Health Points: Thursday

  • The AFP examines other explanations for the global obesity epidemic. Would you believe some experts blame air conditioning for our bloated sizes? Richard Ingham reports:
    Air conditioning, which establishes a comfortable temperature zone. In temperatures above this zone, people eat less. The rise in number of air-conditioned homes in the United States virtually mirrors the increase in the US obesity rate.
  • Healthday reporter Ed Edelson explains a new study links antioxidants to preventing kidney damage:
    The Italian study, done at the University of Milan, included 354 patients who underwent the artery-opening procedure called angioplasty after having heart attacks. One-third of them were not given acetylcysteine; one-third got what the doctors called a standard dose, a 600-milligram intravenous injection before the procedure and 2,400 milligrams in the following two days; and the other third got twice that dose.

    Kidney function is tested by measuring blood levels of creatinine, a breakdown product of creatine, which is an important part of muscle. Creatinine levels go up as kidney function goes down.

    Among study participants, creatinine levels increased in 33 percent of patients who did not get acetylcysteine, in 15 percent of those getting the standard dose and in 8 percent of those who got the double dose, the researchers reported.

    And 13 of those patients not getting acetylcysteine died in the hospital, while the death rate was lower for those who got the medication -- five of those getting the standard dose and three of those getting the larger dose.

  • Some nutritionists are concerned about athletes' cavalier approach to sports drinks. New York Times reporter Kim Severson explains:

    For some athletes, an energy drink laced with stimulants from various sources can cause problems because it is almost impossible to know how much stimulant actually is in each drink, Mr. Ellis said. Drinking too much can produce a false sense of well-being.

    "They help blunt your perception of pain," he said. "That might be good in the short term, but the bad news is if you don't feel the fatigue in a hot, humid environment, your body won't make you slow down to minimize overheating. Exertional heatstroke is a real possibility."

    Athletes who rely on energy drinks can begin an addictive cycle.

  • Over the past week secondhand smoke has been getting a lot of press. Julie's Health Club shares her experiences growing up with a smoker:

    My father, bless his heart, smoked three packs a day while I was growing up, and I have vivid memories of long road trips with the car windows rolled up. It was such a part of his life that when we joined the YMCA Indian Princesses program, I suggested he take the name of "Big Smoke" and I, naturally, would be "Little Smoke."

    In college, I lived in a cramped dorm room with two roommates, including one smoker. So for the first 21 years of my life, I probably inhaled secondhand smoke on a daily basis.

    What can I do now to undo the damage?

  • Now, not like an Eat to Liver would be caught dead in a Jack in the Box, but the franchise has just added two healthy options to its menu. Fast Food News reports:

    Jack in the Box has added a fruit cup and bottled water to their menu this summer.

    The fruit cup is a 7-ounce serving of cantaloupe, honeydew, pineapple and red grapes served in a sealed cup.

    "When the summer heat kicks in, consumers crave something that tastes light and refreshing," said Teka O'Rourke, director of menu marketing and promotions for Jack in the Box.

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Kirsten - July 3, 2006 9:10 AM

Regarding the Jack in the Box "fruit cup", I looked on their web site but didn't find it. I can't imagine that it DOESN'T have high fructose corn syrup in it, through.

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