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PostPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2015 9:48 am 
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Emergency departments feel the new year pain

Five days after Christmas, the emergency ward at Royal North Shore Hospital was heaving.

More than 220 patients limped, lurched and wheeled through the doors. Ambulances piled up outside. One person waited at least 18 hours to be seen by a doctor. Others not much less.

It can't go on like this. The system will implode.

A medico observing the packed waiting room was alarmed.

"It can't go on like this," he said later. "The system will implode."

The fortnight over Christmas and New Year's Day is notoriously busy for emergency departments. Boxing Day is the busiest day of the year.

General practices, pharmacies and all the places that people usually go for minor ailments are closed, so instead they drive out to the hospitals and perch on plastic chairs among the bleeding and rasping.

These patients build up like a dam in the emergency department, which has a reduced capacity to feed them through to specialists within the hospital.

Many of the wards have closed. Doctors, nurses and administrators have gone on holidays and there are fewer beds for the patients that need further care.

Those that move into the hospital take longer to be discharged. The entire system slows down.

Mona Vale Hospital's director of emergency, Andy Ratchford, said the predictability of the Christmas crush did not alter its course.

"Even though we know it's going to happen, we don't increase our staffing because we can't afford it," Dr Ratchford said.

"We don't open up more beds because we can't afford it. So obviously if you're going to have the same number of beds and the same number of staff and more people coming in, you're going to run into trouble."

Patients arriving at Blacktown Hospital on Monday felt the brunt of that trouble as they waited in corridors, on stretchers and waiting room beds as night turned to day and back into night again.

One 63-year-old woman, weak from days of vomiting, waited close to 40 hours to be moved into a ward.

During that time the paramedics who delivered her to hospital needed to be relieved by another team, because they are not permitted to leave patients until beds are found for them.

Health administrators declined to comment on reports that 60 beds out of a total of 450 at Blacktown Hospital were closed over Christmas. Other sources have put the figure at closer to 40.

One staff member says while this might be reasonable in a hospital with extra beds, Blacktown has no surge capacity to cope with the straitened resources.

"Closing large numbers of beds over the Christmas period was always going to result in [delays]," the source says.

Australasian College of Emergency Medicine's Simon Judkins says trolley blocking - leaving patients on stretchers until they can be admitted - is less an emergency department problem than a hospital problem because it cannot be fixed without everyone working together to improve flow.

A 2013 analysis by the NSW Auditor General found it was increasing. An average of 20 ambulances spend their days in hospitals instead of on the road, the report found, a figure that has tripled inside a decade.

Some emergency physicians believe more surgeons should be encouraged to continue working over the summer to open more beds for people flowing through from emergency departments.

Evening the spread of elective surgery would also reduce pressure in the flu season over winter, when it often has to be cancelled for spikes in admissions from elderly patients, Dr Judkins says.

"They do save a hell of a lot of money at that time by putting people on leave and closing theatres," Dr Judkins says.

"The problem with what happened at Blacktown is it probably got to the point where they just closed too many beds.

"And to try and ramp up the whole hospital machine, to try to get people discharged, is just impossible because all those people who would normally be there - the social workers, the pharmacists, the physiotherapists - are all on annual leave."

NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner is familiar with the argument that hospitals should not shut down over summer, as she made it herself in opposition. She says hospitals use algorithms to calculate the demand and ensure they have enough staff and the problems at Blacktown were caused by an unanticipated spike in demand.

"We've stopped the long, long shutdowns that Labor used to implement - eight to nine weeks," she says.

"This Christmas New Year, most hospitals shut for two to two-and-a-half weeks and that's just normal."

One year she invited surgeons to volunteer to continue providing elective surgery over the Christmas period, but only two took up the call.

"I'm not going to force doctors to work when they want to spend time with their families," she says.

As the population ages, emergency department presentations are forecasted to increase 10 per cent annually.

The scale of the looming influx has forced health administrators around the world to seek new ways of alleviating pressure on emergency departments.

Most hospitals now recognise that emergency department blockages are not just a problem for the emergency department, but that the whole hospital needs to work together.

NSW Health introduced the Whole of Hospital Program in 2012, which includes strategies such as ensuring that appointments are set aside for emergency patients to have x-rays and MRI scans, so they do not wait all day for appointments, and that beds are cleaned and ready.

One study identified 24 to 33 per cent of latent capacity in Australian hospitals.

Campbelltown Hospital, which is upgrading its emergency department facilities, has reported huge improvements since it started on the program.

It now offloads 92 per cent of patients from ambulances within 30 minutes, compared with 60 per cent before it joined the program, and with 160 to 180 presentations per day, it is one of the busiest emergency departments in town.

Director of medical services, Sellappa Prahalath, said the hospital previously struggled to meet its key performance indicators.

