Picture





by Kristina Lewis MD, MPH, SM


Beginning on December 1 in New York City, food items that are extremely high in sodium acquired a warning label. Specifically, any item that contains more than a full day’s worth of recommended sodium (>2300mg) will now have to be labeled with a somewhat innocuous image of a salt shaker, and the slightly less-subtle warning message: “High sodium intake can increase blood pressure and risk of heart disease and stroke”. 

 
 
Picture





by Jen Thompson, MPP


Lately I’ve felt defensive when ordering food at restaurants.  “Can you let me know if this has any gluten in it? I have celiac disease,” I’ll say while silently whispering to myself: please believe me. Over the past few years, those of us with celiac disease – a genetic disorder in which the gluten protein found in wheat, rye, and barley triggers a damaging autoimmune response – have found ourselves in an awkward spot.  There’s now greater awareness than ever before of what gluten is, which foods contain it, and why people diagnosed with celiac disease need to scrupulously avoid it.  Yet eating gluten-free has also become a fad, with many people avoiding wheat without receiving a formal diagnosis. Some people self-diagnose themselves with “gluten sensitivity”, or a wheat allergy, or simply insist that they feel better when they avoid gluten.  Unfortunately, this has led to skepticism over gluten-free diets in general.

 
 
Picture
Working on Project Viva for the past few years, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and completing study visits with dozens of moms and their children. In addition to collecting in-person physical measurements like height, weight and waist circumference, we also administer questionnaires to our participants to capture their behaviors outside of the visit room. One of the most common questions our teen participants ask about their questionnaires -- aside from “What’s margarine?” -- is how to respond to the question “How often do you have gym class?”. Most of our participants attend gym for only a semester of the school year, and even during that semester, may not have gym class every day. Which got me wondering: how physically active (or inactive) are American teenagers, and what is the future of physical education in the United States?