Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Obsessions and compulsions in children, from the Harvard Mental Health Letter PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Raquel Schott   
Tuesday, 17 January 2012 13:31

BOSTON— It is normal for many children, at various stages of development, to be concerned about sameness and symmetry and having things perfect, to insist on certain bedtime routines, or to develop superstitions and rituals like avoiding cracks in the sidewalk. But when such beliefs or behaviors become all-consuming and start interfering with school, home life, or recreational activities, the problem may be obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

“Symptoms may appear as early as age three,” notes Dr. Michael Miller, editor in chief of the Harvard Mental Health Letter. “Over the past decade, several randomized controlled trials and literature reviews have concluded that both cognitive behavioral therapy and medication can help youths better manage OCD—but that the combination of both is best. The ideal approach is to try this psychotherapy before turning to medication.”

A version of cognitive behavioral therapy known as exposure and response prevention is typically used in treating OCD in patients of any age. During therapy, a clinician gradually exposes patients—either physically or mentally (through the imagination)—to the things, places, and circumstances that provoke obsessions. Eventually, if all goes well, the patient learns to tolerate the anxiety through habituation. In a sense, this detoxifies the stimuli and makes the compulsive behaviors unnecessary.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as fluoxetine (Prozac) and sertraline (Zoloft) are the drugs most often used and studied in youths with OCD. SSRIs require two months or more to have an effect on OCD symptoms—a longer time than they usually take to relieve depression. Young people may need to keep taking an SSRI for at least a year and sometimes indefinitely. When the drug is the only treatment, youths usually relapse in a few months if they stop taking it.

Read the full-length article: “Obsessions and compulsions in youths”

Also in this issue:

  • Schizophrenia and epilepsy
  • Recognizing and managing delirium
  • Taming the frenzy in your brain
  • Updated guidelines for treating ADHD
  • Mindfulness training helps people quit smoking
  • Interpersonal therapy

The Harvard Mental Health Letter is available from Harvard Health Publications, the publishing division of Harvard Medical School, for $59 per year. Subscribe at or by calling 877-649-9457 (toll-free).


Iowa State University Releases Preliminary Findings from "Walking While Working" Study PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Movement Revolution to Restore Health   
Tuesday, 17 January 2012 13:25

Summary: Iowa has set a goal to become the healthiest state in the nation in the next five years. Scientists at Iowa State are helping to lead the charge by promoting an “Exercise is Medicine” campaign designed to educate Americans about the health benefits of exercise. The challenge is implementing solutions that initiate movement into the work and home environment.  Iowa State's Nutrition and Wellness Research Center has launched the largest study yet which will involve more than 1500 students and faculty members using an innovative tool that promotes movement: the TrekDesk Treadmill Desks. The Center has just recently reported preliminary findings on the first phase of this research.

Physical inactivity may be America’s largest public health nemesis, contributing to a myriad of chronic diseases including obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, depression and anxiety, arthritis, and osteoporosis. Since the average American walks less than half the amount of steps necessary to maintain health and prevent disease, a major challenge is getting office workers and students moving in an increasingly sedentary work environment. Researchers at Iowa State University have just released preliminary findings of a large scale study designed to test the merits of one potential solution: TrekDesk treadmill desks.

The research project is coordinated by a team at Iowa State’s Nutrition and Wellness Research Center (NWRC) led by Dr. Greg Welk, Director of Clinical Research and Community Outreach. The team launched a campus wide campaign to promote interest and involvement in physical activity and a key part of their programming involved re-engineering work/ study environments with the use of TrekDesk Treadmill Desks combined with Lfespan treadmills provided by 2nd Wind.

“We have TrekDesks in use at numerous universities across the country”, stated TrekDesk CEO Steve Bordley, “many are conducting studies on a variety of health and productivity issues, however the scale of the Iowa State study, when completed, will be larger than all of the other studies combined. I think that shows extraordinary leadership and commitment to their goal of educating America about its current health challenges and offering life changing information and solutions.”

The TrekDesk study is part of Iowa State’s commitment to the national “Exercise is Medicine” campaign, an effort coordinated by the American College of Sports Medicine and other leading health and fitness organizations to educate the public and medical professionals about the need to view exercise as a vital sign.

The NWRC created a plan that enables the TrekDesks to be piloted in departments and office units across campus. Dr. Welk commented, “Our staff have really enjoyed the opportunities to use the TrekDesks in our facility so we worked out a way to promote shared use across campus.” Over 35 other office groups are in line to participate in the three phased testing process.  "The interest has been incredible”, Dr. Welk said. “We have a waiting list through April of next year which indicates that people are really interested in ways of being more active at work.”

