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Delicious fatty food is addictive? April 2, 2010

Posted by Ashraf Faden in Mental Health, Prevention, Wellness.
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By Ashraf Faden, cross-post from For Our Health

Don’t you sometimes wonder why you could eat so many Krispy Kreme doughnuts, then some chocolate followed by ice cream and still feel like you could eat baklava and kunafah or even ma’soob?  Not that I actually do that, but I admit that I get the urge to do it once I start munching on some of those hearty sweets.  Who could blame us?  That stuff tastes really good!

It turns out tasty and delicious food, high in fat, could be as addictive as heroin! (more…)


Sarah Palin’s Exception or Family Guy’s Acceptance? February 22, 2010

Posted by Sara Imershein MD in Blogging, Health Communications & Marketing, Mental Health, Prevention.
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With the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) the United States government took huge strides to facilitate acceptance of persons with disabilities into typical American life.  No longer would curbs or steps block entry into society. And with mainstreaming in schools and the workplace disabled Americans can fulfill their American Dreams and contribute, rather than burden society. Families and teachers work hard to incorporate children just as employers, mass transit, and architects have adapted.

So when disabled Americans join the entertainment industry and characters are portrayed as real life people, with real disabilities and real senses of humor – in spite of their limitations, shouldn’t they jump for joy at their inclusive acceptance? Special interest groups from commercial Coca Cola to advocates for public safety position themselves for subtle and not-so-subtle product placement to increase awareness.

Sarah Palin doesn’t agree.  She want exceptions made for her and for Trig, the former governor’s son, born with Down’s Syndrome, a genetic disability with a numerous potential limitations of varying severity. Palin criticised the comedy show for being ‘cruel and cold-hearted” and “not really funny” on the cable show O’Reilly Factor, although she makes exception for Rush Limbaugh’s use of the word retard because he used “satire.”

The front page New York Times Feb 20, 2010 headline read Family Guy vs. Palin: Can Disability Be Funny?” The article fairly portrays the inherent tension between making exceptions for the disabled and accepting the disabled as a part of society, including being teased, poked fun at, laughed at… and laughed with! Furthermore, the article presents the facts; readers easily see the hypocrisy.

read on…


Hypersexual Disorder February 11, 2010

Posted by Ashraf Faden in Healthcare, Mental Health, Prevention, Wellness.
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This is one of the proposed terms, according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), to be considered as a mental disorder and to be included in the new completely revised Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which is considered the bible for mental disorders.  As noted in the DSM-5 development website, the criteria for a hypersexual disorder would include:

A.    Over a period of at least six months, recurrent and intense sexual fantasies, sexual urges, and sexual behavior in association with four or more of the following five criteria:
(1) A great deal of time is consumed by sexual fantasies and urges, and by planning for and engaging in sexual behavior.
(2) Repetitively engaging in these sexual fantasies, urges, and behavior in response to dysphoric mood states (e.g., anxiety, depression, boredom, irritability).
(3) Repetitively engaging in sexual fantasies, urges, and behavior in response to stressful life events.
(4) Repetitive but unsuccessful efforts to control or significantly reduce these sexual fantasies, urges, and behavior.
(5) Repetitively engaging in sexual behavior while disregarding the risk for physical or emotional harm to self or others.
B.    There is clinically significant personal distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning associated with the frequency and intensity of these sexual fantasies, urges, and behavior.
C.     These sexual fantasies, urges, and behavior are not due to the direct physiological effect of an exogenous substance (e.g., a drug of abuse or a medication).

So, what implications might this decision have on public health? (more…)

Impulsive and Addicted-The challenges of addressing teen texting while driving February 5, 2010

Posted by Gretchen Giannelli in Health Communications & Marketing, Mental Health, Prevention, Social Marketing.

As I drove home one night this week my cell phone rang and I reached over and hastily struggled through my purse to see who was texting me.   When I saw the text message from a friend with some exciting news, I felt a rush. Then the traffic light turned red and I considered texting a quick “Woo Hoo,”  trying to figure out if the timing would work and I wouldn’t be honked at by the cars behind me.  I decided to wait until I was out of heavy traffic to pull over and text her back. But I found it odd that, after about a minute, the urge passed and I realized I could wait another half hour until I got home.

Looking back at that one minute experience, it seems I could almost feel those proverbial twins of conscience as they pulled me to and fro. I like to think that my age and experience gave me a slight edge in resisting the impulse, but what about younger drivers?  A Washington Post article provides recent statistics showing that texting is now responsible for increasing numbers of teenage driving deaths. They also have a link to a graphic video of the horrible consequences of this common activity.


Sleep apnea–yet another serious health condition tied to obesity February 4, 2010

Posted by Gretchen Giannelli in Healthcare, Mental Health, Prevention.

