Category: Uncategorized

Using Mass Communication to Curb Obesity

Internationally we continue to see substantial increases in overweight and obesity rates. In 2016, the World Health Organization reported that about 39% of all adults were overweight. Since overnutrition seems to traverse cultures, languages and international waters many people are looking for the most effective and efficient way of promoting positive health behaviors that promote a healthy weight. I believe mass media campaigns could serve as a solution to the problem. Health professionals can use mass media to improve the dietary habits of populations through multimedia-based communication efforts.

Over the past ten years, we have seen considerable changes in mass media communication largely due to increased use of mobile technology, especially social media. As access to mobile technology increases and people use smart-technology at increasing rates, health professionals have increased opportunities to address the importance of nutrition and physical activity. I believe that no other intervention approach has the potential for as wide a reach as mass media. Mass media campaigns that target individual dietary behaviors like increasing vegetable intake or reducing sodium are effective at promoting those behaviors (1). The “5-A-Day” campaign was successful in its efforts to increase fruit and vegetable intake. It was associated with a significant increase in fruit and vegetable consumption and increased awareness of health benefits associated with consuming fruits and vegetables. The success of mass communication in campaigns and interventions is not exclusive to increasing fruit and vegetable intake. This method has also proven effective at promoting folic acid supplementation and the maintenance of weight loss The Community Guide (2). I believe mass media campaigns advance nutrition efforts to reduce overweight and obesity rates because of the extent to which media is incorporated into people’s daily lives. Mobile technology gives health professionals a chance to engage in dialogue with individuals outside of clinical settings. I believe engaging with individuals in spaces they already visit may help people feel more comfortable and make them more receptive to adopting health-promoting behaviors.

Practice Gratitude

Thanksgiving is just right around the corner, and while I often try to practice gratitude in my everyday life, I especially find myself during this time reflecting on the opportunities and the experiences that I have had, as well as the people in my life that I appreciate and am grateful for.

I find that when I practice gratitude I feel happier and more confident in my ability to manage any stress I may be experiencing. In a recent study, Mills et al. (2015) examined the relationship between spiritual wellbeing, gratitude, and mental health in heart failure patients. They found that gratitude was associated with better mood, sleep, as well as less fatigue among these patients, demonstrating a positive effect of gratitude on well-being.

Gratitude is free and requires little effort to do, and I believe that it is something that we can all cultivate and practice—not just during the Thanksgiving season, but in our everyday lives. When practicing gratitude, I often reflect on the value that the people in my life have, the value of the experiences that I have had, as well as the opportunities that I have been given. I will document this reflection in my journal, making note of my feelings and thoughts. It is a humbling but rewarding process, and one that I think we can all benefit from.

How do you practice gratitude? What are you grateful for?  

References:

Mills, P. J., Redwine, L., Wilson, K., Pung, M. A., Chinh, K., Greenberg, B. H., … & Chopra, D. (2015). The role of gratitude in spiritual well-being in asymptomatic heart failure patients. Spirituality in Clinical Practice2(1), 5-17. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/scp0000050

 

A Toast to the Fall Roast

Hey there,

Happy Fall! Just here to give a quick plug for a hearty fall roast as a delicious and nutritious, easy-to-make-a-vegetarian’s day option. The best part? It’s seasonal and local-find friendly.  Whether you’re at the store or a farmer’s market, go ahead and pick out:

  • the best lookin’ squash you see (be warned–as I recently discovered, a butternut squash is much easier to cut than an acorn squash–and a spaghetti squash may be better suited for other Fall meals given it’s stringy texture once cooked)
  • Complement that rich squash flavor with a sweet potato or two, rich in anti-oxidants, and plenty filling
  • See any fresh beets? Doubling up on antioxidant power and also vitamin-rich (particularly Vit C, Vit B6, iron, and folate) plus you get a gorgeous, deep purple to balance your fall colors–remember, you eat with your eyes first. Bonus–you can use beet leaves and another leafy green of your choice for a quick side salad!
  • No beets? No sweat! See any carrots calling to you? Maybe a red bell pepper? Cauliflower steak, anyone?
  • Chickpeas/beans of choice. Adding a can of beans to your roast is a quick way to add in a hearty amount of protein and a welcome contrast in texture
  • Seasoning is always in season! A little salt helps accentuate flavors, but you really don’t need too much to let these veggies sing. I like to add a generous amount of a fresh herb if you can find some (loving rosemary right now)

Nothing like letting the scent of roasting vegetables and fresh herbs envelop your kitchen and living room 🙂 Happy roasting!

 

November is American Diabetes Month

Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the body is unable to properly process blood sugar levels due to an inability to either produce or use insulin properly. There are more than 30 million Americans living with diabetes, and 7.2 million of those individuals are undiagnosed.

