WBEZ | health http://www.wbez.org/tags/health Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago’s top chefs join Ald. Ed Burke to urge limits on antibiotic use http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago%E2%80%99s-top-chefs-join-ald-ed-burke-urge-limits-antibiotic-use-110406 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/BURKE-photo.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>When you see a gathering of white coated chefs around Chicago it&rsquo;s usually as part of a food festival or some gala dinner. But Tuesday morning some of the city&rsquo;s top cooks and restaurateurs gathered at City Hall to voice their concerns about public health and the way animals are raised in this country.</p><p>They were there to support a non-binding City Council resolution to support long-stalled Congressional bills on antibiotics. Known as <a href="http://www.louise.house.gov/the-preservation-of-antibiotics-for-medical-treatment-act">PAMPTA </a>and PARA, they would stop American farmers from using certain classes of antibiotics on healthy animals. The practice is meant to promote growth and prevent disease.</p><p>The world&rsquo;s leading health authorities believe that overuse of antibiotics in hospital and farm settings is leading to the rise of &ldquo;superbugs&rdquo;, or bacterial infections that can no longer be cured with antibiotics.</p><p>Long-time Chicago restaurateur and co-founder of the <a href="http://buygreenchicago.org/">Green Chicago Restaurant Coalition</a> Ina Pinkney introduced the long list of scientists and doctors who would speak at the finance committee hearing on the resolution later that day.</p><p>But she also shared a personal story of a friend who recently gave birth to twins.</p><p>&ldquo;One baby went home and the other one was sick and they found MRSA in her nose as a nine-day-old,&rdquo; Pinkney said. &ldquo;Then you have to say that things are not OK.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>The <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/about.html">Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports</a> that over 2 million Americans are infected by so-called superbugs each year and and more than 23,000 die.</p><p>&ldquo;The antibiotic issue is just out of control,&rdquo; said Dan <a href="https://www.sopraffina.com/dolce/homepage.htm">Rosenthal, whose restaurant group </a>owns seven Chicago eateries including Sopraffina and Ciccheti.</p><p>&ldquo;We are creating, in our industrial meat complex, the perfect environment to create antibiotic resistant bacteria...They are found in our meat and water supply and system and what happens is we get to a situation where antibiotics are no longer effective.&rdquo; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Rosenthal is so concerned over the issue that since 2012, he&#39;s sourced all 800,000 pounds of meat he serves in his restaurants each year from farms who don&rsquo;t use antibiotics on their healthy animals.</p><p>It was also Rosenthal who, last April, urged Alderman Ed Burke to introduce the proposed resolution to the City Council.</p><p>If passed tomorrow, the resolution can&rsquo;t force Congress to do anything, but Burke says it can &ldquo;call the attention of the Illinois delegation to what we believe is an important public health initiative.&rdquo;</p><p>But the measures face considerable opposition. The biggest players in the livestock industry have long resisted any mandatory restrictions.</p><p>&quot;We are opposed to those bills because we really believe they are out of date with the current Food and Drug Administration regulatory activities,&rdquo; said Illinois Pork Producer Association spokesman Tim Maier, who is based in Springfield.</p><p>He&#39;s referring to recent voluntary guidelines that prohibit using antibiotics to make animals grow faster. But preventative uses are still in a gray area and critics say the situation is much too grave to solve with voluntary guidelines. They further argue that the government doesn&rsquo;t collect enough data to know if any farmers are choosing to comply. &nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p>But while health activists cite the rise of antibiotic resistant infections and antibiotic resistant bacteria on supermarket meat as as threat to public health, Maier says it&#39;s the restrictions proposed in the legislation that would cause a threat.</p><p>&ldquo;We think they would actually harm animal health and by extension food safety by limiting the antibiotics that are available for farmers to use when they want to treat their animals,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Denmark, which is one of the largest pork producers in the world, banned the use of non-therapeutic antibiotics in livestock in 2000. The move required some adjustments and saw some outbreaks of disease, but within a decade the World Health Organization &ldquo;found that the ban reduced human health risk without significantly harming animal health or farmers&#39; incomes,&rdquo; according to the<a href="http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/issue-briefs/2010/11/01/avoiding-antibiotic-resistance-denmarks-ban-on-growth-promoting-antibiotics-in-food-animals"> Pew Charitable Trust</a>.</p><p>So why are chefs and restaurateurs involved in this legislative discussion?</p><p>&ldquo;Because they understand that a meat supply that produces killer bacteria along with the meat is an unsustainable system and it has to be changed,&rdquo; said Rosenthal. