Thursday, June 28, 2012

New Study: Is a Calorie a Calorie?

A new study in JAMA led by Dr. Cara B. Ebbeling and colleagues purports to challenge the idea that all calories are equally fattening (1).  Let's have a look.  When thinking about the role of calorie intake in body fatness, there are basically three camps:

1.    Calories don’t matter at all, only diet composition matters.
2.    Calories are the only thing that matters, and diet composition is irrelevant.
3.    Calories matter, but diet composition may also play a role.

The first one is an odd position that is not very well populated.  The second one has a lot of adherents in the research world, and there’s enough evidence to make a good case for it.  It’s represented by the phrase ‘a calorie is a calorie’, i.e. all calories are equally fattening.  #1 and #2 are both extreme positions, and as such they get a lot of attention.  But the third group, although less vocal, may be closest to the truth. 
Read more »

Allowing female CHEWs to ride gender-friendly motorbikes in Jigawa State, Northern Nigeria: a critical step towards better maternal and child health

A gender-friendly motorbike
Nigeria has a disproportionate burden of global maternal mortality burden. About 342,900 women worldwide died from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth in 2008. Three out of five of these deaths occurred in sub-Saharan Africa, and Nigeria alone had an estimated 50,000 maternal deaths thus constituting one of the highest maternal mortality ratios (MMR) in the world. The situation is dire in northern Nigeria, where MMR is estimated to be significantly higher than the national average with recent estimates for the north exceeding 1,000 per, 100,000 live births compared to MMR estimates for the southern region below 300 per 100,000 live births.

Between 2007 and 2008, a Partnership for Reviving Routine Immunization in Northern Nigeria (PRRINN); and the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) Program targeting four states in northern Nigeria (Jigawa, Katsina, Yobe, and Zamfara), was established with co-funding from the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom and the Government of Norway in response to dire health status of women and children.

With the support of the operations research unit for PRRINN-MNCH Program, Jigawa state consequently decided to pilot an adaptation of the Navrongo Community-Based Health Planning Service strategy in Ghana to bring services to especially remote communities. This decision is convergent with the position of the Nigerian Association of Health Workers. The association has recognized the need to ensure that the health system focuses on deploying community health workers to provide basic health services in the communities.

A study was designed to explore the feasibility and outcome of community-based health extension workers (CHEWs) providing essential MNCH services within remote communities in Jigawa State. If the pilot in one Local Government Area in Jigawa showed the feasibility and effectiveness of this model, it can be expanded to other areas in Jigawa, if not to other states facing the same constraints on effective access and utilization of primary health care services. In this way, Jigawa will answer the call by the Nigerian Association of Health Workers, and be able to provide national leadership in systematically introducing innovations to the primary health care system and its effective and efficient use of available resources that appear to be key to making substantive progress towards the attainment of MDGs 4 and 5.

The pilot was conducted in the rural and remote communities of Kadawawa and Takalafiya, with a population of 20-25,000 people each. In each community the CHEWs sought to engage 5,000 women of childbearing age, with a focus on the 1,000 pregnant women and the 1,000 who had children under age 1.

Deploying a CHEW to work and live in a community is one of the interventions that have generally been known to work effectively in many settings. However, deploying such an intervention in a rural setting of Jigawa State and assessing the health system challenges and the capacity to respond to them was one of the key objectives of the pilot study.

While the study generally demonstrated an increase in the uptake of MNCH due to the availability of CHEWs, transport for making home visits especially during the rainy season was one of the challenges experienced during the study. A number of home visits could not be made due to the difficult terrain. Most of these problems were reported to the health administration and efforts to resolve these were made within the limits of the health administration.

Successes and challenges from the pilot study were shared with stakeholders in order to plan effectively for the scale-up. One critical action was the support of the operations research team for the study which made intensive advocacy visits to senior health officials on some of the challenges encountered. The Gunduma Health System Board in Jigawa State, inter alia, obtained approval from the State Assembly to employ more female CHEWs towards the end of 2011. At the time of the study, the Gunduma Health Systems Board had budgeted for more CHEWs recruitment for 2012 and apparently recruitment of female CHEWs will become regular and stabilize.

With respect to transportation, an advocacy visit was made to the traditional ruler, the Emir of Dutse in August 2011, who gave consent to allow female CHEWs to ride motorbikes to implement home visits. The Emir consented to the purchase and deployment of gender-friendly motorbikes in order to address this challenge. Such consent was critical since women riding motorbikes is considered by others within the community and northern Nigeria in general as contrary to sociocultural and religious beliefs. By the first quarter of 2012, 20 motorbikes were purchased and female CHEWs will be trained to ride the motorbikes and use them during the scale-up phase of the intervention. While addressing the MNCH challenges in northern Nigeria is not a here and now matter, allowing female CHEWs to ride motorbikes is a milestone in efforts to provide integrated MNCH services at the doorsteps of the community and this will increase access and utilization of MNCH services in rural areas.

Gender-friendly motorcycles have a step-through space which makes it easier for them to mount the motorcycle than the 'male' motorcycles which have a gas/fuel tank in the middle. Gender friendly motorcycles have a gas/fuel tank under the seat.

Henry V. Doctor
Associate Research Scientist, Population & Family Health
Operations Research Advisor, PRRINN-MNCH Program, Nigeria

What was at stake in the ruling for Washington state

Earlier this month, we put out a report detailing what was at stake for Washington state -- down to the county level -- if the Affordable Care Act was thrown out by the Supreme Court.

The upshot was that more than 800,000 Washingtonians stand to get coverage through the Medicaid expansion OR to get subsidies to help them and their families pay for private insurance.

