Community Health

From rural California to urban neighborhoods, where you live affects your health

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Industry Reaction to ‘Sugar Papers’ Mirrors Tobacco in 1990s

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

The sugar industry worked to steer federal health research, a report released Monday revealed.

As State of Health reported, newly uncovered industry documents dating to the1960s showed that the sugar industry influenced the National Institute of Dental Research, part of the National Institutes of Health, away from looking at research to determine strategies to encourage people to eat less sugar.

“What this shows is that sugar interests were running science manipulation in as sophisticated a manner as ‘big tobacco’ was back in the ’50s and ’60s,” said UCSF Professor Stan Glantz, a co-author of the study and longtime anti-tobacco advocate. Continue reading

‘Sugar Papers’ Show Industry’s Influence in 1970s Dental Program, Study Says

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Hundreds of pages of newly-found documents show that the sugar industry worked closely with the federal government in the late 1960s and early 1970s to determine a research agenda to prevent cavities in children, researchers who analyzed the documents say.

“The sugar industry … is following the tobacco industry’s playbook.”
In the analysis, published Wednesday in the journal PLOS Medicine, researchers concluded that industry influence starting in the late 1960s helped steer the National Institute of Dental Research, part of the National Institutes of Health, away from addressing the question of determining a safe level of sugar.

“What this paper has shown is that our (NIH) was working toward potentially answering that question,” said Cristin Kearns, a fellow at UC San Francisco and lead author of the analysis, “and the sugar industry derailed them from doing the research to help to answer that question, so we’re still debating (it) here in 2015.” Continue reading

For Breast-feeding Teen Moms, High Schools Don’t Make the Grade

Norma Acker hangs out in the kitchen with her mom and her daughter. (Alice Daniel/KQED)

Norma Acker (right) hangs out in the kitchen with her mother and her daughter, Samantha Grace. She breast-fed her for eight months. (Alice Daniel/KQED)

By Alice Daniel

Norma Acker’s 3-year-old daughter Samantha Grace has opened a bottle of bright red fingernail polish without anyone noticing. Now it’s everywhere.

California has strong employer laws to accommodate breast-feeding mothers, but high schools are different.  

“Oh Gracie!” says Acker. “Let me see. Give it to mommy. Go wash your hands.” She then laughs the laugh of a mother who has had many a day like this.

Parenting is hard, Acker says. Being a teen parent is even harder. Acker was barely 15 when she had Gracie.

Even though she was a young mother, she’d heard about the benefits of breast-feeding and decided she would try to breast-feed while attending her local high school in the Central Valley town of Reedley. Continue reading

Bay Area Golf Coach With Cerebral Palsy Defies Stereotypes (Video)

Don’t call Marty Turcios inspiring. Yes, he motivates and challenges his students, but not simply because he’s a golf coach with cerebral palsy.

Instead, his students say it’s his commitment to self-directed learning that is so empowering.

At the center of his coaching is this question: “When we teach, are we teaching people to think for themselves?”

 

On Friday mornings, Turcios critiques the golf swings of able-bodied UC Berkeley students at the Tilden Park driving range. Some regulars have been coming for two years; others are holding a golf club for the first time.

For the uninitiated, it is surprising to see Turcios, with his spasmodic movements and halting gait, swing a golf club. But he says his disability is not his problem: “My problem is how people look at me with a disability.” Continue reading

Support Wanes For Keeping Doctors Medical Center Afloat Through Parcel Tax

Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo

Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo (Lisa Aliferis/KQED) 

By Sara Hossaini

Support is waning for another parcel tax aimed at keeping Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo open.

Last year, West Contra Costa County voters declined to put a third parcel tax in place that would have benefited West Contra Costa County’s public safety-net hospital. Measure C would have imposed an additional $210 parcel tax for a 2,000-square-foot property.

A ‘key blow’ to keeping Doctors Medical open, says hospital governing chair.

Now Eric Zell, chair of the hospital’s governing board, says a new poll of likely voters shows they’re even less likely to pass a parcel tax this year. Fewer than half say they’d support a $150 tax, falling well short of the two-thirds needed to pass.

“This is one of a number of elements that we’ve considered, but it’s a cornerstone of the potential funding that we were looking at,” Zell said. “So it’s a key blow to our ability to put together a sustainable package of funding that would potentially keep this hospital open.”

He said he wouldn’t recommend putting a measure on the ballot to the board.

Doctors Medical Center runs an $18 million-a-year deficit because most of its reimbursements come from Medi-Cal or Medicare, which pay at a lower rate than private insurance.

Zell said the hospital expects to sign a deal to sell some of its property to the city of San Pablo next week, and he says officials will next have to decide whether to use that money to stay open or close responsibly. That would mean paying off some of the hospital’s debt and paying employee pensions and vacations, he said.

Zell said those decisions will come in the next two to four weeks.

California Bill Would Outlaw Unvaccinated Workers at Child-Care Facilities

Rhett Krawitt, of Corte Madera, received the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine.  (Lisa Aliferis/KQED)

Rhett Krawitt, of Corte Madera, received the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine. (Lisa Aliferis/KQED)

Child-care facilities and preschools would be prevented from employing anyone who has not been vaccinated against influenza, pertussis and measles under a bill introduced in the California state Senate last week

SB792, sponsored by state Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) would amend the state Health and Safety Code to add the requirement that workers be vaccinated.

“Children under the age of five are one of the most vulnerable age groups for contracting infection and developing complications from these very serious diseases, so it is critical that we use all available methods to protect them,” Mendoza said in a press release announcing the legislation.