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s why these chefs are standing up for meat raised in a sustainable fashion without antibiotics to provide a better source of supply of meat both at the restaurant level and in the grocery store.&quot;</p><p>At grocery stores like <a href="http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/about-our-products/quality-standards/animal-welfare-standards">Whole Foods Market, </a>meat raised without antibiotics has served the baseline standards for a few years. Jared Donisvitch oversees the butcher counter at the store&rsquo;s Lincoln Park location, where, he says, the antibiotic issue on shoppers minds.</p><p>&ldquo;It comes up fairly often with our interactions with customers,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;and so we are a well-trained group here and try to help customers with any questions they have on that.&rdquo;</p><p>Representative Louise Slaughter of New York State is Congress&rsquo; only microbiologist and the sponsor of PAMPTA. Last week, she sent a letter to the Chicago City Council, saying &ldquo;It is only through local, grassroots efforts like yours that we will make a difference in public health on a national level.&quot;</p><p>If the City Council resolution passes this week, Chicago would join the ranks of Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Seattle and others. But even if all the cities in the nation adopt such resolutions, they can&rsquo;t pass an act of Congress.</p><p>Still, Susan Vaughn Grooters of <a href="http://www.keepantibioticsworking.com/">Keep Antibiotics Working</a>, a nationwide coalition that aims to pass legislation to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics, says the local resolutions add a new voice to the usual Congressional debates. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;If we could get the groundswell from city councils across the nation to help support the federal legislation it could really help what&rsquo;s happening in DC now,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s essential that they hear from other people, not just inside the beltway in DC.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>Burke also notes that municipal resolutions have played a part in creating national momentum on issues in the past. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;One issue that comes to mind is the effort we undertook a number of years ago to ban trans fats from food products,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Now you can&rsquo;t walk down the aisles of the grocery store without seeing notations on boxes, &lsquo;no trans fats&rsquo;.&rdquo;</p><p>The City Council is expected to vote on the resolution Wednesday afternoon.</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at</em><a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng"> <em>@monicaeng</em></a> <em>or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p><p style="margin-left:.5in;">&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 25 Jun 2014 08:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago%E2%80%99s-top-chefs-join-ald-ed-burke-urge-limits-antibiotic-use-110406 Chicagoans living longer than ever before, but racial gap remains http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagoans-living-longer-ever-racial-gap-remains-110334 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Morality.png" alt="" /><p><p>The average Chicago resident now lives to be nearly 78 years old, seven years longer than the local population lived just twenty years ago. A <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/cdph/statistics_and_reports/LifeExpectancyinChicago1990-2010.pdf" target="_blank">new report</a> from the Chicago Department of Public Health shows that life expectancy in Chicago grew twice as fast as the national average.</p><p>But an existing disparity between the life expectancy rate of white and black residents was stubbornly persistent. Black residents die younger than white residents by about seven years, a slightly narrower gap than in 1990. And the divide between black and white males didn&rsquo;t budge at all.</p><p><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/cdph/auto_generated/cdph_leadership.html" target="_blank">Dr. Bechara Choucair</a> is the health department&rsquo;s commissioner. He said public policy helped increase the average Chicagoan&rsquo;s life span; now, he hopes good policy will help to slim the racial gap.</p><p>Choucair pointed to a mammography program in Roseland, a largely black community. &ldquo;We catch breast cancer early, we link them to care early, so they don&rsquo;t have to die much younger than what they&rsquo;re suppose to,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>The greatest contributor to the discrepancy between black and white females was heart disease and cancer. For black males it was heart disease and homicide.</p><p>Hispanic residents live longest, at an average lifespan of just under 85 years. Foreign-born Hispanics live longer than native-born Hispanics by five-and-a-half years.