All posts by maddiposts

Glossary Post 4

For my final glossary post, I will be using vocabulary words that I found to be useful while I was doing my photovoice project research on nutrition labels.

Percent Daily Value: the %DV [Percent Daily Value] helps you determine if a serving of food is high or low in a nutrient…  are based on the Daily Value recommendations for key nutrients but only for a 2,000 calorie daily diet–not 2,500 calories. (U.S. Food and Drug Administration, n.d.)”

The percent daily value is usually the column of the nutrition label that has a percentage, next to each nutrient (except for trans fat, sugars, and a few others). It represents how much of your daily needed nutrients the food will provide if you eat according to the serving size, according to a 2,000 calorie-a-day diet.

Calories: “a unit equivalent to the large calorie expressing heat-producing or energy-producing value in food when oxidized in the body (Merriam-Webster, n.d.).”

I chose to define calories, because its definition is a little confusing. When a nutrition label lists how many calories a food has, what it is really doing is listing how many units of heat ones body will oxidize when they eat it according to the serving size.

Trans Fat: 

“There are two broad types of trans fats found in foods: naturally-occurring and artificial trans fats. Naturally-occurring trans fats are produced in the gut of some animals and foods made from these animals (e.g., milk and meat products) may contain small quantities of these fats. Artificial trans fats (or trans fatty acids) are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid (American Heart Association, 2017).”

For a long time, I did not know what trans fat meant. I just knew that it was the type of fat that was healthier to avoid consuming. Now I see that a huge reason for this is because it is fat that is either factory made, or produced in the guts of animals.

Sources:

Calorie. (n.d.). In Merriam-Webster. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/calorie
How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Label. (2004, November). Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/food/ingredientspackaginglabeling/labelingnutrition/ucm274593.htm#percent_daily_value
Trans Fat. (2017, March 24). Retrieved from https://healthyforgood.heart.org/Eat-smart/Articles/Trans-Fat

Glossary Post 3

Here is my third glossary post. These terms are based on consumer protection and regulation.

Sustainability Consortium: “a global non-profit organization working to transform the consumer goods industry by partnering with leading companies to define, develop, and deliver more sustainable products (The Sustainability Consortium, n.d.)”

The Sustainability Consortium is the organization that Wal-mart will share their best practices with during the process of phasing ten hazardous chemicals out of their products. I think that this is important, because there are many great environmental organizations that people don’t know about.

Retailer: “a person, shop, or business that sells goods to the public (Cambridge, n.d.).”

The definition of this word can be a little fuzzy, as it is thrown around a lot without clarification of the definition. The definition that I found is quite simple to grasp, which could be why the word is used in such a breezy fashion.

Hazardous: “involving or exposing one to risk (as of loss or harm) (Merriam-Webster, n.d.)”

I included this word for the same reason I chose the word retailer, it’s important to be aware of commonly used words, as they can eventually lose their meaning if they are just used without awareness of their definition.

Sources:

Hazardous. (n.d.). In Merriam-Webster. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hazardous

Retailer. (n.d.). In Cambridge Dictionary. Retrieved from http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/retailer

 The Sustainability Consortium – Sustainable Products, Sustainable Planet. (n.d.). Retrieved July 28, 2017, from https://www.sustainabilityconsortium.org/

Consumer Protections and Regulations Prompt One

As a consumer, I do not feel as protected as I could be. According to Koch, The Toxic Substances Control Act (1976) which was passed by congress to regulate to use of new and existing chemicals, has not been given any additional major changes since it was passed and enacted (2013). A group of health and environmental activism groups asked America’s top ten retailers to get rid of more than 100 hazardous chemicals in their products. Before then, there were efforts brought forth by different retailers, but Wal-mart taking announcing plans to eliminate and eventually phase out the use of ten hazardous chemicals in their products has been one of the most major efforts since the passing of that original bill.

Now that I have read this article, I am much more informed about consumer protection when in comes to chemicals in retail products. Wal-mart’s announcement means that practices are beginning to shift, Koch refers to it as an “industry shift” in the right direction (2013). Now, I understand that a big part of regulating chemicals is communication between retailers, product vendors, and environmental agencies. When retailers are reporting to environmental agencies about their practices, they are more likely to request information from their vendors.

