AARP HAS SET UP a toll-free line, 1-877-358-2678, from 7 a.m. to midnight Monday through Friday for consumers to register complaints about vaccine providers who let the profit motive get the better of them. Complaints will be passed on to federal and state authorities. Here are some other things to consider this flu season:
Wash those toys: With infants and toddlers among those at higher risk for complications from influenza, Columbia University professor and hygiene expert Elaine Larson offers this advice: "Encourage day care providers to have toys that are washable or that can be wiped down, because if you have a shared toy basket . . . and the toys are all stuffed animals that haven't been washed for a year . . . that's a real dandy way to spread (viruses) around."
Shopper's little helper: Another product being pitched to combat the flu and other seasonal nasties: the "lightweight, disposable Clean Shopper" from Babe Ease LLC. It's a one-piece cotton-quilted grocery-cart liner - with a safety strap - designed to protect babies from germ-ridden surfaces. To view the Clean Shopper or to shop online, go to www.cleanshopper.com or call toll-free 1-800-635-3899.
AS MANY AS 97-million adults are overweight or obese, substantially raising the risk of accompanying health problems such as hypertension, high cholesterol, coronary heart disease, stroke and sleep apnea. Though There is general agreement as to the health risks of being overweight or obese, there is less agreement about their management. Some in the health care field argue against treating obesity to avoid the yo-yo pattern of weight cycling that occurs in many individuals. Others argue that the potential hazards of not treating this health problem outweigh the risks. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has entered the picture and created the Obesity Education Initiative on this Web site: www.nhlbi.nih.gov Click on "Heart/Vascular" and then on the next page scroll far down to "Aim for a Healthy Weight Web Site."
IF YOUR COGNITIVE performance isn't what it used to be, high blood pressure might be to blame, even if you're young and otherwise healthy. In a study published in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers found that mental function declines when blood pressure rises, regardless of age. Researchers have studied the link between high blood pressure and cognitive performance in older adults before, but this new study looked at blood pressure's effect on people 18 to 46 years old. The study's results underscore the importance of preventing and treating high blood pressure or hypertension, regardless of the patient's age.
THINK NO ONE'S gonna slip one by you? Think again. Most people can spot lies less than half the time, according to Maureen O'Sullivan, a University of San Francisco psychology professor who has studied the science of lying and deceit for longer than 20 years. Folks who can do better are so rare (only 31 people out of the more than 13,000 that she and colleagues have tested in the past decade) that O'Sullivan has pegged them "wizards." Wizards were consistently better than others at reading cues in speakers' facial expressions, body language and speech patterns, according to O'Sullivan. Common telltale signals include fidgeting, pressing the lips together, raising the chin, moving the feet and changing vocal pitch. Researchers warn, however, that such cues are not universal or even always indicative of a lie. Among the wizards, 14 were accurate more than 80 percent of the time on all three tests; 17 did that well on two.
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