Health Buzz: Deaths From Illegal Fentanyl and Other Health News

Weekends and diets, long-term care insurance, and what to eat after you work out

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Street Version of Fentanyl Linked to More Than 1,000 Deaths

More than 1,000 people died between April 2005 and March 2007 after taking an illegal version of the painkiller fentanyl, according to the July 25 issue of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Fentanyl is approved to treat severe and chronic pain, but a street version of the medication is sold for a heroinlike effect. In response to the deaths, public health agencies have stepped up their efforts to combat illicit use of the drug by forming task forces and alerting healthcare providers, law enforcement, and drug users to the drug's danger.

In April, Sarah Baldauf listed questions teens pose about about peer pressure and drugs. U.S. News also listed seven questions from teens about abusing easy-to-find substances.

Weekend Can Wreak Havoc on Weight-Loss Efforts

If you're on a diet, the upcoming weekend may interfere with your weight-loss plans, a new study suggests. Most people eat more on the weekend, even when they're trying to lose weight, according to the study recently published in the journal Obesity. Researchers followed 48 people for one year to determine the effects weekends have on weight-loss efforts. The study participants, who ranged from being healthy weight to being nearly obese, were put into one of three groups: The control group didn't change diet or activity levels; the calorie-restriction group reduced intake by 20 percent, and the physical activity group increased physical activity every day by 20 percent. All kept food diaries and wore devices to measure activity. The calorie restriction group stopped losing weight on weekends, while the physical activity group gained slightly (about .17 pounds). There were not significant weight changes in the control group.

Earlier this month, U.S. News's Katherine Hobson explained that a low-carb diet works if it suits your lifestyle. In April, she reported on diets that promote health and described the Mediterranean diet, Asian diet, Latin American diet, and vegetarian diets.

Long-Term Care Insurance: Not Always a Good Buy

A Government Accountability Office report released this week found that long-term care insurance policies aren't necessarily a good buy, Michelle Andrews reports. Even though more than half of states have adopted standards that help keep premiums stable, many consumers are at risk for soaring increases, either because their state hasn't yet adopted rate-setting standards or because they bought policies before the standards went into effect. Since policyholders may pay premiums for decades before they actually need long-term care services, steep premium increases can be especially painful. The report also found that claims settlement could be problematic. For example, while nine of the 10 states reviewed had a requirement that companies pay claims in a timely fashion, the definition of "timely" ranged from five to 45 days, and two states didn't define timely at all.

Previously, Andrews wrote about the potential pitfalls of long-term care insurance and how to avoid them.

Should You Worry About Post-Workout Eating?

Is it important to pay attention to what you eat after working out? Katherine Hobson explains in her On Fitness blog that it's good to take in some carbohydrates and a little bit of protein after you do a heavy or long workout—especially if you're going to work out again the next day. There's been a lot of debate, however, on how much of one to consume versus the other. One camp believes strongly that a ratio of 4 grams of carbohydrates to every 1 gram of protein is key. Another, meanwhile, says there's no need to worry much about exact math; instead simply plan for mostly carbohydrates and a bit of protein. Timing seems to be important for more frequent or intense exercisers. Aim to eat 15 to 30 minutes after the end of a workout, says William Kraemer, a kinesiologist at the Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. That's the period of time in which the body seems to get the most bang for its buck from ingesting carbohydrates and protein.