Tag Archives: health and medicine

New Report States Smoking and Obesity Shrink U.S. Lifespans

A new report released Tuesday says that the nation’s history of heavy smoking is a major reason why lifespans in the U.S. fall short of those in many other high-income nations, and evidence suggests that current obesity levels also play a substantial part. According to Explaining Divergent Levels of Longevity in High-Income Countries, three to five decades ago smoking was much more widespread in the U.S. than in Europe or Japan, and the health consequences are still playing out in today’s mortality rates. Smoking appears to be responsible for a good deal of the differences in life expectancy, especially for women. Obesity’s contribution to lagging life expectancies in the U.S. also appears to be significant. It may account for a fifth to a third of the shortfall in longevity in the U.S. compared to other nations. And if the obesity trend in the U.S. continues, it may offset the longevity improvements expected from reductions in smoking.

The Institute of Medicine has published a number of books that address the problem of smoking in our nation. The most recent, Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Cardiovascular Effects: Making Sense of the Evidence addresses health effects of secondhand smoke. This book assesses the relationship between secondhand smoke exposure and acute coronary events. It also surveys critical epidemiological studies on the effects of smoking bans and evidence of links between secondhand smoke exposure and cardiovascular events.

The health and well-being of children in the United States are threatened by the ever-increasing number and percentage who are overweight and obese—now at one in four children. Childhood and adolescent obesity has increased dramatically in just three decades. Obese children and adolescents are more likely to have hypertension, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes when they are young, and they also are more likely to be obese when they are adults. Local Government Actions to Prevent Childhood Obesity serves as a tool for local government officials and those who work in partnership with them to help in tackling the prevention of childhood obesity in their jurisdictions.

These books and others from the Institute of Medicine provide information, recommendations, and analysis to assist decision-makers.

Explaining Divergent Levels of Longevity in High-Income Countries Explaining Divergent Levels of Longevity in High-Income Countries

Over the last 25 years, life expectancy at age 50 in the U.S. has been rising, but at a slower pace than in many other high-income countries, such as Japan and Australia. This difference is particularly notable given that the U.S. spends more on health care…
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Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Cardiovascular Effects Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Cardiovascular Effects: Making Sense of the Evidence

Data suggest that exposure to secondhand smoke can result in heart disease in nonsmoking adults. Recently, progress has been made in reducing involuntary exposure to secondhand smoke through legislation banning smoking in workplaces, restaurants, and other…
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Local Government Actions to Prevent Childhood Obesity Local Government Actions to Prevent Childhood Obesity

The prevalence of childhood obesity is so high in the United States that it may reduce the life expectancy of today’s generation of children. While parents and other adult caregivers play a fundamental role in teaching children about healthy behaviors, even…
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Combating Tobacco Use in Military and Veteran Populations Combating Tobacco Use in Military and Veteran Populations

The health and economic costs of tobacco use in military and veteran populations are high. In 2007, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) requested that the Institute of Medicine (IOM) make recommendations on how to…
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Ending the Tobacco Problem Ending the Tobacco Problem: A Blueprint for the Nation

The nation has made tremendous progress in reducing tobacco use during the past 40 years. Despite extensive knowledge about successful interventions, however, approximately one-quarter of American adults still smoke. Tobacco-related illnesses and death place a…
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Bridging the Evidence Gap in Obesity Prevention Bridging the Evidence Gap in Obesity Prevention: A Framework to Inform Decision Making

To battle the obesity epidemic in America, health care professionals and policymakers need relevant, useful data on the effectiveness of obesity prevention policies and programs. Bridging the Evidence Gap in Obesity Prevention identifies a new…
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Progress in Preventing Childhood Obesity Progress in Preventing Childhood Obesity: How Do We Measure Up?

