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Nearly 1 in 7 US kids and teens has a mental health condition, and half go untreated, study says

NEW YORK (CNN) — Half of children with a mental health condition in the United States go without treatment, according to a study published Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

The researchers analyzed data from the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health, a nationwide survey administered to parents of children and teens. Of the 46.6 million children ages 6 through 18 whose parents completed the survey, 7.7 million had at least one mental health condition — such as depression, anxiety or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder — and only half received treatment or counseling from a mental health provider in the 12 months prior to the survey.

The number of children with a mental health condition varied widely from state to state. In Hawaii, for example, 7.6 percent of children had one of the conditions, compared with 27.2 percent in Maine. The number of children with a diagnosed mental health condition who weren’t treated by a provider also ranged widely, from 29.5 percent in the District of Columbia to 72.2 percent in North Carolina.

Mark Peterson, associate professor at University of Michigan Medicine and senior author of the study, has a long history of studying health conditions that start in childhood and result in disabilities later on in life.

“Historically, I’ve studied everything from the neck down,” he said. Peterson said he has recently taken a step back to think about conditions that affect children from an early age in a more comprehensive way, which led him to study mental health. He didn’t expect to find such high numbers.

But child and adolescent psychiatrists and psychologists weren’t at all surprised by the results.

“Unfortunately, this is not news for us,” said Dr. Barbara Robles-Ramamurthy, child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio, who was not involved in the study.

“We have known that the number of children who have mental illness and that go untreated is very high,” she added.

There are a number of difficulties and challenges for children and their families when it comes to accessing mental health services, explained Jennifer Mautone, psychologist in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Within some families and communities, mental illness is still seen in a negative light, Robles-Ramamurthy explained.

“We have just over the last couple of decades started to really work on destigmatizing mental illness,” she said.

As a result, many times families and youth don’t feel comfortable accessing mental health services, Mautone added.

The next big issue is insurance coverage, Robles-Ramamurthy said.

“There is a wide variability on what is covered, how much is covered, and people are concerned. Mental health treatment is not usually a once-every-couple-months type of environment,” she said. “For families struggling to make ends meet, the expenses can pose a real challenge.”

Even in states with appropriate provisions for families seeking mental health treatment, there may not be enough qualified providers.

According to data from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the majority of the country faces a severe shortage of practicing child and adolescent psychiatrists, with fewer than 17 providers available per 100,000 children.

This means many families face long wait times, which can in turn lead to worsening of the underlying mental health condition in the child and an eventual need for more treatment sessions than if the condition had been addressed in its early stages, Mautone explained.

The available qualified providers face another challenge: communicating with other systems caring for children.

There are many systems in this country aimed at caring for children, Robles-Ramamurthy said, including the education system, the health care system, the juvenile justice system and the child welfare system.

“All of these systems that are supposed to be caring for children often times are not talking to each other,” she said. “A lot of times kids fall through the cracks and families are not getting the appropriate support they need,” she added.

In an attempt to provide timely mental health services for kids, many pediatric health systems have started to integrate these services into pediatricians’ offices.

By embedding themselves with pediatricians, mental health providers build on the existing trust and are able to reach families in a familiar environment, said Mautone, who leads one such program: the Healthy Minds, Healthy Kids Initiative at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

“We are readily available, many times the same day, to explain our service, meet the family and begin to understand what the challenges are,” she added.

The program has served more than 2,500 patients in the last two years and continues to expand. Robles-Ramamurthy sees this as a sign of progress but says there is much more to be done.

“Untreated mental illness in children pose grave consequences to our communities, including high rates of suicide, academic decline and unemployment,” she said.

The-CNN-Wire™ © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.


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Federal health agency accepts plan of correction at Mount Carmel hospitals

COLUMBUS – The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has accepted plans of correction for Mount Carmel West and St. Ann’s hospitals, 10 Investigates has learned.

But the documents released in association with this announcement reveal damning details about what may have transpired inside the Mount Carmel Health System where 34 patients are believed to have received excessive doses of pain medications – 28 of which received potentially fatal doses.

Site inspectors from the state department of health – investigating on behalf of CMS – determined that “the hospital failed to ensure a system was in place to monitor and prevent large doses of central nervous system medications from being accessed from the automated medication dispensing system by overriding the warnings and prior approval of the pharmacist. This affected 27 patients at the hospital.”

