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Archive for January, 2009

Why So Fit In Minneapolis?

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

When it comes to being fit, Minneapolis residents are right up there with anyone else in the country.

Men’s Fitness magazine ranked the country’s “Fittest/Fattest Cities,” and the 11th annual survey put Salt Lake City at the top of the Fittest list. Minneapolis was third, with Colorado Springs wedged between.

Minneapolis scored high for several reasons, the magazine said.

Mayor R.T. Rybak sets a positive example, exercising up to five days a week and participating “in more fitness-related public events than most mayors in our survey.”

The city’s residents also scored well, because they don’t watch so much television, but do participate in sports and activities such as running, cycling and walking, and have ample access to tennis courts, basketball courts, gyms, health clubs and golf courses.

Also, Minneapolis has the third-lowest number of doughnut outlets per capita, the magazine said its survey found. But on the flip side, ice cream shops are 38 percent more popular in Minneapolis than average.

Topping the “Fattest” list is Miami. The magazine said 61.5 percent of Miami residents are heavy enough to increase their risk for weight-related health problems, and the city has almost three times the number of fast-food restaurants as the average city.

SOURCE: PAUL WALSH@STAR TRIBUNE

Most Fit Cities: Where Do You Live?

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

SALT LAKE CITY - Men’s Fitness magazine has named Salt Lake City the nation’s fittest city in its annual ranking, but Minneapolis is not far behind.

Following Salt Lake on the list are Colorado Springs, Colo.; Minneapolis; Denver; and Albuquerque, N.M. The magazine says Salt Lake earned the distinction because of its park space and athletically motivated residents.

The magazine named Miami the “Fattest City in America,” followed by Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Las Vegas and New York.

The magazine conducts a national survey of 50 cities in the U.S. to determine the rankings on its lists.

Salt Lake wasn’t ranked on last year’s fittest cities list; Colorado Springs was No. 1. Miami was No. 7 on the fattest cities list in 2008 and Las Vegas was No. 1.

SOURCE: STAR TRIBUNE

Julie L. Gerberding Retires

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

ATLANTA (AP) — Dr. Julie L. Gerberding has resigned as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and will be replaced on an interim basis by a deputy as of Jan. 20, the day President-elect Barack Obama is inaugurated.

Her resignation was announced in an e-mail message to employees on Friday night.

Dr. Gerberding, the first woman to direct the agency, led the C.D.C. through a post-Sept. 11 world of bioterrorism fears and was considered an effective communicator with legislators and the public.

In a November e-mail message to staff members, Dr. Gerberding said she expected that she might leave the post after the Bush administration left office. But colleagues said she had quietly held out hope that she would be allowed to stay on.

A spokesman for the agency, Glen Nowak, said Dr. Gerberding was traveling in Africa on agency business and was not available for comment.

Mr. Nowak said in a prepared statement that the Bush administration, “as part of the transition process,” had requested resignation letters from “a number of senior-level officials, including Dr. Julie Gerberding. This week, the administration accepted Dr. Gerberding’s resignation, effective Jan. 20.”

The agency investigates disease outbreaks, researches the cause and prevalence of health problems, and promotes illness prevention efforts. In a 2007 Harris Poll, the C.D.C. was rated the government agency that does the best job.

Dr. Gerberding is also head of the sister agency to the C.D.C., the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. The two have a combined budget of about $8.8 billion and more than 14,000 full-time, part-time and contract employees.

Dr. Gerberding receives a total compensation of $202,200.

Dr. Gerberding, 53, was named director in July 2002. She had been an infectious diseases specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, and joined the disease centers in 1998 to lead a patient safety initiative.

SOURCE: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Salmonella - Not Just For Raw Animal Meat & Byproducts

Monday, January 12th, 2009

Salmonella, a bacterium often found in undercooked meats and raw eggs, can also be found in other foods as well. The latest outbreak, which has been responsible for over 400 cases in 42 states since the fall of 2008, is the result of peanut butter. On Saturday January 11th, King Nut Companies of Solon, Ohio recalled all brands of peanut butter distributed under the company’s name after it was discovered the day before by Minnesota health officials that salmonella was present in a five-pound open container of creamy King Nut peanut butter that company distributes to hospitals and schools. Their products are not sold directly to consumers and business clients have been asked to take all King Nut peanut butter and Parnell’s Pride peanut butter distributed by King Nut out of distribution immediately

Martin Kanan the president and CEO of King Nut Companies issued an apology for the outbreak and said that the company took immediate action to ensure safety.