The remarkable increase in the prevalence of obesity among children and youth in the United States over a relatively short timespan represents one of the defining public health challenges of the 21st century. The country is beginning to recognize childhood…
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Living in a Food Desert: How Lack of Access to Healthy Foods Can Affect Public Health

Need to run to the grocery store? For some of us, this is relatively easy because we probably live fairly close to one. For others, a trip to a grocery store represents a significant transportation challenge. In the United States, “food deserts”, neighborhoods and communities that have limited access to affordable and nutritious foods, tend to be located in urban and rural low-income neighborhoods. People who live in these areas are less likely to have access to supermarkets or grocery stores that provide healthy choices for food. With limited or no access to food retailers or supermarkets that stock fresh produce, low-fat dairy, whole grains, and other healthy foods, these populations may be more likely to suffer from high rates of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.

The Public Health Effect of Food Deserts: Workshop Summary discusses the public health effects—including the prevalence of obesity and the incidence of chronic diseases—of food deserts. This book offers insight on the extent of food deserts, their impact on individual behaviors and health outcomes in various populations, and effective ways to increase the availability of fruits and vegetables and to improve the food environment.

One serious health consequence of living in food deserts is, ironically, obesity. Without ready access to nutritious foods, people living in food deserts often have diets that are high in calories but low in nutritional value. To address this particular public health concern, the Institute of Medicine has published a number of reports that examine how we can roll back the obesity epidemic in the United States.

Bridging the Evidence Gap in Obesity Prevention: A Framework to Inform Decision Making examines obesity as a societal problem that affects whole populations, like those living in food deserts. This book features a practical, action-oriented framework to support the use of evidence in decision-making about obesity prevention policies and programs and sets a course for the development of new and relevant research.

The books mentioned above and others from the Institute of Medicine provide information and guidance for decision-makers to respond to the challenges of food deserts and their impact on our society.

The Public Health Effects of Food Deserts

The Public Health Effects of Food Deserts: Workshop Summary

In the United States, people living in low-income neighborhoods frequently do not have access to affordable healthy food venues, such as supermarkets. Instead, those living in “food deserts” must rely on convenience stores and small neighborhood stores that…

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Bridging the Evidence Gap in Obesity Prevention

Bridging the Evidence Gap in Obesity Prevention: A Framework to Inform Decision Making

To battle the obesity epidemic in America, health care professionals and policymakers need relevant, useful data on the effectiveness of obesity prevention policies and programs. Bridging the Evidence Gap in Obesity Prevention identifies a new…

Details

Local Government Actions to Prevent Childhood Obesity

Local Government Actions to Prevent Childhood Obesity

The prevalence of childhood obesity is so high in the United States that it may reduce the life expectancy of today’s generation of children. While parents and other adult caregivers play a fundamental role in teaching children about healthy behaviors, even…

Details

Community Perspectives on Obesity Prevention in Children

Community Perspectives on Obesity Prevention in Children: Workshop Summaries

As the public health threat of childhood obesity has become clear, the issue has become the focus of local, state, and national initiatives. Many of these efforts are centered on the community environment in recognition of the role of environmental factors in…

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Childhood Obesity Prevention in Texas

Childhood Obesity Prevention in Texas: Workshop Summary

Childhood Obesity Prevention in Texas summarizes the information gathered at a workshop held February 5-6, 2009, in Austin, Texas. At this workshop, committee members met with Texas lawmakers, public officials, and community leaders to exchange ideas…

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Progress in Preventing Childhood Obesity

Progress in Preventing Childhood Obesity: How Do We Measure Up?

