All posts by emilydietetics

Finance Prompt 2

Both “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: The Retirement Industry is a Minefield – But Here’s the Answer” and “4 Arguments Against the Fiduciary Rule Debunked” both argue that the Fiduciary Rule would only be beneficial to consumers. The Fiduciary Rule is a professional obligation that requires financial advisers to put their client’s best interests ahead of their own. Before this rule was instated, many financial advisers were having their clients do things that are beneficial for the advisory and many of these clients had high interest rates, which according to “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: The Retirement Industry is a Minefield – But Here’s the Answer” can add up as “paying a 2 percent fee, [could mean] losing two-thirds of savings over a fifty-year time period” (Lee, 2016).

Looking at both of these articles from a consumer point of view, the John Oliver one was easier to understand. As I am a 20-year-old Nutrition major, I know next to nothing about business, therefore, I know next to nothing about financial advisers and how they operate. I do recognize this as being a problem, however, I have always thought that I would start saving for retirement after graduating college, and that retirement worries can wait till then, for now I just need to figure out how I am going to afford housing, food, and gas at the same time. I think this may be true for many consumers this age, the exception being those who are studying business. If the consumer is well-informed or currently saving for retirement, then “4 Arguments Against the Fiduciary Rule Debunked” might be more helpful. For instance, in this article’s first point, it states that the government cannot reclaim a consumer’s assets “unless you’re a criminal” (“4 Arguments Against the Fiduciary Rule Debunked”). This was news to me as I thought that the government could reclaim anything and everything depending on the level of debt that person may be in. Another thing that I, and most likely many consumers, was unaware of is that “some advisers receive commissions for their financial counsel” (“4 Arguments Against the Fiduciary Rule Debunked”). While I knew that financial advisers needed to be paid by their clients, I was not aware that they could also take commission from the prosperous investments made by their clients. To summarize, I believe that “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: The Retirement Industry is a Minefield – But Here’s the Answer” provides better baseline information for those who are uninformed about the business world whereas “4 Arguments Against the Fiduciary Rule Debunked” provides better information for those who are more informed about the business and retirement world.

Bibliography

Lee, K. (2016, June 14). LAST WEEK TONIGHT WITH JOHN OLIVER: THE RETIREMENT INDUSTRY IS A MINEFIELD — BUT HERE’S THE ANSWER. Retrieved October 25, 2017, from https://uspirg.org/blogs/blog/usp/last-week-tonight-john-oliver-retirement-industry-minefield-here%E2%80%99s-answer

4 Arguments Against the Fiduciary Rule Debunked. (n.d.). Retrieved October 25, 2017, from http://www.truemeasureadvisors.com/2016/04/20/20164145-argument-against-the-fiduciary-rule-debunked/

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Early Life Matters Prompt 1

Looking through the Birth slides and some of the readings on the Early Life Matters content pages has opened my eyes to the vulnerability of parents to unneeded items and medical “necessities”. Firstly, medication; according to the National Women’s Health Network, “ART [assisted reproductive technology] is expensive (averaging $12,400 per cycle, with many patients requiring two or more cycles) and often is not covered by insurance, so it is natural for patients to seek a provider that can maximize their chance of success. Yet, a recent analysis of web content from 372 U.S. fertility clinics (out of a total of 381 clinics) suggests that the success rates being promoted are not based on reputable practices and/or standards,” (Walden, 2015). This shows that ART is neither an affordable nor a reputable practice that cannot be relied on, and yet thousands of families do. Secondly, according to the Birth Slides, a Cesarean Section is the most common surgical procedure in the United States with rates at about 31.8%. However, the rates are different based on hospital policies, not on health. Furthermore, the cost of vaginal birth and a Cesarean section are not the same, and while there is a plan to equalize the payment, one is not in place as of yet.

Keeping with the theme of unneeded vs. needed medical expenses, next to discuss is an article entitled “The Cord Blood Controversy”. In this article, many parents have chosen to freeze their child’s umbilical cord after birth in case of an autoimmune disease or genetic defect that could be cured with the stem cells from the cord. However, the problem with this is that not only does it cost a large sum of money, currently $1,000 to $2,000, it also may not be effective. If the infant has a genetic defect or a disease, the same defect or disease is likely in the umbilical cord, therefore rendering the stem cells in it useless to the child. In fact, to quote the article, “Both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued statements in the late 1990s opposing the use of for-profit banks — and criticizing their marketing tactics,” (Moninger). However, it was stated that the umbilical cords may be donated to a public institution to be available for free for children who need stem cells. Lastly, we will revisit the Cesarean section topic. In the United States, if a mother has had a Cesarean section before, she will be denied a vaginal birth in the future. This is problematic because, as mentioned before, Cesarean sections are more expensive than natural births. However, according to the article “More women should have choice of vaginal birth after C-section, panel says” this information is untrue. In this article, and independent panel of women’s health experts say that “U.S. women should be given the option to have a vaginal birth after cesarean, stating that such births are reasonably safe,” (Roan, 2010). In other words, families have been forced to spend thousands of dollars on a procedure that they may not need which would impact them financially in a significant way. Families appear to be duped out of money from contraception to birth, and probably long after. Pre-parents and young parents need to look into all of their options for conceiving and birthing before making a decision. If they decide to visit a doctor, they should attempt to bring a list of questions so that they are able to get all of their answers at once and therefore spend less money. Everyone knows that being a parent is hard work and a lot of money, but many people do not realize that being a pre-parent can also be extremely expensive.

