May 28, 2004 - It has come to this - a blog page... Blog is short for Web Log. Now that the Internet has become an almost indispensable part of our lives, many have started using it to keep an online journal of sorts. I started adding "Newsworthy Stuff" tidbits back near towards the end of 2000 on my What's New Page. I thought these tidbits would be more useful if they were compiled on one page. Therefore, all these tidbits will be compiled on this page after they've had their Net time on the most recent What's New Page, with the most recent entries at the beginning (so you don't have to scroll so much). Added links along the way will continue to be compiled on annual "What Was New" pages that you can access by clicking on year graphic. Thanks. Betty
Suggested Citation: Jung, B.C. (2009 - 2019). Betty C. Jung's 2009 Public Health Blog.
Web document: https://www.bettycjung.net/Blog2009.htm
December 31, 2009 - Good-bye to the first decade of the 2000s
Here is something I couldn't do when the 2000s started, sharing a video of one of my favorite groups.
Enjoy and have a great New Year celebration!!
December 30, 2009 - Plug and Play - This Decade's Most Significant Computer Technology
Since computers are somewhat ubiquitous, I thought it would be important to acknowledge one advancement that has really made a difference in how we use our computers.
I think the most significant technology that was developed between 2000 - 2009 is the ability to "Plug and Play." Starting with Windows 2000, we were able to plug in any peripheral (like drives, printers, etc.) to a USB port and the computer would immediately allow us to use those peripherals, without having to install drivers - programs to enable the computer to talk to the peripherals.
And from this technology came the ability to store programs and files externally, reducing dependence on the C drive. Storage memory soared, and now we have external drives that can store over 1 terabyte of memory, flash drives that can store 16 gigabytes of memory, etc. The best part is, it has really gotten really inexpensive to store graphic files that are usually memory hogs.
So, being able to plug and play has really enhanced what we can do with a computer, so I give it my vote for being this decade's most significant computer technology.
December 29, 2009 - 9/11/2001 - This Decade's Most Significant Impact on Public Health
During these waning days of the end of the first decade of the 21st century, I thought about what was "THE ONE" thing (event, person, etc.) that impacted Public Health the most during 2000 - 2009.
My vote is for September 11, 2001, when the twin towers of New York City's World Trade Center disappeared in plumes of toxic smoke. No one who lived through that day were ever the same again. We could never go back to the world before that morning. Thousands of innocents died, and I still can't get over the sound of the bodies of people hitting the pavement as they jumped out the towers to certain death.
Americans were impacted by this collective loss of innocence because it really changed how we looked at the world. We could no longer think that America could be protected from the rest of the world by the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
The nebulous presence of Terrorism continues to consume evergrowing resources to help us regain a sense of safety and security.
The airline industry, and all the service industries that depended on the airlines, continue to struggle to survive. Going through security has made airline travel a major hassle for everyone.
Perhaps, the most saddest outcome of this is the burden for disaster preparedness has fallen to Public Health, forcing the need to re-prioritize. So, while Healthy People 2010's agenda is being updated for the new decade, I wonder just how many of the goals and objectives set for the past ten years have not been met because they were impacted by the loss of resources to address safety issues, one of the most fundamental of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.
December 28, 2009 - Don't Skip Breakfast, But Definitely Skip This One
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It is actually the one meal we can work off during the course of the day, if we are active. As we start to think of New Year resolutions, let's resolve to eat better.
Here is an example of what not to eat, according to Men's Health.com. The lowdown: 1,543 calories; 77 g fat (26 g saturated, 9 g trans); 2,259 mg sodium; 109 g sugars. Basically, too much of everything.
Yes, Geocities went away on October 26th - two months ago. I miss Geocities because it gave me the opportunity to learn how to create and maintain a Web site. Geocities hosted my Web site for a couple of years until I migrated to my own domain in 2002, when the Web site got too big for free hosting.
Yahoo!, which by then partnered with Geocities, offered to host my site for a reasonable price and offered easy migration. Prior to 2002, having your own domain was prohibitively expensive, in the hundreds of dollars. Now it has gotten so inexpensive that I have to constantly deal with cybersquatters that create a site to catch traffic to my site through misspellings. Yes, spelling counts. Of course, I had to laugh the other day when I was offered to buy "bettycjung.com" when this bogus site has been around for a couple of years.
As a result I have had to clean out some 50 dead links to Geocities sites that provided good information online. I hope they find a home somewhere else.
December 24, 2009 - Betty's Blog Becomes Betty's Public Health Blog
Merry Christmas to all!!! This is the time of the year when I review my entire Web site in preparation for the new year. Since a new decade will start on January 1st, I have decided to do a lot of revamping, even though I am coming down with the flu and recuperating from a bad wrist sprain. Oh well. In addition, I am cleaning out dead links at the same time. So, be prepared for some changes. First up, my earlier blog pages have been renamed and I have given them a new logo which is more reflective of what I am trying to do with the blog. Hope you like it.
December 19, 2009 - Radio City's Christmas Spectacular
Oh the weather outside is frightful (blizzard conditions) but the Rockettes will always be delightful....
Thanks to my sis, I was able to enjoy the 75th Anniversary edition of New York City Radio City Music Hall's Christmas Spectucular Show. And, indeed, nothing less than spectacular!!! A must-see, at least once in a lifetime. Merry Christmas!
More than just a 5 million+ viewed YouTube video about breast cancer awareness, it is a celebration of all the wonderful people who provide health care in the hospital setting. Many thanks to everyone who is there when we need them the most! Enjoy!
Well, after spending some 20 hours running scans and backing up files I discovered that a virus was not responsible for the problem. Mostly likely it was bad weather and my pushing a wrong button on the router. Anyway, I was glad I didn't have to wipe the drives and then spend another 16 hours cleaning out the junk from the recovery files, etc.,etc. Live and learn.
December 14, 2009 - Wiping the C Drive
Unfortunately, technological breakdowns occur way too often. After not being able to get online over the weekend I was informed by my Internet service provider that there's probably some virus responsible so that my computers cannot talk with the modem. His suggestion? Wipe the drives. That's easy for him to say!! Having done this a few times already in recent years, it's not a hard thing to do, but very time consuming. You're looking at 8 hours per computer, or 16 hours of neurosurgery and hard drive rehab. So, I'll be somewhat incommunicado this week...
In our current environmentally-conscious society, "going green" has taken on a "call to arms" kind of fervor, making those who insist on carbon footprinting pay for their excesses. This has been most noticeable with the tap vs. bottled water coalitions. Save the environment and energy, drink tap and not bottled water. Throwing a wrench into this, however, is the growing concern over just how drinkable is the water coming out of our taps? In the December 7th article, "Millions in U.S. Drink Dirty Water, Records Show , the New York Times reported
"...as many as 19 million Americans may become ill each year due to just the parasites, viruses and bacteria in drinking water. Certain types of cancer � such as breast and prostate cancer � have risen over the past 30 years, and research indicates they are likely tied to pollutants like those found in drinking water." and,
"... E.P.A. has reported that more than three million Americans have been exposed since 2005 to drinking water with illegal concentrations of arsenic and radioactive elements, both of which have been linked to cancer at small doses."
While the Safe Drinking Water Act was meant to protect us from harm, violators of this act have gone mostly unpunished (e.g., <6% of water systems that violated were ever fined or punished). NY Times reports, "More than 20 percent of the nation�s water treatment systems have violated key provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act over the last five years...."
So, until I can be assured that I won't get sick drinking from the tap, I will be filtering the tap water and drink bottled water. For more information, check out Public Health Sites under "Environmental Health."
December 10, 2009 - Global Obesity, Diabetes and Childhood Obesity Statistics
Here are two scary maps and a line graph about the global problem of obesity and its impact on the development of diabetes. It is small comfort that the U.S. has the highest percentage of obese adults when compared to other countries, and that the U.S. has the highest percentage of overweight children as well.
Very few countries have a diabetes prevalence of less than 4%. The International Diabetes Federation estimates that the 2030 global prevalence of diabetes will be 7.8%, with 438 million suffering from the disease. Another 8.4% (472 million) will have impaired glucose tolerance (a precursor of type 2 diabetes). [Source: http://www.diabetesatlas.org/content/powerpoint-presentation]
Source for graphics: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7151813.stm (January 2008)
December 9, 2009 - Secondhand Smoke and Heart Disease
Smoking is a nasty habit that not only compromises the health of smokers, but those who must share the polluted environment. According to the recently released Institute of Medicine Report: Secondhand Smoke and Cardiovascular Effects: Making Sense of the Evidence* researchers have been able to link secondhand smoke to heart disease and heart attacks. The report documents:
Secondhand smoke can cause a heart attack.
It is possible that even brief exposure to secondhand smoke could trigger a heart attack.
Smoke-free air laws result in fewer heart attacks.