"We wanted to get the whole of hospital involved in the process. The emergency department can't admit patients if there's no flow at the other end. Now everyone is involved.

"Systems were put in place which expedited flow."

Dr Ratchford said the Whole of Hospital Program had led to a huge improvement at Mona Vale Hospital, but the forecasted increase in emergency presentations loomed large.

"Whole of Hospital can help patients get through a bit quicker, but it's never going to keep pace with that amount of presentations.

"There are definite improvements that have come about in the last couple of years, but in a way it's just chipping around the edges."

The scene at Royal North Shore Hospital on December 30 was not outside the usual range for the busy festive period. It took an average 29 minutes to be seen by a clinician on that day, a further three hours to be admitted and another hour before a bed was ready on the ward.

The local health service was not able to comment on the patient who waited 18 hours.

At St George Hospital, 250 patients swung through the doors on each of their two busiest days, Boxing Day and January 2, but in a sign that patients were flowing, ambulances were waiting only 15 minutes to transfer patients.

Campbelltown Hospital fielded 218 presentations on Boxing Day and a similar number on New Year's Day, but nearly all of them were off their stretchers within 30 minutes.

Dr Judkins says sometimes closing down beds for surgery over summer means less competition for emergency patients.

"But it's a fine balance. If you get the mix wrong, you end up with a situation like Blacktown."

http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/nsw/eme ... 2kj7o.html


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2015 11:52 am 
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Caffeine linked to increased soft drink consumption

Calls for tighter regulation of caffeine in soft drinks have been prompted by research from Deakin University that found that caffeine increases the consumption of soft drinks.

In a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers measured the influence caffeine had on the consumption of sugar sweetened soft drinks. They found that people drinking caffeinated drinks consumed much more than those who drank the non-caffeinated equivalents.

“This research supports the ongoing need for caffeine to be tightly regulated as an additive in the food supply, as it appears an ingredient for overconsumption,” said the study's senior author associate professor Lynn Riddell.

“The increasing consumption of nutrient poor, high energy foods and drinks is a major contributor to the continuing problems of overweight and obesity.”

Caffeine is a widely consumed, mildly addictive chemical that occurs naturally in coffee, tea and chocolate, but is an additive in soft drinks—mostly cola flavoured and energy drinks. It is estimated that more than 60 per cent of soft drink consumption is of the caffeinated variety.

The study involved 99 participants, aged 18—30, who were randomly assigned to either a caffeinated or non-caffeinated soft drink group. The participants were masked to the true purpose of the study, being told that it was about testing the palatability and liking of a lemon flavoured soft drink. Over the 28-day intervention they consumed as much of the soft drinks as they wanted. The amount of soft drinks consumed was monitored daily while their liking of the drinks was assessed at the beginning and the end of the study.

The results of the study showed that the participants in the caffeinated drinks group drank 419ml (785 kilojoules) per day, significantly more than those in the non-caffeinated group who drank 273ml (512 kilojoules).

“Our findings clearly show that caffeine as an additive in soft drinks increased consumption and with it sugar calories, and that is a significant public health issue given the prevalence of obesity,” Riddell said.

As with previous research, a separate group of trained flavour testers found no difference in the flavour between the caffeinated and non-caffeinated drinks.

Some soft-drink manufacturers claim that caffeine is added as a flavour enhancer however this claim is challenged by this research.

“Participants cannot taste the difference between the caffeinated soft drink and the non-caffeinated soft drink; if you can't tell a difference in flavour there is no flavour activity,” said the study's lead author Professor Russell Keast.

“It is also important to note that the level of caffeine in the soft drinks used in the study was the same as in commercially available cola flavoured beverages.

“That caffeinated soft drinks were also more liked than the non-caffeinated soft drink at the end of the intervention, supports previous studies that suggest caffeine promotes liking and consumption via sub-conscious influences that may be related to reversing caffeine withdrawal symptoms.

“Additive compounds such as caffeine that promote consumption via sub-conscious effects work against efforts to minimise energy consumption. The research provides evidence in support of the need for strong regulation of caffeine as an additive to foods.”

The research was funded by a Diabetes Australia Research Trust.

http://www.foodmag.com.au/news/caffeine ... consumptio


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 12:59 pm 
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What Happens When John Travolta Introduces Himself When You're Exercising At 3 A.M.

Justin Jones was just going about his usual workout at a Planet Fitness when John Travolta came out of nowhere and introduced himself to the exerciser. The two ended up taking a selfie of the 3 a.m. interaction, which Jones published on Reddit, causing the photograph to go viral.

