New Flu Virus Making Headlines: Influenza A (H3N2)v
Just as we all thought the flu season was coming to a nice and peaceful conclusion, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a warning about a new strain of influenza A (H3N2) virus-labeled “A (H3N2)v”. Apparently there have been 12 reported infections with this new strain. Whats interesting is that influenza A (H3N2)v is composed of genes from avian, swine and human viruses. Children under the age of 10 are the most vulnerable. The 2011-2012 influenza vaccination does provide some protection against A (H3N2)v and there is a specific vaccination that is being manufactured that will provide direct protection.
Obesity Epidemic Report: Waistlines Continue to Expand!
Here we go again-one day the obesity epidemic is solved. The next day we wake up and read that “by the year 2020, one in five American children will be obese.” What do we believe? Well, recent research coming out of Columbia University’s School of Public Health (Claire Wang, MD, ScD-American Journal of Preventive Medicine), suggests that by analyzing weights of children from 1971 to 2008 (NHANES), the average weight of these children will increase by 2 kilograms, if no action is taken. This translates into the following: 21 % of children ages 2 through 19 would become obese. And by “action” Wang and her associates came up with the following:
- Just to stay at 2008 levels would require an average reduction of 41 kcal/person/day — 17 for those in the lowest age group, 37 in the middle ages, and 67 for adolescents.
- To reach the Healthy People 2020 goals would require an extra cut of 23 kcal/person/day — 5, 40, and 31 for kids 2 to five, 6 to 11, and 12 to 19, respectively.
- And to reach the more aggressive Healthy People 2010 goals would take an average reduction of 120 kcal/person/day — 33, 149, and 177 for children 2 to 5, 6 to 11, and 12 to 19, respectively.
Wang and her colleagues determined that there needs to be a 64 calorie decrease in total calorie consumption per day to avoid this 2020 obesity prediction. To achieve this, Wang suggested a decrease consumption of sugar sweetened beverages and an increase in physical education.
Childhood Obesity: A Genetic Link! Have Our Children Picked the Wrong Parents?
Okay don’t get all worked up-yes I know that our children had no choice in the matter. But now researchers are demonstrating a stronger evidence based genetic link between adult obesity and childhood obesity. Struan Grant, PhD from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia published his findings in the journal Nature Genetics. Grant and his colleagues found new genetic “regions” associated with the gene OLFM4 on chromosome 13 and the gene HOXB5 on chromosome 17 both associated with the risk of obesity. More work on this amazing discovery to follow. Stay tuned! Don’t blame mom or dad just yet!
Common Tests and Treatments Over-prescribed and Overused: “Choose Wisely”
In an attempt to get physicians to follow more evidence based therapies and guidelines and “reduce waste and harm in the health care system” , 9 major medical specialty groups in association with consumer products evaluator Consumer Reports and the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM), have listed therapies and tests that in their opinion are “ frequently overused.” Each of the medical societies have come up with a top five list called their “Five Things Physicians and Patients Should Question.” The nice societies contributing are the following: American College of Radiology (ACR), the American College of Physicians (ACP), the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI), the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the American College of Cardiology (ACC), the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the American Society of Nephrology (ASN), and the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology (ASNC). There will be more medical groups adding their recommendations soon. To read the lists please click on this link: Choosing Wisely: http://choosingwisely.org/?page_id=13. Stay tuned for more on this volatile topic.