Bibliography

Moninger, J. (2017). The Cord Blood Controversy. Retrieved from http://www.parents.com/pregnancy/my-baby/cord-blood-banking/the-cord-blood-controversy/

Roan, S. (2010, March). More women should have choice of vaginal birth after C-section, panel says. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-0323-hosp-vbac-20100323-story.html

Walden, R. (2015, October). Direct-to-Consumer: Fertility Clinic Advertising on the Web. Retrieved from https://www.nwhn.org/direct-to-consumer-fertility-clinic-advertising-on-the-web/.

Food Labels Challenge Prompt 1

For this challenge I decided to talk to my friend who is majoring in Computer Science and knows next to nothing about food labels and nutrition. First, I had her look at the nutrition label on a box of organic cereal I own. She noted that she knows most of what the words in bold are excluding how potassium is impactful, however, she was mostly unable to tell me how the values of the word not bolded could impact her. She was aware that different kinds of fat are “varying degrees of bad” to quote her, but she was not sure which ones or why. However, she was confused as to how the total fat was 1.5g and yet all the different types of fat were listed at 0g. As for the vitamin and minerals section, she expressed great disinterest and no knowledge.

When I showed her the picture of the new label, she seemed more comfortable. The fact that there were less words on the label made it less intimidating for her. She also said that having the calories and the serving sizes enlarged made it feel like she was not being duped out of a product. She feels as though if she were to buy this she would know exactly what she was getting. She seemed much more relaxed given less information, as before she was unable to interpret all of it, but given the basics she felt much more comfortable. However, her one concern was that the ingredients list was interesting as it was more vertical than horizontal, which made it more difficult to read.

This was an interesting challenge to me because it is easy to forget that not everyone looks at package labels or knows how to read them. Since going into the field of nutrition, it has become second nature for me to read food labels because I have a genuine interest in it, however, that is not the case with everyone. I do agree with my friend in the case that the newer label is easier to read, however, I will miss the vitamin and mineral section, and I do not see a list of the different kinds of fats, but they may be a production choice rather than a requirement. All in all, I do believe that this label switch will benefit the general consumer, however, as someone studying food science and nutrition, I will miss the added information.

Glossary Building Post 2

The terms I have listed below are from the articles that were options to read for this week’s Weekly Post. The first term comes from the article “Lowering Salt in Your Diet” that talks about the impact of sodium. I chose to incorporate this term because of how unusual it may appear to an uninformed consumer. On the nutrition label, there is the percentage daily value section where you can see what percentage of different vitamins, carbs, sugar, etc. that is in that food. However, consumers may not know that more than 20% is considered high as 20% is usually thought of as a low percentage.

The next two terms are from the article “Are Government Regulations Sufficient to Protect the Public from Toxic Chemicals Used in Toys and Other Consumer Products.” The term “voluntary standards” kind of speaks for itself, however, I thought it was interesting to know that the product in question for these standards is usually toys, things that are given to children. The fact that the regulations on these are voluntary means that kids could be in danger, and frankly it is surprising that the parents of the world have not called for stronger regulations. The next term, “safety requirements” is a term that is used lightly in this article. These requirements barely exist and do little to nothing to help with the safety of toys and other consumer products. Toys do not need to be tested for chemical hazards before being put out. That is how something like Aqua Dots were released several years back. When this toy hit the market it was very popular, but since they are so small, kids would accidentally eat them and fall very ill or become comatose.

  • Low vs. High Sodium: Less than 5% on the Daily Value of food labels is low, anything above 20% is high.
  • Voluntary Standards: Standards developed by industry groups that the Consumer Product Safety Commission cannot enforce, leaving consumers to question if products are safe or not.
  • Safety Requirements: Little to none, as there are no requirements for testing for hazardous chemicals for consumer product and toy manufacturers before they are released to the public.

