Health Buzz: Huge Recall of Diabetes Test Strips

Unhealthy fixation on healthy eating; smile to improve your mood.


Abbott Cites False Readings in Sweeping Recall of Diabetes Test Strips

Hundreds of millions of diabetes test strips were recalled last week because of concern that they might give falsely low blood sugar readings. Abbott Laboratories voluntarily pulled up to 359 million strips on Wednesday after learning they don't absorb blood quickly enough to provide a proper reading, federal officials announced Wednesday. The defect "can lead users to try to raise their blood glucose when it is unnecessary, or to fail to treat elevated blood glucose due to a falsely low reading. Both scenarios pose health risks," the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in a statement. The chemically treated paper strips, manufactured between January and May 2010, were branded Precision Xceed Pro, Precision Xtra, MediSense Optium, OptiumEZ, and ReliOn Ultima. Abbott has not yet identified the source of the defect, but improper storage is one possibility—exposure to high temperatures can cause strips to yield false readings. The company says it will offer free replacements to affected customers. To find out if your product is involved in the recall, or to request a replacement, visit

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  • Orthorexia: An Unhealthy Obsession With Healthy Eating

    At the beginning, the goal seems innocent, smart even: a vow to eat more whole grains, or more fruits and vegetables. But healthy eating can turn rigid and confining, wiping out whole categories of food one by one—first anything with additives, perhaps, then maybe nonorganic produce, and then another and another. It can become decidedly unhealthy. The focus on quality and purity can deteriorate into orthorexia, a term coined in 1996 by physician Steven Bratman to describe a "fixation on righteous eating." Like anorexia and bulimia, it can wreak serious damage on the health of someone trapped in the obsession, U.S. News reports.

    "Orthorexia boils down to someone who is very, very concerned with eating what they consider the perfect diet," says Joy Jacobs, a clinical psychologist with the University of California-San Diego School of Medicine. "This is someone who takes healthy eating to an extreme and feels good about it. These people often have a sense of moral superiority." While others abuse their bodies, they know better.

    Orthorexia is not a formally recognized psychiatric diagnosis or eating disorder, although most experts agree it blends elements of both. While an anorexic or bulimic person is fueled by a desire to lose weight, someone with orthorexia singlemindedly pursues health through food. Some with the condition eat only raw or organic foods. Some may follow a strict vegan or fruitarian diet. And others may eliminate sugar, processed ingredients, artificial flavors and colors, or anything that contains additives. [Read more: Orthorexia: An Unhealthy Obsession With Healthy Eating.]

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    • Smile to Improve Your Mood

      Research suggests smiling doesn't just spread sunshine: it strongly affects your mood, writes U.S. News contributor Courtney Rubin. In February 2009, psychologists at the University of Cardiff in Wales found that people whose frown muscles were deadened by Botox were happier and less anxious than those who hadn't had the wrinkle treatment. Another study, appearing in the May 2008 issue of the Journal of Pain, revealed that people who grimace during uncomfortable procedures feel more pain than those who don't. But a 2005 study by Hewlett Packard and the British Dental Health Foundation was perhaps the most intriguing. Researchers measuring brain and heart activity found that volunteers were as stimulated by imagining someone they loved smiling at them as they were by being told they'd won a cash prize. [Read more: Smile to Improve Your Mood.]

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