A 10 Investigates review of the records show that in 24 of the 27 patient cases reviewed by state health inspectors – Dr. William Husel overrode the hospital’s internal system to gain access to pain medications prior to pharmacy approval.

One of those patients who was administered fentanyl through a system override was 67-year old Sanders Young Jr. His records show that the he was given 400 micrograms of fentanyl in July of 2016. The records do not show that the pharmacy approved the dose.

His family became the latest to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Mount Carmel Health System, Dr. Husel, its nurses and pharmacists. They spoke to 10 Investigates.

“I don’t really have a message for them. I just want somebody held accountable for it,” said Booker Young, Sanders’ son.

His daughter, Tieshia Young, told 10 Investigates: “It’s unnerving it’s like I don’t understand how somebody could be see callous.”

The failure to prevent patients like Young and others from receiving a large dose of CNS medications resulted in a determination of immediate jeopardy by CMS, the document said.

Sources had told 10 Investigates that Dr. William Husel had used go-arounds to avoid receiving pharmacy approval while ordering drugs for patients. In some cases, he’s accused of declaring emergent situations, the sources have alleged. In others, a Mount Carmel employee told 10 Investigates that sometimes the pharmacy was unaware that the patients were being removed from the ventilator.

One of Mount Carmel’s new policies includes requiring that nurses and doctors receive pharmacy approval before administering drugs used when ventilators are being removed. Another change includes stating that the use override to obtain medication is not to be used during palliative ventilator withdrawal. The use of an override can be used, however, in unplanned emergencies – like intubating a patient.

A review of Mount Carmel policy titled “Physician Orders” revealed that verbal and telephone orders are to be limited to:

  • Emergent situations
  • When clinical situations make it impractical for orders to be entered into the Electronic Health Record or written on the appropriate form
  • Situations when the physicians do not have access to remote computer devices or the patient’s chart

Another physician listed as “physician B” said there was no current “lock out” on the AMDS machine to prevent staff from continuing to override the system to obtain medications.

Inspectors also noted that fentanyl was not listed as a medication to use for palliative ventilator withdrawal, according to the inspectors review of the “Palliative Ventilator Withdrawal – Powerplan Medication Reference Document” which was updated 12/14/18.

Other findings included: that the usual adult dose of fentanyl was 25 to 100 micrograms; Dilaudid was one half to four miligrams; and Versed, was one to four miligrams. All the patients named in the wrongful death lawsuits filed thus far received at least one of these medications.

News that CMS has accepted the plans of correction could likely indicate that Mount Carmel West and St. Ann’s are temporarily no longer in jeopardy of losing its federal funding, but follow-up visits by site inspectors are expected, 10 Investigates has learned.

A spokesman for the Ohio Department of Health told 10 Investigates: “CMS has indeed approved the Plans of Correction for both Mount Carmel West and Mount Carmel St. Ann’s (both plans attached), and directed the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) to conduct follow up surveys/inspections to ensure that each hospital is implementing its respective plan. ODH conducted a follow-up survey of Mount Carmel West yesterday and is at Mount Carmel St. Ann’s today. ODH will communicate its findings to CMS which will make the final determination about whether any/all deficiencies have been sufficiently addressed (Note – it will be up to CMS to determine whether the “Immediate Jeopardy” citation is removed).”

The hospitals’ Medicare funding was in jeopardy of being terminated unless Mount Carmel could prove to the state health department and the federal overseers at CMS that they could make corrections in wake of the scandal there.

To date, 34 patients have been identified by the hospital as receiving excessive or potentially fatal doses of pain medications.

Thirty-three of the patients who received the excessive doses were at Mount Carmel West; one of the patients was attending Mount Carmel St. Ann’s in Westerville.

Of that total figure, 28 of the patients are believed to have received potentially fatal doses, the hospital has said. The six others received doses that went “beyond providing comfort” but were likely not the causes of their deaths, the hospital said.

In letters sent to the hospitals late last month, CMS warned that Mount Carmel West “was in not in compliance” with the Medicare conditions of participations because of “pharmaceutical services.”

“We have determined that the deficiencies are so serious they constitute an immediate threat to patient health and safety,” the January 30th letter from CMS read.

