Get Ready website wins Web Health Award

Last week, APHA’s Get Ready campaign was delighted to learn that our website,, won a Web Health Award.

The Web Health Awards are announced twice a year by the Health Information Resource Center. The awards are to honor “the nation’s best digital health resources.”

The Get Ready website, which features fact sheets, podcasts, videos and other materials related to emergency preparedness, won a bronze award. Our winning entry was chosen from nearly 600 entries judged by a panel of experts in digital health media.

For a full list of winners, visit the center’s website.

Congratulations to Get Ready!  Let us know what we can do to make the Get Ready website even better.

Food Reward Friday

This week's winner... the Starbuck's Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino!

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Leveson Credibility Zero

John Yates should have handed phone hacking investigation to other officer because of News of the World links, says LevesonMartin Hickman
29 Nov 2012

Police blunders meant that the inquiry into phone hacking at the News of the World was not reopened for years, the Leveson Inquiry found.

Between 2006 and 2010 Scotland Yard adopted a “defensive mindset” when it should have been taking accusations of criminal wrongdoing seriously, it said.

In particular Lord Leveson found that Assistant Commissioner John Yates should have stood aside and asked another officer to review the original inquiry because of his friendship with the News of the World's deputy editor, Neil Wallis.

However the report said there was no evidence of corruption among senior officers and ruled out a fear of the News of the World's owners as a factor in the inadequacy of its investigations.

It also said the Met had been right to limit its original investigation in 2006, Operation Caryatid, because of the importance of tackling an upsurge in terrorism The report ruled that the Crown Prosecution Service acted properly in 2006 and later, on the basis of the incomplete evidence supplied to it by the police.

Lord Leveson acknowledged that there was “a concern” that senior police officers had become too close to News International.

However he concluded: "In reality, I am satisfied that I have seen no basis at any stage [to question] the integrity of the police, or that of the senior officers concerned. What is, however, equally clear is that a series of poor decisions, poorly executed, all came together to contribute to the perception that I have recognised.“ Independent

Weight loss surgery tied to increase in drinking

An "ultimate gin & tonic" is mixed at The Bazaar bar at the SLS hotel in Beverly Hills, California December 10, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

People who had weight loss surgery reported greater alcohol use two years after their procedures than in the weeks beforehand, in a new study.
"This is perhaps a risk. I don't think it should deter people from having surgery, but you should be cautious to monitor (alcohol use) after surgery," Alexis Conason, who worked on the study at the New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, told Reuters Health.
Researchers said it's possible some patients may turn to drinking if surgery successfully stops their ability to overeat without addressing their underlying issues. Or, the effects of certain types of stomach-shrinking procedures on alcohol tolerance may influence drinking habits.
Still, the new study can't show whether people were drinking in a dangerous way - and there was no clear increase in drug use or smoking after surgery.
"This does not mean that everyone who has gastric bypass surgery has problems with alcohol or becomes an alcoholic," said Conason.
Her team's study involved 155 people getting gastric bypass or gastric banding surgery, mostly women. Participants started the study with an average body mass index, or BMI, of 46 - equivalent to a five-foot, six-inch person who weighs 285 pounds.
Surgery is typically recommended for people with a BMI of at least 40, or at least 35 if they also have health problems such as diabetes or severe sleep apnea.
Alcohol use dropped immediately following surgery, from 61 percent of people who initially reported drinking to 20 percent at one month post-surgery.
But by three months, drinking rates had started to creep back up. And at two years out, people were drinking significantly more often than before their procedures, according to findings published Monday in the Archives of Surgery.
That was primarily the case for those who had gastric bypass surgery, not banding. On a scale from 0 to 10 of drinking frequency, where 0 represented never, 5 was sometimes and 10 always, gastric bypass patients reported an increase from 1.86 before surgery to 3.08 two years later.
Conason said gastric bypass, in particular, has been shown to drastically lower alcohol tolerance - to the point that some post-surgery patients have a blood alcohol content above the legal driving limit after just one drink. For some, that could make drinking more appealing, she added.
The new findings are "proving more support for the idea that we really need to talk to patients about alcohol use, especially those undergoing (gastric bypass)," said Wendy King, an epidemiologist and weight loss surgery researcher at the University of Pittsburgh, who wasn't part of the study team.
According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, about 200,000 people have weight loss surgery every year. The procedures cost about $20,000 each.
Although some researchers have questioned the long-term benefits of surgery, one recent study found three-quarters of people who'd undergone gastric bypass had lost and kept off at least 20 percent of their initial pre-surgery weight six years later (see Reuters Health story of September 18, 2012).
One limitation of the new study is that only one-quarter of the initial participants were still in touch to report their current alcohol and drug use at the two-year mark - so the researchers don't know how everyone else fared.
Psychiatrist Dr. James Mitchell, who has studied alcohol use after weight loss surgery at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Grand Forks, said there's also a need for research going out more than two years - to see if alcohol use keeps increasing.
Researchers said people who've had weight loss surgery should talk with their doctors soon if they notice themselves wanting to drink more.
"The health risks of obesity are such that people with severe obesity should not forgo bariatric surgery because of this," Mitchell, who was not involved in the new study, told Reuters Health.
But he said everyone should be warned about this possibility - and people with a history of alcohol abuse should be particularly careful.
"I don't have the impression (doctors) are talking a tremendous amount about these things," Conason said. "I think we should be. I think we should be educating patients about all the potential risks and benefits."

Christmas Is Coming

A few weeks ago I promised I'd tell you when the signed and numbered special edition of Preposterous Erections was available. Well, an emptying stack of boxes now sits at the Goldmark Gallery, and you can order a copy here. Or better still ring the gallery on 01572 821424. I'm very pleased with the production of it, everything from the Horton Tower label placed in its recess on the front cover cloth to the contents of the red pocket at the back. This has a sheet of pretend stamps tucked in it showing nine of the towers (Royal Mail Stamps please take note) and a limited edition signed print of my cappriccio painting of seventeen of the towers. Enigmatically complete with a giraffe and an elephant. This particular edition is limited to only 100 copies, and is a non-preposterous £50.