Obesity is in the forefront these days as a serious public health problem. According to CDC, during 2007-2008 about one-third of US adults were considered obese which is defined as:

a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater. BMI is calculated from a person’s weight and height and provides a reasonable indicator of body fatness and weight categories that may lead to health problems. Obesity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, and type 2 diabetes.”

As if this weren’t enough, obesity is also linked to sleep apnea, a temporary cessation in breathing while sleeping, which deprives the brain of oxygen and causes disturbed sleep and may lead to daytime sleepiness, insomnia and mood disorders, enlarged heart and/or a heart attack or stroke. The quantitative definition of sleep apnea is  “if you stop breathing completely or take less than 25% of a normal breath for a period that lasts 10 seconds or more”.    According to the National Sleep Foundation about 18 million people have sleep apnea. (more…)

Go ahead, get some sun! January 28, 2010

Posted by Gretchen Giannelli in Health Communications & Marketing, Mental Health, Prevention.

During the past few decades health officials have waged a campaign urging us to avoid excessive sun exposure in order to prevent skin cancer. We’ve been told to slather on the sunscreen– the higher the SPF, the better– and stay indoors during the middle of the day when the sun’s rays are strongest. Statistics have shown increasing rates of melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer.  While it makes sense to prevent skin cancer, the advice to avoid the sun may have swung the pendulum too far in the other direction and created a new problem. (more…)

Housing = Prevention. Housing Saves Lives January 21, 2010

Posted by Anita Balan in Blogging, Environmental Health, Mental Health, Prevention, Wellness.
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If you are resident of Metro Washington, and interested in DC’s health issues, you would have come across a series of expose articles in Washington Post entitled – Wasting Away: The Squandering of D.C. AIDS dollars. Washington D.C has the nation’s highest prevalence of HIV at 3%. Currently there are over 440 homeless people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in the district. These people are on the waitlist of Housing Opportunities for People with HIV/AIDS (HOPWA) program – a federal program that was introduced in 1992 that allocates funds for subsidizing temporary and long-term stable housing for PLWHA. Affected people and their families could wait for several years before they are given a voucher. The waiting time is much longer for those who pursue public housing accommodations through section 8.  The expose articles were followed by a series of tug-of-war between the D.C. City Council, the Mayor’s office and federal department of Housing and Urban Development which manages the HOPWA program. HUD which initially threatened to withhold all of D.C. 12.2 million dollars, until D.C. got its act together, has now withdrawn its threat. But in the midst of this heated debate, what was absent was raising awareness and sharing the importance of HIV and Housing.

More after the jump


You Taught Us Something, Kitty Genovese April 1, 2009

Posted by Nalini Padmanabhan in Mental Health.
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Anyone who’s ever taken a psychology class would be able to tell the story of Kitty Genovese and the societal observation it gave birth to, known as the Genovese effect or the bystander effect. Her story is not easily forgotten. According to Michael Dorman of NewsDay, her 1964 murder in Queens – witnessed by 38 neighbors, none of whom acted to help her – became “a symbol of Americans’ failure to get involved.” Two weeks after the murder, the New York Times’ Martin Gansberg described that failure to get involved as an example of the callousness and apathy of the big-city environment.

But why am I writing about this today? Today, on my way home in my own big-city environment, my mind occupied by trivialities like my upcoming thesis, I saw the Genovese effect proven wrong. (more…)

The Chrianna Crisis:Let’s Take A Deeper Look February 26, 2009

Posted by Bobbett Plummer in Blogging, Mental Health, Prevention.

Everyone who watches the news or listens to the radio has heard about Chris Brown and Rihanna (aka Chrianna).  On Sunday, February 7th, 2009, following Clive Davis’ Grammy Party, the pop-superstars got into a physical altercation.  Chris will be 20 years old in May and Rihanna recently turned 21 on February 20th.  Their story has remained at the forefront of news and gossip columns.  Yet, the media has failed to highlight the occurrence of teen and tween domestic violence.  Tween is a relatively new term that describes adolescents between the ages of 11-14. Chris and Rihanna are not that much older than the teens and tweens who adore them. (more…)

Digital Age Brings New Public Health Concern… Cyberbullying February 9, 2009

Posted by Anna Dillingham in Mental Health, Prevention.

Technology is amazing.  I love that I can access email, check the internet, listen to my favorite music, take and send pictures, and even answer phone calls, all with one single device that I can hold in the palm of my hand.  This was unimaginable when I was growing up.   Now teenagers live by this technology, and it must be hard for them to imagine being without it.  Today’s youth are extremely technologically savvy.  According to data presented by Lee Rainie of the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 93% of teens are online; 87% email and 68% instant message; 75% have a cell phone and 20% have their own PDA or Blackberry; approximately 30% have a blog and 54% read blogs; and 70% use social networking sites. 

But along with all the advantages that come from living in the digital age, comes new safety concerns and questions about the health risks for young users.  (more…)