Health, Medicine & Nutrition
A simple ‘thanks’ may boost well-being, from the Harvard Mental Health Letter PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Raquel Schott   
Friday, 11 November 2011 14:30

BOSTON—Before digging into Thanksgiving dinner, it is customary to take a moment to give thanks for the people and events that positively shape our lives. But, as the November 2011 issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter reveals, it may be beneficial to express gratitude on a more regular basis.

Research shows that gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Reflecting on what one is grateful for results in more positive emotions, greater satisfaction from good experiences, improved health, greater ability to deal with adversity, and stronger relationships.

Editor in Chief Dr. Michael Miller notes that whether someone is thankful for past blessings, present happenings, or is focused on remaining positive for the future, expressing gratitude forces him to refocus on what he has instead of what he lacks. And, while any expression of gratitude is likely to boost morale, like a muscle, this mental state grows stronger with use and practice.

This month’s issue reviews the benefits of gratitude and offers advice on how to cultivate this state of mind, from writing a thank you note to praying or meditating.

Read the full-length article: “In praise of gratitude”

Other topics covered in this issue include:

  • Preventing mental illness in children with depressed parents
  • Causes of common memory lapses
  • Could nicotine boost weight loss?
  • Best psychotherapy for social anxiety disorder
  • People with borderline personality disorder often recover with time
  • Sleeping problems increase chances of cognitive decline
  • Is it possible to become addicted to chocolate?

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).


Public access to doctor disciplinary data must be restored PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Sen Chuck Grassley   
Tuesday, 08 November 2011 13:18
WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley is continuing his effort to restore public access to data on malpractice payouts, hospital discipline and regulatory sanctions against doctors and other health professionals and to hold accountable the federal government official who shut down access to this information.

In a letter sent to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Grassley said the department’s response to his inquiry of October 7 was incomplete even while revealing that the Health Research and Services Administration (HRSA) prematurely jumped to conclusions regarding a reporter who used publicly available information to track down the identity of a doctor with a record of malpractice cases.  Grassley said that in doing so, the federal government undermined its own mandate to “enhance the quality of healthcare, encourage greater efforts in professional peer review and restrict the ability of incompetent healthcare practitioners to relocate without discovery of previous substandard performance or unprofessional conduct.”  Instead, Grassley said it looks like HRSA was trying to protect a single physician who had a malpractice suit and disciplinary action filed against him.

Grassley said whoever made this decision needs to be held accountable and that the Public Use File in question should be fully restored on the HRSA website.  “Department officials are misguided if they think they can make this issue go away with the response sent to my first letter of inquiry,” Grassley said.  “This database contains information intended for public consumption, and efforts to shutter access will be fought by those of us committed to transparency where public dollars and the public interest are at stake.”

Click here to read Grassley’s November 3 letter.  Click here to read Grassley’s October 7 letter.  Click here to read Grassley’s October 17 letter.  Click here to read the response from the HRSA Administrator to Grassley’s October 7 letter and attachments one, two and three.


In addition, below is the text of Grassley’s November 3 letter.

November 3, 2011


The Honorable Kathleen Sebelius


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

200 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, D.C., 20201


Dear Secretary Sebelius:

On October 7, 2011, I wrote to the Health Research and Services Administration (HRSA) regarding its decision to remove the publically available National Practitioner Data Bank’s (NPDB) Public Use File (PUF) from its website.  For years the PUF has served as the backbone in providing transparency for bad acting healthcare practitioners and has been used by researchers and consumer groups to calculate trends in disciplinary actions by state medical boards.

On November 1, 2011, HRSA responded to my letter and provided a set of heavily redacted documents.  However, HRSA failed to respond fully, and the information provided raises additional concerns.  For example, question 4 asked who was responsible for the decision to remove public access to the PUF and the response merely said it was made by HRSA leadership.

Question 1 asks HRSA how it reconciles the claim in the letter to Mr. Bavley that “information reported to the NPDB is confidential and it’s not to be disclosed or redisclosed outside of HHS except in furtherance of professional review activities” with the fact that the statute clearly contemplates that the data will be public in a de-identified form. HRSA responded by stating:

The initial information HRSA received did not indicate Mr. Bavley had used the Public Use File (PUF).  . . . HRSA’s letters related to use of confidential data from NPDB itself–not from the Public Use File.  Mr. Bavley subsequently informed HRSA that he had not used the NPDB, but had instead conducted research using data from the PUF.

HRSA’s response makes it apparent that HRSA simply accepted the complaint of the physician involved at face value and jumped to conclusions about how Mr. Bavley obtained the information.  Once HRSA learned of its mistake, it then compounded the error by shutting down access to information that Congress intended to be public through the PUF.  All Mr. Bavley did was use publicly available data, and HRSA’s response to that was to shut down access to that data for everyone.  Moreover, HRSA has still failed to restore the PUF to its website.

