Thursday, April 28, 2011

Medical Costs for Youth with Diabetes More than $9,000 a Year

/PRNewswire/ -- Young people with diabetes face substantially higher medical costs than children and teens without the disease, according to a CDC study published in the May issue of the journal Diabetes Care. The study found annual medical expenses for youth with diabetes are $9,061, compared to $1,468 for youth without the disease.

Much of the extra medical costs come from prescription drugs and outpatient care. Young people with the highest medical costs were treated with insulin, and included all those with type 1 diabetes and some with type 2 diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes cannot make insulin anymore and must receive insulin treatment. Some people with type 2 diabetes also are treated with insulin, because their bodies do not produce enough to control blood glucose (sugar).

Children and adolescents who received insulin treatment had annual medical costs of $9,333, compared to $5,683 for those who did not receive insulin, but did take oral medications to control blood glucose.

"Young people with diabetes face medical costs that are six times higher than their peers without diabetes," said Ann Albright, Ph.D., R.D., director of CDC's Division of Diabetes Translation. "Most youth with diabetes need insulin to survive and the medical costs for young people on insulin were almost 65 percent higher than for those who did not require insulin to treat their diabetes."

The study examined medical costs for children and teens aged 19 years or younger who were covered by employer-sponsored private health insurance plans in 2007, using the MarketScan Commercial Claims and Encounters Database. The estimates were based on administrative claim data from nearly 50,000 youth, including 8,226 with diabetes.

Medical costs for people with diabetes, the vast majority of whom are adults, are 2.3 times higher than costs for those without diabetes, according to CDC's National Diabetes Fact Sheet, 2011. Authors of the Diabetes Care study suggest that the difference in medical costs associated with diabetes may be greater for youth than for adults because of higher medication expenses, visits to specialists and medical supplies such as insulin syringes and glucose testing strips.

Among youth with diabetes, 92 percent were on insulin, compared to 26 percent of adults with diabetes. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps convert blood glucose into energy. Without adequate insulin, blood glucose levels rise and can eventually lead to serious health complications, including heart disease, kidney failure, blindness, nerve damage and amputation of feet and legs.

Type 1 diabetes develops when the body's immune system destroys insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Risk factors may be genetic or environmental. There is no known way to prevent type 1 diabetes.

In type 2 diabetes, the body no longer handles insulin properly and gradually loses the ability to produce it. Risk factors include obesity, older age, family history, physical inactivity, history of diabetes while pregnant, and race/ethnicity. Type 2 diabetes is extremely rare in children younger than 10 years. Although type 2 diabetes is infrequent in children and teens aged 10 to 19 years, rates are higher in this group compared to younger children, with higher rates among minorities.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

CDC Report Highlights Lack of Healthy Food Environments for Children

/PRNewswire/ -- States can do more to improve food access, regulations and policies to promote healthy eating and fight childhood obesity, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The 2011 Children's Food Environment State Indicator Report also notes that the communities, child care facilities and schools all have roles to play.

"Childhood obesity has tripled over the past 30 years," said CDC Director Thomas Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. "This report underscores the need to make healthier choices easier for kids and more accessible and affordable for parents."

Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia scored at or below the national average for the Modified Retail Food Environment Index (mRFEI), a measure of the proportion of food retailers that typically sell healthy foods within a state. Scores can range from 0 (no food retailers that typically sell healthy food) to 100 (only food retailers that typically sell healthy food). States with lower mRFEI scores have more food retailers, such as fast food restaurants and convenience stores, that are less likely to sell less healthy foods and fewer food retailers, such as supermarkets, that tend to sell healthy foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables.

Nationally, the average mRFEI score was 10. State-by-state scores ranged from highs of 16 in Montana and 15 in Maine to lows of 5 in Rhode Island and 4 in the District of Columbia.

The report shows that as of December 2008, only one state – Georgia – had enacted all of the following state licensure regulations for child care facilities: to restrict sugar drinks, to require access to drinking water throughout the day, and to limit TV and computer screen time. CDC and other experts see the childcare setting as an important opportunity to address nutrition and physical activity issues.

Twenty-nine states had enacted one of these regulations, while 13 states and the District of Columbia had enacted none.

