The National Transportation Safety Board has voted to urge the states drop the blood alcohol level necessary for a driving while intoxicated violation from .08 to .05. This means two to three drinks in an hour for a 180-pound man, versus about four.
The change would save lives, the NTSB believes.
It will be hard to persuade the states to adopt the change.
You might find this list of worldwide BACs interesting. A few countries have zero tolerance
A federal judge has overturned an Obama administration rule against over-the-counter sale of morning-after-sex contraceptive pills to women younger than 17.
Surely Jason Rapert and Co. can hurryup a state override of getting pills to young women to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
Plan B is currently available to younger women only through prescription.
The Washington Post's Wonkblog posted the map above illustrating by-county changes in female mortality rates. Red is bad. It means the rate is rising.
Education and poverty cited as factors. (Sex education anyone? Thinking of yesterday's installment of the War on Women at the Arkansas legislature.)
An arbitration panel has signed off on a settlement of a dispute between tobacco companies and 17 states, including Arkansas, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico that will bring $22.7 million to Arkansas in 2013.
Tobacco companies had alleged that Arkansas and the other states had violated terms of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement that has paid $60 million to Arkansas every year and which supports the state's anti-smoking and other health-related programs.
The settlement allows Arkansas to receive 54 cents on the dollar of the disputed amount. A release from Attorney General Dustin McDaniel's office about the settlement is on the jump. R.J. Reynolds' release is here.
If schools reinstated physical education classes, a lot of fat children would lose weight. And they might never have gotten fat in the first place if their mothers had just breast fed them when they were babies. But be warned: obese people should definitely steer clear of crash diets. And they can lose more than 50 pounds in five years simply by walking a mile a day.
Those are among the myths and unproven assumptions about obesity and weight loss that have been repeated so often and with such conviction that even scientists like David B. Allison, who directs the Nutrition Obesity Research Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, have fallen for some of them.
Now, he is trying to set the record straight. In an article published online today in The New England Journal of Medicine, he and his colleagues lay out seven myths and six unsubstantiated presumptions about obesity. They also list nine facts that, unfortunately, promise little in the way of quick fixes for the weight-obsessed. Example: “Trying to go on a diet or recommending that someone go on a diet does not generally work well in the long term.”
Having lost (and regained) at least 500 pounds over a lifetime of yo-yoing, I concluded a long time ago that genetics were destiny. Doesn't mean I quit trying. Several have asked about my latest 90-pound drop and so here's my secret plan, which I've employed successfully several times over the years:
About 11 months ago I stopped empty alcohol calories, swore off desserts and began eating reasonable amounts three times a day — long on vegetables and fruit. I also upped my activity to about an hour a day of walking, plus weight lifting three times a week. It works, or it does for me. A permanent life change? I wish. But my record isn't promising. The body cries out for a frosted mug of draft beer, a rack of ribs slathered with sweet and mustardy sauce and a slab of carrot cake, with a cream cheese icing about two inches thick.
The New England Journal's summary of the myths:
We identified seven obesity-related myths concerning the effects of small sustained increases in energy intake or expenditure, establishment of realistic goals for weight loss, rapid weight loss, weight-loss readiness, physical-education classes, breast-feeding, and energy expended during sexual activity. We also identified six presumptions about the purported effects of regularly eating breakfast, early childhood experiences, eating fruits and vegetables, weight cycling, snacking, and the built (i.e., human-made) environment.
He's attorney for two Arkansans suing Philip Morris in a class action for selling "light" cigarettes as a safer, healtheir and less addictive alternative to quitting smoking.
Thrash says Philip Morris has asked for a protective order to seal from public view documents about the toxic nature of additives to the cigarettes, manipulation of nicotine in them and levels of nicotine necessary for addiction.
Circuit Judge Tim Fox will hear arguments on the confidentiality request Dec. 18. It is a rare day when a public court's business should be shielded from the public. I'm not inclined to sympathize with the argument that this is one of them. The public should have access to all information available about dangers of a consumer product.