British Political Cartoons - Martin Rowson


It's odd at times, the happenstance that inspires a touch of creativity, that creativity being a stranger to me of late it must be said. No matter, we take it where we find it.

And what a strange place to find it, in the contradictory words, no surprise you might say, of politician Kenneth Baker, Lord Baker of Dorking to us plebeians. I say contradictory, because Baker, somewhat like myself is quite a fan of political satirist Martin Rowson. Bio

Odd then, that Baker had this to say of Rowson in this recent BBC article:
Nick Clegg have proved more difficult to capture because "they have similar types of looks".

"They haven't got very lived in faces yet. You need to have someone with distinctive features," he says.
Odd, and totally at odds with my own view of Rowson's caricature of red-faced posh boy, master of misjudgement, the ever floundering David Cameron. In fact it was only quite recently that I had this to say on Twitter: For the best lampooning of David Cameron, follow @MartinRowson.

Above: My first introduction to Rowson's Cameron in all his Little Lord Fauntleroy glory.

Who by some strange coincidence, later made an appearance on this blog. Luncheon with the Prime Minister anyone?

Before moving on, let me make clear my goal here, it's not to turn this article into a Rowson wankfest, but there are certain people in this world a fellow relates to, and of course not forgetting the aforementioned creativity.

Then of course, unmentioned as of yet, this post becomes a vehicle for the artwork of not just Rowson, but that produced by myself, where it falls into the political parameters that is the tone for this piece.

But must be said, unlike Rowson, about the only thing I can draw is breath and as such have to employ such modern day wonders as computer software, Paint Shop Pro 8 in order hopefully, to achieve the desired result; satire.

The article in question.

Political cartoons: Britain's revolutionaries
By Kayte Rath

They appear daily in our newspapers and have lampooned prime ministers for generations, but have political cartoons helped Britain avoid some of the political tumult of its European neighbours?

For nearly 400 years, Britain has avoided violent struggles and political revolution.

In 1789, while France was busy overthrowing its royal rulers and unceremoniously chopping off the heads of its aristocrats, Britain shunned their revolutionary zeal, preferring a more sedate pace of change.

And where France led, others followed. In the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries virtually every other state in Europe has experienced at least one forcible overthrow of government.

Historians may have their theories as to why, but so does former Conservative cabinet minister Lord Baker, and it's a rather novel one: Political cartoons.

The peer, who served under Margaret Thatcher as home secretary and chaired the party in her final days as prime minister, has long had an interest in collecting and writing about cartoons and is vice-chairman of the Cartoon Museum in London.

For him, this unique British contribution to the world of art - which Lord Baker credits Britain with "inventing" - has helped stem the frustrations of the British people since it first started nearly 300 years ago.

"I believe that if you can laugh at your rulers, you don't cut off their heads," he says. "Laughter is an escape for those kinds of pent up feelings. It helps make society calmer."
'Defecating, urinating, fornicating'

And because of Britain's lack of censorship laws in the 18th century - the "golden age" of political caricatures according to Lord Baker - this "graphic satire" was able to flourish.

"In Europe, all the other countries had censorship.

"If you criticised the king or queen of France you were sent to the Bastille - in fact if you criticised Louis XIV you got torn about by four horses, which did rather discourage people.

"But there wasn't any censorship here: we laughed at our kings and queens and we laughed at our prime ministers."

Not only has the culture of cartooning helped Britain remain a stable country, it was also the beginning of public engagement in politics, making a connection between prime ministers and the people for the first time.

"Before cameras, radio and TV, it was the only way in which people got to see their politicians," Lord Baker says.

"They would get stuck up in shop windows for everyone to see. It was the first time people actually saw royalty, judges, MPs, aristocracy and the celebrities of the day.

"The cartoons were bought by the middle class as they were the only ones who could afford them, but it was the beginning of real public interest from people in their politicians."

With different attitudes to physical appearances and bodily functions, the early cartoons could be extremely rude.

"In the 18th century they didn't have the same physical hang-ups that we do now - you had people farting, defecating, urinating, vomiting, fornicating - everything. No one escaped.

"George III was shown manuring his own field."

Robert Walpole, generally regarded as the first man to hold the post of prime minister from the 1720s to 1742, was represented by his exposed rear end.

"The first cartoon of Walpole was of his big bare bottom straddling the Treasury.

"You couldn't see his face, but everyone knew who it was because they knew you had to kiss Walpole's bottom if you were to get anywhere. He ran the state by patronage, handing out positions and everybody knew it."

Other politicians have had their own distinctive caricatures, with cartoonists picking one easily identifiable "tab" to let the audience know who is being made fun of.

These can often capture a politician's character better than official portraits do, Lord Baker says.

"Caricatures can say in a flash what it takes 20 column inches or three minutes of TV to say.

"The cartoon has an immediate impact. They are snapshots of a given moment and can characterise people forever."

William Pitt the Younger was shown as a drunkard, Disraeli had "curly Jewish locks", Churchill was easily identified by his fat cigar and for Margaret Thatcher it was her handbag.

More recently, Lord Baker says, John Major was depicted with "naff Marks and Spencer's underpants", after once allegedly being spotted with his pants tucked over his shirt - after this "the pants became everything".

Tony Blair was all about "the teeth and the ears" and Gordon Brown was shown as "being grossly fat".

In the current crop of leaders, David Cameron and Nick Clegg have proved more difficult to capture because "they have similar types of looks".

"They haven't got very lived in faces yet. You need to have someone with distinctive features," he says.

However, this has not been a problem for the Labour's fresh-faced, younger leader Ed Miliband: "He was Wallace and Gromit straight away."

'Cheshire cat' More
Next up, the shorter of three clips featuring our intrepid satirist. A clip which, for reasons obvious, I can only describe as pennies from heaven, and from which I quote.

"The interesting thing about Gin Lane is that in fact it was a piece of journalism. It was inspired by a story about a woman who'd murdered her own daughter in order to sell her clothes to buy gin. . . ."

TateShots - Martin Rowson on Hogarth

. . . . It's been pastiched and stolen by subsequent artists and cartoonists over and over again, including me."

And others dear boy, and others.

