December 2002 Issue

In this issue:


Holiday Weight Gain a Big Fat Lie

The above headline comes from the December 2002 MSNBC - Web MD health website.  The story suggests that holiday weight gain has less to do with overeating and more to do with lack of exercise and habits over the entire year. The story starts off by saying "Weight gain is often blamed on the season, the rich, sweet and gourmet foods that surround the holidays. The real problem, experts say, is lack of physical activity year-round, as well as serving sizes and self control, moderation is key."

The article quotes a March 2000 study from the New England Journal of Medicine which showed that out of a study of 195 adults, followed from late September to early March, the majority put on only 1.06 pounds in that six months’ time. However, by the following September, 165 of the participants were weighed again. This time on average, they were each up about 1.36 pounds from their initial weights.  This showed that the modest weight gain these people experienced over the holidays was never lost over the next six months.

Dr. Jack A. Yanovski, head of Growth and Obesity at the National Institutes of Health, said that these results show good and bad news.  “The good news is that most people are not gaining five or six pounds during the holidays, but the bad news is that weight gained over the winter holidays isn’t lost during the rest of the year.” 

Cynthia Sass, nutritionist with BayCare Health System in Clearwater, Fla., and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, says,  "Fat gain really does require overeating over many days and weeks and months." She also noted that people who try to under-eat before the holidays are just losing water and carbohydrates stored in muscles, all of which will naturally stabilize over time. It’s the time spent exercising, or getting some physical activity, that really determines who gains more than one pound.

Sass has several recommendations that can help over the holidays.

  1. Get rid of the negative, guilt-ridden thoughts about “these horrible extra calories.” Enjoy the holiday dinner.

  2. Fix your traditional favorites — the stuffing, the pie — as you always have or you’ll feel cheated. Certain side dishes could lose a little fat, like the green bean casserole, candied yams, and buttered mashed potatoes. Steamed green beans, broccoli, mashed sweet potatoes, and unglazed carrots can fill in the gaps. “You’re compromising, but not in a depriving sort of way.”

  3. Eat a little bit less than you otherwise might. Eat slower. Pick one desert to treat yourself, rather than taste-testing all of them.

  4. Incorporate physical activity into your get-togethers with friends and family. Play charades or games, learn a new dance step — anything that makes you move around some.

  5. Take a walk after dinner — but don’t force anyone who’s overweight to walk if they’re not used to it. “Especially after a big meal, you have less blood flow and oxygen to your heart and lungs. Your body is still trying to digest it all.”

  6. Remember that quality of life — enjoying life — is important. Part of that is maintaining good health by preventing disease.


Eight US Air Force Bases Add Chiropractic Services to Medical Facilities

The above headline appeared in the US Air Force Print News of November 15, 2002.  What this means is that eight Air Force medical treatment facilities have added chiropractic care to their list of services.  As time goes on more facilities will also offer chiropractic care to the military personnel who before this move have had to go off base for chiropractic care and pay for it themselves.

Chiropractic care became available to the Air Force in 1995, after the US Congress directed the Department of Defense to test the feasibility of providing that service at its facilities. The findings were so positive that they directly resulted in Congress making chiropractic a permanent benefit for active duty military members.

Director of the Air Force chiropractic program, Lt. Col. (Dr.) Robert Manaker, said, "A similar thing is happening across the Army and the Navy. This is a tri-service program."  Manaker said. "Chiropractic helps by essentially realigning joints to their normal alignment", He continued, "A misalignment in your spine can cause the muscles around it to begin to have pain, to spasm or to cramp up. What chiropractors find is that if you realign those vertebrae, that can help decrease your pain."

Currently, the eight Air Force medical treatment facilities that offer chiropractic services to active duty members include facilities at Lackland AFB, Texas; Offutt AFB, Neb.; Travis AFB, Calif.; Scott AFB, Ill., Keesler AFB, Miss.; Andrews AFB, Md.; Langley AFB, Va.; and the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo. The Air Force is working to increase the number of facilities offering the service, Manaker said. "We wanted to get this benefit out to the most active-duty members that we could," he said. "We are looking at places where there are multiple bases or where there are the greatest number of active-duty members, and putting chiropractors there first."