Forty-nine percent of middle and high schools allowed less healthy foods like candy, soft drinks, and fast food restaurants to be advertised to students on school grounds. In Ohio nearly 70 percent of middle and high schools allowed such advertising, while in New York only 24 percent of schools allowed it.

"To feed their children healthy food at home, parents must have ready access to stores that sell affordable, healthy food," said William Dietz, M.D., Ph.D., director of CDC's Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. "Parents also want their children to continue eating well in school or child care facilities. This report highlights actions that states, communities, and individuals can take to improve children's food choices and influences."

CDC supports a number of programs that help states, tribes, and communities combat both childhood and adult obesity. The agency funds 25 state-based nutrition, physical activity, and obesity programs to develop and implement science-based interventions. The current focus is to create changes that support healthy eating and active living where Americans live, work, learn, and play.

Additionally, CDC funds 23 state and territorial education agencies and tribal governments to help school districts and schools implement coordinated school health program s. This approach can increase the effectiveness of policies and programs to promote physical activity, nutrition, and tobacco-use prevention among students.

CDC's Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative funds 47 communities, three tribes, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. territories to use tested strategies to creating healthier community environments.

The 2011 Children's Food Environment State Indicator Report compiles data from a variety of sources, including Preventing Obesity in the Child Care Setting: Evaluating State Regulations and CDC's School Health Profiles. The full report is available at http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/downloads/ChildrensFoodEnvironment.pdf.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Most Americans Don't Understand Health Effects of Wine and Sea Salt, Survey Finds

/PRNewswire/ -- Most Americans believe drinking wine is good for your heart but are unaware of recommended alcohol limits, and most mistakenly believe sea salt is a low-sodium alternative to regular table salt, according to a new survey about these common products.

The American Heart Association surveyed 1,000 American adults to assess their awareness and beliefs about how wine and salt affect heart health. Many studies have reported the benefits of limited wine intake for heart health and the risks of too much salt.

Seventy-six percent of those surveyed agreed with the statement that wine can be good for your heart. Drinking too much can be unhealthy, yet only 30 percent of those surveyed knew the American Heart Association's recommended limits for daily wine consumption.

"This survey shows that we need to do a better job of educating people about the heart-health risks of overconsumption of wine, especially its possible role in increasing blood pressure," said Gerald Fletcher, M.D., American Heart Association spokesperson and professor of medicine – cardiovascular diseases, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Fla.

If you drink any alcohol, including wine, beer and spirits, the American Heart Association recommends that you do so in moderation. Limit consumption to no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women – for example, that's generally 8 ounces of wine for men and four ounces of wine for women.

Heavy and regular alcohol use of any type of alcohol can dramatically increase blood pressure. It can also cause heart failure, lead to stroke and produce irregular heartbeats. Heavy drinking can contribute to high triglycerides, cancer, obesity, alcoholism, suicide and accidents.

The survey also showed that many Americans are confused about low-sodium food choices and don't know the primary source of sodium in American diets. Excessive sodium can increase blood pressure in some people, increasing the risk of heart diseases and stroke.

Sixty-one percent of respondents incorrectly agreed that sea salt is a low-sodium alternative to table salt. Kosher salt and most sea salt are chemically the same as table salt (40 percent sodium), and they count the same toward total sodium consumption.

Forty-six percent said table salt is the primary source of sodium in American diets, which is also incorrect. Up to 75 percent of the sodium that Americans consume is found in processed foods such as tomato sauce, soups, condiments, canned foods and prepared mixes.

"High-sodium diets are linked to an increase in blood pressure and a higher risk for heart disease and stroke. You must remember to read the Nutrition Facts panel and ingredient list on food and beverages," said Dr. Fletcher.

The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day. To effectively limit sodium intake, when buying prepared and prepackaged foods, you should read the nutrition and ingredient labels. Sodium compounds are present whenever food labels include the words "soda" and "sodium," and the chemical symbol "Na."

Managing your blood pressure is a good way to manage your heart health. Access the American Heart Association's free information, resources and tools on high blood pressure at heart.org/hbp.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Musical Activity May Improve Cognitive Aging

A study conducted by Brenda Hanna-Pladdy, PhD, a clinical neuropsychologist in Emory’s Department of Neurology, and cognitive psychologist Alicia MacKay, PhD, found that older individuals who spent a significant amount of time throughout life playing a musical instrument perform better on some cognitive tests than individuals who did not play an instrument.