In addition, the report details the reforms, most of them largely unnoticed by the average person, that have already taken effect. Among these: Young adults can now stay on their parents' health coverage up to age 26, kids can't be denied insurance because they're sick, small businesses get tax rebates if they provide health coverage for workers, no caps on lifetime benefits, etc.

The most significant reforms will take place in 2014, including the state's new health care exchange, an online marketplace to shop for and compare insurance -- as well as a way for lower- and middle-income families to get substantial help paying for it.

The full report is at

Kreidler reaction to Supreme Court upholding health care reform law

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler expressed great relief with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding the Affordable Care Act and said Washington state is now well ahead of most states in reforming its health care system.

Many reforms are currently in place, but key benefits and programs take effect in 2014, including Washington’s new Health Exchange, federal subsidies to help 477,000 people afford health insurance, an expansion of Medicaid for 328,000 poor childless adults and the ban on insurance companies from denying people coverage if they’re sick.

“I’m very pleased the Supreme Court chose to uphold the Affordable Care Act,” said Kreidler. “We’ve been busy for two years now implementing the reforms and have made great progress, but there’s a lot left to do before 2014. With the court decision out of the way, we can continue our focus on where it should be – bringing relief to families struggling to find quality, affordable health insurance.”

The millions of Washington state consumers benefitting from the Affordable Care Act’s early reforms include:

  • More than 2.4 million people who no longer face lifetime caps on their health benefits.
  • More than 52,000 young adults up to age 26 who have stayed on their parents’ health plans.
  • More than 1.2 million people who now have coverage for preventive care with no co-pays or deductibles.
  • More than 60,000 people in Medicare who have saved hundreds on their prescription drugs.

Washington state also leveraged millions in federal funds available under the Affordable Care Act to create:

  • Public access to health insurance rate requests. 
  • A new marketplace in Washington state for health insurance in 2014 – called an exchange – where people can shop for health plans, compare their options and apply for subsidies.
  • A temporary health insurance program (PCIP-WA) for people with pre-existing health conditions.

“The Affordable Care Act is not perfect, but it moves us in the right direction and is the only meaningful reform that’s passed in decades,” said Kreidler. “The debate was clearly contentious, and I’m grateful to have it behind us. But, now it’s time to focus on the work ahead – more than a million uninsured people in our state are counting on us.”

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Parsley is Blood Purifying

Parsley is a Blood Purifying SuperFood

parsley blood cleanser        Parsley is considered the world’s most popular garnish. Parsley was originally cultivated in Europe and the Middle East but has become a staple in American cuisine. This herb has remarkable healing and blood purifying benefits that classify it as a superfood.

Parsley has been revered throughout history and used for both culinary and medicinal purposes. The Greeks made crowns of parsley to bestow upon their sports champions. It was used for the Hebrew celebration of Passover as a sign of rebirth in the spring. The Romans used it to deodorize corpses before funerals.

It contains a unique combination of nutrients that make it a powerful superfood. The volatile oil compounds myristicin, limonene, eugenol, and alpha-thujene have been shown to inhibit tumor cell formation. Additionally, parsley is rich in flavonoids-including apiin, apigenin, crisoeriol, and luteolin that have strong anti-oxidant properties.

Parsley also contains about three times the amount of vitamin C by volume as an orange. Vitamin C is extremely important for healthy immune function and youthful skin & joints. Additionally, it contains carotenoid anti-oxidants lutein and zeaxanthin which enhance eye function and help the body neutralize damage from UV radiation.

Super rich in chlorophyll

Parsley is super rich in chlorophyll, the energy producing substance that gives herbs and plants its characteristic green color. Chlorophyll helps to alkalize the body, purify blood, and form new red blood cells. In addition, the chlorophyll and flavonoids in parsley help to enhance cellular glutathione formation. Higher levels of cellular glutathione allow the body to detoxify and heal more effectively.

Through these properties, parsley is able to improve cellular oxygenation properties. Increased oxygenation = increased cellular energy = increased detoxification & healing mechanisms.
Parsley is a fantastic source of folic acid which is extremely crucial for its ability to reduce homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is an inflammatory mediator that is linked with cardiovascular disease and brain degeneration. Folic acid is also important for pregnant women as it plays a critical role in fetal development. It is also an important nutrient for cancer prevention.
Parsley is also known as a powerful diuretic that reduces blood pressure and enhances kidney function. In particular, parsley increases sodium and water excretion thru urine and increases potassium reabsorption into the kidneys. This is particularly useful for anyone with poor circulation, swelling, cellulite, and other cardiovascular problems.

Juiced parsley is also believed to stimulate uterine contractions during labor. This juice has also been used to enhance skin and hair texture. It is also thought to reduce inflammation and mucous formation throughout the body. This is why many individuals see results using parsley to reduce symptoms of asthma, allergies, bronchitis, & urinary tract infections.
The rich chlorophyll content is also a great body odor and breath freshener. Chlorophyll acts as an anti-mutagen and it reduces odor causing bacteria which are responsible for producing bad breath and body odor. Parsley combines well with garlic and onions and reduces the strong pungent body odor these sulfur rich foods are known to cause.
Parsley dipped in apple cider vinegar is especially useful for reducing body odor and improving digestive function. The natural acids, chlorophyll and enzymes present in this food combination synergize to enhance the intestinal microflora. This is one of the best aids for neutralizing acid reflux, gas and bloating.


Plantain plant    Plantain
Botanical: Plantago major (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Plantaginaceae

Here's an excellent picture of a plantain, with it's seed spikes. (just ignore the weed behind it).

