Experts 'Appalled' by Puerto Rican Bill to Fine Parents of Obese Children

Fuse/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Obesity researchers say a Puerto Rican bill that would fine parents of obese children up to $800 is "unbelievable" and "unfair."

Puerto Rican Sen. Gilberto Rodriguez filed a bill in an attempt to curb obesity in Puerto Rico by having schools find children who are obese and then refer them to health department advisers to determine the cause of obesity, formulate a diet and exercise plan and follow up every four weeks.

If the "situation" persists for six months, parents can be fined up to $500, according to the bill, and if a third progress report six months later still shows no significant weight loss, the parents can be fined up to $800.

"What's next? Will they be fining parents of children suffering from other diseases? Maybe diabetes? Maybe cancer? Maybe something else?" said Nikhil Dhurandhar, who chairs the department of nutritional sciences at Texas Tech University.

Rodriguez's bill assumes that people who are obese can choose not to be, but it's not that simple, Dhurandhar said.

Dhurandhar's own research has shown obesity can be caused by a multitude of factors, including the environment in a mother's womb, too much or too little sleep and chemicals in the environment. There's more to losing weight than eating less and moving more, he said.

"This proposal is very unfair and inappropriately penalizes and stigmatizes parents," said Rebecca Puhl, deputy director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut. "Childhood obesity is a highly complex issue, and while the home environment is important to address, much broader societal changes are required to effectively address obesity."

Policies that support parents are much more helpful than policies that penalize them, she said. Improving access to opportunities for physical activity and providing incentives toward buying healthier food, for example, have already proven effective in cities like Philadelphia, Puhl said.

The fines this senator has proposed "drastically oversimplify obesity and are more likely to be harmful than incur any benefit," she said.

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How the CDC Responded to GOP Questions About Immigration and Measles

US Senate(WASHINGTON) -- When Sen. Bill Cassidy asked Dr. Anne Schuchat of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the possible link between illegal immigration and the current outbreak of measles, she shut him down.

“Of those folks infected in the California epidemic, how many were native-born Americans and how many had immigrated here,” the Republican senator from Louisiana asked at a Senate health committee hearing on Tuesday.

Schuchat, who is the CDC's national director of immunization and respiratory diseases, replied, “I don’t have that information but what I can say is that most of the importation we have of measles each year are in Americans who are traveling abroad and back.”

Cassidy, also a physician, pressed on, saying he was worried that some immigrants might have “fallen between the cracks.”

“With the measles we are seeing spread in some of the wealthier communities in California for instance,” Schuchat responded, adding that the current outbreak can most likely be traced back to a strain of measles that came from the Philippines, carried into the U.S. by unvaccinated American travelers.

Years ago, the measles virus was often imported from Latin America, Schuchat went on to say, but thanks to a vigorous public health campaign in those countries that is no longer the case.

In the Philippines, much of the immunization structure was destroyed after a typhoon ripped through the country two years ago, she noted.

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New Cholesterol Guidelines Mean These Foods Could Be Back on the Table

Alexandrum79/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Now that an influential group of nutrition scientists have indicated the U.S. Department of Agriculture may drop the 50-year-old warning against eating cholesterol-laden foods, some changes to the American diet may be in order.

The current recommendation by the USDA is for adults to consume no more than 300 mgs of cholesterol per day from dietary sources. The agency won’t make any changes to those guidelines for at least six months and if they do, they will still caution diabetics and people who take statin medications to refrain from eating a lot of cholesterol.

But for the rest of us, here are some foods that would be back on the table if the new guidelines are adopted:


Eggs have long been the poster child of the anti-cholesterol message, possibly because one large egg contains nearly a day’s worth of cholesterol, according to the USDA nutritional database. Assuming the new guidelines are accepted, the 636 mg in a three-egg omelet with cheese won’t matter to most people.


Bacon might also make it back onto more breakfast tables. Some cuts deliver up to half the current daily limit of cholesterol. Of course, there are other health reasons for limiting your ration of all processed meats, including the high amounts of sodium, fats and nitrates they contain.


One ounce of chicken liver totals 180 mg of dietary cholesterol. So a typical 4-ounce serving of this organ meat is more than 200 percent above the current recommended daily intake of cholesterol. According to the USDA and American Heart Association, other meats considered high in cholesterol include lamb, duck, fattier cuts of beef and pork.

Shell Fish

Shrimp, with 194 mg per 3.5 ounce serving, could also swim back onto the menu more often if the cholesterol limits go away. Other shell fish too would once again be considered a healthy, low-calorie choice.

Whole Fat Dairy

New guidelines would mean less guilt when choosing whole milk with 24 mg of cholesterol compared to 5 mg from fat-free milk. You might also consider switching from a 3-ounce serving of a low fat cheese which has virtually no cholesterol to a full-fat cheese with approximately 30 percent of the current daily limit on the nutrient.

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How Safe Are Your Eyelash Extensions?

puhhha/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Kim Kardashian, Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez are stars all known for their luscious eyelashes, and women from coast-to-coast go to extremes to get that same long-lash look.