The findings were published in the April journal Neuropsychology.

While much research has been done to determine the cognitive benefits of musical activity by children, this is the first study to examine whether those benefits can extend across a lifetime.

“Musical activity throughout life may serve as a challenging cognitive exercise, making your brain fitter and more capable of accommodating the challenges of aging,” said lead researcher Hanna-Pladdy. “Since studying an instrument requires years of practice and learning, it may create alternate connections in the brain that could compensate for cognitive declines as we get older.”

The study enrolled 70 individuals age 60-83 who were divided into three groups. The participants either had no musical training, one to nine years of musical study or at least ten years of musical training. All of the participants had similar levels of education and fitness, and didn’t show any evidence of Alzheimer’s disease.

Cognitive performance was measured by testing brain functions that typically decline as the body ages, and more dramatically deteriorate in neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.

The high-level musicians who had studied the longest performed the best on the cognitive tests, followed by the low-level musicians and non-musicians, revealing a trend relating to years of musical practice. The high-level musicians had statistically significant higher scores than the non-musicians on cognitive tests relating to visuospatial memory, naming objects and cognitive flexibility, or the brain’s ability to adapt to new information.

“Based on previous research and our study results, we believe that both the years of musical participation and the age of acquisition are critical,” Hanna-Pladdy says. “There are crucial periods in brain plasticity that enhance learning, which may make it easier to learn a musical instrument before a certain age and thus may have a larger impact on brain development.”

The preliminary study was correlational, meaning that the higher cognitive performance of the musicians couldn’t be conclusively linked to their years of musical study. Hanna-Pladdy, who has conducted additional studies on the subject, says more research is needed to explore that possible link.

The study was conducted with at the University of Kansas Medical Center. At the time of the study, Hanna-Pladdy was an assistant professor in psychiatry at the University of Kansas Medical Center and a research faculty member of the Landon Center on Aging University of Kansas Medical Center. MacKay, also a former research assistant at the University of Kansas Medical Center, is now an assistant professor of psychology at Tulsa Community College.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Georgia Residents Are Urged to Kick Those Butts - But Not to the Curb

/PRNewswire/ -- Each year more than 360 billion cigarettes are smoked in the United States, with more than 1 million adults in Georgia lighting up regularly. Where do all those butts go? Public roads, waterways, parks and beaches? New research released today further demonstrates the negative impact that cigarette filters and discarded cigarette butts have on the environment. Cigarette butts contain heavy metals that can leach into waterways, posing a threat to aquatic life. The new data is part of a special supplement – funded by the national public health foundation Legacy – in the journal Tobacco Control. In honor of Earth Day, Legacy urges smokers to quit smoking, and if they can't, to properly dispose of cigarette butts and filters.

Tobacco is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States, and cigarette filters/butts may play a major role in polluting the already taxed environment. According to environmental cleanup reports, nearly 2 million cigarettes or cigarette filters/butts were picked up internationally from beaches and inland waterways as part of the annual International Coastal Cleanup in 2010. This number includes more than one million from the United States alone, making it the No. 1 littered item found on beaches and in urban environments.

According to the new research, cigarette butts have potentially toxic effects on ecosystems, for example, in one laboratory test, one cigarette butt soaked in a liter of water was lethal to half of the fish exposed. Some other new research findings include:

* Poison centers report hundreds of cases of cigarette butt consumption among children under 6 years old, with some cases of moderate toxicity due to nicotine poisoning.
* Tobacco products are the single largest type of litter collected along U.S. roadways and on beaches.
* Tobacco industry research reveals that there might be misconceptions that cigarette filters are readily biodegradable or inconsequential as litter. However, in reality, even under ideal conditions, cigarette butts can take years to degrade, merely breaking up into small particles of plastic, toxic waste.
* Cigarette litter clean-up costs can be substantial to local authorities.


"This special supplement brings together the currently known science about cigarette butt waste and sets the stage for a new research agenda – one focused both on preserving our environment and protecting our public health," said Cheryl G. Healton, DrPH, President and CEO of Legacy. "Cigarette butts comprise approximately 38 percent of all collected litter items from roads and streets—the carcinogenic chemicals that they contain make their use the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, yet they are commonly, unconsciously, and inexcusably dumped by the trillions (5.6 and counting) into the global environment each year."