The CDC's analysis of the report conclude that, Findings in the report indicate that there is about a 25 to 30 percent increase in the risk of coronary heart disease from exposure to secondhand smoke. These findings agree with the 2006 Surgeon General's Report conclusion that there are increased risks of coronary heart disease morbidity and mortality among men and women exposed to secondhand smoke. Source: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/
It is time for smokers to give up the habit that is not only destroying their quality of life but that of their loved ones who are exposed to secondhand smoke. Now that there is mounting evidence that such exposure can cause heart attacks, it is time to do the right thing. For more information about how secondhand smoke causes heart disease, click on any of these graphics, and visit Cardiovascular Disease - General Information under "Risk Factors - Tobacco." For more information about tobacco and how to quit, check out Public Health Sites - Tobacco .
Source of graphics & links: http://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/library/secondhandsmoke_IOM.htm
December 8, 2009 - John Woo's Red Cliff
Graphic source: http://www.redclifffilm.com/
If you have never seen a film about War, then this is the one to catch. Truly an epic masterpiece of cinematic artistry! No other film about war portrays the importance of strategy like "Red Cliff" does. The battle scenes are simply magnificent, and watch how a war is lost over a cup of tea.
Check out this trailer.
December 4, 2009 - Prescription Medication Use and Obesity
Here is an interesting ranking just released by Forbes.com, which analyzed data from statehealthfacts.org, The Kaiser Family Foundation; Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and the CDC.
They reported, "Each adult resident of West Virginia fills an average of 17.7 retail prescriptions each year.... This compares with the national average of just 11.5 prescriptions. West Virginians also have higher rates of heart-disease death: 237 per 100,000 compared with a national average of 200. Their health isn�t great on other fronts either. More than one-fourth smoke, and 12% have diabetes - nearly 4% more than the average US incidence of diabetes.
All of the states on the most medicated list also have higher rates of adult obesity than the US average of 63%. For example, 69% of West Virginians are obese or overweight, as are 68% of Alabama residents and 65% of South Carolinians, according to the CDC.
A recently reported meta-analysis stated, "Cutting the average salt intake in half could prevent a substantial proportion of strokes and heart disease in most Western countries....A decrease of 5 grams of salt a day (about one teaspoon) was associated with a 23% lower stroke rate and up to 17% less total cardiovascular disease." Original source: Strazzullo P, et al "Salt intake, stroke, and cardiovascular disease: meta-analysis of prospective studies" BMJ 2009; 339: b4567.
Most of us don't know just how ubiquitous salt is in what we consume.
Here is a pie chart of the sources of salt we consume. Incredibly, over 3/4s come from processed foods. We should keep in mind that that portion includes sodas and other drinks - major sources of liquid salt. Just check the label - Sodium is salt.
According to the CalorieLab Web site we can easily cut this 77% salt source by just doing our own cooking. Makes sense to me.
There is a new self-assessment tool anyone can use to determine whether or not they are at risk for developing diabetes.
Here is a table from the December 1st Annals of Internal Medicine's Summaries for Patients: A New Diabetes Screening Score Page.
Original source: �Development and Validation of a Patient Self-assessment Score for Diabetes Risk.� (1 December 2009 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine (volume 151, pages 775-783).
The authors are H. Bang, A.M. Edwards, A.S. Bomback, C.M. Ballantyne, D. Brillon, M.A. Callahan, S.M. Teutsch, A.I. Mushlin, and L.M. Kern.
If your score is 4 or greater you should probably see your primary care provider to discuss what you need to do and get a blood sugar test.
And, it's never too late to start eating healthy and developing a daily regimen (which is the only factor that reduces your risk in this tool).
November 30, 2009 - Understanding FICO Credit Scores
How we manage our money is captured in one number, the FICO score. The number is based on a number of factors that impact your monetary health and it is used by lenders to determine if you are a good credit risk. And, what does this have to do with Public Health? Well, it's all about wellness, and financial health is one of the dimensions of Wellness. It is hard to live in a healthy way if your finances are a mess.
"the FICO� score (was) developed by Fair Isaac Corporation. It is today's most commonly used scoring system. FICO scores range from 300-850, and most people score in the 600s and 700s (higher FICO scores are better). Lenders buy your FICO score from three national credit reporting agencies (also called credit bureaus): Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. In the eyes of most lenders, FICO credit scores above 700 are very good and a sign of good financial health. FICO scores below 600 indicate high risk to lenders and could lead lenders to charge you much higher rates or turn down your credit application." (Source: http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/cic_text/money/creditscores/your.htm)
Here is a table of "damage points" that has just been released. More than anything else, timeliness is an essential factor. Make sure your files with the national credit reporting agencies are correct. Get your free annual reports and check them for accuracy.
November 28, 2009 - Healthy People 2020 - Doing Your Part
The year 2010 is only about 5 weeks away. In Public Health circles it means that Healthy People 2010 is coming to an end. In the next few years data gathered for Healthy People 2010 will be analyzed to evaluate how well the U.S. is doing in accomplishing the goals and objectives set forth a decade ago.
The process of developing Healthy People 2020 has already begun. This monumental undertaking will take time to develop a decade-long plan to structure what everyone working for the Public's health will look to for guidance in prioritizing our efforts.
If you have worked on any public health problem in the past 10 years then you have invaluable input about what needs to be addressed in the coming years. Your insights will help the final document become a living and relevant document that must last for 10 years. Be a part of the process and make Public Health strong!
Click on this graphic to access the Healty People 2020 Web site and learn about how you can participate.
November 27 - 28, 2009 - The Nerds at Toad's Place, New Haven, CT
Here is a good reason to stay out and up at 2 AM in the morning, listening to The Nerds rock New Haven, CT with dance party music for 2 hours.
What a great cover band! See them when you get a chance, they won't disappoint!
Graphic source: http://www.myspace.com/thenerds
November 27, 2009 - U.S. Consumer Confidence
According to the November 27th NY Times article, "Seeing the Glass as Mostly Empty", "THE American economy is in its worst shape in a quarter-century." Even though consumer confidence may be slipping, I think that such times force people to be more realistic about their expectations.
While the push these days (especially today, which is Black Friday) is for people to spend, the realist in all of us is whispering caution, and that really is a good thing. After all, it is the overspending of money we don't have that is probably one of the reasons why many people have to deal with defaulting, etc. today. Living within one's means is a good way to live, as many people are being forced to discover.
Banks are not too confident themselves. Interest rates are pathetic, and I can't see how retired people who rely on interest from savings to make ends meet, can make ends meet.
Frankly, when everyone knows at least one person who is unemployed, it is hard for retailers and prognosticators to try and persuade people "happy days are here again"....
We Can! is a new national program to address childhood obesity, and not soon enough. Here are some data from their "We Can! Partner Presentation". As you can see, a major contributor to the current childhood obesity epidemic is the poor eating habits of kids today. Keep in mind that these nutritional data are somewhat old but they do show what we already know, kids are consuming too much soda and too much carbs.
The overweight prevalence trend data, from 1963 to 2006, clearly show that the problem is growing. Add to this that today's kids tend to sit around than run around and we have a big problem on our hands. The We Can! Web site is sponsored by several federal agencies and offers a wealth of resources for developing childhood obesity programs, as well as practical information for a variety of audiences, from parents and caregivers to entities that want to do something about this problem. You can find a link to this site on my Obesity Resources Page
Source of graphics; http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/
November 26, 2009 - Being Thankful for the Internet
Here is something I would like to share this Thanksgiving Day. Thanks to the Internet I am able to do my small part in helping someone on the other side of the world to work on Public Health!! How great is that?
Hi. Good Day.
i encountered your website while surfing the net for public health research. I am currently a UN volunteer serving in Nukus, Uzbekistan and our project is implementing a community-based TB care system. the ministry of health has asked our assistance in the conduct TB epidemiological research. i hope you will let me use your website as a resource for the research we will undertake. thank you so much.
Gemma Marie I. Carnacete
UNV/UNDP in Uzbekistan
Here is where Uzbekistan is located. It is these kinds of E-mails that make all the time I spend on the Web site such a worthwhile endeavor! Read what others have to say on my Kudos Page. There is always something to be thankful for, even in the worse of times....
Infant mortality remains the standard by which all countries' health status is measured with.
While U.S. trends show that over the years, infant mortality rates have declined slightly, when compared to other countries we are actually losing ground. In this graphic from an April 2009 New York Times article, the United States has slipped between 1960 and 2004. To be fair, all the other 1960 countries that did better than the U.S. slipped as well, except for Finland, the only country that managed to maintain its standing 44 years later (6th place).
The National Center for Health Statistcs Data Brief #23 just released reports that in 2005, the U.S. ranked 30th in infant mortality. The U.S. infant mortality rate of 6.9 is 3x that of Singapore's 2.1 at first place.
Graphic source: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db23.htm
Citation: MacDorman MF, Mathews TJ. Behind international rankings of infant mortality: How the United States compares with Europe. NCHS data brief, no 23. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2009.
Just like Thanksgiving Day, we need at least one day to show our gratitude for things we take for granted. Public Health is always taken for granted, but becomes a target of critics when something so basic and essential to our welfare goes wrong.