“We are very sorry this happened,” said Martin Kanan, president and chief executive officer of King Nut Companies. “We are taking immediate and voluntary action because the health and safety of those who use our products is always our highest priority.”

The CDC says ingesting foods that have been infected with animal waste normally contracts salmonella bacteria contamination. The symptoms that people generally experience are abdominal cramps, diarrhea and fever, which generally occur within three days after contamination. The infection usually disappears after seven days & often does not require treatment, though some people have been hospitalized due to dehydration.

For more information about the recall, please visit http://www.kingnut.com

Salmonella Outbreak in 42 States

Friday, January 9th, 2009

A new outbreak of salmonella, the bacteria that causes nasty diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps, has the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scrambling to discover the source, which is almost certainly a food that’s been sold around the country. So far, 388 people have been reported sick in 42 states, in an outbreak that’s been going on since last fall.

Salmonella is one bad bug you don’t want to get, particularly because it can cause serious illness or death in young children, the elderly, and people with impaired immune systems. Finding a source can take weeks, because the CDC has to interview people who got sick, try to pinpoint what they ate, and then compare the lists. Until we know the cause, here’s how to reduce the risk of getting sick, based on advice from the CDC and infectious disease experts.

Eat well-cooked food. In recent years, some of the nastiest food poisoning outbreaks have been caused by fresh fruit and veggies—canteloupes and jalapeño peppers last year, and spinach in 2006. Washing doesn’t solve the problem, since pathogens can get inside the nooks and crannies of a cantaloupe rind, for example. There’s also evidence that leafy greens and tomatoes can slurp bacteria into their cells along with water, either in the field or during processing. As Doug Powell, director of the International Food Safety Network at Kansas State University, says: “Washing’s not enough. You gotta cook it.” If you’re worried, sautéed spinach is a better bet than salad. Cooking meats thoroughly eliminates pathogens common in chicken and ground beef.

Don’t presume that organic means safe. Organic standards don’t deal with bacteria, and in the nasty 2006 E. coli outbreak in spinach, organic spinach was among the culprits. Many organic foods are now grown overseas, where oversight is skimpy at best. So, buying organic is no excuse to slack off on safe food handling practices.

Keep a squeaky-clean kitchen. Chicken is one common food that’s almost always contaminated with bad bugs, and it’s easy to spread the bacteria to other foods via knives, cutting boards, and hands. Food-safety experts recommend keeping raw chicken and meats away from foods that aren’t going to be cooked, and washing cutting boards and utensils with hot soapy water. Some cooks use a bleach rinse on cutting boards, while others reserve a cutting board for raw meats only. This primer on common sources of food poisoning gives the lowdown on banishing bad bugs from the kitchen. Here’s the link for CDC updates on the salmonella outbreak.

SOURCE: USNEWS.COM

Breast Cancer in Men Detected Late

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - One in every hundred breast cancers or so occurs in men, and such tumors are often detected at a late stage. Furthermore, these cancers can appear benign on mammography, according to a report in the American Journal of Roentgenology.

Breast tumors in men are usually palpable by the time they’re discovered or they show signs “such as change in overlying skin or nipple,” Dr. Wei-Tse Yang told Reuters Health.

“Be attentive to any palpable masses in men and obtain imaging evaluation early,” he advises doctors.

In their report, Yang from The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, and colleagues describe the appearance of male breast tumors as seen on a mammogram or by ultrasound.

Among 244 men with breast cancer, only 57 underwent preoperative mammography or sonography, and that was because of clear signs of a problem: 54 had a palpable mass and two had nipple inversion or nipple discharge.

In a third of the cases, mammography showed a calcified mass, which is often considered to be benign.

“Radiologists should be aware of these findings to avoid the misdiagnosis of cancer in men as a benign lesion,” the investigators say.

