Category: Research Findings

Breast cancer (and corporation) awareness month

An NFL player wears pink gear as part of the league's pledge to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

An NFL player wears pink gear as part of the league's pledge to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but the disease is not the only cause fighting for attention. Corporations are getting their share of the spotlight.

Beauty products company Estee Lauder is sponsoring a “Global Landmarks Illumination Initiative,” lighting up famous landmarks around the world in pink.

Estee Lauder invented the original pink ribbon campaign, and this year it hopes to break the Guinness world record for “Most Landmarks Illuminated for a Cause in 24 Hours.” The NFL is promoting the cause again this year with a campaign called “Crucial Catch.” If you download Delta Airline’s iPhone application this month, and check in for a flight with it, the company will donate to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

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What to do about fruits and vegetables

CDC data released this month say Americans still aren't eating enough fruits and vegetables. Photo by Val'sphotos on Flickr.

Americans know that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables will help them manage their weight and reduce their chronic disease risk.  However, in a September, 2010 Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report, the Centers for Disease Control made it clear that the American people still do not eat enough fruits and vegetables.  Even worse, trends in consumption are flat.  Read: not getting any better.

Are you surprised?

Kim Severson’s Saturday article in the New York Times described some current interventions meant to solve this problem.  The baby carrot people have a $25 million advertising campaign with vending machines, an iPhone app and viral YouTube videos. The “convenience” vegetable category continues to expand with pre-washed, pre-chopped broccoli, salad and the like.  Public health advocates, Michelle Obama included, are planting community gardens, and farmers’ markets are accepting food stamps as payment.

Is any of this working? What are we doing wrong?

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Just dance!

Interactive media and games as an avenue in which to improve health are becoming increasingly popular, and not just for weight loss. Both popular and customized video games are now being used as a tool for physical rehabilitation.

Stephen Yang, a professor at SUNY Cortland, discusses interactive video games and health on ABC News. He highlights the advantages of integrating interactive video games into health regimens and therapy programs. Don’t feel like going for a run? Perhaps you could pull out the Wii console and get those feet moving with the game Just Dance! Both off-the-shelf games, like Just Dance!, and games customized for specific populations are currently being used to help patients with such illnesses as Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, autism, and spina bifida.  The advantage of customized games, in the case of rehabilitation, is that they allow physical therapists to control different limits and constraints within the game, allowing them to better help their patient.

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Don’t be like Jack: George Clooney as advocate for a healthy social network?

George Clooney, Photo taken by Josh Jensen.

George Clooney's character, Jack, in The American, can be considered a social isolate. Photo by Josh Jensen, Flickr.

In theatres now, the film The American portrays the life of Jack, a professional assassin.  Jack is isolated, on the run, and disconnected.  His social networks do not promote health.

In this Sunday’s New York Times, Natasha Singer shares insights and poses questions about the field of ‘Network Science’ in her article “Better Health, With a Little Help From Our Friends”. Singer is talking about face-to-face networks and their impact on our behaviors, for example, eating, smoking, or sleeping.    

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Kids bulk up brains through exercise

Children playing basketball at the Carnegie playground on 5th Ave. in New York City, circa 1910-1915

School children playing basketball at the Carnegie playground on 5th Ave. in New York City, circa 1910-1915.

Two recent studies, as reported by Gretchen Reynolds in The New York Times, add evidence to the claim that fit kids not only do better on tests, but have larger basal ganglia and hippocampi, important control and processing centers in the brain.

But, we are in a recession, and school boards across the country are cutting back on physical education and the arts. Will the data be enough to save kickball in our schools? According to the Centers for Disease Control, a quarter of school children already don’t get any exercise.

In a yet-to-be-published study reported on in the same New York Times article, children who ran on a treadmill for 20 minutes did better on a test given right after the workout; however, children who played a sports-style video game for 20 minutes did not. How should schools, parents and government entities across the country handle our lack of exercise and our children’s need for it in a time of fiscal crisis?

Hearing and iPods: Should something be done?

Photo of earbudsHearing loss in teens is up in the United States. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that about one in five teenagers has some degree of hearing loss.

Researchers found that in the early 1990s nearly 15 percent of teens had some degree of hearing loss, but a more recent survey from the mid 2000s found that nearly 20 percent were affected, an increase of about a third!

One of the researchers actually was surprised by the findings and thought the number of people affected should have decreased because of medical advances like better treatment of ear infections, according to a Reuters article.

So what’s to blame?

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