&nbsp;</p><p>LIFE EXPECTANCY AT BIRTH IN 1990</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="400" scrolling="no" src="https://www.google.com/fusiontables/embedviz?q=select+col2%3E%3E1+from+1gUKKGSQ-6aI4MsddfPJ4RNA3M3vqBDF-zGztOd2t&amp;viz=MAP&amp;h=false&amp;lat=41.83100107293211&amp;lng=-87.76920435742187&amp;t=1&amp;z=10&amp;l=col2%3E%3E1&amp;y=8&amp;tmplt=9&amp;hml=KML" width="600"></iframe></p><p>LIFE EXPECTANCY AT BIRTH IN 2010</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="400" scrolling="no" src="https://www.google.com/fusiontables/embedviz?q=select+col2%3E%3E1+from+1gUKKGSQ-6aI4MsddfPJ4RNA3M3vqBDF-zGztOd2t&amp;viz=MAP&amp;h=false&amp;lat=41.81667382886748&amp;lng=-87.721139171875&amp;t=1&amp;z=10&amp;l=col2%3E%3E1&amp;y=5&amp;tmplt=6&amp;hml=KML" width="600"></iframe></p></p> Thu, 12 Jun 2014 12:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagoans-living-longer-ever-racial-gap-remains-110334 Grilled meats serve up dangerous compounds, but you can avoid some http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/grilled-meats-serve-dangerous-compounds-you-can-avoid-some-110214 <p><p>For many, Memorial Day weekend means it&rsquo;s finally time to bust out two things: the white shoes and blackened meats.&nbsp;</p><p>American dads may take pride in their cross-hatch grill marks, but those juicy, charred slabs of meat are coming under incresing scrutiny for the dangerous compounds they develop when protein meets dry blazing heat.</p><p>These include heterocyclic amines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and advanced glycation end products or HCAs, PAHs and AGEs.</p><p>Peter Guengerich is a biochemistry professor at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. He&rsquo;s been studying HCAs and PAHs for 25 years, and he says that, on their own, the compounds aren&#39;t all that dangerous.</p><p>&ldquo;But our bodies have enzyme systems that convert these into reactive compounds,&rdquo; Guengerich said. &ldquo;Things that get stuck irreversibly on your DNA and can cause mutations and potentially cancer, most commonly colon cancer.&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s important to note that this has little to do with charcoal vs. gas or other fuels.</p><p>Dr Jaime Uribarri of Mount Sinai Medical Center says what matters are the AGEs &mdash; the crispy, browned, tasty bits that form on the outside of grilled meat and other foods.&nbsp; In the kitchen they&rsquo;re considered flavor, but in most medical labs, Uribarri says, they&rsquo;re linked to inflammation that causes &ldquo;diabetes, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, dementia and essentially most of the chronic medical conditions of modern times.&rdquo;</p><p>In fact, recent Mount Sinai research shows that mice fed a diet high in AGEs &mdash; similar to a Western diet &mdash; developed marked cognitive decline and precursors to Alzheimers disease and diabetes. Those fed a low-AGE diet were free of those conditions.&nbsp;</p><p>So does this mean an end to the all-American cookout?&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;If it is something done only once a year it may not be that bad,&rdquo; Uribarri says.</p><p>Only once a year?</p><p>Professor Guengerich won&rsquo;t go that far, but he does urge moderation.</p><p>&ldquo;Well basically if you only eat these things occasionally, [I&rsquo;m] probably not too concerned,&rdquo; the biochemist said. &ldquo;But if you are making a habit of eating these things every other day, grilled at high temperatures, you probably should think about it a little bit more.&rdquo;</p><p>But before you put away the Weber you should know there are lots of ways to cut down on these compounds at your barbecue.</p><p>To reduce the AGE&rsquo;s, Uribarri suggests a few things.</p><p>&ldquo;Make sure the meat is not left for very long periods of time on the grill,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Whenever possible, the meat should be marinated or freshened with juices during the cooking. And simultaneously, eat a lot of fruits vegetables and things that will kind of antagonize the bad effects of these compounds.&rdquo;</p><p>These would include antioxidant rich foods like blueberries, pomegranates and cherries &mdash; one Michigan butcher even blends them into his burger meat.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/blueberries.jpg" title="Eating antioxidant rich foods like blueberries, cherries and pomegranates with grilled foods may help reduce the harmful effects of grilling byproducts. (WBEZ/MONICA ENG) " /></div><p>Studies also show that marination in wine, vinegar or lemon juice can lower the meat&rsquo;s pH and cut way down on the formation of AGE and HCA. Another study shows that rubbing meat with fresh rosemary can cut HCA development most entirely.</p><p>Guengerich says you should also cover your grill with foil to avoid carcinogenic flare ups that produce PAHs on the surface.</p><p>&ldquo;And if you are particularly concerned you can preheat [the meat] in a microwave and get the juice out,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Then take it out and put it on the grill and you&rsquo;ll actually reduce your exposure by about 90 percent and you won&rsquo;t lose that much in the way of taste either.&rdquo;</p><p>Then there&rsquo;s the low-tech method of simply scraping off what Guengerich calls &quot;the black crud&quot; from the outside of your food. Those grill marks are rich in these carcinogenic compounds.<br /><br />Fans of cole slaw, broccoli and Brussels sprouts may also have more leeway. One study found that regular consumption of these cruciferous vegetables can help clear DNA damage wrought by the grilling process.