Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Remember the Food Pyramid?

Every five years the US federal government reviews the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Remember the days of the "Food Pyramid" and then the recent 2005 edition of the "My Pyramid"? Well, if you missed my past post on the topic you should see the Harvard School of Public Health rendition - the Healthy Eating Pyramid - which has a much simpler and scientific food guide for health!

Marion Nestle noted author and public health professor said in a blog post in the Daily Green today that the new recommendations acknowledge
"The need to change the food environment to help individuals meet the Dietary Guidelines."
This is a huge step in the right direction. No longer are our food addictions being looked at simply from the perspective on the individual, but as rooted firmly in the policies and norms of the communities we live in. Our environment impacts our choices, and our food choices affect our health.

There will be an opportunity for public comment on the new guidelines early this summer.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Allentown High School Student Wins Top Public Health Honors!

Two girls from *near* my hometown in Pennsylvania won top honors from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in the YES Competition for high school students.

According to the news release,
"Shoshanna Goldin, a 17-year-old student at Moravian Academy in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, won for her research project entitled, Energy Epidemic: Teen Perception and Consumption of Energy Drinks."
Not only is she interested in public health, but also the epidemic of obesity. Overconsumption of energy (i.e. calories) is what leads to obesity, right?!

Way to go Shoshanna!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Caution: Camel Orbs are NOT Kid Friendly

Photo from the HSPH website

Candy or tobacco? Do you think your child could tell the difference?

Harvard School of Public Health professor, Gregory Connolly, recently published an article in Pediatrics on the dangers of this Camel Orbs, a dissolvable nicotine tablet, widely available in the US.

(Click here for the news release)

Note: I looked up the Colbert Report segment that references Camel Orbs and embedded it below. I think Stephen Colbert is hilarious. Thanks, Kelsey for your comments!
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Cheating Death - Tobacco Mints, Breast Milk & Hallucinogens
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News

Monday, April 19, 2010

Breastfeeding Saves Money, Saves Lives

Most parents enter labor expecting to breastfeed. Many are confronted with numerous challenges (some from the start, others as they go back to work) to continue breastfeeding throughout infancy.

A CNN news report highlights the challenges and public health importance of promoting and supporting new mothers in breastfeeding their baby throughout the first 6 months of their child's life.

This challenge makes me wonder how much of the problem is one of

  • Biology - Moms physically aren't able to breastfeed their kids.
  • Education - Moms don't know to breastfeed - exclusively - until their child reaches 6 months.
  • Awareness - Moms don't know about the benefits/risk of breastfeeding - or not - on their child's health.
  • Social - Relationships (partners, family members) and social norms interfere with moms' decision or ability to breastfeed.
  • Structural/Political - Policies and structural factors like break time at work inhibit moms from being able to breastfeed or pump throughout the day.
As a quick aside: the new health care reform law makes it mandatory for employers to provide breaks to female workers who are lactating (i.e. breastfeeding). I expect that will begin to address some of the structural barriers mentioned above!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

World Health Day 2010

Today, April 7, 2010 marks World Health Day.

I've been thinking a lot about my own health habits. It's easy to get complacent when it comes to our health. We expect that our bodies will just keep on functioning like they always have. Usually reality hits us when it's too late.

Monday, April 5, 2010

It's Public Health Week!

This week is National Public Health Week 2010 - and there are many ways you can get involved to promote a Healthier America. You can view a video and get tips on how your individual actions and easy changes can have a HUGE impact on our nation's health! To find out more visit: http://generationpublichealth.org.

Here are some of my favorite tips:
  • Go for a run! (or bike ride)
  • Get proper sleep and find time to relax.
  • Wear a seat belt every time you ride in a car!
  • Buy locally grown produce (almost available here in New England...)
  • Recycle
  • Advocate for policies and programs (health, transportation, agricultural or other) that will improve the health of your community!