Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Dawn of Agriculture Took Toll On Health


Amanda Mummert led the first comprehensive, global review of the literature regarding stature and health during the agriculture transition. (Credit: Image courtesy of Emory University)

From the 18 June 2011 Science Daily article


ScienceDaily (June 18, 2011) — When populations around the globe started turning to agriculture around 10,000 years ago, regardless of their locations and type of crops, a similar trend occurred: The height and health of the people declined….

…”Many people have this image of the rise of agriculture and the dawn of modern civilization, and they just assume that a more stable food source makes you healthier,” Mummert says. “But early agriculturalists experienced nutritional deficiencies and had a harder time adapting to stress, probably because they became dependent on particular food crops, rather than having a more significantly diverse diet.”

She adds that growth in population density spurred by agriculture settlements led to an increase in infectious diseases, likely exacerbated by problems of sanitation and the proximity to domesticated animals and other novel disease vectors.

Eventually, the trend toward shorter stature reversed, and average heights for most populations began increasing. The trend is especially notable in the developed world during the past 75 years, following the industrialization of food systems.

“Culturally, we’re agricultural chauvinists. We tend to think that producing food is always beneficial, but the picture is much more complex than that,” says Emory anthropologist George Armelagos, co-author of the review. “Humans paid a heavy biological cost for agriculture, especially when it came to the variety of nutrients. Even now, about 60 percent of our calories come from corn, rice and wheat.”…

An abstract of the article may be found here.

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June 20, 2011 Posted by | Nutrition, Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

Number Of Deaths In The US Can Be Linked To Social Factors

From the 16 June 2011 Medical News Today site

Published in the American Journal of Public Health, a new study *** calculates the number of deaths attributable to social factors in the United States, finding a broader way to conceptualize the causes of mortality.

Researchers estimated the number of deaths in the United States attributable to social factors, using a systematic review of the available literature combined with vital statistics data. They conducted a MEDLINE search for all English-language articles published between 1980 and 2007 with estimates of the relation between social factors and adult all-cause mortality. After calculating for the relative risk estimates of mortality, researchers obtained estimates for each social factor. Individual social factors included education, poverty, health insurance status, employment status and jobstress, social support, racism or discrimination, housing conditions and early childhood stressors. Area-level social factors included area-level poverty, income inequality, deteriorating built environment, racial segregation, crime and violence, social capital and availability of open or green spaces.

They found that approximately 245,000 deaths in the United States in 2000 were attributable to low education, 176,000 to racial segregation, 162,000 to low social support, 133,000 to individual-level poverty, 119,000 to income inequality and 39,000 to area-level poverty. …

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June 20, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Obese Doesn’t Always Mean Unhealthy, UMDNJ Research Shows

“…metabolically healthy obese individuals may represent as much as 20 to 30 percent of obese population…

From the 17 June Medical News Today Web page

It’s become an axiom of health that overweight and obese people are not as healthy as their normal weight counterparts. In fact, obesity has been targeted as one of the country’s most serious public health problems, with predictions of widespread heart disease, diabetes and cancer among the growing number of Americans who are overweight. But what if that’s not always correct? Is it possible for some people to be overweight or even obese and still be healthy? Researchers from the Weight Management Services Program at the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine think so, and they have some surprising statistics to back that opinion up.

The researchers analyzed the records of 454 individuals who were seen as patients at the medical school. Each of the individuals in the study had a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30, a standard for defining obesity, and the group’s average body fat percentage was over 46 percent. The UMDNJ analysis revealed a distinct sub-group of 135 metabolically healthy obese (MHO) individuals who, despite their high BMIs and body fat percentages, had essentially none of the measureable health risks high blood pressure or elevated blood sugar or cholesterol levels normally associated with obesity. Another sub-group of 167 individuals was categorized as medically unhealthy obese (MUO) because their corresponding results for the same measurements indicated an elevated risk for chronic disease.

“Our results indicate that metabolically healthy obese individuals may represent as much as 20 to 30 percent of obese population,” [Flahiff’s emphasis]  said Dr. Adarsh Gupta, director of Weight Management Services at the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine, who, along with Dr. Gwynn Coatney, conducted the research. “This highlights the need for clinicians to be cautious when using obesity as a criterion for prescribing treatment. Researchers, too, need to be careful to distinguish between the metabolically healthy and metabolically unhealthy when analyzing data involving a group of obese individuals.”

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A collaboration of U.S. government agencies, public health organizations and health sciences libraries

A related Web site – Obesity (Partners in Information Access for the Public Health Workforce)

From the press release

A new topic page on Obesity is now available on at

The topic page links to obesity information and resources including government, professional and research organizations that focus obesity issues; reports, publications and guidelines; obesity programs and campaigns; child obesity information; data and statistics; legislation and policy issues; grants and funding opportunities; training and continuing education; and upcoming conferences and events.

The Partners in Information Access for the Public Health Workforce,<>, is a collaboration of U.S. government agencies, public health organizations, and health sciences libraries. The mission of PHPartners is to help the public health workforce find and use information effectively to improve and protect the public’s health. welcomes suggestions of new links to post. Please suggest links at

To keep up-to-date with public health news and online information resources, you can subscribe to the PHPartners RSS feed at, or to the weekly email announcement list at

June 20, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Drugs of Abuse – 2011 Edition

Salvia divinorum drug

Image via Wikipedia

Drugs of Abuse – 2011 Edition (US Drug Enforcement Agency) is designed to “be a reliable resource on the most popularly abused drugs. This publication delivers clear, scientific information about drugs in a factual, straightforward way, combined with scores of precise photographs shot to scale.”
Both legal and illegal substances are included. Familiar drugs include marijuana, heroin, cocaine and barbiturates. A drugs of concern section includes bath salts, DXM, and Salvia Divinorum.
Links are given to federal anti-drug organizations,  other anti-drug organizations, free anti-drug information sites, and youth anti-drug organizations.

June 20, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

Environmental Health Student Portal – Connecting Middle School Students to Environmental Health Information

Environmental Health Student Portal – Connecting Middle School Students to Environmental Health Information

From the About Page


he Environmental Health Student Portal, a product of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), National Institutes of Health (NIH), provides a safe and useful resource for students and teachers in grades 6 – 8 to learn how the environment can impact our health. The Web site explores topics such as water pollution, climate change, air pollution, and chemicals.

The topics covered within this Web site provide a great resource tool for teachers. Teachers can use the site to introduce topics, supplement existing materials, or to further explore the connection between human activities and the environment and how these activities affect our health. This resource is a reliable Web site for students to explore and obtain information for research assignments and science fair projects ideas.

The Environmental Health Student Portal takes advantage of several different mediums. The site links to articles, games, activities, and videos. Text varies from easy-to-read to advanced reading levels, which makes this a versatile tool both in and out of the classroom. Users can also explore Science, Technology Engineering, and Math (STEM) careers and view current event press releases from MedlinePlus on environmental health related topics.

A sampling from the Web site

Related Resources



June 20, 2011 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Public Health | , , | Leave a comment


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