C P & R Prompt 1

The area of concern that I chose was the standards for school food. When I was a freshman in high school in 2012, the lunch usually consisted of a slice of pizza that was so greasy it needed to be dabbed with a napkin before consumption, French fries with extra salt, and a drink called “Ice” that had no calories, and therefore contained aspartame. Then, in sophomore year, the slices of pizza were cut in half, the French fries were unsalted, and fruit cups and low-fat milk were offered as alternative options. As my dream job is to help design meal plans for public schools, this article was of great interest to me. As I am no longer attending a public school, I feel protected, however, for those still in grade school, I do not feel the same. Michelle Obama did make some great changes to the public-school systems food including many dietary restrictions, correct portion sizing, and raising the spending limit of each child by 6 cents. However, these changes are too little too late for America. I do know that schools are now required to have cut down on saturated and trans fats and sodium consumption. In the long term this will help, however, it is not a large enough change to bring about substantial impact. I do not know if this change will impact school aged children to the degree that Michelle Obama was planning on. The agency that would be most relevant to learn something about is any of the fifteen nutrition assistance programs put in place by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services including the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs, the Summer Food Service Program, and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, etc. What is most important to share with consumers about this issue is that there are things being done to help combat childhood obesity and disease. However, it is also important to note that the last changes made to the public-school food system were in 2012 and are now half a decade outdated. Consumers are protected in the way that their children are given healthier choices for lunch, however, they are not protected in the fact that these are merely choices. If you were to ask a 12-year-old if they wanted to have pizza and French fries for lunch or a salad and fruit cup, they would choose the pizza almost every time.

Challenge Post 1

Wednesday: The challenge listed here is actually very close to my regular morning routine. Perhaps the most difficult part was drinking water first thing in the morning. I generally like to have green tea, so to try and cope, I heated up my water in the microwave and was able to drink as much as I wanted to. I was able to hold off on sugary drinks until Wellington’s Wildfire as they were giving away free sodas and I am a sucker for free sodas.

Thursday: I was exhausted this morning from a late night of studying for a quiz, however, I still managed to do everything listed and held off on sugary drinks until dinner when I had some chocolate milk. Normally I do not really brush my hair as it tends to poof out, and when it did poof out I decided to wear it in a bun. The rest of the challenge was easy as I just had to switch around my morning routine only a little.

Friday: I woke up with a head cold and was in no mood to drink anything as my throat was sore. However, I did manage a half cup of warm water and a couple of apple slices. I stayed away from sugary drinks all day as I did not want to hurt my throat.

Saturday: Typically, Saturdays are my unhealthy day, however, being that I still have a head cold, this was not the case. As I’ve said before, my usual morning routine is very similar to the challenge: I wake up, brush my teeth and floss, wash my face, and eat breakfast with a cup of green tea, then I start to get ready. Perhaps the most challenging thing about this challenge is remembering to brush my hair as I do not normally do that to avoid frizz.

Sunday: My head cold is almost gone, and today I was able to drink 16 oz of warm water when first waking up. I brushed my hair, embraced the frizz and then promptly put it in a braid as I decided I did not want to deal with it. Unfortunately, my sweet tooth won over and I had a coke with lunch. In my defense, I was having a piece of pizza and I believe it is immoral to have pizza without soda.

Health Care Prompt 2

I have never read a CBO report or even a summary of one. I do not know what a CBO report is. After reading this resource, I found many things that consumers probably do not know. For example, it is estimated that by 2018 about 15 million people will be uninsured as there will not be a penalty for not having insurance. On top of that, premiums will increase, meaning that some families may not be able to afford any insurance.

What I would like to know now is how this will impact Americans in the long run. As I am only nineteen, it would be nice to know what the future will look like for health insurance. I might find out more through other government websites and perhaps through the news. However, I worry that by the time this reaches media outlets, it will already be too late, and these estimations will become reality.

Thinking and Discourse Prompt 1

These two questions are essentially asking the same thing; however, they are obviously asking it in different ways. The first question can be interpreted to mean: would you agree that every American deserves health care? However, it fails to mention the costs that may come to the individual if favoring that question. The second question, however, is clearer and goes into more detail to explain the personal costs that will happen if Medicare is expanded to cover everyone, including those who cannot afford it. That is the reason that the percentages of “Favor strongly or favor somewhat” decreased by 16%. When given more information, the consumer was able to make a more informed decision.

This shows that language and wording are very important in everyday life. In consumer health, it is important to be as clear as possible, so that the consumer knows exactly what is going on and what they are getting. For instance, when buying foods, if you look at the label, all of the nutrition facts are listed, however, many people do not understand what they mean. At the very bottom of most nutrition labels the vitamin and mineral percentages are listed. Generally, it will say something along the lines of “Vitamin A 5%” and so on and so forth with different vitamins and minerals. When looking at this with little to no knowledge of how to read a food label, the consumer might think that 5% of vitamin A is low. However, if the percentage of a vitamin is above 20% on a nutrition label, that is considered high. But as many people are not aware of this, they interpret it differently. Not only do consumers need all of the information, but they also need to know how to interpret that information in order to make a fully informed decision.