The Huffington Post reached out to Jones about his fan interaction with Travolta, which according to him ended up lasting about 15 minutes. Jones explained how it all started:

I didn't see him come in or anything like that. But I was just doing my usual workout, which is pretty short. I was just going from machine to machine and he came out of the next room. He just walked right up to me and introduced himself as John and I was kind of blown away by that.

Although surprised, Jones recognized the actor immediately. Jones said that Travolta ask him "a lot of questions" such as what he did for a living, if he was married and what Jones does in his free time. After Jones told Travolta about his wife and two stepdaughters, the two talked about Jones' woodworking projects. Travolta inquired about prices of Jones' outdoor furniture and asked for his card, but Jones didn't have one on him.

When discussing what he does in his own spare time, Travolta talked about his work with Qantas, the Australian airline company.

Jones wasn't sure why the actor came to say hello. "I really have no idea. I really don't know," Jones said. "I would have never approached him if I had seen him first, but I didn't even know he was there. But I didn't ask him or anything. He came up to me."

Representatives for Travolta were not immediately available for comment.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/1 ... 79752.html


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2015 12:55 pm 
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NSW emergency departments relax four-hour patient targets

Emergency clinicians have blamed a lack of political will on the NSW government's decision to abandon its commitment to ensuring 90 per cent of patients are leaving the emergency department within four hours.

A member of the federal government's expert panel on emergency targets said he was "incredibly disappointed" that NSW had dropped the policy when there were still gains to be made.

Mark Monaghan, a WA emergency physician who advised the Commonwealth in 2011, said although patients who were discharged from the emergency department were going through more quickly, those who needed to be admitted to hospital were still being held up.

"We'd only just begun on this work and I'm incredibly disappointed," Dr Monaghan said.

"I think it's a great shame that NSW has abandoned this. We could have made this target smarter and made real gains in relation to getting emergency patients treated quicker."

Health Minister Jillian Skinner announced on Monday that NSW would no longer attempt to move 90 per cent of patients out of the emergency department within four hours as the federal government was no longer providing a financial incentive for it to meet the target.

The federal government dropped $50 million in funding that was tied to the targets in the June budget.

She said on Thursday that while the Commonwealth had moved away from the four-hour rule, NSW remained committed to it.

"NSW will continue to apply 81 per cent as its four-hour benchmark pending a review by Queensland - and supported by other states and territories - of whether 90 per cent is an appropriate long term benchmark."

The results of the Queensland study will be published in a peer reviewed journal, and until then the Queensland government has frozen its target at 83 per cent.

The review committee chair, David Rosengren, said the costs of achieving the target needed to be weighed against the gains in efficiency and patient safety.

"The 90 per cent target has no evidence behind it," Dr Rosengren said.

"It was a random number that was generated out of the UK."

It may be that by moving 90 per cent of patients out of the emergency department within four hours, surgical care was compromised, he said.

"No government wants to be responding to an opposition that says your emergency department is meant to be 90 per cent when in fact it's not a valid performance target in the first place."

But Dr Monaghan, who also rolled out the four-hour target in Western Australia, said there was no evidence that a 90 per cent target was unsafe.

"In fact the contrary," he said.

"We found that when we were at high 80s we had decreased mortality. I personally think that's a reason you could throw up as a reason not to do it."

The Australasian College of Emergency Medicine's Andrew Bezzina said more work needed to be done to speed the progress of patients admitted to hospital, as discharged patients were the quickest.

"When the patients go through to the other side things tend to slow down," he said.

"The system can come to a 90 per cent target, it's just a question of how much will there is to push the process across the board."

http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/nsw-emergency ... 2r3yh.html


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 3:03 pm 
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Lawyer tells her story of anorexia, launches group to help others

Weighing a childlike 80 pounds as a law student, Angela Rinaldis wrote her final exams in a fog. The dotted line of bruises down her spine from carrying a backpack of books with no flesh to protect her bones finally made her sick of being sick. Then, a decade ago at age 24, she asked to be treated for anorexia at St. Paul’s Hospital — and now marvels at her survival.

“I constantly had to be in pain. I felt I deserved it,” Rinaldis said this week at her downtown Vancouver office, where she practises as a criminal defence lawyer.

She’s talking about the immense personal and social burden of her eating disorder with the hope it will encourage more people to speak out about the potentially deadly mental illness.

“No one wants to say they have an eating disorder. There was a point where I was uncomfortable, too,” says Rinaldis, a rapid-fire talker with an unflinching approach, even toward herself. “I’m a lawyer. I stand up in court. I work on big cases. I didn’t want people to think I’m crazy. I mean, I couldn’t eat a sandwich, but now I’m defending your rights.”

Silence also means there’s no open discussion about how to recover, she says.

“You can be cured of an eating disorder and then you can get back to working or going to school, gainfully engaged in society.”