That same letter stated that “if you believe your hospital will be able to come into compliance, you should submit an allegation of compliance and plan of correction that addresses all the deficiencies cited at the survey…”

It went on to state, “if (CMS) accept(s) your allegation of compliance, we will authorize the ODH to conduct a revisit to verify necessary corrections.”

A similar letter was sent to Mount Carmel St. Ann’s.

The hospital said it first received a “formal report” concerning allegations about Dr. William Husel’s patient care on October 25. Three more patients died between that date and Nov. 21, 2018 – when the hospital said it received additional information and removed Dr. Husel from patient care.

Husel was fired by the hospital on December 5.

He has been named in several wrongful death lawsuits. The Ohio medical board suspended his medical license last month and the Ohio Department of Medicaid suspended his provider agreement and accused him of fraud – alleging that he conducted “medically unnecessary procedures that involved grossly inappropriate amounts of fentanyl,” according to a department spokesman.

Husel and his attorneys have declined to comment.

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Apple kicks off series of health-related events in Apple Stores for Heart Month

Apple continues its commitment to health and the American Heart Month with a series of new health-focused events at select Apple Stores, including a special session in San Francisco that featured Apple VP Sumbul Desai.

The first of Apple’s February health events took place at Apple Union Square on Monday, with a panel discussion involving Desai, fitness trainer Jeanette Jenkins and Robert Harrington, president-elect of the American Heart Association. Apple’s Julz Arny, who works on special fitness projects, moderated the talk, reports CNBC.

Not much was shared in the way of new information, though it was announced that Apple plans to reveal the results of its Heart Study at a forthcoming meeting of the American College of Cardiology. The study had a massive sample size of more than 400,000 Apple Watch owners, a rarity in formal medical research that is often limited to a few thousand participants, at most. The study started to wind down at the tail end of 2018.

At the gathering, Desai said the research, conducted in partnership with Stanford Medicine, looks not only at population trends, but individual user behavior. She added that the findings might inform new methods of data sharing between Watch owners and doctors, presumably with the help of iOS apps like Apple’s Health.

Desai joined the Apple team in 2017 after serving in a number of roles at Stanford Medical, including a position key to the launch of the Stanford Center for Digital Health.

“I went to medical school to have an impact and now I have the opportunity to be able to do that at scale,” she said, explaining her decision to enter the tech sector.

Harrington also chimed in, noting that the medical field lacks hard data on population rates of atrial fibrillation, a condition that can lead to heart failure. Apple Watch’s heart rate sensor, combined with watchOS 5, can be used to detect signs of AFib. In fact, the latest Apple Watch Series 4 integrates an ECG feature that provides deeper insight into heart health and is already saving lives.

Following the panel, Jenkins led attendees on a short walk around to demonstrate the different fitness capabilities of Apple Watch.

Apple CEO Tim Cook celebrated the inaugural event on Twitter.

Two more health-focused events are scheduled for Apple stores in New York and Chicago later this month. Apple is also running an activity challenge on Apple Watch in recognition of Heart Month. Already underway, the challenge calls on users to fill their exercise ring every day from Feb. 8 to Feb. 14, in order to earn a unique badge.

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This is putting SA’s women in the grave, so what’s health department doing about it?


Last week, Amnesty International South Africa executive director Shenilla Mohamed penned a commentary on Bhekisisa’s health pages in the Mail Guardian. In the piece, Mohamed argued that not much had changed for pregnant women and new mothers since the organisation released a report on maternal deaths five years ago. The document details challenges faced by women in Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal in accessing antenatal care.

We agree. Far too many women are still dying, mostly because of what we call “the three Hs”: HIV, haemorrhage (extensive blood loss — either before or after a caesarean section) and hypertension. 

But we’re working to change this. We at the national health department believe readers should know what the country is doing to improve the quality of care provided to pregnant women. 

The good news is that since 2009 there has been a significant decrease in maternal mortality — especially those deaths that happen in health facilities. In 1997, South Africa became one of the first countries in the Global South to institute maternal death audits

As part of these, a team of independent experts comprised of obstetricians, doctors, midwives and anaesthetists investigates every death of every woman or new mother who dies in a health facility. Teams pour through patient files at clinics and hospitals to try to identify the causes of deaths and what, if anything, could have been done to prevent them.

