Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Top 3 Public Health News of 2009

This year public health undeniably became a part of our national consciousness. In order to ring in the New Year and reflect on the past year at Veritas Health, I've highlighted below what I believe to be the top three issues in public health of 2009. For those interested, the headlines link to my previous posts on the topic.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Nourishing Traditions: A book that gets to the heart of food

There is no arguing that our food system has dramatically changed over the past half century. The American diet has been overhauled with the advent of fast-food, supermarkets, and convenience foods (read: shelf-stable products all found in the interior of your local market or in those vending machines you frequent). These changes have affected public health in unimaginable ways -- not the least of which is the rapid rise of obesity and Type 2 (preventable) diabetes among adults and children of all ages.

This Christmas, I asked my in-laws for a cookbook that could revolutionize the way I think about and interact with food. That book, Nourishing Traditions, is subtitled "The cookbook that challenges politically correct nutrition and the diet dictocrats." And if that doesn't say enough -- it's filled with recipes calling for raw, whole fat dairy, lard and numerous recipes calling for whey (the liquid part of curds and whey -- or that clear, yellowish liquid that settles when you have a tub of yogurt in your fridge).

Thursday, December 17, 2009

It's a Water Problem

After spending 3 months thinking and writing about sugar-sweetened beverages, obesity, and school food environments I am a little concerned about the effects of the New York Times' Toxic Waters series and peoples' consumption of water (a great alternative to all those sugary drinks).

The series is exposing the many problems with our nations' water supply (including the dangers hidden in some tap water).

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Teenage Pregnancy: A Cool Website

This semester I started working with a group of Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) students on a student-run social media campaign. After some collaboration with the Center for Health Communication at HSPH we decided to pursue an online campaign that targets pregnant teenagers in the Boston area.

Why? Because teens who become pregnant are less likely to have a healthy pregnancy and less likely to see a doctor for prenatal care. Everything from diet, activity, stress, and support are critical to having a healthy pregnancy. A healthy pregnancy leads to a healthy birth, a health birth leads to a healthy infant, and a healthy infant leads to a healthy child. You get the idea...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Is "Healthier" Healthy Enough for School Vending?

Early on a Tuesday morning, while walking the halls of Winter Hill Elementary School in Somerville, Massachusetts, I was struck by the absence of an item that has become nearly ubiquitous in schools across Massachusetts: vending machines. Vending machines are the most convenient source of exactly what you tell your kids not to eat.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

States Cut Tobacco Prevention Funds

According to a recent report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, all states with the exception of North Dakota have cut tobacco prevention funds.

Unfortunately, it doesn't appear to be a result of ineffective prevention efforts.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Debunking American Nutrition Myths

Darya Pino of Summer Tomato (an amazing blog with lots of health and nutrition information) promoted this video. It's amazing -- Dr. Lustig of UC San Francisco debunks popular nutrition myths, particularly related to sugar consumption by tying together the science of public health, nutrition, and biochemistry.

Hope you enjoy!

Mammography Guidelines Revisited

Reaction to the updated mammography guidelines -- see previous posts on the topic -- from the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), a panel of experts charged with determining guidelines for cancer screening, has reached partisan proportions. Republicans are trending toward outrage and Democrats sympathy.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

World Aids Day: Youth Finding a Voice

Today is World AIDS Day. I read an article in the Huffington Post written by a graduate of Harvard School of Public Health, Rena Greifinger, and some colleagues about the impact of HIV on youth. She discusses a global phenomenon that
"Young people 10 to 24 years old make up one of the most vulnerable, yet historically overlooked populations affected by the HIV pandemic."
But brings the issue close to home -- 330 young people currently living in Massachusetts were infected with HIV at birth.

While the numbers seem small, the stigma surrounding life with HIV/AIDS lends a heavy burden to those affected, their friends and family.

Read the article, it's short, it's personal, and it's inspiring.