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The Physicians Committee

Just the Facts

Twelve Steps to the Salad Bar

Scientists are discovering that fast foods can trigger hormonal changes in the body that make them hard to pass up. Fatty foods may activate the brain’s dopamine system—similar to the effects of an addictive drug. Over time, as body weight increases, people become resistant to the effects of the hormone leptin, which is linked to weight and appetite.

Obesity Causes Brain Drain

A Boston University study found that persons who are chronically obese risk a decline in thinking ability, especially memory and learning. Information was gathered from 551 men and 872 women enrolled in the long-running Framingham Heart Study, which includes mental performance tests. Experts say that obesity may hamper cognitive functions by making it hard for blood to reach the brain.

A typical school lunch has 50 percent more fat grams than a typical bag lunch brought from home.

West Virginians Get Heart Smart

In a statewide health care experiment, Dr. Dean Ornish’s renowned lifestyle modification program was offered to 153 West Virginians with heart disease. Previously ranked highest for obesity, heart disease, smoking, and lack of physical activity, the state is now a shining example of the power of lifestyle change. After just 12 weeks on a vegetarian diet with regular exercise and stress reduction, participants lost an average of nearly 15 pounds, lowered blood pressure and cholesterol, and found relief from depression. Since January 2003, Medicare and other insurers have been covering the program, a considerably less expensive and safer alternative to angioplasty or bypass surgery.

California Sues over Mercury-Tainted Tuna

California’s attorney general filed suit against five major grocery chains, demanding they warn consumers that tuna, swordfish, and shark contain dangerously high levels of mercury. Filed in San Francisco Superior Court, the suit alleges that the grocers violated Proposition 65, which requires businesses to provide “clear and reasonable” warnings before exposing people to known carcinogens and reproductive toxins.

Oh, the Iron-y.

The Kansas Beef Council used National Nutrition Month to promote beef to 50,000 children throughout the state, complete with “super heroes” to help deliver the message. In a 28-page activity booklet featuring Zinc Man, Iron Woman, and Protein Pal, kids learned how to include more beef in their meals and snacks—even though a large proportion of the Kansas population is considered obese.

Summer 2003
Volume XII
Number 3

Good Medicine

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