This data is reported to the national committee on confidential enquiries into maternal deaths, which releases regular reports. The health department also does detailed assessments of 19 hospitals to understand better what needs to be done at individual institutions to save women’s lives. 

The committee’s latest report shows that institutional maternal deaths have declined by 31% in the past eight years — from 1766 in 2009 to 1222 in 2017. 

In 2011, HIV was responsible for 35% of all maternal mortality. In 2017, this proportion fell to a quarter or 296 deaths. 

This impressive reduction is a consequence of testing pregnant women and starting those who test positive on antiretroviral treatment (ART) as soon as possible. In fact, the latest maternal death audit shows that improvements in the way we treat HIV have cut deaths from infections not related to pregnancy, such as HIV and TB, by almost half since 2011. 

But unacceptably large numbers of pregnant women — especially adolescent girls and young women — are still only finding out their HIV status once they fall pregnant. Ideally and with regular testing, they should know their status and start on ART before they conceive. ART not only saves women’s lives but it also radically reduces the chances they will pass the virus on to their children. 

In 2008, almost one in 10 children born to women living with HIV tested positive for the virus six weeks after birth, a 2018 study in the South African Medical Journal showed. In 2018, less than 1% of infants at 10 weeks postpartum had contracted HIV from their mothers. This means that significantly fewer babies are born HIV positive and far fewer infants are dying from HIV.

Deaths because of haemorrhage, the second most common cause of maternal mortality, have also dropped by 22% since 2011, the most recent audit shows. In meetings, the national committee on maternal deaths has  attributed this decline to the health department’s safe caesarean delivery programme, which works to ensure doctors and nurses have the skills they need to deliver babies safely. 

But, unfortunately, maternal death rates caused by the third “H” —  hypertension — have not budged. 

To try to diagnose high blood pressure in pregnant women early, however, the national health department recently doubled the number of prescribed antenatal visits for expecting mothers to eight — in line with World Health Organisation standards. We hope by seeing women earlier and more often, nurses can diagnose and treat hypertension sooner. That’s why we are also evaluating how well our nurses take blood pressure measurements and act on them. 

And we’re making sure women and their partners know how important early care is with our  MomConnect mobile phone application . Launched in 2014 by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, the service allows women to register for weekly SMS tips for staying healthy during pregnancy. 

It also gives women a direct line to us to log complaints or compliments about the service they receive at health facilities. 

To date, more than 2.38-million pregnant women have registered on MomConnect. In almost five years, the application has received 1 834 complaints mainly about rude staff, long waiting times, shortages of medicines and untidy facilities. We try to resolve them as soon as we can. 

Like Mohamed, we also hear anecdotes about health workers berating young women for using contraception or for being sexually active. In response, we’ve asked that clinic and community health centre managers dedicate time and space for young people as part of “youth zones”. 

But pregnant women also talk to us about the many ways in which healthcare workers and facilities have made their lives better, which is why compliments outnumber complaints on MomConnect almost 11 to one. 

We’ve tracked 20 730 compliments for our health workers and facilities in just five years. 

To reduce maternal mortality, we need to make sure women are getting quality care at every step of their healthcare journey. We have to keep ensuring that our healthcare workers have the skills they need to adhere to national guidelines, which are aimed at ensuring that every pregnancy and birth is a safe and respectful one. 

That’s why we recently introduced NurseConnect and more than 25 000 nurses now get regular SMS messages that offer tips on, for instance, dealing with stress, as well as access to health resources. They can also share their stories with their peers about challenges and how they overcame them. And, just like MomConnect, NurseConnect gives nurses a direct line to the department to voice concerns. 

But we also have to continue to strengthen the health system to save lives by, for instance, making sure women with high-risk pregnancies get the care they need when they need it. That’s why we’re extending a range of interventions to cut maternal mortality rates in 17 districts and using the lessons we learn there to shape how these programmes are taken up nationally. 

If South Africa is to attain the United Nations’ latest round of international targets, the Sustainable Development Goals, we’ll need to slash maternal death rates by almost 30% between now and 2030. This will require everyone — decision-makers, healthcare workers, managers, patients and their families — to play their part in ensuring healthy pregnancies and safe deliveries. 