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>And finally, Uribarri suggests simply swapping the dry high heat cooking for gentler water based methods most of the time.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;So take for example a piece of meat,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;You put it on the grill to cook for half an hour, you generate so many AGEs. Then you take the same piece of meat, but now you put it under a lot of water to cook as a stew, you generate much much fewer. &ldquo;&nbsp;</p><p>This may be effective, but will anyone really want to come over to your house this summer for a burger boil?</p><p>Wiviott doesn&rsquo;t think so.<br /><br />&ldquo;No one wants to eat nine ounces of poached chicken or turkey breast,&rdquo; the pitmaster of Barn &amp; Company says.</p><p>&quot;Conversely, if you grill it and you have texture and crunch and flavor and salt and fat, that&rsquo;s when something really tastes good.&quot;</p><p>Wiviott is the author of &ldquo;Low and Slow: Master the Art of Barbecue in FIve Easy Lessons.&rdquo; And he finds&nbsp; it hard to swallow all the recent science deriding his favorite foods.</p><p>&quot;In my lifetime, I&rsquo;ve seen coffee be not good for you; now it&rsquo;s good for you. Red wine not good for you; now it&rsquo;s good for you.&nbsp; Butter, pig fat. Margarine was good for you and now it&rsquo;s not,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I mean, since the cavemen started cooking, people have cooked their meat over an open fire and we&rsquo;re still around. So I can&rsquo;t imagine that it&rsquo;s all that bad for you&hellip;.Plus, it&rsquo;s absolutely delicious.&quot;</p><p>So does this mean you have to choose between boiled meat or colon cancer? Between long life and a char-striped hot dog?</p><p>&ldquo;Well it is a carcinogen,&rdquo; Guengerich says. &ldquo;But I don&rsquo;t want people to have a guilty conscience or feel like they are going to get cancer tomorrow. Just be moderate about your consumption of anything. Grilled foods included.&quot;</p><div>&nbsp;</div><div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Farmers-market-cabbage.jpg" style="width: 620px;" title="Regular consumption of cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts can help clear DNA damage from byproducts of grilled meats. (WBEZ/MONICA ENG) " /></div><p><strong>Tips for Reducing Grilled Food Dangers</strong></p><p>If you don&rsquo;t want to give up grilling meat all together, experts say, there are several ways to reduce the formation and your consumption of heterocyclic amines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and advanced glycation end products. Here are some of them:</p><ul><li>Pre-cook your meat in a pot of water, a low-temperature oven or microwave before finishing briefly on the grill.</li><li>Cover grill with foil to reduce drips and flare ups, which produce PAHs, or consider wrapping your meat in foil before placing it on the grill.&nbsp;</li><li>Marinate meat with vinegar, lemon juice or wine for at least 10 minutes before grilling. This can alter its pH, thus reducing the formation of AGEs during cooking.</li><li>Rub your meat with rosemary or other antioxidant rich fresh herbs before cooking.</li><li>Before eating, scrape off the carcinogenic &ldquo;black crud&rdquo; that may develop on meat or other foods during grilling.</li><li>Remove browned and blackened chicken skin before eating.</li><li>Eat cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and other cruciferous vegetables on a regular basis to provide your body with sulforaphane, which has been known to help clear DNA damaging compounds more quickly.</li><li>Eat antioxidant rich, deeply colored fruits and vegetables with your grilled meats to help counter the effects of the compounds.&nbsp;</li><li>Consider a weenie boil rather than a weenie roast. You will produce many fewer AGEs in the process.&nbsp;</li></ul></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 21 May 2014 11:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/grilled-meats-serve-dangerous-compounds-you-can-avoid-some-110214 Chicago man loses 200 pounds to give back to Little Village http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/chicago-man-loses-200-pounds-give-back-little-village-109972 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/storycorps.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Miguel Blancarte, Jr. is a proud resident of Chicago&#39;s Little Village neighborhood. A first generation college graduate from Brown University, he now works at a law firm specializing in immigration.</p><p>Miguel says the one thing he&rsquo;s always struggled with is his weight. It wasn&rsquo;t until his doctor warned him that he wouldn&rsquo;t live past his mid-40s that he knew something had to change:</p><p>&ldquo;Honestly the thought of losing anything more than 30 pounds was just not a reality to me,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>But Miguel managed to lose not just 30, but 200 pounds in all. He then ran his first ever 5k race to to raise money for Enlace, the local community center that provides health and social services in Little Village.</p><p>To hear how he lost all that weight so he could give back to his community, check out the audio above.</p><p><em>Meredith Zielke is a WBEZ producer.