Perhaps more puzzling is why HRSA was going against its mandate with respect to the NPDB PUF.  The intent of the legislation that created the PUF was to enhance the quality of healthcare, encourage greater efforts in professional peer review and restrict the ability of incompetent healthcare practitioners to relocate without discovery of previous substandard performance or unprofessional conduct.  However, from the documents provided by HRSA it appears that instead of protecting the interest of public health, its purpose was to protect a single physician who had a malpractice suit and disciplinary action filed against him.

Instead of conducting its own research into the professional conduct of Dr. Tenny, HRSA appears to have over reacted to the complaint of a single physician based on no evidence other than that he received a call from the press.   This action, and the subsequent action of removing public access to the PUF, flies in the face of HRSA’s mandate to enhance the quality of healthcare.

In light of all these circumstances, full public access to the PUF should be restored to HRSA’s website immediately.  Additionally, I request that the individual at HRSA responsible for the decision to remove the public access to the PUF come in and brief my staff immediately.  As part of this briefing, please bring the unredacted copies of all documents HRSA supplied as part of my initial inquiry.

Should you have any questions regarding this letter, please contact Erika Smith of the Senate Judiciary Committee staff at (202) 224-5225.  Thank you for your immediate attention to this important matter.


Charles E. Grassley

Ranking Member

Hoarding gaining attention and new approaches, from Harvard Women’s Health Watch PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Raquel Schott   
Tuesday, 08 November 2011 08:59

BOSTON—The problem of hoarding used to be largely out of sight. Compulsive hoarders typically avoid visitors and rarely seek help. But television shows such as Hoarders and Hoarding: Buried Alive have increased public awareness by presenting vivid pictures of hoarding to millions of viewers. Mental health professionals are also taking a fresh look at the problem, reports the November 2011 issue of Harvard Women’s Health Watch.

Compulsive hoarders acquire and accumulate objects in such large and disorderly quantities that their living space becomes dangerous or impossible to use for normal activities. Stockpiling paper is especially common. Vast stacks of old newspapers, magazines, books, mail, and lists pile up, leaving no space to sleep or eat. Worse, the piles may catch fire or topple over, causing injury or death.

Hoarding was once considered a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder, but mental health professionals now believe it’s its own disorder and have come up with new criteria for diagnosing it.

Most hoarders need professional treatment, says Harvard Women’s Health Watch, but there are several things concerned relatives and friends can do to help, including the following:

Listen. Let the hoarder tell her story. Respect her perspective and her attachment to her possessions. Don’t tease or criticize.

Go slow. There’s no need to rush changes unless the hoarder’s living situation is unsafe or she needs to move to smaller quarters or a nursing facility.

Engage. Involve the hoarder in decisions about where to put things and what to throw out.

Provide structure and support. During the decluttering process, keep her company and help her stay focused on one area at a time.

Lift and tote. An elderly hoarder may need family, friends, or professional cleaners or movers to help with handling the clutter.

Work with others. Many communities have hoarding task forces that address psychiatric, legal, geriatric, and housing concerns. Check with your local Council on Aging.

Read the full-length article here: “When keeping stuff gets out of hand”

Also in this issue:

  • What screening tests do you need after age 75?
  • Even a little exercise helps a woman’s heart
  • Sleep apnea and dementia in older women
  • Cholesterol-lowering foods versus low-saturated-fat diet
  • Reclast and Prolia for osteoporosis

Harvard Women’s Health Watch is available from Harvard Health Publications (, the publishing division of Harvard Medical School, for $28 per year. Subscribe at or by calling 877-649-9457 (toll-free).


Davenport School of Yoga expands to Bettendorf PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Anne Gallagher   
Tuesday, 01 November 2011 11:34


New Bettendorf Yoga Studio Opens Nov. 7

Davenport School of Yoga opens a second yoga studio Nov. 7 at 3420 Towne Point Drive, Bettendorf. To celebrate, a new curriculum has been developed to include special classes for parents and children to take together, as well as seniors seeking to maintain an active lifestyle.

“A number of our current students come from Bettendorf, Pleasant Valley and Leclaire. We believe this is the right time to expand to serve these students,” says Davenport School of Yoga founder Jeani Mackenzie.

“Our focus is on creating health improvements for each individual, no matter what their skill level. The school is based in traditional western Hatha yoga, which takes the body through its full, natural range of motion in a series of simple movements. No matter what your starting point, the result of yoga is improved strength, flexibility, balance, coordination and concentration.”

