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Health Talk Recommends: Assessing the ACA’s impact on pregnant inmates

U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy Petty Officer 2nd Class Lauren Jorgensen via flickr

Pregnancy can be hard in the best of circumstances. For a pregnant inmate, incarceration opens up a whole new set of challenges faced only by expectant mothers behind bars.

To coincide with the March issue of Health Affairs, which focuses on issues related to incarceration and health, University of Minnesota researchers Katy Kozhimannil, Ph.D. of the School of Public Health and Rebecca Shlafer, Ph.D. of the Medical School wrote about what the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will mean for the 6-10 percent of female prisoners who are pregnant during their incarceration.

“Currently, pregnant inmates have increased rates of complicated and preterm deliveries, and mothers and their babies have more risk factors and worse birth outcomes than similar women who are not incarcerated,” said Kozhimannil.

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Active lifestyle: Good for the body and the brain

photo courtesy Dale J. Heath via flickr

University of Minnesota researchers have good news for young adults who lead an active lifestyle: By staying active today, you may actually be preserving your memory and thinking skills in middle age.

The findings are most important for the young adults on the low and moderate end of fitness; the people with higher levels of fitness are already doing it right.

“Many studies show the benefits to the brain of good heart health,” said study author David R. Jacobs, Jr., Ph.D., at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. “This is one more important study that should remind young adults of the brain health benefits of cardio fitness activities such as running, swimming, biking or cardio fitness classes.”

Jacobs emphasizes that for those on the lower end of fitness, cardio fitness activities themselves may even not be needed; just moving around in daily life and staying active can improve your future outlook.

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New sugar recommendations are bittersweet

photo courtesy david pacey via Flickr.

What do sweet and sour chicken, fruit yogurt, and pasta sauces have in common? It may surprise you, but all of these pre-packaged foods typically contain more than your recommended daily amount of sugar.

According to new draft guidelines published by the World Health Organization (WHO), people should try and limit the amount of sugar they consume to 5 percent of their daily calorie intake. But if 5 percent is too difficult, the WHO has determined that to avoid weight gain and minimize risk of diseases like diabetes, absolutely no more than 10 percent of a person’s daily calorie intake should be made up of sugar.

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U of M evaluates health care homes, finds better access to care, higher quality and lower costs

University of Minnesota researchers from the School of Public Health have found that Health Care Homes (HCH) in Minnesota may be upholding their promise to improve access to quality health care while reducing the cost of care.

In an evaluation of the current status of HCHs, researchers also found that HCHs served patients with more severe medical conditions and were associated with better access to care for African American and Native American populations.

The results come from a Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) funded evaluation of HCHs led by co-investigators Douglas Wholey Ph.D., and Michael Finch, Ph.D., from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health Division of Health Policy & Management.

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Anti-aging compound that mimics the way skin repairs itself from sun damage

Sunny Isles Beach, Florida

Even though skin damage may be the furthest thing from your mind right now, don’t let the cool weather fool you. Irreversible skin damage can happen all year round and excessive exposure to the damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun can have many adverse effects.

So, just wear sunscreen, right? Well, here’s the kicker.

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The potential dangers of dramatic weight loss

image courtesy flickr via Lukasz L

It’s a sad reality, but our society remains quick to judge others deemed “too skinny” or “too fat.”

Outside of perhaps high school hallways, nowhere is societal judgment more prevalent than on social media where the weight of celebrities is debated endlessly and jokes about the weight of others are posted with reckless abandon.

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