</em><br />&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Fplaylists%2F6250422" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 04 Apr 2014 16:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/chicago-man-loses-200-pounds-give-back-little-village-109972 Returning to work after a brain injury http://www.wbez.org/news/returning-work-after-brain-injury-109237 <p><p>Concussions in the<a href="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/concussion-watch/"> National Football League (NFL)</a> and <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/12/opinion/sunday/war-wounds.html?_r=0">military</a> have received a lot of attention lately. But traumatic brain injury is a much larger issue, affecting at least <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/pub-res/mtbi/mtbireport.pdf">1.5 million Americans</a> each year.</p><p>As the impact of brain injuries becomes clearer, some experts say they are noticing a pattern. Many people with brain injuries are struggling in their efforts to return to work <a href="http://www.brainline.org/content/2008/10/fact-sheet-series-job-accommodations-people-brain-injuries-0.html">or get the accommodations</a> from their employers to deal with the aftermath.</p><p>Carey Gelfand lives in Glencoe, Ill., one of Chicago&rsquo;s North Shore suburbs. In 2006, she was working at an art consulting company. She traveled with her boss to New York City to attend an art expo. She was wearing a pair of flat-bottom cowboy boots when the temperature dropped and the rain-slicked streets froze over.</p><p>&ldquo;My feet went out from under me and my head just hit the pavement,&rdquo; said Gelfand.</p><p>Gelfand did what many of us do when we get embarrassed after a fall, she stood up and brushed herself off, declaring, &ldquo;I&rsquo;m fine, I&rsquo;m fine&hellip;&rdquo; &nbsp;She kept walking with her colleagues and then boarded a bus. &ldquo;And I looked out the window and I was thinking, &lsquo;I&rsquo;m here, but I&rsquo;m not,&rsquo;&rdquo; said Gelfand.&nbsp;</p><p>When she returned to Illinois, she began forgetting crucial details. She missed an appointment with an important client and could not concentrate at work. By most afternoons she was exhausted, and sometimes she would get terrible headaches.</p><p>&ldquo;My boss was wanting to take jobs away from me. I was very diminished in my position. I was just so frustrated and I had such poor sense of self,&rdquo; said Gelfand.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Concusions%20Work_GelfandPhoto.jpg" style="float: right; height: 193px; width: 210px;" title="The brain injury Carey Gelfand survived seven years ago still impacts her today. (Photo courtesy of Carey Gelfand)" />Dr. <a href="http://doctors.rush.edu/directory/profile.asp?setsize=10&amp;pict_id=0006610">James Young</a> specializes in rehabilitation neurology at Chicago&rsquo;s Rush University Medical Center. He said people like Gelfand do not always seek medical attention after a brain injury, because they do not understand how serious it can be. He said a brain injury can be serious even if the victim maintained consciousness.</div><p>Young added it is important after a brain injury see a neurologist who can administer the proper tests. Not doing so means it could be weeks or years before the injury is diagnosed.</p><p>&ldquo;People get fired from their jobs,&rdquo; said Young. &ldquo;They do worse in school. And their world starts to disintegrate, and they think it couldn&#39;t be related to this simple injury.&rdquo;</p><p>When Gelfand finally did see a doctor, weeks after her injury, he showed her a spot where her brain had bled.</p><p>&ldquo;They tell you to rest. Well, good luck,&rdquo; said Gelfand. &ldquo;You know, I couldn&rsquo;t really take time off from my job, because if I did, I&rsquo;d lose the project. I didn&rsquo;t want to risk having any losses when I was doing it, because I really wanted to come across as if I was competent.&rdquo;</p><p>The stigma of brain injury stops some employees from asking for accommodations. &ldquo;Your brain is you,&rdquo; said Gelfand. &ldquo;It is literally, in your head.&rdquo;</p><p>When employees do ask for workplace adjustments to deal with head injuries, they can be turned down. Young sometimes calls employers to advocate for his patients.</p><p>&ldquo;To sit there and say I just want them to work for four hours a day for two weeks&hellip; you would think I was asking for the world,&rdquo; Young said. He called this a double standard when compared to other injuries or illnesses, adding, &ldquo;If a person has a flu, and takes five days off, we accept that.&rdquo;</p><p>Young says one reason it&rsquo;s hard to get accommodations for a brain injury is because it&#39;s hidden. &ldquo;People who&rsquo;ve been in car accidents or who are assaulted [and get a brain injury], they said (I) wish I lost my arm so you could see my injury,&rdquo; said Young. &nbsp;</p><p><a href="http://www.athleticmed.com/staff-member/dr-morgan-wolin-psy-d/">Morgan Wolin</a>, a Chicago psychologist, says the invisibility of a brain injury can make human resources (HR) departments suspicious.</p><p>&ldquo;When you see these very vital, smart individuals and all of sudden they are aren&#39;t feeling normal, [and they have trouble with] attention spans and headaches, we start assigning they are malingering,&rdquo; said Wolin. &ldquo;And I think that is going to be the big problem understanding head injuries.