Apr 03 2014

Isn’t It About Time to Switch To A Plant Based Diet ? What Are You Waiting For?

A report from NIH News In Health Vegetarians miss out on lots of foods. No grilled burgers or franks at picnics. No holiday turkey or fries cooked in animal fat. Strict vegetarians may even forego honey made by bees. But vegetarians also tend to miss out on major health problems that plague many Americans. They generally live longer than the rest of us, and they’re more likely to bypass heart-related and other ailments. The fact is, eating a more plant-based diet can boost your health, whether you’re a vegetarian or not. What is it about the vegetarian lifestyle that can protect your health? And are there risks to being vegetarian? NIH-funded researchers are looking for answers. They’re exploring the many ways that diet and other factors affect our health. Vegetarian meals focus on fruits and vegetables, dried beans, whole grains, seeds and nuts. By some estimates, about 2% of the U.S. adult population follows this type of diet. People have many reasons for becoming vegetarians. Some want to eat more healthy foods. Others have religious or economic reasons or are concerned about animal welfare. “Vegetarian diets are also more sustainable and environmentally sound than diets that rely heavily on meat, poultry and fish,” says NIH nutritionist Dr. Susan Krebs-Smith, who monitors trends in cancer risk factors. Most people think of vegetarian diets as simply eating plant foods and not eating meat, poultry and fish. “But ...

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Mar 22 2014

Seasonal Affective Disorder-Are You Feeling SAD?

Seasonal affective disorder is a well-defined clinical diagnosis that’s related to the shortening of daylight hours. Learn more in this report from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). As the days get shorter, many people find themselves feeling sad. You might feel blue around the winter holidays, or get into a slump after the fun and festivities have ended. Some people have more serious mood changes year after year, lasting throughout the fall and winter when there’s less natural sunlight. What is it about the darkening days that can leave us down in the dumps? And what can we do about it? NIH-funded researchers have been studying the “winter blues” and a more severe type of depression called seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, for more than 3 decades. They’ve learned about possible causes and found treatments that seem to help most people. Still, much remains unknown about these winter-related shifts in mood. “Winter blues is a general term, not a medical diagnosis. It’s fairly common, and it’s more mild than serious. It usually clears up on its own in a fairly short amount of time,” says Dr. Matthew Rudorfer, a mental health expert at NIH. The so-called winter blues are often linked to something specific, such as stressful holidays or reminders of absent loved ones. “Seasonal affective disorder, though, is different. It’s a well-defined clinical diagnosis that’s related to the shortening of daylight hours,” ...

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Mar 07 2014

World Health Organization To Focus On Global Sugar Intake

From a World Health Organization (WHO) Report: Free sugars contribute to the overall energy density of diets. Ensuring energy balance is critical to maintaining healthy body weight and ensuring optimal nutrient intake. There is increasing concern that consumption of free sugars, particularly in the form of sugar-sweetened beverages, may result in both reduced intake of foods containing more nutritionally adequate calories and an increase in total caloric intake, leading to an unhealthy diet, weight gain and increased risk of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). Also of great concern is the role free sugars play in the development of dental diseases, particularly dental caries. Dental diseases are the most prevalent NCDs globally and though great improvements in prevention and treatment have occurred in the last decades, dental diseases continue to cause pain, anxiety, functional limitation and social handicap through tooth loss, for large numbers of people worldwide. The treatment of dental diseases is expensive—costing between 5 and 10% of health budgets in industrialised countries—and would exceed the financial resources available for the whole of health care for children in the majority of lower-income countries. The objective of this guideline is to provide recommendations on the consumption of free sugars to reduce the risk of NCDs in adults and children, with a particular focus on the prevention and control of weight gain and dental caries. When finalized, the recommendations in this guideline can be used by program managers and policy planners to assess current intake of free sugars relative to a benchmark and develop measures to decrease intake of ...

