Entries in Institute of Medicine (4)


Soldiers and Veterans Should Have Annual PTSD Screenings, Report Says

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Servicemen and women returning from the war zones get screened for post-traumatic stress disorder, but a new report says too little happens after that.

An Institute of Medicine study says that of those who show symptoms, just 40 percent get referred for more treatment. The report also recommends that all service members and veterans should be screened at least once each year.
The review, mandated by Congress and funded by the Pentagon and the Veterans Administration, says many soldiers don't get PTSD treatment, worried it could jeopardize their careers.

"[There is] a certain amount of fearfulness around having psychological diagnosis, that it may affect a soldier's potential for promotion and a certain worry around the acceptability of the diagnosis," said report committee chair Dr. Sandro Galea at Columbia University.

The report also notes that there's no real systematic tracking of soldiers to pinpoint the most effective treatments. Galea says there's work to be done but he's optimistic.

"It will need a concerted system-wide effort on behalf of DOD [Department of Defense] and VA to raise awareness among all its ranks of the importance of PTSD, of the potential benefit of treatment and to implement specific programs," he says.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Labels Would Be Like Energy Star Stickers on Food

Creatas/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- To help shoppers make healthier food choices, the Institute of Medicine has called for a new food labeling system that would require nutritional information to appear on the front of the package instead of on the back.

Like the Energy Star tag that helps shoppers compare appliances, the new front label would, theoretically, make it easier for customers to compare the number of calories, and the fat, sodium and sugar content  in cans of soup, boxes of cereal and tubs of yogurt without having to turn the product over and squint to read the small print on the back.

The IOM got to work on a new labeling system following what can only be called the Smart Choices debacle. Smart Choices was a front-of-package nutrition label developed by the food industry that  led to the infamous conclusion that Froot Loops was a smart choice for breakfast.

That, among other dubious findings, invited the wrath of the federal government, and Smart Choices was retired.

The IOM then stepped in to review food labeling in a two-phase effort, culminating in its latest recommendation.

And its latest recommendation does have its advantages: For one, it could unify the food industry’s different product icons and symbols into a single system. It could also highlight potentially harmful nutrients very visibly on the front of the package and  put the reins on deceptive marketing to some degree.

Despite its advantages, the IOM’s new labeling system is not without its weaknesses. The system was designed with no market research, and it didn’t even use consumer focus groups. Relying on previously published literature, the IOM failed to answer what food guidance works best for consumers or what kind of labeling could change purchasing behavior and lead to better health outcomes.

Also,  if calories, saturated fat, trans fat, added sugar and sodium are to be called out, then diet soda, which contains none of these elements, would likely pass through the IOM’s  filter as a perfect food, while walnuts, avocados or nut butters, which are highly nutritious but energy dense, would appear as bad choices.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Relieving Pain: The Institute of Medicine Calls for Action

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Institute of Medicine (IOM) is releasing a report identifying the shortfalls of pain management in the U.S. and outlining the necessary cultural, medical, educational, and research changes that need to take place in order to better prevent and treat pain of all types.
According to the IOM report, more than 115 million adult americans experience some type of pain.
And that physical hurt is being felt in our pockets, costing the U.S. anywhere from $560 billion to  $635 billion every year.
Some of it comes from direct medical expenses.  The rest from indirect costs such as disability, lost wages and productivity.
The report outlines changes needed to improve the prevention and treatment of pain.
Some of the suggestions include better data gathering by the federal government, more personalized pain management by primary care doctors working with pain specialists for patients with chronic pain, more pain management training for health professionals and the development of a National Pain Research Institute.
The IOM report says that some of its recommendations could be implemented as early as the end of next year, while others could be in place by 2015.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


How Much Vitamin D Do You Need?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Americans could find themselves taking 50 to 100 percent more vitamin D to keep up with recommended daily levels, if a prominent health organization has anything to say about it.

In a new report, the Institute of Medicine, or IOM, an independent, nonprofit organization connected to the National Academy of Science, released dietary recommendations for vitamin D and calcium Tuesday.  Estimated average requirements for the two nutrients were set in 1997 and have not been updated since.

The IOM assigned a committee of experts to review more than one thousand studies related to vitamin D and calcium.  The review committee found that the majority of Americans and Canadians receive the appropriate amount of vitamin D and calcium, except for girls ages 7-to-18.  The report also found that postmenopausal women taking supplements may actually be getting too much calcium, which could increase their risk for kidney stones.

Standing by previous recommendations, the committee says infants and children ought to receive 200 to 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day, and older children and adults should get 1,000 to 13,000 milligrams.

The committee made more significant changes to vitamin D recommendations.  Previous estimated average requirements recommended 400 International Units (IUs) a day for everyone.  The new IOM report recommends that infants receive 400 IUs of the vitamin per day and 600 IUs for children and adults.  Committee members said that people aged 71 or older may need a bit more -- about 800 IUs per day. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio