To determine if state laws regulating nutrition content of foods and beverages sold outside of federal school meal programs (“competitive foods”) are associated with lower adolescent weight gain.
The Westlaw legal database identified state competitive food laws that were scored by using the Classification of Laws Associated with School Students criteria. States were classified as having strong, weak, or no competitive food laws in 2003 and 2006 based on law strength and comprehensiveness. Objective height and weight data were obtained from 6300 students in 40 states in fifth and eighth grade (2004 and 2007, respectively) within the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study–Kindergarten Class. General linear models estimated the association between baseline state laws (2003) and within-student changes in BMI, overweight status, and obesity status. Fixed-effect models estimated the association between law changes during follow-up (2003–2006) and within-student changes in BMI and weight status.
Students exposed to strong laws at baseline gained, on average, 0.25 fewer BMI units (95% confidence interval: −0.54, 0.03) and were less likely to remain overweight or obese over time than students in states with no laws. Students also gained fewer BMI units if exposed to consistently strong laws throughout follow-up (β = −0.44, 95% confidence interval: −0.71, −0.18). Conversely, students exposed to weaker laws in 2006 than 2003 had similar BMI gain as those not exposed in either year.
Laws that regulate competitive food nutrition content may reduce adolescent BMI change if they are comprehensive, contain strong language, and are enacted across grade levels.
State of the Climate — July 2012: hottest month on record for contiguous United States
Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during July was 77.6°F, 3.3°F above the 20th century average, marking the hottest July and the hottest month on record for the nation. The previous warmest July for the nation was July 1936 when the average U.S. temperature was 77.4°F. The warm July temperatures contributed to a record-warm first seven months of the year and the warmest 12-month period the nation has experienced since recordkeeping began in 1895.
Precipitation totals were mixed during July, with the contiguous U.S. as a whole being drier than average. The nationally averaged precipitation total of 2.57 inches was 0.19 inch below average. Near-record dry conditions were present for the middle of the nation, with the drought footprint expanding to cover nearly 63 percent of the Lower 48, according the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Employment Situation (8/3/12)
Source: U.S. Department of Labor
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 163,000 in July, and the unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 8.3 percent. Employment rose in professional and business services, food services and drinking places, and manufacturing.
Source: Senator Tom Harkin
Today, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, unveiled a report on the findings of the Committee’s two-year investigation of the for-profit higher education industry. The report outlines widespread problems throughout the sector, as evidenced by the thousands of pages of never-before-released internal documents that education companies submitted to the Committee at Harkin’s request.
“In this report, you will find overwhelming documentation of overpriced tuition, predatory recruiting practices, sky-high dropout rates, billions of taxpayer dollars spent on aggressive marketing and advertising, and companies gaming regulations to maximize profits. These practices are not the exception — they are the norm; they are systemic throughout the industry, with very few exceptions,” Harkin said.
“Justice Louis Brandeis famously said that sunlight is the best disinfectant. As a result of this investigation, a wide range of Americans – including taxpayers, prospective students and their families – are waking up to the troubling realities of this industry. I hope that for-profit colleges will be moved by this final report to reform and focus on students’ success instead of just their financial aid dollars. But that will not be enough — real, bold legislative reforms are critical. We need to know how every student is faring. We need to ensure that resources intended for education are spent productively. We need colleges to provide the services that students need to succeed. And for companies so reliant on taxpayer revenues, we need to start requiring they demonstrate results for students, not just shareholders.”
Source: British Medical Journal (open)
To determine the impact of sitting and television viewing on life expectancy in the USA.
Prevalence-based cause-deleted life table analysis.
Summary RRs of all-cause mortality associated with sitting and television viewing were obtained from a meta-analysis of available prospective cohort studies. Prevalences of sitting and television viewing were obtained from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Primary outcome measure
Life expectancy at birth.
The estimated gains in life expectancy in the US population were 2.00 years for reducing excessive sitting to <3 h/day and a gain of 1.38 years from reducing excessive television viewing to <2 h/day. The lower and upper limits from a sensitivity analysis that involved simultaneously varying the estimates of RR (using the upper and lower bounds of the 95% CI) and the prevalence of television viewing (±20%) were 1.39 and 2.69 years for sitting and 0.48 and 2.51 years for television viewing, respectively.
Reducing sedentary behaviours such as sitting and television viewing may have the potential to increase life expectancy in the USA.
Full Text — Report of the Special Investigative Counsel Regarding the Actions of The Pennsylvania State University Related to the Child Sexual Abuse Committed by Gerald A. Sandusky
Source: Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan, LLP (via Pennlive.com)
The most saddening finding by the Special Investigative Counsel is the total and consistent disregard by the most senior leaders at Penn State for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims. As the Grand Jury similarly noted in its presentment, there was no "attempt to investigate, to identify Victim 2, or to protect that child or any others from similar conduct except as related to preventing its re-occirence on University property."