In short, we agree with Shenilla Mohamed when she says that “quality, equitable healthcare is not only important for communities, it also ensures that women, including those living with HIV, have access to the medical attention and knowledge they need”. 

And we’re striving to do just that.

Yogan Pillay is the national health department’s deputy director general for communicable and noncommunicable diseases. Follow him on @ygpillay.

Have something to say? Tweet or Facebook us on @Bhekisisa_MG

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Do trendy health shots simply blow a hole in your wallet?


Actimel Mind with Guarana, from Waitrose

Actimel Mind with Guarana, from Waitrose

Actimel Mind with Guarana, £1/100g Waitrose

This contains guarana, an Amazonian fruit with caffeinated seeds, probiotic yoghurt, with ‘billions of Lcasei cultures’, and vitamins B6 and D and B5 ‘to support normal mental performance’.

Expert opinion: ‘The guarana provides 50mg caffeine — around the same as a cup of instant coffee, and caffeine is known to boost mental alertness. This bottle will also provide around 15 per cent of your daily vitamin B6, 5 per cent of vitamin B5 and 7.5 per cent of vitamin D — all important for energy and concentration. L’casei cultures can help foster healthy gut microflora, but some will be destroyed by the digestive process.

Taste: Slightly smoky, unsweetened yoghurt flavour.



James White Beet-it Organic Stamina Shot

James White Beet-it Organic Stamina Shot

James White Beet-it Organic Stamina Shot, £1.45/70ml

Made with 98 per cent concentrated organic beetroot juice and 2 per cent concentrated lemon juice. ‘Beetroot is particularly high in dietary nitrate,’ says its maker.

Expert opinion: There is credible scientific evidence to show beetroot juice taken a couple of hours before exercise can help improve muscle efficiency and stamina. A daily dose has also been shown to help lower high blood pressure. Both effects are possibly due to the nitrates in beetroot being converted by the body into nitric oxide, which helps dilate blood vessels and improve blood flow. One shot will count as one of your five a day.

Taste: Earthy, sweet flavour. 



The Turmeric Co Nature’s Remedy Turmeric

The Turmeric Co Nature’s Remedy Turmeric

The Turmeric Co Nature’s Remedy Turmeric, £3.50/60ml from Wholefoods,

This contains 5g of cold- pressed turmeric root mixed with watermelon, pineapple, lemon and piperine (black pepper) extract. ’Turmeric contains a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compound called curcumin. Regular consumption of curcumin can boost your immune system, and reduce inflammation,’ says the manufacturer.

Expert opinion: There is some research to show regular consumption of curcumin has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, but more studies are needed. Turmeric supplements of any kind should always be taken with care as they can interact with medication such as painkillers, statins and blood pressure medication.

Taste: Sweet and spicy. 



umbleZest Detox and Defend ACV, Milk Thistle and Charcoal

umbleZest Detox and Defend ACV, Milk Thistle and Charcoal

BumbleZest Detox and Defend ACV, Milk Thistle and Charcoal, £2.40/60ml from healthfood stores

‘A warming cleanser and detoxer containing apple cider vinegar, activated charcoal and milk thistle powder to aid digestion and stimulate metabolism.’

Expert opinion: ‘Used for treating drug overdoses, activated charcoal binds to poisons and carries them out of the body. This combination of charcoal and milk thistle will not “cleanse” you — that’s the role of your liver and kidneys.

‘Milk thistle is a natural treatment for liver problems, but along with claims for helping digestion, lacks scientific evidence. The charcoal could bind with some prescription drugs, affecting absorption.

Taste: Sweet, spicy, lemony. 



Biomel Dark Chocolate Dairy-Free Probiotic 

Biomel Dark Chocolate Dairy-Free Probiotic 

Biomel Dark Chocolate Dairy-Free Probiotic Shot, £1.20/125ml from Sainsbury’s

‘A coconut-milk-based probiotic shot made with live cultures and vitamins B6 and D and calcium to support the normal function of digestive enzymes.’

Biomel claims that its ‘L+ lactic acid cultures . . . quickly help the good bacteria in your gut to thrive, strengthening your immune and digestive systems’.

Expert opinion: New research shows just how much our gut health can impact on weight and disease, so taking a regular probiotic product makes nutritional sense, although changing our diet can also have a significant impact.