It’s a topic important enough to occupy 22 members of parliament who listened to expert witnesses last year before producing a 75-page report that was released with no publicity in November and quickly shelved.

The Standing Committee on the Status of Women has examined issues it deems to be significant to the country including equal pay and violence against women.

The only other major health issue it has examined stretching back to 1992 is breast cancer. “The study shines a spotlight on an often marginalized and misunderstood mental health disorder which affects approximately 600,000 to 990,000 individuals, plus their families, at any given time in Canada,” says the report.

“Many witnesses noted that eating disorders, particularly anorexia nervosa, have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness,” it continues.

Between 10 and 15 per cent of people diagnosed with anorexia nervosa will die from it, as will five per cent of those with bulimia. Together, the disorders kill an estimated 1,000 to 1,500 Canadians per year.

And those numbers are considered low because deaths from heart attacks or suicide, for instance, are not necessarily counted as deaths from an eating disorder.

In one of 25 recommendations, the committee asked the federal government to work with the provinces to fund timely care — even if it means sending patients to the U.S. — because there is a shortage of treatment beds for these “life-threatening” illnesses.

The committee also heard that the incidence of eating disorders held steady from 2006 to 2013 in all but the youngest patients, with a 42-per-cent increase in hospitalization among girls aged 10-19 during the last two years of the study.

Experts say the causes of anorexia, bulimia and binge eating are complex, with genetic, psychological and cultural factors at play. It’s linked to isolation, poor coping skills, a need for control, perfectionism, unrealistic body image or abuse. While popular thought often dismisses eating disorders as a burden carried only by rich white teenage girls, research shows it’s rising among minority groups — both gay and straight — boys and men.

Rinaldis credits finding a spot at St. Paul’s Hospital and working with its then-head of the eating disorder program, Dr. Laird Birmingham, with saving her life. She was immediately given intravenous fluids to replenish missing nutrients. She ate small meals designed to ease her into eating again without triggering dangerous reactions associated with giving too much food to a starving person, including heart failure and seizure.

It ended years of bizarre rules that an inner voice had imposed on her since age 16: a strict schedule for any eating, a handful of acceptable foods, extreme exercise routines taking up to five hours a day, and no skin contact with forbidden foods like butter. She needed to wear a rubber glove to remove it from the fridge when setting the table for her Italian family.

Yet she kept up with other demands in her life — helping her ill mother, staying on the honour role, getting a scholarship to the University of British Columbia.

“It was my coping mechanism. The only thing I could control was anything that went into my mouth,” she recalls.

“I didn’t think I was going to potentially die on the stair climber. I felt great, but it was an illusion. I was completely disassociated from my body. I had lost all feeling of hunger.”

Looking back at her mental suffering, the physical damage (she had osteopenia — the first stages of osteoporosis — no periods for six years, her hair was falling out), and the sheer waste of human energy has driven Rinaldis to launch a not-for-profit organization to help other eating disorder sufferers get the treatment they need early on.

Project True has raised money from a small yet growing number of Vancouver groups and businesses to fund outpatient therapy for three people whose names will be drawn Feb. 6. She hopes more funders will step up to pay for other applicants who aren’t picked in the random draw. They’ll each get $2,000 worth of counselling at a private eating disorder clinic that opened last year, Dr. Birmingham and Associates. Birmingham estimates that a typical run of treatment — psychological therapy, advice from nutritionists — will run about $4,000 per person. Rinaldis says since leaving St. Paul’s she’s spent more than $55,000 to work with counsellors, nutritionists and personal trainers who have knowledge about eating disorders.

The only publicly funded treatments in B.C. are two in-hospital programs: St. Paul’s for adults and B.C. Children’s Hospital for patients up to age 18. A third option is the Looking Glass Residence in Vancouver — a program relocated from the former Woodstone Residence on Galiano Island — which has 14 publicly funded beds for B.C. residents.

Deborah Grimm, co-founder of the Looking Glass Foundation, says more people recognize anorexia, bulimia and binge eating as mental illnesses today, but that can be another reason for some to stay silent about the condition. Just as society used to blame sufferers for making themselves sick, talking about psychological problems runs up against its own set of taboos, she says.

“There’s so much stigma around eating disorders. There’s the historical level of blame, then there’s the new stigma of mental illness,” says Grimm.

“We’re starting to understand as a nation that mental health affects physical health. It’s starting to change, but only in infinitesimal amounts.”

As for Rinaldis, she’s now a fit-looking recreational hockey player with a beaming smile. She has high hopes that Project True and its website can be a clearing house for information about prevention and treatment for eating disorders.

And she can finally enjoy a good meal.

