A new investigative report from Reuters says that the White House has fallen woefully short in the battle against childhood bulge.

Photo by Pietro Izzo, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Want to look ten years younger in ten weeks?  Good luck. Hundreds of skin-care products make bold, supposedly measurable claims to heighten hopes and defy age.  Now, the FDA is paying more attention about what goes into anti-wrinkle creams, and what consumers are actually getting out of them.

Lots of kids get bullied. But kids with autism are especially vulnerable.

A new survey by the Interactive Autism Network found that nearly two-thirds of children with autism spectrum disorders have been bullied at some point. And it found that these kids are three times as likely as typical kids to have been bullied in the past month.

It's the unscripted, offhand comments that get you in hot water in journalism. Yesterday, in an on-air conversation that introduced a piece on All Things Considered about how farmers in California's Salinas Valley try to keep harmful microbes out of bagged salad greens, we had this exchange in the studio:

Allison Aubrey: Does that mean we need to wash this stuff?

Audie Cornish: I wash it every time, I just don't know if it helps.

Photo of A.J. Jacobs by Michael Cogliantry

A.J. Jacobs is serious about self improvement.

One in four women has had a migraine. And, it turns out, the debilitating headaches affect three times more women than men.

But why?

Decades ago, these headaches were attributed to women's inability to cope with stress, a sort of hysteria. Now experts are starting to figure out the factors that really make a difference.

Today scientists know a migraine is all in your head — but not in that old-fashioned sense. Migraines are biologically based, and they play themselves out as a wave of electrical activity traveling across the brain.

Got a Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi habit? Lots of Americans do. Consumption of all types of diet soft drinks has been on the rise. And as a nation, we drink an estimated 20 percent more of diet drinks now than we did 15 years ago.

So, is it good for us? A new study finds the answer to that question may depend a lot on, well, what you eat.

The new concerns over the prolific use of antibiotics and their connection to the obesity epidemic. New research from New York University indicates that over-prescription of antibiotics could harm communities of bacteria that keep digestive systems healthy and help the body fight fat.

Green People

Apr 10, 2012

Many climate scientists argue we’ve passed the point of being able to slow down Co2 emissions that contribute to greenhouse gasses. A few advocates for mammoth scale geo-engineering to alter the earth’s climate.

Our series, Shifting the Balance, is focused on exploring the positive impact environmental and policy changes can make on the fight against obesity. For those of us who struggle to carve out an a few hours a week for the gym, healthy living can seem out of reach– but for kids, it’s often less about finding time to play than finding a place to play.

When your kids are infested with head lice, a certain amount of panic — even desperation — can spread through the house. But one biologist has made it his mission to find a better way to rid his home of a common household pest.

(Photo by Boxercab via Flickr Creative Commons)

A recent study in the medical journal Health Affairs found that more than ten percent of doctors admit to not telling patients the complete truth about their medical conditions, with one in five also confessing to not disclosing medical errors. Danielle Ofri is Associate Professer at NYU. She’s also attending physician at New York's Bellevue Hospital, and a regular contributor to The New York Times' Health section.

When Lisa Galloway was trying to decide what kind of radiation treatment to undergo after surgery for early breast cancer, she jumped at the chance to get a newer, quicker approach.

Instead of dragging on for weeks, the newer form of radiation, called brachytherapy, only takes five days.

"Five days compared to 33 days, I was like, 'Yay!' " says Galloway, 53, of Silver Spring, Md. "So I wanted it so badly. I got it — I got my wish."

Scientists have found one more reason that pregnancy and obesity can be a bad combination.

A new study in the journal Pediatrics suggests that moms who are obese or have diabetes are more likely to have a child with autism or another developmental problem.

The finding is "worrisome in light of this rather striking epidemic of obesity" in the U.S., says Irva Hertz-Picciotto from the MIND Institute at the University of California, Davis, one of the study's authors.

There was a time when a child born deaf had few choices. For more than a century, the only option for parents was to send their son or daughter away to a boarding school for the deaf. There, the children and the schools thrived in the shadows, embracing a distinct culture of silent communication.

Recent advances in medicine and technology are now reshaping what it means to be deaf in America. Children who could never hear a sound are now adults who can hear everything. That's having a dramatic impact on the nation's historic deaf schools as well as the lives of people.

Any idea how many calories are in a 64-ounce double gulp soda from a convenience store? 800, how about one of those big cookies? For a society fixated on weight-loss, very few of us know how many calories we’re taking in and what is a calorie, after all? You can’t see taste, or smell them, but they are everywhere. Your brain knows if you’re getting too much or too little. And the more you take in, the more the food industry makes.