Now I would like to know if other chemicals are federally banned, besides BPA in 2012. What are the 100 most harmful chemicals that environmental agencies asked retailers to phase out? How harmful are these chemicals? From this point forward, the most relevant law to learn something about would be the aforementioned Toxic Substances Control Act (1976). It would be a good starting point for learning more about legislation related to retail and consumer protection, from there I can start looking at the minor and attempted updates to the legislation.

I think that it’s important for consumers to be aware of the minimal chemical control regulations in bringing their cleaning products, cosmetics, and other products to the market. Consumers (myself included) need to be informed of the regulation practices, and encouraged to do their own research on the retailers that they use. As well as the efforts that retailers and companies that are making an effort to take products with toxic chemicals off their shelves.

Sources:

Koch, W. (2013, September 12). Wal-Mart announces phase-out of hazardous chemicals. USA Today. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/09/12/walmart-disclose-phase-out-toxic-chemicals-products-cosmetics/2805567/

 

Photovoice Project: Healthy Eating Information and Affordability

For my project, I decided to compare the price tags of two foods and two beverages that I considered to be healthy and unhealthy. For my healthy food/ beverage I chose spinach/green mix and Blueberry Monster Odwalla juice. For my unhealthy food/beverage I chose Animal Crackers and Mtn Dew Black Label. I chose foods and beverages that were not on sale and were sold at my town’s most attended grocery store. I set out to answer these questions: “Do I really know what I need to make a healthy choice?” and “Why is it so difficult to be healthy/ easy to be unhealthy?” Here’s how I used my project to answer each question:

Do I really know what I need to be healthy? 

To answer this question, I wrote down my preconceived notions about each item and nutrient on the chosen nutrition labels (Calorie Count, %DV, nutrients). Then I researched the FDA’s recommendations on how to use nutrition labels in order to make healthy eating choices, and what each listed nutrient did for my body. I compared my preconceived notions to my post research in order to educate myself and figure out if I know what I needed to know in order to be healthy.  I found that I did have some of the knowledge that I needed, as I was right about the purpose and function of many items on the nutrition labels. However, I didn’t have much knowledge about the functions of different types of vitamins, the difference between saturated and trans fat, sodium, and carbohydrates. Thanks to my research I am now better informed I now know more of what I need to know in order to be healthy.

Why is it so difficult to be healthy/easy to be unhealthy? 

To answer this question, I compared the price tags of each of the chosen food and beverages. I did this in order to determine whether the unhealthy or healthy item would be the better deal. After converting both food prices to the price per ounce (and using the price-per-unit information places in the bottom left square on each price tag), I found that the animal crackers were 37.4 cents per oz and the spinach and green mix was about 59 cents per oz; therefore the animal crackers were the best deal by weight. Using the same method, I found that the Odwalla juice was about 19 cents per fl oz and the Mtn Dew was about 11.8 cents per fl oz; making Mtn Dew the best deal. In both categories, the unhealthier choice was the least expensive. This is why it’s harder to be healthy, because it’s less expensive to be unhealthy.

It took some of these photo’s while I was at the grocery store, and others while I was at home. I bought nearly all of the items that I used, in order to avoid having to take too many pictures in the store. It was slightly nerve-wracking taking pictures in the store, I felt like I looked suspicious. Which is funny because I don’t think I was doing anything wrong. I suppose I felt like I stood out in my environment, because I was doing something out of the ordinary. I think that approaching the Photovoice project in this can be valuable for someone that wants to know more about the daily choices consumers in this area of public health. It helped me learn more about how to read a nutrition label, what types of nutrients I should try to get a lot of and a little of, and figure out how to get the best deal when two products have different units of measurements. Not only have I learned skills that will help my be a healthier consumer when buying food in the future, I am also more informed of the choices that other consumers must face on a regular basis.

