Amanda Kloots on Grieving Husband Nick Cordero: I Still Cry 'Every Day'

Amanda Kloots says everyone copes differently, and for her, that means crying at least once a day.

Nick Cordero and Amanda Kloots’ Family Album

The new The Talk cohost, 39, opened up about life after husband Nick Cordero died fighting COVID-19 in June 2020, leaving behind Kloots and their son Elvis, now 22 months. She exclusively told Us Weekly that “every day is different,” but she’s still navigating the grief of losing her partner after less than three years of marriage.

“A lot of people have said to me, ‘It gets easier [and] time helps,’ and I don’t know if I found that yet,” Kloots told Us while promoting Instacart’s “Beyond the Cart: A Year of Essential Insights” campaign. “I still pretty much cry every day. It’s growing pains.”

The single mom added that she is “doing everything I possibly can to stay healthy and active and happy. And you know, grief is a process … Everybody does it differently.”

Kloots couldn’t say whether grief gets any easier with time. “I think it gets easier because you learn tools to help yourself. And in the beginning, you don’t know those tools yet,” she explained.

‘The Talk’ Hosts Through the Years and Why They Left

However, the former Rockette says there are always moments — especially as she watches her son grow — that make the grief more difficult.

“With Elvis, like there’s so many things that he does or there’s times in life that you just wish your person was there to celebrate with,” she added. “And I think that that’s where it’s harder because you miss your person so much.”

Cordero went to the hospital on March 30, 2020, when he was experiencing severe symptoms of COVID-19. He suffered several complications, including mini-stroke, blood clots and a leg amputation, and eventually needed a ventilator to help him breathe. The Broadway star was 41 when he died on July 5, 2020.

Kloots hasn’t had an easy year, but she says that Instacart gave her one less thing to worry about. When they asked her to be a partner, it was a no-brainer.

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“I’m just honored to be partnering with Instacart and their campaign, which is a year to celebrate these essential stories and the shoppers that have kept not only me and Elvis safe, but kept a lot of Americans safe and been able to give back to their communities through a pandemic or a time where everyone needed help,” the Live Your Life author told Us. “This is an app that I’ve been using since the pandemic began and it has become literally like a lifeline.”

Reporting by Diana Cooper

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Researchers find negative impact of junk food on kids’ skeletal development

junk food

A team of researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has proven the linkages between ultra-processed foods and reduced bone quality, unveiling the damage of these foods particularly for younger children in their developing years. The study, led by Professor Efrat Monsonego-Ornan and Dr. Janna Zaretsky from the Department of Biochemistry, Food Science and Nutrition at the University’s Faculty of Agriculture, was published in the journal Bone Research and serves as the first comprehensive study of the effect of widely-available food products on skeleton development.

Ultra-processed foods—aka junk food—are food items products that undergo several stages of processing and contain non-dietary ingredients. They’re popular with consumers because they are easily accessible, relatively inexpensive and ready to eat straight out of the package. The increasing prevalence of these products around the world has directly contributed to increased obesity and other mental and metabolic impacts on consumers of all ages.

Children tend to like junk food. As much as 70% percent of their caloric consumption are estimated to come from ultra-processed foods. While numerous studies have reflected on the overall negative impact of junk food, few have focused on its direct developmental effects on children, particularly young children.

The Hebrew University study provides the first comprehensive analysis for how these foods impact skeletal development. The study surveyed lab rodents whose skeletons were in the post embryonic stages of growth. The rodents that were subjected to ultra-processed foods suffered from growth retardation and their bone strength was adversely affected. Under histological examination, the researchers detected high levels of cartilage buildup in the rodents’ growth plates, the “engine” of bone growth. When subjected to additional tests of the rodent cells, the researchers found that the RNA genetic profiles of cartilage cells that had been subjected to junk food were showing characteristics of impaired bone development.

The team then sought to analyze how specific eating habits might impact bone development and replicated this kind of food intake for the rodents. “We divided the rodents’ weekly nutritional intake—30% came from a ‘controlled’ diet, 70% from ultra-processed foods,” said Monsonego-Ornan. They found that the rodents experienced moderate damage to their bone density albeit there were fewer indications of cartilage buildup in their growth plates. “Our conclusion was that even in reduced amounts, the ultra-processed foods can have a definite negative impact on skeletal growth.”

