Veritas Health

a public health blog

Veritas Health Returns to Blogspot…

I am a data-driven person. I have been disappointed with my inability to control, track, and understand who is visiting my blog and improve my website to reflect those statistics since I have moved to WordPress.With this in mind, I have decided to return Veritas Health to blogspot. My posts have been transferred (…manually…) back to the original site and I have made improvements to echo the advantages of WordPress (like a customizable “About” section and the ability to add pages).

I’m sorry for the inconvenience that this will cause you readers. But I am confident that this will improve your interaction with VH over the long term. Thanks for reading!

Click here for the “new” old Veritas Health website.


September 3, 2009 Posted by | Miscellaneous | Leave a comment

New NY Ads Target Sugar-Sweetened Drinks

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This is the most eye-catching public health campaign ad that I have seen in a long time that does not have to do with violence. While it specifies cutting back on sodas in the text, the liquid resembles sugar-laden iced team more than Coca-Cola and could apply to a wide range of beverages.

In fact, you can check out the entire ad campaign at the New York City Department of Health website, which shows a series of three ads: one with a bottle of Coke being poured, one using Gatorade, and one with the Snapple (of course, these bottles are not actually branded as such…). You can comment on the posters at the nycHealthy blog here.

The ad was first brought to my attention by Dr. Oz (known for his frequent guest appearances on Oprah) on Twitter who asks whether the ads are “too much?”

Too much of what? The truth?

I love this edgy ad campaign that pushes the boundaries and wakes up America to the food traps that are destroying our health and costing us millions, even billions of dollars health care bills for preventable illness. Sugar-sweetened beverages are low-hanging fruit with lots of empirical evidence to support their limited consumption. I wonder whether this campaign will be extended to other States and regions, as well.

Way to go NY City Department of Health!!

September 1, 2009 Posted by | Big Food, Lifestyle, Marketing, Nutrition | , , , , , | Leave a comment

One Year of a Public Health Blog!

August came and went so quickly that I hardly even realized that there is an anniversary to celebrate — one year of Veritas Health, my beloved public health blog. I started Veritas Health because I could not find anything on the web like it. Individuals just didn’t seem to be writing about their public health experiences or ideas on the web! Now I not only have a public health blog, but am Co-Editor at the new HSPH Connection blog and have a Twitter account (which is in dire need of followers…)!

More recently I have noticed a flurry of internet public health activity. Departments of Public Health have Twitter accounts and even CEOs of large hospitals have their own blog. This public health and new media thing is really beginning to catch on.

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August 31, 2009 Posted by | Miscellaneous | , , , , | Leave a comment

An Eating Local Challenge @ TastyKate

I have decided to commit to increasing my consumption of locally grown/raised foods during my last year at HSPH (Harvard School of Public Health). It was difficult to decide whether to initiate this using Veritas Health or my food blog, TastyKate, but finally decided that TastyKate was a better venue. Check out my first post here.

There are many barriers to healthy eating that we, in public health, are always throwing around. Healthy food is too expensive. It’s not available. It takes to much time to make. I’m going to try to put some of those theories to the test.

I hope that you will follow along. This will certainly be an adventure.

August 24, 2009 Posted by | Big Ag, Blogs, Diet, Food, Lifestyle | , | Leave a comment

Can Chemicals In Drinking Water Be Safe?

How about an article in today’s New York Times:

Debating Just How Much Week Killer is Safe in Your Water Glass

It would be impossible to eliminate all chemicals and microbes from drinking water, right? Rather than elimination, the EPA often sets standards of “allowable” levels of chemicals and microbes in the water supply. For example, a chemical used to kill weeds, atrazine, has been considered safe when the yearly average does not exceed 3 parts per billion and the daily dose remains under 297 parts per billion.

New evidence suggests that atrazine may be particularly harmful for the babies’ development. While still in the womb, dosages exceeding just 1 part per billion were associated with low birth weight and birth defects (if you find this article please pass it along!). In animal studies, atrazine exposure has been associated with development of cancer. Epidemiological studies suggest that there may be increased rates of some cancers, including prostrate cancer among people with close contact with atrazine, as well.