Synonyms---broad-leaved plantain, ripple grass, waybread, slan-lus, waybroad, snakeweed, cuckoo's bread, englishman's foot, white man's foot, buckhorn plantain, dog's ribs, hock cockle, lance-leaved plantain, rub grass, dooryard plantain, round-leaved plantain, (Anglo-Saxon) weybroed, Che Qian Zi (China), Breitwegerich (German), Tanchagem-maior (Portuguese), Llantén común (Spanish), Llantén major (Spanish) 
Parts Used---Root, leaves, flower-spikes. 

Growth & Habitat --- A perennial "weed" that can be found almost anywhere in North America and much of Europe. You probably have some in your backyard! Plantain is thought to be indigenous to Eurasia. It will grow in sun to shade, and in almost any soil - plantain is very adaptable. Plantain spreads by seeds.

Plantain is a low-growing, green plant with oval, ribbed short-stemmed leaves. The leaves form basal rosettes which tend to hug the ground. The leaves may grow up to about 6" long and 4" wide, but tend to vary greatly in size depending on their soil and light conditions. Plantain sends up a leafless flower stock in summer/fall - the stalks can be up to ten inches tall.

There are over 200 species in the plantain family, and they are found worldwide. Many have herbal uses. Plantago major is the most common one in North America, but Plantago lanceolata can also be found. Both have the same medicinal uses, and are very similar in appearance. Plantago major has wide rounded leaves, with a flowering spike covered with small nubbly seeds; Plantago lanceolata has longer, slender leaves, and a mostly bare flowering stem, with a conelike cluster of flowers on the top.

(Please note that plantain - the starchy, banana-like fruit, is completely different and not related to the plantain "weed" we are talking about!)

Plantain is edible - harvest the young, tender leaves for use in a salad, or steamed and used as a spinach substitute. The leaves do get tough quickly, so make sure to harvest only the youngest leaves. The immature flower stalks may be eaten raw or cooked. If you're really adventuresome, you can harvest the seeds. They are said to have a nutty flavor and may be parched and added to a variety of foods or ground into flour. The leaves, seeds and roots can all be made into an herbal tea. 

Plantain was brought to the US and also to New Zealand by European settlers who valued it for it's culinary and medicinal properties. The settlers seemed to leave the plant wherever they went, thus earning it the name "White Man's Foot' or "Englishman's Foot" by the natives of both countries.
Plantain has been used medicinally by Europeans for centuries. Herbals dating from the 1500's and 1600's are full of recipes and uses for plantain. It was considered to be almost a panacea - a cure-all, and a quick search shows that is has historically been recommended as a treatment for just about everything, up to and including dog bites, ulcers, ringworm, jaundice, epilepsy, liver obstructions, and hemorrhoids! Plantain was so commonly known it is even found referenced in works by both Chaucer and Shakespeare. 

Plantain is usually plentiful and can be easily harvested anytime from early spring until frost. Please do be careful where you harvest it - roadsides are notoriously dirty and dusty, and ditches are often sprayed with herbicides. Leave a spot in your backyard where you allow it to grow, and you can harvest your own all growing season! If your neighbors think you are crazy, let them know that plantain is a food source for some friendly wildlife such as butterfly caterpillars, and that the seeds are a food source for many varieties of birds. 

Plantain is very high in beta carotene (A) and calcium. It also provides ascorbic acid (C), and vitamin K. Among the more notable chemicals found in plantain are allantion, apigenin, aucubin, baicalein, linoleic acid, oleanolic acid, sorbitol, and tannin. Together these constituents are thought to give plantain mild anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antihemorrhagic, and expectorant actions. Acubin has been reported in the Journal Of Toxicology as a powerful anti-toxin. Allantoin has been proved to promote wound healing, speed up cell regeneration, and have skin-softening effects. 

Modern medical research is proving to uphold many of the historical uses of plantain - especially as a wound healer, and as a treament for lung conditions such as bronchitis or asthma. Medicinally, plantain is astringent, demulcent, emollient, cooling, vulnerary, expectorant, antimicrobial, antiviral, antitoxin, and diuretic. Plantain is approved by the German Commission E (a sort of German "FDA" that studies and regulates herbs and herbal uses) for internal use to ease coughs and mucous membrane irritation associated with upper respiratory tract infections as well as topical use for skin inflammations. Two Bulgarian clinical trials have suggested that plantain may be effective in the treatment of chronic bronchitis. 

How much is usually taken? The German Commission E officially recommends using 1/4-1/2 teaspoon (1-3 grams) of the leaf daily in the form of tea made by steeping the herb in 1 cup (250 ml) of hot water for 10-15 minutes (making three cups (750 ml ) per day). The fresh leaves can be applied directly three or four times per day to minor injuries, dermatitis, and insect stings. Syrups or tinctures, approximately 1/2 teaspoon (2-3 ml) three times per day, can also be used, particularly to treat a cough. Finally, 1/2-1 1/4 teaspoons (2-6 grams) of the fresh plant can be juiced and taken in three evenly divided oral administrations throughout the day. Of course as with all herbal medicines, you are your own best doctor - listen to your body and pay attention to it's interaction with the herb, and you will undoubtedly figure out your own best uses and dosages. 

Plantain is not associated with any common side effects and is thought to be safe for children Plantain is classed as "able to be safely consumed when used appropriately" by the American Herbal Retailers Association. Some preliminary research does show, however, that some allergy sufferers may have a reaction to plantain pollen, so if you feel this may be a problem for you, you may want to only use the plantain leaves for your herbal preparations. 