&rdquo;</p><p>Wolin says she has seen her patients lose jobs. A<a href="http://www.biausa.org/tbims-abstracts/income-and-employment-status-one-year-after-brain-injury?A=SearchResult&amp;SearchID=7372036&amp;ObjectID=2758761&amp;ObjectType=35"> small study found people&#39;s incomes dropped an average of 50 percent after a brain injury and unemployment increased by more than 400</a> percent.</p><p><a href="http://www.faegrebd.com/stacey-smiricky">Stacey Smiricky</a> is an employment lawyer at the firm <a href="http://www.faegrebd.com/index.aspx">Faegre Baker Daniels.</a> She says most HR departments are understanding. But figuring out a reasonable accommodation is also the employee&rsquo;s responsibility.</p><p>&ldquo;They have to come to the party. You have to bring some suggestions of your own. You have to meet with the employer and say this might work,&rdquo; said Smiricky.</p><p>Wolin works with both athletes and non-athletes. She says sports teams have developed <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/concussion/headsup/return_to_play.html">&ldquo;back to play rules,&rdquo;</a> a plan for when and how someone can play again after an injury. She hopes he model will trickle down to HR departments.</p><p>&ldquo;I think we are in... one of those &lsquo;ah ha!&rsquo; [moments]. We know better now. But, if we know better, will we do better? Will human resources say, &lsquo;Okay concussions are a real thing, lets take it more seriously?&rsquo;&rdquo; asked Wolin.</p><p>Wolin says it is an exciting and scary moment, because we are realizing how much more we need to learn. That is especially true for a particular group: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/sections/work/few-studies-explore-unique-impacts-brain-injuries-women-109257">our second story, women with brain injurie</a>s.</p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/shannon_h">@shannon_h</a></em></p><p><em>Clarification: A previous version of this story mischaracterized Gelfand&#39;s start date at her job. She had worked at the company for years before her injury. </em></p></p> Mon, 25 Nov 2013 09:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/returning-work-after-brain-injury-109237 Childhood obesity drops in Chicago kindergarteners http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/childhood-obesity-drops-chicago-kindergarteners-109043 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Nacho pic.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>As thousands of Chicago Public School kids sit anxiously waiting for trick or treat time, the city offers some good news and some bad news.</p><p>First the good news: New figures released today by the Chicago Department of Public Health suggest that childhood obesity among CPS kindergarteners has dropped by five percentage points, from 24 percent in 2003 to 19.1 percent in 2012.</p><p>Yay, right?</p><p>Well, don&rsquo;t break out the king size Snickers yet. That figure still puts their obesity levels well above the national average (12 percent) for kids their age, and even the average (14 percent) for low-income kids.</p><p>Additionally, the latest figures don&rsquo;t show any statistically significant improvements among older students who are measured at 6th and 9th grade.&nbsp; Instead, those levels seem to be hitting a plateau, which mirrors overall obesity figures in the U.S. during the last decade.<br /><br />Despite these qualifiers, the news was greeted with some optimism by local folks who have been working on this issue for years.</p><p>&quot;I think the new numbers are promising,&rdquo; said Adam Becker, who heads the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children. &ldquo;For decades we&rsquo;ve seen major increases in the rates and so to see the rates going down, even in small increments at a time, is an indication that we are moving in the right direction.&rdquo;</p><p>The improvement among CPS kindergarteners follows modest progress in 21 states across the country among very young children, and improvements in other big cities including New York and Los Angeles. But Chicago still posts higher childhood obesity numbers than those big cities for reasons researchers are not quite able to explain.</p><p>&ldquo;I think we are starting to see what we all hope will be an ongoing national decline in obesity levels for all kids,&rdquo; Becker said. &ldquo;And this should just encourage us to step it up.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Most researchers agree that tripling of childhood obesity in the U.S. over the last 35 years was a result of several converging factors.</p><p>To combat them, the city has recently taken a multifaceted approach that has included adding more fruits and vegetables to school lunches and ditching the daily nachos. Other initiatives have involved offering grocers incentives to open in underserved neighborhoods, supporting fresh produce cart vendors, restoring recess to schools and finally gathering and calculating these CPS obesity figures to begin with.</p><p>&ldquo;Obviously I&rsquo;m really excited about seeing these numbers headed in the right direction,&rdquo; said Health Commissioner Bechara Choucair. &ldquo;But we&rsquo;ve still got a lot of work to do.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 31 Oct 2013 00:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/childhood-obesity-drops-chicago-kindergarteners-109043 Can you lose weight on the marijuana diet? http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/can-you-lose-weight-marijuana-diet-108996 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Marijuana Diet.