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3 mRNA vaccines researchers are working on (that aren’t COVID)

3 mRNA vaccines researchers are working on (that aren't COVID)

The world’s first mRNA vaccines—the COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna—have made it in record time from the laboratory, through successful clinical trials, regulatory approval and into people’s arms.

The high efficiency of protection against severe disease, the safety seen in clinical trials and the speed with which the vaccines were designed are set to transform how we develop vaccines in the future.

Once researchers have set up the mRNA manufacturing technology, they can potentially produce mRNA against any target. Manufacturing mRNA vaccines also does not need living cells, making them easier to produce than some other vaccines.

So mRNA vaccines could potentially be used to prevent a range of diseases, not just COVID-19.

Remind me again, what’s mRNA?

Messenger ribonucleic acid (or mRNA for short) is a type of genetic material that tells your body how to make proteins. The two mRNA vaccines for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, deliver fragments of this mRNA into your cells.

Once inside, your body uses instructions in the mRNA to make SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins. So when you encounter the virus’ spike proteins again, your body’s immune system will already have a head start in how to handle it.

So after COVID-19, which mRNA vaccines are researchers working on next? Here are three worth knowing about.

1. Flu vaccine

Currently, we need to formulate new versions of the flu vaccine each year to protect us from the strains the World Health Organization (WHO) predicts will be circulating in flu season. This is a constant race to monitor how the virus evolves and how it spreads in real time.

Moderna is already turning its attention to an mRNA vaccine against seasonal influenza. This would target the four seasonal strains of the virus the WHO predicts will be circulating.

But the holy grail is a universal flu vaccine. This would protect against all strains of the virus (not just what the WHO predicts) and so wouldn’t need to be updated each year. The same researchers who pioneered mRNA vaccines are also working on a universal flu vaccine.

The researchers used the vast amounts of data on the influenza genome to find the mRNA code for the most “highly conserved” structures of the virus. This is the mRNA least likely to mutate and lead to structural or functional changes in viral proteins.

They then prepared a mixture of mRNAs to express four different viral proteins. These included one on the stalk-like structure on the outside of the flu virus, two on the surface, and one hidden inside the virus particle.

Studies in mice show this experimental vaccine is remarkably potent against diverse and difficult-to-target strains of influenza. This is a strong contender as a universal flu vaccine.

2. Malaria vaccine

Malaria arises through infection with the single-celled parasite Plasmodium falciparum, delivered when mosquitoes bite. There is no vaccine for it.

However, US researchers working with pharmaceutical company GSK have filed a patent for an mRNA vaccine against malaria.

The mRNA in the vaccine codes for a parasite protein called PMIF. By teaching our bodies to target this protein, the aim is to train the immune system to eradicate the parasite.

There have been promising results of the experimental vaccine in mice and early-stage human trials are being planned in the UK.

This malaria mRNA vaccine is an example of a self-amplifying mRNA vaccine. This means very small amounts of mRNA need to be made, packaged and delivered, as the mRNA will make more copies of itself once inside our cells. This is the next generation of mRNA vaccines after the “standard” mRNA vaccines seen so far against COVID-19.

3. Cancer vaccines

We already have vaccines that prevent infection with viruses that cause cancer. For example, hepatitis B vaccine prevents some types of liver cancer and the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine prevents cervical cancer.

But the flexibility of mRNA vaccines lets us think more broadly about tackling cancers not caused by viruses.

Some types of tumors have antigens or proteins not found in normal cells. If we could train our immune systems to identify these tumor-associated antigens then our immune cells could kill the cancer.

Cancer vaccines can be targeted to specific combinations of these antigens. BioNTech is developing one such mRNA vaccine that shows promise for people with advanced melanoma. CureVac has developed one for a specific type of lung cancer, with results from early clinical trials.

Then there’s the promise of personalized anti-cancer mRNA vaccines. If we could design an individualized vaccine specific to each patient’s tumor then we could train their immune system to fight their own individual cancer. Several research groups and companies are working on this.

Yes, there are challenges ahead

However, there are several hurdles to overcome before mRNA vaccines against other medical conditions are used more widely.

Current mRNA vaccines need to be kept frozen, limiting their use in developing countries or in remote areas. But Moderna is working on developing an mRNA vaccine that can be kept in a fridge.

Researchers also need to look at how these vaccines are delivered into the body. While injecting into the muscle works for mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, delivery into a vein may be better for cancer vaccines.

The vaccines need to be shown to be safe and effective in large-scale human clinical trials, ahead of regulatory approval. However, as regulatory bodies around the world have already approved mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, there are far fewer regulatory hurdles than a year ago.

The high cost of personalized mRNA cancer vaccines may also be an issue.

Finally, not all countries have the facilities to make mRNA vaccines on a large scale, including Australia.

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Do you ‘wolf down’ your food? Speedy eaters may pack on more pounds

Do you 'Wolf down' your food? speedy eaters may pack on more pounds

(HealthDay)—Are you the type to linger over a meal, or do you tend to eat quickly without giving it much thought?

New research confirms that you’re better off going the slow route, because fast eaters tend to consume more and be more vulnerable to gaining weight and becoming obese. And it uncovers a new wrinkle: If you grew up with siblings, where you probably had to compete for whatever was on the table, you’re more likely to be a fast eater.

Speedy eating makes you prone to eating more because it takes a bit of time for your body to recognize that you’re starting to feel full, explained Connie Diekman, a St. Louis-based registered dietitian and former president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

“We don’t recognize that feeling of fullness immediately because the body is programmed to sensing, ‘I need to eat, I ate enough, stop eating,'” Diekman said. “If we don’t allow that to happen because we’re eating too quickly, we tend to end up overeating.”

Fast eaters may learn the habit when they are children, so researchers from the University of Roehampton and the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom sought to determine if having siblings may play a role in influencing one’s eating speed.

Though the findings, published online recently in the journal Clinical Obesity, were somewhat confusing, they did show that children with siblings were more likely to have a faster eating rate.

There are a couple of reasons why the presence or absence of siblings may influence one’s eating rate, according to study co-author Leigh Gibson, a researcher in the department of psychology at the University of Roehampton in London.

The sibling-fast eating connection “might be due to competition for food at meals, whether real or imagined, or even a wish to finish a meal more quickly to return to playing with siblings,” Gibson said. “Alternatively, the presence of siblings at a meal could distract from a focus on eating, which could lead to a faster eating rate.”

Whatever the reason, it doesn’t seem to be too much cause for concern, as prior studies have found that people without siblings seem more vulnerable to obesity than people with siblings.

“It would seem that sibling-induced faster eating is unlikely to promote long-term overeating, given other evidence that only-children are more at risk from becoming overweight or obese than those with siblings,” Gibson said. “On balance, eating faster may be a risk for weight gain and obesity, but sibling influence is probably not a mediating factor. Perhaps the ‘sibling effect’ doesn’t directly result in bigger meals, just meals eaten more quickly.”

Diekman, who was not involved in the new research, noted that the study concludes that more research needs to be done on the link. The takeaway is not: “If you have a lot of children, watch how your children eat because it may impact them and they may eat too quickly,” Diekman said. “I’m not sure we are there yet.”

To come to the findings, Gibson and his colleagues conducted two studies. The first study involved over 100 children between the ages of 5 and 11, and compared the children’s eating rate (as reported by their parents) to their body mass index, the number of siblings they had and where they were in the birth order of their family. The second study looked at over 800 adults and children and collected similar information, but the eating rate in this study was self-reported.

Interestingly, even adults who grew up with siblings seemed to continue the habit of fast-eating into adulthood, suggesting that it is a behavior that persists.

“There’s a lot of conversation that says society does this to adults—drive-through food, eating quickly at work because you’ve got to get back to your desk, all of these things,” Diekman said. This study might make people reflect more on the 15-minute lunches that some kids get at school because it “might be setting them up for a habit of eating quickly,” she noted.

Diekman added that she often counsels patients trying to slow down their eating speed as a part of their weight-loss goals. She said that the key is to pay attention to the food you’re eating.

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WHO says not to use ivermectin on COVID-19 patients

patient

The World Health Organization said Wednesday that ivermectin—touted by some on social media as a COVID-19 “miracle cure”—should not be used to treat coronavirus patients.

In response to the swirl of claims around the cheap anti-parasite drug, the WHO issued guidelines saying ivermectin should only be used on COVID-19 patients in clinical trial settings.