There are three main types of diabetes:

 Type 1 diabetes. With type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin, and as a result, individuals living with type 1 diabetes require insulin injections in order to survive.

 Type 2 diabetes. This is the most common type of diabetes. With type 2 diabetes, the body is unable to produce or use insulin properly. Those living with prediabetes are at an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Approximately 84.1 million adults ages 18 years or older have prediabetes, and 90% of those individuals do not know they have it.

 Gestational diabetes. This type of diabetes can occur in women during pregnancy. Women with gestational diabetes are at an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

While there is no cure for diabetes, it can be managed with the proper medication, by monitoring blood sugar levels, managing stress, and/or with lifestyle changes to diet and exercise. And for people living with prediabetes, type 2 diabetes can be prevented with weight loss, physical activity, and/or healthy eating.

To learn more about diabetes, check out the following resources:

American Diabetes Association

Diabetes – Centers for Disease Control

References

About Diabetes. (2017, June 1). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/diabetes.html

Diabetes [PDF]. (N.d.) Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/media/presskits/aahd/diabetes.pdf

Diabetes Statistics. (2017, September). Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/diabetes-statistics

Facts about Type 2. (2015, October 27). Retrieved from http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/type-2/facts-about-type-2.html

Living with Type 1 Diabetes. (2016, November 21). Retrieved from http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/recently-diagnosed/living-with-type-1-diabetes.html

Managing Diabetes. (2016, November). Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/managing-diabetes

Prediabetes. (2017, July 25). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/prediabetes.html

Preventing Type 2 Diabetes. (2016, November). Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-type-2-diabetes

What is Diabetes? (2016, November). Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes

Conscientious Campaigning-how we talk about Breast Cancer.

A short post this week from me–but a strong urge for you to read a well-written and important article about the way organizations dedicated to fighting and preventing breast cancer choose to push their messages. This article from Elite Daily centers around the question ” Pushing all marketing and advertising efforts aside, what is the most effective and respectful way to educate women about breast health and cancer awareness?”

picture taken from Elite Daily

They highlight the work of The Get In Touch Foundation, with it’s unique focus on educating young women to conduct self breast exams, empowering young women to engage in what is a life-saving and often under-articulated habit. Check out the article, their website, and one of their key educational tools, the Daisy Wheel here.

Wishing you all a beautiful start of the new month!

Health Literacy: The final healthcare barrier?

How can health professionals support and serve our most vulnerable populations? When discussing access to health care, income and location are generally agreed upon barriers to access. Populations who live just above the poverty line often do not qualify for government assistance; however, without it, they often cannot afford coverage. Similarly, populations that live in rural areas often have less lack access to health services. One barrier that accompanies these and is often overlooked is health literacy.

Literacy is not only an education issue it affects access to healthcare as well. When populations have difficulty reading, they may misunderstand health brochures or worse take medication incorrectly. According to Kelly Warnock, Program Manager at the Durham County Health Department, health professionals have a responsibility to reach populations where they are. After working for over 10 years with lower-income, low literacy populations, Ms. Warnock believes that it is possible to increase all communities’ access to healthcare and health information. For health professionals, that means being creative with communication techniques organizing information clearly, using visuals, and non-technical language. If you’re interested in learning more about health literacy and communication, check out this resource from the Food Research and Action Center.

Photo: https://communicatehealth.com/2014/07/frequently-asked-question-can-i-measure-a-patients-health-literacy/

Take a Walk

Walking is one of my favorite forms of exercise. It’s free, it’s easy to do, it requires no fancy gym equipment, and it can be done almost anywhere or anytime! I especially enjoy walking outside during the fall season, where the air is cool and crisp, and I am able to see the changing colors of the fall leaves.

As you may already know, walking can be a healthy form of physical activity. It can lower your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes as well as strengthen your muscles. Walking can also improve your mood and lower stress. Adults need 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, and brisk walking for just 30 minutes per day for 5 days a week can help meet this need.

Finding a friend or family member to walk with you or joining a walking club may be helpful ways to incorporate more walking into your life.

For more information about walking, check out these resources:

Fitness: Walking for Wellness | WebMD

Walking: A Step in the Right Direction | NIH

Happy walking!

References:

Fitness: Walking for Wellness. (2015, July 10). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/walking-for-wellness

Walking: A Step in the Right Direction. (2017, April). Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/walking-step-right-direction

Sleeping Positions and Health

We all know sleep is important for our health… but what about our sleeping positions?

There are several sleeping positions we may find ourselves in. These may include sleeping on our side, our back, in a fetal position, or on our stomach. Each sleeping position carries its own level of health benefits.