“People are often surprised at how much I eat these days. It’s not like I do not have some anxiety in certain situations and certain foods bring up memories, but I am able to work through all that.”

http://www.timescolonist.com/life/lawye ... -1.1735085


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2015 8:51 am 
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Government accused of overstating health spending growth

The Abbott government has been accused of exaggerating growth in healthcare spending to justify cuts to Medicare rebates.

Health Minister Sussan Ley has begun consulting doctors about reforms to rein in what she has called the "rapid and unsustainable" rate of growth in Medicare spending.

While her first public act as minister was to withdraw changes that would have cut rebates for short GP visits by $20, the government still plans to cut rebates for GP visits by $5 in July, and give bulk-billing doctors the option of charging patients a fee of up to $5.

"In the last decade spending on Medicare has more than doubled from $8 billion in 2004 to $20 billion today, yet we raise only $10 billion from the Medicare levy," Ms Ley said in her first press conference last week. "Spending is projected to climb to $34 billion in the next decade to 2024. So my clear message to all with an interest in Medicare reform is that doing nothing is not an option."

Stephen Duckett, a former head of the federal health department who is now health program director at the Grattan Institute, said the use of raw figures, which have also been cited by Prime Minister Tony Abbott in recent days, overstated the increase in spending because they did not take into account inflation and population growth.

"Certainly over that period there was an increase in spending and there was an increase in real spending per head, but real spending per head has not increased nearly as dramatically as the raw figures that the government is quoting," Dr Duckett said.

According to the Productivity Commission, federal government spending on GPs was stable in real terms between 2006-07 and 2011-12, at just over $300 per person. Using a different methodology, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, a federal government agency, calculated that Medicare funding for primary healthcare, which includes some services delivered by dentists and allied health workers such as physiotherapists, increased from $222 to $287 per person in real terms between 2002-03 and 2012-13.

Medicare architect John Deeble said the government's comparison of raw figures had "no credibility at all", and highlighting the shortfall between Medicare costs and funds raised through the Medicare levy was misleading, because the levy had never been intended to cover the entire cost of the scheme.

"It's just playing politics – it's complete rubbish," he said.

Professor Deeble said Australia's health spending as a proportion of economic output was stable, and moderate compared to other developed countries.

In 2012, the latest year for which international comparisons are available, Australia spent 9.4 per cent of gross domestic product on health, a similar proportion to that spent by Britain and a lower proportion than the United States, Canada and France.

But the Department of Health said the growth in Medicare spending was not explained by population growth and the indexation of Medicare rebates.

The department said over the past decade, the annual cost to Medicare of GP consultations rose from $137 to $269 per person. It said the average Medicare benefit for each GP service had increased by 27 per cent over this period after adjusting for inflation.

Ms Ley said the government was committed to "protecting Medicare for the long term" and wanted to work with the medical profession and patients "to build a more sustainable Medicare system".

http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/ ... 2v8mb.html


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2015 9:30 am 
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Colorectal cancer incidence is increasing among young adults

Screening efforts have resulted in an overall decrease in incidence of colorectal cancer (CRC). However, incidence of the disease in young adults (ages 20-39 years) has increased in the past 20 to 30 years.

Little is known about CRC incidence in young adults because recommended screening for people of average risk person begins at age 50 years. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, analyzed 231,544 CRC cases from 1988-2009 from the California Cancer Registry to identify high-risk subgroups.

Their study cases included 5,617 young adults ages 20-39 years. Although the absolute incidence of CRC per 100,000 in this group was low, the researchers found CRC incidence increasing over time among both males and females, particularly for distal colon cancer in Hispanic females ages 20-29 years.

The researchers conclude that absolute incidence of CRC is significantly lower in among the young adult populations; however, incidence is increasing among young adults compared with the older screened population. They also note a need for further research to better characterize young adults at increased risk for CRC.

Consumption of garlic not associated decreased risk of colorectal cancer

Incidence of colorectal cancer in young adults has increased in the past 20 to 30 years.

The incidence of colorectal cancer (CRC) among young adults ages 20-39 years has increased during the past 20-30 years, despite declining rates of CRC for the U.S. population overall. This surprising new finding, an analysis of how CRC incidence varies based on race and gender, and differences in tumor location, for young adults compared to the general population are presented in Journal of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology (JAYAO).

http://www.oncologynurseadvisor.com/col ... le/394108/


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 27, 2015 5:19 pm 
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Food Coach gives market stallholders something to chew over with The Greengrocer’s Diet

When someone's job involves selling fresh vegetables and fruit, you'd think they'd eat so much of these foods that they'd be living proof of the benefits of a plant-rich diet - think healthy blood pressure and a leaner waistline. But not always: like many people working long hours, often through the night, some of the fruit and vegetable wholesalers at Sydney Markets who food writer Judy Davie encountered had high blood pressure and were very overweight.