Here are some of things we can be thankful for, with many thanks to all the Public Health Professionals, at all levels of practice, who have dedicated their careers to protecting the Public's Health in a variety of ways...
Waking up this morning from clean bedding that is not contaminated by pathogens;
Using a bathroom so human waste is disposed of properly;
Being able to drink water from the faucet without getting some disease;
Being able to eat breakfast without getting some disease;
Dropping off your kids in schools knowing they won't get sick because everyone got their immunizations;
Driving to work and not being exposed to harmful emissions from motor vehicles;
Going to work and spending the day in an environment that won't make you sick;
Going to lunch and eating in a restaurant that's been inspected;
Going for a walk and not being exposed to second-hand smoke or rotting garbage;
Getting a haircut and knowing those cutting your hair have been licensed;
Going to see health care professionals and knowing they are competent because they are licensed to practice;
Going to any health care facility and knowing they are licensed;
Going to bed and feeling safe because disaster preparedness exists at every level of government.
This Weekly Activity Tracker is a tool developed by Merck's Journey for Control.Com to help people with diabetes monitor their physical activity. But I think it is useful for anyone who is interested in a simple way to track how many calories they are using for a variety of activities, based on how long they perform the activity and how much they weigh. Unfortunately, the weight categories start at 150 pounds, but given the current obesity epidemic, many people can use this tool.
For example, for a 30 minute brisk walk, a 150 pound person burns 129 calories, while a 250 pound person would burn 215 calories!!! The tracker includes all kinds of activities, from general exercise activities to leisure, housework and do-it-yourself activities, etc.
You can find a link to this printable Weekly Activity Tracker on my Fitness Page
The November 20, 2009 MMWR "Estimated County-Level Prevalence of Diabetes and Obesity --- United States, 2007" reports on a new analysis of obesity and diabetes prevalences by using estimated county-level statistics.
It notes, Diabetes and obesity are thought to coexist in specific geographic patterns because of a convergence of prevailing social norms, community and environmental factors, socioeconomic status, and genetic risk factors among ethnically similar groups.
The capability of mapping the estimated prevalences of obesity and diabetes for all US counties (n = 3,141)and then combining the two makes these maps extremely useful for identifying those geographic areas that are in need of intensive intervention to address both issues.
From the Public Health perspective of primary prevention, preventing obesity would take care of diabetes, especially Type 2 Diabetes. Policy and environmental changes, of course, are necessary to address those factors that affect us all, but these do not preclude the responsibility to take care of ourselves the best way we can.
And, here's a great quote from the book I am currently reading, M & E. Kaplan's Chances Are...Adventures in Probability (2006)
"We are increasingly faced with diseases that conceal hugh variety under a single name, like cancer - or mass illnesses caused, on average, by our own choices, like obesity, diabetes, or heart disease. The problem with these isn't finding a cure-if ever there were a magic bullet, vigorous exercise would be it-it's being willing to take it." (p. 173)
Those with diabetes can tell you that self-management is the key to living successfully with the disease. But, why wait till you have the disease to do something about it? We can easily prevent obesity and diabetes by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Start TODAY!
Along with proteins and fats, we need carbohydrates (along with water) to stay alive. In fact, carbohydrates is the only food source that the brain uses for energy.
Here is a super graphic that pretty much summarizes what happens with carbohydrates in the body. To avoid this roller-coaster ride we need to develop a saner approach to carbohydrate consumption.
The glycemic index assigns a value to carbohydrates on the basis of how fast that carbohydrate will convert to sugar in your body. So, the higher the value, the faster that carb converts to sugar. This conversion requires the pancreas to release insulin. Eating foods with a high glycemic index means your pancreas has to go into overdrive to release enough insulin to meet the demand. The consistent high demand will wear out the pancreas, and that means Type 2 diabetes.
Though it may sound simplistic, I think the best approach to dealing with carbohydrates is to think of good and bad carbs. Bad carbs are white foods (most of which are high on the glycemic index), and good carbs are the colorful foods (most of which are low on the glycemic index). Avoid the bad carbs and eat lots of good carbs by adding more color to your plate. Check my Diabetes Page under "Glycemic Index" for more information about the Glycemic Index, and the Nutrition and Obesity Pages for information about how to eat better. Bon Appetit!
November 16, 2009 - SHADAC Data Center
Graphic adapted from a generated image at http://www.shadac.org/datacenter
Along with Death and Taxes, you might as well add the ever-growing numbers of people with no medical insurance. The State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC) program of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation can now generate graphics of the uninsured with parameters you can input online.
Here is a graphic of a line graph I generated that compared the U.S. and Connecticut uninsured from 1987 to 2008. I can tell you that this would have taken me weeks to create, but I was able to do this in seconds. Of course, this ability to generate charts and graphs on the fly does not make epidemiologists obsolete. After all, we do need them to interpret and make sense of all those pretty graphics. For example, what caused that CT blip in 1998?
Preventing and Treating Diabetes: Health Insurance Reform and Diabetes in America is HealthReform.gov's report about the devastating cost of diabetes. This is one chronic disease that requires this kind of attention because effort is needed on the national as well as at the individual level to get a handle on managing this epidemic. Check out the link to this report, and other diabetes resources I have compiled on my Diabetes Resources on the Internet Page. Meanwhile, don't forget to
November 11, 2009 - Jigu! Thunder Drums of China
I just caught this wonderful show at Southern Connecticut State University. If you missed 2008's Bejing Olympic Opening Ceremonies, take this opportunity to experience what these drummers can do. It's performance art at its best! Worth catching!
Graphic created from: RWFJ's 2009
A Practical Guide for Engaging Stakeholders
in Developing Evaluation Questions
Graphic created from: RWFJ's 2003 Guide to Evaluation Primers
Program evaluation is an essential skill of Public Health professionals regardless of what country, at what level of government or agency they work in and with what particular program they may be involved. Given limited resources, it is now more important than ever that evaluation be part of the ethics of good Public Health Practice. Programs using public and private funds must be able to show that the services provided are effective to justify continued funding. This is the basic principle behind program evaluation.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation just released A Practical Guide for Engaging Stakeholders in Developing Evaluation Questions that offers a wealth of information that you can use for developing strategies that will ensure program evaluation is done properly. Stakeholders should be involved early on in the program development process, and Evaluation should be one of the primary components of the process. You want stakeholders involved because any changes that need to made can be incorporated more readily in existing programs with their buy-in, thus, ensuring the successful implementation of the program. And, this is the basic principle behind program success.
Another useful guide is its 2003 Guide to Evaluation Primers which evaluates existing program evaluation handbooks and primers for their strengths and weaknesses. The appendix of this 2003 report includes "Guiding Principles for Evaluators" that delineates the principles for ethical evaluation practice.
You can find links to these two useful reports, among other evaluation resources, on my Evaluation Resources on the Internet Page .
November 5, 2009 - What Motivates Health Behavior?
Graphic created from: APA October 24, 2007 Stress in America Report
Today I just came across the American Psychological Association's 2007 Stress in America Report . Based on an online survey conducted over a 2-week period during August-September, 2007, it covers just about everything you ever wanted to know about how stress impacts our health and well-being. Keep in mind that this was completed before the current economic recession went into overdrive so these findings may actually underestimate the current state of stress in America. Nevertheless, I found this report to be quite informative.
Here is a table delineating all the reasons people gave for motivating them to change their health behaviors, the top being just to feel better. Too bad fun wasn't one of the reasons. And, why wait until chronic disease is staring you in the face? Start living healthy TODAY!
Other interesting findings reported included: Close to half reported stress having a negative impact on their emotional well-being, physical health and job satisfaction; Fatigue was the most common physical symptom; Irritability or anger the most common psychological symptom; Work and money were the top two significant sources of stress (closely followed by workload); 1/4 reported serious impacts on personal relationships; 2/3s smoked more on stressful days; almost half couldn't sleep at night; almost everything eaten during stress is junk, etc. I could go on, but you should read the report yourself. You can find a link to this report on my Public Health Sites M to N Page under "Mental Health - Stress.
November 4, 2009 - Can the Fun Theory work for Health Promotion?
Here is an initiative from Volkswagen that got people to take the stairs instead of the escalator by simply turning the stairs into a giant piano. A novel idea that got people to exercise more.
Volkswagen calls it the Fun Theory: "the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people�s behaviour for the better. Be it for yourself, for the environment, or for something entirely different, the only thing that matters is that it�s change for the better."
Perhaps, Public Health professionals can try "Fun" as the incentive to developing health education and health promotion programs. Why not? Change your life, just for the fun of it! Worth a try.
Many thanks to Rose Louie for sending me the link!
October 30, 2009 - Health Literacy and Happiness
In my October 13th entry I talked about how elusive happiness is to any kind of measurement. Just released are the results of a study funded by AHRQ which found a "positive correlation between health literacy and personal levels of happiness." I am sure there will be more studies to follow, after all, who isn't searching for happiness? Check out the health literacy links on my Health Care Quality Issues Page .