Breast-Feeding Rate Rises

USA Today, December 2, 2002 issue reports that US women are breast feeding their infants in record numbers. The article says that more women are breast feeding today than in the last 50 years.  According to the 2001 poll by Ross Products Division of Abbott Laboratories, seven out of 10 women nurse in the hospital and a third are still doing it six months later.  The statistics came from a survey of about 400,000 mothers.

Ruth Lawrence, a neonatologist and nutrition expert at University of Rochester (N.Y.) Medical School says, "It's the best news I've heard for children in a long time."  According to the article the reasons that more women are breast feeding are numerous.  Family law attorney Elizabeth Baldwin of Fort Lauderdale says that over the past several years, nearly half of the states passed laws to protect a woman's right to breast-feed in public. Additionally, education about the benefits of breast feeding along with the incentives in private and government programs is cited by the article as increases in breastfeeding rates.

Some of the listed benefits of breastfeeding include, decreased incidence of ear, gastrointestinal and urinary tract infections.  The story goes on to say that infants who are nursed for a few months also are less prone to childhood cancers, particularly leukemia, and also greatly reduces a child's risk for diabetes.  Additionally, breast milk has been shown to strengthen the baby's immune system.


Chiropractors Honored at Ground Zero Ceremony

On November 15, 2002 a ceremony was held onboard the dinner cruise ship, Mystique, in the waters of the East River with New York City’s surreal skyline illuminated in the background.  The ceremony included an emotional tribute to the police officers, firefighters and other rescue/relief workers who contributed to the effort on 9-11 and the following months, and the the chiropractors who assisted them around the clock for months after 9-11. 

The moving ceremony carried hundreds of chiropractors under the Brooklyn Bridge and around to a spot in the Hudson River just offshore of the Ground Zero site where the boat stopped and there was a moment of silence, followed by bagpipers playing Amazing Grace.  Sergeant David Wadler of the New York City Police Department read an emotional letter written by Raymond W. Kelly, Commissioner of the New York Police Department. The text of the letter read as follows, "On behalf of the New York City Police Department, I want to express my deepest thanks and gratitude to the New York Chiropractic Council and its members for all the assistance you rendered during the recovery efforts at Ground Zero. In the wake of the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center, most of the public's attention was focused on the valiant efforts of police officers, firefighters and other rescue workers who responded so heroically. But what was not so obvious to the public at large were the courageous efforts of those who volunteered their time and medical expertise to assist in the recovery .  Over the course of eight months, close to two million tons of debris were removed from Ground Zero. The chiropractors played an important role in this incredible feat. Your professional treatment of thousands of rescue workers helped all who were involved in the recovery efforts to persevere. You are among the many quiet heroes of September 11th whose contributions will not be forgotten."

Rudolph W. Giuliani, the Mayor of New York at the time of the 9-11 tragedy also sent a letter that was read at the event. In his letter he said, "As you gather today to celebrate the contributions of the countless chiropractors who volunteered their time and hard work to the rescue effort at Ground Zero, I would like to offer my congratulations and sincere thanks. Last year's coordinated efforts at the World Trade Center site not only helped the rescue and clean up crews, but boosted the morale of New York City .The outpouring of volunteers and supporters proved that New York was far from beaten. In fact, the tragedy brought us closer together and made us stronger. Thank you for your determination and tireless devotion."

The event was hosted by the New York Chiropractic Council and kicked off their 13th Annual Convention. The Council paid tribute to the rescue workers and the hundreds of doctors of chiropractic who came from across the nation to serve at three respite sites set up by the Red Cross. Within minutes after the horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001, Doctors of Chiropractic were on the scene to provide sorely needed chiropractic care to relief workers and volunteers who worked 12 (or more) hour shifts for weeks and months on end. Chiropractic care was present at both the Red Cross respite sites and St. Paul's Chapel 24 hours a day, seven days a week until the end of May 2002.