One of plantain's most common uses is as a poultice for stings, bites, scrapes and rashes. The simplest way to harness plantain's healing powers is to crush a few fresh leaves, and apply to the affected area. Replace fresh leaves as necessary. The fresh plantain "juice" takes the pain away and seems to work wonders at staunching blood flow and closing wound edges. It's also wonderfully refreshing and soothing to sunburn. 

Plantain infusion (tea) can also be used as a soothing wash for sunburn, windburn, rashes, or wounds. To make a plantain infusion, simply add a small handful of fresh plantain leaves to a cup or two of water, and bring to a gentle boil. Turn off heat, and let steep, then strain out the leaves. The infusion is best when fresh, although it can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days. 

Our favorite way to use plantain is in a herbally infused oil. Gently fill a container with fresh plantain leaves that have been lightly bruised or crushed. (Dried plantain can be used - if you are using dried plant material, you only need to fill the jar one-half full). Cover the leaves with oil - any vegetable oil will do, cover the container, and let sit in the sun for a couple of weeks. The will turn a beautiful dark green color. Strain out the leaves and you have a lovely herbal oil to use. It's wonderful to soften, soothe and heal any manner of skin conditions. We love to make a herbal salve from this oil - simply add 1-2 oz. melted beeswax to warmed infused oil. Stir over low heat until the beeswax and oil are uniformly combined, and then pour into clean jars or tubs. 

Susun Weed recommends using plantain oil on babies and small children instead of lotions or vaseline. Natural vegetable oil that has been infused with the gentle, healing essence of plantain is far healthier to put on a baby's delicate skin than chemical-laden lotions or petroleum by-products. She also recommends using whole, clean, gently crushed fresh plantain leaves directly on a baby's diaper rash as an overnight polutice. This will help heal common diaper rash, as well as a yeast-infection diaper rash. Of course a plantain oil or salve can also be an excellent cure for diaper rash or cradle cap.

We use plantain-infused oil in just about all of our oil-based products, such as salves, lip balms, body oils, etc. We wildcraft chemical-free plantain from our property and the land next to ours. It dries well; the dried herb makes and excellent infusion and can be used to make an herbally infused oil that is almost as potent as the oil made from fresh leaves.



Yes - for real! 

My line is about the everyday woman. Chic. Fun. Giggly, of course, and full of personality. No one encapsulates that better than my customers and fans of the brand! ANYone who is interested in taking part in the shoot, please, send me your stuff! It will take place in Fort Worth during the last week in July. 

Please email with the following:
- 1 headshot, preferably with minimal makeup
- 1 to 3 full length photos
- bust, waist and hip measurements
- height
- age
- list any previous modeling experience, but this is not necessary {you'll be in good company with me}

Cannot wait to see YOU!

Raise Your Serotonin

Food and Mood: What is the Relationship?

By: Khara Bennett, Therapist at Williamsburg Place

When we talk about mental health, an area that can be overlooked is the link between food and mood. Unless we notice someone with an eating disorder or some type of other disordered eating behavior, we tend to disregard the connection between the two. Food and Mood issues may extend to eating disorders, but are not limited to it. It is more about examining the relationship between a person, their food choices and the emotions being experienced while eating.

For example, does a person tend to overeat when experiencing high anxiety, or do they tend to restrict? Do the food choices or amounts of food change with the emotion being experienced? One way that we can look at this is by beginning to look at food as symbolism. In other words, what other needs does food satisfy? Within hours of birth we begin to connect food with an emotion. In breastfeeding the child is typically held and nurtured, giving a feeling of protection and safety in the feeding process. As kids, when we needed a shot at the doctors we received a lollipop, beginning to teach us that sugar or candy can make the pain go away; a form of positive reinforcement of food. If you grew up in a home where the “clean your plate club” was the way, you may develop anxiety or fear if you don’t eat everything on your plate. Some of those who restrict find a source of power and confidence in their ability to refrain from eating and translate this into power and self-confidence in other aspects of their life. In this way food becomes more than just something you eat, it becomes an emotional event. 

An example that I often use with my clients is that when I was sad as a child my mother always brought me dessert or gave me some chocolate to “feel better.” Over time I began to equate that the way to feel better was through eating chocolate cake or Reese’s peanut butter cups. This became a primary coping strategy to deal with whatever pain, hurt or difficult emotion I was experiencing.  We can begin to see how this can become a problem in times of distress.

If a person begins to experience persistent loneliness or emptiness, they may begin to use food as a sort of companion or friend, letting food fill the empty space inside. If a person is experiencing anxiety or depression, they may begin to use food as a calming mechanism, a way to relax.  Physiologically, food offers warmth: as enzymes enter the body to break down foods, a warming sensation gives the feeling of contentment, relaxation and calm.  When we starve our body we become focused on finding nutrition and fighting hunger, which prevent us from noticing our feelings and learning how to deal with our feelings in a healthy way. Falling into these behaviors once or twice doesn’t make it an issue of concern. However, if these behaviors become a person’s only way of coping then they begin to be problematic.

When we become dependent on food (or a lack of food) as a means of self medication or solution to problems, and are unwilling to develop additional coping skills, then we are placing ourselves in dangerous territory of getting caught in a vicious cycle. An individual caught in this cycle may start to identify any emotion as hunger (or lack of hunger), as opposed to what the feeling actually is. The negative outcome from this is we become unable to identify what is physical hunger versus emotional hunger. 

Added to this inability to cope is how quickly our society moves. The mentality to have things completed yesterday reminds us that we shouldn’t be preoccupied with what’s going on inside ourselves, but more what’s going on outside of ourselves.  If the world around me is telling me not to feel or deal with emotions and I know that food (or lack of) can help me hide from my emotions… well let’s just say it doesn’t make the healthiest equation does it? 