Tobacco litter is not only an eyesore, but clean-up costs to cities can be substantial. An economic study based on a litter audit in San Francisco, California, found the clean-up cost to be more than $5.6 million annually. In an effort to reduce that cost, the San Francisco City Council imposed a 20 cent per pack "litter fee" on cigarettes sold in the city in 2009.

Additionally, there is growing momentum in cities, counties and municipalities to pass laws keeping cigarettes out of parks and beaches. As of April 1, 2011, 507 municipalities across the country have prohibited smoking in their parks and 105 have passed laws prohibiting smoking on public beaches in an effort to reduce the impact that cigarette butt waste has on their communities. Georgia laws already prohibit smoking in all child care centers, government buildings, health facilities and schools. Other restrictions require restaurants to have enclosed, separately ventilated areas for smoking.

"It's a common assumption that since tobacco is organic, its waste is harmless. However, both the plastic filters and the remnants of tobacco are poisonous to children and other living organisms, as this research confirms. These waste products contain nicotine, heavy metals, and other toxic chemicals that leach into the environment," said Tom Novotny, Professor of Global Health in the Graduate School of Public Health at San Diego State University. "We applaud those communities who have already taken action to stop this problem and hope that through this new research we can strengthen awareness with consumers, environmental advocates, researchers and even the tobacco industry itself."

Cigarette filters/butts have become the last socially acceptable form of littering in the increasingly health and environmentally conscious world. For more information on the environmental impact of cigarettes visit: www.legacyforhealth.org/buttreally.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Allergy Sufferers Contend With Longer Allergy Season

/PRNewswire/ -- The 2011 allergy season is expected to be 27 days longer in northernmost parts of North America,(1) adding almost a month of suffering to the typical pollen allergy season of February/March-October,(2) according to a study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The longer allergy season could be particularly rough on eye allergy sufferers, notes a leading expert. "Ocular (eye) allergies affect one in every five individuals and it is estimated that 50 percent of individuals with seasonal and indoor allergies also experience some degree of ocular allergy,"(3,4) says Paul Karpecki, O.D., F.A.A.O., Clinical Director, Koffler Vision Group, Lexington, Kentucky. Dr. Karpecki offers the following advice to allergy sufferers:

* Find out what causes your allergy and try to avoid the trigger. "If pollen is what bothers you, try to stay indoors and minimize the amount of time you are in the wind, which blows allergens around."
* Be cautious with allergy pills that claim to ease allergy symptoms. "Quite frequently, allergy medication can dry the eyes out. If you must take an allergy pill, try to take it at night so the drying effect is not as dramatic. Talk to your doctor about what medication(s) are best for you."
* Allergy season is particularly challenging for some contact lens wearers because allergens and other irritants can build up on contacts over time, leading to discomfort and symptoms such as itching, tearing and redness. "Daily disposable lenses like 1-DAY ACUVUE® MOIST® Brand Contact Lenses are a healthy and more comfortable option for any lens wearer. Putting a clean, fresh lens into the eye each day minimizes the potential for the buildup of irritants that occur with repeated use of the same pair of lenses."
* Use preservative-free artificial tears. "People who suffer from eye allergy symptoms may also find that the preservatives in artificial tears also cause discomfort."
* Consider allergy drops, which are prescribed by a doctor. "I tell my patients to put the drops in each eye in the morning before inserting contact lenses and then put a few drops in at night after they remove their lenses."
* Take more frequent showers to wash away allergens and at night, turn off ceiling fans, as allergens and dust are easily picked up by a fan.
* Take a cool washcloth and place it over the eyes to ease swelling and discomfort. "Relax for a bit with the washcloth over the eyes to relieve symptoms."


To help allergy sufferers better understand and manage their condition, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) offers a free educational brochure titled "Eye Health and Allergies." The brochure, which also includes smart allergy season strategies for contact lens wearers, can be viewed or downloaded at www.aafa.org/eyeallergies. The brochure, along with a free trial-pair certificate* for 1-DAY ACUVUE® MOIST® Brand is also available at www.acuvue.com/seasons.

