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Latest Posts

Sugar Consumption: A “Deliciously Disgusting” Ad Campaign

New York City’s war on sugary soft drinks had to balance evidence-based medicine with a short, simple message that would go viral in the community. Going viral won, according to e-mails of internal discussions between the city’s health commissioner, his staff, and the ad agency that crafted the campaign. The statement that soda would cause a person to gain 10 pounds a year is contingent upon many factors, argued the staff, but the desire to produce a media message with impact overruled the details. One nutritionist called the campaign “deliciously disgusting.”

Chocolate may moderate HDL cholesterol in type 2 diabetics, according to the November issue of Diabetic Medicine. High polyphenol chocolate increased HDL cholesterol in diabetics without affecting weight, insulin resistance or glycemic control. Researchers enrolled 12 type 2 diabetics in a randomized, placebo-controlled double-blind crossover study to 45 g chocolate with or without a high polyphenol content for eight weeks and then crossed over after a four-week washout period. HDL cholesterol increased with high polyphenol chocolate (1.16+/-0.08 vs. 1.26+/-0.08 mmol/l, P=0.05) with a decrease in the total cholesterol: HDL ratio (4.4+/-0.4 vs. 4.1+/-0.4 mmol/l, P=0.04). No changes were seen with the low polyphenol chocolate.

With Halloween, sugar will be on everyone’s mind (and in everyone’s stomachs). To find out how many calories and how much fat that pile of Halloween candy totals, try this interactive module. (New York Times, Diabetic Medicine, ABC Chanel 7 News-Denver)

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

Improving Health Literacy By Healing The Doctor-Patient Relationship

When it comes to understanding medical information, even the most sophisticated patient may not be “smarter than a fifth grader.”

In one of the largest studies of the links between health literacy and poor health outcomes, involving 14,000 patients with type 2 diabetes, researchers at the University of California San Francisco and Kaiser Permanente found that more than half the patients reported problems learning about their condition and 40 percent needed help reading medical materials. The patients with limited health literacy were 30 to 40 percent more likely to experience hypoglycemia — dangerously low blood sugar that can be caused if medications are not taken as instructed — than those with an adequate understanding of medical information.

Now, federal and state officials are pushing public health professionals, doctors, and insurers to simplify the language they use to communicate with the public in patient handouts, medical forms, and health websites. More than two-thirds of the state Medicaid agencies call for health material to be written at a reading level between the fourth and sixth grades.

A new federal program called the Health Literacy Action Plan is promoting simplified language nationwide. And some health insurers, doctors’ practices, and hospitals have begun using specialized software that scans documents looking for hard-to-understand words and phrases and suggests plain-English replacements. Read more »

For Moms And Moms-To-Be With Diabetes

Buy this book!For anyone who has been reading my blog since my engagement three years ago, you know that motherhood has been on my radar for a long time. Longer than marriage. That quest for a decent A1C, that desire for a “normal” pregnancy, and that hope for a happy and healthy baby.

Part of the reason I wanted to write about my pregnancy here on SUM is because there wasn’t a lot of information out there about pre-existing diabetes and pregnancy. There was a LOT of information on gestational diabetes (obviously), and type 2 diabetes got some good press, but type 1 diabetes was sort of swept under the rug. Thankfully, there were a few diabetes bloggers who had chronicled their journeys, and I wanted to add my voice to that hopeful chorus.   

But also thankfully, Cheryl Alkon had taken the topic to her publisher, and she penned the first book on managing pre-existing diabetes and pregnancy. And I’m very honored to have been both featured in her book (as a woman preparing for pregnancy) and to have her contributing here on Six Until Me (SUM). Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Six Until Me.*

Overmedicating Our Kids

One of the blogs I read by Maggie Mahar pointed out a new study that found that 26 percent of kids under age 19 are now taking prescription drugs for a chronic condition. The drugs include asthma medication, anti-psychotics, diabetes drugs, anti-hypertensives, and heartburn medications.

According to the Medco study (the largest pharmacy benefit manager), the incidence of type-2 diabetes increased over 150 percent in children between 2001 and 2009. This is staggering. Children are supposed to be healthy and active, not tied to a regimen of pills. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

Sensationalism And Misinformation About Diabetes: Oprah And Doctor Oz Are At It Again

The Open Letter Mailbag.  Also looks like a sack of potatoes.  BUT LOW CARB ONES!  :pDear Oprah and Dr. Oz,

Diabetes is very expensive to manage and to treat the complications of, but what comes at an even higher cost is the damage of statements from a doctor, claiming that diabetes is reversible. I was diagnosed as a child, and my type 1 diabetes is not the result of any controllable factors. However, I have many friends who have type 2 diabetes who can make the same claim.

I can’t lie – I had a lot of hope about your episode regarding diabetes.  Even though it was billed as “the silent killer” and even though I knew you’d show the darkest side of diabetes-related complications possible to “sensationalize” this disease, I was holding out because I wanted this episode to be accurate. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Six Until Me.*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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