Saturday, December 06, 2008

La Prima

There is something refreshingly square about La Prima coffe. It's on my standard Saturday shopping trail at the "Strip District" in Pittsburgh.

Older Italian men come in and play some card game that only THEY know. They speak Italian. They gesture. There are lots of families with kids who get sips of their parent's coffees between bites of the homemade Melee (right next door in the adjoining bakery).

No seating tables here ... only the tall ones that you stand at, and talk to the people you see packed in here each week -- Angelo, Carmen, Cara, Melissa. They see you, say hey loudly; acquaintences wave, kids get kissed.

Every store should be like La Prima.

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

The "prevent" defense

You can either prevent fires from happening ... or you can just wait until you get a good blaze working, and handle it from there.

Most people would assume that it is a better strategy to prevent problems from arising in the first place.

However, we have a health care system in our country that is so expensive, so burdensome for many, that they postpone basic preventative tests -- and even treatments!!

This study from the Harris Interactive poll (just released by the National Women's Health Resource Center), found some disturbing results:

  • Almost half the women failed to seek medical care in the year before the survey, citing health care costs.

  • They reported skimping on doctor visits, recommended medical procedures and medication, both for themselves and for family members.

  • Cultural differences emerged, with 58 percent of Hispanic women reporting they skipped health care, compared to 43 percent of white women and 42 percent of black women.
We must have the resources, the smarts, and the political will to devise some form of a Health Care System that does not simply amount to Health Treatment. From every standpoint -- from cost containment to the personal impact on the lives of our people -- it makes sense to clear every obstacle that preventing disease from happening in the first place.

This is not difficult logic. In fact, it's just common sense.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Screen Burn

It does not matter whether it is TV or Video or Internet or Gaming.

Experts from the U.S. National Institutes of Health analyzed 173 studies done since 1980 in one of the most comprehensive assessments to date on how media exposure impacts the physical health of children and adolescents.

Across the board, they found that more media exposure leads to more obesity, smoking at an earlier age, earlier sexual activity, drug and alcohol use, as well as poorer school performance.

"I think we were pretty surprised by how overwhelming the number of studies was that showed this negative health impact," NIH bioethicist Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, one of the researchers in the report released by the advocacy group Common Sense Media.

For example, in of the one studies, children who watched more than eight hours of TV per week at age 3 were more likely to be obese at 7.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Health Halo Hides Calories

Let's say you're Keebler ... and you have an Elf. Furthermore, you have to sell cookies, but the current market is anti-fat.

This is an incredible dilemma!! You still have to make it taste good, but it can't have a smidge of butter in it because you are marketing it as a "healthy low fat" option.

How do you make it taste good? Add sugar, and lots of it ... principally in the form of High Fructose Corn Syrup (because it's about 11 times cheaper as an industrial sweetener than normal sugar).

So, you get something that is low in fat, so you reason, based on all you have heard, that this will be a great option for you. Very healthy, right??


In today's NYTimes Health section, John Tierney writes about "The Health Halo" effect. That is, food manufacturers HAVE to label their products as healthy, or you won't buy them. But that labelling can focus on one aspect (low fat ... leading you to believe you can eat tons of it), while avoiding the unhealthy aspect (high sugar ... leading you to be hungrier for more, while consuming WAY too many calories in the process).

This is a perfect example of our Culture of Health at work, in this case against us.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Dairy foods help kids build stronger bones

One of the biggest dietary changes that has taken hold in our culture -- over the past 40 years -- is that milk has been replaced by sodas as the kids' drink of choice.

Now, according to new research reported in the Journal of Pediatrics, when you eat dairy foods, meat, and other high-protein foods in childhood, you get stronger and healthier bones in adolescence.

This was true for boys and girls. And, you don't have to overconsume dairy, but have about two servings per day throughout childhood. These kids had a higher bone mineral content, greater bone area, and greater bone mineral density than those who ate less.

In fact, dairy and protein seemed to have additive effects, with children who consumed the most of both types of food having the densest, largest bones; those who consumed the least had the thinnest bones.

So. A bit of cheese, a glass of milk, a breakfast of (real) yogurt, these do the body good ... in the long term!!

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