Health Buzz: Kids With Food Allergies Often Bullied

Avoid diabetes complications with life changes; stay fit as you age: advice from an Olympic gymnast.

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Children With Food Allergies Victims of Bullying

Call them the allergy bullies: One scattered peanut butter cookie crumbs in the lunchbox of a middle school student allergic to peanuts. Another smeared peanut butter on a high school student's forehead. More than 30 percent of children with food allergies have been victimized by such bullies— teased, harassed, or taunted, according to a study published today in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. While verbal abuse is most common, nearly half of the 353 children with allergies who were surveyed reported being threatened physically—sometimes touched with their allergen; other times, having it thrown or waved at them. More than 80 percent of the bullying episodes occurred at school, and about 20 percent of those surveyed identified teachers or other school staff as the perpetrators.

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  • To Avoid Diabetes Complications, Think Lifestyle Changes Over Drugs

    Ask most folks with a chronic, life-threatening health condition which fix they'd prefer—an overhaul of their eating and exercise habits or a pill—and chances are, they'll choose the pill. While that may be the easiest choice, a growing body of evidence suggests it's not always the wisest, at least when it comes to managing type 2 diabetes, writes U.S. News's Deborah Kotz. Last week, the Food and Drug Administration decided to severely restrict access to the popular diabetes drug Avandia due to data suggesting "an elevated risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke," the agency said in a statement. What's more, none of the myriad diabetes medications on the market have been shown to lower the risk of dying from heart disease, the No. 1 killer of diabetics, according to results published a few months ago from an ongoing study called ACCORD. But new government-funded research published today in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that lifestyle trumps medication if people are serious enough about making changes; overweight individuals with diabetes who radically revamped their eating and exercise habits lowered heart disease risk factors far more than those who just took medications.

    While drugs prescribed to diabetics usually target a single heart risk factor like cholesterol or blood sugar, lifestyle changes can improve them simultaneously the study authors found. Another plus: Lifestyle changes don't have the nasty side effects commonly associated with blood-sugar lowering diabetes drugs like hypoglycemia, when blood sugar levels drop too low. While the 2,600 study participants who were randomly assigned to get intensive diet and exercise counseling were allowed to take medications, they generally needed far less or lower doses than the 2,600 participants assigned to get traditional diabetes treatments, including insulin and cholesterol-lowering statins. [Read more: To Avoid Diabetes Complications, Think Lifestyle Changes Over Drugs.]

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    • Staying Fit as You Age: Advice From Olympic Gymnast Dominique Dawes

      Wearing high heels and a rhinestone-spangled "President's Challenge" T-shirt, Olympic gold medalist Dominique Dawes dashed across the blacktop at Maury Elementary School in Washington D.C. last Wednesday in a relay race with students. Not exactly the kind of workout that keeps the 33-year-old former gymnast in shape, U.S. News reports. She was there as co-chair of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition, a group that's trying to implement Michelle Obama's "Let's Move!" initiative to prevent childhood obesity. While the grade schoolers sprinted past her in sensible sneakers, she described what she does to maintain her svelte physique now that she's no longer doing double backflips.

      "I went through a tough stage at the end of my gymnastics career," she admits, "where I put on that freshman 15." Now she does yoga and pilates several times a week because she says they're "good for my mind as well as my body." She also enjoys taking a "boot camp" class at her gym that uses military-style training techniques—think pushups and a lot of yelling. And she's got a secret for her neighbors who hire lawn service companies: To burn calories, she mows hers herself. Her next step is to incorporate planting and weeding into her workout routine, but she first has to learn some gardening skills. "I'm going to get some tips from Michelle Obama the next time I visit the White House garden," she says. [Read more: Staying Fit as You Age: Advice From Olympic Gymnast Dominique Dawes.]