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Public Health

The Takeaway

A Quart of Milk, a Loaf of Bread ... and Childhood Obesity?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A wave of obesity blamed (at least in part) on kids slurping cheap slushies and scarfing chips from local convenience stores has the Los Angeles City Council considering an unusual proposal: limiting the development of new corner stores in South L.A. Is the council's proposed moratorium a smart way to address a public health epidemic? Or is it an unfair attack on the convenient storefronts that serve low-income neighborhoods, where big chain grocery stores don't dare to enter?

We speak to public health expert Dr. Deborah Cohen; Lark Galloway-Gilliam, the executive director of a nonprofit health policy and education organization in South Los Angeles; and Jeff Lenard, the spokesperson for the National Association of Convenience Stores.

"The problem is that we have too many food cues that make us hungry, and make us eat too much. People were designed to overeat."
—Public health expert Dr. Deborah Cohen, on the danger that the kinds of cheap, highly processed foods usually available in convenience stores pose to public health

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The Takeaway

The Fate of H1N1 May Be In Your Hands

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

As we await the peak season for the H1N1 virus, one simple act may prevent the spread of infection: washing your hands. According to new research in the journal Risk Analysis, one-third of the risk for H1N1 infection comes from hand-to-face contact. We talk with Tara Parker-Pope, who writes the "Well" column for the New York Times, about why the routine act of washing your hands can have such big consequences for public health.

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The Takeaway

CDC May Recommend Routine Circumcision

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

In an attempt to slow the spread of HIV, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention might begin recommending circumcisions for all infant boys. The announcement comes out of this week's National HIV Prevention Conference in Atlanta. The CDC likely won't release a formal draft of the proposal for another four to six months, but speculation on it already has emotions flaring.

For more on the debate, we are joined by Dana Goldstein, public health reporter and associate editor for The American Prospect magazine; and Dr. Roy Gulick, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

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The Takeaway

Calling All Guinea Pigs: Volunteer for the H1N1 Trials

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The U.S. government is seeking thousands of volunteers, from babies to the elderly, to roll up their sleeves for the first clinical trials of an H1N1 flu vaccine. The race is on to test whether a new vaccine really will protect against this virus before its expected rebound in the fall. Will the vaccines work? Will there be enough vaccines for everyone? What are the dangers of the vaccine itself? The Takeaway talks to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which will oversee the trials.

"We think the risk is extremely small because we give tens of millions of doses of seasonal flu vaccine every year to adults, the elderly and children, and there's not a significant, at all, degree of adverse effects."
—Dr. Anthony Fauci on the H1N1 vaccine

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The Takeaway

Texting While Driving? You Might as Well Drive Drunk

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A study says that if you're using your cell phone while driving, you're just as likely to crash as someone who has been drinking. But most states don't ban texting while driving. And no state has banned driving while talking on the phone. The New York Times reports that federal agencies withheld studies showing how dangerous texting while driving actually is. Joining The Takeaway is Adam Bryant, New York Times Deputy Business Editor.

"Collectively, we're making all these small little decisions, but across the country I think it's pretty clear that adds up to a safety risk."
—Adam Bryant of The New York Times on texting while driving

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The Takeaway

A Tale of Two Countries: H1N1 and Public Health

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

One of the ongoing mysteries of the H1N1 influenza outbreak is why it killed 26 people in Mexico, but only two people right across the border in the U.S. Is it simply that the virus is less virulant now? Or can we learn something by looking at how each nation handles public health crises? The Takeaway talks to Dr. Julio Frenk, former Mexican Minister of Health and now Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health.

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The Takeaway

The call for a World Sanitation Day

Monday, March 23, 2009

It's the day after World Water Day, a day highlighting the issues facing countries with scarce water resources. The issue of clean water is clearly important, but Rose George, author of The Big Necessity, The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters, suggests we also need a World Sanitation Day.

For more on the importance of clean water and sanitation, watch the video from the International Federation Global Water and Sanitation Initiative (GWSI) in action at the Zambia Red Cross Society:

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The Takeaway

Healthcare reform faces hurdles, but industry may be backing it finally

Friday, February 20, 2009

Before the recession began, 46 million Americans didn't have health insurance. Now, according to a report released yesterday by the liberal Center for American Progress, 14,000 Americans are losing health-care insurance every day. It's dire, but a consensus on health care may be taking shape. Many of the leading figures in the nation’s long-running health care debate have been meeting secretly to discuss the need for universal health care. For the details on these meetings, we are joined by Robert Pear, reporter for the New York Times.

For more, read Robert Pear's article, Health Care Industry in Talks to Shape Policy, in today's New York Times.

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The Takeaway

Kids of the crack generation

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The 1980s were an era of heavy rock and hard drugs. The drug of choice? Cocaine. At the time, public health experts predicted a coming generation of "crack babies" — a wave of children who were mentally and physically disabled after having been exposed to crack in the womb. But scientists are finding that despite the rampant drug use, the predicted generation of children never appeared. We are joined by Susan Okie, a New York Times reporter, who has been reporting on this story.

Read Susan Okie's article, The Epidemic That Wasn't in today's New York Times.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Lorna Thorpe

Thursday, September 07, 2006




Lorna Thorpe

Originally uploaded by wnyc.

Lorna Thorpe, deputy commissioner for the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, pauses before addressing 9/11 health concerns. September 7, 2006.

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