"The interesting thing about Gin Lane is that in fact it was a piece of journalism. It was inspired by a story about a woman who'd murdered her own daughter in order to sell her clothes to buy gin. . . ."

Another Rowson cartoon, that later was to turn up in part elsewhere.

But with a change to a somewhat more sheepish face. Goodness knows, like all Pols, he has enough of them.

Martin Rowson - The Power of the Political Cartoon. 30 minutes

Rowson on the old scroat.

The last clip is one I have featured previously in a post, but in order to keep the whole thing on one page links n'all, I shall import the complete thing.

Little Lord Cameron and A brief History of British Satirical Cartooning

When I captured this fifteen minutes of video, I had no intention of posting the thing as something in its own right, rather it was to be used as a compliment to a previous post, "Photoshop Justice" The Rise of the Citizen Satirist.

But for reasons whatever, I stumbled upon this morning a previous post, Hackgate: Taken Into Custardy. Where can be found, a cartoon that caught my eye, of which I said at the time of posting: Chosen not because I found it particularly amusing, but rather for the brilliant depiction of Cameron. To wit, one cartoon.

And to whom do we owe thanks for this brilliant characterisation of Cameron as Little Lord Fauntleroy? None other than Martin Rowson, Guardian cartoonist, talking head and one of the subjects in this brief history of British satire.

Two of Martin Rowson's more contemporary cartoons, the rest of his work can be found here. Of which, I am presently about to have a wander through myself.

Rowson on Hitchens.

And he don't do too shabby a Murdoch either.

Though there are quite literally hundreds of "shopped" photo's I could offer up, I shall post but a few of the more recent ones that tend towards the political, saving of course my big bus and perhaps one other. For the main, most of my previous stuff is archived here.

Food Reward Friday

This week's winner: poutine!

While not as appetizing looking as the Monster Thickburger, poutine is probably more popular.  For those who aren't familiar, poutine is a large plate of French fries, topped with gravy and cheese curds.  It originated in Quebec, but has become popular throughout Canada and in the Northern US.

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Unexpected Alphabet No 20

I've been reading Ian Nairn's incomparable Nairn's London recently, and mused over his phrase, used a couple of times, of places being 'plugged into the big city'. Well yesterday I found the perfect example of what he meant. I was in conversation with the good folks at Daniel Lewis & Sons on Hackney Road. For 215 years they have supplied London with metals of all shapes and sizes, and much more besides. I was there discussing a pallet of thin aluminium sheets being printed on by the Goldmark Atelier for the inimitable Nelly Duff gallery, coincidentally just round the corner in another fascinating city enclave, Columbia Road. "They're doing what with them?" they said at Lewis's. "And who's the Goldmark 'otel anyway?". So it went on, until I noticed the afternoon sun highlighting this enormous wooden coat-of-arms on the wall. And then, as we ended up out on the pavement, I saw this beautifully lettered vitreous enamel sign, presumably denoting a previous encumbent. With that comma hinting at another sign now missing from the next bay down. And I just had this overwhelming feeling of London life going on for so long in this terrace of businesses, stretching back over the years. The shouts and arguments, the clanking of iron and steel and trains whistling and rumbling over the nearby railway bridge in and out of Cambridge Heath station. Somebody came in and asked for 24 big rubber wheeled castors- "With or without brakes?"- and a pretty girl poked her nose in through the door, thought about saying something and decided not to. All of us plugged into the big city.  


The investigational agent odanacatib appears to be an effective treatment for postmenopausal osteoporosis that persists after 3 years of alendronate therapy, according to a phase 3 trial presented here at ACR 2012.
Treatment with odanacatib significantly improved bone mineral density (BMD) at the femoral neck, hip, trochanter, and lumbar spine, compared with placebo, in postmenopausal women previously treated with alendronate. In addition, the novel agent was generally safe and tolerable.
The phase 3 trial was stopped early after an independent data and safety monitoring committee determined that odanacatib had a favorable risk/benefit profile.
"Odanacatib is a cathepsin K inhibitor that inhibits bone resorption while maintaining bone formation, whereas bisphosphonates reduce bone resorption and bone formation," said lead author Roland Chapurlat, MD, from Hôpital Edouard Herriot in Lyon, France.
"In this study of women with low bone mass after alendronate treatment, we saw no issues of excess bone formation or abnormal stress fractures," he explained.
Dr. Chapurlat noted that most studies of women with osteoporosis do not enroll previously treated women, but this study sought to determine if the drug had a benefit in previously treated patients.
The randomized double-blind placebo-controlled 24-month trial was conducted at 42 sites in 12 countries. Investigators enrolled 246 women 60 years or older with osteoporosis, and randomly assigned them to receive odanacatib 50 mg once weekly or placebo. All patients received vitamin D and calcium supplementation.
The mean age of the participants was 71.3 years, most were white, 73.7% had a history of any fracture, and 68.3% had a fracture history after menopause. The mean duration of previous alendronate therapy was 5.5 years; 55% had taken alendronate for 3 to 5 years.
"Long-term alendronate [treatment] results in persistent suppression of bone turnover, and there is a residual effect even after stopping," Dr. Chapurlat said.
For the primary end point of femoral neck BMD at 24 months, there was a 2.67% difference favoring odanacatib ( P < .001), and for total hip BMD, there was a 2.7% difference favoring odanacatib ( P < .001). For both these end points, the effect of odanacatib was seen after 6 months because of the residual effect of alendronate, Dr. Chapurlat reported.
A 3.18% difference in BMD at the trochanter and a 2.57% difference in BMD at the lumbar spine also favored odanacatib at 24 months ( P < .001 for both, compared with placebo).
At 24 months, odanacatib significantly reduced markers of bone resorption ( P < .001) and significantly increased markers of bone formation ( P = .011).
There were no significant differences in adverse events in the 2 treatment groups, although the rate of discontinuations related to adverse events was higher in the odanacatib group than in the placebo group (9% vs 3%).
The rate of fracture was lower in the odanacatib group than in the placebo group (4.9% vs 13.2%). "The study was not designed to look at fracture efficacy," Dr. Chapurlat stated.
An ongoing phase 3 trial of 16,000 women will show fracture rate; those results are expected next year, he said.
In contrast to bisphosphonates, odanacatib and denosumab are not deposited in the bone, so they should not have a long-term effect on bone turnover after drug discontinuation.
"They block osteoclasts and don't reside in the bone," said Stanley Cohen, MD, medical director of the rheumatology training program, clinical professor of internal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, and past president of the ACR.
"What happens to patients who were taking alendronate and still have low bone mass? Will they respond with improvement in bone density? The answer is yes," Dr. Cohen stated.
Dr. Cohen doubts that odanacatib will replace bisphosphonates "because they cost pennies and their benefits are outstanding. But we need to define better which patients should be treated and for how long, in light of the rare cases of atypical fracture reported with long-term treatment," he said.
If long-term follow-up shows that odanacatib does reduce bone resorption and allows new bone formation to continue, this drug is likely to play a role in the treatment of osteoporosis, Dr. Cohen said.