Sleeping in a fetal position. This popular sleeping position is good for your spine, and it can also help prevent snoring. A loose (less tightly-curled) fetal position–particularly on your left side–is especially good for health, facilitating breathing and blood circulation.

Sleeping on your stomach. While this sleeping position may reduce snoring, it may not be the healthiest. Sleeping on your stomach can cause neck and back pain, and it can also put pressure on your muscles, causing numbness.

Sleeping on your side. This common sleeping position can be very healthy. Not only does it reduce neck and back pain, but it can also reduce snoring by keeping your airways open, helping you to breathe better. Additionally, placing a pillow between your legs in this sleeping position can provide extra support to both your hips and back.

Sleeping on your back. This sleeping position may be good for quality sleep – your weight is evenly distributed, and your head, neck, and spine are neutrally positioned. Additionally, placing a pillow underneath your knees while sleeping in this position can provide extra support for your spine. Also, using a pillow to support your head can be helpful when sleeping in this position. Sleeping on your back, however, can induce sleep apnea, as well as aggravate snoring and/or digestive problems such as acid reflux.

What’s your preferred sleeping position? What are your thoughts?

Happy Sleeping!

References

Sleeping Positions. (2017). Retrieved from http://www.hcmc.org/clinics/SleepCenter/SleepingPositions/index.htm?clinicDocName=HCMC_CLINICS_440&conditionDocName

Starfish or Freefall? What Your Sleep Position Can Tell You. (2017). Retrieved from http://bettersleep.org/better-sleep/sleep-positions/

The Best Sleep Position for Your Body. (N.d.) Retrieved from https://sleep.org/articles/best-sleep-position/

What’s the Best Position to Sleep In? (2017). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/best-sleep-positions#1

Featured image taken from Flickr.com (user “Jon Huss”).

Normalization and Solidarity in Mass Communication–what are the impacts of the #MeToo posts?

As a student in health communication, I cannot help but be curious of the health impacts of the massive sharing of #MeToo stories on social media this past week. It’s rapid and broad spread globally is significant. The Hindustan Times reports that within 24 hours, the hashtag had been used more than 500,000 times and on Facebook an additional 12 million (the linked article is also an interesting take from a global perspective) . A few days later, this number was much closer to 10 million.

Here are some questions that have been floating around since last Sunday:

  • What is the impact for victims/survivors (source: CNN)?

For some, this may be therapeutic–it may create a safe space and a sense of solidarity that encourages catharsis and reflection on an often stigmatized and complicated issue. However, it can also be an emotional trigger for those who are not prepared to speak publicly or feel compelled to share a personal and traumatic experience.

  • How does this sentiment translate into action?

A Washington Post contributor discusses that while speaking out on social media is encouraging, it remains to be seen whether the dialogue initiated will lead to actual actions. It’s hard to  measure the how and if such a socially embedded problem changes. It is also worth considering social circles–the fact that while our friend groups on social media are supportive, in some cases they may not be the ones that need to hear the message most. As the Hindustan Times article linked above asked, what do we need to do to make sure there is no reason to tweet MeToo years from now?

  • What makes a movement viral, and how can this be harnessed to improve health outcomes?

This is non-specific to the topic of sexual abuse, but in general, what are the factors that made the MeToo hashtag catch on so quickly? It’s personal nature? It’s ubiquity? Recent news? Media studies say most hashtags are created ad hoc, perhaps that is more genuine and reflective of users’ needs, though efforts have been made to generate disease specific discussions…but I wonder what the role of these hashtags and surrounding dialogue will be in a few years. As people rely increasingly on social media for information in addition to sharing content, how will this be leveraged by those who wish to propagate information?

Interested to hear your thoughts about social media and health-related campaigns/movements–this one in particular, or others.

Fair and Scare

The end of today marks the start of Fall Break! As the weather grows chillier and the last of midterms are turned in, what are a couple uniquely fall activities you may want to check out?

Bring 5 cans of food and gain free admission to the N.C. State Fair.

Thursday: October 19, Raleigh

“Food Lion Hunger Relief Day at the Fair is one of the largest one-day canned-food drives in the state, held each year to benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. Since 1993, more than 4.4 million pounds of food have been donated by fairgoers. Food Bank volunteers and employees of Food Lion and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will exchange cans for Fair tickets at each admission gate.”

Embrace the Halloween spirit at Carowinds amusement park.

Weekend Evening: October 20-22, Charlotte

“Fear rises when darkness falls when Carowinds is transformed from a ‘theme park’ into a ‘scream park’ during the annual haunt of SCarowinds. Experience the thrills of your favorite rides and the chills of over 16 terrifying haunted attractions and shows. With over ghastly 500 monsters waiting to feed off your screams, there’s no place to hide during the Carolinas largest Halloween event.”

Have a safe and fun Fall Break!