So one question we need to ask ourselves is ‘What am I really hungry for? Is it love, acceptance, understanding? Companionship? Friendship? What am I beginning to find in food that comforts me? The other question may be ‘What am I starving for?’ What I am finding helpful in my restriction of food? Is it power or control? Inner strength? Or just a different pathway to find companionship and friendship? Or am I using food for pure nutrition and sustenance? When we begin to ask ourselves these questions, we begin to develop insight into our own relationship with food and mood.

For More Information:
Book: Anita Johnson, Eating in the Light of the Moon. Gurze books, 2006.
Workbooks: The Food and Feelings Workbook: A Full Course Meal on Emotional Health; Karen Koenig, LCSW M.Ed.

If you are concerned about yourself or others that may be struggling with an eating disorder and are looking for a therapist go to

Khara Bennett is a National Certified Counselor and Certified Substance Abuse Counselor in the State of Virginia. She graduated from William and Mary with a Master’s degree in Addictions Counseling.  Khara is a counselor at the Farley Center at Williamsburg Place, a facility providing addiction treatment opportunities for individuals and families. Khara runs the Food and Mood group at the facility and specializes in understanding and working with eating disorders. She continues to hold an interest in the field and continues to work on educating herself and others on eating disorders.

Preliminary program is now available!

We're pleased to announce that the NCTOH
preliminary program is now available!

Curious about what kind of learning, skills building and networking opportunities will be offered at the 2012 National Conference on Tobacco or Health? We’re excited to announce that the preliminary program is now available! Hundreds of prominent leaders in tobacco control will be engaging attendees through a number of lectures, panels, workshops and poster sessions focusing on the following program areas:

  1. Cessation
  2. Communications and Media
  3. Evaluation and Surveillance
  4. Increasing Diversity/Eliminating Disparities
  5. Legal Issues
  6. Nicotine and the Science of Addiction
  7. Non-Cigarette Tobacco and Nicotine Products
  8. Tobacco Regulation NEW!
  9. Tobacco Control Movement – Skills Building
  10. Tobacco Control Policies
  11. Tobacco Industry
  12. Youth
Tobacco Control has encountered substantial changes including both successes and challenges since the last NCTOH and since President Obama signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act into law, both over three years ago. Join us for the 2012 conference and prosper from the experience and knowledge that our speakers bring. Easily search the preliminary program by key word and/or speaker name to get a better idea of what we’ll be offering – and make sure to check back regularly for updates!

Don’t miss the screening of Addiction Incorporated! The true story of research scientist Victor DeNoble and his experience with a major tobacco company. If you think you know everything there is to know about cigarettes and nicotine, this film will startle you with its vital, previously undisclosed information.

The movie includes interviews with a number of tobacco control leaders and NCTOH speakers including Greg Connolly, Clifford Douglas, Matt Myers, Mitch Zeller and others. Following the screening there will be a discussion and Q&A period with Victor DeNoble; Charlie Evans; and director and executive producer Charmaine Parcero; moderated by Mitch Zeller.

Join us for popcorn, soda, light snacks and a great networking opportunity!

Haven't registered to attend yet? Visit and get started today!
Sign up to volunteer at the NCTOH! 

Sign up to volunteer your time during the 2012 National Conference on Tobacco or Health. With nearly 3,000 expected participants, conference planners need extra support with:

  • Stuffing conference bags
  • Assisting registration areas
  • Welcoming guests
  • Providing directional information
  • Monitoring rooms

Agree to help and earn perks.
For your service, all volunteers will receive a unique volunteer t-shirt as well as discount on conference attendance.* To get started, click here and register to help out no later than June 29th!
*For complete information, contact Teowonna Clifton at

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cease and desist order issued against Lenovo

Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has issued a cease-and-desist order against computer maker Lenovo, barring the company from continuing to sell illegal service contracts in Washington state.

From May 2008 to May 2012, Lenovo (United States) Inc. is believed to have sold $153,415 worth of service contracts in the state. The plans, which covered repair or replacement of damaged Lenovo products, can only be sold to Washington residents by a licensed insurer or a registered service contract provider. Lenovo is neither.

Kreidler also ordered the company to mail a copy of the cease-and-desist order to all its Washington customers within 10 days.

Nothing in the order prevents the company from fulfilling the terms of the service contracts or from issuing a refund, if requested.

The company’s unauthorized sale of service contracts was initially disclosed by Lenovo itself when it applied for registration as a service contract provider in April 2011. At that point, the company said, it had already sold 855 contracts for $90,630.

When Kreidler’s staff reviewing the application sought more information, the company failed to respond, and later withdrew its application (December 2011). Lenovo later said it had sold a total of 1,327 contracts worth $153,415 to Washingtonians (May 2012).

The company has a right to demand a hearing. The order takes effect immediately.

Monday, June 25, 2012

What Puts Fat Into Fat Cells, and What Takes it Out?

Body fatness at its most basic level is determined by the rate of fat going into vs. out of fat cells. This in/out cycle occurs regardless of conditions outside the cell, but the balance between in and out is influenced by a variety of external factors.  One of the arguments that has been made in the popular media about obesity goes something like this:  

A number of factors can promote the release of fat from fat cells, including:
Epinephrine, norepinephrine, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), glucagon, thyroid-stimulating hormone, melanocyte-stimulating hormone, vasopressin, and growth hormone
 But only two promote fat storage:
Insulin, and acylation-stimulating protein (ASP)*
Therefore if we want to understand body fat accumulation, we should focus on the latter category, because that's what puts fat inside fat cells.  Simple, right?

Can you spot the logical error in this argument?

Read more »

U R What U Eat


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Hyla DeWitt WINNER!