This shot contains useful levels — almost 19 per cent — of your daily recommended intake of calcium and vitamin D, and vitamin B6, which is important for energy production, but it also has nearly 1½ teaspoons of added sugar.

Taste: Nice, sweet flavour, similar to a chocolate milkshake.



Weight loss? Slendershot 14-day pack 

Weight loss? Slendershot 14-day pack 

Slendershot, £19.99/14-day pack,

‘Weight-loss and detox supplement full of amino acids and antioxidants. Natural ingredients include acai berry, ginseng, prickly pear and green tea. Designed to suppress your appetite and speed up metabolism.’

Expert opinion: The manufacturer suggests you’ll start to see a change after two weeks, but frankly this is more likely to be the result of the lifestyle changes you’ll inevitably be making to lose weight rather than the product itself. If you’re dieting, you could be low on some of the vitamins and minerals offered here and the amino acids in this play a proven role in mood and energy levels. However, the claims that they can suppress appetite and speed up metabolism aren’t yet supported by research.

Taste: Pleasant, sweet summer fruits.



Erbology Organic Aronia Skin shot

Erbology Organic Aronia Skin shot

Erbology Organic Aronia Skin shot, £2.99/40ml,

‘Made with 100 per cent Aronia berries’ — this shot is ‘chock full of anthocyanins (powerful antioxidants) that have been studied for their support of cognitive and heart functions, metabolism and healthy skin. Take one a day for beautiful skin.’

Expert opinion: Aronia, sour berries native to North America, are indeed a good source of anthocyanins, but so are most other brightly coloured berries. Aronia are also a good source of vitamin C, important for healthy skin. Although they are healthy, they won’t work any miracles — and they’re expensive; ml per ml, this shot costs more than Moet Chandon champagne.

Taste: Mouth-puckeringly sharp.



James White Xtra Ginger Zinger

James White Xtra Ginger Zinger

James White Xtra Ginger Zinger, £1.35/70ml,

‘Organic apple and ginger shot with chilli. This will give you back your zing!’

Expert opinion: Ginger has become a very popular shot ingredient. The powerful flavour and warming sensation it gives as it’s swallowed makes it feel as if it’s clearing congestion, blasting away sluggishness and doing you good, but scientific evidence for this is scant. Apple juice is a good source of vitamin C, but it’s only present here in a relatively small amount. For energy, you need a well-balanced diet which includes B vitamins (found in eggs, vegetables, nuts, seeds, wholegrains and meat) and to keep hydrated.

Taste: Fiery! Blows the cobwebs away.



Active edge: Cherry Active Shot

Active edge: Cherry Active Shot

Cherry Active Shot, £1.79/30ml,

‘A Montmorency cherry concentrate, ideal for air travel and post-sports recovery. Contains the antioxidant equivalent of 23 fruit and vegetables.’

Expert opinion: Montmorency cherries have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties which can help reduce aches and pains after exercise. High in melatonin — a hormone that influences our natural sleep/wake cycle — Montmorency cherry juice is sometimes recommended to help minimise jet lag. The effects are not instant, however — it’s probably best taken for several days before and after a sporting event — and first thing in the morning and an hour before bed to help with sleep.

Taste: Tart and slightly medicinal. 8/10


Moju Acerola Booster Shot from Waitrose

Moju Acerola Booster Shot from Waitrose

Moju Acerola Booster Shot, £1.50/60ml Waitrose

The maker says ‘late nights and long days’ call for this reviving blend of apple, pomegranate, blackberry, cherry and lemon juices with 20 per cent acerola puree. ‘A heavy-duty version of a glass of orange juice, acerola (aka the Barbados cherry) is one of the richest, natural forms of vitamin C’ — and taking it in shot form makes it more ‘bioavailable’ (better absorbed by the body).

Expert opinion: Acerola is widely regarded as the best natural source of vitamin C, but it’s not clear exactly how much vitamin C is in this shot. I can’t find research that proves a shot is more effective than a supplement.

TASTE: Slightly sour, but pleasant.






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7 simple steps for heart health also prevent diabetes

New research suggests that following the American Heart Association’s guidelines for maintaining heart health can also drastically reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Exercising and healthful eating are among the “simple 7″ guidelines that the AHA recommend.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), there are seven cardiovascular risk factors that people can change to improve their heart health.