The UN health agency said there was a “very low certainty of evidence” on ivermectin’s effects on mortality, hospital admission and getting rid of the virus from the body.

Facebook posts and articles endorsing ivermectin have proliferated in Brazil, France, South Africa and South Korea as governments around the world struggle with vaccination programmes.

The pandemic has prompted a surge in demand for the drug, particularly in Latin America.

But in an update to its guidelines on COVID-19 therapeutics, the WHO said: “We recommend not to use ivermectin in patients with COVID-19 except in the context of a clinical trial.

“This recommendation applies to patients with any disease severity and any duration of symptoms.”

‘Ongoing concerns’

The WHO looked at studies that compared ivermectin against a placebo and against other drugs, in 16 randomised control trials examining 2,400 patients.

“We currently lack persuasive evidence of a mechanism of action for ivermectin in COVID-19, and any observed clinical benefit would be unexplained,” it said.

The drug has long been used to treat parasites such as head lice and for river blindness in sub-Saharan Africa.

The WHO recommendation was triggered by “increased international attention” on ivermectin as a potential treatment for COVID-19.

But the guidance said: “The effects of ivermectin on mortality, mechanical ventilation, hospital admission, duration of hospitalisation and viral clearance remain uncertain because of very low certainty of evidence addressing each of these outcomes.”

WHO experts stressed that the guidelines were not rigid and could be updated over time if further evidence comes to light.

But for now, “the low cost and wide availability do not, in the panel’s view, mandate the use of a drug in which any benefit remains very uncertain and ongoing concerns regarding harms remain”.

WHO fighting ‘unproven therapies’

Ivermectin is one of a string of medications tested as a potential COVID-19 treatment since the pandemic began.

Like anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine—so far unproven by clinical trials—ivermectin is widely available and relatively cheap.

The recommendation is likely to provoke fury and scepticism among the drug’s social media champions.

Often the rhetoric doing the rounds on social media for ivermectin is the same as for hydroxychloroquine: that the authorities are deliberately ignoring it because it is not profitable for the pharmaceutical industry.

However, its claimed benefits in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic has not been proven in major clinical trials.

The WHO’s clinical management leader Janet Diaz told reporters: “We’ve been fighting this over-use of unproven therapies, especially some of the repurposed drugs in various parts of the world without evidence of efficacy.

“So it is always concerning because there can be more harm than any good.”

Furthermore, “It can take resources away from conditions that should be treated with these drugs.”

Diversion

Proponents of ivermectin, like those of hydroxychloroquine, often argue that it is already widely used—even for totally different purposes—therefore its use for COVID-19 is nothing to worry about.

However, Bram Rochwerg, methods chair of the Guideline Development Group (GDG) behind the WHO recommendation, told reporters that while ivermectin was a “relatively safe drug”, the dosing regimes used for other illnesses were not comparable.

“The other potential for harm… was a diversion of attention and resources from supportive care that we know works for COVID patients,” he added.

Without evidence of efficacy, the GDG felt “these other factors outweighed any potential for uncertain benefit”.

Last week, the EU’s medicines regulator likewise advised against using ivermectin for coronavirus outside clinical trials.

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Analysis: How the US Invested in the War on Terrorism at the Cost of Public Health

Here’s one big takeaway from our country’s disastrous 2020 covid response: For 20 years, we’ve lavished attention and money on fighting human terrorism and forgot that the terrorism of nature is equally deadly, deserving equal preparation.

Today, with more than 545,000 U.S. covid deaths, I hope we’ve learned the huge cost of allowing our public health structure to wither as we single-mindedly pursued the decades-long war on terror. Slowly, with no one much paying attention, here’s how it happened.

After the horror of 9/11 and the anthrax powder attacks that followed, the United States rapidly created a massive infrastructure to ferret out and combat terrorism, focusing mostly on threats from international actors. Within weeks, Congress passed the Patriot Act. It created the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Safety Authority, which alone has an annual budget of nearly $8 billion for, among other things, intensive screening at airports.

Even relatively remote counties were supplied with military-like equipment. As a reporter covering the 2004 election, I remember being shocked to see Humvees and soldiers in body armor at county fairs in the Midwest, though they seemed an unlikely terrorist target. In the years that followed, terrorists carrying explosives in shoes and underwear on flights resulted in more screening and attention.