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August 22, 2009 Posted by | Big Ag, Cancer, NY Times | Leave a comment

My Public Health Passion: Round 2

Day by day I am getting closer to identifying what makes me spring out of my chair, telling each and every person I meet the latest offense against our nation’s health. Some days it is fast food commercials. I get so angry over them because I know they work! For example, I craved Dunkin Donuts for about two weeks before finally giving in and getting a Boston kreme donut (240 calories, 9 g fat, 13 g sugar – and no nutritional value). It wasn’t that good. And one day I will surely give in to my McMocha temptation because of those darn commercials and advertising everywhere — not to mention all the coupons!

Someone please tell me WHY is it so difficult to put our heads together and come up with the best freakin’ spinach and beets commercial that would knock even KFC’s socks off? How can we get our kids, teens, and adults craving colorful kale and blueberries, rather than Coco Puffs and Poptarts? Does Popeye need to make a comeback?

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August 19, 2009 Posted by | Big Food, Food Policy, Health Reform, Lifestyle, Marketing, Miscellaneous, Politics, Social Determinants | , , , , | 1 Comment

Racial Disparities in Boston Swine Flu

Health status differs by race and ethnicity. This is not news to people working in the health arena, in fact an entire department of the Boston Public Health Commission is focused on reducing racial health disparities. Often such inequities in health are assumed to be a result of genetic differences or differences in income or socioeconomic position. However, social and environmental factors are also an important consideration.

The latest racial health disparity to reach the front page of the Boston Globe is the increased prevalence of swine (H1N1) flu cases among African Americans and Hispanics in Boston. Stephen Smith of the BG reported that H1N1 cases are clustered in neighborhoods with a high proportion of residents of these racial and ethnic backgrounds.

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August 18, 2009 Posted by | Boston Globe, Boston Public Health Commission, Flu, Hispanic/Latino, Neighborhoods, Social Determinants | , , , , | Leave a comment

Gluten-Free = Wallet Woes

After a few months living in California I was struck by the number of food allergies and intolerances of my friends, colleagues, and their families. Gluten-free, lactose-free, peanut-free, pit-free…the list goes on and on. I don’t believe that these diseases are just more ‘common’ in people living in the Bay Area, rather I think it is more likely that  doctors (and patients) are probably more aware of food allergy signs and symptoms and thus more apt to screen for and diagnose these problems. In a highly educated, wealthy area like the Penninsula (i.e. Silicon Valley) this makes sense.

The peanut allergy epidemic (I’m not sure that it would officially be characterized as such….) that led to pretzels in airplanes and banning of peanut products in some schools surely raised America’s awareness about some food allergy issues. Lactose intolerance has been around for a long time and is fairly well-known. Although many Americans suffer through stomachache after stomachache unwilling to believe that glass of milk or bowl of ice cream could be the culprit. Celiac disease, an extreme form of gluten intolerance is another story.

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August 16, 2009 Posted by | Chronic Disease, Diet, Insurance, Nutrition, Research | , , | Leave a comment

Reuters Picks Up Trafficking Story in SE Asia

After months of hard work compiling data for the United Nations Development Programme our final report on the intersection of HIV/AIDs and sex trafficking was presented in Bali (see my previous post on this international conference). Reuters picked up the story and published it in its AlertNet section on Wednesday.

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August 14, 2009 Posted by | Global Health, HIV/AIDS, Sex Trafficking | Leave a comment

When Kids Lack Calcium and Vitamin D…

…feed them Trix and Lucky Charms?!

The commercial begins with two cute kids in the frame. One is trying to figure out the other’s height with measuring tape; they are playing in a large kitchen. Then the fact, which is something to the effect of

“Did you know: not enough kids are getting enough calcium and vitamin D in their diet.”

So what does the ad suggest? Feed your kids more vegetables (dark green leafy vegetables are a good source of calcium and salmon or tuna are excellent sources of vitamin D)? Encourage your kids to play outside during the day (sunlight is the best way to help your body produce its own vitamin D reserves)? No…

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August 12, 2009 Posted by | Big Food, Food, Fruits and Veggies, HSPH, Marketing, Nutrition | , , , , , , | Leave a comment