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Mar 04 2014

FDA Proposes New Food Label Changes

The FDA is proposing to update the Nutrition Facts label found on most food packages in the United States. The Nutrition Facts label, introduced 20 years ago, helps consumers make informed food choices and maintain healthy dietary practices. If adopted, the proposed changes would include the following. - Greater Understanding of Nutrition Science - Updated Serving Size Requirements and New Labeling Requirements for Certain Package Sizes - Refreshed Design Here is a glimpse of the proposed changes: The FDA is proposing to update the Nutrition Facts label found on most food packages in the United States. The Nutrition Facts label, introduced 20 years ago, helps consumers make informed food choices and maintain healthy dietary practices. If adopted, the proposed changes would include the following. 1. Greater Understanding of Nutrition Science Require information about “added sugars.” Many experts recommend consuming fewer calories from added sugar because they can decrease the intake of nutrient-rich foods while increasing calorie intake. Update daily values for nutrients like sodium, dietary fiber and Vitamin D. Daily values are used to calculate the Percent Daily Value listed on the label, which help consumers understand the nutrition information in the context of a total daily diet. Require manufacturers to declare the amount of potassium and Vitamin D on the label, because they are new “nutrients of public health significance.” Calcium and iron would continue to be required, and Vitamins A and C could be included on ...

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Feb 28 2014

New CDC Data Shows Decline In Childhood Obesity Rates

The latest CDC obesity data, published in the February 26 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, show a significant decline in obesity among children aged 2 to 5 years. Though overall obesity rates remain unchanged, rates in young children improve. Obesity prevalence for this age group went from nearly 14 percent in 2003-2004 to just over 8 percent in 2011-2012 – a decline of 43 percent – based on CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data. Although the JAMA study does not specifically compare 2009-2010 with 2011-2012, NHANES data does show a decline in the 2 to 5 year old age group during that time period – from just over 12 percent in 2009-2010 to just over 8 percent in 2011-2012. “We continue to see signs that, for some children in this country, the scales are tipping. This report comes on the heels of previous CDC data that found a significant decline in obesity prevalence among low-income children aged 2 to 4 years participating in federal nutrition programs,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “We’ve also seen signs from communities around the country with obesity prevention programs including Anchorage, Alaska, Philadelphia, New York City and King County, Washington. This confirms that at least for kids, we can turn the tide and begin to reverse the obesity epidemic.” While the precise reasons for the ...

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Feb 25 2014

The White House and USDA Announce School Wellness Standards

First Lady Michelle Obama and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announce proposed school wellness standards and roll out of breakfast and lunch programs for schools that serve low income communities WASHINGTON, Feb. 25, 2014 – Today, First Lady Michelle Obama joins U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to announce proposed guidelines for local school wellness policies. The bipartisan Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 mandated that the USDA set guidelines for what needed to be included in local school wellness policies in areas such as setting goals for nutrition education and physical activity, informing parents about content of the policy and implementation, and periodically assessing progress and sharing updates as appropriate. As part of local school wellness policies, the proposed guidelines would ensure that foods and beverages marketed to children in schools are consistent with the recently-released Smart Snacks in School standards. Ensuring that unhealthy food is not marketed to children is one of the First Lady's top priorities; that is why it is so important for schools to reinforce the importance of healthy choices and eliminate marketing of unhealthy products. "The idea here is simple—our classrooms should be healthy places where kids aren't bombarded with ads for junk food," said First Lady Michelle Obama. "Because when parents are working hard to teach their kids healthy habits at home, their work shouldn't be undone by unhealthy messages at school." This ...

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Feb 17 2014

February Is American Heart Month: Are You at Risk for Heart Disease?

