brand logo

Am Fam Physician. 2005;71(8):1476

Most diets don't work. Anybody surprised? Study results conducted at the University of Pennsylvania, and reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine, recently examined nine popular weight-loss programs, finding limited evidence for long-term success and a high cost per pound lost. Researchers found that one medically supervised consumer program costs participants $840 to $2,100 for three months, or about $50 per pound lost. Perhaps good old-fashioned healthy eating and exercise are good not only for the waistline, but also for the pocketbook.

Having a grandparent with depression greatly increases the risk of mental disorders in children, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study, which evaluated the mental health of three generations of families, found that 59 percent of children (average age 12) who have a parent and a grandparent with depression have at least one psychiatric disorder. That represents a fivefold higher risk for mental illness than for children with no family history of depression. Children who have one grandparent with depression, but no parents with depression, have twice the risk of developing an anxiety disorder, while having just one parent with depression doesn't appear to increase risk.

Health clubs can be great places to work out, get fit, meet people…and encounter germs? reports results of a Primetime investigation in which a host of germs was found lurking in several popular health clubs. Investigators found Staphylococcus, Streptococcus viridans, diphtheroids, Escherichia coli, and candida on gym equipment and facilities. While it is nearly impossible to avoid the spread of germs in an environment where people are sweating, showering, and sharing the same equipment, the report suggests steps health club patrons can take to minimize exposure. For example, don't touch your face while exercising, shower after working out (wear shower shoes), and wash your hands before eating or drinking after exercise.

A candy bar, chips, a cupcake, or a granola bar? When faced with snacking choices from a vending machine, what should you choose? The National Automatic Merchandising Association, in an effort to fend off calls to remove vending machines from schools, has launched a marketing campaign called “Balanced for Life.” The initiative offers schools the opportunity to purchase a computer program that rates the nutritional value of foods in vending machines using a color-coded system: green is “best choice,” yellow is “choose occasionally,” and red is “choose rarely.” Administrators can then place color-coded stickers on the food packaging in hopes of inspiring students to make wiser choices.

Do pediatricians need to be more father-friendly? The New York Times reports that the rising number of stay-at-home fathers, father-only homes, and joint-custody situations has prompted the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to urge pediatricians to develop a stronger relationship with their patients' fathers. The AAP suggests actively engaging fathers who already attend their child's appointments and encouraging fathers who do not to get more involved in their children's health care. The AAP also urges pediatricians to extend their office hours to include weekend, evening, and early morning hours to accommodate working parents.

Thanks to the Internet, patients now have a wealth of health information right at their fingertips. But only 21 percent of elderly patients (65 years or older) are clicking their way to better health information, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey. The survey finds that nearly one half of elderly respondents do not trust the Internet to provide accurate health information, and only 1 percent have ever discussed online health resources with their doctors. Though most say they are unlikely to start using the Internet, services such as free Internet training and financial assistance may encourage them to log on in the future.

Continue Reading

More in AFP

Copyright © 2005 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP.  See permissions for copyright questions and/or permission requests.