October 29, 2009 - The Importance of Sleep
The October 30th issue of MMWR includes its report, Perceived Insufficient Rest or Sleep Among Adults --- United States, 2008 and states "chronic sleep insufficiency is under-recognized as a public health problem...." . I am so glad that lack of sleep is finally being identified as a public health problem.
The 2008 NCHS Health Stats Report explored the effects of sleep and noted "U.S. adults who usually slept less than 6 hours were more likely than adults who slept 7 to 8 hours to engage in certain health risk behaviors (i.e., cigarette smoking, having five or more drinks in a day, engaging in no leisure-time physical activity, and being obese). In many cases, adults who usually slept 9 hours or more were also at increased risk of engaging in these unhealthy behaviors. Source: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hestat/sleep04-06/sleep04-06.pdf
A growing number of my students are choosing getting adequate sleep as a positive behavior change for the better and have discovered how difficult it is to implement good sleep hygiene. For more information about sleep, check my Sleep Page.
Here's the latest map of what's going on with H1N1. Doesn't look too good. Last fall H1N1 was relatively mild, but it never completely went away. Now it's back and more virulent than ever, which means it must have mutated, which is what flu viruses usually do.
The constant mutation of the flu virus is why we need to get annual flu shots to protect most of us from getting a bad case of it during the current flu season. Hopefully epidemiologists will come up soon with an explanation of why the most vulnerable are not the typical infants and elderly populations. Until then, keep those hands clean and don't touch your nose with your hands!
According to an October 24th New York Times article, "65 and Up and Looking for Work":
"In fact, there are more Americans 65 and older in the job market today than at any time in history, 6.6 million, compared with 4.1 million in 2001.
Less well known, though, is that nearly half a million workers 65 and older want to work but cannot find a job � more than five times the level early this decade and this group�s highest unemployment level since the Great Depression." (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/24/
I guess everyone should seriously start saving their pennies as it looks like there will be fewer years people can spend retired. Very sad.
October 22, 2009 - Is Low Literacy Impacting Health Behaviors?
The State of Literacy in America provides the percent of each State's population at Level 1 literacy (1993)
Graphic Source: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/hep/lowlim/lowlim4.htm
According to the United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration, Level 1 literacy has been used as the definition of "low literacy." or the lowest level of literacy measured by National Adult Literacy Survey in 1993.
"Level 1 literacy is generally defined as less than fifth-grade reading and comprehension skills, and Level 2 is generally defined as fifth through seventh grades reading and comprehension skills." The survey reported that "21 percent of American adults had Level 1 literacy skills, and 27 percent of American adults had Level 2 literacy skills. Although many Level 1 adults could perform tasks involving simple texts and documents, all adults scoring at Level 1 displayed difficulty using certain reading, writing, and computational skills considered necessary for functioning in everyday life.
Almost all Level 1 adults could read a little, but not well enough to fill out an application, read a food label, or read a simple story to a child. While most of these adults are not considered "illiterate," they do not have the full range of economic, social, and personal options that are open to Americans with higher levels of literacy skills."
Could low literacy be a possible explanation for the lack of physical activity and the growing prevalence of obesity in the U.S.?
2007 Prevalence of Recommended Physical Activity
Graphic source: http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/PASurveillance/StateSumV.asp
U.S. Obesity Trends 1985�2008
Graphic Source: http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/trends.html
October 19, 2009 - Sugar Content, Counted as Cubes of Sugar
Here is a very simple way to compare the sugar content of common foods, by the number of cubes of sugar it contains (1 cube = 1 teaspoon of sugar). Notice how much of the sugar we take in is from what we drink rather than what we eat!!
On October 5th, Circulation posted a new definition for the Metabolic Syndrome. This new definition was developed by the joint efforts of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the World Heart Federation, the International Atherosclerosis Society, and the American Heart Association (AHA).
The Metabolic Syndrome has been defined differently over many years to the point that it became somewhat useless in characterizing people at risk for heart disease or diabetes. A major sticking point was the geographic variability of how waist circumference was measured and defined.
The new definition focuses on those risk factors that "contribute to doubling the risk for incident cardiovascular disease within 5 to 10 years as well as a 5-fold increase in the risk for incident type 2 diabetes," (http://cme.medscape.com/viewarticle/710337?src=mpnews&spon=34&uac=81167HX) and that presence of the metabolic syndrome is a risk marker.
If you look carefully at these 5 measures, every single one is amenable to diet and exercise , which means we can do something about them!!!
Source: Alberti KG, Eckel RH, Grundy SM, et al. Harmonizing the metabolic syndrome. A joint interim statement of the International Diabetes Federation Task Force on Epidemiology and Prevention; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; American Heart Association; World Heart Federation; International Atherosclerosis Society; and International Association for the Study of Obesity. Circulation 2009; 120:1640-1645
October 16, 2009 - Tobacco Destroys Quality of Life
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has recently released its comprehensive report,"Cigarette Smoking Prevalence and Policies in the 50 States: An Era of Change." It includes statistics on just about everything related to tobacco, from the prevalence in all 50 states to how current tobacco taxes are impacting the Public's health. The report concludes that tobacco control efforts are making progress, which is a good thing.
However, such efforts are really meant to support the personal efforts of those who really want to quit smoking. Smoking, as with all health behaviors, is a personal choice, albeit one that destroys quality of life rather than enhances it. Of course, the best choice is to never start; and if you do smoke, it's never too late to stop, and the sooner the better.
Here is a cool graphic that shows the awful effects tobacco has on our bodies and health.
Our "sweet tooth" is going to kill us all. During the past quarter of a century, our diet has become very sweet. However, the source of the sweetness has changed to the use of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). My August 31st and September 23rd entries talk about the detrimental impact of HFCS. There are now even more reasons to skip the soda, snack and baked good aisles of the supermarket.
According to the American Functional Foods Web site (http://americanfunctionalfoods.com/nutrition/opportunity.php), HFCS
first appeared in 1966 and is the leading sweetener in the United States today. The average American consumes 62.6 pounds per year equaling 4.5 billion dollars sold each year. It also lists the detrimental effects of HFCS consumption:
Fructose is converted into trigylcerides more efficiently than glucose
May cause insulin resistance and produce high levels of insulin
They are the chemical form of fat in food and in our body. Excessive levels of triglycerides have been linked to coronary heart disease. About 95% of the fat we eat is in the form of triglycerides. However, eating and drinking (alcohol) too many carbohydrates (of which sugar is a source) also contribute to the creation of triglycerides. Excessive carbohydrates are converted into triglycerides by the liver, which are then stored in our fat cells. This is probably the best explanation for why people with poorly controlled diabetes develop heart disease. It's the fault of all those triglycerides.
Here's a reminder of the chemistry you don't remember from high school and college, and, thank goodness, I'm not going to test you on it.
Eating fatty fish, which contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids (herring, sardines, trout, salmon and albacore tuna. Halibut, Alaskan king crab, mackerel, shrimp and scallops) reduces the triglyceride levels in the body. Fish oil supplements will also help, but I am really leery about dietary supplements because they are not regulated by the FDA. It would be extremely beneficial for everyone if the FDA can start regulating the multi-million dietary supplement industry, especially when physicians are recommending fish oils to their patients.
According to recently released findings of the 2008-2009 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, how happy you are varied by age and gender. Though interesting, I always find the measurement of Happiness just as elusive as Happiness itself. It would be interesting to see what happens ten years from now, when the happy 20 somethings get into their 30s.
According to the October 3rd New York Times article,"The Jobs News Gets Worse," the current recession is a lot more severe than earlier recessions when it comes to employment.
It is hard to believe that over 8 million jobs in the U.S. have been lost, with no end in sight. By now, everyone knows at least one person who has lost their job. Current economic times will definitely impact the way we live for years to come.
However, let's continue to maintain our health and wellness as best as we can, and if we're not at our optimum, to strive and improve our fitness by eating healthy and exercising on a daily basis. Compromising our health will put us at a disadvantage to deal with the stress of hard times and increase our susceptibility to getting sick.
October 9, 2009 - An Analysis of the Public Health Jobs E-list
I have been sending out the Public Health Jobs E-list since November 2001. Since then I have kept track of the number of jobs and internships posted, and the number of subscribers to the list. As of today, there are now 1,187 subscribers. I decided to analyze these data to see if this mailing list reflects the current economic climate, and to practice using Excel 2007.
Here is a graph of the average number of subscribers, and the average numbers of jobs and internhips posted, per mailing. As you can see, the average number of subscribers continues to increase, while the number of jobs have decreased for 2009. Interestingly enough, there are now more internships available.
You can subscribe for free to this list on my Home Page .
October 6, 2009 - How the NOAA Sees Earthquakes & Tsunamis
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration aka NOAA attempts to visualize the weather in ways that are beautiful and useful for purposes of forecasting. Such information is vital in emergency preparedness, and the more we know, the better prepared we can be to reduce casualties.
Graphic #1 visualizes the intensity of the September 2009 American Samoa Islands earthquake (8.0 magnitude) that was helpful in assessing the potential tsunami danger to coastal communities all around the Pacific.