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During the month of February, Americans see the human heart as the symbol of love. February is American Heart Month, a time to show yourself the love. Learn about your risks for heart disease and stroke and stay "heart healthy" for yourself and your loved ones. I am sure you read the latest tragic headline: John Paul Henson, son of the late legendary puppet master Jim Henson, died suddenly of a massive heart attack at the young age of 48. Cardiovascular disease (CVD)—including heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure—is the number 1 killer of women and men in the United States. It is a leading cause of disability, preventing Americans from working and enjoying family activities. CVD costs the United States over $300 billion each year, including the cost of health care services, medications, and lost productivity. Understanding the Burden of CVD CVD does not affect all groups of people in the same way. Although the number of preventable deaths has declined in people aged 65 to 74 years, it has remained unchanged in people under age 65. Men are more than twice as likely as women to die from preventable CVD. Having a close relative who has heart disease puts you at higher risk for CVD. Health disparities based on geography also exist. During 2007–2009, death rates due to heart disease were the highest ...

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Feb 14 2014

Cancer In Children-What Do You Need To Know!

A report from the National Institutes of Health (NIH): Just the thought of a child getting cancer can be frightening and overwhelming. But while cancer can be life threatening, there’s encouraging news. Over the last few decades, improved therapies have helped childhood cancer survival rise to more than 80%. Many kinds of cancer can now be cured or controlled to help give children a better quality of life into adulthood. The most common type of childhood cancer is leukemia, a cancer of the blood. Leukemia begins in the bone marrow, the spongy substance inside our bones where blood cells are made. Other childhood cancers include lymphoma (blood cancer that begins in the lymph glands) and solid tumors (abnormal clumps of tissue). Solid tumors may occur throughout the body, such as in the brain, kidney, muscle or bone. The causes of childhood cancer are largely unknown. Childhood cancer can occur suddenly, with no early symptoms, and might get detected during a physical exam. “If you notice something unusual in your child—unexplained symptoms, not growing properly, belly distended, blood in urine—take your child to the doctor,” says Dr. Nita Seibel, a pediatric oncologist at NIH. If the doctor suspects cancer, a series of tests will help identify the type of cancer, where it’s located and whether it has spread to other parts of the body. Cancers in children can be different from adult cancers. When you’re researching the ...

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Feb 06 2014

Why We Should Be Very Afraid Of Salt

Everyone needs some salt to function. Also known as sodium chloride, salt helps maintain the body's balance of fluids. Salt also functions in many foods as a preservative by helping to prevent spoilage and keeping certain foods safe to eat. But nearly all Americans consume more salt than they need, according to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These guidelines are published every five years by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The natural salt in food accounts for about 10 percent of total intake, on average, according to the guidelines. The salt we add at the table or while cooking adds another 5 to 10 percent. About 75 percent of our total salt intake comes from salt added to processed foods by manufacturers and salt that cooks add to foods at restaurants and other food service establishments. Some FAQ about salt: Q. What are the health effects of too much salt? A. In many people, salt contributes to high blood pressure. High blood pressure makes the heart work harder and can lead to heart disease, stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease. Q. What is the daily recommended amount of sodium for adults? A. The amount of salt in a food is listed as “sodium” on the Nutrition Facts label that appears on food packaging. The Dietary Guidelines recommend that the general population consume no more than ...

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Jan 25 2014

First Lady Michelle Obama Announces Licensing Agreement With Sesame Workshop

Press Release From The White House and Office of the First Lady: State Dining Room MRS. OBAMA: Thank you, everyone. (Applause.) Good afternoon. Well, welcome to the White House. I'm thrilled to have you all here today. As many of you know, last month, we held the first ever White House Convening on food marketing for children. And I stood in this exact room in this exact same spot with representatives from America’s leading companies and organizations. And I issued a simple challenge: I challenged those leaders to market food more responsibly to our children. I challenged them to use creative, innovative marketing strategies to get our kids excited about healthy foods. And today, just six weeks later, it is no surprise that Sesame Workshop was the first organization to answer this call. Because that, more than anything else, is Sesame Workshop’s mission: To help our kids learn and grow and fulfill every last bit of their potential. And that’s why, nearly a decade ago, Sesame Workshop created their Healthy Habits for Life initiative to teach kids about healthy eating and exercise. And that is why, today, they’re taking the unprecedented step of letting America’s produce companies use Sesame Street Muppet characters to get kids excited about eating fruits and vegetables, and they’re doing this free of charge. Yes! ...

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