Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Nutrition Basics Help Fight Child Obesity

As the school year gets underway, parents and teachers are focused on reducing child obesity. FDA nutrition expert Shirley Blakely, a registered dietitian, says using the Nutrition Facts and list of ingredient on prepared foods are the keys to healthy eating.

Excerpts from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Web page Nutrition Basics Help Fight Child Obesity

As you head down the supermarket aisle, Blakely says you should zero-in on two things:

  • the Nutrition Facts label—tells the number of calories and percentage of a day’s worth of nutrients in one serving
  • the ingredients on the label of all prepared foods—lists every ingredient that went into the product, with the predominant ingredient first, the next most prominent second, and so on in descending order

Ingredients in prepared foods are listed in descending order of predominance. If the cereal your kids like has some type of grain listed first, that’s a good sign. But if fructose, high fructose corn syrup, or sucrose—in other words, sugar—is listed first, you’d best leave that item on the store shelf because added sugars are taking the place of other, more nutritious ingredients.

And sugar isn’t always an additive. Some foods—fruits, for example—are naturally sweet without adding any sugar at all. If you check the Nutrition Facts label on canned or dried fruits that have no added sugar, you’ll still see sugars listed. That’s because the sugars in pineapple, raisins, prunes, and other fruits occur naturally….
……

Blakely also says parents and kids should pay attention to portion sizes. Her advice: put just one serving on each person’s plate. And make sure everyone in the family knows how to use the Nutrition Facts label to guide their food choices. Blakely says there are three things everyone should check when they read the label:

Serving size—one container isn’t necessarily one serving; make sure you’re eating only one serving by pre-measuring your food and eating it from a plate or bowl instead of out of the container.

Percent Daily Value—tells what percentage of the recommended daily amount of each nutrient is in one serving of a food. Based on the amount of each nutrient recommendation for one day, 5 percent or less is low; 20 percent or more is high.

Nutrients—try to get 20 percent or more of protein, fiber, and some essential vitamins and minerals (such as vitamin C and calcium) in a single serving; but limit your intake of saturated fats and sodium to 5 percent or less per serving of food. Strive for 0 trans fat, or trans fatty acids—this harmful fat raises your bad cholesterol (LDL) and lowers your good cholesterol (HDL).

Good nutrition is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to being healthy. For more information about how to live healthier, go to www.letsmove.gov!

Some additional child nutrition Web sites and Web pages

 

 

October 28, 2010 Posted by | Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

Hospital Preparedness Checklist for Pandemic Influenza

Hospital Preparedness Checklist for Pandemic Influenza (with a 2009 focus)  aims to help “enhance the readiness of the health facilities to cope with the challenges of an epidemic, a pandemic or any other emergency or disaster, hospital managers need to ensure the initiation of relevant generic priority action. [The document]  aims to provide a checklist of the key action to carry out in the context of a continuous hospital emergency preparedness process.”

This 32 page PDF document includes checklists in the areas of incident command, communication, continuity of essential services, surge capacity, human resources, logistics, and supply management (including pharmaceuticals), infection prevention and control, case management, surveillance, and laboratory services.

 

October 28, 2010 Posted by | Professional Health Care Resources | , , , , | 1 Comment

Communication in Cancer Care

Communication in Cancer Care is a PDQ (Physician Data Query) summary** which outlines good communication skills among patients, family members, and health care providers. Good communication in all phases of cancer care contributes to the well being of the patient and improves quality of life.

The Communication in Cancer Care Web site has a patient version, a health professional version, and a Spanish language version.

The patient version addresses issues as the roles of family givers and parents, how to talk with the health care team (including the importance of checklists and record keeping)
and where to find more information on communicating effectively in cancer care settings.

The health professional version outlines factors and outcomes related to communicating effectively, how to communicate effectively in cancer care settings, and information on training programs and clinical trials.

On a related note, this is an example of why good communication is important in cancer care…

The Perils of Taking Experimental Cancer Drugs [Reuters Health, Oct 26,2010, by Frederik Joelving]

[Excerpt]

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Trying a new, experimental cancer drug may offer a glimpse of hope for very sick patients, but often does more harm than good, a new study shows.

Researchers said cancer doctors regularly resort to drugs still undergoing testing, as long as they have been approved for other diseases or in different combinations or doses.

But because the science is still up in the air, nobody really knows what the consequences of taking such drugs are.

“Many of these drugs end up not being the tremendous improvement that we hoped they would be,” said Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, who was not involved in the new study.

“People need to realize that because the trials have not been completed there is a great deal that is not known about the treatments,” he told Reuters Health. “There are people who get these treatments and get hurt.”

The new study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, looked at 172 clinical trials published over two years. [Editor Flahiff’s note : Ask a reference librarian at a local public, academic, or medical library for availability and if any fee is involved]

Less than a third of the clinical trials showed the experimental drugs improved patient survival, and less than half found the drugs helped other clinical outcomes…..

……

Sometimes, of course, new drugs do work, and no one argues that doctors shouldn’t be allowed to prescribe medications they think will help patients.

But doctors should be very clear about the high risks involved. One way to do that, said Peppercorn, would be to require that cancer doctors get informed consent from patients before they start them on experimental drugs.

In the end, Brawley said, the decision to use such treatment should be left to the patient and his or her doctor.

“There are times when it can be justified,” he noted, “but it is done far more often than it should be.”

 

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**PDQ is an online database developed and maintained by the National Cancer Institute. Designed to make the most current, credible, and accurate cancer information available to health professionals and the public, PDQ contains peer-reviewed summaries on cancer treatment, screening, prevention, genetics, complementary and alternative medicine, and supportive care; a registry of cancer clinical trials from around the world; and directories of physicians, professionals who provide genetics services, and organizations that provide cancer care. Most of this information, and more specific information about PDQ, can be found on the NCI’s Web site athttp://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq. Also called Physician Data Query.

October 28, 2010 Posted by | Health Education (General Public), Professional Health Care Resources | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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