Author: Laurie Hursting

Dirty Dozen, Clean 15

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has released the 2018 iteration of their Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists, based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program (PDP) report.

Dirty Dozen:
These produce were more likely to contain pesticide residue, though the data does not specify which pesticides or the amount. This begs the question—should you go USDA certified organic for these produce in particular? That is the focus of next week’s post but for now, organic or not, fruits and vegetables are healthy and nutritious. It is always a good idea to give a good rinse before consumption!

1. Strawberries
2. Spinach
3. Nectarines
4. Apples
5. Grapes
6. Peaches
7. Cherries
8. Pears
9. Tomatoes
10. Celery
11. Potatoes
12. Sweet Bell Peppers

Clean 15:
Of all the samples tested, 22 percent had no detectible levels. These produce were least likely to contain pesticide residue.

1. Avocados
2. Sweet Corn
3. Pineapples
4. Cabbages
5. Onions
6. Sweet Peas
7. Papayas
8. Asparagus
9. Mangoes
10. Eggplants
11. Honeydews
12. Kiwis
13. Cantaloupes
14. Cauliflower
15. Broccoli

Lunchables, Diving Board, Fake News

Misinformation is easy to spread. I’d bet money we have all witnessed this phenomenon on social media. Let’s look back for a second to before these digital platforms arrived—the days of primary school gossip. You have visions of four square (not the app) and Lunchables, enviable amounts of free time and the all-classmates invited birthday parties? We told each other some weird tales. Our imaginations were churning, I don’t blame us. Now imagine giving the kid who claimed to be able to do ten mid-air flips off the diving board a microphone. And then another kid, or maybe even teacher, turns on the overhead PA system and broadcasts what the kid with the microphone is saying to the whole school. The information this prolific diver is claiming doesn’t change but it sure spreads faster, further, and seems a lot more official when amplified by technology (is audio equipment technology, for this metaphor I say, “yes”). Enter social media and ubiquitously referred to “fake news.”

And it’s like a pyramid scheme—no one thinks they’re the one getting duped. How can that be the case? What can we, both as health communicators and as information consumers, do about it? Here are some key concepts to whet your whistle: third-person effect, Spinoza, relationship currency. Those are some interest-piquing words right there.

Give a read to “Why we lie to ourselves and others about misinformation” by Dr. Southwell (who is the social marketing course instructor to two of this here blog’s bloggers, and who also just led an insightful guest lecture which Casey will tell you all about later in the week). If/when inspiration strikes, submit your ideas for the Rita Allen Foundation’s Misinformation Solutions Forum.

Headache Me This

What causes headaches? I find myself Googling this at least once every few months when a particularly nasty or persistent headache of my own decides to show up. And I think it’s because I never really get a satisfying explanation from my searches, likely due to the fact that there are hundreds of headache types and only 10% have a known cause. Let’s focus on primary headaches, ones not caused by an underlying condition.

There are a lot of culprits for primary headaches. Nerves/blood vessels/tissue around the skull, muscles of the head/neck, and chemical changes within the brain can spur on that pain. So what triggers these physical pain signalers? It is probably no surprise that stress or alcohol are included. Skipping meals, poor posture (thanks, laptops), disrupted sleep patterns, and changing weather as well.

Some of these triggers are outside of our control like the weather, but there are measures we can take for prevention. Even though yes, easier said than done, try to avoid known stressors where possible. Eat low-processed meals at regular intervals and prioritize consistent sleep habits. Deficiencies in magnesium may play a role so eat some avocado and nuts. And when all else fails, put the screens away, take a warm shower, apply a soothing compress to the neck, and go the heck to sleep. Admittedly just writing about all the things that I should be doing right now has not made my headache go away, so off to self-care I go.

Spring Has Sprung

Despite the random snow Chapel Hill was bestowed with Saturday night, it is spring! And with springtime comes budding flowers, active squirrels, and longer days of sunshine. Winter blues, be gone.

