Review Category : Health

US Restaurant Chains Offering New, Less Caloric Menu Items

shalamov/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A new study found that newly introduced menu items at many U.S. restaurant chains are less caloric than older items.

According to the study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers from Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health found that large chain restaurants — selected from the top 100 largest chains in America — introduced newer food and beverage options containing 60 fewer calories than previously available options.

The overall average caloric content of menu items did not change, the researchers said, but the newer items contained 12 percent fewer calories than older options. Among the highest calorie decreases were children’s items (20 percent), main course items (10 percent), and beverages (eight percent).

Notably, in restaurants that have a “primary food focus,” the larger caloric drops were seen in menu items not at the business’ core.

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Ebola Infected Spanish Nurse After Two Contacts with Dying Patient

iStock/Thinkstock(MADRID) — The Spanish nurse’s aide who has contracted Ebola was part of a specialized team that cared for a priest who died of the disease, once changing his diapers and later disposing of his possessions after the priest died, a public health official said.

The case marked the first time the disease has been contracted outside of West Africa and has alarmed health workers throughout Europe.

The European Union has demanded an explanation from Spain as to how the health worker could have become infected.

“Tomorrow morning, we will have an audio conference call of EU’s Health Security Committee,” said Frederic Vincent, a spokesman for European Health Commission, on Tuesday. “We will all listen very carefully to what the Spanish officials have to tell us on why was the hospital not ready for Ebola patients.”

The 44-year-old patient, who has not been publicly identified, worked as the equivalent of a nurse’s aide at Madrid’s Carlos III hospital. She was part of a team that treated two Ebola patients who were repatriated from West Africa after contracting the disease.

The medical team treated a missionary, Miguel Pajares, 75, who was repatriated home from Liberia in August and died five days later. The same team took care of Mario Garcia Viejo, 69, a Spanish missionary who got infected in Sierra Leone and was flown to Madrid for treatment four days before he died on Sept. 25.

The woman had contact with Viejo twice: Once when he was still alive and she had to change his diapers, and a second time after he died and she had to take out his sheets, clothing and bodily wastes, public health official said.

She went on holiday after Viejo’s death, although officials insist she never left Madrid.

Officials said the woman wasn’t feeling well for a week before she was admitted to the isolation unit. El Mundo daily reported that it was the nurse who asked repeatedly to be tested for Ebola, before it was done on Monday.

Since her disease was diagnosed, her husband, who has no sign of disease, and two more people, including a colleague who treated Viejo, are being monitored in the hospital in a bid to try to stop the spread of the deadly virus.

In addition, health authorities said they are monitoring more than 50 possible contacts of the nurse’s aide.

The team has a strict safety protocol in place, which includes double impregnated gowns, gloves, masks and protective eye glasses, according to health officials.

“We are investigating how she got contaminated and if protocols were respected,” said Rosa Serrano, an official with Spanish health ministry.

Staff at the hospital told El Pais daily that the protective gowns they were using did not meet World Health Organization criteria, which require them to be impermeable and have a breathing equipment. Staff also complained about low quality latex gloves.

Spain was the first European country to repatriate home infected patients for treatment. Some health professionals said that Spanish hospitals were not well equipped to handle Ebola patients.

“For instance, in the U.S. there are 10 hospitals with level 4 isolation and here only Carlos III with level 2 and level 3,” said Pedro Martinez of AMYTS, the union representing doctors.

Despite the situation in Spain, European Health Commission thinks that a European Ebola epidemic “is very unlikely, and that in some way it could be a lesson for other member states,” Vincent said.

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Michael J. Fox Foundation Sues Facility for Destroying Parkinson’s Research

Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The Michael J. Fox Foundation has filed a lawsuit against a Parkinson’s disease research lab, according to Gossip Cop.

The foundation claims Coriell Institute for Medical Research left a freezer door open in April, destroying tens of thousands of critical samples. The mishap exposed more than 25,000 bio-specimens to the elements, allegedly costing more than $3 million.

The actor and his organization claim the 5-year, $45 million research project they were conducting is now seriously compromised. The foundation is suing the New Jersey facility for breach of contract, negligence, and is seeking unspecified damages.

Fox, 53, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1992. He started the Michael J. Fox Foundation in 2000 and has since invested more than $350 million in Parkinson’s research.

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Help Your Kids Fight Flu with Soap and Water

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — With more than 500 confirmed cases of Enterovirus D68 and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projecting that up to 20,000 kids will come down with the common flu this season, parents are looking for ways to keep their kids healthy.

Clean hands are the first line of defense against just about any seasonal illness, according to the CDC. About 80 percent of infectious diseases are transmitted by touch, the agency estimates.

Join the ABC News Health Tweet Chat on Flu and Enterovirus Today at 1 p.m., ET

Read on for some fun ways to get your child to reach for the soap.

The right way to wash

First things first: Proper hand washing technique means wetting the hands, lathering up and then scrubbing for at least 20 seconds making sure to get the backs of the hands and in between the fingers, said Dr. Mark Schuster, chief of pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital. Rinse thoroughly and dry the hands completely with a towel, paper towel or air dryer.

If you don’t have soap, hand sanitizer is better than nothing but it doesn’t really catch everything, Shuster added.

Sing a song

How long is 20 seconds? “Teach them to sing a song,” said Dr. Erica Brody, pediatrician at the Kravis Children’s Hospital at Mount Sinai. “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” the “Alphabet Song” or “Happy Birthday” twice through is just about the right amount of hand washing time.