8 tips for a healthy liver

Your liver may not be functioning at its optimal level if you have constant fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain, and yellowing of skin and whites in the eyes. To improve the health of your liver, you need to give your diet and lifestyle an overhaul.

A healthy liver keeps your body's regulatory, detoxification and metabolic functions in tip top condition. Fortunately, most liver problems are reversible if discovered early.

"The liver is an amazing organ which can rejuvenate itself. Liver failure develops over time. You can stop a fatty liver condition from deteriorating into more serious liver cirrhosis and liver cancer by making significant changes to your diet and lifestyle," says Dr Victor Lee Tswen Wen, consultant, Department of General Surgery at Singapore General Hospital (SGH).

What does the liver do?
The liver is the body's major cleaning and clearing house.

A healthy liver regulates blood glucose levels and removes bilirubin from the bloodstream. Bilirubin is a byproduct from the normal breakdown of red blood cells.

In addition, the liver processes foods, extracting nutrients, and produces bile to digest fatty foods. Any excess nutrients are stored in the liver.

The liver also detoxifies. It removes toxins that are ingested through alcohol, medications and contaminated food, from the bloodstream.

8 tips for a healthy liver

1. Moderate your alcohol intake
The liver can only process or break down a small amount of alcohol every hour. For this reason, men should limit their alcohol intake to two drinks a day while women should only have one. A standard drink is equivalent to one ordinary beer or one small glass of wine.
2. Cut down on fatty foods
Reduce the amount of saturated fats, trans fats and hydrogenated fats in your diet. Saturated fats are found in deep fried foods, red meats and dairy products. Trans and hydrogenated fats are found in processed foods. The liver stores excess dietary fat, and fat buildup can eventually bring on fatty liver disease.
3. Reduce body weight
Obesity, particularly, abdominal or central obesity, is a major risk factor for developing fatty liver disease. Eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly to maintain a healthy weight. A fatty liver slows down the digestion of fats. Do aim for the ideal body mass index (BMI) target. The healthy cut-off values recommended by MOH and HPB Singapore are between 18.5 and 22.9.
4. Avoid over-supplementation with traditional medicine & remedies
Over-supplementation may cause liver inflammation. As the liver detoxifies, supplementation with certain traditional medicine or remedies can lead to liver damage or even failure. This is because some of these remedies contain heavy metals, which taken in large quantities can result in liver toxicity or affect the regular functioning of your liver.
5. Eat more fibre
Eat more high-fibre foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables. For proteins, choose more fish, beans and nuts, and cut down on red meats.
6. Get vaccinated
Get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B, both viral liver infections. Hepatitis A is contracted from contaminated food or water and hepatitis B, from sexual contact, contaminated blood and needles.
7. Get regular exercise
Regular exercise is key to a healthy liver. Exercise increases energy levels, decreases stress on the liver, and helps to prevent obesity — a high risk factor for liver disease. Aim for a total of 150 minutes of exercise, such as brisk walking, per week.
8. Be cautious of weight loss pills
Over-the-counter weight loss pills which are available without a prescription may contain ingredients such as Ephedra (ma huang in Chinese) which are harmful to the liver.

Get Ready Mailbag: What kind of flu shots are there?

Welcome to another installment of the Get Ready Mailbag, when we take time to answer questions sent our way by readers like you. Have a question you want answered? Send an email to

Q: There are so many kinds of flu shots this year — how do I know which one is right for me?

A: We're glad you're planning on getting your flu shot. Every year there is a different combination of flu strains in the vaccine. This year’s flu shot is different than last year’s formula, so the shot you got last year will not protect you.

And you’re right about the kinds of flu shots - there are more options than ever!  But there’s no reason to be confused. Here’s a breakdown of the different kinds of flu vaccinations options that are available in the U.S. this year:
  • Injection: This is the most common type of flu vaccination. If you’ve had a flu shot before, you know what to expect: You’ll get a small amount of flu vaccine injected into your muscle (usually your deltoid, or shoulder).
  • Nasal: The flu vaccine is also available as a nasal spray,  though it should not be used by pregnant women or those with certain conditions, such as asthma.
  • Intradermal flu shot: For people afraid of needles, this is the flu shot for you! The needle is much smaller on this type of shot, and the vaccine is delivered intradermally (under your skin) instead of in your muscle like the regular flu shot. This option can cost extra, so check with your doctor or pharmacy.
  • High-dose flu shot: The high-dose flu shot is made for people 65 and older. It has a stronger dose of medication than the regular seasonal flu shot.
  • Preservative-free, single-dose flu shot: Normally the flu-shot — like many other vaccines and injections — comes in a multi-dose bottle with a small amount of preservative known as thimerosol to help the vaccine stay fresh for longer. Some people prefer preservative-free flu shots. These are more expensive, come packaged in a single dose and usually have to be ordered ahead of time.
Remember that whichever type of flu vaccine that you choose, it will protect you against three strains of flu.

The best time to get your flu shot is early in the flu season, before flu is widespread in the community, because it can take up to two weeks for the flu shot to fully protect you. And don't forget to practice good hand hygiene and cold and flu etiquette year-round!

We hope this has helped you decide what flu shot is right for you. If you need to find out where to get your flu shot, check out HealthMap's Flu Vaccine Finder.