This was one of my favorite necklaces that I have had the opportunity to give away so far, and I have been biting my nails in the anticipation of who won! My drawing via was slightly delayed, as Squish turned 3 this weekend {oh the tears}, and I also spent some time in the ER {all is well}, so I apologize for the delay. Without further ado, the winner is...

Tiffany! What a great treat to have on top of her new baby news. I got a little teary eyed when I saw she had won :)))

My husband and I just found out we are pregnant with our first child last night! We were so happy and excited we could barely sleep :) When I finally woke up, your blog is the first thing I checked, hoping for a glimpse of your babies, but what a treat to wake up to these beauties! Can't wait to wear my new Sheridan French tunic in Africa NEXT WEEK :) Thanks for all that you do!

Congratulations and I hope you, huz and the little peanut {it's actually probably the size of a poppyseed right now!} are enjoying Africa! Email when you're home with your address to send the necklace to and it will be on its way.

Thank you to everyone who entered, and to sweet Hyla for generously giving one of her gorgeous necklaces away!

Also, I have received a ton of emails over the past few months about my top top top baby gear, and though I have a long list of things I really like, there are just a few that I LOVE.... Coming this week!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Advice #2: Travel. Go to places you haven't been, by blogger of the month Tim Lee

Israel is geographically advantageous for traveling. It is conveniently squished in the middle of Europe, Africa and Asia. MSIH students take advantage of this on every holiday (there are a lot of Jewish holidays). Many have taken the bus to Jordan to see the wonders of Petra and Wadi Rum (highly recommended). Some have managed to cross the border to Sinai and Egypt, though that was before the brouhaha. Many take cheap flights out of Ben Gurion Airport to Europe (EasyJet and Pegasus are quite cheap).

Get that disk!
This past weekend I had the unique opportunity to go to Amsterdam to play in one of Europe’s largest Ultimate Frisbee tournament, Windmill Windup. One of my friends aptly called it the “Burning Man of all Tournaments.”  There were three divisions: open (men’s), women’s, and mixed. I played with Team Israel (yes, a Korean represented Israel in a tournament in Holland). Israel entered as a mixed team and faired pretty well for having practiced together as a team only two times. We won 6 out of 8 games and placed 9th out of 26 mixed teams. Not bad. The weather wasn’t ideal as it was rainy and windy for part of the weekend. But the competition was still fierce and the games were super fun to play and watch.

Team Israel at Windmill Windup
Not only did the tournament have fun, competitive games but also evening activities, good food, music, and parties. They had a live jazz band play in the morning for breakfast. Acrobatic yoga instructor taught yoga for those who wanted a little extra umph to start their day. There were also live bands in the evenings and DJs spinning music all night. Stomp the balloon (tie a balloon to your leg and try to stomp everyone else’s balloons, last man standing wins), mingle mingle (google it), ultimate beer race, and more. To top it off, they had the Euro Cup games screening every night. It was exhaustingly awesome experience.

Tournament aside, Amsterdam is a pretty cool city. I had a day and a half to be a tourist before the tournament so I walked around the city with my teammates. Holland happened to be playing and it was very orange. It was super fun atmosphere to be surrounded by such excitement. The next day, I also managed to take a glimpse of the van Gogh museum, which was extraordinary. I wish I had had more time to explore the city.


Amsterdam was awesome and it was just the umph I needed to finish this year off strong. One more week to go! Then, some more traveling! -blogger of the month Tim Lee

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Theft charges for medical worker who submitted $4 million in bogus bills, sometimes claiming to be a doc

We're going to post a news release soon about this case:

A medical worker submitted at least $4.1 million in bogus bills to insurers, sometimes while falsely claiming to be a doctor or physician’s assistant, has pleaded guilty to theft.

Kenneth R. Welling, 45, of Lake Forest Park, pleaded guilty Thursday in King County Superior Court. The charges -- all of which are felonies -- include one count of first-degree theft and six counts of second-degree theft.

“This was a pretty audacious scam,” said state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “We were tipped off to it when a patient contacted us, saying that Welling billed her insurer $89,000 for six surgeries that never happened.”

Welling is a registered surgical technologist and sole proprietor of Shoreline, Wash.-based Alpine Surgical Services. His license allows him to perform tasks like preparing supplies and instruments, passing them to the surgeon and preparing basic sterile packs and trays. But after patients had procedures done, he would often submit large bills with codes listing himself as a doctor or physician’s assistant. He is neither.

Kreidler’s investigators also found numerous instances in which Welling billed for surgeries that never happened. Sometimes he would include post-operative reports, listing himself as the surgeon.

No evidence was found to indicate that Welling was playing an improper role in actual medical care. The fraud involved billing.

“As far as we could tell, the only time he pretended to be a doctor was when he submitted bills,” said Kreidler.

In one woman’s case, Welling billed $140,323 as assisting surgeon for nine surgeries that never took place. Over a five-year period, he billed another woman’s insurer 107 times for 51 different surgeries, listing himself as the primary doctor. Hospital records show she’d only had surgery twice.

From 2004 through 2011, according to medical records obtained by Kreidler’s Special Investigations Unit, Welling billed five insurance companies at least $4.1 million for services he did not provide. He was paid $461,000.

“Part of the reason he got away with this for so long is that he’d rarely challenge an insurer who paid little or nothing,” said Kreidler. “He’d just send them the bills and hope they’d pay.”

The investigation also showed that some patients were complaining to their insurers.

“I am angry!” one woman wrote to her insurance company in 2011. “Here is yet another fraudulent claim. Can’t you people help me to stop this? I never had surgery on Aug. 27, 2009. I never met or had anything to do with Ken Welling.”

