased risk of bleeding, increases in cholesterol and problems with controlling blood sugar levels.

In its initial surveillance, FDA identified two companies selling multiple products claiming to prevent and treat concussions and other TBIs. One company claimed to have “the world’s first supplement formulated specifically to assist concussion recovery,” saying “it has the dynamic ability to minimize long-term effects and decrease recovery time.”

A National Football League player testified to its “proven results in my own recovery” from a concussion, and an unnamed “licensed trainer” said he had incorporated it into his “concussion management protocol.”

Similar claims were made by the other company, which was selling four products claiming to protect against and help heal TBIs. FDA sent letters in 2012 warning both companies that their products were not generally recognized as safe and effective for treating TBIs, that the products were misbranded (a legal term meaning, in this case, that the labeling of the products did not have adequate directions for use), and that unless various violations cited in the letters were promptly corrected, the violations could result in legal action taken without further notice, such as seizure or injunction.

Both companies changed their websites and labeling.

In December 2013, FDA issued a warning letter to Star Scientific, Inc., for marketing its product Anatabloc with claims to treat TBIs. FDA continues to monitor the marketplace for products with similar fraudulent claims, and will take appropriate regulatory action to protect the public health.

“As we continue to work on this problem, we can’t guarantee you won’t see a claim about TBIs. But we can promise you this: There is no dietary supplement that has been shown to prevent or treat them,” says Coody. “If someone tells you otherwise, walk away.”

This article appears on FDA’s Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.

Dec. 31, 2013

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Women’s Health – Week 18: Gestational Diabetes

From the Office of Research on Women’s Health

Gestational diabetes (pregnancy)

Gestational diabetes is diabetes that occurs when a woman is pregnant. Changing hormone levels and weight gain are all part of a healthy pregnancy.

But both these changes can make it hard for your body to keep up with its need for a hormone called insulin. Your body may not get the energy it needs from the food you eat and, later in your pregnancy, you could develop gestational diabetes.

Gestational diabetes often goes away after the baby is born but having gestational diabetes can place you and your child at increased risk for developing diabetes later in life.

Taking care of yourself will help keep you and your baby healthy throughout your lives. Important action steps include:

  • Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Being physically active for 30 minutes at least 5 days a week.
  • Following a healthy eating plan.

Your health care provider will decide when you need to be checked for diabetes depending on yourrisk factors. Risk factors include:

  • Age: 25 years of age or older.
  • Weight: Being overweight or obese.
  • Family history: Having a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes.
  • Baby’s birth weight: Delivering a baby weighing more than 9 pounds.
  • Health history: A previous diagnosis of gestational diabetes in an earlier pregnancy.
  • Blood glucose (blood sugar): Having pre-diabetes, a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal.
  • Race/ethnicity: Being of African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander descent.
Risks of gestational diabetes
Having gestational diabetes may increase your risk of high blood pressure or your baby may grow very large. Both can make delivery difficult and dangerous for you both. It can also cause other problems for your baby including: 

  • Low blood glucose right after birth.
  • Breathing problems.
NIH and You
The NIH Office of Research of Women’s Health has partnered with the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease’s National Diabetes Education Program on its Small Steps. Big Rewards – It’s Never Too Early…To Prevent Diabetes campaign to increase awareness about the future health risks for women with a history of gestational diabetes and their children. The campaign promotes screening for type 2 diabetes in women with a history of gestational diabetes, provides advice on future health risks, and promotes the importance of adopting and maintaining healthy behaviors.

for more information: www.niddk.nih.gov

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Keep germs off the guest list at holiday meals

Uncooked turkey in a pot

Keep all your guests healthy by following these food safety tips from the Snohomish Health District.

Proper planning.

Make sure your kitchen has everything you need for safe food handling, including two cutting boards (one for raw meats and seafood and the other for ready-to-eat foods), a food thermometer, shallow containers for cooling and storage, paper towels and soap.

Store foods in the refrigerator at 41°F or below or in the freezer at 0°F or below. Check the temperature of both the refrigerator and freezer with a refrigerator thermometer.

Safe shopping. 

At the grocery store, bag raw meat, poultry and seafood separate from ready-to-eat foods like fruit, vegetables and bread. Don’t buy bruised or damaged produce, or canned goods that are dented, leaking, bulging or rusted, as these may become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. Buy cold foods last and bring foods directly home from the store.

Always refrigerate perishable foods, such as raw meat or poultry, within two hours. Thaw frozen turkey in the refrigerator or under cold-running water. Never defrost the turkey at room temperature.

Working in the kitchen. 

Got extra helpers in the kitchen? Make sure everyone washes their hands thoroughly with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food, visiting the restroom, or changing a baby’s diapers. Keep all work surfaces sanitized, too. Spray or wipe on a solution of 1 tsp of unscented bleach per gallon of cold water.

When baking holiday treats, remember that no one should eat raw cookie dough or brownie batter containing raw eggs. Make eggnog with pasteurized eggs and pasteurized milk, or simply buy it ready-made with those ingredients.

Adding a nip of brandy or whiskey will not kill the germs. When making homemade eggnog, be sure to cook the mixture to 165°F, then refrigerate.

Cook. 

Food is safely cooked when it reaches a high enough internal temperature to kill the

harmful bacteria that cause illness. Cook your turkey to a minimum of 165°F as measured with a food thermometer, including the stuffing.