Kickstart your spring renewal with the produce that comes into season:

Fruits

Apricots (May—July)

Blackberries (May—October)

Blueberries (May—August)

Cherries (April—July)

Nectarines (May—October)

Peaches (May—October)

Plums (May—November)

Raspberries (May—November)

Rhubarb (April—July)

Strawberries (March—November)

Vegetables

Artichokes (March—June)

Celery (April—December)

Fava beans (March—July)

Peas (April—November)

Purslane (April—November)

Shallots (May—July)

Harvest yourself some fun with a healthy spring day activity. Check out your local farmers’ market:

Chapel Hill Farmers’ Market

Carrboro Farmers’ Market

Durham Farmers’ Market

South Durham Farmers’ Market

Perkins Orchard

Spring clean:

  • Swap heavy blankets and flannel bedding for breathable cotton sheets
  • Vacuum (spring allergies may start acting up)
  • Remember to treat pets with tick/flea/heartworm medication
  • Schedule those appointments you need to schedule
  • Organize your desk to dominate this last half of the semester

Happy spring!

The Duck-Billed Platypus

Antibiotic resistance is an alarming public health threat and who better to help in our fight against Superbugs than the super platypus? Not the platypus we deserve, but the platypus we need.

Part of the monotreme family, the platypus both lays eggs and produces milk to feed their young. Where does this milk come from though? Platypuses (it’s disappointingly not actually “platypi”) don’t have teats. The milk is instead secreted from their belly.

With the milk exposed to the environment before the platypus babies (highly recommend that adorable Google search) drink it, bacteria could pose a problem to the babies. Enter researchers at Australia’s national research agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), and Deakin University; they sought to examine the unique protein in platypus milk that protected it from becoming contaminated with bacteria. What they found and imaged was aptly named the “Shirley Temple,” a three-dimensional fold in the protein that looks like a ringlet. This newly discovered protein and its structure is only present in monotremes and may prove promising once traditional antibiotics reach their limit. Thanks platypus! Nature is so cool.

What Can We Learn from PR Theories

Let’s talk about these persuasion techniques from the fields of PR and advertising. They don’t just need to apply to consumer marketing or branding—they can inform health campaigns.

Mendelsohn’s Three Assumptions for a Successful Campaign

  1. Target your messages
  2. Assume target audience is uninterested in messages
  3. Set reasonable, mid-range goals & objectives

How to best “assume” (without making an a** out of you and me):

  • Research to understand target audience & inform goals
  • Theory to develop strategies

Thankfully these receiver-oriented sequential steps are based on dominos and not a house of cards:

McGuire’s Hierarchy of Effects (aka Domino Model)

  1. Exposure: Get the message out; alas, if only was enough
  2. Attention: Production values; color; involuntary (orienting response) vs. voluntary (enjoyment)
  3. Interest: Perception of relevance; throw in novelty/something unusual
  4. Comprehension: More attention, more learning; misinterpretation a barrier
  5. Skill Acquisition: Intention doesn’t matter if don’t know how to do the thing
  6. Attitude Change: Opinion-based; attitudes and behaviors don’t always correspond
  7. Memory Storage: Key takeaways of message need to stand out
  8. Information Retrieval: Provide reminders/memory devices (e.g. jingles, slogans, miscellaneous swag)
  9. Motivation: More likely to act if behavior perceived as easy/important/realistic/beneficial
  10. Behavior: Facilitate (e.g. supply, access) brand/behavior loyalty
  11. Reinforcement: Minimize buyer’s remorse/behavior regret
  12. Routine: Assimilate into target audience’s preexisting worldview; become a part of their life (i.e. ultimate goal, difficult)

BRB, I’m going to keep these in mind forever.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Customers are threatening companies with boycott if they do not end to their association with the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Lists of companies that offered NRA membership perks were shared on social media, and within 24 hours at least eight companies cut ties. Advocates for reform targeted companies on Twitter and Facebook to engage in this consumer activism—pressuring banks, rental car agencies, airlines, and insurers among others.

