Public Health News Roundup: July 19
NIH: Greater Physical Activity Linked to Lower Stroke Risk
People who exercise vigorously enough to work up a sweat are at reduced risk for stroke, according to a new study in the journal Stroke. Inactivity is one of the main risk factors for stroke, along with high blood pressure, diabetes and smoking. Researchers found that inactive people were 20 percent more likely to experience a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) than subjects who exercised at least four times a week. Researches utilized data from the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study, a long-term study funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke that looks at the reasons behind the higher rates of stroke mortality among African-Americans and others in the Southeastern United States. “Our results confirm other research findings but our study has the distinct advantage of including larger numbers, especially larger numbers of women as well as blacks, in a national population sample so these provide somewhat more generalizable results than other studies,” said Virginia Howard, PhD, senior author of the study from the School of Public Health, University of Alabama at Birmingham. Read more on stroke.
Study: Calorie Guidance on Menus Doesn’t Lead to Healthier Eating
Research had already shown that providing calorie counts on restaurant menus did little to improve food selection. New research now shows that offering general daily or per-meal calorie guidelines also does little to help people make healthier eating choices, according to a study in the American Journal of Public Health. "The general inability of calorie labeling to result in an overall reduction in the number of calories consumed has already been pretty widely shown," said study lead author Julie Downs, an associate research professor of social and decision sciences in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University. "So that's nothing new. But in the face of that, there has been the growing thought that perhaps the problem is that people don't know how to use the information without some framework, some guidance." Instead, the study found that people given calorie guidance not only didn’t make overall better use of calorie labeling or consume fewer calories, but they actually consumed slightly more calories. Lona Sandon, a registered dietitian and assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, said the findings help illustrate that “[k]nowledge is just one piece of the puzzle. We must consider people's attitudes, beliefs and values surrounding healthier eating and body weight.” Read more on nutrition.
Sequester to Close all HUD Offices on July 22
Every office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will be closed on Monday, July 22 as part of the sequester which is being felt across all of government. The automatic spending cuts took effect March 1. HUD’s plan is to pair its seven required furlough days with holidays and weekends. HUD is encouraging people and businesses that work with the agency to plan around the schedule day of shutdown. Read more on budgets.