Partnering to Create Healthy Futures

Maine's statewide Community Transformation Grant (CTG) is facilitating partnerships among state and local organizations to implement an evidence-based approach to reduce childhood obesity. Working with state agencies and private programs that care for children, the Maine CTG effort has been able to leverage the expertise of the Let's Go! 5210 Goes to Childcare program and added resources to support healthy eating and active living in childcare programs. Already, more than 230 additional sites are benefiting from the collaborative approach.


In 2011, more than 38% of Maine's kindergarten students were overweight or obese. Carrying too much weight as a young child increases the risk of being an overweight or obese adult; increases the risk of having chronic diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease; and leads to a poor quality of life. The good news is that with time and attention, the trend can be stopped and even reversed. Healthy eating and physical activity are two behaviors that are known to impact weight. These behaviors are influenced by family, and friends, and access to health options. For our youngest children who spend much of their days with childcare providers, the childcare setting presents an opportunity to set the stage for a lifetime of healthy habits. The challenge is in providing caregivers the assistance they need to foster healthy places and habits for our youngest residents.


Maine’s Community Transformation Grant is leveraging limited resources through public-private partnerships and multiple collaborations to address childhood obesity. The approach uses a structured, evidenced process, Let’s Go! 5210 Goes to Childcare or Let’s Move, to help licensed child care providers identify and implement more supports in their programs for healthy eating and active living. Through education and guidance, providers will adopt practices that foster healthy lifestyle choices for Maine’s most vulnerable, our children.


Maine's CTG has built on the strengths and skills of the Statewide Childhood Obesity Taskforce partners to create and implement common approaches and tools to support healthier childcare environments. Maine's nine public health districts have created plans and started implementation of the structured process with their local licensed childcare providers and local Let's Go! 5210 Goes to Childcare partners. In the first year with the help of CTG, more than 230 additional licensed childcare sites have enrolled with Let's Go! 5210 Goes to Childcare to begin the change process.

Future Directions

This is an opportunity for licensed childcare providers and supporting agencies to benefit from technical assistance and resources to promote healthy eating and active living in your communities. The ultimate goal is to create a healthy start for our youngest residents by surrounding them with healthy environments and promoting habits that prevent obesity. By 2016, we expect to see one-third of Maine's licensed childcare sites make environmental changes to support healthy living. There will be continued strong collaboration across public and private agencies working to address childhood obesity in Maine.

Get Smart About Antibiotics

What do sinusitis, most sore throats, bronchitis, runny noses and the regular cold have in common? They are upper respiratory tract infections usually caused by viruses that can′t be cured with antibiotics. Yet, each year, health care providers in the U.S. prescribe tens of millions of antibiotics for viral infections.

To bring attention to this increasing problem, Maine CDC is observing Get Smart About Antibiotics Week this week, along with the Maine Medical Association, Maine Hospital Association, and Maine Public Health Association.

The campaign highlights the coordinated efforts of US CDC, states, and other partners to educate clinicians and the public about antibiotic resistance and the importance of appropriate antibiotic use.

Over-prescribing antibiotics, using a broad-spectrum therapy when a more specific drug would be better, starting and stopping medications, giving leftover medications to a friend who appears to have the same ailment you had, all contribute to the problem of antibiotic drug resistance, according to US CDC. As we enter this year′s cold and flu season, CDC asks parents to not insist on getting antibiotics when a health care provider says they are not needed.

Health care providers are asked to take the time to educate patients about antibiotic resistance and the possibility of having serious side effects. For example, allergic reactions to antibiotics, such as rash and anaphylaxis, send thousands of patients to the emergency room each year, according to a study published in the Clinical Infectious Diseases Journal.

Health care providers can also prevent antimicrobial resistance by ensuring prompt diagnosis and treatment of infections, prescribing antibiotics appropriately, and following infection prevention techniques to prevent the spread of drug-resistant infections in health care facilities. Doctors cite diagnostic uncertainty, time pressure, and patient demand as the primary reasons for their tendency to over-prescribe antibiotics. Appropriate use of existing antibiotics can limit the spread of antibiotic resistance, preserving antibiotics for the future.

For treatment guidelines for Upper Respiratory Tract Infections, see:

For more information about antimicrobial resistance, including background articles, patient materials, and continuing education programs, see

Food Reward Friday

This week's winner: the Taco Bell Doritos Locos Taco!

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Influenza update 11/15/12

Maine CDC recently reported the first flu activity for the 2012-2013 season. For more information and clinical recommendations for this flu season, see the Nov. 5 health alert at

Weekly updates on flu activity are available online:
Maine CDC reminds everyone to take everyday preventive measures against the flu:
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow or shoulder
  • Stay home when you feel sick
  • Get vaccinated – find locations at

Make sure your medicine works when you need it: Get smart about antibiotics!

Picture this: You’re coughing and sneezing. Not sure if you have a cold or the flu, you head to the bathroom and open the medicine cabinet. Checking through the bottles of pills, you find some antibiotics. Should you take them?

The answer is NO. You could be doing more harm than good! Here’s why:
  • Colds and the flu are caused by viruses. Antibiotics don’t work on viruses.
  • Taking an antibiotic when you should be taking some other kind of medication can lead to something called antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance happens when bacteria are exposed to an antibiotic medication so much that they figure out how to survive around the medication. This means that medications that treat all kinds of infections won’t work any more. 
  • Antibiotic resistance is one of the most serious public health threats around the world, and it’s becoming more common. 
The good news is that you can help to fight antibiotic resistance. Nov. 12-18 is Get Smart About Antibiotics Week, which was created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help educate the public about antibiotics so they can make smart choices when it comes to taking medications. Here are five tips to protect your health:
  1. Do not take antibiotics for a viral infection like a cold, the flu or a runny nose. Here is a chart from CDC to help you figure out if you might have a viral infection. If you’re sick, the best thing to do is to call or make an appointment with your health care provider.
  2. Do not ask for antibiotics for you or your child if your doctor says you don’t need them.
  3. Do not take antibiotics that were prescribed for other people or for other kinds of infections. The antibiotic might not treat the illness that you have, so you could get sicker.
  4. If your health care provider prescribes an antibiotic, take it exactly as they tell you. Finish the whole dose even if you start feeling better before the medication runs out. Don’t skip doses and don’t save medication for the next time you or someone else gets sick.
  5. Wash your hands to prevent infections. (Check out our fact sheets for great handwashing information!) Make sure to wash with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer gel. Regular soap and water are fine, but avoid soaps and cleaners that say “antibacterial” on the label. These products usually have an antibiotic called triclosan, which may contribute to antibiotic resistance.
For more information to help you get smart about antibiotics, check out this Healthy You fact sheet from The Nation’s Health: Antibiotics: Know when they’re not needed. Feel free to share this with friends, family and coworkers too – Everyone has to get smart about antibiotics so that the medications work when we really need them!