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">The <a href="http://themarijuanadiet.org/">&quot;marijuana diet&quot;</a> may sound like something you&#39;d read about in The Onion. But for its creator, the diet is no joke.</p><p dir="ltr">Art Glass, 66, whose background is in marketing and advertising, says he ballooned up to 345 pounds years ago but returned to a healthy weight by following the tenets of his self-styled strategy, which includes light to moderate smoking but also a healthy diet. <a href="https://soundcloud.com/morningshiftwbez/eat-this-author-offers">He talked about it on WBEZ&rsquo;s Morning Shift Wednesday.</a></p><p dir="ltr">Glass&rsquo;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/The-Marijuana-Diet-Anonymous-1-ebook/dp/B00EP0UUGA"> e-book &ldquo;The Marijuana Diet&rdquo; &nbsp;went up on Amazon</a> this week and prescribes lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, sprouts and nuts along with occasional fasting and superfood smoothies. It further recommends modest amounts of high-quality pastured and grass-fed animal protein, and the elimination of processed foods, white sugar and flour.</p><p dir="ltr">This alone might be enough to improve a dieter&#39;s health, but Glass also suggests regular exercises--mostly long-held poses that can be done on a chair, a couch or standing.</p><p dir="ltr">So is the marijuana aspect of the diet really that crucial? &nbsp;Maybe not for some.</p><p dir="ltr">But for those whose unhealthy eating habits stem from psychological or emotional issues, Glass believes smoking can help them explore the triggers or experiences that have led to their self-destructive behavior.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Losing weight is one of the most challenging things there is,&rdquo; Glass said on the Morning Shift Wednesday. &nbsp;&ldquo;Marijuana helps you get in touch with yourself and let go of the crap you don&rsquo;t need and when you let go of that psychological crap, you will let go of your weight.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Glass uses his own experience as evidence and, in his book, catalogues more than 100 testimonials from Internet users who also report pot-induced weight loss. Their screen names include &ldquo;stonerchick609&rdquo; or &ldquo;smotpoker&rdquo;.</p><p dir="ltr">But he also cites peer reviewed studies that show correlations between pot smoking (among adults) and better metabolic health.</p><p dir="ltr">One <a href="http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2011/08/24/aje.kwr200.abstract">2011 study that appeared in the American Journal of Epidemiology</a> looked at two large populations of American adults and found obesity rates of 22 percent and 25.3 percent among non-marijuana smokers but only 14.3 percent and 17.2 percent among marijuana smokers, even when researchers controlled for other factors.</p><p dir="ltr">Another <a href="http://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343%2813%2900200-3/abstract">2013 study that appeared in the American Journal of Medicine</a> showed lower insulin levels and waist circumference (an indicator of dangerous visceral fat) among regular pot smokers.</p><p dir="ltr">Still, for Dr. Rasa Kazlauskaite, who is the Acting Medical Director at Rush University and a researcher of &nbsp;cannabinoids, these studies show association not causation. In other words, she thinks that the better health could be linked to other factors.</p><p dir="ltr">She also points out what munchie sufferers know well: that marijuana has been traditionally associated with appetite stimulation and increased food consumption rather than appetite suppression. She points to the drug rimonabant that aided weight loss by blocking human cannabinoid (marijuana) receptors--it was later withdrawn from the market due to dangerous side effects.</p><p dir="ltr">Glass says that he&rsquo;s no stranger to the munchies but suggests combating them by taking no more than three tokes per smoking session, smoking alone and never eating while under the influence. &nbsp;He recommends using that time for exercise and self-guided reflections on the root causes of one&rsquo;s unhealthy behavior.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It sounds like the author is recommending self-treatment, being your own psychologist,&rdquo; Kazlauskaite said. &ldquo;For some people it might work but others might benefit from guidance. I would recommend meeting with a behavioral specialist who specializes in therapy for obesity.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Kazlauskaite, however, agrees with some of Glass&rsquo; nutritional advice, especially his emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables and the removal of sugar and processed foods.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Some of these recommendations are really desirable changes for people who want to lose weight or maintain a lighter weight,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;So if someone smokes marijuana but also makes better meal and snack choices then that is better than not making healthy nutritional decisions at all. But it might be that without smoking marijuana people might lose more weight. If someone wants to test this hypothesis the ideal study would be to compare diet alone with diet and marijuana.&rdquo; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><em>Monica Eng &nbsp;is a WBEZ producer. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/monicaeng" target="_blank">@monicaeng</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 23 Oct 2013 17:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/can-you-lose-weight-marijuana-diet-108996 Is it ok to feed kids Flamin Hot Cheetos on a kale salad? http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/it-ok-feed-kids-flamin-hot-cheetos-kale-salad-108936 <p><p>Do healthy eaters have to ditch Flamin Hot Cheetos forever?</p><p>When this question was posed to me on Vocalo&rsquo;s Morning AMp recently, I said that these satan-colored snacks are probably fine as an accent, &ldquo;like, sprinkled on top of a fresh kale salad.&rdquo;</p><p>This hypothetical food combo cracked up&nbsp;<a href="http://morningamp.tumblr.com/">Morning AMp</a>&nbsp;co-host Brian Babylon so much that he insisted (over and over) that I give it a try.<br />And so, last weekend, I did.</p><p>First, though, I had to get the goods. As someone who has written a lot about the dangers of childhood obesity and&nbsp;<a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-10-11/news/chi-20yearold-snack-with-high-levels-of-salt-and-fat-inspires-fanatic-loyalty-among-kids-20121011_1_ashley-gearhardt-snacks-addiction">junk food</a>, I felt more than a little uncomfortable standing in the line at Walgreens with a child and a bag of Flamin&rsquo; Hot Cheetos. It was so bad that, as I paid, I found myself saying to no one in particular that these are for &ldquo;research purposes only.&rdquo;<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Mateo%20kale_0.jpg" style="float: right; height: 323px; width: 200px;" title="Eight-year-old Mateo digs into a large bowl of Flamin’ Hot Cheeto topped kale salad. If the Cheetos get kids to eat the kale, is this an acceptable trade off? " /></p><p>Once home with the contraband, we chopped the fresh kale (tender younger leaves work best), tossed it in a dressing (olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar and mayonnaise), showered it with apple matchsticks and then topped the whole thing with Cheetos crushed gently in a paper towel.</p><p>Our eight-year-old and ten-year-old sat at the counter squirming with impatience for the Christmas wreath-like creation. And when they finally got their forks into it, there was no going back. They might have devoured the entire bowl if I hadn&rsquo;t explained that I needed to try it, too.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>When I finally did, I understood their enthusiasm. The citrus tang of the dressing, vegetal bite of the kale, sweetness of the apple and the spicy, corny crunch of the Cheetos brought these foods from the opposite sides of the health universe into perfect balance and harmony.</p><p>Ideally, kids would eat kale salad without the Cheetos. But if some day-glo croutons can get youngsters to scarf down bowls of nutrition-packed kale, perhaps the ends justify the means.<br />I might even eat the combo again myself&mdash;when no one&rsquo;s looking.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/meng">Monica Eng</a> is a WBEZ producer. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">@monicaeng</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 16 Oct 2013 10:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/it-ok-feed-kids-flamin-hot-cheetos-kale-salad-108936 Morning Shift: Avoid getting checked out at the checkout line http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-27/morning-shift-avoid-getting-checked-out-checkout-line <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Basket - Flickr- bcostin.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>WBEZ producer Monica Eng shares the details of a study exploring what items people buy to disguise another embarrassing item in their shopping basket. Also, Chicago public schools are getting ready to teach comprehensive sex education courses. What&#39;s in the curriculum?</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-52/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-52.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-52" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Avoid getting checked out at the checkout line" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Tue, 27 Aug 2013 08:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-27/morning-shift-avoid-getting-checked-out-checkout-line Hospital responds to immigrant transplant protest http://www.wbez.org/news/hospital-responds-immigrant-transplant-protest-108300 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP071116021222.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A Chicago hospital says its organ transplant decisions aren&#39;t based on whether a patient is a U.S. citizen or in this country illegally.</p><p>Northwestern Memorial Hospital issued a response to protesters and hunger strikers who say local hospitals are discriminating against immigrants in this country illegally.</p><p>The hospital says all transplant decisions are based on several factors including the patient&#39;s home life, social environment and ability to pay for costly treatment.</p><p>The protesters met Monday with a Northwestern representative and say the hospital has agreed to participate in an ongoing dialogue about the issue.</p><p>They are now focusing their protest on another area hospital, Christ Advocate in Oak Lawn.</p></p> Tue, 06 Aug 2013 11:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/hospital-responds-immigrant-transplant-protest-108300