Health Updates 14 July 2011

  • Chain restaurants to make kids’ menus healthier: “At least 19 large restaurant chains – including Burger King, Chili’s, IHOP and Friendly’s – plan to announce Wednesday that they will include healthier options on their children’s menus.  At least 15,000 restaurant locations will focus on increasing servings of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains and low-fat dairy.  The items will have less fats, sugars and sodium.”  (Associated Press)
  • Harry Potter has influence on medical research: “For more than a decade, the boy wizard, whose final movie debuts in theaters tonight, has played a role in studies on everything from genetics to social cognition.  PubMed, an online database of medical studies, lists 30 studies that invoke his name.  A few examples: ‘Harry Potter and the Recessive Allele‘, ‘Harry Potter and the Structural Biologist’s (Key)stone’ and ‘Harry Potter casts a Spell on Accident-Prone Children.” (Hartford Courant)
  • Replace white sugar with honey? Honey, most particularly raw honey, is one possible alternative to white sugar.   Since it is sweeter than refined sugar, you can use less, and it contains traces of calcium, potassium and magnesium along with amino acids and lots of vitamins.  Medicinal honey is used to treat wounds.  But honey is sticky and contributes to cavities and should never be given to children under one year of age (it may contain bacterial spores that could cause infant botulism, rare but very, very serious).  (
  • Asthma study shows the power of the placebo effect: “These results also suggest that patients can’t be relied upon to make accurate reports of whether their symptoms are getting better.  In this study, patients couldn’t tell when the albuterol was making a real difference.  In fact, any time they got something that looked like a ‘treatment’, they reported roughly the same degree of improvement, researchers said.” (LA Times)

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