Dubbed “Life’s Simple 7,” these risk factors are: “smoking status, physical activity, weight, diet, blood glucose, cholesterol, and blood pressure.”

The AHA note that research has shown that maintaining a minimum of five of the seven factors at an ideal level can lower the risk of cardiovascular death by almost 80 percent.

New research, which features in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, finds that these seven modifiable risk factors can also stave off diabetes.

Coming up with new strategies for preventing diabetes is crucial as over 100 million people in the United States are currently living with the condition or with prediabetes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), untreated prediabetes can progress into full-blown type 2 diabetes within 5 years.

Dr. Joshua J. Joseph, an endocrinologist and assistant professor at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, led the new research.

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Following the 7 steps cuts risk by 70 percent

In the new study, Dr. Joseph and colleagues evaluated diabetes status in 7,758 individuals who participated in the REasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke Study.

The team used the AHA’s seven factors to assess the cardiovascular health of the participants.

The analysis revealed that participants who had at least four out of the seven factors within the ideal range were 70 percent less likely to develop diabetes over the next 10 years.

“What’s interesting,” reports the study’s lead researcher, “is [that] when we compared people who had normal blood glucose and those who already had impaired blood glucose, [...] [t]hose in normal levels who attained four or more guideline factors had an 80 percent lower risk of developing diabetes.”

However, he notes that those who already had prediabetes and met four of the seven factors did not seem to benefit from the lifestyle changes. Instead, their risk of diabetes remained the same.

This is further proof, continues the researcher, that people should use the “simple 7″ to prevent the onset of diabetes.

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“Healthy people need to work to stay healthy,” says Dr. Joseph. “Follow the guidelines,” he advises.

Don’t proceed to high blood sugar and then worry about stopping diabetes. By that point, people need high-intensity interventions that focus on physical activity and diet to promote weight loss and, possibly, medications to lower the risk of diabetes.”

Dr. Joshua J. Joseph

The physician also stresses the importance of educating the public about preventing diabetes. He and his team are actively engaged in community outreach programs that inform people about healthful practices.

“We don’t wait for people to come to us as patients,” Dr. Joseph says. “We’re very engaged in taking our work from the lab and applying it to our populations so we can help keep our communities healthy.”

The video below further details the findings and zooms in on the case of Tim Anderson, a man who has recently received a diabetes diagnosis:

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Penn’s newest wellness initiative urges schools to collaborate on mental health solutions


Credit: Christine Lam

Penn launched an online challenge this week calling on students, faculty, and staff to submit ideas to enhance wellness on campus. The project, titled the “Your Big Idea” challenge, also allows people to view, rate, and comment on all of the suggestions. 

Submissions for the challenge — which total more than 200 ideas so far — include ideas such as hiring staff to support long-term therapy at Counseling and Psychological Services, setting aside areas in academic buildings for napping, and making all freshmen courses on a pass/fail grading scale. The challenge is Penn’s most expansive wellness initiative since the creation of Student Wellness Services, the umbrella organization for CAPS, Student Health Service, Campus Health, Penn Violence Prevention, and Alcohol and Other Drug Program Initiatives.

The wellness project was first announced in an email sent to all students, faculty, and staff on Feb. 4.

“We want you to think big. We’re looking for creative ideas for services, programs, amenities, and resources to strengthen Penn wellness,” the email read. “Proposals that cross departments and Schools are strongly encouraged.”


‘Stress is not the enemy’: Wellness Chief announces mental health goals at U. Council meeting

In response to suicides at Penn, a new mental health bill may soon become law

Anyone with a PennKey can submit an idea on the challenge’s website until March 1. A committee of 13 students, faculty, and staff will vote for the semi-finalists, who will then formalize their pitches with the Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation. The semi-finalists will then present in front of a larger group of students, faculty, and staff. Everyone who participates will be entered into a lottery for three chances to win an Apple Watch, and the final winning ideas will be chosen in late April. The ideas will then be implemented. 

Credit: Cindy Chen

Benoit Dubé is Penn’s Chief Wellness Officer.

The challenge is led by Chief Wellness Officer Benoit Dubé and Faculty Senate Chair Jennifer Pinto-Martin with support from the Center for Health Care Innovation. Pinto-Martin said the ratings are taken into consideration when the committee is deciding the semi-finalists in early March. 