If you use Twitter, join us on Tuesday, Nov. 13, at 1 p.m. EST for a Twitter chat about antibiotics. Experts from the CDC will be there to answer your questions. Follow @CDC_eHealth and @GetReady to join in, and don’t forget to use the tag #SaveAbx.

Abbott hepatitis C drugs bring high cure rates in trial

 A trio of oral medicines from Abbott Laboratories Inc to treat hepatitis C produced unprecedented cure rates in patients who had failed to benefit from standard treatment, as well as very high cure rates for newly treated patients, Abbott said on Saturday.
Detailed data from the mid-stage trial, called Aviator, were released Saturday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease (AASLD) in Boston.
Investors and patients have very high hopes for the Abbott drugs - a protease inhibitor called ABT-450, a polymerase inhibitor ABT-333 and ABT-267 from a class known as NS5A inhibitors. They are used without interferon, an injectable standard treatment that causes flu-like symptoms.
Abbott said it plans to move ahead with large Phase III studies of the three drugs, used either with or without the standard antiviral pill ribavirin, based on favorable results seen in patients treated for eight weeks or twelve weeks in the Aviator study. Patients in the study had the most common, and hardest-to-treat, strain of hepatitis C known as Genotype 1.
Some 93 percent of patients who failed prior therapy had a sustained virologic response (SVR), meaning they were considered cured, after 12 weeks of taking the trio of new drugs, plus ribavirin.
"Nobody anywhere has broken the 50 percent mark in (cure rates) for this population," Scott Brun, a senior Abbott research executive said in an interview. "These are robust results."
Abbott said it aims to be the first company to market an interferon-free regimen to patients with Genotype 1 infections.
Four of 448 patients in the study discontinued treatment due to adverse events, a dropout rate that Abbott said suggested the medicines were very well tolerated.
About 97 percent of previously untreated patients were considered cured after 12 weeks of treatment with the three Abbott drugs, plus ribavirin. Moreover, similarly impressive cure rates were seen among patients taking the three drugs, plus ribavirin, for 8 weeks.
Without ribavirin, 87 percent of previously untreated patients were considered cured after 12 weeks on Abbott's three drugs, Abbott said.
Rival drugmaker Gilead Sciences Inc stole a bit of Abbott's thunder on Saturday by releasing data showing a 100 percent cure rate among previously untreated genotype 1 patients who took only two of its oral treatments, plus ribavirin, for 12 weeks.
A pair of new hepatitis C drugs approved last year, Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc's Incivek and Merck & Co's Victrelis, significantly boosted cure rates and cut treatment duration to as low as 24 weeks for some patients. But the protease inhibitors must still be taken with interferon, an injected drug that often causes severe flu-like symptoms that lead many hepatitis patients to delay or discontinue treatment.
Gilead, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co and Vertex are racing to develop interferon-free treatment regimens. They are expected to become blockbuster products, if approved, because of their far shorter treatment times and better cure rates, compared with existing drug regimens.
Many analysts view Gilead as current leader both on timing and perceived advantages of its experimental hepatitis C program.
An estimated 3 million Americans are believed infected with the virus, which quietly damages the liver over years or decades and is the biggest reason for liver transplants in the United States. Abbott said as many as 170 million people worldwide are infected.

7 strange health tips that work

Balance hormones with spearmint tea

For ladies suffering from hormonal problems including acne or facial hair, research has found that spearmint tea can be an effective natural treatment to its anti-androgen properties. Turkish researchers found that drinking two cups of spearmint tea a day reduced levels of male sex hormones in the body, which could be good news for women currently relying on medication including oral contraceptives to help control excessive hair growth (hirsutism) or acne.

Ease headaches with lime

If you suffer from frequent headaches or migraines try stocking up on limes, which many have found to be a good natural cure. The scent of lime is thought to be good for headaches, while the coolness of the fruit can also help to ease the pain. To help ease a headache naturally, cut a lime in half and rub the cut end across your forehead, or the part of your head which aches.

Boost your brain power with chewing gum

If you don’t have time for your morning coffee or have a busy morning and need to focus, try having a piece of chewing gum instead to feel more alert. Researchers at Coventry University have found that chewing mint-flavored gum can dramatically decrease feelings of tiredness, while separate research studies have suggested that chewing gum can improve test scores and improve memory by 35 per cent.

Cure hay fever with honey

Hay fever is a persistent problem for many. However, if you want to beat hay fever without relying on anti-histamines, honey can provide a great natural remedy. Honey is believed to cure hay fever as the bee pollen contained in it can desensitise your body to the pollen which causes hay fever. While it has not yet been proven by scientific research, many have found that taking a spoonful of local honey a day is an effective cure for their allergies.

Improve your immune system with dirt

Many of us avoid dirt and bacteria out of a fear of getting ill. However, while it is generally important to maintain good hygiene standards, a little bit of dirt could be better for you than you think. Research suggests that exposure to friendly bacteria found in soil can actually help boost the immune system and alleviate depression, making gardening and countryside walks ideal activities for giving your health a boost.

Turn off your bedside lamp to feel happier

Many of us experience bad moods or feel inexplicably down from time to time. However, an unexpected solution to your bad mood could be to make sure your room is dark before you go to sleep. Research has shown that night time light can suppress the production of melatonin; a mood-regulating hormone only produced during darkness. To give your mood a boost, try investing in heavy curtains and turn off all lights before bed, including your TV.