"Although these men were surrounded by fresh seasonal produce, they were often starting work at 2am and relying on high-fat food from local cafes to keep them going," she says.

The irony of this wasn't lost on Davie, whose own job involves encouraging people to eat a healthier diet through her website The Food Coach. She decided to devise an eating plan to help some of these men lose weight by eating more of the vegetables and fruit they sold to other people.

She recruited a group of 10 overweight volunteers made up of wholesalers on the night shift and greengrocers working long hours - and by the end of 12 weeks they'd lost 86 kilograms between them and their blood pressure had improved. Although they all started with high blood pressure, their levels dropped to within the healthy range, which Davie attributes to the increased potassium in their diet provided by a higher intake of seasonal vegetables and fruit.

"When I began this project I had no idea how it would unfold and I certainly didn't anticipate the health outcomes. Yet the men who visited their doctor during these 12 weeks found that their levels of blood glucose, cholesterol and triglycerides had dropped. Two men who'd relied on sleep apnoea machines no longer used them," says Davie, who's now tested the diet on 40 male and female volunteers. The volunteers' ages range from the 30s to the 70s, and most have sustained the weight loss. A common response from many of the women who trialled the plan was that they no longer needed laxatives to get their bowels moving.

The notion that eating more veggies and fruit will improve our health is hardly groundbreaking, but getting people to put this knowledge into practice at breakfast, lunch and dinner is a challenge. Just before Christmas, yet another survey of our vegetable consumption had the usual bad news - research by Roy Morgan of more than 14,000 people reported that only 2 per cent were eating the recommended five daily serves of vegetables and two serves of fruit.

This is the problem that Davie tries to tackle in her book The Greengrocer's Diet, an eating plan based on her project with the wholesalers that got them eating lunches of wholegrain wraps packed with ingredients like avocado, watercress and lean poultry instead of fast food.

There's nothing gimmicky about this eating plan - no missing out of food groups, for instance - although there is advice to make a green smoothie based on greens like spinach, kale or watercress blended with a little fruit and fresh herbs or ginger and to drink half in the morning before breakfast and the rest in the afternoon as an energy booster to head off any 4pm sweet cravings. The rationale for this, says Davie, is that it provides extra nutrients and fibre and - a bit like vegetable soup - acts as a low kilojoule filler-upper.

Along with showing easy ways to incorporate more fresh seasonal vegetables into each meal, along with moderate amounts of lean protein and quality carbohydrates like dark rye bread and oats, there's an emphasis on boosting the flavour of vegetables, which Davie says is one of the keys to coaxing us to eat more of them.

"One reason our vegetable consumption is so low is that people often focus on protein foods and starchy carbs like pasta, rice and potatoes and treat vegetables as an afterthought - and when they do get around to veggies they typically just boil or steam them, which is boring," she says. "Like any other food, vegetables need a helping hand by adding ingredients like fresh herbs, pepper, chilli, olive oil, lime or and lemon juice, Japanese plum vinegar and, occasionally, a little salt.

"We need people to understand the value of eating vegetables and discover how good they can taste in order for them to be bothered to prepare them," says Davie.

http://www.watoday.com.au/lifestyle/die ... 2wx4s.html


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2015 2:59 pm 
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McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson stands down amid fast-food chain’s sales slump

THE CEO of McDonald’s is stepping down as the world’s biggest hamburger chain fights to hold onto customers and transform its junk-food image amid slumping sales.

Don Thompson, who has been the chain’s US CEO for two-and-a-half years, will be replaced by Steve Easterbrook, its chief brand officer.

After one of its worst years in history, the chain is battling to hang onto pickier customers and is trying to shake the image that its food is cheap, greasy and made with mysterious ingredients.

McDonald’s in the US has also come under fire for inadequate pay for workers, while other critics have attacked the company for marketing its products to children.

McDonald’s Corp, which has more than 35,000 locations around the world, is struggling amid intensifying competition and changing attitudes about food.

Part of the problem for McDonald’s and other traditional fast-food chains is that people are increasingly gravitating toward food they feel is more wholesome or made with higher quality ingredients.

During talks with investors in recent months, Thompson has made a point of stressing that McDonald’s is a restaurant company that cooks food in kitchens and cracks fresh eggs to make its McMuffins.

To dispel myths about its food, McDonald’s in the US recently launched a campaign inviting people to ask questions about its offerings, such as “Do McDonald’s buns contain the same chemicals used to make yoga mats?” and “Are your burgers fresh or frozen?”

McDonald’s has conceded its menu in the US has gotten bloated. That slows down service because it takes customers longer to figure out what they want, while also complicating kitchen operations in the back. It also increases the chances that orders will be wrong.