Graphic #2 depicts the travel times of the tsunami wave that resulted from that earthquake.
Graphic Source: Is Google Rewiring Our Brains? http://searchengineland.com/
Did you know that 45% of our daily routines are done by habit, or without conscious thought? Once a habit is formed, we ignore information that threatens the habit and seek information that reinforces it. (http://searchengineland.com/human-hardware-searching-with-the-basal-ganglia-14578).
This is probably one of the biggest challenges of Public Health, not just educating people on developing good health behaviors, but helping them to stop the unhealthy ones. So, how do we break out of the rut of doing everything without conscious thought? Enter Internet search!
Aside from functioning as a means to an end, Internet searching may actually be good for the brain. According to Hotchkiss's Is Google Rewiring Our Brains?" (http://searchengineland.com/dr-teena-moody-chatting-about-our-brains-on-google-16728), searching the Internet involves decision-making.
These graphics show that those who do a lot of Internet searching will develop a savvyness that involves more areas of the brain than those who are not very proficient in searching. Active Internet searching requires you to integrate what you are reading along the way, make decisions as to whether or not the information is useful, etc. These Web search skills may help us to develop "neuroplasticity" that is useful for adapting to an ever-changing environment.
September 27, 2009 - Academic advantages of those who are fit
What parent does not want their child to succeed in school?
In the September report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Physical Education, Physical Activity and Academic Performance , researchers looked at how well middle school students who were physically fit did in English and Math testing against those who were not physically fit, based on the number of fitness tests they passed.
Results? Those who were more physically fit did better. Schools probably need to put back all those physical ed classes they have removed from the curriculum. The best thing parents can do is to keep themselves and their kids active.
Graphic adapted from http://www.rwjf.org/files/research/20090925alractiveeducation.pdf
September 24, 2009 - Don't get "madoffed" by diploma mills
Today I read about a pug that "earned" an online MBA for only $499.00 (http://chronicle.com/blogPost/Unmuzzling-Diploma-Mills-Dog/8175/?sid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en).
And, here's the YouTube video.
During times of economic hardships people are looking for ways to improve their chances for employment, and additional education is always helpful. At the same time it is important to be mindful that there are scam artists working this angle by offering useless educational programs for thousands of dollars, leaving you with a meaningless credential will not be accepted by employers. Many online programs, which promise the convenience of learning with a computer, are the most susceptible to scamming. Buyer Beware!
I have put together a set of links to help you separate the wheat from the chaff on my Career Resources Page under the new section, "College Education." There you will find links to databases that you can search potential schools and programs for their accreditation status, rate, rank and compare online schools and degrees, and state information on institutions licensed or authorized to operate. Education is always a good thing, but don't waste your money on diploma mills.
September 23, 2009 - Lower your blood pressure and save your liver - Give up soda
Here are two more reasons to give up soda. Researchers are reporting that high fructose intake (like from sweetened drinks) raises not only uric acid levels in your body, which result in gout, but raises your blood pressure (the upper and lower numbers) as well.
Unlike glucose, which can by used by many organs in the body, fructose can only be processed by the liver. The liver, as an organ, receives very little respect, yet its functions include detoxifying everything that comes into our body (from alcohol to drugs). We only have one liver, so we should try and preserve it as best as we can by not overtaxing it.
Reported in Medpage Today. Source: AHA Blood Pressure Research Conference;
source reference: Perez-Pozo S, et al "Excessive fructose intake raises blood pressure in humans" AHA BPRC 2009; Abstract P127.
September 23, 2009 - Welcome to the final quarter of 2009!
Smoking has been long known to be the single most preventable cause of death. Not only are smokers at higher risk for death from heart disease and cancer, those who do not smoke are placed at risk through second-hand exposure. In a recent study published in Circulation that was reported in "Medpage Today", researchers have found that "The number of acute myocardial infarctions dropped by an average of 17% a year after smoking bans were put into effect, compared with communities with no such smoking restrictions.... The decline in heart attacks continued in subsequent years, with rates dropping by about 36% within three years of smoking prohibitions taking effect."
This is good news for all passive smokers who are forced to inhale all the mainstream and sidestream smoke spewed into the common air everyone breathes. Now, if only smokers can experience the benefits of quitting, heart disease, stroke and many cancer rates would plummet! For information about tobacco and smoking cessation check my Tobacco Resources on the Internet
Source: Lightwood J, Glantz S "Declines in acute myocardial infarction following smokefree laws and individual risk attributable to secondhand smoke" Circulation 2009; DOI: 10.1161/CirculationAHA.109.870691
September 19, 2009 -
Well, It's About Time!
Time has run everything since the beginning of, well, Time. One thing we can all agree on, there is never enough time to do all the things we want and/or have to do, which is why "time management" is so critical to our health and wellness. Time is such an important "commodity" that there is actually a Web site called, "Time.gov"!
Here is an example of the Aztec Calendar that is part of many numerous sites and exhibits on Time.gov, and they're all about Time! So, take some time out and visit Time.gov and learn about what drives us all from the cradle to the grave. You can find a link to this site on my Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About...
NASA's Earth Observatory Web site have some of the most stunning photographs and images of our Earth and all the natural events and disasters that happen to it over the years.
Here is an example of the gorgeous graphics this site has. This one shows the warming trends of Antarctica between 1957 and 2006. You can find a link to this wonderful site on my Public Health Software , under Health Maps, entitled "Global Maps." and on the Kids Page , under Science Stuff, entitled "NASA's Earth Observatory Image of the Day NASA.gov"
Here are some excerpts from this year's PRC: Peer Review Congress Meeting regarding the practice of "spinning":
"It was considered spin, for example, if the author focused on statistically significant results of subgroup analyses or secondary outcomes, or if they interpreted the results as showing equivalence or comparable effectiveness.... We considered it to be a high level of spin if there was no acknowledgement of the negative primary outcome, no uncertainty, or no recommendations for further research"
"More than 40% of studies with negative findings were "spun" to convince readers of a more favorable result..."
"Even in trials with favorable outcomes, 49% of phrases considered to be positive "spin" weren't accompanied by any mention of a statistically significant result..."
"Scientists and sponsors are rarely neutral regarding their results,"... "They may be tempted consciously or unconsciously to bias the interpretation."
"...51% of statements included the word "significance," but only 72% of them were supported by the result of a statistical test...."
"The rhetoric used to frame research results often overstates the efficacy and the safety of a drug,"
Sources of citations: International Congress on Peer Review and Biomedical Publication Source reference: Boutron I, et al "'Spin' in reports of randomized controlled trials with nonstatistically significant primary outcomes" PRC 2009;
Bero L, Cheng Y "Rhetoric used in reporting research results" PRC 2009, as reported on Medpage Today's "PRC: Researchers 'Spin' Results of Clinical Trials
Of course, such "sins of print" should not be committed at all, and health information consumers should be aware of such unethical practices in the publication of research findings.
September 16, 2009 -
Ooh! Ahh! More Hubbell Photos! (Stephan Quintet and Omega Centauri)
September 16, 2009 -
According to the CDC, more than 200 known diseases are transmitted through food. Estimates of foodborne illnesses are usually compromised by underreporting. Many cases of foodborne illness are not reported because those affected do not seek medical care, and if they do, the health-care providers do not obtain specimens for diagnosis, etc. Based on recent studies, known pathogens account for an estimated 38.6 million illnesses each year, including 5.2 million (13%) due to bacteria, 2.5 million (7%) due to parasites, and 30.9 million (80%) due to viruses. Overall, foodborne transmission accounts for 13.8 million of the 38.6 million illnesses.
September 13, 2009 -
Beatles Do It Again
For this whole weekend it was wonderful to hear the Beatles fill the airwaves once again. Now a whole new generation will discover what I have enjoyed all these decades - wonderful music!
September 11, 2009 -
Ghost Authorship and other Sins of Print
In a 9/11 Medpage article (http://www.medpagetoday.com/
tbindex.cfm?tbid=15921) reporting on the findings from Wislar J, et al "Prevalence of honorary and ghost authorship in six general medical journals" PRC 2009 , readers would learn that ghostwriting and other "sins of print" (my term) are continually being committed in medical journals. Here are some excerpts:
"Ginny Barbour, MD, chief editor of PLoS Medicine, said authors who reported that ghost authorship was involved in their articles had effectively lied to journal editors as they disregarded policies regarding disclosure.
"This is dishonesty, and we shouldn't be tolerant of it," she said. "We are clearly being lied to on a daily basis."
"They found that 20.6% of articles had honorary authors who did not contribute to the paper but were listed out of courtesy or because their name carried prestige. The prevalence of honorary authors was highest in Nature Medicine (39%) and lowest in the New England Journal of Medicine (16%). As for outright ghost authorship, researchers found the highest prevalence in the New England Journal of Medicine (11%) and lowest in Nature Medicine (2%). Ghostwriting was significantly more prevalent in research articles than in reviews and editorials (12% versus 6% and 5%, respectively, P=0.019)."