Important information for contact lens wearers: ACUVUE® Brand Contact Lenses are available by prescription only for vision correction. An eye care professional will determine whether contact lenses are right for you. Although rare, serious eye problems can develop while wearing contact lenses. To help avoid these problems, follow the wear and replacement schedule and the lens care instructions provided by your eye doctor. Do not wear contact lenses if you have an eye infection, or experience eye discomfort, excessive tearing, vision changes, redness or other eye problems. If one of these conditions occurs, contact your eye doctor immediately. For more information on proper wear, care and safety, talk to your eye care professional and ask for a Patient Instruction Guide, call 1-800-843-2020 or visit Acuvue.com.

Clinical research has shown when worn on a daily disposable basis, 1 - DAY ACUVUE® Brand Contact Lenses and other daily disposable etafilcon A contact lenses such as 1 - DAY ACUVUE® MOIST® Brand Contact Lenses may provide improved comfort for many patients suffering from mild discomfort and/or itching associated with allergies during contact lens wear compared to lenses replaced at intervals of greater than 2 weeks.

*Professional exam and fitting fees not included. Valid only while supplies last.

1) Ziska, Lewis et al. Recent Warming By Latitude Associated with Increased Length of Ragweed Pollen Season in Central North America. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 8 March 2011.

2) Tips to Remember: Outdoor Allergens. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology Web site. http://www.aaaai.org/patients/publicedmat/tips/outdoorallergens.stm. Accessed March 16, 2011.

3) Katelaris CH, Bielory L. Evidence-based study design in ocular allergy trials. Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2008;8(5):484-488.

4) Bassett C. Ocular Allergies. Asthma & Allergy Advocate. Summer 2007. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology Web site. www.aaaai.org/patients/advocate/. Accessed November 3, 2008.

ACUVUE® and 1 -DAY ACUVUE® MOIST® are trademarks of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc.

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Friday, April 08, 2011

CVS/pharmacy Debuts the "To Your Health" Program in Atlanta Bringing 60 Free Health Screening Events to the Community

/PRNewswire/ -- CVS/pharmacy, the nation's leading retail pharmacy, brings its "To Your Health" free health screening program to Atlanta on Saturday, April 9. The program will provide free preventive health screenings for Atlanta area residents at 60 events now through November as a way to help citizens determine their risk for chronic diseases and get them on a path to better health.

The "To Your Health" program will kick off with "The Makeover Mile" – a one mile health walk led by medical and diet expert, Dr. Ian Smith, to fight obesity and encourage Americans to lead healthier lifestyles. The walk will start at 11:30 a.m. at Clark Atlanta University located at 223 James P. Brawley Drive SW in Atlanta. Registration starts at 10:30 a.m. and there is no fee.

"Exercise is an important way to combat weight gain and obesity, which can contribute to many chronic diseases," said Smith. "The Makeover Mile walk will encourage people to get out and take active steps toward better health."

The walk will finish at the CVS/pharmacy located at 895 Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard SW, where CVS/pharmacy will provide free adult health screenings for walk participants and the community at large starting at 12:00 p.m., as part of its "To Your Health" program. The event will end at 4 p.m.

This program and each of the additional "To Your Health" events will offer participating adults $150 worth of free screenings for diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol, bone density (osteoporosis) and vision. Doctor consultations and medication reviews with a CVS Pharmacist are available. Dental and chiropractic screenings and referrals for mammograms and pap smears are also available in select locations. No appointment is necessary.

"These preventive health screenings will provide members of the community valuable information needed in order to make positive changes, before the onset of serious health issues like diabetes and heart disease," says Andre Mackey, R.Ph., pharmacy supervisor for CVS/pharmacy.

In 2010, the "To Your Health" program detected health concerns in an alarmingly high percentage of participants. Of those screened:

* 34 percent had high cholesterol
* 38 percent had a high to moderate risk of developing osteoporosis
* 37 percent had hypertension
* 29 percent had blood sugar levels that indicated a risk for diabetes


For more information and a full calendar of "To Your Health" events, visit www.cvs.com/toyourhealth or call 888-604-0333. For more information about The Makeover Mile or to register, please visit www.makeovermile.com.

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