The company said it is making major changes to bring back customers, including simplifying its menu and even examining the ingredients it uses. To save money, it said it would slow down new restaurant openings in some markets.

McDonald’s said Thompson will leave his post on March 1 after nearly 25 years with the company. Thompson was the first African-American to head the company since it was founded in 1955.

Richard Adams, a consultant for McDonald’s franchisees in San Diego, said Thompson’s departure was a bit of a surprise considering the numerous plans McDonald’s recently announced to turn around its business. Adams noted that a change in the CEO seat also leaves open the question of whether the company will shift course on its latest initiatives.

http://www.news.com.au/finance/business ... 7200811162


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2015 11:49 am 
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CSRIO supercomputer enables cardiac arrest breakthrough

Jamie Donaldson was unaware he had a common heart condition until he collapsed after a half-marathon and was dead for six minutes.

After weeks in hospital, the 34-year-old father of three learned he had a heart condition known as Long QT, which is usually only discovered during an autopsy even though about one in 2000 Australians have the syndrome.

"I was bewildered. There was no warning, no precursor and I had no idea," Mr Donaldson said. "We need a way to detect conditions before you experience what can be quite severe consequences."

Cardiac arrests account for slightly more than 10 per cent of Australian deaths. But the quest to find a way to detect heart conditions before a crisis has made a big leap forward after a five-year project by Australian scientists.

They have developed a way explore why people who have exactly the same gene flaw that causes Long QT have such different experiences of the syndrome, from never noticed to sudden death.

The findings will enable researchers to develop more accurate diagnosis and treatment plans for a syndrome more than 100,000 Australians have.

The researchers with the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute created software that simulates hundreds of hearts each beating to its own genetic drum.

But the heart is a complex organ of more than a billion cells. Simulating even one heartbeat requires powerful processing machinery.

To simulate hundreds of thousands of beats, the researchers used the CSIRO's supercomputer that is among the world's 10 most powerful.

Biochemist Adam Hill led the team of computer scientists and cardiac specialists to a breakthrough report on understanding heart disturbances that was published in the most recent edition of leading global science journal Nature.

"Once we were able to simulate a couple of hundreds of hearts at once, we realised how rich and untapped a lot of information we discover through ECGs [the common heart test] actually is," Dr Hill said.

Researchers were able to explore why conditions such as Long QT create a particular signature among very different ECG results, a breakthrough in understanding why people with the same condition can present differently.

As treatments range from lifestyle changes to implanted devices, this newly honed accuracy is good news for those diagnosing and battling cardiac conditions.

Molecular cardiologist Chris Semsarian from the University of Sydney's Medical School told Fairfax Media the study was an exciting development for heart science.

"The limitation of this study is that it is only a theoretical, computational model at this stage, but that is how many of our breakthroughs start," Dr Semsarian said.

"More and more researchers are using computational models around the world, but to see it applied to Long QT is fairly unique, and great groundwork for further heart condition research."

Dr Hill said computer-assisted medical research was a rapidly growing field that had come a long way since the first cell simulations decades ago.

"I went to a computational conference and it was totally alien to me. But I spotted some guys from the CSIRO, and pestered them until we started working together and it's been a very cool learning process since then."

The CSIRO's supercomputer is able to work so efficiently by using technology developed by video game technicians to cope with the load of multiple instructions at once, rather than sequential processing of classic computers.

http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/c ... 31pgq.html


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 8:58 am 
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Celebrity chef Pete Evans brings paleo to Toowoomba

MY Kitchen Rules judge Pete Evans is heading to Toowoomba this month to spread the word about his paleo way of life.

The celebrity chef will be joined by nutritionist Cyndi O'Meara and health ambassador Luke Hines as part of the Learn to Cook the Paleo Way tour.

The tour will make its way to Toowoomba on Tuesday, February 17 at the Empire Theater.

This is the second paleo tour Pete Evans has been a part of and he said he was glad to have the opportunity to share his way of life with others.

"After our first tour, I feel we covered off the science in depth and now this is all about putting it into a practical presentation and offering affordable solutions for busy families and people," Mr Evans said.

The tour is run by Earth HQ and director Kirra Smith said the trio would demonstrate solutions for living the paleo way.

"This tour is all about showing people how to live the paleo way affordably," Ms Smith said.

"Pete is super passionate about spreading the paleo message and just passionate about healthy eating in general.

"His tribe has grown massively since the event last year so now Pete wants to reach out to more people," she said.

The paleo diet is otherwise known as the caveman diet and is based on eating the types of food presumably to have been eaten by early humans.

http://www.thechronicle.com.au/news/Pet ... a/2531928/


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2015 8:41 am 
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Man wanted after assault in fast-food restaurant in Wynnum West

POLICE are looking for an aggressive fast-food customer after he assaulted two women in Wynnum West on January 29.