Glossary Building Post 1

Posted below are some terms that most everyone is familiar with, however, when reading through the material, a different meaning was discovered for each of these terms than the conventional meaning. A market may be thought of as a farmer’s market, or as the stock market, however, in consumer health, the term takes on a whole new meaning. The market seems to be all consuming and heavily impactful on the life of Americans. The market also influences food choices; supply and demand are a large part of the market’s driving force.

Every five years the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Health and Human Services (HHS) publish a joint report called “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” that contains dietary information and guidelines for the general public. However, after reading the slide set entitled “DietaryGuidelinesAndSugarSlides2017,” it became obvious that not all dietary and health information was published in the 2015 version. In other words, consumers are not given all dietary information and therefore are not able to make a fully informed choice when buying food. Consumers are people who buy things. Everyone in this class is a consumer, and nearly everyone in America is a consumer as well. It is nearly impossible to not buy anything ever; to make everything you need, to catch or harvest or grown all of your own food, it becomes difficult. Consumerism has become all consuming, consumers have become consumed with consuming. The market and Dietary Guidelines for Americans influences what consumers buy, and as the market has become so powerful, and the guidelines less adequate, consumers are buying items that can be harmful to themselves and the planet.

  • Market: A powerful concept that heavily influences the daily life and decisions of society.
  • Dietary Guidelines for Americans: An official set of dietary recommendations that does not include all of the information necessary for consumers to make an informed choice.
  • Consumer: Nearly every individual in the United States as it is almost impossible to opt out of consuming.

Thinking and Discourse Prompt 2

The piece of Social Justice vs. Market Justice explores how these two concepts influence ideas which then influence language and actions. As stated in the article, Market Justice has become somewhat of a “default” for the American society. Market Justice is the belief that people earn what they have received in life; for example, if someone were to choose to not attend college, they deserve a lower paying job as they did not put in the effort to obtain a higher paying job. Therefore, those who believe in Market Justice believe that what happens in a person’s life is directly related to the choices that that person has made. Social Justice is the belief that not everyone had the same starting point when they were born, therefore, basic benefits should be assured to level the playing field. For example, if someone could not afford to attend college due to their socioeconomic status growing up, why should they have to live with a lower paying job? They were never even given a chance to go to college without falling in major debt. Social Justice would put community wellbeing before personal wellbeing to bridge the ever-growing economic gap.

A large health area of concern for me is nutrition. I am fully aware that not everyone is able to afford healthy food all the time, nor does everyone have the time to make healthy food. For instance, a prepackaged salad at Fred Meyer costs $3 to $4 for one serving, whereas a frozen pizza costs about the same, but contains two to four servings. In Market Justice, it would be argued that those who choose the salad are opting for a healthy lifestyle and therefore are choosing the health benefits that come along with that. If someone is unable to afford the salad due to their economic status, that is also on them as they have chosen their career and how much they are paid. Those who are choosing the pizza are opting for an unhealthy lifestyle and deserve the health problems that come with that.

In contrast, in Social Justice, it is recognized that for some, this is not a choice. For some, it is not possible to spend $4 on one person’s meal, so they must choose the pizza for economic reasons only. If this leads to health problems, then so be it, there was no choice to be made. Social Justice would argue that economic status cannot always be determined by an individual. Based on the earnings of the parents, some people may have to start working at an early age to help their parents afford basic necessities, therefore they may neglect school, and may not be able to attend college. This can be traced back several generations. In 1865 to 1867 when slavery was abolished, former slaves were not given much, if anything, to live on, so they had to work and were only able to afford basic necessities, therefore, their children had to work and were also poor, and so on and so forth. So, according to Social Justice, why should people now have to live with the choices, or forced choices, of their ancestors?

I will be able to use this knowledge of Market Justice vs. Social Justice in my future career as a Registered Dietitian from an economic standpoint. If a client is unable to afford healthier foods, I should be able to make suggestions of foods that are commonly carried at a food bank, and point them in that direction so that they are able to make healthier choices without too much strain on their income. In nutrition it is very easy to get in the mindset of “you have chosen to eat poorly and now you have poor health.” However, it must be recognized that health is a combination of factors, one of which being genetics. So again, why should someone have to live with the choice, or forced choices, or their ancestors? In Market Justice terms, the answer would be that it is the individual’s problem to fix any health issues afflicting them; in Social Justice terms, the individual does not always get the opportunity to fix their health issues, but they should be given one.