The remarkable increase in the prevalence of obesity among children and youth in the United States over a relatively short timespan represents one of the defining public health challenges of the 21st century. The country is beginning to recognize childhood…

Details

Perspectives from United Kingdom and United States Policy Makers on Obesity Prevention

Perspectives from United Kingdom and United States Policy Makers on Obesity Prevention: Workshop Summary

Both the United Kingdom and the United States are grappling with nationwide epidemics of obesity. Obesity contributes to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers, among other diseases. Although many people are aware of obesity’s causes and…

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Joint U.S.-Mexico Workshop on Preventing Obesity in Children and Youth of Mexican Origin

Joint U.S.-Mexico Workshop on Preventing Obesity in Children and Youth of Mexican Origin: Summary

The Joint U.S.-Mexico Workshop on Preventing Obesity in Children and Youth of Mexican Origin was initiated by a desire to share experiences regarding the problem of obesity in children…

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DNA Testing: From the Doctor’s Office to the Drugstore

The Human Genome Project, completed in 2003, identified the genes that make up human DNA. Major advances in genomic technologies in the early 21st century have helped to increase dramatically the number of genes identified as playing a role in a variety of common disorders. Genetic or genomic testing can be used to guide medical decision-making and treatment, ranging from personalized drug therapy to assessing an individual’s risk of developing common chronic diseases.

New reports from the Institute of Medicine discuss various possibilities for the future and potential issues that could arise from our ever-expanding knowledge of our genetic makeup. The Value of Genetic and Genomic Technologies: Workshop Summary explores the concept of value in regards to genomics and genetics and how that concept affects the ways decisions are made about using tests and technologies. This book brings together diverse perspectives on the value of genetic testing and discusses its use in clinical practice.

Advances in our understanding of genomics, combined with significant reductions in the cost of genetic tests, have spawned new business models in which companies market genetic tests and personalized genetic profiles directly to consumers. For example, it is now possible to purchase a home DNA paternity test at many pharmacies in the United States. Special DNA test kits allow anyone to trace their ancestry. Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing: Summary of a Workshop discusses the scientific and ethical foundations for commercial genetic testing, personal and social issues, research and medical issues, and the impact on health care and public health.

These books and others from the Institute of Medicine explore the possibilities and directions for the future for both researchers and private industry.

The Value of Genetic and Genomic Technologies

The Value of Genetic and Genomic Technologies: Workshop Summary

Knowing one’s genetic disposition to a variety of diseases, including common chronic diseases, can benefit both the individual and society at large. The IOM’s Roundtable on Translating Genomic-Based Research for Health held a workshop on March 22, 2010, to…
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Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing

Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing: Summary of a Workshop

Today, scores of companies, primarily in the United States and Europe, are offering whole genome scanning services directly to the public. The proliferation of these companies and the services they offer demonstrate a public appetite for this information and…
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Establishing Precompetitive Collaborations to Stimulate Genomics-Driven Drug Development

Establishing Precompetitive Collaborations to Stimulate Genomics-Driven Drug Development: Workshop Summary

Despite the many basic research discoveries in genetics, relatively few gene-based treatments, drugs, or preventative measures have been developed. One way to bridge this gap may be for industry, academia, and government to develop partnerships that share…
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Systems for Research and Evaluation for Translating Genome-Based Discoveries for Health

Systems for Research and Evaluation for Translating Genome-Based Discoveries for Health: Workshop Summary

With the advent of genome-wide association studies, numerous associations between specific gene loci and complex diseases have been identified–for breast cancer, coronary artery disease, and asthma, for example. This rapidly advancing field of genomics has…
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Innovations in Service Delivery in the Age of Genomics

Innovations in Service Delivery in the Age of Genomics: Workshop Summary

New discoveries in genomics–that is, the study of the entire human genome–are changing how we diagnose and treat diseases. As the trend shifts from genetic testing largely being undertaken for rare genetic disorders to, increasingly, individuals being…
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Diffusion and Use of Genomic Innovations in Health and Medicine

Diffusion and Use of Genomic Innovations in Health and Medicine: Workshop Summary

Until fairly recently, genetic information was used primarily in the diagnosis of relatively rare genetic diseases, such as cystic fibrosis and Huntington’s Disease, but a transformation in the use of genetic and genomic information is underway. While…
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New Books Covering Health And Medicine, NASA, and Industry And Labor

There were four books new to the NAP site this week, including Evaluation of Biomarkers and Surrogate Endpoints in Chronic Disease, a publication by the Institute of Medicine.

