Government Unveils Healthy People 2020 Initiative
Uncle Sam wants Americans to get healthier. The government has unveiled a new plan for improving public health in more than 40 categories by 2020. Among the objectives outlined in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Healthy People 2020 initiative: to reduce deaths from heart disease and stroke by 20 percent, and cut cancer deaths, obesity rates, and new cases of diabetes by 10 percent. Specific goals to combat obesity include providing healthier food in schools and day care centers, encouraging schools to open their gyms and tracks for after-hours exercise, and building more community sidewalks. The plan also places first-ever emphasis on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender health. Americans met just 19 percent of goals set by Healthy People 2010, but made progress in about 52 percent of others, the government estimates. Officials hope to see improvement over the next 10 years. "Healthy People objectives are to some extent a road map for public health, cataloging the places we can and should go over the span of a decade," David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine, told HealthDay. "To date, we have failed to achieve fully the aspirations of Healthy People. Whether or not 2020 proves different will depend to a lesser degree on the creation of new ways to get there, and to a larger degree on the will to follow paths already open to us."
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Shape Up With a New Video Game Workout
Health advocates have long decried video games for contributing to a sedentary culture. While those stereotypes might still hold true for some, many families' game consoles are fast becoming as suitable for the exercise room as for the den, U.S. News's Brain Burnsed reports.
Microsoft's new Kinect peripheral for the popular Xbox 360 video game console uses the whole body as the controller and can be an effective—and fun—fitness tool. A camera tracks the player's body movements to manipulate the action on the screen. For example, in the boxing mode for the game Kinect Sports, you throw real punches that are mirrored by your onscreen avatar in a digital boxing ring. Other games allow you to dance, drive a car, or negotiate obstacle courses. The system forces users to be active, burning calories as they play.
The Kinect is just the latest innovation in motion-capture gaming. The Nintendo Wii, released in 2006, quickly became the nation's top-selling video game console because it appealed both to gamers and to families looking to stay active. The Wii and its competitor Move, which Sony released in September to use with its PlayStation 3, rely on handheld controllers to capture players' movements as they simulate playing games like tennis, ping-pong, or golf. [Read more: Shape Up With a New Video Game Workout.]
7 Steps Newly Diagnosed Type 2 Diabetics Should Take
People diagnosed with type 2 diabetes must confront the troubling reality that they face a greater likelihood of heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, and other serious ills down the road. Why? Since their bodies can't properly use insulin—a hormone that controls blood glucose levels—glucose (sugar) that should be ushered into cells for energy instead builds up in the blood, wreaking havoc if left unchecked. A diagnosis, however, is the first step toward getting blood sugar levels back under control. With other steps including exercise and regular checkups, diabetes complications can be avoided. U.S. News's Megan Johnson asked the experts what they advise all type 2 diabetics do.
Confirm the diagnosis. Even if a first test says you're diabetic, a second is advised before deeming the diagnosis official. The initial results may be unreliable if, say, the lab made a mistake or if you accidentally ate or drank before being tested, says endocrinologist John Buse, past president of medicine and science at the American Diabetes Association. Patients aren't supposed to eat or drink before undergoing the fasting plasma glucose and oral glucose tolerance tests. The hemoglobin A1c test, however, which measures average blood glucose levels over three months, can provide an accurate diagnosis even if given soon after a meal or if you have a cold or other infection, which can throw off the results of those other tests. (Despite its strengths, the A1c should still be done twice.) People whose A1c is at least 6.5 are considered diabetic and are often put on medications to lower blood sugar. [Read more: 7 Steps Newly Diagnosed Type 2 Diabetics Should Take.]
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