See also: Penn State issues statement on Freeh report (Penn State Live)
Source: U.S. House of Representatives (Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa today released a new report following the Committee’s three year investigation into Countrywide Financial’s “Friends of Angelo” and “VIP Program” that issued discounted mortgages to influential Washington policy figures. The report finds that Countrywide used its VIP Program to aid its lobbying efforts as well as to strengthen its relationship with taxpayer backed Fannie Mae. Countrywide partnered with Fannie Mae in a strategic business alliance that also included joint lobbying efforts.
Source: Supreme Court of the United States
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT
BUSINESS ET AL. v. SEBELIUS, SECRETARY OF
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, ET AL.
CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR
THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT
Source: Natural Resources Defense Council
NRDC’s annual analysis of water quality and public notification data at coastal U.S. beaches found that the number of beach closing and advisory days in 2011 reached the third-highest level in the 22-year history of our report, totaling 23,481 days (a 3% decrease from 2010). More than two-thirds of closings and advisories were issued because bacteria levels in beachwater exceeded public health standards, indicating the presence of human or animal waste in the water. The portion of all monitoring samples that exceeded national recommended health standards for designated beach areas remained stable at 8% in 2011, compared with 8% in 2010 and 7% for the four previous years. In addition, the number of beaches monitored in 2011 increased slightly (2%) from a five-year low in 2010. The largest known source of pollution was stormwater runoff (47%, compared with 36% last year). The 2011 results confirm that our nation’s beaches continue to experience significant water pollution that puts swimmers and local economies at risk.
NRDC continues to push for improvements in beachwater quality standards and test methods. Most recently, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed an action that could leave the public inadequately protected if it is not strengthened—one establishing recommended standards for beach officials to use to keep people from being exposed to unsafe levels of disease-causing bacteria and viruses. While beachwater quality standards are critical, ultimately the most important long-term action is to adopt 21st-century solutions that address the sources of beachwater pollution, particularly stormwater runoff. The most important of these solutions remains incentivizing and implementing green infrastructure in our cities, such as green roofs, porous pavement, and street plantings, which stop rain where it falls. Green infrastructure effectively reduces the amount of runoff that makes its way into beachwater or triggers harmful sewage overflows, transforming potential beach pollution into a tremendous local water supply resource.
Changes in U.S. Family Finances from 2007 to 2010: Evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances (PDF)Source: Federal Reserve Board
The Federal Reserve Board’s Survey of Consumer Finances for 2010 provides insights into changes in family income and net worth since the 2007 survey. The survey shows that, over the 2007–10 period, the median value of real (inflation-adjusted) family income before taxes fell 7.7 percent, while mean income fell more sharply, an 11.1 percent decline. Both median and mean net worth decreased even more dramatically than income over this period, though the relative movements in the median and the mean are reversed; the median fell 38.8 percent, and the mean fell 14.7 percent. This article reviews these and other changes in the financial condition of U.S. families, including developments in assets, liabilities, and debt payments.
Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention: Solving the Weight of the NationSource: Institute of Medicine
Two-thirds of adults and one-third of children are overweight or obese. Left unchecked, obesity’s effects on health, health care costs, and our productivity as a nation could become catastrophic.
The staggering human toll of obesity-related chronic disease and disability, and an annual cost of $190.2 billion for treating obesity-related illness, underscore the urgent need to strengthen prevention efforts in the United States. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation asked the IOM to identify catalysts that could speed progress in obesity prevention.
The IOM evaluated prior obesity prevention strategies and identified recommendations to meet the following goals and accelerate progress
- Integrate physical activity every day in every way
- Market what matters for a healthy life
- Make healthy foods and beverages available everywhere
- Activate employers and health care professionals
- Strengthen schools as the heart of health
On their own, accomplishing any one of these might help speed up progress in preventing obesity, but together, their effects will be reinforced, amplified, and maximized.
March 2012 Heat Wave
Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Numerous cities broke temperature records for January-March (year-to-date, or YTD). The following map and table present some of these record averages. Each city listed observed its warmest YTD period. Also included are the running minimum and maximum temperatures with respect to the top 5 average YTD temperatures.
Choosing Wisely: ListsSource: ABIM Foundation
Nine United States specialty societies representing 374,000 physicians developed lists of "Five Things Physicians and Patients Should Question" in recognition of the importance of physician and patient conversations to improve care and eliminate unnecessary tests and procedures.
These lists represent specific, evidence-based recommendations physicians and patients should discuss to help make wise decisions about the most appropriate care based on their individual situation. Each list provides information on when tests and procedures may be appropriate, as well as the methodology used in its creation.
What tests and procedures should patients and physicians talk about? Read the lists:
- American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
- American Academy of Family Physicians
- American College of Cardiology
- American College of Physicians
- American College of Radiology
- American Gastroenterological Association
- American Society of Clinical Oncology
- American Society of Nephrology American Society of Nuclear Cardiology
Western Regions Conference Management Efficiency Report (PDF)
Source: General Services Administration, Office of Inspector General
Our findings included the following:
- GSA spending on conference planning was excessive, wasteful, and in some cases impermissible. To select a venue and plan the conference, GSA employees conducted two “scouting trips,” five off-site planning meetings, and a “dry run.” Six of these planning1events took place at the M Resort (the conference venue) itself. Travel expenses for conference planning totaled $100,405.37, and catering costs totaled over $30,000. GSA spent money on refreshment breaks during the planning meetings, which it had no authority to do, and the cost of catered meals at those meetings exceeded per diem limits.