The quest for beauty -- which, in this case, involves individually gluing single synthetic lashes to each natural lash -- can sometimes, however, turn ugly.

Natasha Pieper is a Houston woman who had eyelash extensions applied last year. After four applications, Pieper says she had a bad reaction.

"My eyes were swollen up to my eyebrows and then my eyes were completely bloodshot, just lots of burning," Pieper told ABC News.

Anthony Aldave, an ophthalmologist, says eyelash extension wearers with symptoms like Pieper's should visit their doctor.

"Symptoms that last for more than a day, anything associated with pain in the eyes or decreased vision should prompt a visit to an eye care professional," said Aldave, also an associate professor of ophthalmology at UCLA.

Pieper believes the culprit of her bad reaction was the glue used. Some experts say that the formaldehyde contained in glues used by some salons can cause allergic reactions, like the one Pieper suffered.

The Association for Damage-Free Eyelash Extensions told ABC News in a statement that, "properly applied eyelash extensions are not dangerous." The organization also said that the,"adhesive should not contain formaldehyde," and that "hypoallergenic adhesives are available" for use.

The owner and founder of Makeup Mandy, an eyelash bar in Los Angeles, says that her salon sees two to three customers per week asking them to fix bad eyelash extensions they got elsewhere.

"We have a lot of people that do come in with horror stories," said Amanda Jacobellis. "They went to the place that was the bargain and their lashes are all stuck together, way too much adhesives used."

Jacobellis added there are three things people interested in getting eyelash extensions should ask about in advance.

"I would ask that they're certified and licensed. I would ask about the products they're using," she said. "Ask for pictures. It should look like a single hair per lash."

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Snorting Is Next Phase of Extreme Chocolate Obsession

Angel Canales/ABC News(NEW YORK) -- In a possible attempt to one-up Willy Wonka, a Belgian chocolatier wants chocolate lovers to indulge not with their tongues but with their noses.

The chocolate shooter is a cocoa powder catapult that launches two small bumps of cocoa powder into the user’s nostrils.

While it is obvious that creator Dominique Persoone has found himself at the extreme of chocolate obsession, what’s less known are the possible health effects of snorting chocolate; there is no research on the impact to the nose or lungs, although medical experts are far from condoning this indulgence.

However, that has not discouraged Persoone from reportedly selling more than 20,000 kits online. Nor has it stopped a Vancouver, Canada, shop from becoming the first known North American store to offer these cocoa bumps.

Mary Jean Dunsdon has been selling the kits for $109 or $2 per sniff to more than to 100 customers. And so far, she has had no complaints.

“We get some people back who’d like to try it again. Or people that like to try both flavors, but no there’s no addict,” Dunsdon says.

So why are we snorting chocolate? It could be the same reason why we’re willing to plunk down big bucks for artisanal chocolate. The Mast Brothers, Rick and Michael Mast, sell $8 bars made in their chocolate factory in Brooklyn, New York.

“For people that want to take their pleasures to the next level you engage in a company like Mast Brothers,” says co-owner Rick Mast.

And for the Iowa natives the next level means bringing it back to basics. Rick’s brother Michael says they want people to “think of chocolate in the purest sense and not just as a bar with a laundry list of ingredients.”

They do so by sourcing cacao beans from small farms around the world, and bypassing large producers. The brothers use select beans for small batches that have a distinctively different taste from the chocolate bars you find at the grocery store checkout counter. Their chocolate is often referred to as bean-to-bar or craft chocolate.

This delicious trend is part of a $330 million premium chocolate category that, according to the National Confectioners Association, has seen 15 percent growth since 2013.

At the University of Michigan, Dr. Ashley Gearhardt runs a cleverly disguised room that looks like a fast food restaurant, but is actually a science lab where she studies food addictions. Chocolate, she has reported, is consistently ranked as the number one food respondents have trouble putting down.

And her research shows that the culprit for the obsession could be our brains.

“That same brain region is one of those regions that we know is really important in other drug addictions,” Gearhardt says. “This section of the brain is activating and saying you want that you crave that you really should get more of that.”

Which could explain how The Mast Brothers have sold more than a million bars sold around the world and are opening a factory this week in London. Rick Mast credits their success to one simple truth about chocolate.

“We said many times chocolate is the most popular food on the earth,” he says. “People start smiling just by hearing the sound of it and they just want to taste it, they crave it, they are addicted to it. It’s everything to a lot of people.”

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


'Statement Lip' Latest Way to Look Young & Avoid Trout Pout

NikiLitov/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Move over statement necklace. Just in time for Valentine's Day, the "statement lip" is all the rage.

That's lip, singular. Just the top please, according to one New York City plastic surgeon.

"Lip augmentation has certainly been on the rise as it appears that more and more beauty trends and celebrities are touting the statement lip as a fashion accessory," said Dr. Jody Levine, AOB Med Spa National Medical Director.

