Articles Posted in Nutrition

tksgiving-300x177Millions of us will have much to give thanks for during the annual holiday, which, like several of its recent versions, again will be a time of health wariness and uncertainty, too.

The seasonal feast — which brings so many the joy of not only a grand meal but also the pleasure of gathering with friends, family, and other loved ones — will be more costly than any in recent memory due to economic inflation and supply chain problems, the Associated Press reported:

“Americans are bracing for a costly Thanksgiving this year, with double-digit percent increases in the price of turkey, potatoes, stuffing, canned pumpkin, and other staples. The U.S. government estimates food prices will be up 9.5% to 10.5% this year; historically, they’ve risen only 2% annually. Lower production and higher costs for labor, transportation and items are part of the reason; disease, rough weather and the war in Ukraine are also contributors.”

conferencehungernutrition-300x133The Biden Administration, already locked in a long battle with the coronavirus and committed to a “moonshot” campaign against cancer, has announced it will tackle yet more persistent harms to the health of regular folks in this country — hunger, poor nutrition, and pernicious (but heavily marketed and highly profitable) foods.

The White House rolled up these issues and pledged at the first White House conference on them in a half century that this country will end U.S. hunger in a decade, the New York Times and other media organizations reported. The newspaper said this of the administration ambitions to deal with a fundamental of Americans’ health and wellbeing:

“The White House plan hinges on $8 billion in commitments from the private sector to help fight hunger, including $4 billion that will be dedicated by philanthropies that are focused on expanding access to healthy food. The investments will come from some of the largest corporations in America, including Google, Tyson Foods, and Walgreens. Other actions include expanding nutrition research and encouraging the food industry to lower sodium and sugar. But some of the most ambitious proposals — such as expanding food stamps (formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) and introducing coverage of ‘medically tailored’ meals to Medicare — would require congressional action, a difficult prospect at a time of deep political divisions.’

We’re barraged by so much health hokum that it’s a relief when common-sense reminders come along about crucial wellness concerns like exercise, diet, and sleep.

Timely information on these issues has been reported by the Washington Post (here on movement myths and here on sleep and weight), the Athletic on a soccer nutritionist’s insights on healthful eating, and the New York Times on exercise and bodily immunity.

Some of the key takeaways:

eats-150x150The Biden Administration this month will tackle one of the major, persistent challenges that perplexes and damages the health and well-being of most regular folks: what they eat, as well as their regular sources of food.

The scheduled Sept. 28 White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health will be only the second of its kind in modern history and the first in almost a half a century, NPR has reported, adding that it will be a timely and notable event. As Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist and dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, told the broadcast news reporters:

“We’re really in a nutrition crisis in this country.”

dietdrug-150x150They’re expensive and often uncovered by health insurance. They’re unfamiliar for now to many doctors, especially those in primary care. But — as expected — patients are hearing a lot about the effectiveness of new prescription medications aimed at treating diabetes and how these drugs have another positive outcome:

They help users lose weight, potentially lots of it.

Now, add in the capacity of the internet to spread information rapidly and quickly. And figure in the growing trend for patients to consult with doctors online and to be prescribed drugs by them via telehealth appointments.

diabetesdrug-300x127As medical scientists increase the understanding of diabetes and the role that hormones can play in treating the disease and clinical obesity, doctors, drug makers, insurers, and others in U.S. health care are running smack into familiar, significant problems.

These include issues with public perceptions about weight, diet, and appropriate prescribing of powerful medications, as well as challenges about who pays for what in the nation’s complex health care system.

The latest, evolving tangles concern semaglutide and liraglutide, two drugs in a group that experts at the drug maker Novo Nordisk pioneered to treat diabetes. Investigators developed the drugs as doctors, patients, and researchers suddenly learned more about extreme weight loss through increasingly popular gastric surgeries, finding that the procedures also altered patients’ hormones like ghrelin, popularly dubbed the “hunger hormone.”

Abbottlogo-300x77The giant drug maker Abbott and the federal Food and Drug Administration both should hang their heads in shame as more information becomes public as to how they left millions of vulnerable infants hungry and put kids’ health at risk by wrongs involving the manufacture and distribution of a vital foodstuff — baby formula.

Millions of parents have gone into meltdown because of a nationwide shortage of the needed nutrient. It was sparked by the shutdown of Abbott’s formula-producing plant in Michigan, as well as the company’s product recall after babies got sick and died from  infections involving Cronobacter sakazakii bacteria.

While Abbott has emphasized that experts have not conclusively linked the bacteria to its formula and the firm has played up its cooperation in a product recall, Robert Califf, the FDA’s chief and a doctor, ripped the company. He told a U.S. House subcommittee that agency inspectors found “egregiously unsanitary” conditions at the drug maker’s plant, the New York Times reported, quoting him, thusly:

babewithbottle-300x293Americans keep suffering the dire consequences of corporations’ relentless pursuit of profits, their stifling of beneficial competition, and their failure to secure the production of their products. These now include desperately needed, specialized baby formula and contrast dyes used in diagnostic imaging studies for seriously ill and injured patients.

A special place in perdition needs to be reserved for those who have put infants at risk of hunger and illness by allowing the feeding crisis to explode and for boobs who are rushing in with finger-snapping, fact-light, and unworkable actions for parents to respond.

Let’s be clear that the formula mess, bad for all families across the country, hits hardest at the working poor and the poor. As the New York Times reported:

diettiming-150x150Americans’ obsession with weight control can lead them to embrace diet theories and convert too many of them into conventional wisdom. Alas, when medical researchers put widely accepted notions to scientific testing, they can evaporate faster than a rain drop on a hot summer sidewalk. That’s the potential fate of the idea that when people eat matters as much in weight control as what they consume.

This just isn’t so, according to “a rigorous one-year study in which people followed a low-calorie diet between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. or consumed the same number of calories anytime during the day,” the New York Times reported, noting that so-called timed eating “has failed to find an effect.” The newspaper quoted Dr. Ethan Weiss, a diet researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, who reported this:

“There is no benefit to eating in a narrow window … These results indicate that caloric intake restriction explained most of the beneficial effects seen with the time-restricted eating regimen.”

salmonella_salmonellosis-300x228While regular folks may tolerate the occasional sickness that follows a catered company event, church potluck, or dining on take-out or sit-down meals from all manner of meal providers, all-too-common food-borne illnesses must get greater attention from public health officials because of the major but less publicized damage that tainted foods can cause.

Consider what happened family and friends who attended a funeral reception in Texas that included store-bought chicken (rotisserie and fried) and potato salad. As ProPublica, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative site reported, hours after the event, “dozens of the attendees were stricken by illness, overcome by nausea, cramping, vomiting and diarrhea, according to an investigation by Austin Public Health, which found that at least 61 people reported symptoms of food poisoning.”

The situation worsened and stayed bad, ProPublica found, reporting in its follow-up:

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