A complete course and fee schedule is available by visiting . An open house for the Bettendorf studio will be held Nov.12. All morning classes will be free to guests. Instructors will be providing free demonstrations from 11 to 2 p.m. Walk-in guests are welcome.

Mackenzie has been teaching yoga for more than 32 years. Her original studio is located at 421 Brady Street, Davenport.


Participate in the National PTA’s Healthy Lifestyles Month with TOPS PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Kimberly Greene   
Tuesday, 01 November 2011 10:11

MILWAUKEE, WI – With the increasing prevalence of childhood obesity and other health problems, it’s important that parents encourage and teach kids about nutritious food options and physical activity.  The National PTA’s (Parent Teacher Association) Healthy Lifestyles Month this November is an opportunity to use creative events and activities to show that living healthfully can be fun.  TOPS Club, Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization, provides advice to promote wellness at home and get involved with the PTA Healthy Lifestyles initiative.

The facts

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children and adolescents should participate in 60 minutes of physical activity each day.  Today, there are more video games, less homemade meals, and a reduction of physical education and sports programs at school – trends that have contributed to a growing problem of decreased physical activity among children.  One in three children and adolescents are overweight or obese, and according to the American Diabetes Association, one in every 400 children has diabetes.

Although there has been an increase in childhood obesity, there has also been a rise in initiatives to temper this trend.  Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign, a program that TOPS supports, is one such plan that ties into the goals and message of Healthy Lifestyles Month.

It starts at home

It’s important to develop healthy habits at home, so children can go to school, friends’ houses, and other places, ready to make sensible, healthy choices.

1. Physical activity – Get moving as a family and demonstrate to kids the necessity of exercise, which can also boost self-esteem and confidence and reduce stress.

• Take a group walk or bike ride around the neighborhood after dinner.
• Find free or low-cost physical activity areas in your community, such as a playground, bike trail, tennis court, or park.
• Take on active chores as a family, like raking leaves or shoveling snow.
• Use pedometers and have a contest to see who takes the most steps in a given week.
• Go to the gym as a family.  Many fitness centers offer discounted memberships.

2. Nutrition – While parents typically decide what their children eat, kids will often eat what is available to them.  Surround kids with healthy snacks and homemade meals to ensure that they’re making good choices.

• Serve fresh, frozen, and canned fruits and vegetables.  Consider more unique snack ideas like homemade smoothies, a fruit salad, or vegetables and hummus dip.
• Offer water, fat-free milk, or 100 percent fruit juice with no sugar added.
• Since nuts and trail mix are often high in calories, serve them in small portions along with another healthy snack.
• Don’t force kids to clean their plates if they are full.

3. Grocery shopping – Before going to the store, make a list of groceries your family needs.  Explain to the kids that you will only buy what’s on the list to avoid unhealthy options slipping into the cart.  When making your way through the store, focus on the perimeters.  These areas contain healthier options, such as produce and dairy.  Also, never shop with an empty stomach, so you aren’t vulnerable to buying extra foods.

Get involved at school

There are numerous ways to become engaged at your child’s school.  Joining your local PTA can help you and other parents impact what’s served at lunch, emphasize the importance of physical activity during the school day, and plan activities to promote health and wellness.  Here are some PTA program and activity ideas that will keep families moving and promote wellness:

• Create a document for parents about physical activity areas and resources within the community.
• Host a fundraiser for new fitness equipment.  Skip the candy bars and cookies and sell services, magazines, candles, cookbooks, or other alternatives to sweets.
• Plan a 5K run/walk or walk-a-thon event for the school district and encourage families to participate. 
• Hang up posters and other educational materials in the cafeteria to make students aware of the importance of a nutritious meal.
• Hold a seminar for parents with a health and wellness expert.
• Organize a healthy Family Fun Night with nutritious snacks, games in the gymnasium, such as basketball or kick ball, a dance, food trivia, and more.

It’s also important to find out if your local school district has a wellness policy.  This should include nutrition education goals, physical activity objectives, guidelines for food available at school, opportunities for parents and students to get involved with the policy development, and plans for evaluation.  The best place to begin inquiring about a school wellness policy is at the district office.

TOPS Club Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) is the original weight-loss support and wellness education organization.  Founded more than 63 years ago, TOPS is the only nonprofit, noncommercial weight-loss organization of its kind.  TOPS promotes successful weight management with a “Real People. Real Weight Loss.” philosophy that combines support from others at weekly chapter meetings, healthy eating, regular exercise, and wellness information.  TOPS has about 170,000 members - male and female, age seven and older - in nearly 10,000 chapters throughout the United States and Canada.

Visitors are welcome to attend their first TOPS meeting free of charge.  Membership is affordable at just $26 per year, plus nominal chapter fees.  To find a local chapter, view or call (800) 932-8677.


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