From the L.A .Times:

Currently, there are no vaccine requirements for day-care workers. Across schools, restaurants and the workplace, adults generally are not tracked for vaccinations as closely as young children entering school.

Since a December outbreak that started in Disneyland, 131 cases of measles in California have been confirmed, the Department of Public Health said Monday. Among those individuals for whom the department has vaccination documentation, 55 were unvaccinated and 18 had one or more doses of the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine. In the Bay Area, Alameda County has seen six cases, and Marin, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Solano counties have each experienced a handful.

A previously introduced bill, SB277, would eliminate parents’ right to leave their children unvaccinated due to a personal belief exemption if enrolled in school or a child-care facility.

Pressure Rising to Restore Medi-Cal Provider Rates

FILE PHOTO: Doctors in an emergency room in Panorama City, Calif. (David McNew/Getty Images)

FILE PHOTO: Doctors in an emergency room in Panorama City, Calif. (David McNew/Getty Images)

By David Gorn, California Healthline

A protest Wednesday at the Capitol Building will highlight proposed legislation to reverse cuts to Medi-Cal provider rates.

In 2011 during a bleak budgeting period, the Legislature agreed to cut most Medi-Cal provider payments by 10 percent. The cutbacks were held up in legal battles for two years, and the court eventually sided with the state. Implementation came from the state in stages, and primary care providers started getting the lower reimbursement rate this year, on Jan. 1.

Last month, Assembly member Rob Bonta (D-Alameda), who chairs the Assembly Committee on Health, introduced a bill — AB366 — to reverse the cuts made in 2011.

Protest at Capitol Building aims to reverse cuts.

“This is my top priority,” Bonta said. “The reason I’m interested in health policy is to maximize quality care and access for as many people as possible. And access within Medi-Cal is not what it needs to be.”

The number of providers participating in Medi-Cal has dropped, Bonta said, because they lose money on Medi-Cal patients and can’t afford to take on too many of them.

Legislation to restore Medi-Cal rates has been floated before and failed. Bonta said those efforts were setting the groundwork for this push. Continue reading

Silicon Valley is Thinner Than San Francisco-Oakland, Report Says

Woman's feet on scale.

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The South Bay and San Francisco compete on a multitude of fronts: Which will snag the hottest tech firms, which can retain or attract the most sports teams, which will win the prize for least affordable housing…

But no matter how many prestige points San Francisco racks up, the South Bay can claim bragging rights based on at least one important metric: weight.

That’s according to WalletHub, a personal finance website that spends a lot of time compiling data on all sorts of things. (Last month they told us the Bay Area is one of the more diverse regions in the U.S.) From the site:

In light of National Nutrition Month, WalletHub analyzed 100 of the most populated U.S. metro areas to identify those where weight-related problems call for heightened attention. We did so by examining 12 key metrics, among which are the percentage of adults and high school students who are obese and the percentage of people who are physically inactive.

Continue reading

People with Low Incomes Say They Suffer Poorer Health

Uzuri Pease-Greene talks with two police officers in the public housing complex in San Francisco where she lives. (Talia Herman/NPR)

Uzuri Pease-Greene talks with two police officers in the public housing complex in San Francisco where she lives. (Talia Herman/NPR)

By Patti Neighmond, NPR

When you ask people what impacts health you’ll get a lot of different answers: Access to good health care and preventative services, personal behavior, exposure to germs or pollution and stress.

But if you dig a little deeper you’ll find a clear dividing line, and it boils down to one word: money.

“My health is deteriorating, and I know what the cause of it is, but I can’t fix it.”    

People whose household income is more than $75,000 a year have very different perceptions of what affects health than those whose household income is less than $25,000. This is one key finding in a poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. One third of respondents who are low income say lack of money has a harmful effect on health.

This is the case for 29-year-old Anna Beer of Spokane, Wash. She lives with her husband in the basement of her father’s house. Beer got laid off from her job as a nanny last summer. Now she is attending college in the hope that she will get a better than minimum-wage job when she graduates. Beer’s husband earns $10 an hour working at a retail store. “This is probably the most poor we’ve been,” Beer says. Continue reading

When Health Care Is Far From Home

Richard Sandor, 65, of Hayfork, took the hour long bus ride to Mad River Clinic to pick up his medication for chronic pain. (Heidi de Marco/KHN).

Richard Sandor, 65, of Hayfork, took the hour-long bus ride to illad River Clinic to pick up his medication for chronic pain. (Heidi de Marco/KHN).

The biggest barrier to treatment for residents of a tiny town in the mountains of Northern California isn’t insurance coverage — it’s distance.

By Daniela Hernandez, Kaiser Health News

HAYFORK, Calif. — It’s Tuesday morning, half past eight and already hot, when the small bus pulls up to the community clinic. Most of the passengers are waiting in front — an old man with a cane, two mothers with four kids between them, packed lunches in hand.

Two more arrive. A gray-bearded man with a pirate bandana steps from the shelter of his Subaru. A sunken-cheeked woman rushes up on her bike.

“Woohoo! We have a full car!” the driver says brightly after they’ve all climbed aboard. The riders smile back, some with a hint of resignation. It’s time for the weekly trip to the clinic in Mad River, about 30 miles down a winding mountain road. The tight twists and turns are hard on the stomach, but even harder on the joints — especially if you have chronic Lyme disease, as more than a few of these riders do.

Jeff Clarke is one of them. He acquired Lyme long ago from deer ticks that dwell in the region’s sprawling forests. But today he’s going to ask about a lump that’s been growing in his left breast. It’s starting to hurt, and he’s worried. His fellow riders list their own ailments matter-of-factly: asthma, dental decay, diabetes, drug addiction, heart disease and much more. Continue reading