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Sadly, a good part of that focus and investment came at the expense of public health. “There’s only so much money, and so if you buy more of one thing, you have to buy less of another,” former FDA Commissioner Dr. Tom Frieden noted in explaining one reason the federal government had an enormous stockpile of anthrax vaccine, but not enough ventilators when covid-19 hit.

As our defenses against international and bioterrorism hardened, our defenses against infectious diseases shrank.

Though many public health experts fretted about possible pandemics, it was hard to capture lawmakers’ attention. After all, by the late 1990s, there were drugs to combat HIV/AIDS. Flu? There were vaccines. Infectious diseases? Perceived as conquered.

That’s partly why two large sources of money established after 9/11 — the Public Health Emergency Preparedness program and the Hospital Preparedness Program — were gradually chipped away.

Federal funds for state, local and tribal public health preparedness declined from $940 million in 2002 to $675 million in 2019, according to a report by the Trust for America’s Health, a nonpartisan research group. When the 2008 recession throttled government budgets, money was diverted again from public health programs to support other services.

The Affordable Care Act established the Prevention and Public Health Fund, with promised investment reaching about $2 billion annually by 2015. But that pot was reduced by half by the Obama administration and Congress to pay for other priorities.

By the time a deadly virus arrived on our shores last year, nearly two-thirds of Americans were living in counties that spend more than twice as much on policing as they spend on nonhospital health care, which includes public health, according to an investigation by KHN and The Associated Press.

Since 2010, spending on local health departments has dropped by 18% and at least 38,000 state and local public health jobs have disappeared since the 2008 recession. When covid hit, about 75% of counties had no epidemiologist on staff to track disease.

Countries like South Korea and Taiwan orchestrated a rapid, aggressive public health response as soon as the pandemic began. Testing, contact tracing and quarantines helped control spread and death — as did good national systems for electronic health records. In South Korea, a nation of 51 million, about 1,600 people have died. In Taiwan, population 26 million, the cumulative death toll is 10. Ten.

Contact tracing and quarantining takes people — lots of them. Tracking local spread takes epidemiologists and software. Many health departments in the U.S. had been limping by for years, with a skeleton staff, relying on fax machines. And remember, those local departments often also inspect restaurants, test water and give childhood vaccines.

Yes, President Donald Trump made the U.S. response far worse with lies and denial and sidelining the government’s top medical experts. But the lack of adequate public health agencies and sufficient personnel in most of the country made targeted and rapid response most likely impossible.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the national public health agency, has been regarded as a bastion of international scientific expertise, but that doesn’t always translate into good on-the-ground public health work. (Polio was eliminated by a vaccination campaign largely organized by charitable foundations.)

The human costs exacted by the pandemic are incalculable. And it will take years to tally the full financial costs of job losses, business closures, the more than $5 trillion approved in federal aid to contain the catastrophe, money that might have been spent on longer-term investments on education and the environment.

The tragedy is that a good part of this pain could have been avoided had there been a robust and functioning public health infrastructure in early 2020. That investment would have been a bargain, compared with what has been spent in the past year alone — not to mention the financial burden well into the future.

Some experts have estimated that the nation has a deficit of 250,000 public health workers. That’s about the number of people who work at DHS, now the third-largest Cabinet-level agency. But the deficits go well beyond staffing numbers.

The CDC and local public health departments need to be equipped with the same level of sophisticated tools provided to, say, airport screeners. Even though the federal government spent $36 billion to digitize medical records, we still don’t have a uniform national digital database that can track who is getting the vaccine.

Through Operation Warp Speed and private purchases, the U.S. helped make possible amazing new vaccines, paving a path out of the pandemic. By last December the government had spent $12.4 billion on shots, and the Biden administration has purchased several hundred million more doses, hoping to vaccinate most Americans by summer.

That’s a great accomplishment. But would we be so desperate if some of that money had been spent over the past decades on public health? The pandemic is a reminder that the terrorism of nature can’t be ignored, and our public health system needs to be rebuilt and expanded.

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We studied depression messages on YouTube videos and found dangerous and stigmatizing stereotypes prevail

depressed

Rates of depression have tripled in the U.S. since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and most recent estimates suggest these numbers remain elevated compared with pre-pandemic rates of mental health problems.