Environmental groups in New Hampshire and Maine want the EPA to investigate sulfur dioxide emissions at a power plant in Portsmouth.

Sierra Club chapters in the two states are mounting a petition drive.

It asks the EPA to look into the possible effect of the emissions on asthma cases in the Seacoast regions of the two states.

The groups contend that sulfur dioxide emitted by the Schiller Plant could be adding to respiratory illnesses, especially in Maine.

But Martin Murray, spokesman for PSNH says that an examination of the plant isn't necessary.

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A new nationwide study released today/Tuesday ranks Coos County as the least healthy county in the state. NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

Adjusting to the home

Apr 2, 2012
Photo by Zophos via Flickr Creative Commons

Holyoke, Massachusetts has a rate of childhood obesity much higher than the national average, especially within its considerable Puerto Rican community.

Karen Brown reports on how a community center is enacting change for this population in a three part series. In this story, a 9 year-old finds herself in a house now full of healthy food and surrounded by adults encouraging her to ride her bike instead of watching TV. But with a lack of sidewalks, a high rate of neighborhood crime, and the odds seemingly stacked against her, can the balance truly be shifted in her favor?

Obama’s war on Alzheimer’s, last year, the president signed the national Alzheimer’s project act – which set in motion a plan to combat the degenerative disease that currently affects more than 5 million Americans, and costs more than two-hundred billion dollars in health-care costs.  Going forward, the financial stakes are even higher: the Alzheimer’s association projects the disease will cost the US over one-trillion dollars by the year 2050.   Now, a final draft of the Alzheimer’s initiative aims to curb those costs with ambitious benchmarks, which is making waves in the medical communit

Childhood obesity has become a public health crisis in America – and one of first lady Michelle Obama’s main causes. More than thirty percent of all children in America -- about 11 million -- are considered clinically overweight or obese. In Holyoke, Massachusetts, which has many Puerto Rican and low-income residents, the problem is even worse than the national average. In the first of a series, Karen Brown reports how one community health center is trying to reverse this trend.


Surgical procedures that are commonly used to help obese people lose weight can also dramatically improve — even reverse — diabetes, according to two studies released Monday.

Tim Ferree of Macedonia, Ohio, struggled with his weight for years. He knew his out-of-control blood sugar would eventually cause serious problems.

"You're looking at losing your vision, losing your feet, having problems with your kidneys, going blind — you know, heart disease, strokes," Ferree said.

Today, the Boston Globe reported on the growing trend of employees abandoning their chairs and standing up at their workstations. It's become a pretty popular topic since we first started talking about it nearly a year ago, and a popular topic around these parts, too, in no small part because I am still the only standing employee in my workspace. The good news?

Photo by Chotda via Flickr Creative Commons

Are you sitting down? Well, listen up: research shows that sitting too much shaves years off of your life. In 2011, a study in the emerging field of Inactivity Studies found that each hour of sitting per day increases a person’s risk of death due to cardiovascular diseases by 18 percent. It turns out that eating well and getting plenty of exercise do not offset the detriments of couch potato time as much as living and working in an environment where standing is the default option. As part of our continuing series Shifting the Balance, we spoke with Dr.

In June of 2009, a committee met at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to do a routine safety review of proposed research projects.

One of those projects involved genetically modifying flu viruses. And during the review, the committee brought up the idea of "dual-use" research. "Dual use" means legitimate scientific work that's intended to advance science or medicine, but that also might be misused with the intent to do harm.

TB Scare At Concord Elementary School

Mar 23, 2012

Public health officials have confirmed a case of tuberculosis at Dane Elementary School.

Director of Public Health, Dr. Jose Montero, says the infected child, a kindergarten student, likely contracted the illness from an adult who was exposed to the dangerous bacteria abroad. Most TB is treatable and is spread through the air. Montero says the adult was treated effectively.

The sweeping health overhaul law turns 2 years old this Friday. And as it heads toward a constitutional showdown at the Supreme Court next week, the debate over the measure remains almost as heated as the day President Obama signed it into law.

The Comfort Food Conundrum

Mar 21, 2012

In gentile Savannah, Georgia, traditional southern food remains a somewhat sacred rite. That devotion has made Mrs. Wilkes dining room a place of worship. The former boarding house, now restaurant, offers a relaxed atmosphere and an   abundance of home-cooked pleasure.  But,as Emily Corwin reports for our Shifting the Balance series, the way the food is served can make the difference between over-indulgence, and a satisfying, healthy intake.  

This is the one union that will kick you out if you pass a drug test. Jesse McKinley wrote about the evolution and demands of the San Francisco drug users union for The New York Time.

New York Times Article