A sentencing date is expected to be scheduled soon.


UK National Childhood Obseity Week 2012

National Childhood Obesity Week runs from 2-8 July 2012. 
Organised by MEND – Mind, Exercise, Nutrition… Do it! – its aim is to raise awareness of the dangers of being above a healthy weight during childhood.
This year MEND is working with netmums to publish the findings of the ‘Let’s talk about weight’ survey. This will show the experiences of parents when it comes to bringing up the topic of weight with their child and the challenges they face.
Visit the website to find out more about the many awareness-raising activities that will be taking place and how to get involved.
NHS Live members have registered a number of projects related to obesity on the NHS Live project directory. Simply click on 'advanced search' and enter the keyword ‘obesity’ or any other topic area you're interested in.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Kreidler statement on Regence's proposed 14.7 percent rate hike

Regence BlueShield, one of Washington state's largest health insurers, is proposing an average 14.7 percent hike in premiums for its customers who buy coverage on their own.

Even with that increase, the company says it would also face a loss of $4.5 million from its surplus, which currently exceeds $1 billion.

Here's state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler's statement on the proposal:

“We’ve just received this request. It will undergo a rigorous review by our actuaries.

“Regence contends that even with this increase, it would lose $4.5 million from the company’s surplus. To put that in perspective, that’s less than half of 1 percent of the company’s $1 billion surplus.

“In fact, Regence could continue to lose $4.5 million annually for the next 220 years and it would still have a surplus.

“A similar request by a sister company, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon, sought a 6.4 percent increase, starting August 1, 2012. But after our review and objections, it withdrew the request today. Any future rate request will face the same thorough scrutiny.”

Bete' Avon! by blogger of the month Nicole Magpayo

Joel Robuchon's Restaurant L'Atelier in Paris, France
Hello again! Since we’re nearing the end of Endocrinology and Caroline House (which for you incoming first years will get to know a little too well J ) starts to get more packed- the studying continues and is starting to get more intense as the exam approaches. Unfortunately, that means I really have nothing exciting to share. No random trips to Tel Aviv, no outdoor excursions to Jordan- sorry, all those cool adventures are put on hold since we only have about 8 days left (*containing hand-waving up in the air excitement*).  However, I realized the other day a big part of the everyday cultural experience being in Israel and being in medical school is food.

Brunch for 6 people - yes, we're hungry :)
I’m a HUGE foodie. I love trying new things- whether it’s a run down place on the corner, a family place on a quiet street or even a super fancy restaurant filled with tourists. I want to and will try it all. I think I started to become a huge foodie after living in Italy for a year (really, how could you not?!). Food, in my opinion, is probably one of the best parts of life (insert fat kid joke here) and insanely creative.

As students, especially medical students, who constantly are either in class or studying or usually both- I think food becomes even more important and difficult to find. First, we’re in a foreign country, so accessibility to the usual things you eat in the States is hard enough (my bit of advice: bring the things you can’t live without!). Second, as students who are stressed out, snacking, especially during exams can be a bit of a dangerous habit. Third, finding the time to cook an amazing dinner in itself is difficult.

In Israel, you’ll find a mix of falafel, hummus and shawarma (wait, is there more? Jk!). But I’ve realized that part of actually LIVING here or anywhere for that matter is learning how to use what’s available to create something of your own. For me, I love to cook! When I was living in Boston, I used to cook these fancy, elaborate meals after work. But nowadays, finding the time to a. go grocery shopping (Tiv Tam aka our Americanized grocery store haven) or b. to actually sit and cook something that could take hours, is just difficult. However, even with all of these limitations, I actually do cook everyday. I find it both healthier (since I know what’s going into my food- thanks, but no thanks for the pound of butter) and relaxing. Cooking is a relaxing activity for me, mostly because I enjoy it and after making something yummy I can say – wow, I just made that!
My first gluten-free cake!

Baking, on the other hand, is quiet a challenge- especially when you don’t have an oven. Yes, most apartments here in Israel don’t have ovens. Don’t panic though- they have huge toaster ovens, and yes they work just as well! Just take a look at the picture below, this year I made my first gluten-free cake! It was also my first double layered cake with homemade frosting J. Birthdays are pretty big in our class- just this past week people brought watermelon, salad, cookies, cupcakes (yes, usually in our class, we have 3 cakes for ONE birthday, but that’s just because we’re awesome like that).
Homemade strawberry scones!
Anyway, the point is that even if things are limited here- it’s easy to find a way to use what you have to make something satisfying. The fruit stand in Bet is one of my favorite spots to visit on a weekly basis as it has all the basics at a good price- bananas, apples, zucchini, lemons, mushrooms, avocados – I even found fresh coconut! I also think that’s the fun of moving somewhere culturally different and whenever I visit a place- I always want to try what’s local there. Food is a huge part of the culture and very unique in any country you visit.

Mexican themed birthday party!
As corny as it is- food also brings everyone together. I’ve been to a few Shabbat dinners and I think it’s a wonderful tradition. A family gathering over food with several courses- why not?! Just a few weeks ago, we had a dinner for a classmate’s birthday (Hi Kiki) which was nice, since she is an amazing baker and usually bakes for everyone else, so it was a great day to treat her! We had a Mexican “themed” party with enchiladas, homemade guacamole and homemade salsa! See, even if we’re not in States- we still make it work! Ok, all this writing about food is making me hungry – happy eating!

Challah French Toast made by Chef Tony!

Fruit stand in Bet.

