Category Archives: Diet & Nutrition

Women’s Health – Week 34: Obesity

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From the Office of Research on Women’s Health

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Obesity is about more than just your looks. Today, two out of three adults in the United States are considered overweight or obese.

Obesity puts people at increased risk for chronic diseases, such as heart disease,  type 2 diabetes,  high blood pressure,  stroke,  and some forms of cancer. Continue reading

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New study again finds higher rate of rare neurological birth defects in central Washington

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Washington MapA new study has again found a higher rate of a rare neurological birth defect, anencephaly, in Yakima, Benton and Franklin counties, Washington state health officials said Tuesday.

The study identified seven cases of the birth defect in these three counties in 2013, which translates into a rate of 8.7 per 10,000 births. That rate is similar to the rate seen in 2010-2012 and remains well above the national rate of 2.1 per 10,000 births, health officials said. Continue reading

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Cholesterol guidelines could mean statins for half of 40s

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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

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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.

Continue reading

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Women’s Health — Week 26: Heart Disease

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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

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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

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Typewriter-Spelling-NEWS

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

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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.

Continue reading

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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