- GSA failed to follow contracting regulations in many of the procurements associated with the WRC and wasted taxpayer dollars. GSA actions included:
- Disclosing a competitor’s proposal price to a favored contractor;
- Awarding a $58,000 contract to a large business in violation of small-business set-asides;
- Promising the hotel an additional $41,480 in catering charges in exchange for the “concession” of the hotel honoring the government’s lodging cost limit;
- Providing free rooms to a contractor’s employees even though the contract cost included lodging; and
- Disclosing to the team-building contractor the agency’s maximum budget for one day of training, then agreeing to pay the contractor that amount ($75,000).
- GSA incurred excessive and impermissible costs for food at the WRC. GSA spent $146,527.05 on catered food and beverages during the WRC. That spending included $5,600 for three semi-private catered in-room parties and $44 per person daily breakfasts. GSA also paid $30,207.60 – or roughly $95 per person – for the closing reception and dinner; attendees at that dinner included 27 guests of GSA employees and seven contractor employees. GSA obtained repayment for guests’ meals, but only for 23 of the guests and not for the entire cost of the meal.
- GSA incurred impermissible and questionable miscellaneous expenses. These expenses included mementos for attendees, purchases of clothing for GSA employees, and tuxedo rentals.
GSA’s approach to the conference indicates that minimizing expenses was not a goal. The PBS Region 9 Commissioner/Acting Regional Administrator instructed those planning the conference to make it “over the top” and to make it bigger and better than previous conferences. Several suggestions to minimize expenses were ignored.
GSA, in its management response, concurred with our recommendations and outlined the steps it is taking to prevent future waste and abuse.
March 29‐30, 2012 Meeting of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity to Review Revised Manuscripts on Transmissibility of A/H5N1 Influenza Virus — Statement of the NSABB
March 29‐30, 2012 Meeting of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity to Review Revised Manuscripts on Transmissibility of A/H5N1 Influenza Virus — Statement of the NSABB (PDF)
Source: National Institutes of Health, Office of Science Policy
The United States Department of Health and Human Services convened the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) on March 29‐30, 2012, to examine two revised manuscripts regarding the transmissibility of A/H5N1 influenza virus (avian flu) in ferrets. Earlier versions of these manuscripts had been submitted for publication in Science and Nature and were reviewed by the Board.
The NSABB is an independent federal advisory committee chartered to provide advice and guidance on the biosecurity oversight of dual use research to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Director of the National Institutes of Health, and all federal entities that conduct, support or have an interest in life sciences research. Dual use research is defined as biological research with legitimate scientific purpose that may be misused to pose a threat to public health and/or national security.
The Board was asked to consider the revised manuscripts from Dr. Ron Fouchier of Erasmus Medical Center and Dr. Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin and to recommend whether the information they contain should be communicated and, if so, to what extent. In their evaluation, the Board used analytical tools that it previously developed for considering the risks and benefits associated with the communication of dual use research of concern (available at www.biosecurityboard.gov). After careful deliberation, the NSABB unanimously recommended that this revised Kawaoka manuscript should be communicated in full. The NSABB also recommended, in a 12 to 6 decision, the communication of the data, methods, and conclusions presented in this revised Fouchier manuscript.
Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders — Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 14 Sites, United States, 2008
Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders — Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 14 Sites, United States, 2008
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)
For 2008, the overall estimated prevalence of ASDs among the 14 ADDM sites was 11.3 per 1,000 (one in 88) children aged 8 years who were living in these communities during 2008. Overall ASD prevalence estimates varied widely across all sites (range: 4.8–21.2 per 1,000 children aged 8 years). ASD prevalence estimates also varied widely by sex and by racial/ethnic group. Approximately one in 54 boys and one in 252 girls living in the ADDM Network communities were identified as having ASDs. Comparison of 2008 findings with those for earlier surveillance years indicated an increase in estimated ASD prevalence of 23% when the 2008 data were compared with the data for 2006 (from 9.0 per 1,000 children aged 8 years in 2006 to 11.0 in 2008 for the 11 sites that provided data for both surveillance years) and an estimated increase of 78% when the 2008 data were compared with the data for 2002 (from 6.4 per 1,000 children aged 8 years in 2002 to 11.4 in 2008 for the 13 sites that provided data for both surveillance years). Because the ADDM Network sites do not make up a nationally representative sample, these combined prevalence estimates should not be generalized to the United States as a whole.
Bariatric Surgery versus Intensive Medical Therapy in Obese Patients with Diabetes
Source: New England Journal of Medicine
In obese patients with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes, 12 months of medical therapy plus bariatric surgery achieved glycemic control in significantly more patients than medical therapy alone. Further study will be necessary to assess the durability of these results.