Featured Publication

Evaluation of Biomarkers and Surrogate Endpoints in Chronic Disease (prepublication)

Many people naturally assume that the claims made for foods and nutritional supplements have the same degree of scientific grounding as those for medication, but that is not always the case. The IOM recommends that the FDA adopt a consistent scientific framework for biomarker evaluation in order to achieve a rigorous and transparent process.

All New Publications This Week

Capabilities for the Future: An Assessment of NASA Laboratories for Basic Research (final)

A Database for a Changing Economy: Review of the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) (final)

Evaluation of the Health and Safety Risks of the New USAMRIID High Containment Facilities at Fort Detrick, Maryland (final)

Seven New Books: Reducing Sodium Intake, Obesity Prevention and more

Our big publication this week was Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake In The United States, a report from the Institute of Medicine which received coverage in, among many others, the New York Times and time.com. That publication joins six others—five of which have free PDFs to download–new this week to nap.edu.

Featured Publication

Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake in the United States (prepublication)

Reducing the intake of sodium is an important public health goal for Americans. Since the 1970s, an array of public health interventions and national dietary guidelines has sought to reduce sodium intake. However, the U.S. population still consumes more sodium than is recommended, placing individuals at risk for diseases related to elevated blood pressure.

Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake in the United States evaluates and makes recommendations about strategies that could be implemented to reduce dietary sodium intake to levels recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The book reviews past and ongoing efforts to reduce the sodium content of the food supply and to motivate consumers to change behavior. Based on past lessons learned, the book makes recommendations for future initiatives. It is an excellent resource for federal and state public health officials, the processed food and food service industries, health care professionals, consumer advocacy groups, and academic researchers.

All New Publications This Week

Hepatitis and Liver Cancer: A National Strategy for Prevention and Control of Hepatitis B and C (final)

Bridging the Evidence Gap in Obesity Prevention: A Framework to Inform Decision Making (prepublication)

Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean (prepublication)

NAKFI Synthetic Biology: Building a Nation’s Inspiration: Interdisciplinary Research Team Summaries (final)

Continuing Assistance to the National Institutes of Health on Preparation of Additional Risk Assessments for the Boston University NEIDL, Phase 1 (final)

Report of a Workshop on The Scope and Nature of Computational Thinking (final)

Seven New Books: Genetically Engineered Crops, Healthcare Quality, and more

Last week saw seven new books, including books in the topics of agriculture; construction: design, research, planning; health and medicine; and behavioral and social sciences. Five of the seven books also have free PDFs available to download.

Featured Publication

Impact of Genetically Engineered Crops on Farm Sustainability in the United States (prepublication)

Since genetically engineered (GE) crops were introduced in 1996, their use in the United States has grown rapidly, accounting for 80-90 percent of soybean, corn, and cotton acreage in 2009. To date, crops with traits that provide resistance to some herbicides and to specific insect pests have benefited adopting farmers by reducing crop losses to insect damage, by increasing flexibility in time management, and by facilitating the use of more environmentally friendly pesticides and tillage practices. However, excessive reliance on a single technology combined with a lack of diverse farming practices could undermine the economic and environmental gains from these GE crops. Other challenges could hinder the application of the technology to a broader spectrum of crops and uses.

Several reports from the National Research Council have addressed the effects of GE crops on the environment and on human health. However, The Impact of Genetically Engineered Crops on Farm Sustainability in the United States is the first comprehensive assessment of the environmental, economic, and social impacts of the GE-crop revolution on U.S. farms. It addresses how GE crops have affected U.S. farmers, both adopters and nonadopters of the technology, their incomes, agronomic practices, production decisions, environmental resources, and personal well-being. The book offers several new findings and four recommendations that could be useful to farmers, industry, science organizations, policy makers, and others in government agencies.