Logging the use of the TrekDesks over specific time intervals, Dr. Welk and his team has focused the study on evaluating patterns and perceptions of use as well as overall satisfaction with the concept of walking while working. Their hope initially is to gain an insight into how to effectively introduce physical activity and at what intervals into the workplace for maximum health benefits.

The study has completed two waves and is currently in the third wave.  The first two waves covered the following departments and offices: Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development, College of Human Sciences Dean’s Office, Kinesiology, President’s Office, Administrative Services, Sociology, College of Design and Chemistry.

Approximately 82% of survey respondents indicated that they would recommend the TrekDesk and 73% agreed that the university should consider getting TrekDesks for their employees. It should be noted that the TrekDesks were placed in common areas of the offices so that many individuals could have access during the day as opposed to specific offices.  Some specific findings are highlighted below:

  • Frequency of use: The majority of survey respondents (57%) used the TrekDesk Treadmill Desks for 15-30 minute sessions. Approximately 27% used it for 30 minutes to an hour while an equal amount (8%) either used it for less than 15 minutes or for an hour or more.
  • Longevity: Over the initial 30 day test phase, 58% of the respondents reported that their use of the TrekDesk either increased in duration or stayed the same while 42% experienced a decrease in use over this time frame.
  • Ease of Use: A majority of respondents rated typical office duties ranging from typing, writing, and talking on the phone as easily accomplished tasks.
  • Overall Feelings: Respondents reported generally positive feelings after use (e.g. increased energy) and few negative side-effects (e.g. tiredness, , nausea and light-headedness).

The promotion of physical activity at work may help to counter the impact of sedentary jobs and lifestyles in our society. During the 1960’s approximately 11% of Americans were overweight but that number is teetering close to 70% today.  At an estimated annual cost of $150 billion annually obesity is recognized as public enemy number one (contributing to more than 58 chronic diseases including the nation’s top three killers: heart disease, stroke and cancer).

"The obesity epidemic gets considerable attention in society but the real problem is an epidemic of inactivity" says Dr. Welk. "People have emphasized losing weight but many health problems can be drastically reduced by increasing levels of physical activity and minimizing sedentary time". The study at Iowa State University demonstrates an interest in more active workstations and work environments. "There is clearly no silver bullet but efforts to promote more physical activity at work are certainly part of the solution."

For More Information:

Gregory Welk, Ph.D., Associate Professor - Dept. of Kinesiology

Director of Clinical Research and Community Outreach - Nutrition and Wellness Research Center

Iowa State University

2325 North Loop Drive - Suite 6100

Ames, IA 50011


This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

MONDAY: Braley in Waterloo to Highlight New Prosthetic Technology Available for Injured Veterans PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Friday, 13 January 2012 14:10

Clark & Associates is helping wounded Iraq, Afghanistan veterans walk again


Waterloo, IA – On Monday in Waterloo, Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) will visit Clark & Associates, a locally-owned provider of prosthetics and orthotics, to highlight new technology being used to help wounded warriors from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan walk again.  Braley is the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity.

For years, Clark & Associates has worked closely with the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration to provide prosthetics for wounded warriors returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan.  Clark & Associates have been recognized for their work providing technologically-advanced prosthetic devices to veterans.

Braley will meet with founder Dennis Clark to obseve the technology and see the fitting of a new, ultra-lightweight prosthetic for Derick Hurt, an Army veteran who lost both his legs in Iraq.

MONDAY, January 16, 2012


9:45am                 Prosthetic Fitting at Clark & Associates

Clark & Associates

527 Park Lane

Waterloo, Iowa

# # #

How Can Pregnant Women Avoid Dangerous Everyday Chemicals? PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Friday, 13 January 2012 09:27
Household Hazards Expecting Moms Need to Avoid

Pregnant women are trying to be healthier.  Many take all the right steps to promote the birth of a healthy baby, including eating right, taking vitamins and eliminating alcohol and nicotine from their lives.

Unfortunately, all those efforts may be for naught if they are still being exposed to unseen chemicals in their daily lives. Dr. Doris Rapp, an experienced physician and expert on all the hidden household and environmental hazards, wants women to know about the many insidious and dangerous threats to their unborn babies. The harmful exposures can cause serious harm and damaging birth defects to babies in the womb, and they are right under our noses.

“One of the most dangerous groups of chemicals to pregnant women is known as PCBs,” said Rapp, author of 32 Tips That Could Save Your Life ( “PCB stands for polychlorinated biphenyls, and they are commonly used in industrial pesticides. While they may not be in your house, they may exist in your office, your water or your food, especially if you live near the Great Lakes or consume seafood caught there. These chemicals pass through the placenta into the unborn, and some exposures have been known to cause devastating birth defects.  These chemicals have also been found in the breast milk of women.”

