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UMN expert: New FDA sugar recommendations are lofty but likely necessary

Photo: Uwe Hermann/cc 2.0/

Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended a daily limit on sugar intake to no more than 10 percent of a day’s calories. An article in the New York Times does the math: most people, including children, should not have more than 50 grams per day. It is roughly the same amount in a can of Coke.

Cutting out soft drinks won’t be enough to get down to the recommended values. Consumers have to be aware of hidden sugars throughout the American food supply.

Health Talk spoke with Mark Pereira, Ph.D., associate professor of epidemiology and community health in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota, to provide a little more clarity.

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It takes a village: volunteers teach future healthcare professionals how to connect with patients

It’s a common occurrence: Patients leave the doctor’s office more confused than when they arrived. Healthcare practitioners are good at their jobs, but often lack the communication skills needed to work with patients and explain their decisions.

That’s why the University of Minnesota has partnered with the community to teach pharmacy, medical and nursing students how to connect with their patients through affective communication.

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Research Snapshot: Rural Wisconsin has limited access to licensed child care, may exacerbate health care workforce shortages and recruitment challenges

In general, research has shown that rural communities face serious shortages in health care workforce. This is especially concerning, as rural areas are aging at a faster rate than the rest of the country, and therefore have particular needs for a robust long-term care workforce. Women make up the vast majority of the health care workforce, including more than 90 percent of all nurses and health care paraprofessionals, such as home health care aides — which make up the backbone of the long-term care workforce. Efforts to recruit and retain health care workforce in rural areas tend to focus on individual-level initiatives, such as loan forgiveness and provider training, rather than on broader family and community issues like access to child care.

In a new study in the Journal of Community Health, researchers in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota found fewer than one-third of all children under the age of five living in rural Wisconsin counties had access to an available slot in a licensed child care facility (either center or family-based), compared to nearly half of children under the age of five living in urban and suburban Wisconsin counties.

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In The News: New research shows cancer diagnoses are associated with higher voter turnout in 2008

Many factors can affect voter turnout: older people generally vote more, as do people with higher income and more years of education. Researchers have recently begun to study how people’s health affects their involvement in politics. Previous research shows healthy people are more likely to vote, even after taking account of other factors known to be associated with turnout.

However, new research published in the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law and featured in a Washington Post article written by Sarah Gollust, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the School of Public Health and Wendy Rahn, a professor in Political Science, shows voter turnout is related to not just by how healthy you are, but whether you suffer from specific chronic illnesses. The biggest surprise from their research was that cancer was associated with higher voter turnout in the 2008 presidential election.


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Research Snapshot: Yoga could help ease effects of Parkinson’s disease

Yoga might be the go-to activity for many people looking to reduce stress and stay fit, but it’s also the center of a new study hoping to help those with Parkinson’s disease.

Corjena Cheung, assistant professor in the University of Minnesota’s School of Nursing, has studied the effects of yoga on osteoarthritis for the past five years. Now, she is embarking on a new study to help those with Parkinson’s disease.

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Pharmacy and Dentistry students come together to solve common problem

At first glance, dentists and pharmacists seem quite different. One works with the mouth, the other focuses on medications. But look again, and they face a common challenge.

“Dentists and pharmacists work in specialized health fields and they aren’t often thought of as part of someone’s primary care team,” said Amy Pittenger, Pharm.D., Ph.D., associate professor in the College of Pharmacy.

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