Running Delays Disability in Older Persons

November 11, 2002 Reuters Health, reports on a study published in the November 11th issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine that shows that running and other aerobic exercise seem to help older people stave off disability and live longer.  Dr. Benjamin W. E. Wang, from the University of Tennessee in Memphis and author of the study states, "In elderly people, the development of disability can be delayed, or pushed back, with aerobic exercise, including running." He goes on to say, "In addition, those who exercised regularly lived longer and had lower rates of fatal cancers, heart disease and other conditions."

The study was performed on 370 members of a running club and 249 people who did not belong to a running club. All of the subjects were at least 50 years of age.  Each year the subjects were asked to complete a questionnaire that assessed the presence and severity of disability in several activities of daily living.  The research showed that running club members were significantly less likely to develop a disability than those who were not running club members. Additionally, when running club members did develop a disability, the onset was usually delayed. On average, disabilities developed in running club members nearly 9 years later than in non-members.

The news was even more impacting when researchers looked at the death rates. In addition to postponing disability, running and physical exercise showed a higher survival rate, according to the report. Running club members were less likely to die during the study period than people who participated in other aerobic activities. The study showed that non-club members were 3.3 times more likely to die during the study period, not just from diseases clearly linked to lifestyle, such as heart disease, but from all types of illnesses. According to Dr. Wang, the benefits of running and other aerobic exercise "appeared even in those who began exercising in mid-life."


President Bush Says Smallpox Vaccine Program Will Be Voluntary

Breaking news reported on the December 11, 2002 ABC Evening News reported that President George Bush stated, "The need for this government to provide the opportunity for people to protect themselves, should there be a smallpox attack," President Bush told Barbara Walters in an interview that will air on 20/20. Bush/Walters"In other words, I don't think people ought to be compelled to make the decision which they think is best for their family." 

First Lady Laura Bush also interviewed added, "If, the vaccine were available, which I think it will be, I would feel like that was certainly safe for them to do. All of us [older Americans] were [vaccinated]," the first lady told Walters. "I know there's a slight risk. You know, that's what people will weigh when they make the decision whether or not to have their children vaccinated."

This statement puts at ease the ever-growing legions of people who were concerned that their personal right of choice may be taken away by the US government in the vaccination issue.  Groups such as the National Vaccine Information Center, www.909shot.com, have lobbied continually to protect the right of choice on these issues.  Chiropractors themselves, who have been traditionally opposed to mandatory vaccinations have also been voicing their concern over new policies adopted since September 11, 2002.

It is estimated that by sometime in 2004, there will be enough newly produced smallpox vaccine for everyone in the US.  The new presidential policy, however, will leave the choice of whether or not to give the smallpox vaccination, up to the individual and their family.


"A Medical Enron"

A scathing article appeared in the December 9, 2002 issue of the Washington Post, that compared the mismanagement and meltdown of Enron, to the medical profession's inability in reducing the rate of medical errors in hospitals.  These errors, according to an Institute of Medicine study three years ago, kill between 44,000 and 98,000 patients annually while injuring perhaps 1 million more.

The article states that reforms are "scandalously slow" and that asking the medical profession to regulate themselves has been ineffective. The article states that the sources of errors are various including, mixing up patients' X-rays, or looking at them upside-down; as a result, they operate on the wrong patient or the wrong body part.  Additionally, cleanliness was an issue as doctors and health workers fail to follow basic hygiene procedures such as washing hands or changing gloves therefore causing infections that account for thousands of deaths a year.

Wrong prescriptions are also one of the biggest problems leading to injury or death.  Yet nationally only about 3 percent of hospitals have instituted computerized prescription systems, which would greatly reduce these types of errors. The article noted that there is a national system for reporting medical errors, but it is voluntary, so few errors ever get reported.  A few states have mandatory systems, but most still do not. 

The one place that the article did say had embraced changes and reduced risk significantly was the government run Veterans hospitals.  The article concluded with comments and recommendations that included some degree of accountability and government oversight.  They stated, "So long as patients have no way of finding out which hospitals are unreliable, bad hospitals will face minimal incentives to invest in the solutions that could drive error rates down.  State or federal regulators should require the reporting of errors and should make some of this information public. Otherwise thousands will continue to die needlessly and with no one held to account."


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