The man entered the Wynnum Road store, purchased a meal and then became verbally abusive towards staff.

He then threw his meal at a 21-year-old employee.

The man appeared to have left the store, but returned and pushed the cash register off the counter, injuring a 24-year-old female employee.

The woman received bruising to her hand.

Anyone who knows or saw the man pictured is urged to contact police.

http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/man- ... ea32b3fcd3


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 10, 2015 12:07 pm 
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Eight Clinical Signs of Impending Death Identified

Researchers say they have identified eight specific physical signs that strongly indicate impending death in patients with advanced cancer. The findings have been reported online Feb. 9 in Cancer.

MONDAY, Feb. 9, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers say they have identified eight specific physical signs that strongly indicate impending death in patients with advanced cancer. The findings have been reported online Feb. 9 in Cancer.

David Hui, M.D., professor in the department of palliative care and rehabilitation medicine at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues focused on telltale signs that a patient has, at most, just three days to live. The hope is that this information will help family members and other caregivers better handle an impending death, as well as be more prepared for choices that may have to be made during end-of-life care. To compile their list, the researchers monitored physical changes that occurred just prior to death among 357 advanced-stage cancer patients. They were being treated at one of two cancer centers: one in the United States and one in Brazil. All of the patients were in an acute palliative care unit. Physical changes were noted twice daily.

During the study time frame, more than half (57 percent) of the patients died. And in the end, the authors settled on eight indicators that seemed to most accurately predict imminent death. Those included: an inability to close the eyelids; diminishing ability to react to visual stimulation; a reduced ability to react to sounds and words; facial drooping; non-reactive pupils; hyperextension of the neck; vocal cord grunting; and bleeding in the upper digestive tract.

"It is important to point out that only a small proportion of patients may have each of the signs before death, although a majority would have at least one of the signs in the last three days of life," Hui told HealthDay. "The presence of these signs strongly suggests that death will occur in the next three days. However, absence of these signs does not suggest that death will not occur."

http://www.doctorslounge.com/index.php/news/pb/52942


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2015 12:06 pm 
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6-Year-Old Asks 'What's Wrong with Me' After School Sends Home Note on BMI

Laura Cacdac was taken by surprise when her 6-year-old daughter, Charley, came home with a note concerning her weight.

Following a mandatory health screening at Palm Beach Gardens Elementary School, the nurse sent Charley home with a letter that raised flags about the girl's health, according to WPTV.

The note read: "From the results of this test, it is suggested that your child's health be examined by a physician, particularly as it relates to the problem suggested by the screening. A problem such as this that goes uncorrected or untreated can severely affect both the health and academic performance of your child."

Cacdac then called the school nurse, who said that her daughter's BMI (body mass index) was high, and that according to state standards she was considered overweight.

"It is basically – in my opinion – telling me I am harming my child and doing wrong by her, and then telling me how to properly feed my child," Cacdac told WPTV.

Cacdac also told WPBF-25 that her daughter overheard her speaking to the nurse on the phone and later asked, "Do they think I'm fat? Is there something wrong with me?"

Recent doctor visits found Charley, who is 4'2" and weighs 60 lbs., to be healthy and not overweight, says Laura, who adds that her daughter's favorite foods are avocados, broccoli and apples.

She has since asked her daughter to be removed from all future health screenings.

"Something like this can stick with her for the rest of her life. It is going to stick in her head ... am I fat? Do they think I'm fat?" Cacdac said.

However, the county health department said the letter was not meant to shame the child or family.

"It's not a stigmatizing letter. We noted the BMI may be high or whatever, and it's a recommendation to the parents," Palm Beach County Health Department spokesman Tim O'Connor told WPBF-25.

The controversy surrounding sending BMI letters home also made headlines in 2013, leading states like Massachusetts to eliminate the practice.

http://www.people.com/article/six-year- ... e-fat-note


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 15, 2015 7:03 am 
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Man wearing blonde wig, fishnets holds up Melbourne fast-food restaurant

A chisel-jawed man wearing black high heels and fishnet stockings has robbed a fast-food restaurant west of Melbourne.

Police say the man entered the shop at 7.45am on Sunday and threatened staff with a paper cup, claiming it contained the detonator for an explosive device.

The man, who was also wearing a pink shawl and blonde wig, fled the store on foot with a quantity of cash.

Police attended the scene shortly after the robbery, but did not find any explosive devices.

Detectives have released CCTV footage from the restaurant in the hope of identifying the offender.

The man is of Caucasian appearance, about 183 centimetres tall, with thin build and heavy stubble on his face.

Police have also described the man as having a "chiselled jaw".

He was also carrying a large brown bag.

Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/man-w ... 3b9ra.html


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