How sad is this? We're talking about so-called professionals. I feel sorry for the editors of peer-reviewed journals who have to deal with people who cannot be honest and don't know the definition of authorship. Maybe everyone who wants to publish should take a course in communication ethics, or maybe they should go back to college and learn what happens to students who plagiarize and cheat. See my February 24, 2009 entry dealing with this same issue.
September 11, 2009 -
Education and Health
Graphics adapted from
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation just released its "Education Matters for Health" issue brief which goes into detail about why education attainment matters when it comes to health. I extracted the two graphics which I thought were the most poignant in making the point.
Figure 2 shows that regardless of which race or ethnic group you are part of education will improve your health the more education you get. Figure 6 graphically explains how educational attainment impacts health by influencing sociodemographic factors that contribute to health.
Public Agenda recently released its 2009 "Squeeze Play" report about higher education.
One of its findings was, while college is being viewed as more of a necessity, over time, fewer qualified people have the opportunity to attend, most likely due to financial reasons.
Parents were asked in the 2007 Squeeze Play survey about what they expected their children to get from a college education. The findings included: "a sense of maturity and ability to manage on their own" (68 percent said this was "absolutely essential"), followed by the skills they need to get a job (60 percent), an ability to get along with people different than themselves (59 percent), learning high-tech skills (57 percent) and thinking analytically (56 percent). [September 3, 2009 Public Agenda Alert]. So, there you have it, straight from those who are paying the tuition bills.
My take on higher education is, you can never get enough education, and it's not just limited to the 4 years you spend to earn a degree, but a lifelong pursuit. Learning keeps the brain functioning, and if you don't use it, you will lose it. You can find links to these two reports on my Kids Resources, under "Educational Stuff."
September 3, 2009 -
New York City's "Are You Pouring on the Pounds?"
Well, at least I'm not the only one crying in the wilderness. New York City is once again on the forefront in addressing a major public health problem - obesity, by raising awareness of the contribution of the sugar content in what we drink.
The excessive consumption of sugar in soda and other drinks taxes the ability of the body to handle such excess without wearing out the pancreas that is responsible for releasing insulin to metabolize sugar.
Eventually, and these days, too soon, the pancreas wears out, leaving people with type 2 diabetes. Thus, the term "Diabesity" (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/
winter08pg12.html) appropriately captures this growing Public Health problem.
Make sure you read the 6-page NYC's Health Bulletin (Vol. 8, No. 6) devoted to this problem. You can find a link to this bulletin on my Nutrition Resources Page, under "Sodas and Other Drinks." Send the link to people you care about. Make copies and give them out to everyone you know. (By the way, NYC's tap water is the finest water around.)
See also, Obesity Resources on the Internet
Sources for graphics: http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/pr2009/pr057-09.shtml
September 1, 2009 -
On the Frontlines of Public Health
Among the variety of tasks they perform, Public Health professionals working in local and county health departments regularly interface with the Public they serve. This includes providing basic preventive health services, health education about the latest health threats to inspecting restaurants and septic systems, and handling whatever comes up, from dealing with the pandemic flu to emergency preparedness for the geographic localities they serve. Their work is the most visible face of Public Health.
The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) just released its 2008 National Profile of Local Health Departments that provides a comprehensive picture of what these health departments do. The funding they receive to provide essential services vary and piecemeal, at best. For example, direct state funding across states vary from 0% to 50%.
Given the current climate of health care reform, we must not forget the role that local health departments play as the safety net for vulnerable populations. Over 80% routinely make referrals to health providers while at the same time 84% of local jurisdictions provide comprehensive primary care. Where would these people go if there were no local health departments?? The Public Health clinical preventive services delivery system should be a part of the US health care system reform. Something to think about. You can find a link to this useful report on my Public Health Practice Page, among other resources about the practice of Public Health.
August 31, 2009 -
Another reason to cut out the sodas
Findings from a recent published USDA report include:
"High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a sweetener commonly used in food products. HFCS 42, containing 42 per cent fructose, is mostly used in bakery and confectionery products, which HFCS 55 (a mixture of HFCS 42 and 90) is commonly used in soft drinks."
"...the heating of HFCS raises levels of hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), a toxin that causes gut ulceration and dysentery-like symptoms in bees. In humans it has been linked to DNA damage, and its daughter metabolites levulinic and formic acids have also been seen to cause harm."
Journal of Agriculture and Food Science 2009, 57, 736907376
PS - HFCS is used in bee keeping to stimulate brood rearing in the spring and to increase honey production. I am guessing that this may be a possible explanation for the bees die-off that has been reported since 2006. (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/03/07/eveningnews/main3919204.shtml)
August 28, 2009 -
There are 14 webpages that document where this Web site's visitors come from. Now, if you are interested or curious, you will be able to visit all the pages by clicking on this button which will take you back to the Visitors Index Page. From that page you will be able to reach all 14. Have fun!
I wonder if Microsoft is paying attention or if it is in its own world. Just the other day I discovered that the university's network has removed Office 2003 and left behind Office 2007. I have never used Office 2007 because I have been using Office 2000 (or Office 2003, where available) since it came out, and there is nothing wrong with that version. Prior to this, I was using Word 6.0, then Office 95, and finally Office 2000. It was at this point that software compatibility problems started cropping up, especially with Access.
Develop a database with Access 97, and if you open it with Access 2000, you are doomed, should you save it to the new version. Forget about ever using Access 97 again.
File incompatibility reached its height where at one point Microsoft thought it was smart to disallow newer versions of Word to open documents created in earlier versions of Word. It became farcical that the solution was to use OpenOffice to access earlier Word documents if you needed to because you couldn't use Word.
So, here I was printing out tutorials and cheat sheets to teach myself how to use Office 2007 when lo and behold I learn that Microsoft is working on Office 2010. At this point, does it make any sense to even bother to learn Office 2007 at all?
I would take a poll, but, it's already been done (http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=23450&tag=nl.e539), and Office 2007 is a total bust. Guess I'll stay with Office 2000.
August 26, 2009 -
Texting and Driving
While this is just a dramatization, it does graphically show what happens when the driver is distracted while texting.
Scary? Definitely. Maybe this is exactly what is needed to show that texting (and doing anything that distracts the driver from paying attention to the road) is a no-no while driving.
Video source: http://www.gwent.police.uk/leadnews.php?a=2172 via YouTube.com
August 25, 2009 -
Being 10 Years Old
It is hard to believe that it has been 10 years since I published the first webpages that turned into this Web site. Many thanks to the thousands of visitors who contributed over 2 million+ hits during the past decade, and for all the nice comments along the way.
August 24, 2009 - Can you say amazing?
Right now I am writing this entry on a plane that's flying along the eastern seaboard of the USA!!! Yes, I am actually blogging in the air! Thanks to the wonders of Wi Fi, I suppose you can blog anywhere with access to the Internet.
What's most interesting was during the previous leg of this trip I was playing "Inflight Trivia Challenge" and managed to rank first with the highest score of 5750, after playing 18 rounds of 20 questions each and winning about a third of the rounds. Someone on the flight wanted to buy me drinks (No, thanks, I don't drink).
Talking about a wealth of useless knowledge. I correctly answered a question about Magellan, an explorer I learned about in junior high school. Those were the days when we had to memorize a list of all the explorers, what they discovered, when, where and for whom. I suppose my history teacher would be proud that I actually remembered something from junior high school. Of course, what I would like to know now is - was this the reason why we had to memorize all those facts just so I can answer a trivia question?
August 14, 2009 -
Using Twitter in my Wellness Class
As I mentioned last month (7/14), I will be venturing into the world of Twitter (and I'm taking my class with me). I am not exactly an "early adopter" when it comes to technological breakthroughs, simply because many suffer breakdowns along the way. But, the potential for enhanced communication is always a good idea, while it does have its own hazards of misinformation that can turn into disinformation.
In a recent study reported in Computerworld (http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/
9136645/Stop_the_presses_40_of_tweets_are_pointless_babble_?source=CTWNLE_nlt_dailyam_2009-08-14) Twitter content comprised of "Pointless Babble (a whopping 40.55%)... Conversational was a close second (37.55%), and Pass-along Value was a distant third, with 8.7%." (I wonder what the rest of the content (13.20%) was). Nevertheless, it's time to try it out as a classroom project and see what will happen.
Here is the Twitter icon for Pch201wellness. Just click on the icon (or text below) to get to the Twitter page. It already includes tweets from all the federal government agencies dealing with Public Health. Join us! If nothing else you will get to learn some new facts about the latest Public Health issues that my students will be researching, and it will be an adventure....
August 13, 2009 -
Public Health Consulting
Changing my pace - will continue to teach and be involved in my numerous volunteer activities and responsibilities, but now open to Public Health consulting. Here is my Public Health Consultant Resume.
Not everything that is written about health is credible. Should this be a surprise? Health News Review.org tries to separate the chaff from the wheat by rating news articles related to health. They monitor the country's top 50 circulation newspapers, evening network newscasts of ABC, CBS and NBC, the Associated Press wire service, the weekly news magazines TIME, Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report and anything you want them to look at from other sources. Using 10 criteria, percentage-based stars are awarded. Five stars mean the article earned 81 to 100%.