Pinto-Martin said she came up with the idea to launch a challenge from her work as a fellow with the Center for Health Care Innovation. There, she learned about their yearly challenge that asks the public to brainstorm ways to improve a specific topic related to health care.

“It’s been my position that we have to start from a place of humility and remember there has been a lot of great things going on,” Dubé said. “Some of the good things that are going on actually can be across the street in the [Penn Medicine] health system.” 

Pinto-Martin said she brought her crowdsourcing challenge idea to Provost Wendell Pritchett’s Wellness Advisory Group in September 2018. The details of the “Your Big Idea” challenge were developed by a committee of students, faculty, and staff.

Undergraduate Assembly representative and College junior Simon Miller, who serves on the committee that finalized the challenge, said the competition is valuable not only for choosing winning projects, but also to gather more ideas and feedback, which other campus groups can adopt.

Jennifer Pinto-Martin is the Chair of Penn’s Faculty Center. (Photo from Jennifer Pinto-Martin)

“I really love this project,” Miller said. “I really believe that this is something that can really help improve wellness on campus, especially since it’s really getting ideas from everywhere.”

“The more ideas we get, the better it is for everyone,” he added.

GAPSA Student Life Committee Chair and Penn Franklins Founder Matthew Lee, who is also a fourth-year Nursing Ph.D. student, said while the contest is about “addressing problems across Penn,” he encouraged Dubé to separate the affiliation portion of the application into undergraduate and graduate students to identify their separate needs.

Lee said, however, that the contest is only open for a month and was not heavily advertised, adding that there could have been a launch party to further promote the project.

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College senior Samantha Hernandez, who is also a member of Penn Benjamins, agreed that the challenge could have benefited from better publicity, particularly the fact that students can comment and rate submissions.

For President of the Undergraduate Assembly and College senior Michael Krone, crowd-sourcing ideas and allowing people to rate them gives students a greater say in improving mental wellness on campus.

“I think this contest provides an opportunity for students who don’t necessarily have a voice in the wellness conversation,” Krone said.

All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.

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Earthquake damage to Alaska health lab is hindering testing for potentially fatal diseases

The rooms are currently being sterilized, a long process in itself. It’s uncertain when an estimated $200,000 in repairs by specially trained workers will begin, said Bernd Jilly, chief of Alaska State Public Health Laboratories.

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Pending Kristaps Porzingis’ health, the Mavs won the trade deadline. Here’s a look at where they may be going next…

MM: If you land Nikola Vucevic, you’d have one of the better frontcourts in the game. And both of your big men would be capable of spacing the floor and knocking it down from the perimeter. This would form one of the greatest Euro trios of all-time. I think this is where the Mavs are headed. And why wouldn’t Vucevic be interested in that scenario. Unless he’s dead set on going to a market like New York or LA, I think Dallas would be a great destination for Vucevic. This guy has quietly been extremely consistent. He’s so much more skilled than DeAndre Jordan, it’s not funny. And he also puts up big rebounding numbers. He’s closer to Jokic than Nurkic is. And I mean that as a huge compliment. Other than Embiid, Jokic might be the best center in the game. Vucevic isn’t far behind.

Will Mark Cuban take a run at Anthony Davis in the offseason?

MM: The Mavs will build around Kristaps Porzingis and Luka Doncic. They may be one of the only teams in the league not coveting Davis right now. I’m not saying Porzingis is the better player by any stretch, but this is the path the Mavs have chosen. They need to find out what Porzingis can become. When healthy, he’s been pretty special. The Mavs will spend their time looking for players they truly have a chance to land, like Vucevec from Orlando.

Did Harrison Barnes really know he was going to be traded prior to the game vs. Charlotte?

MM: He simply knew that something was in the works. It sounds like the Mavs gave him the option of not playing, but that’s not really in his DNA. He’s a stand-up guy who saw his role on this team change because Luka Doncic has become an instant superstar. He would’ve been an interesting third option next to Luka and KP… but a very expensive one. And his ball-stopping ways just aren’t a great fit. He certainly did his part for more than two years, though. He can now help lead a talented young team to the playoffs. It’s a pretty good situation.

Click here to enjoy the full chat.

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