According to Rapp, some of the dangers of these pesticides include, but are not limited to:

• Lower birth weight
• Smaller head size and developmental delays
• Movement, mental, and behavioral problems
• Increased or decreased activity levels
• Slowed thought processing and “less bright” appearance
• Lower reaction times
• Compromised nervous systems

“Moreover, a group of pesticides known as organophosphates also poses a high risk for pregnant women,” Rapp added.

“These include Bisphenol-A and phthalates,” she said. “They are derived from World War II nerve agents and are highly toxic. Even at low levels, organophosphates can be toxic to the developing brain, and studies show that they can affect brain and reproductive development in unborn animals. While most pesticides categorized as organophosphates have been banned for household use, they are still permitted for commercial use, including in fumigation for mosquitoes.  Malathion, a common toxic organophosphate, is still allowed for use as an industrial and household insecticide.  In the US, approximately 15 million pounds of Malathion are used each year by the government, as well as by businesses and homeowners.”

Her advice for women is to do all they can to avoid contact with these chemicals, starting before conception.

“Stay as far away as possible from pesticide-treated areas,” Rapp said. “Do not eat pesticide-laden food or any fish from the Great Lakes. Try to eat only organic foods. Further, if your job requires you to be in contact with any chemicals or pesticides, insist that other tasks be given to you for the duration of your pregnancy. Half the battle is knowing these dangers exist, but the other half is being informed and conscientious enough to be able to avoid contact with these dangerous and toxic agents.”

About Doris Rapp, M.D.

Dr. Rapp is board certified in pediatrics, pediatric allergy and environmental medicine. She was a Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the State University of New York at Buffalo until she moved in January 1996 to Phoenix. She practiced traditional allergy for 18 years and then, in 1975, began incorporating the principles of environmental medicine into her pediatric allergy practice. She is a certified specialist in environmental medicine. She has published numerous medical articles, authored chapters in medical texts and written many informative and “how-to” books and booklets about allergy for the public. She has also produced numerous educational videos and audiotapes for the public, educators and physicians.

American Cancer Society Announces 2012 Legislative Agenda PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Robert Haus   
Wednesday, 11 January 2012 13:05

“We plan to redouble our efforts in 2012 to help make Iowa in fact one of the healthiest states in the Nation.”

Peggy Huppert, Iowa Director, American Cancer Society

DES MOINES, IA – The American Cancer Society (ACS) announced its legislative agenda for 2012 at its annual Legislative Breakfast today at the Capitol.

Joining Huppert at the ACS Breakfast was Gail Orcutt, a Des Moines resident who spoke about the deadly toxin in our homes, radon gas.

“While many Iowans know that smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer and the most preventable cause of death in the state, most don’t know that the second leading cause of lung cancer is radon. It’s an odorless, colorless, tasteless toxin that threatens them where they feel the safest…their homes,” Huppert stated.

ACS distributed free radon testing kits to those in attendance. “Testing is simple, and with these kits, free. But until you test, you won’t know if this killer is lurking in your home,” Huppert noted. “Iowans have been living with this threat for years without knowing about it, and with new test kits, Iowans can take steps to rid their homes of this silent killer.”

Radon gas seeps into a house from the soil around and under the home; through cracks in the foundation, floor or walls; through hollow-block walls; and through openings around floor drains, pipes and sump pumps.

Governor Branstad proclaimed January as “Radon Awareness Month” with a proclamation dated January 5th, 2012. As many as seven out of 10 homes tested in Iowa have radon levels that exceed federal guidelines for exposure.

Huppert praised Governor Branstad for his proclamation. “Governor Branstad has made it a goal of his Administration to make Iowa one of the Nation’s healthiest states, and bringing attention to this silent killer is an excellent step in that direction,” she noted.

Huppert outlined there are other steps ACS will take to help the Administration achieve its goal of making Iowa one of the healthiest states in the Nation:

  • Establishing a consumer-friendly Iowa Insurance Exchange;
  • Closing the casino exemption in the 2008 Iowa Smokefree Air Act; and
  • Securing adequate funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs.

“Iowa should move forward on establishing its Iowa Insurance Exchange in the 2012 session, so the federal government doesn’t do it for us,” Huppert noted. “We have great leaders in the health care and insurance industries in Iowa, and we need to direct our own future and design our own plan tailored to the specific needs of our citizens.”

“We also plan to continue our efforts to eliminate the casino exemption from Iowa’s Smokefree Air Act. Iowa’s casino employees should no longer have to choose between their job and their health,” Huppert stated.

“And finally,” she noted, “last year the Legislature dealt our efforts to reduce teen and adult smoking a severe setback with budget cuts of over 65%. The tobacco companies haven’t reduced their sales by 65%, and we’ll be seeking to solidify Iowa’s prevention and cessation effort.”

“Through our efforts, we will redouble our efforts in 2012 to make Iowa, in fact, one of the healthiest states in the Nation,” Huppert concluded.


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