For each article that is reviewed and rated by a panel of health experts, a detailed report is provided as to why the article fell short in, etc. Check out this site and learn how to tell the difference between fact and fiction when it comes to health information. You can find a link to this very informative site on my Research Resources Page , under "Levels of Research Evidence."
August 11, 2009 -
It's good to take time out and enjoy the wonders of Nature every now and then. Thanks to Hubbell we can see Space like we have never seen it before!
Here is a beautiful photo of a spiraling galaxy (upper left) named CGCG436-030. The star in the middle is the Milky Way.
And, this is one with two spiraling galaxies intersecting.
Source of graphics: http://abcnews.go.com/
August 10, 2009 -
Where Money is Being Wasted in Health Care
In order to solve the problems that are plaguing the health care system, it is probably a good idea to identify what those problems are. In today's online article,"Health Care's Six Money-Wasting Problems" provided by CNNMoney.com (http://finance.yahoo.com/insurance/article/107498/health-care-six-money-wasting-problems.html?mod=insurance-health), at least we now have a better idea of what the solutions should address. Following are my comments for the top three.
Overtesting. If physicians have to practice "defensive medicine" then lawyers should practice "defensive law" - cap malpractice awards. The practice of medicine should not be defined by malpractice decisions. As for evidence-based guidelines, who came up with the rule that people entering the Medicare system should get one and only one physical for the rest of their lives? Does that make any sense at all when we know the body inevitably breaks down with age? If younger people are encouraged to see their physician annually for a physical, how come that doesn't hold true for those 65 and older?
Processing Claims. Insurance companies justify their excessive charges with excessive paperwork. How burdensome is this to the patient who must fill out the same stupid set of forms for every practitioner they see? I wonder if this includes all the stupid forms practitioners have to fill out just to be allowed to do what they feel is necessary to provide the best care possible, and trying to get reimbursed for their services. Imagine if you had to fill out forms all the time just to get paid. Finally, since insurance companies deny claims for almost anything that is even remotely not proven to be effective, then why is there the issue with overtesting? This makes no sense to me. And, who are the losers in this scenario? (Watch the film "Damaged Care")
Ignoring doctor's orders. Well, if you are not going to bother following medical advice, why bother going to the doctor?
July 24, 2009 -
What Happened to Consumer.gov?
While performing the tedious and time-consuming task of removing dead links (about 6 to 8 hours every few months), I have discovered that www.consumer.gov is gone. Many links to CDC press releases have disappeared, as well as links to the FDA.gov site. Also missing are pages to the NDEP.NIH.gov. This is highly unusual and I am hoping that it's summertime and these agencies are taking the opportunity to incrementally update their sites. Of course, I am bracing for when Geocities goes defunct on October 26, 2009, just in time for a Halloween scare....
Nevertheless, I am apologizing to my visitors who came across these broken links on this site. Well, at least these dead links are now gone.
July 21, 2009 -
Mystery Achievement Revisited
I have forgotten how great The Pretenders were until they played Mystery Achievement in "Alpha Dog."
If you have never heard them, watch this YouTube clip of one of my favorite Pretender's hit, and catch their February 2003 "Pretenders Loose in L.A." concert on DVD, which catches them at their best. Chrissie Hynde never sounded better!
July 20, 2009 -
July 20, 1969 - Man Walks the Moon
Let's not forget this great achievement from 40 years ago. I couldn't believe that part of this first moon landing footage was erased to make room for - what could be more important????
History has a lot to teach us and helps us to assess whether or not changes made are actually beneficial. Over the course of the almost 10 years I have been building and maintaining this Web site, I can tell you something about the evolution of "free" services. Most interesting, free services have not completely gone away, they have only changed in the types of services they provide. The major disadvantage is the constant need to move things around, and everyone knows what a hassle moving can be.
The Internet is probably the greatest medium today for communication. This includes communication of all kinds, like the sharing of misinformation, disinformation, etc. In recent years, it has gotten more interactive. Everyone, or anyone could post a response to what's published in blogs, news articles, etc. The Net 2.0 revolution has added another dimension, need I daresay, "soundbiting"?
Twitter is in the forefront of introducing rapid one-way communication with a "you-don't-have-to-respond-if-you-don't-want-to-but-here's-my-life." Oh well, so much for contemplation, reflection or deep-thinking, or the need to think twice before you post. It's your choice now, everyone can have a voice when it comes to tweeting.
Nevertheless, "everyone" is getting on board. I am amazed to see that many federal government agencies are getting into the act with this. At least we can trust these sources for tweets of credible information.
I, too, will venture forth and join the conversationn as part of a class project I am now developing. Will unveil later on this summer. Stay tuned.
July 10, 2009 -
Yahoo's Travel Fine Print
I bet you never read this fine print when you order plane tickets online. I didn't until I got a credit card charge for over $50.00. Here's the Fine Print.
Airfare Taxes and Fees
Taxes, Charges and Government Fees
Where noted with an asterisk (*), prices shown for air-only transactions and travel packages that include air are for one adult and are subject to additional charges, including but not limited to: (i) Airport Passenger Facility Charges that range from $2-$18 USD, depending on itinerary; (ii) Federal Segment Fees of $3.00 USD per segment (defined as a takeoff and a landing); (iii) the September 11th Security Fee of $2.50 USD per flight segment (maximum charge per trip of $5.00 USD one-way, $10.00 USD round-trip; (iv) a Travel Facilities Tax of up to $13.40 USD per round-trip for domestic flights beginning or ending in Alaska or Hawaii; and (v) for fares to Canada, a federal immigration fee of $7.00 USD per roundtrip, airport fees of $6.50 USD per roundtrip and Canada Air Traveler Security charge of $8.00 USD per roundtrip; and (vi) for international itineraries, foreign and U.S. government-imposed charges of up to $200.00 USD per round trip, depending on routing and destination.
Online Air Transaction Service Fee.
A non-refundable fee of $5.00 to $12.50 may be charged by Travelocity for each air transaction. The fee varies based on airfare, carrier, destination, and other factors. To the extent any online air transaction service fee applies, it will be included in the airfare and itemized prior to purchase. The current maximum number of tickets per transaction is six. Purchasing more than six tickets begins a new transaction with its own online air transaction service fees. This online air transaction service fee applies to both e-tickets and paper tickets. There is no online air transaction service fee on combined air and hotel transactions.
If you request paper tickets, there is a $19.95 USD shipping fee per transaction for second business day delivery; a $24.95 USD shipping fee per transaction for next business day delivery; and a $39.95 USD shipping fee per transaction for international delivery. Airlines may assess additional charges for paper tickets and additional charges may apply on Sabre Agency Ticketing. Paper tickets will be delivered within the allotted time frame and billed to your credit card or debit card billing address via Travelocity.
Itinerary changes, cancellations and refunds, if permitted for the airfare, may carry a fee of up to $150 USD that may vary by market, carrier and specific fare rule.
It goes on and on, but there should be a law that requires these fees are made known up front, like when you order these tickets BEFORE you pay instead of having a bill surprise....
July 9, 2009 -
U.S. Obesity Trends 1985-2008
Well, this should come as no surprise, but it is unfortunate that we have a major public health problem to deal with. While obesity is not considered a disease, per se, it is a contributing cause/risk factor/risk marker for a number of chronic diseases. And, the basic solution is better eating and more exercise. Summer is a good time to start....
I suppose you don't need a graph to show you what most people are experiencing in the here and now, that people are still losing their jobs and unemployment is close to 10%. Actual number for June is 467,000. This, of course, does not reflect all the people who have been unemployed for months and cannot find a job, nor those who have left the work force semi-willingly (like early retirement incentives) as the lesser of two evils, or those who want to re-enter the workforce but can't find a job. At least experts are now admitting that this is "a deep recession" and "the most painful downturn since the Great Depression."
July is when I do some annual and new updates to the Web site. Here's one - a new navigation button that you will find on all my blog pages that will take you back to the Blog Index Page.
As with everything else that has to do with webmastering, the challenge is how to make incremental changes without looking like they are incremental changes. This actually requires going back and revisiting what I have done since 1999. If you are interested in what kinds of changes I have made over the years, check out my FAQ Page . For those who may not know what that means, it's the "Frequently Asked Questions" Page.
July 1, 2009 -
F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are Failing in America , 2009
Another year, and this Healthyamericans.org's annual report only changes the year in its title. I have talked about the problem of obesity fairly regularly, and highlighted this problem in my August 21, 2008 and August 29, 2007 entries, not to mention the entry below. It is sad to see young children so overweight because it will shorten their lives by bringing on chronic diseases at an earlier age, particularly Type 2 Diabetes, which is very tough to control without a lifelong commitment. They may not outlive their parents. Imagine that.
I suppose policies can't do what we personally don't make the effort to do, and that's to make the effort to live more healthfully. In addition to never smoking, eating more fruits and vegetables, cutting out soda and foods with trans fat, aerobic exercising at least 60 minutes a day are basic starters to controlling obesity. To do nothing, being sedentary, will guarantee adding four pounds a year to your weight.
