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Wednesday
Feb272013

Three Facts Families Should Know About Eating Disorders

David De Lossy/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Eating disorders aren’t your typical dinner table conversation.  However, studies suggest more people die of anorexia than any other mental health disorder. In a recent Twitter chat on eating disorders hosted by ABC News’ chief health medical editor Dr. Richard Besser, several other experts identified three important facts that families should know about eating disorders.

Anorexia, Bulimia Aren’t the Only Eating Disorders

While anorexia and bulimia are the most well-known eating disorders, tweeters pointed out that binge eating disorder and eating disorder not otherwise specified, or EDNOS, are actually more common.

Patients with EDNOS have symptoms similar to those with anorexia and bulimia, such as distorted thoughts about their bodies and unhealthy eating behaviors, but do not fully meet the strict definitions of either.

EDNOS are sometimes dismissed as “not being real eating disorders,” but they carry the same risks as anorexia and bulimia. The consequences of eating disorders discussed in the chat include physical risks and mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

It Often Takes a Family Member or Friend to Get Treatment Started

Denial is common in eating disorders. Patients fail to recognize the seriousness of low weight and do not always seek treatment on their own.

Many patients in recovery tweeted stories of family members and friends who recognized the symptoms of an eating disorder and intervened.  Warning signs discussed in the chat highlighted odd behaviors and rituals surrounding food, rather than weight loss. Look for a preoccupation with food, and inward emotional signals.

“Increasing isolation around meals is a red flag for eating disorders,” warned NYU Langone Medical.

‘Talk About It, Talk About It More’

“Talk about it, talk about it more,” tweeted Dawn Matusz, a patient who currently started treatment for binge eating disorder.  ”Bring it into the open, and it can no longer hide.”

Experts, advocates, and patients alike stressed the importance of talking about eating disorders, and the earlier, the better, as early intervention helps with recovery.  ”Err on the side of over-discussing,” tweeted Dr. Russell Marx of NEDA.

Even once a patient starts treatment, it is important to keep talking because family and social support are essential to recovery.  Eating disorders thrive in secrecy.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Oct282012

Facebook, Email More Irresistible Than Sex

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- You may want to ask your date to turn off his or her phone. A new study suggests Facebook and email trump sex in terms of sheer irresistibility.

The German study used smartphone-based surveys to probe the daily desires of 205 men and women, most of whom were college age. For one week the phones, provided by the researchers, buzzed seven times daily, alerting study subjects to take a quick survey on the type, strength and timing of their desires, as well as their ability to resist them.

While the desire for sex was stronger, the study subjects were more likely to cave into the desire to use media, including email and social networking platforms like Facebook and Twitter, according to the study.

“Media desires, such as social networking, checking emails, surfing the Web or watching television might be hard to resist in light of the constant availability, huge appeal, and apparent low costs of these activities,” said study author Wilhelm Hofmann, an assistant professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

The subjects were paid $28 at the start of the study and were eligible for extra incentives if they filled out more than 80 percent of the surveys. It’s no small wonder that more than 10,000 surveys were completed.

The urge to check social media was so strong that subjects gave in up to 42 percent of the time, according to the study published in the journal Psychological Science. One explanation is that it’s much more convenient to check email or Facebook than it is to have sex.

“The sex drive is much stronger but it’s also much more situational,” said Karen North, director of the Annenberg Program on Online Communities at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, who was not involved with the study. “We’re training ourselves to check our messages every couple minutes.”

“People are constantly looking down to check their phones,” North added. “They can’t stop.”

One drawback of this study is that it failed to address whether the subjects had sexual partners.  So while some subjects might have been single, all of them had smartphones, North said. It’s also unclear whether the findings can be generalized to the general population.

While social media can help people stay connected, Hofmann said overuse can be damaging.

“Media desires distract us from getting work done,” he said. “People underestimate how much time they consume and the distractions they produce and that can be harmful.”

The study surprised media expert Bob Larose, a professor in the department of telecommunications, information studies, and media at Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich.

“It’s surprising that self-regulation fails so much more often for media use than for sex, alcohol or food,” said Larose, who was not involved with the study.” That speaks to the power of the instantly available, 24/7 media environment to disrupt our lives… Our failure to control media use can deplete our ability to control other aspects of our lives.”

For those who fear social media is taking over their personal or professional lives, there is hope.  North offers some tips.

“If it is interfering with social/business relationships, work, or school performance, then people should try to scale back and control or limit the behavior,” she said, describing how self-imposed “rules,” like no social media at the dinner table, can help curb the constant urge to check Facebook.