All New Publications This Week

Engineering, Social Justice, and Sustainable Community Development: Summary of a Workshop (prepublication)

A National Cancer Clinical Trials System for the 21st Century: Reinvigorating the NCI Cooperative Group Program (prepublication)

Future Directions for the National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Reports (prepublication)

A Summary of the October 2009 Forum on the Future of Nursing: Acute Care (final)

Strategic Planning for the Florida Citrus Industry: Addressing Citrus Greening (final)

Student Mobility: Exploring the Impact of Frequent Moves on Achievement: Summary of a Workshop (final)

Two New Books: Public Health Emergencies and Gulf War Veterans

There were two new publications this week, so we thought we’d give them both the featured publication treatment. If you’re looking for more books, we have plenty. Check our topics page for more in health and medicine and many other topics.

The Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasures Enterprise: Innovative Strategies to Enhance Products from Discovery Through Approval: Workshop Summary (prepublication)

During public health emergencies such as pandemic influenza outbreaks or terrorist attacks, effective vaccines, drugs, diagnostics, and other medical countermeasures are essential to protecting national security and peoples’ well-being. The Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasures Enterprise (PHEMCE–a partnership among federal, state, and local governments; industry; and academia–is at the forefront of the effort to develop and manufacture these countermeasures. However, despite the PHEMCE’s many successes, there are still serious challenges to overcome. Government-funded medical research is not always focused on countermeasures for the most serious potential threats, and it is difficult to engage pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to develop and manufacture medical countermeasures that have a limited commercial market.

At the request of the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, the IOM held a workshop February 22-24, 2010, to address challenges facing the PHEMCE. Workshop participants discussed federal policies and procedures affecting the research, development, and approval of medical countermeasures and explored opportunities to improve the process and protect Americans’ safety and health.



Gulf War and Health: Volume 8: Update of Health Effects of Serving in the Gulf War (prepublication)

For the United States, the1991 Persian Gulf War was a brief and successful military operation with few injuries and deaths. However, soon after returning from duty, a large number of veterans began reporting health problems they believed were associated with their service in the Gulf. At the request of Congress, the IOM is conducting an ongoing review of the evidence to determine veterans’ long-term health problems and what might be causing those problems. The fourth volume in the series, released in 2006, summarizes the long-term health problems seen in Gulf War veterans. In 2008, the IOM began an update to look at existing health problems and identify possible new ones, considering evidence collected since the initial summary.

In this report, the IOM determines that Gulf War service causes post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and that service is associated with multisymptom illness; gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome; alcohol and other substance abuse; and anxiety disorders and other psychiatric disorders. To ensure that our veterans receive the best possible care, now and in the future, the government should continue to monitor their health and conduct research to identify the best treatments to assist Gulf War veterans still suffering from persistent, unexplained illnesses.

Five new books: Iraq & Afghanistan Vets, Biofuels, Cyberattacks and more

There were five new books on the NAP site this week, touching the topics of military and veterans; transportation and infrastructure; information security and privacy; industry and labor; and energy and energy conservation. Check out all of our topics for more books on all of these topics and more.

Since it’s such a popular feature of our site, I’ll point out that all of this week’s new publications have free PDFs to download. Happy reading!

Featured Publication

Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Preliminary Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families (final)

Nearly 1.9 million U.S. troops have been deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq since October 2001. Many service members and veterans face serious challenges in readjusting to normal life after returning home. This initial book presents findings on the most critical challenges, and lays out the blueprint for the second phase of the study to determine how best to meet the needs of returning troops and their families.

All New Publications This Week

Technologies and Approaches to Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles (prepublication)

Letter Report for the Committee on Deterring Cyberattacks: Informing Strategies and Developing Options for U.S. Policy (final)

The Dragon and the Elephant: Understanding the Development of Innovation Capacity in China and India: Summary of a Conference (final)

Expanding Biofuel Production: Sustainability and the Transition to Advanced Biofuels: Summary of a Workshop (final)