After Philip Morris lost a federal case over dangers of the "light" cigarettes and representations in the marketing, Congress passed a law to prohibit Philip Morris from selling "light," "low tar" and "low nicotine" cigarettes. But, Thrash argues, the tobacco company has told Marlboro Light buyers to ask for "Marlboro in the gold pack" because the cigarette wasn't changing.
Argument for confidentiality here. The tobacco company says it's routinely granted to protect trade secrets from competitors.
Response to that argument here. Thrash argues that there's immense public health interest at issue.
The UAMS release, which is on the jump, points at some highlights:
* Benton County ranks first in health outcomes, and Phillips County is 75th out of 75 counties
* Heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic low respiratory disease and unintentional injury are the five leading causes of death among Arkansans aged 1-85.
* Hypertension (high-blood pressure) increased from 25.1 percent of the state population in 1995 to 31.6 percent in 2011.
* Of the 19 counties with the highest proportion of fast-food restaurants, 10 are in or near the Delta region and six are in the southwest corner of Arkansas.
Said the Pew Trusts:
The majority of our nation’s secondary schools do not sell fruits and vegetables in school stores, snack bars, or vending machines, according to a report released today.
Most public schools implemented healthier meals this fall under the USDA’s revised meal standards. Those regulations did not cover snack foods and beverages, making them the next frontier in ensuring students have access to healthy options in school. The USDA is poised to issue policies requiring that foods and beverages sold outside of the federal school meals program meet minimum nutrition standards. View our infographic to see the current snack food environment compared to what it could look like with updated nutrition standards.
Here's the full report. It includes break-out charts on the states and Arkansas doesn't do so well.
* Arkansas fell below the median of 28.2 percent in the percentage of schools that sold fresh fruit in snack bars, vending machines and school stores. It ranked 45th, with 16 percent of schools selling fruit.
* Arkansas fell below the median of 18.9 percent in the percentage of schools that sold non-fried vegetables as snacks. It ranked 44th, with 8.9 percent selling non-fried vegetables.
On sale of unhealthy snacks, Arkansas did better. It ranked 16th from the lowest on sale of cookies, crackers, baked goods and such at 22.5 percent of schools. It ranked identically on sale of salty snacks. It ranked 17th lowest in sale of chocolate candy, at 15.3 percent, and 15th lowest in other types of candy, at 17 percent.
Our stature eroded on sale of soft drinks — 27th lowest with sales at 30.4 percent of secondary schools.
Good news, too, is the dramatic improvement of Arkansas in the rankings since 2002, when about 70 percent of the schools sold soft drinks and unhealthy snacks. A variety of state initiatives have pushed schools to healthier offerings since then.
Sorry I forgot to post this yesterday. Arkansas rises from 9th to 7th as the country's fattest state with an obesity rate of 30.9 percent.
TV, corn syrup, video games, poverty, car culture, TV ads, the new 1,100-calorie fast food burger, processed food, end of the family dinner, lack of fresh vegetables and fruit, parental example, lack of sidewalks, lack of bike trails, parents, TV.
Are kids still encouraged, "Go outside and play until suppertime"?
Words and deeds. I'm headed to the Jim Dailey Fitness Center shortly for 16 tons of weight moving and a couple of miles on the track.
The UAMS College of Public Health has issued a report that the mortality rate among Arkansas blacks is significantly higher than that of whites for most cancers, HIV and homicide, but lower for motor vehicle crashes and suicide.
Here's a link. NOTE: The original link went to an earlier, now outdated, report. There's much there on demographics — income, family structure, education — as well as health.
Correlation is not causation, I know, but you have to wonder if the generally much lower economic status of blacks might be a contributing factor in poorer health.
The secretary of state's office today said that Arkansans for Compassionate Care has turned in a sufficient number of signatures to qualify its proposal to allow Arkansans with qualifying medical conditions to purchase marijuana from non-profit dispensaries.
A slight plurality said they'd support the measure in a Talk Business-Hendrix College poll last month.
Jay Barth writes about the bump the measure's inclusion on the ballot could give to Arkansas Democrats.
