Longer Looks: Cities Coping With Aging Populations; New Apps For Health
Every week, reporter Jessica Marcy selects interesting reading from around the Web.
The New York Times Magazine: Is Sugar Toxic?
Robert Lustig is a specialist on pediatric hormone disorders and the leading expert in childhood obesity at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine. The viral success of his lecture, though, has little to do with Lustig's impressive credentials and far more with the persuasive case he makes that sugar is a "toxin" or a "poison," terms he uses together 13 times through the course of the lecture, in addition to the five references to sugar as merely "evil." If Lustig is right, then our excessive consumption of sugar is the primary reason that the numbers of obese and diabetic Americans have skyrocketed in the past 30 years. But his argument implies more than that. If Lustig is right, it would mean that sugar is also the likely dietary cause of several other chronic ailments widely considered to be diseases of Western lifestyles - heart disease, hypertension and many common cancers among them (Gary Taubes, 4/13).
The Weekly Standard: Pence V. Planned Parenthood
The storyline to emerge from the 2011 budget deal is that social conservatives were really the ones who lost. But Planned Parenthood has received federal funding under Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama. Was maintaining the status quo on this issue really much of a "victory," especially considering that Republicans control just half of Congress? John Boehner may not have been able to get Harry Reid and President Obama to bend to his will on the Planned Parenthood rider. But the speaker of the House did effectively use the issue to get Obama to give in on reinstating the ban on taxpayer-funding of abortions for Medicaid recipients in Washington, D.C. (John McCormack, 4/13).
Governing: Seniors And The City
In 2006, just 11 percent of the global population was over the age of 60, but the number is expected to double by 2050, according to the World Health Organization. Meanwhile, the number of people living in cities continues to rise. In North America, 81 percent of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and is expected to reach 87 percent by 2030. Despite the clear trend toward an older, more urban population, most experts agree little is being done to make cities more age-friendly. Some of the necessary changes will be challenging. It won't be easy or cheap to provide more public transportation or to build more affordable and accessible housing for seniors who are on fixed incomes and are less mobile (Tod Newcombe, April 2011).
American Medical News: Bill Seeks Outside Review Of Relative Values In Medicare Services
A Democratic lawmaker has proposed changing the way the Medicare program identifies physician services for which it pays too little -- or too much -- by requiring independent contractors to review doctor fees annually. Since 1992, a panel convened by the American Medical Association and representing a wide range of specialties has recommended thousands of pay changes to the individual services doctors provide to Medicare patients. The bill would add a layer of review on top of the 29-member AMA/Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee, known as the RUC. Critics of the committee say it lacks transparency and is responsible for continuing payment discrepancies between primary care physicians and specialists. But supporters, including the AMA, disagree (Charles Fiegl, 4/11).
Hospitals & Health Networks Weekly: mHealth
Got kidney stones? There's an app for that-and for just about every other clinical and administrative function. As mobile applications reshape health care, hospitals will be pressed to keep up. As of November, there were more than 17,000 medical applications available for download from major app stores for the Apple iPhone and iPad, and for smart phones and mobile computers using the Android, Microsoft Mobile, Blackberry, Palm and Symbian operating systems, says Ralf-Gordon Jahns, head of research at research2guidance.com, a Munich, Germany-based IT consultancy specializing in mobile technologies. And that's just the consumer end of the market, which is dominated by mobile phone operators and specialized health care firms. Countless mobile apps exist or are being developed by traditional health care providers, device manufacturers, pharmaceutical manufacturers and researchers around the world (Howard Larkin, April 2011).