Prevent sore throats and headaches by being more honest

If you find yourself regularly suffering from headaches or sore throats it may be that you are telling too many little white lies! We all tell the odd fib from time, whether it is complimenting someone’s unflattering hairdo or claiming to be “on our way” before we have even left the house. However, according to research, lying can be harmful to your health due to the stress it generates. A study by researchers at the University of Notre Dame found that when people reduced the amount of lies they told, they suffered from less anxiety, headaches and sore throats. Read more on

3 Ways Oral Sedation Eliminates Dental Anxiety

Original article found here/p>
The miracle that is sedation dentistry emerged upon the scene in the 1960s, with the first known drug to be used in the process being valium. The reason for using valium, of course, is the amnesic properties it is commonly known to have. The ability to forget your time in the dental chair is one that is looked upon with much hope, but at the same time, much skepticism. While the need for a way to qualm the fears millions of dental patients have of going under the dental drill, there was also a need to know that their dentist was trained in the art of oral sedation.

  1. The Rigorous Training of Dentists - Not only does a dentist need to attend a rigorous, multi-day seminar to become a DOCS (Dental Organization for Conscious Sedation) certified dentist, but every time they come in contact with a client who could benefit from oral sedation dentistry they are required to follow rigid guidelines for the use of dental sedation. These training and guidelines assure dentist follow strict protocols, much like anesthesiologists follow in hospitals.
    Dentists are required to:
    • Learn how to properly asses patients upon request of dental sedation
    • Understand basic pharmacology (how to use and determine the effects of drugs)
    • Fully understand the tenets of airway management
    • Be prepared in any emergency situation

    This training and the guidelines associated are very strict, but your preferred dentist is always concerned about the well being of their patients, and are dedicated in making each visit as comfortable as possible.

  • The Thorough Screening Process - As stated previously, dentists are required to asses patients upon request of oral sedation dentistry. With over 10 million Americans avoiding dental visits due to anxiety, here are some ways dentists assess oral sedation candidates:
    • Evaluating the full medical history of a candidate
    • Determine the pain threshold of a patient (lower pain threshold clients are more likely to qualify)
    • Ability to sit still in a dentist's chair
    • The amount of dental work that needs to be done
    • Gag reflex and sensitivity of teeth

  • The Different Levels of Sedation - The good news is that there are different levels of sedation for individuals who don't always like going completely under. These levels of sedation are:
    • Minimal - awake, but completely relaxed.
    • Moderate - most of the procedure will be a blur and some words may be slurred when speaking.
    • Deep sedation - on the edge of consciousness, but still can be brought back to awake easily.
    • General anesthesia - unconscious.

  • With a well qualified sedation dentist, and so many different types of sedation to choose from, those who previously suffered dental anxiety have very little to fear from hereon out.
    Photo credited to:

    Divided States of America - Notes on the Decline of a Great Nation

    Home truths, via Germany.

    Divided States of America

    Notes on the Decline of a Great Nation


    The United States is frittering away its role as a model for the rest of the world. The political system is plagued by an absurd level of hatred, the economy is stagnating and the infrastructure is falling into a miserable state of disrepair. On this election eve, many Americans are losing faith in their country's future.

    The monumental National Mall in Washington, DC, 1.9 miles (3 kilometers) long and around 1,586 feet wide at its broadest point, is a place that showcases the United States of America is in its full glory as a world power. A walk along the magnificent swath of green space, between the white dome of the Capitol to the east and the Lincoln Memorial, a temple erected to honor former president Abraham Lincoln, at its western end, leads past men in bronze and stone, memorials for soldiers and conquerors, and the nearby White House. It's a walk that still creates an imperial impression today.

    The Mall is lined with museums and landscaped gardens, in which America is on display as the kind of civil empire that promotes the arts and sciences. There are historic sites, and there are the famous steps of the Lincoln Memorial where Martin Luther King once spoke of his dream, and of the dreams of a country to be a historic force, one that would serve the wellbeing of all of mankind. Put differently, the National Mall is an open-air museum for an America that, in 2012, is mostly a pleasant memory.

    After a brilliant century and a terrible decade, the United States, in this important election year, has reached a point in its history when the obvious can no longer be denied: The reality of life in America so greatly contradicts the claim -- albeit one that has always been exaggerated -- to be the "greatest nation on earth," that even the most ardent patriots must be overcome with doubt.

    This realization became only too apparent during and after Hurricane Sandy, the monster storm that ravaged America's East Coast last week, its effects made all the more devastating by the fact that its winds were whipping across an already weakened country. The infrastructure in New York, New Jersey and New England was already in trouble long before the storm made landfall near Atlantic City. The power lines in Brooklyn and Queens, on Long Island and in New Jersey, in one of the world's largest metropolitan areas, are not underground, but are still installed along a fragile and confusing above-ground network supported by utility poles, the way they are in developing countries.

    No System to Protect Against Storm Surges

    Although parts of New York City, especially the island of Manhattan, are only a few meters above sea level, the city still has no extensive system to protect itself against storm surges, despite the fact that the sea level has been rising for years and the number of storms is increasing. In the case of Sandy, the weather forecasts were relatively reliable three or four days prior to its arrival, so that the time could have been used to at least make improvised preparations, which did not happen. The only effective walls of sandbags that were built in the city on a larger scale did not appear around power plants, hospitals or tunnel entrances, but around the skyscraper of the prescient investment bank Goldman Sachs.

    Large parts of America's biggest city and millions of people along the East Coast could now be forced to survive for days, possibly even weeks, without electricity, water and heat. Many of the backup generators intended for such emergencies didn't work, so that large hospitals had to be evacuated. On the one hand, these consequences of the storm point to the uncontrollability of nature. On the other hand, they are signs that America is no longer the great, robust global power it once was.

    Europeans who make such claims have always been accused of anti-Americanism. But now Americans themselves are joining the chorus of those declaring the country's decline. "I had to catch a train in Washington last week," New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, whose columns are read worldwide, wrote last April. "The paved street in the traffic circle around Union Station was in such poor condition that I felt as though I was on a roller coaster. I traveled on the Amtrak Acela, our sorry excuse for a fast train, on which I had so many dropped calls on my cellphone that you'd have thought I was on a remote desert island, not traveling from Washington to New York City. When I got back to Union Station, the escalator in the parking garage was broken. Maybe you've gotten used to all this and have stopped noticing. I haven't. Our country needs a renewal."

