Study: Schools contribute to childhood obesity

Martha Kubik

Childhood obesity is on the minds of many people these days, and there are countless reasons why it has become such a problem. In the United States, 15 percent of children and teens are at risk of being overweight and another 15 percent are overweight. Altogether, nearly 9 million children are affected by overweight and obesity.

Kids have ample opportunity to consume many more calories than they need each day, from larger portions and meals on the go to accessible sugary snacks and drinks. More sedentary lifestyles have contributed, too. Now it turns out that schools also play a role in this alarming trend.

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Educate yourself before choosing Medicare drug plan

Stephen W. Schondelmeyer

If you’re eligible for the new Medicare prescription drug plan but haven’t yet enrolled, you might have good reason, but you should consider signing up. For many, if you don’t sign up by the deadline, May 15, 2006, it could cost you later in penalties that will result in higher premiums.

Some of the 43 million eligible Americans already have a drug benefit plan outside of Medicare—perhaps through their current or former employer. If so, it’s critical to know whether the plan qualifies as equivalent to the Medicare plan. If not, you’ll end up paying higher premiums later if you want to switch to the Medicare plan, also called Medicare Part D, after the May 15 deadline.

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Preeclampsia may be linked to heart disease

Becky Gams, R.N., M.S., C.N.P.

Pregnancy-induced hypertension, or preeclampsia, is a condition that only occurs during pregnancy and is characterized by an increase in blood pressure and protein in the urine. It generally develops in the third trimester of the pregnancy, although in some cases it may develop in the late second trimester. Other symptoms include sudden weight gain, vision changes, headaches and nausea, upper abdominal pain, and vomiting.

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Choosing a Nursing Home

Christine Mueller

By Christine Mueller, Ph.D., R.N.

It’s never an easy decision to move a loved one to a nursing home. Watching someone lose their ability to live independently can be tough, and it is often overwhelming to figure out the best place for your spouse, parent, or other family member to live.

But being armed with information about how to evaluate the quality of a nursing home can only make the process easier for everyone.

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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Symptoms and Treatments

Dr. S.W. Kim

By S.W. Kim, M.D.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition characterized by excessive worries, doubts, or superstitious beliefs that disrupt everyday life. For the person with this disorder, it may feel like the brain gets stuck on a particular thought or urge and just can’t let go. Obsessive-compulsive disorder currently affects about 1 in 50 adults and at least 1 in 25 may have had the disorder at some point in their lives. Most people with obsessive-compulsive disorder experience a gradual onset of OCD behaviors and are diagnosed before age 30.

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City Council Passes Living Wage Ordinance

Craig Cox

Despite concerns about cost and effectiveness, the City Council on Friday overwhelmingly approved a new living wage ordinance.

The ordinance will require that companies receiving more than $100,000 in city contracts or subsidies pay their employees a minimum of $12.09 per hour (without benefits) or $10 an hour (with benefits). The ordinance exempts certain nonprofit organizations and will not supercede the wage levels negotiated in union contracts. It also has some teeth: companies that violate the ordinance can be fined and prohibited from receiving city contracts and subsidies in the future.

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Light Cigarettes as Harmful as Regular Ones

Stephen Hecht, Ph.D., and Dorothy Hatsukami, Ph.D.

Smoking light or ultra-light cigarettes in hopes of reducing your risk of lung cancer actually does nothing for your health. A new study conducted by the University of Minnesota Cancer Center found that ultra-light and light cigarettes are just as unhealthy as regular smokes.

The study measured a body’s intake of nicotine and cancer-causing agents by people who smoke regular, light, and ultra-light cigarettes by testing their urine for carcinogens. Among the 175 participants, the study found no significant difference in their intake of cancer-causing agents or nicotine. It is the first study to compare the intake of lung carcinogens in smokers of all types of cigarettes.

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