Even before the pandemic, depression was a leading source of disability, affecting over 17 million Americans each year. In a society where mental health education is not uniformly taught in schools, and where most people with depression go untreated, this is a recipe for disaster.

Psychologists have proposed ways to reform mental health care such as increasing access to care through telehealth. These actions are important. However, few experts have provided recommendations for how everyday citizens can flatten the depression curve by reducing stigma.

To better understand why depression stigma persists, my colleagues Ansley Bender and Jon Rottenberg and I examined how depression is depicted in the public sphere. In a recently published study, we systematically coded 327 YouTube videos on depression based on how they presented depression’s causes, prognosis and recommended treatment.

We hoped to gain insight into how one channel of social media presents information on depression. We learned that popular messages on YouTube may unknowingly perpetuate stigma and misconceptions about depression.


https://youtube.com/watch?v=ZwMlHkWKDwM%3Fcolor%3Dwhite

Stigma makes depression even harder

While we are no longer in the era of mental institutions and lobotomies, stigma toward depression is alive and well. In a 2018 study that provided 1,173 Americans with a vignette depicting someone with depression, 30% rated them as “violent,” and 20% supported the use of involuntary treatment. In everyday life, many people with depression hear declarations that “depression isn’t real” or “depressed people are just weak and lazy.” Public perception, it seems, either exaggerates or downplays the severity of depression—neither of which captures the truth.

Stigma like this worsens people’s ability to cope with and seek help for depression. For example, a review of 144 studies found that stigma considerably lowers the chance that a person with depression will seek treatment. This is concerning—especially for those who struggle with thoughts of suicide. Former U.S. surgeon general Vice Adm. Jerome M. Adams has called stigma the nation’s No. 1 killer.

YouTube says: Nature or nurture

We found that about 50% of the YouTube videos we viewed presented depression as a biological condition, like a “brain disease” or “chemical imbalance.” Over 40% discussed how situational circumstances like losing a job, experiencing abuse, or other life events can cause depression. But these messages are only partially true.

In most cases, depression is the result of a combination of biological, environmental and psychological circumstances, though just 8% of videos showed messaging consistent with this understanding. This is called the biopsychosocial model and is the consensus across clinical psychology and psychiatry. Framing depression as either biological or situational can narrow one’s view of potential treatments, so it is important to convey accurate information about the illness.


https://youtube.com/watch?v=y_T9Jg0U2DA%3Fcolor%3Dwhite

For instance, studies show when people are told that their depression is caused by a chemical imbalance, they are more likely to favor antidepressant treatments over other treatments. In other words, these messages may lead people to accidentally ignore other evidenced-based treatments that could help them, including therapy, exercise and lifestyle changes and social support.

The reality is that many treatments work for depression. It might, however, take time for those with depression to find the right treatment combination that works for them.

Further, while many believe that talking about biological origins decreases depression stigma, a review of studies actually found it can have the opposite effect. The story goes like this: When people view depression as a brain disease, they are less likely to blame someone for having depression. However, they are also more likely to view the person with depression as “different,” “dangerous” and “untreatable.” Studies show these beliefs may lessen people’s willingness to support or feel empathy for those with depression.

YouTube says: Depression lasts for years…sometimes a lifetime

This message is partial truth, but the science suggests a more complicated picture. For some, depression can last for years depending on their life circumstances and access to treatment. For others, depression may last for only a few months. A 2011 review of depression studies concluded “the majority of individuals who experience depression will recover within one year.”

Making this distinction is important because it reminds us that depression is not permanent; even though depression, by its nature, can make us feel as if everything is hopeless and won’t improve … or if things do get better, they will inevitably get worse again.

It is important for all of us, in these times of uncertainty, isolation, and worry about our loved ones, to remind ourselves and one another that, with time and direct efforts to improve our mental health, we can persevere.


https://youtube.com/watch?v=6O7Tpqvtzt8%3Fcolor%3Dwhite

YouTube says: There are quick fixes

Some of the most irresponsible videos I watched suggested that depression can be “fixed” with a few “simple lifestyle hacks.” Such videos are reminiscent of overpromising self-help gurus. Quick-fix assertions like “just exercise, you’ll feel better” are not only invalidating but untrue. It’s concerning that these videos disguise themselves with scientific-sounding words.