“People can use a self monitoring technique, such as charting when they use social media as a means of reducing it,” North added. “Some people find it helpful to set rewards for staying within use standards that they set for themselves.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug232012

Donald Trump Plays Doctor on Twitter with Autism Claims

Mike Stobe/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Mostly quiet since his last birther allegation, Donald Trump Thursday to went on Twitter to peddle a theory that claims vaccinations cause autism in young children.

“Massive combined inoculations to small children is the cause for big increase in autism,” Trump wrote. “Spread shots over long period and watch positive result.”

The Romney campaign, for whom Trump has raised millions this campaign season, would not comment on his latest offering.

Doctors and medical research findings were not so circumspect.

Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News’ chief health and medical editor, called Trump’s remarks “shameful.”

“The autism-vaccine link has been disproven. Spreading shots out over a long period of time will not reduce the number of children who develop autism but it will leave more children vulnerable to infectious diseases for a longer period of time than necessary,” he said. “That can kill children.”

While it’s true that autism diagnosis rates have risen over the years, there is an ongoing debate about whether the numbers can be taken at face value. Many doctors believe a broadening of diagnostic criteria has led to more confirmed cases.

What is unquestioned, though, and confirmed by serious medical studies, is that there is no known connection between the condition and having received childhood vaccinations.

“As we know from political campaigns, stating a claim repeatedly can lead to a public belief in the concept since these conclusions are not always based on rational thought processes but also on emotional thinking and preconceived notions,” Dr. Max Wiznitzer, associate professor of pediatric neurology at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio, told ABC News in March.

The scientific paper that once served as the driving force behind the theory has long since been discredited and rejected by its original publisher, The Lancet, which wrote in 2010 that “it has become clear that several elements of the 1998 paper by [Andrew] Wakefield et al are incorrect.

“In particular, the claims in the original paper that children were ‘consecutively referred’ and that investigations were ‘approved’ by the local ethics committee have been proven to be false.”

The British Medical Journal published an editorial in January 2011, calling the Wakefield report “fraudulent,” adding that “clear evidence of falsification of data should now close the door on this damaging vaccine scare.”

Closed, that is, until Trump opens it up again.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May092012

Houston Hospital to Live Tweet Brain Surgery

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- In February, surgeons at Memorial Hermann hospital in Houston live tweeted during heart surgery.  And on Wednesday, the hospital is moving on up -- to the brain.

Starting at 8:30 a.m. EDT, Dr. Dong Kim, a neurosurgeon at the hospital, will remove a brain tumor from a 21-year-old patient and broadcast it via Twitter and YouTube.

“What I do tomorrow can be seen anywhere. We’re using a lot of technology, but I think the thing that helps with this is that we are using an operating microscope and there’s a natural recording mechanism that can be tweeted,” Dr. Dong Kim told ABC News.

While there will be a lot of medical technology in the operating room, including the video feed from the microscope, Memorial Hermann has also outfitted the OR for instant social media sharing.

A colleague of Kim’s will tweet live from the OR on a laptop, a video camera will capture overview shots of the surgery, and a still photographer will be taking digital photos.  All the material, including pictures, video, and text updates will be broadcast to Twitter, YouTube, TwitPic, CoverItLive and Pinterest.

[ CLICK HERE TO FOLLOW THE LIVE TWEET ]

But the purpose isn’t just to show off what technology can do these days, it’s to teach students and help patients, Dr. Kim said.

“The main reason I wanted to do this was for the educational possibilities.  I spend a lot of my time with patients on what to expect and what the steps are,” Kim said.  “A lot of anxious patients want to know exactly what happens.  With this they will be able to see what happens.”

The patient being operated on Wednesday has a benign cavernous angioma tumor on the right side of her brain; Dr. Kim hopes that the removal will prevent seizures.

You can follow @houstonhospital and #mhbrain on Twitter Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. EDT.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May082012

Hospital to Live Tweet Brain Surgery

Keith Brofsky/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- In February, surgeons at Memorial Hermann hospital in Houston live tweeted during heart surgery. And Wednesday, the hospital is moving on up — to the brain.

Starting at 8:30 a.m. ET, Dr. Dong Kim, a neurosurgeon at the hospital, will remove a brain tumor from a 21-year-old patient and broadcast it via Twitter and YouTube.

“What I do tomorrow can be seen anywhere. We’re using a lot of technology, but I think the thing that helps with this is that we are using an operating microscope and there’s a natural recording mechanism that can be tweeted,” Dr. Dong Kim told ABC News.