Everything is a game to children. Hand washing is no different, Brody said.

“You can make up a Simon Says game with it,” Brody suggested. “Simon says ‘I just went to the bathroom,’ and they go to wash their hands.”

Add some sparkle

Place some glitter on the child’s hands to represent the bugs that spread illness. The glitter will get all over everything they touch and some will remain on their hands and face if they don’t scrub well enough, showing them how easily dirty mitts spread around the yucky stuff.

Make a chart

Track hand washing on a chart, giving your child a gold star or smiley sticker every time they soap up, Brody suggested. You can make different categories for hand washing such as right before eating, right after going to the bathroom, or right after coughing or sneezing.

Be a role model

“Kids should see the parents washing their hands too,” Schuster said. “It doesn’t work well if the parents don’t do the same thing.”

Role modeling works in reverse too. Washing their hands at school means kids are more likely to wash up at home, Schuster said. This means parents are also more apt to wash their hands when their kids come home.

To learn more about how to prevent flu and enterovirus, join the ABC Health tweet chat Tuesday at 1 p.m., ET. The chat will be moderated by Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News chief health and medical editor. The CDC, National Foundation for Infectious Diseases as well as representatives of many top hospitals, doctors and experts will be on hand to answer questions and offer advice.

Joining the chat is simple. Here’s how.

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Your Extraordinary Experience May Be Special Only to You

iStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) — Who wouldn’t want to brag about a making a trip around the world to visit all kinds of exotic locations?

Yet, Harvard University psychologist Gus Cooney says be careful about sharing certain stories because they might turn you into a social pariah.

So-called “extraordinary experiencers” who enjoy journeys or other experiences from the norm may actually alienate their friends when boasting about adventures if their acquaintances haven’t done the same, according to Cooney.

He conducted a series of studies in which people believed that “extraordinary experiencers” are happier than everyone else when they’re the center of attention.

But just the opposite happens, says Cooney, since “social interaction is grounded in similarities.” In other words, if people can’t relate to what you’re talking about, they’ll shut you out.

Cooney isn’t telling people not be adventurous, rather, just be mindful of your audience.

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Medicines Leading Cause of Allergic Fatalities

Fuse/Thinkstock(HYATTSVILLE, Md.) — When people find out that someone has died from an allergic reaction, the first thought is often that it was due to food or an insect bite.

However, the truth is that almost 60 percent of deaths from anaphylaxis, a life-threatening type of allergic reaction, are from medicines, according to a report in The New York Times.

Researchers made this discovery after looking at a total of 2,458 cases of fatal anaphylaxis from 1999 through 2010 as compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics.

Furthermore, in cases where the medicine could be identified, half the time it was antibiotics that resulted in death. Another major culprit: drugs used use in imaging studies known as radiocontrast agents.

Meanwhile, allergic reactions to food were responsible for about 15 percent of deaths while insect bites accounted for 6.7 percent of fatalities.

It was also learned that older Americans are most susceptible to fatal anaphylaxis and that African-Americans are at greater risk of dying from allergic reactions to medicines and food.

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Study: Genes Linked to Slightly Increased Intake of Coffee

TongRo Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A new study indicated that six genes in humans could be associated with increased coffee intake.

Previous research had found two human genes that impacted the metabolism of coffee, and the new study, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, identified six more. Researchers say that not only do these genes impact the way coffee is processed in the body, but they may also make genetic carriers more attracted to the prospect of drinking coffee.

Researchers did note, however, that those with these genes may drink 0.03 to 0.14 more cups of coffee per day — meaning the impact of these genes on coffee intake is small.

Some of the genes researchers say are associated with coffee intake have previously been linked in some way to smoking, obesity, blood pressure, diabetes, lipid profiles, and liver enzyme profiles. None of those factors, however, were linked to coffee intake in the study.

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Sexting Often Precedes Sexual Activity in Teens, Researchers Say

ponsulak/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Researchers surveyed over 1,000 students in Houston, Texas, and found that teens who engaged in “sexting” were 1.32 times more likely to be sexually active one year later.

Previous research has indicated that at least 15 percent of adolescents sext — sending sexually explicit pictures or messages electronically using a smart phone. The survey of Houston students involved two questionaires one year apart. The first questionnaire aimed to determine whether they had sent, received, or requested a sext message. The second questionnaire asked whether they had engaged in sexual activity.

Sexting, researchers say, may be a gateway to sexual activity. However, sexting was not linked to risky behaviors — such as unsafe sex or drug use or alcohol use before sex.

Further study is needed to determine whether those students who said they had taken part in sexting in the first questionnaire were more interested in sex, resulting in naturally higher numbers of individuals who had engaged in sexual activity one year later.

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NC Company Announces Planned Trial on New Experimental Ebola Drug

AlexRaths/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DURHAM, N.C.) — Chimerix, Inc. announced on Monday that it had provided the drug brincidofovir for potential use in patients with Ebola.

The drug was granted Emergency Investigational New drug Applications by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the North Carolina-based company said. “Chimerix is committed to working with global health organizations and government agencies in the fight against the Ebola virus outbreak,” M. Michelle Berrey, president and CEO of Chimerix said in a statement.

Chimerix says it is working with the FDA to, “finalize a clinical trial protocol this week to assess the safety, tolerability, and efficacy of brincidofovir” in patients confirmed to have Ebola.

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