According to the Harvard Business Review, moral outrage needs to be the main impetus for a boycott to be successful. As Hannah put it in her post last week, “Each shooting seems to spark the same cycle of outcry among our nation with folks pressuring change from policymakers. Yet each time there is no change from the people in power.”

Are we in a political climate right now that views companies and corporations as more capable of social responsibility than our own legislators? Gun control is a polarizing issue. Companies that don’t cut ties (currently FedEx and Amazon are getting heat) may be boycotted by gun reform advocates, and companies that do cut ties may be boycotted by proponents of the NRA.

“Moral outrage” indeed.

 

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/23/business/nra-boycott.html

It doesn’t beep at the backseat

In 1993, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched the catchy “Click It or Ticket” campaign to increase seat belt usage by emphasizing the legal consequences of “freeriding” (which is also catchy and I just coined). The campaign was considered largely successful.

In our 21st century, the CDC puts 18-24 year olds as less likely to wear seat belts than older age groups, especially in the backseat. I painfully point out that these youths were likely not cognizant, maybe not even born yet, at the height of “Click It or Ticket.” It may be time for a reboot.

Enter “Buckle Up, Backseat,” a campaign idea to increase seat belt usage in backseat passengers. Tyler Lee, a first-year master’s student studying Strategic Communication, was kind enough to present this proposal to our class today. He described how a strong focus would be on ridesharing vehicles (like Uber, Lyft, or your average taxi) since they are widely used by 18-24 year olds. Tyler and team’s formative research found that attitudes on backseat passenger seat belt usage were notably laxer when in the context of rideshares.

So don’t “freeride” (wink wink, trademark pending), and instead remember to “Click It or Ticket” and “Buckle Up, Backseat.” Catchy phrases have power.

 

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/seatbelts/facts.html

Love is all you need (that, and chocolate)

Hypothetically speaking of course, if one had no plans at all for this Wednesday and/or if that same someone muttered, “What’s this Wednesday,” one might recommend a day of self-care. Hallmark be darned! Regardless of plan status (or, you know, relationship status), self-love can be every day. I’m talking about healthy, happy choices.

Take a soak in the tub of love

Sprinkle some rose petals and rose water in there for some antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and moisturizing action. Or pour in a glass of red wine! The polyphenols soften skin and antioxidants give you a boost.

Flavonoids

Get you some dark chocolate. It’s high in iron, magnesium, and feel-good phenylethylamine. One to two ounces should do the trick.

Hit some zzz’s right in the bullseye with Cupid’s arrow

Pro tip: Sleeping naked helps the body regulate its temperature, which in turn helps decrease the stress hormone cortisol and balance melatonin.

 

If that’s not a romantic evening of self-care, I don’t know what is. Enjoy!

Deep in Flu Season

This season’s flu virus is particularly virulent (infectious and dangerous) as it involves the H3N2 strain. The flu vaccine in the U.S. is being reported as only 10% effective based on data from Australia, where the flu season is in the summer. It is more difficult to grow H3N2 in eggs for vaccines, and it also mutates at a faster rate than other strains as it moves through the population.

Flu hospitalizations have hit a new high compared to recent years. Alabama has declared a public health emergency, and school districts in Chicago and Florida have had to close. In North Carolina there have been nearly 100 flu-related deaths since October, more than double from last season’s flu over the same time period.

There is additionally a shortage of saline IV bags used to treat those hospitalized with the flu because almost half are made in Puerto Rico, where Hurricane Maria hit.

Remember to practice the staples of protective hygiene such as coughing into the crook of the arm and hand washing. Stay well!

 

Reference: https://www.vox.com/2018/1/12/16882622/flu-season-epidemic-prevention-vaccine