Whether the measure is approved or not, turnout created by the issue could have ramifications for the partisan races elsewhere on the ballot. Specifically, based on what has happened with medical marijuana measures and pot decriminalization proposals in other states, there is evidence that the issue could draw to the polls voters whom Democrats traditionally rely upon but who typically turn out at lower levels than other groups.
The data from the Talk Business-Hendrix College poll provides additional evidence for this notion. In a year in which there is deep concern among Democratic partisans about turnout of their base because of the president's unpopularity in the state, the measure is favored by just over 60 percent of Democrats, with a similar percentage of Republicans opposing the measure. Moreover, the proposal draws the support of over 60 percent of those under 30 and 57 percent of African-Americans — two groups whose electoral participation is crucial if Democrats are to avoid historic losses in the state's legislative and congressional elections. Consider, for instance, the potential power of the measure to promote college student turnout in the hard-fought state Senate election between Democratic Rep. Linda Tyler and Republican Sen. Jason Rapert in Conway, a race that could well determine control of the state Senate in 2013.
In short, the Democratic Party of Arkansas would be well served by the Medical Marijuana Act's making the ballot. High-profile Democrats like Gov. Mike Beebe and Attorney General Dustin McDaniel have voiced opposition to the proposal. But, they would be real winners if advocates of the act gain the resources and media attention to more fully publicize the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act as the voters drawn to the polls are quite likely to vote for Democrats up and down the ballot.
An Arkansan has died of the West Nile virus, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.
The West Nile outbreak this year is on its way to becoming the worst in history, an official with the CDC said today. More than 1,100 cases have been reported in 38 states.
The Arkansas Department of Health said that 15 cases of the virus have been reported in the state.
A new study in Pediatrics suggests a positive effect from tough state laws limiting sales of snack foods in public schools and curbing weight gains in children.
Adolescents in states with strict laws regulating the sale of snacks and sugary drinks in public schools gained less weight over a three-year period than those living in states with no such laws, a new study has found.
...The study stopped short of saying the stronger laws were directly responsible for the better outcomes. It concluded only that such outcomes tended to happen in states with stronger laws, but that the outcomes were not necessarily the result of those laws. However, researchers added that they controlled for a number of factors that would have influenced outcomes.
Still, the correlation was substantial, researchers said, suggesting that the laws might be a factor. Students who lived in states with strong laws throughout the entire three-year period gained an average of 0.44 fewer body mass index units, or roughly 2.25 fewer pounds for a 5-foot-tall child, than adolescents in states with no policies.
The full report isn't on-line yet, but I'd guess Arkansas is among the 40 states in which students were tracked.
Arkansas began curbing vending machine sales in 2003 and in 2007 stopped allowing vending drink sales to elementary students during school hours. Older children can't make purchases until a half hour after the end of the lunch period and at least half of the drinks had to be fruit juice or low fat and unsweetened beverages. Sales of other snacks can't begin until an hour after lunch and must include some healthy choices.
NY Times blog rounds up reporting on a decline in the teen pregnancy rate and observations that the rate, by state, tends to track sex education and family planning practices.
For example, states that report the highest use of birth control pills and other contraception devices tended to have lower rates of births to teens. Conversely:
Of the five states with the highest rates of pregnancy among teenagers, three (Texas, Oklahoma and Mississippi) restrict the ability of a minor to access contraceptive health care, and four (those three, plus Arkansas) stress abstinence in their sexual education programs. Conclusive? Far from it. But these numbers should give policy-makers in states with high teenage pregnancy rates something more to think about.
The rising Republican caucus at the state legislature is agitating for still more bars to distribution of birth control pills and other contraception, as with an attorney general opinion request targeting federal rules to provide contraception.
The teen birth rate in the U.S. continued to drop in 2010 to a historic low, the Centers for Disease Control has reported.
In Arkansas, the birth rate among teens declined from 60.1 in 2007 to 52.5 per thousand in 2010, but that still ranked the state third highest, behind Mississippi and New Mexico.
Ken Yang: Man in black. Does what he wants, answers to no one. One-man show.
These folks scare the bejesus out of me.
Imprudent,posturing statements that show the intense contempt these folks have for the positions they occupy…
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