P.S. If you ever happen to go to Paris, this is probably THE BEST MEAL I’ve ever had in my life- it’s not cheap, but trust me, your mouth won’t care J   - Nicole Magpayo, blogger of the month

Stephen Ministry - Faith Community Support for the Behavioral Health Community

By: James “Jay” Faggart, Stephen Leader & Behavioral Health Advocate

In 1975, Dr. Kenneth C. Haugk, a pastor and clinical psychologist, developed training for caregivers who could assist him in providing "distinctively Christian care" to members of his congregation. After training nine people to be Stephen Ministers, these enthusiastic caregivers encouraged Dr. Haugk to offer the Stephen Ministry training to other congregations. As of 2012, over 500,000 Stephen Ministers and 60,000 Stephen Leaders have been trained, representing over 150 Christian denominations, in all 50 states, 10 Canadian provinces and 23 other countries.
After a 2-year commitment of service and completing 50 hours of training, which includes “When and How to Use Mental Health Professionals and Other Community Resources,” a Stephen Minister is commissioned by church leadership, then assigned care receivers of the same gender. They attend a peer supervision group twice a month for support, accountability and guidance. They also attend continuing education classes several times a year to maintain and enhance their care-giving skills.

So what exactly do Stephen Ministers do? Stephen Ministry is a confidential ministry, for those who are struggling with a crisis, such as:
·        Grieving the death of a loved one
·        Hospitalized or recovering from hospitalization
·        Lonely or discouraged
·        Coping with a terminal illness
·        Unemployed or in a job crisis
·        Experiencing a spiritual crisis
When in crisis, we all need someone with whom we can share, in confidence, our deepest feelings of hurts, frustrations, anxieties and fears without being judged, admonished or ignored. A Stephen Minister is the attentive, non-judgmental and compassionate listener who provides Christian support and care, who will walk with us during times of crisis. We meet once a week for an hour, and it is not unusual to provide caring support for a year or more.
Most importantly, we believe God is the Healer in this relationship. We are open and willing to talk about spiritual issues, but we do not impose our beliefs on others. You do not have to be a member of “our” church, or even attend a church to have a Stephen Minister.
Stephen Ministers are not counselors, therapists or physicians. Some care receivers need professional care which is beyond the knowledge and skills of a Stephen Minister. If a Stephen Minister recognizes that their care receiver has a behavioral health issue, e.g., severe depression, addiction, suicidal tendencies, they must refer them to the appropriate behavioral health organization.
When it is determined that professional care is necessary, the Stephen Minister or a Stephen Leader will inform the care receiver and assist him or her in obtaining the required care. Depending upon the circumstances, the caring relationship with the Stephen Minister may have to be interrupted or terminated to allow for effective care by a professional. When professional care is required, the relationship with the Stephen Minister may only resume after the care receiver has met with the professional and has received permission from the professional for the Stephen Ministry relationship to continue.
As a Stephen Minister, I have had care receivers who were receiving care from a Psychiatrist or Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and attending group therapy.
In 2007, the Williamsburg Stephen Ministry Network was formed to exchange ministry information among congregations, conduct joint core training of Stephen Ministers, and share continuing education opportunities. A major benefit of the network is the ability to consider our Stephen Ministers as a resource to meet the needs of a member church or the community at large.
Want to know more about Stephen Ministry? Visit and PBS Religion and Ethics, , and view these videos:
·        Stephen Ministry        

Jay has been a Stephen Minister and Leader for 12 years. He applies his 45+ years of government, corporate, personal, and ministry experience as an advocate and volunteer in the Behavioral Health Community, focusing on those in need of Mental Health and Addiction Recovery Services. Activities include:
·        Behavioral Health Community Advocate for Mental Health and Addiction Recovery Services Williamsburg-James City County, Virginia
·        SpiritWorks Foundation Recovery Advisory Council
·        Virginia Community Re-entry Initiative Council
·        Colonial Area Crisis Intervention Team (CIT)  Implementation Stakeholder, CIT Certified

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Pressure Cooker for the 21st Century

Pressure cookers are an extremely useful kitchen tool.  They greatly speed cooking and reduce energy usage by up to 70 percent.  This is because as pressure increases, so does the boiling point of water, which is the factor that limits cooking speed in water-containing foods (most foods).  If it weren't for my pressure cooker, I'd rarely eat beets or globe artichokes.  Instead of baking, boiling or steaming these for 60-90 minutes, I can have them soft as butter in 30.  But let's face it: most people are intimidated by pressure cookers.  They fear the sounds, the hot steam, and the perceived risk of explosion.  I escaped this because I grew up around them.

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Hyla DeWitt Jewelry Giveaway!

The Gia :: Images courtesy of Hyla DeWitt

Do I have a treat for you all! Have you heard of Hyla DeWitt Jewelry? If not, pay attention. Her creations are *amazing* - I honestly cannot pick a favorite. Very lucky for you all, Hyla is offering Miss Gia up there to one of you lucky readers! Made of purple and yellow chalcedony gemstones and wrapped in silk ribbon, the necklace retails for $225 and I am SO excited to see who wins this piece. I have it sitting here next to me right now, and it is as bright and beautiful in person as it is in the photograph. Yes, I have put it on several times and WOW is it stunning! 

Leave a comment below with your name and email, and the winner will be randomly selected Friday evening when the giveaway closes. 

Here are a few more of my top picks:

I can think of about a million places to wear the lovelies above, can't you?! 

As a little cherry on top, Hyla has generously offered 15% off to any of you that see something you fancy on her site. Just mention the code "SheridanFrench" when you email her so the discount can be applied. Head over to Hyla's website to check out the earrings, Egyptian tassel necklaces and cuffs {currently on sale!} as well.

Ladies, start your entries! {Am I allowed to enter???}