The video “10 Foods to Eat to Fight Depression” shows how the public can be misled. With over 1 million views, the video states, “Dark chocolate can help raise serotonin levels in the body” to fight depression. Unfortunately for people with depression who love chocolate, this scientific-sounding claim is not accurate. Our diet of course affects our mood. But it is oversimplified to say that eating chocolate cures depression.

These messages could lead people to downplay and invalidate the severity of depression. Imagine how a person with depression would feel upon hearing “I know you can’t get out of bed, but have you tried eating a Snickers?”

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AstraZeneca says to release more data on US trials soon

covid

UK-based pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca said Tuesday it will release further data “within 48 hours” on US trials of its COVID-19 vaccine, after health officials raised concerns about the initial information disclosed.

The company pushed back against a statement from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) which said that “outdated information” may have been used to conclude that its vaccine was highly effective against COVID.

“We have reviewed the preliminary assessment of the primary analysis and the results were consistent with the interim analysis,” AstraZeneca said in a statement.

“We intend to issue results of the primary analysis within 48 hours,” it added.

The US health agency’s evaluation comes after AstraZeneca said on Monday that stage three US trials of the vaccine had shown it was 79 percent effective.

It follows controversy over the vaccine’s rollout in Europe.

France, Germany and a number of other nations said last week they would resume using the jab after its introduction was suspended over potential links to blood clots among recipients.

Global health experts as well as AstraZeneca insist the vaccine is safe.

EU officials have also hit out at AstraZeneca for delivering its UK supply contract in full so far, while falling short on supplies to the continent.

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Food industry lobbying was intense on failed bill to limit marketing to Canadian children

Food industry lobbying was intense on failed bill to limit marketing to Canadian children

Researchers at the University of Toronto have found that food industry interactions with government heavily outnumbered non-industry interactions on Bill S-228, also known as the Child Health Protection Act, which died in the Senate of Canada in 2019.

The researchers looked at more than 3,800 interactions, which included meetings, correspondence and lobbying, in the three years before the bill failed. They found that over 80 per cent were by industry, compared to public health or not-for-profit organizations.

They also found that industry accounted for over 80 per cent of interactions with the highest-ranking government offices, including elected parliamentarians and their staff and unelected civil servants.

“Industry interacted with government much more often, more broadly, and with higher ranking offices than non-industry representatives in discussions of children’s marketing and Bill S-228,” said principal investigator Mary L’Abbé, a professor of nutritional sciences at U of T and a researcher in the Joannah & Brian Lawson Centre for Child Nutrition.

The journal CMAJ Open published the study today.

The researchers drew data from Health Canada’s Meetings and Correspondence on Healthy Eating database, set up in 2016, which details the type and content of interactions between stakeholders and Health Canada on nutrition policies. They also used Canada’s Registry of Lobbyists, which tracks the names and registrations of paid lobbyists but provides limited details on the content of the meetings.

“We’re fortunate to have access to this information in Canada, as it offers insight into the story of government bills,” said Christine Mulligan, a doctoral student in L’Abbé’s lab and lead author on the study. “Industry stakeholders bring important viewpoints, but the volume and breadth of their lobbying on this bill was clearly disproportionate, especially compared to public health.”

The food industry has a long history of effective lobbying in Canada and other countries, and a growing body of research has documented both that extensive influence and the need for policy makers to be aware of it when creating policy that promotes the health and safety of all citizens.

Health Canada met with industry 56 per cent of the time regarding the 2016 Healthy Eating Strategy, researchers at the University of Ottawa found earlier this year. And during creation of the recent Food Guide, Health Canada restricted industry lobbying—so effectively that industry persuaded officials at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to lobby Health Canada on their behalf, as The Globe and Mail and other organizations reported.

Mulligan says the disparity in interactions with government among stakeholders was even greater for S-228, and that it marks a stark contrast between this bill and interactions on the Healthy Eating Strategy more broadly.

Industry lobbying has also been prominent on a stalled bill to introduce front-of-package labelling that would inform consumers about foods high in salt, sugar and saturated fat, said L’Abbé, who advised Health Canada on both bills and the Healthy Eating Strategy.

L’Abbé said that more transparency on interactions with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and other federal departments would help, as would more detail in the Registry of Lobbyists. All stakeholder comments related to proposed regulations are part of a public docket in the U.S., and some groups have called for a similar approach in Canada.

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