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Bye Bye Bloomberg! What NYC Gained Before it Lost its Biggest Health Advocate

With the new year, New York City bid farewell to Mayor Mike Bloomberg after a twelve-year term. Love him or hate him, his achievements in public health were stunning. While others only talked, he managed to act on smoking, obesity, and hypertension—and he placed the burden of fixing them on the industries that profited at the cost of the public’s health.

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The Mayor showed that public health is a priority for local government, not just for the federal government to create health policies from on high. Bloomberg used New York City as a laboratory for public health innovation, spotlighting issues and testing solutions on a relatively small scale.

Here’s a reminder of Mayor Bloomberg’s most significant public health campaigns:


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Detox Diets and Fasts Do Not Work and May Increase Toxins in the Body

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To detox or not to detox? That is the question I had for Gerard Mullin, MD of Johns Hopkins University as he spoke about nutritional detoxification at the 2013 Food & Nutrition Conferences and Expo a few weeks ago.

Dr. Mullin said that toxins are everywhere – in the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the things we touch.

Bisphenol A (BPA), a carcinogen, is in plastics, dental sealants, canned food linings, and cash register receipts.

Phthalates, other carcinogens, are found in fatty milk, butter and meats, along with personal care products, detergents, children’s toys, printing inks, and more.

Heavy metals, like arsenic, mercury and lead, are in food, batteries, paints, plastics, and fertilizers.

For the most part, toxins are “endocrine disruptors” that change the way our hormones regulate bodily functions. In animal studies, endocrine disruptors are linked to cancers, birth defects, diabetes, and other diseases. What is worse is that, when they work together, the sum of their actions is greater than the whole, and they are stored practically forever in body fat. Whether or not an individual develops a problem depends on genetics, level of exposure, and the quality of nutrients in the diet.
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Take Grain Brain’s Villainization of Carbs with a Grain of Salt

Grain Brain is the catchy title of a new self-help diet book on the New York Times Advice and How-to Best Sellers lists. The author, neurologist David Perlmutter, makes the case for a slow death to brain cells caused by wheat, “carbs,” and sugar. Those foods, he says, are behind most of the common but incurable neurologic diseases including Alzheimer’s, dementia, autism, anxiety, depression, and others. To prevent and treat those conditions, he recommends a diet of fish, seeds, nuts, and olive oil, sans the “carbs” from grains, milk, fruit, and sugary sweets. Grain Brain is in the same vein as Wheat Belly and other best-selling Paleo-type diet books.

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David Perlmutter and his co-author, writer Kristin Loberg, followed the diet book formula: reel in the lay audience with indisputable scientific facts and then lead them to ungrounded conclusions because they all sound good. With technical expertise, Dr. Perlmutter explains the workings of the brain and central nervous system. He is up on the hot nutrition topics and buzzwords of the day: inflammation, free radicals, bacteria in the gut, and metabolic fuels.

Sure, we agree that neurological diseases are scary and seem to be everywhere, but are gluten and carbohydrates the cause? Not so fast. David Perlmutter is often called “cutting edge,” which means research verification is needed.  
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35 Kid-Friendly Snacks that Meet the New Smart Snacks in Schools Guidelines

Students are going back to a healthier school environment this year, as schools continue to advance Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Last year, USDA added more fruit, vegetables and whole grains to the school lunch program. This year, those healthy advancements extend to school vending machines and school stores. Expect to see more of the foods we should encourage – whole grains, low fat dairy, fruits, vegetables and leaner protein – and less of the foods we should avoid – sugary, salty and fatty items. Read the guidelines in Smart Snacks in School, the USDA’s guide to the new nutrition standards.

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Download this Printer Friendly Version for your home or classroom.

We took those guidelines one step further by translating them into brand name foods to help busy parents and even teachers know what to look for at the store. Our list contains ­only foods that meet the new standards. There are no cookies or soda (too much sugar), nor meat jerky (too much salt), and several snack bars didn’t make the cut because they exceed the 200-calorie limit. While our list doesn’t include every acceptable packaged food on the market – and let’s make it clear, we love snacks made at home from healthy, fresh ingredients – we hope our list will help school administrators, teachers and parents to identify better-for-you commercial snacks that are more apt to promote our kids’ healthy lifestyles.
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The Parents’ Checklist for a Proper Weight Loss Camp for Kids

The school year is over and for many parents of overweight kids the pressure is on to decide whether or not to enroll in weight loss camp. Do weight loss camps help or do they make things worse? It depends as much on the family and the child as it does on the camp. Done right, weight loss camp may jump start good habits that last a lifetime. Done wrong, camp may set the stage for years of failed diet attempts with feelings of failure and shame. The decision to take part in weight loss camp is a very important one.

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Children, teens, and young adults of both genders can go to a weight loss camp, which can last from two to eight weeks and cost between $2000 and $8000. They group children by gender and age to learn about food, nutrition and cooking, athletic skills, and tools to support emotional health. Building positive self-esteem must be a goal of the program.

Menus must be devised by registered dietitians and wholesome communal meals and snacks should be served. In the best camps, the common menu offers around 1700 calories a day, but the camper actually decides how much to eat. Nutrition education helps the child to learn which foods are necessary and appropriate all of the time or just some of the time. Children should learn how and when to start and stop eating. The emphasis should always be on healthy eating, not on calories.
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