While there will be a lot of medical technology in the operating room, including the video feed from the microscope, Memorial Hermann has also outfitted the OR for instant social media sharing.

A colleague of Kim’s will tweet live from the OR on a laptop, a video camera will capture overview shots of the surgery, and a still photographer will be taking digital photos. All the material, including pictures, video, and text updates will be broadcast to Twitter, YouTube, TwitPic, CoverItLive, and Pinterest.

But the purpose isn’t just to show off what technology can do these days, it’s to teach students and help patients, Dr. Kim said.

“The main reason I wanted to do this was for the educational possibilities. I spend a lot of my time with patients on what to expect and what the steps are,” Kim said. “A lot of anxious patients want to know exactly what happens. With this they will be able to see what happens.”

The patient being operated on Wednesday has a benign avernous angioma tumor on the right side of her brain; Dr. Kim hopes that the removal will prevent seizures.

You can follow @houstonhospital and #mhbrain on Twitter tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. ET.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr122012

Lady Gaga Criticized for ‘Pop Singers Don’t Eat’ Twitter Post

PRNewsFoto/Interscope Records(NEW YORK) -- Lady Gaga was likely joking when she tweeted on Tuesday about eating a salad while secretly craving a cheeseburger, and added the hashtag “#PopSingersDontEat.”  But now, the singer, who’s famous for preaching a message of self-acceptance, finds herself under fire for making that comment.

Many fans reacted negatively to Gaga’s hashtag.  One wrote, “Why would you even promote a message like that? Disgusting that you’d joke about such a serious illness.”  Another added, “I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic or not, but if not… Wow, that’s an awful example you’re setting.”  Yet another wrote, “what a terrible example your setting miss gaga, RT if you regret saying that!”

There was so much reaction to Gaga’s comment that the National Eating Disorder Association even took notice, posting on its Twitter account, “Huh? This is the same person who recently implored girls to stop dieting?”  Indeed, at a conference held in February at a California school, Gaga confessed to being bulimic in high school, and told the teen audience, “I’m gonna say this about girls: The dieting wars have got to stop.  Everyone just knock it off.  Because at the end of the day, it’s affecting kids your age -- and it’s making girls sick.”

While some have pointed out that Gaga has expressed the “pop singers don’t eat” idea before in a past interview, others say that Gaga’s frequent tweets about getting drunk probably set a worse example and nobody seems to be getting upset about those.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb212012

Doctor Live-Tweeting Coronary Bypass Surgery

Keith Brofsky/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- Doctors tweeting throughout surgery and providing pictures and video is not new, but tweeting during open-heart surgery? That’s happening for the first time Tuesday.

Surgeons at Memorial Hermann Northwest Hospital in Houston are live tweeting a coronary bypass, complete with almost instantaneous YouTube videos and pictures of a beating heart.

Some of the pictures and video are already rolling into the hospital’s Twitter feed, @houstonhospital, but before clicking over, remember that the content is graphic, and includes images of the heart itself.

Dr. Michael Macis is conducting the two-hour bypass, wearing a helmet cam that snaps the photos and video, and sends them to a computer. Another camera in the operating room is also capturing images.

The patient’s name has not been released, but according to the Houston Chronicle, he is a 57-year-old male.

The surgery coincides with Heart Month. Memorial Hermann has arranged for a doctor on its staff to answer questions from the public through CoverItLive, which is embedded here.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec302011

Kasey Kahne Apologizes over Breast Feeding Comments

Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR(NEW YORK) -- NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne is apologizing after drawing angry responses when he tweeted that he found a woman breast feeding her baby in a supermarket “nasty.”

The driver, who finished in fourth place in NASCAR standings this year and recently inked a multi-year agreement to take over the No. 5 Chevrolet at Hendrick Motorsports, took to Twitter to express his disgust on Tuesday.

“Just walking though supermarket. See a mom breast feeding little kid. Took second look because obviously I was seeing things. I wasn’t!” he wrote, then graphically described what he saw. “#nasty,” Kahne added, “I don’t feel like shopping anymore or eating.”

The tweet from Kahne, who has over 100,000 followers on the social networking site, quickly led to widespread backlash.

“I hope someday you have a kid and someone tells your wife that feeding your child looks nasty,” Twitter user KnittingRad, who describes herself as a liberal, pro-choice, feminist mother of three responded.  Kahne soon responded to her: “And your a dumb b*tch.”

Kahne soon removed the initial comments from his Twitter feed and took to his Facebook page Wednesday to apologize.