SOURCE: American Journal of Roentgenology & Reuters Health

Price-Cut For Gyms

Monday, January 5th, 2009

Now’s a good time to exercise frugality and check out the many deals available. Strike up the nerve to ask for extras. Fitness centers are slashing fees for current and new members, and even former members, for 2009.

Lapsed members of the upscale SportsClub/LA (thesportsclubla.com) were recently invited to return with no need to pay the one-time initiation fee, which can be at least $600, and no membership dues for two months, a savings for some of at least $330.

Less high-end clubs are also offering deals. Among them:

* A two-week free guest pass at Bally Total Fitness (ballyfitness.com), which recently filed for bankruptcy reorganization but says it plans to continue operations;

* One month free, then 50% off the monthly membership fee, through March 6 at Curves (curves.com);

* No enrollment fee at Gold’s Gym (goldsgym.com);

* A 30-day money-back guarantee at L.A. Boxing (laboxing.com).

“Gyms realize these are tough economic times, for themselves as well as their members,” says Joe Moore, chief executive of the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Assn., a fitness trade group.

Even independent gyms are offering deals, so talk to the manager.

Moore recommends that new and old gym members review benefits online or in the information package they are typically handed when they sign up. Go through the materials with a staff member to be sure you know what you’re getting. Then heck, ask for a little more — gym membership in the U.S. was down 3% in 2007 (there are no numbers yet for 2008) and clubs might consider throwing in a free month, a bigger membership discount, passes for a workout buddy, free or discounted personal training sessions or a free trial for a service the club otherwise charges for, such as a pool.

Monthly fees at luxury gyms such as SportsClub/LA, Equinox (equinoxfitness.com) and many hotel fitness centers that take monthly members can run north of $100. For hundreds to even $1,000 or so less each year, consider giving up the plush carpet and free mouthwash. Many lower-priced chains can charge less because they leave out expensive amenities such as spa, cafe and baby sitting, but they still offer cutting-edge equipment and, often, classes. Some even offer access 24/7, which the high-end clubs don’t usually match, or give access to any club in the network, useful for when you’re traveling.

Make sure to ask about all fees, however, and whether you can sign up month to month, rather than be locked into a full-year contract. And be sure to ask about cancellation rules, even for month-to-month contracts. Some clubs charge an enrollment fee but will often waive it if asked.

Lower-priced national chains:

* Snap Fitness (snapfitness.com) — 24/7 access. Fees about $40 per month, deals on couple and family memberships. Month-to-month contract.

* Anytime Fitness (anytimefitness.com) — access 24/7, key fee of about $35, monthly rate about $35. May require year contract plus initiation fee of about $50. Ask for best deal.

* 24 Hour Fitness (24hourfitness.com). Monthly rate about $29; may require year contract plus initiation fee of about $50. Ask for best deal.

Other tips:

* Out of work? If you’re locked into a year-long contract, ask the club if it will freeze your membership until you start working again, at least for a few months.

* Check payment details before you hand over your check or credit card. Best bet is a club that bills each month rather than via a deduction from a credit or checking account, though many clubs will insist on the deduction. You also don’t want to be locked into a year contract, if possible — you could change your mind or move.

* Before you sign, be sure you’re clear on what’s free and what you pay extra for. If classes are extra, you may want to find a club that includes them in the membership fee.

* Clubs often offer one or two personal training sessions free when you sign up. It’s cool to have someone work with only you, but it’s also expensive — $50 to $300 per hour, on average. If that’s not in your budget, consider these options: Ask for more free passes, ask trainers you like if they are ever on the floor to offer gratis coaching and find out if the club offers small training classes at rates well below the one-on-one sessions.

* Check your company benefits to see if free or discounted gym memberships are offered.

* Many health insurers offer discounts at specific gyms. Call the membership number on your insurance card or check the insurer’s website.

* If your doctor prescribes a gym membership to help treat a problem such as arthritis, you may be able to use your flexible spending account — a pretax account for medical expenses some firms set up for employees. Ask the doctor if a prescription is appropriate, then show it to the person at your firm who manages employee benefits and ask if your company will allow gym use to be covered by the account.

SOURCE: LA TIMES.