Obesity continues to be the bane of today's society. Aside from modern day living, which comprise sitting in front of ever-growing TV screens, there are many other reasons why the pounds keep rising - people celebrate life events, people eating to comfort themselves in harsh times, the corn syrup in almost all commercial foods, etc. And, of course, there's the workplace, where many adults spend over a third of their daily lives at this home away from home.
Not a moment too soon, the CDC has come out in a big way for worksite health promotion, by targeting obesity. It has recently released a new site called LEAN Works: A Workplace Obesity Prevention Program . This is a wonderful site for public health practitioners interested in developing workplace wellness or health promotion programs, as well as in other settings. Providing the basics of program development, anyone can learn what makes for a successful program.
Obesity-specific tools are available, including the obesity calculator and a whole page of resources that include templates for budgets, powerpoint presentations, checklists, program documentation, etc. This site is definitely worth checking out that may provide ideas on how you can incorporate strategies for addressing obesity in your programs. You can find a link to this site on my Worksite Wellness Page , and a link to the tool index page on my Public Health Practice Page. See also Obesity Resources on the Internet
June 29, 2009 - Mapping the Social Determinants of Health
Check out this map for the distribution of the where the uninsured live. Keep in mind that this is 2000 data. I am sure that the next update would probably make the map a lot more "browner" than it is shown here, given how many people have lost their health insurance when they lost their jobs.
In recent years we are hearing more and more about the impact that socioeconomic factors have on health status. The national Division of Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention (DHDSP) has identified the following factors that impact heart disease and stroke:
White Collar Workers
High School Education
Ages 65 and Older
American Indian and Alaska Native
Asian and Pacific Islander
Hispanic or Latino
Cardiovascular Disease Specialty Physicians
What's even neater is that they have compiled a series of national maps for each of these factors! You can find a link to DHDSP's Social Determinants of Health maps on my Public Health Practice Resources, under "Social Determinants of Health."
June 14, 2009 - Third Quarter 2009 Starts... I have moved over the Newsworthy Stuff from April to May to the 2009 Blog . Thanks for your patience.
According to a University of North Carolina study, Americans drink 192 gallons of liquid a year, or 2 liters a day. For this summer, why not take the opportunity to make a healthy change to "water only" as your preferred beverage?
Since close to 2/3s of Americans are overweight, cutting the liquid caloric intake can make such a difference to our waistlines. For summer reading, practice your reading skills with food labels, and be surprised by how little we know about the chemicals we are ingesting from what we eat and drink.
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS), the sole sweetener for soft drinks and found in virtually all commercial foods, has been linked to accelerating the spread of obesity. (http://blogs.consumerreports.org/health/2008/
Between 1970 and 1990, consumption of HFCS has increased by 1,000%!
"Fructose doesn't stimulate glucose levels and insulin release, there's no increase in leptin levels or feeling of satiety. Frutose is an unregulated source of acetyl CoA, or the starting material for fatty acid synthesis. This, coupled with unstimulated leptin levels, is like opening the flood gates of fat deposition."
This basically messes up the management of diabetes for those who have this condition.
Diet sodas (many people's efforts to cut calories) may be "calorie-free", but what they don't tell you is that it's 100% nutrition-free as well. The most common artificial sweetener used is aspartame, which is 200 times sweeter than sugar, and animal studies link it to tumor development.
Finally, you may be interested in knowing that the unhealthiest drink in America, according to Men's Health, is the Baskin-Robbins Large Heath Bar Shake. Why? It contains 2,310 calories; 108 g fat (64 g saturated), 266 g sugar. You would need to spend 4 hours on a treadmill to burn off these calories!
For more information about sodas and access to nutrition resources, check out my Nutrition Page - Cheers! And, make that a Venti water for me....
May 29, 2009 - Health Care Cost$ & the Quality of Life Index
According to the National Coalition on Health Care's "Health Insurance Costs," the 2008 average annual health expenditures for an individual in the US is $7,900. The annual health insurance premium for a single person is $4,700. It is estimated that "Retiring elderly couples will need $250,000 in savings just to pay for the most basic medical coverage. Many experts believe that this figure is conservative and that $300,000 may be a more realistic number." Imagine spending a 1/4 of a million dollars of savings on medical coverage.
The 2005 Economist Intelligence Units quality-of-life index attempted to quantify all the factors and intangibles that comprise socio-economic well-being, and then use it to measure quality of life across countries. The 9 quality-of-life factors include: material well-being, health, political stablity and security, family life, community life, climate and geography, job secruity, political freedom and gender equality.
After all the statistical analyses, health came in second, only after political freedom and security. According to this index, the US came in 13th, while Ireland ranked first.
So, what's the take home (or, onscreen) message? Health is an important factor in the quality-of-life equation that holds true no matter where you live in this world. Second, Americans' quality of life is increasingly compromised by the rising health care costs we are forced to pay for till each of us will no longer be able to sustain our lives in the later years. Is this sad enough to do something about our health care system?
Now you can send Public Health-related messages with CDC's evergrowing catalogue of Health E-cards. And, you can send them for free! Here is an example of a health habit that can make a difference in how we live fully, yet most people regularly neglect their need for adequate sleep. Send this as a reminder to someone you know who is constantly sleep-deprived while at the same time showing that you care. You can find a link to the CDC's E-cards on my Useful Sites for Day-to-Day Activities.
Russian economist Nikolai Kondratiev (also written Kondratieff) has actually graphed what are now called "Supercycles, surges, long waves or K-waves." Introduced in 1925 in his book, The Major Economic Cycles, he posits international economies fluctuate in 40 to 60 year cycles.
I love big-picture people because they are the ones who get to discover the patterns that those lost in the details never see. After all, patterns of phenomena are what we are all after when we use statistics to try and predict what will happen in the future based on what has already happened in the past. Perhaps, Kondratiev's time has finally come as we seem to be stuck in the current economic mire.
It was only in last March's Blog that I talked about the need of having $225,000, at a minimum, to retire. Of course, who has that kind of money anymore, with the current economy? At that time, in a Cassandra moment, I also wrote about the sad state of Medicare and Social Security. And, THAT was before the current recession.
I suppose that the dominos are still falling, and the impact may last for a long time. I always knew that Social Security was not going to be enough, and that it would be like a safety net when I retire. However, at the rate we're going, there may be no safety net at all. On top of this, when we will need health care the most, we may not even be able to afford any at all. I think it's time something is done, and I hope that this won't be another Cassandra moment.
May 7, 2009 - The Vitamin D Pandemic and its Health Consequences
I heard Dr. Michael Holick the other night and now you can hear him, too, as he makes his case for increasing the daily recommendation of 400 IU to 1,000 IU of Vitamin D. Not your typical medical conference presentation, listen to what he has to say about why Vitamin D deficiency is currently linked to the development of such chronic diseases as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, psoriasis, to name a few.
Never dull, this 50-minute presentation is full of great slides with fascinating facts and studies that will encourage you to think more seriously about getting an adequate amount of Vitamin D, not entirely from the sun, but along with healthy foods and Vitamin D supplements. Click on the title of this blog entry, or visit my Nutrition Page - the link is there, along with hundreds of other nutrition links.
Source for graphics: http://www.uvadvantage.org/portals/0/pres/
October 10, 2010 Update - This page is no longer available.
April 26, 2009 - Public Health Emergency - H1N1 Swine Flu Outbreak - Google International Map
The locals living in Los Angeles think nothing of the inevitable "Big One" to come. I, on the other hand, am not a local when I was staying at Long Beach's Hyatt Regency for a conference in which I was presenting when some "small ones" hit the Los Angeles area.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Shakemap reported them at 4.0, followed by 3.0 tremors.
Where I was, the intensity was categorized as II - III, and considered a "felt event."
It was almost imperceptible, but I felt them, which caused me to have involuntary jerky movements. When I looked up and saw the curtains swaying, I concluded it probably wasn't me. Yet, I never thought it was an earthquake until I heard the next morning that 4 small earthquakes had hit the area.
I was actually able to report what I felt on the USGS Webpages devoted to this particular quake by completing an online survey, "Did you feel it? - Tell us!"
Every April 7th, the World Health Organization (WHO) chooses a crucial health theme to highlight. For World Health Day 2009, WHO is raising awareness about the importance of hospital services in preserving Public Health during disasters of any kind.
The WHO video offers a brief but important look at what health care providers must cope with during those trying times - when health services delivery must compete with the more immediate needs of survival at all levels. The video lets you hear from these heroic professionals what it's like to save lives against insurmountable odds.
Previous World Health Days include such topics as:
2008: protecting health from climate change
2007: international health security
2006: working together for health
2005: make every mother and child count
2004: road safety
2003: shape the future of life
2002: move for health
2001: mental health: stop exclusion, dare to care
You can find a link to this video and to previous world health days on my International Health Page . Learn about the global health issues that continue daily despite the global economic conditions that confront us all.