    Such everyday observations are coalescing into a new, tarnished image of America. Screenwriter Aaron Sorken, the creator of many legendary television series, has come up with a new, brutal look at America. The 10-part drama, "The Newsroom," tells the story of a cynical news anchor who reinvents himself and vows to do everything right in the future. In the show's brilliant premiere, he is asked at a panel discussion to describe why America is the greatest country in the world. After a few tired jokes, the truth comes gushing out of him. "There's absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we're the greatest country in the world," he ways. "We're seventh in literacy, 27th in math, 22nd in science, 49th in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, third in median household income, number four in labor force and number four in exports. We lead the world in only three categories: Number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending, where we spend more than the next 26 countries combined."

    A Land of Limited Opportunities

    In the show, the audience reacts with shock, just as a real-life American audience would. But the truth is that America has transformed itself into a land of limited opportunities. In fact, that was the way SPIEGEL referred to the United States in a 1979 cover story, when the US economy had been hard-hit by the oil crisis.

    But today's crisis is far more comprehensive, extending to the social, political and spiritual realms. The worst thing about it is that the country still refuses to engage in any debate over the reasons for its decline. It seems as if many Americans today no longer want to talk about how they can strengthen their union. Criticism is seen as a betrayal of America's greatness.

    But that notion of greatness leaves much to be desired. Other numbers can be readily added to those rattled off by the protagonist in Sorkin's "The Newsroom," and the results are sobering. For instance, the United States is no longer among the world's top 10 countries when it comes to the state of its infrastructure. In fact, it spends less than Europe to maintain its roads and bridges, tunnels, train stations and airports.

    According to the US Federal Highway Administration, one in four of the more than 600,000 bridges in the world's richest country are either "inadequate" or outdated. According to some studies, the United States would have to invest some $225 billion a year between now and 2050 to regain an adequate, modern infrastructure. That's 60 percent more than it invests today.

    A Lack of Strength

    It isn't hard to predict that this won't happen. The hatred of big government has reached a level in the United States that threatens the country's very existence. Americans everywhere may vow allegiance to the nation and its proud Stars and Stripes, but when it comes time to pay the bills and distribute costs, and when solidarity is needed, all sense of community evaporates.

    Then the divides open up between Washington and the rest of the country, between the North and the South, between the East and the West, between cities and rural areas, and between states whose governors often sound as if the country were still embroiled in a civil war.

    The country has forgotten the days when former President Franklin D. Roosevelt courageously told his fellow Americans that a collectively supported social welfare system didn't translate into socialism but freedom, a "New Deal" that would strengthen America in the long term. Gone are the days when former President Dwight D. Eisenhower launched bold government programs to cover a country 27 times the size of Germany with a network of interstate highways. Gone are the years when former President Lyndon B. Johnson declared war on poverty and enacted federal laws declaring that there could be no second- or third-class citizens, regardless of skin color. And gone is the spirit of renewal after former President John F. Kennedy's visionary promise to send Americans to the moon within a decade, a program that would cost taxpayers billions.

    Today America lacks the financial strength, political courage and social will to embark on such large-scale, government-directed programs. The United States has long been drawing down its savings, writes Fareed Zakaria, another American critic of his own country and a respected columnist with Time. "What we see today is an American economy that has boomed because of policies and developments of the 1950s and '60s: the interstate-highway system, massive funding for science and technology, a public-education system that was the envy of the world and generous immigration policies." Go to page two

    Kids' Thanksgiving Table Decorating 2012 Ideas

    Feathered headdress place markers and Thanksgiving-themed crafts make this kids' table colorful and playful. Minimal prep work will ensure small guests stay happily entertained while the adults enjoy conversation and a peaceful meal nearby.

    By : Marian Parsons

    Functional Tablecloth

    Cover the table in brown craft paper to provide a place for creative minds and idle hands to color doodle or play games. Simply roll out craft paper and securely tape it under the table's edges. Bonus: This durable surface protects your tabletop and makes cleaning up spills and crumbs a snap.

    Wearable Place Cards

    Inspired by the story of the first Thanksgiving, these Indian headdresses are customized with each child's name as a creative way to mark their seat. They can be made ahead of time by the hostess or children who are old enough to use a glue gun. 

    Assemble Headdresses

    Cut a strip of leather (available in craft or fabric stores) into approximately 21" - 23" lengths. Place ends of length together to form a circle and hot glue into place. Glue feathers onto inside back of headdress. 

    Paint Headdresses

    Using a paint pen or acrylic craft paint and an artist brush, paint each child's name onto the front of their headdress. Embellish the sides with painted symbols or decorate with beads and hot glue. 

    Kid-Friendly Centerpieces

    Centerpieces for a kids' table shouldn't be fussy; they'll need to withstand possible spills and rough-housing so opt for heavy vessles like ironstone pitchers and small mixing bowls. Fill them with mums, pumpkins, acorn squash or gourds and embelish further with raffia, ribbons and feathers. 

    Mess-Free Crafts

    Craft projects are a great way to entertain and encourage creativity, but the dining table shouldn't be cluttered with paints and glue sticks. Instead, stock the table with an assortment of colorful beads, leather cording and feathers so the kids can create a necklace or bracelet to wear with their headdress.

    Color and Create

    Fill jelly jars or juice glasses with crayons so kids can color the brown paper tablecloth as well as fun Thanksgiving paper crafts and printables, like these turkey finger puppets. Children can also be encouraged to write a list of things they are thankful for. 

    All in the Details

    Making a special kids' table is all about the little things. Pay attention to the scale, practicality and playfulness of the centerpiece and each place setting. Your pint-sized guests should feel relaxed to be themselves and have a great time.

    Educational Decor

    Use plates and utensils that are similar to what colonists and Native Americans may have used. Pewter and wood plates can be paired with "bone" handled or simple silver flatware. This can spark discussions over what clothes might have been worn and food might have been served at the first Thanksgiving.