Levine said Kylie Jenner, Nicole Kidman, Liv Tyler and Megan Fox all appear to have gotten the statement lip treatment.

Driving the trend, Levine said, is the never-ending quest to look younger.

"Plumper, fuller lips can exude youthfulness and femininity and can certainly make a beauty statement when lip color is worn. Some patients have naturally thin top lips, while others notice significant volume loss in the lips over time," she said.

And of course, the all-important selfie plays a role.

"As the lips lose volume, they can be less projected and lines can form around the edges. This could certainly impact the ability to 'make a statement' when wearing lip color or smiling for the camera," she said.

Levine said she avoids the dreaded "trout pout" and "duck lips" by just injecting the edge of the lip.

"If you inject the border and leave the middle of the lip alone, it actually gives a very sexy look that is so natural and avoids the pout and the duck look. Also, if you inject filler around the border of the lip and then inject some Botox above the top lip, it turns the lip out in a sexy way without making the lips big," she said.

And while Levine said it's crucial to seek out a trained injector to perform the 20-minute, outpatient procedure, there's good news for those who get plumped beyond perfection.

"If the patient doesn't like the early result, the plastic surgeon or dermatologist can dissolve the hyaluronic acid with an injection of hyaluronidase," Levine said. "And, if the patient should get tired of the new look, it will gradually disappear in time."

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Your Chronic Fatigue Isn't All in Your Head

iStock/Thinkstock(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- Tired of people telling you that feeling constantly tired is all in your head?

You've got some ammunition now after Vanderbilt University researchers have verified that "systemic exertion intolerance disease" does really exist and that it affects as many as 2.5 million Americans.

This is the new name for what was previously called chronic fatigue syndrome, which sufferers claim seems to just downplay the condition of feeling tired all the time.

Lead researcher Ellen Wright Clayton says the disease is serious and should be treated as such by health care providers, who often contend patients are just imagining their fatigue.

The main symptoms are fatigue and a reduction in activity lasting over half a year; the condition growing worse, not better; sleep that does not provide relief from exhaustion; and cognitive impairment.

Although there is no cure at the moment for systemic exertion intolerance disease, doctors can treat individuals on a case-by-case basis depending on their symptoms.

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Don't Get Too Specific When Buying a Valentine's Day Gift

iStock/Thinkstock(CINCINNATI) -- You don’t have to be single to be depressed on Valentine’s Day. Even people in long-term relationships get anxious during this time of year, if for no other reason than that they get stressed about what present to give their significant other.
In that case, researcher Mary Steffel of the University of Cincinnati has some words of advice: don’t worry about trying to knock it out of the park and just concentrate on reaching base.
If the baseball metaphor is a little vague, what Steffel means is that people shouldn’t be overly concerned with trying to find the so-called perfect gift when something not so specifically intended to match their sweetheart’s personality will suffice.
For example, when choosing a gift card, go with versatility. Steffel says research shows that personalization often works against the giver and that "recipients prefer more versatile gift cards regardless of how close they are to the giver."

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Everybody Wants a Soul Mate, Not Everybody's Got One

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A soul mate is defined as a person with whom one has a feeling of deep or natural affinity. Meanwhile, only about two-thirds of Americans claim to have found one.
According to a survey conducted for Princess Cruises, 36 percent say they haven’t yet met their soul mate, and of that group, seven in ten don’t believe it will happen this year.
However, that doesn’t mean that people without that “special someone” are ready to throw in the towel.
Overall, 76 percent of Americans believe that everyone’s got a soul mate either now or in the future, while most say it takes an average of four relationships to get to that person.
Somewhat incredibly, 65 percent believe that they would know right away if someone is destined to be their soul mate.
Unfortunately, about 38 percent of Americans wind up kicking themselves for not making the first move to meet their potential perfect partner.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Napping at Work Movement Boosted by Eye-Opening Study

BONNINSTUDIO/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- There’s new science out attempting to debunk the commonly held workplace belief that if you snooze, you lose.

Researchers in France studying a small group of young, healthy men found that when the men experienced a night of sleep deprivation — just two hours of sleep were allowed — the group showed a significant increase in their stress-hormone levels the next day.

After the men were allowed to take two 30-minute naps, however, their hormone levels decreased to where they would be after a full eight-hour night of sleep.

The study’s findings were published in Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention recommend that adults get an average of seven to eight hours of sleep a night. But according to the National Institutes of Health, 40 percent of American adults are sleep-deprived.

Companies have been splurging on sleep pods because previous studies have found that sleep deprivation can decrease decision-making, reaction time and memory by as much as 50 percent.

MetroNaps, which produces the pods, said it had found people who took a 20-minute nap experienced a 30 percent boost in alertness, making them more productive.

Google, NASA and the Huffington Post are among the employers encouraging their employees to catch some Zs in sleep pods and the tiny spheres continue to grow in popularity.

“I’ve seen so many people who come up to me and say, ‘I’ve had like a second day given to me because I had a 20-minute nap,’” said Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post.

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