The healthiest method is to prepare and cook the stuffing separately – outside the bird. Test the bird’s temp in the thickest part of the thigh, the breast, and the inside. Don’t let the tip of the thermometer rest against bone.

Potluck contributions. 

Remember to keep hot foods hot (135°F or higher) and cold foods cold (41°F or below). To help keep foods hot wrap dishes in foil, cover them in heavy towels, or put them in insulated containers designed to keep food hot.

For cold foods, put them in a cooler with ice or freezer packs, or use an insulated container with a cold pack so they remain at 41°F or lower, especially if traveling for more than half an hour.

Buffet, anyone? 

If you set up food in a buffet line, take care to put spoons in each dish for self-service, and assist children in filling their plates. No fingers allowed!

Wrap it up! 

Throw away all perishable foods, such as meat, poultry, eggs and casseroles, left at room temperature longer than two hours. Refrigerate or freeze other leftovers in shallow, air-tight containers and label with the date it was prepared. Reheat leftovers to 165°F.

Divide large amounts of leftovers into shallow containers for quicker cooling in the refrigerator. Keeping a constant refrigerator temperature of 41°F or below is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of an at-home food-borne illness.

Eat cooked turkey and stuffing within 3-4 days and gravy in 1-2 days. Cooked turkey keeps up to 4 months in the freezer. Reheat leftovers to 165°F as measured with a food thermometer, and bring gravy and sauces to a boil before serving. Microwaved leftovers shouldn’t have cold spots (bacteria can survive). Cover food, stir and rotate for even cooking.

Following these food safety steps at your house will make the meal a happy memory for everyone. Happy, healthy holidays from the Snohomish Health District!

Additional resources:

Free kit

The Holiday Food Safety Success Kit at www.holidayfoodsafety.org provides food safety advice and meal planning in one convenient location.

The kit includes information on purchasing, thawing and cooking a turkey; a holiday planner with menus, timelines, and shopping lists; and dozens of delicious (and food-safe) recipes. ]

The kit also has arts and crafts activities and downloads for kids so they can join the holiday fun.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

1-888-SAFEFOOD: For questions about safe handling of the many foods that go into a delicious holiday meal, including eggs, dairy, fresh produce and seafood.

Escherichia Coli_NIAID E Coli BacteriaNothing can ruin a party quite like food poisoning. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 31 pathogens known to cause food-borne illness.

Every year there are an estimated 48 million cases of illness, 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths in the United States due to food-borne diseases.

Typical symptoms of food-borne illness are vomiting, diarrhea, and cramps which can start hours to days after contaminated food or drinks are consumed.

The symptoms usually are not long-lasting in healthy people—a few hours or a few days—and usually go away without medical treatment.

But food-borne illness can be severe and even life-threatening to anyone, especially those most at risk such as infants and young children, pregnant women, older adults, people with HIV/AIDS, cancer or any condition or medication that weakens the immune system.

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Women’s Health – Week 16: Diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2

From the Office of Research on Women’s Health

Glucometer showing a blood sugar of 105Diabetes is a disease in which your blood glucose, or sugar, levels are too high. Glucose comes from the foods you eat. Your blood always has some glucose in it because your body needs glucose for energy. Too much glucose, however, is not good for your health.

Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, helps the glucose from food get into your cells. If your body does not make enough insulin, or if the insulin does not work the way it should, glucose cannot get into your cells for energy. It stays in your blood instead. Your blood glucose levels then get too high, causing diabetes.

With type 1 diabetes, the pancreas no longer makes insulin. People with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin every day. Type 1 diabetes accounts for about 5 to 10 percent of diagnosed diabetes in the United States. Children and young adults most often develop type 1 diabetes, but it can appear at any age.

With type 2 diabetes, your body does not make or use insulin well. Without enough insulin, the glucose stays in your blood. People with type 2 diabetes often need to take pills or insulin. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and can occur at any age, even childhood.

Having a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes, or being overweight and inactive increases the chances of developing type 2 diabetes.

Pregnant women can also develop diabetes, called gestational diabetes (see Week 18 for more information). Gestational diabetes often goes away after the baby is born. But having gestational diabetes can place you and your child at increased risk for developing diabetes later in life.

Symptoms of diabetes may include fatigue, thirst, weight loss, blurred vision, and frequent urination. With type 2 diabetes, some people have no symptoms at all. A blood test can show if you have diabetes.

Over time, having too much glucose in your blood can cause serious problems. It can damage your eyes, kidneys, heart, gums, teeth, and nerves. It can lead to blindness, kidney failure, and the loss of a foot or a leg. The most serious problem caused by diabetes is heart disease. If you have diabetes you are more than twice as likely as people without diabetes to have a heart attack or a stroke.

The good news is that if you have diabetes, you can take steps to manage the disease. Learn how to manage the ABCs of diabetes. A is for the HbA1C test, which shows you what your blood glucose has been over the past 3 months. B is for blood pressure and C is for cholesterol.

You can lower your chances of developing serious health problems by keeping your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels in the target range your health care provider gives you. You can manage your diabetes by being active every day and keeping your weight in a healthy range. Follow your meal plan, take your medications, and check your blood glucose as directed by your health care provider.

For more information: www.yourdiabetesinfo.org

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