“I understand that my comments regarding breastfeeding posted on Twitter were offensive to some people. For that, I apologize,” Kahne wrote. “It was in no way my intention to offend any mother who chooses to breastfeed her child, or, for that matter, anyone who supports breast feeding children. I want to make that clear."

“My comments were not directed at the mother’s right to breastfeed. They were just a reaction to the location of that choice, and the fashion in which it was executed on that occasion,” he added. “I respect the mother’s right to feed her child whenever and wherever she pleases.”

He also directly apologized to Twitter user KnittingRad: “I wanted to apologize for saying what I said to you yesterday. It was out of line,” he wrote, adding that she is welcome to directly message him to discuss the situation.

The controversy comes the same week that mothers from across the country have posted pictures of themselves nursing at Target stores, as part of “nurse-in” demonstrations at stores nationwide.  The action comes after a nursing mother’s upsetting experience at her local Target last month.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec212011

Is Happiness Declining? Twitter Analysis Says It Is

SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images(BURLINGTON, Vt.) -- From what celebrities are doing at any given minute to the little things that irk ordinary people, there’s a lot to learn from Twitter.

Researchers at the University of Vermont used the social media service to learn about people’s happiness and, through an analysis of billions of words used in millions of tweets, determined that societal happiness is on the decline.

Over a period of three years, scientists gathered 46 billion words found in tweets by 63 million users around the world and, with the help of a web site, determined the “happiness” of the 10,000 most common words in the English language. "Laughter," for instance, got an 8.5 on a scale of one to nine, and “food” came in at 7.44. “Truck” was a better-than-average 5.48. “Greed” registered a 3.06; “terrorist,” 1.30.

“We see that after a gradual upward trend that ran from January to April 2009, the overall time series has shown a gradual downward trend, accelerating somewhat over the first half of 2011,” wrote the researchers, led by Peter Dodds, a scientist in the University of Vermont’s department of mathematics and statistics. The study is published online in PLoS ONE.

During 2009 and 2010, the happiest days, based on the number of positive words used, were Christmas Day, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day and other holidays.

“All of these observations are sensible, and reflect a strong (though not universal) degree of social synchrony,” the authors wrote.

The non-annual event that was the most positive day was April 29, 2011, the day Prince William and Kate Middleton were married.  Tweets on this day were full of positive words such as “wedding,” “beautiful” and “kiss.”

“Negative days typically arise from unexpected societal trauma due for example to a natural disaster or death of a celebrity,” according to the study.

The day the world learned of the death of Osama bin Laden ranked as the day of the lowest level of happiness, judging by the frequency of negative words like “dead,” “death” and “killed.”

The Chilean earthquake in February 2010 also ranked low in happiness, as did the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the October 2010 slew of storms in the U.S. Declines in happiness were also evident after news of the U.S. economic bailout and the spread of the swine flu.

The researchers also found that happiness peaks over the weekend and dips on Mondays and Tuesdays.

But they also say while their study is an interesting look at how people feel on a given day or after a specific event, the findings don’t necessarily reflect people’s overall happiness.

“There is an important psychological distinction between an individual’s current, experiential happiness and their longer term, reflective evaluation of their life,” they wrote.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep292011

Twitter Used to Track the World’s Mood; Shows We’re Happiest in Morning

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ITHACA, N.Y.) -- Twitter is now so big, and so constantly used, that two Cornell University researchers were able to use it as a sort of “global mood ring” to monitor the world’s feelings.

By analyzing the tweets of 2.4 million people in 84 countries, they report, they found that people generally wake up in good spirits, but things go downhill as the workday goes on. On weekends the pattern holds as well, though everything happens two hours later because people sleep in.

The patterns were consistent across the globe, they say, despite widely varying cultures and religions.

The researchers, graduate student Scott Golder and sociology professor Michael Macy, say they ran 509 million tweets through a computer program designed to discern moods from the users’ use of key words. The results are published in this week’s edition of the journal Science.

“People criticize the Internet for being mundane or filled with gossip, but that’s really not so,” said Golder in a telephone interview. “The Internet records everything, so Twitter is a giant archive of time-coded conversations.”

The researchers said there are so many tweets that there were more than enough to show mood patterns around the world. They confirmed the weekend mood boost, for instance, by looking at traffic from the United Arab Emirates, where weekends are celebrated on Friday and Saturday instead of Saturday and Sunday.

The survey of course does have its limits. Golder admitted, “We’re measuring the expression of something, not the action itself.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio