Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Story of Grief, Loss, Bulimia and Hope: Someday Melissa

Sometimes the worlds of nutrition and grief and loss overlap. One of these is the story of Melissa Arvin and her mother Judy's way of coping with her daughter's untimely death following years of battling bulimia.

Melissa's Story
Melissa Arvin died in May 2009 at the very age of 19 of a heart attack, one of the complications of a 5 year battle with bulimia.

Sometime after Melissa's death, Judy discovered a unique way to cope with her grief over her daughter's death in one of Melissa's journal entries.
Someday ...
Ill eat breakfast.
Ill keep a job for more than 3 weeks.
Ill have a boyfriend for more than 10 days.
Ill love someone.
Ill travel wherever I want.
Ill make my family proud.
Ill make a movie that changes lives.

The poem, "Someday" was the start of the documentary, Someday Melissa, a story of eating disorders, loss and hope.

Watch an excerpt of the film at the YouTube clip below:

Find out more about Someday Melissa at their website: http://www.somedaymelissa.com

Find out more about eating disorders at the NEDA website, supporting individuals and families affected by eating disorders, and serves as a catalyst for prevention, cures and access to quality care.

Pogrebin R. April 2010. A Mother’s Loss, a Daughter’s Story. New York Times.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Government Study on Questionable Marketing Practices with Dietary Supplements

GAO (Government Accountability Office) was asked to determine (1) whether sellers of herbal dietary supplements are using deceptive or questionable marketing practices and (2) whether selected herbal dietary supplements are contaminated with harmful substances. The study was released in May 2010.

Watch the video clip from the USGAO describing examples of deceptive or dangerous marketing for herbal supplements, obtained by undercover visits and phone calls. Unfortunately, GAO investigators were given potentially harmful medical advice, which could have detrimental causes for consumers if they had been the ones getting the advice.

GAO sampled 40 herbal dietary supplement products and discovered at least one potentially hazardous contaminant in 37 of the 40 herbal dietary supplement products tested, though none in amounts considered to pose an acute toxicity hazard.

All 37 supplements tested positive for trace amounts of lead; of those, 32 also contained mercury, 28 cadmium, 21 arsenic, and 18 residues from at least one pesticide.

It should be noted that the levels of heavy metals found do not exceed any FDA or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations governing dietary supplements or their raw ingredients, and FDA and EPA officials did not express concern regarding any immediate negative health consequences from consuming these 40 supplements.

Source: GAO. (2010). Herbal Dietary Supplements: Examples of Deceptive or Questionable Marketing Practices and Potentially Dangerous Advice. GAO-10-662T.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Learn About Multivitamins from a CVS Pharmicist

A helpful video "What you need to know about multivitamins" from CVSPharmacyVideos with CVS Pharmacist, Erika Shephard, who discusses some of the benefits and potential problems with taking a multivitamin.

Their main take home points:
  • Multivitamins can't replace the benefits of a healthy diet
  • Side effects can occur if you consume too much of one vitamin
  • Talk to your doctor or pharmacist when considering a multivitamin

I would add a registered dietitian to the list of people to consider when you are thinking about taking a multivitamin.

The side effect cautions she mentioned in the video:
  • Avoid any supplement that contains high levels of trace minerals like manganese and molybdenum
  • Be aware of high doses of vitamin A and beta-carotene
  • Be sure not to get too much zinc.
  • Be sure to not get more than 1,000 of vitamin C daily.

The potential benefits from additional vitamins and supplements mentioned in the video:
  • Calcium is crucial to keeping your bones healthy, especially in older women, and most multivitamins don't contain more than 130 milligrams. Because of this, you may need to take a calcium supplement.

Source: CVSPharmacyVideos.What you need to know about multivitamins. YouTube.

Monday, July 12, 2010

New Report Shows Taxing Sodas Could Make a Big Difference in the Obesity Epidemic

In the late 1990's I saw a young 20-something woman who was trying to figure out what she could do to change her diet to lose some weight.

One of the things we discovered was that she was drinking 10 regular sodas a day.

If each soda was 150 calories, she was drinking 1,500 empty, sugar calories a day.

Obesity, Empty Calories and Sugary Beverages
There is evidence to show that the over-consumption of added sugars, largely from sodas and fruit drinks is contributing the the growing obesity rates in both adults and in children.

Legislatures and Health Care Professionals in many states have been calling for a public tax, a luxury tax, on caloric sweetened beverages in the hopes that such a tax will financially discourage consumers from drinking sugary beverages, and as a result help take a positive step in reducing the obesity epidemic in adults and children.

The hope is that faced with such a tax, consumers may reduce consumption of high-calorie, non-nutritive sweetened beverages and substitute nontaxed beverages, such as bottled water, juice, and milk.

A new study published in July 2010 and conducted by researchers in the Economic Research Service of the USDA on "Taxing Caloric Sweetened Beverages Potential Effects on Beverage Consumption, Calorie Intake, and Obesity" is providing evidence to show the impact of a tax-induced 20-percent price increase on caloric sweetened beverages on potentially reducing the alarming trends of the growing obesity epidemic.  

Study Findings

In this study, "Taxing Caloric Sweetened Beverages Potential Effects on Beverage Consumption, Calorie Intake, and Obesity" researchers estimated that a tax-induced 20-percent price increase on caloric sweetened beverages could:
  1. Cause an average reduction of 37 calories per day, or 3.8 pounds of body weight over a year, for adults 
  2. Cause an average reduction of 43 calories per day, or 4.5 pounds over a year, for children.
Researchers estimate that a 20-percent price increase from a tax on caloric sweetened beverages could reduce total calorie intake from beverages by 13 percent for adults and by 11 percent for children.

With these reductions in calorie consumption there could be an estimated decline in adult overweight and children prevalence of obesity.
  1. Decline in adult overweight prevalence (66.9 to 62.4 percent) 
  2. Decline in adult obesity prevalence (33.4 to 30.4 percent)
  3. Decline in child at-risk-for-overweight prevalence (32.3 to 27.0 percent) 
  4. Decline in children overweight prevalence (16.6 to 13.7 percent).
Since the obesity epidemic has been growing unchecked in the past 20 years, instituting a tax like the beverage tax that could potentially result in a decline in the epidemic would have an enormous impact on people's health and on health care.

Obviously the actual impacts would depend on many factors. Some of the include how the tax would be reflected in consumer prices and the competitive strategies of beverage manufacturers and food retailers.

Sources & Resources

Full Report: Travis A. Smith, Biing-Hwan Lin, and Jonq-Ying Lee. July 2010. Taxing Caloric Sweetened Beverages Potential Effects on Beverage Consumption, Calorie Intake, and Obesity. Economic Research Report No. (ERR-100) 33 pp, July 2010 Retrieved July 12 from http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/ERR100/ERR100.pdf

Publication Page: Travis A. Smith, Biing-Hwan Lin, and Jonq-Ying Lee. July 2010. Taxing Caloric Sweetened Beverages: Potential Effects on Beverage Consumption, Calorie Intake, and Obesity. Economic Research Report No. (ERR-100) 33 pp, July 2010 Retrieved July 12 from http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/ERR100/

Report Summary: Travis A. Smith, Biing Hwan Lin, and Jonq-Ying Lee. July 2010. Taxing Caloric Sweetened Beverages: Potential Effects on Beverage Consumption, Calorie Intake, and Obesity. Economic Research Report No. (ERR-100) 33 pp, July 2010 Retrieved July 12 from http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/ERR100/ERR100_ReportSummary.html

Image: R Young. Cooler Cans. Royalty Free Use.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Using Diet Analysis Plus

A helpful video from Cengage Learning to get you familiar with the Diet Analysis Plus Program.

The video offers an overview of the Diet Analysis Program as well as screen shots to familiarize students with the program.

For more information on the Diet Analysis Plus you can visit their website.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Research Shows that Copying is Worse for Learning and Final Grades

A study published in the March 2010 issue of Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research is showing what teachers have know for years, that homework is important for learning concepts in a course, which ultimately help with earning the final grade.

In this study of homework submitted to an online tutor at MIT found that students who regularly copied problem sets earned lower grades and were three times as likely to fail the class.

The researchers also discovered several patterns with homework submissions:
  • Students put very little effort into their homework until the last day before the deadline.
  • Students waiting until the last minute are more likely not to finish by the deadline.
  • The rate of homework copying increases over the term.
  • The rate of homework copying significantly increases after midterms.
These findings reinforce what instructors know about homework, and send a good message for students wanting to do well.  

Do your homework and don't wait until the last minute to get it done.  

You will learn more in the course and are more likely to do better in the course in the long run if you do your own work.
Sanders, L. 2010. Homework makes the grade: Class performance slipped for physics students who copied. Science News.

Palazzo D. 2010. Young-Jin L. Warnakulasooriya R. and Pritchard D. Patterns, correlates, and reduction of homework copying. Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research 6, 010104

Image: Modified Microsoft Clipart.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Obestity Statistics from the CDC

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over the past 20 years there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States.

In 2008, only one state (Colorado) had a prevalence of obesity less than 20%.

Based on these statistics, 7hirty-two states had a prevalence equal to or greater than 25%; six of these states (Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia ) had a prevalence of obesity equal to or greater than 30%.

The slide show, developed from CDC slides, graphically demonstrates the increases in United States obesity trends from 1985 through 2008.

CDC. November 2009. Obesity and Overweight for Professionals: Data and Statistics: U.S. Obesity Trends.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Avoid Magic Powder Coffee Dietary Supplement

A new warning this week from the Food and Drug Administration. Consumers are being warned not to use an instant coffee being sold online as a dietary supplement for sexual enhancement.

On the packaging Magic Power Coffee claims to be 100% natural and is labeled as an “all natural dietary supplement” yet this supplement can cause serious harm particularly for those taking nitrates (nitroglycerin).

Lab analysis done by the FDA determined that "Magic Power Coffer" contains a chemical similar to the active ingredient in Viagra, a prescription drug used to treat ED (erectile dysfunction).

Viagra has a list of contraindications for use. The chemical may interact with prescription drugs known as nitrates, including nitroglycerin, and cause dangerously low blood pressure.

A PDF File, Magic Power Coffee: POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS Not Magical is available for download with more information.

FDA. June 22, 2010. Magic Power Coffee: Potentially Dangerous—Not Magical. Consumer Updates. Food and Drug Administration.