Odwalla

Animal CrackersSpinachMTN Dew

Illness and Mortality Challenge Post

A few years ago, my great-grandfather’s health was deteriorating rapidly. He had been admitted to the hospital, given a two-month prognosis, and had been settled into his living room by hospice all within a week. The day after I arrived home from college to spend time with my grandpa, my  uncle started a conversation with my mother, grandmother, and I about the game plan for my great-grandfather’s long-term care.

He laid out the basic logistics of what was currently going on with his care. He was being cared for by my family during the day with intermittent visits from nurses affiliated with our local hospital’s hospice. During the night, after the night nurse visited, my great-grandmother would try to sleep while my uncle stayed awake in case Grandpa needed anything. This would only work for the next couple of days, as my uncle had to go back home. We basically had three options: we could hire a night nurse to take care of grandpa, my mother and grandmother could take turns staying the night, or a combination of the two. Neither option was ideal, as a night nurse would cost my great-grandparents a considerable amount of money and my mother and grandmother had other engagements to balance. After about 15 minutes of discussing these logistics, we decided to revisit the conversation later to come to a conclusion. Unfortunately, a final decision was never come to because my great-grandfather died that night; surrounded by his child, grandchildren, and wife.

As a consumer, taking on logistics and costs is a difficult thing to do. Costs are high and emotions are strong. The stress of losing a loved one is high, and adding the subject of money onto that stress can be difficult for pretty much anyone. As consumers, it is important to know your options and rights, in order to navigate the decisions the way that serves you and your family best. My uncle did the research on what our options were, and he relayed them to the family. If you are a consumer that is considering starting a conversation about this, I would advise doing your research first. Being clear on all of the relevant information can make this difficult conversations less difficult.

A good place to start would be this website, that outlines the rights of the dead and dying.

Glossary Post 2

Here are some terms that I find to be important in terms of consumer health and food. The terms listed here were found in Johnathon Ross’s article on moderation, which I discussed in my food post.

Nutrition:  “The act or process of nourishing or being nourished; specifically :  the sum of the processes by which an animal or plant takes in and utilizes food substances / foods that are necessary for human nutrition” (Merriam-Webster, n.d.)

Nutrition is a word that is thrown around a lot in many different settings. Because of this, it is important to be informed of the true definition. My misconception of this word is that it somehow referred to the number of nutrients in any given food. Really, it is sum of the things that allow any given food to provide nourishment.

Superfood:  “A food (such as salmon, broccoli, or blueberries) that is rich in compounds (such as antioxidants, fiber, or fatty acids) considered beneficial to a person’s health” (Merriam-Webster, n.d.)

Superfood, like nutrition, is also a word that is thrown around quite a bit. It also seems that definitions seem to be different depending on where you look. For example, Jonathon Ross thinks that the definition of superfoods is “foods that act like nutritional superheroes in our bodies” (2015). He argues that superfoods should be our “normal foods”, and superfoods are really just the standard for what we should be eating. Superfoods are basically foods that are considered beneficial to a person’s health. Of course, superfoods are not foods with superpowers. I think that the concept of superfoods has stemmed from our culture’s tendency to eat so much junk food. When one’s body is bogged down by processed foods, eating foods that are good for them will often give them a noticeable increase in energy.  This is why I personally use the term to describe healthy foods that give me a noticeable increase in energy.

Physiology“A branch of biology that deals with the functions and activities of life or of living matter (such as organs, tissues, or cells) and of the physical and chemical phenomena involved” (Merriam-Webster, n.d.)

This is a term that I have actually been familiar with since I took Anatomy & Physiology in high school. I think that this term is important, because it is one of many similar sounding words used to refer to different parts of science (biology, psychology, psychiatry, etc.). Being aware of the specific definitions of these and similar words will make research on consumer issues more understandable.

Sources

Nutrition. (n.d.). In Merriam-Webster. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nutrition

Physiology. (n.d.). In Merriam-Webster. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/physiology

Ross, J. (2015, September 23). Why “Everything in Moderation” Doesn’t Work. Retrieved July 21, 2017, from http://greatist.com/eat/everything-in-moderation-doesnt-work

Superfood. (n.d.). In Merriam-Webster. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/superfood

Food Prompt Two

In his article “Why ‘Everything in Moderation’ Doesn’t Work”, Jonathon Ross argues that eating unhealthy foods in moderation while mainly eating healthy foods doesn’t live up to is purpose, because the frequency by which the average person “eats in moderation” doesn’t give their body enough time to recover before eating more unhealthy food (n.d). This article was interesting, because a lot of the behaviors it describes reflect my own. I am not above buying processed foods to satisfy my hunger in a pinch or choosing unhealthy foods with fruits and vegetables added in order to “cancel things out”, though it really doesn’t cancel out much. As Ross states, eating processes foods with little to no nutritional value creates a physiological imbalance within the body, which “can take weeks or months to clear” (n.d.).

The article maps out what an average week might look for someone eating under the “moderation motto”, or someone eating under the assumption that eating unhealthy foods once in a while is okay as long as they are mainly eating healthy foods. What is shows is that “everything in moderation” often means eating one unhealthy food each day a week. With all of the advertisements that the average consumer sees, all of which have the aim of convincing them to want their product, only giving into that urge once a day can certainly feel like eating in moderation. When you’re facing several temptations a day, only giving into one can feel like a victory.

I am also one of those people that somewhat believed in the power of “superfoods”, genuinely thinking that their presence would cancel out any at least some of the junk food that I ate. I knew that this was not completely accurate, but I did think that it was true to an extent. The article states that superfoods aren’t really super, they are just ordinary foods. They are healthy, but they do not have natural “superpowers”. However, food with little to no nutritional value (“freaky foods”) have a disproportionately negative affect on the body. This means that superfoods do not cancel out freaky foods. Ordering vegetables on your pizza does not cancel out the damage that the pizza can do to your body.

So, if I were to change my diet based on this information, what would be the next step? I would make an effort to cut down on processed foods by researching healthy meals that I could quickly make at home. I have been eating a lot more processed foods lately because I have been eating out. Eating at home more often would not only help my diet, it would also help my wallet. I would also do more research on nutrition, in order to have a better idea of which foods are good and bad for my body. This way, I can make my daily eating decisions with specific healthy foods in mind.

Source

Ross, J. (2015, September 23). Why “Everything in Moderation” Doesn’t Work. Retrieved July 21, 2017, from http://greatist.com/eat/everything-in-moderation-doesnt-work

Illness and Mortality Prompt Two

It is hard to distinguish fact from myth when it comes to illness and mortality. Because it is a sensitive subject, many resources on the subject will use language to disguise certain information in order to calm people’s anxieties or to possibly convince patients to make choices that complement them financially. As a consumer, distinguishing myth from fact and knowing where to find legitimate and unbiased information in relation to illness and mortality can be challenging. Here are a few common myths regarding the subject, along with facts that address their corresponding myth:

Myth: Hospitals are the safest place to be in any medical emergency. They are impeccably safe and they always provide high quality care.

Facts: The estimated number of deaths from avoidable medical errors in hospitals each year is 210,000 to 440,000, according to a 2013 study (James cited by Allen). Additionally, 10 U.S. Hospital received an F in the most recent grading. 60% of those hospitals were based in California, the United State’s most populated state (Terhune, 2017). Another news article reported that the likelihood of patients in end-stage kidney failure receiving the recommended type of dialysis treatment depends on where patients are located (2015).

Myth: The majority of patients receiving end-of-life care have their wishes listened to, and granted to the best of the caretaker and facility’s ability. I believed this myth myself, as my great-grandparents received wonderful care from their caretakers and hospital at the end of their lives.

Facts: In reality, how patients in the ending of their lives spend their last days is too often left to the hands of finances and logistics. For example, where and how cancer patients expecting to die spend their last days is often dependent on factors such as: number of hospital beds available, services available at a facility and/or in a geographic area, and local practices within an area. For this reason, whether cancer a cancer patient  receives personal end-of-life care varies geographically (Kenen, 2010).

Myth: Those living in assisted living in and receiving care in assisted living residences are rarely exploited or taken advantage of.

Facts: Vulnerable adults living in assisted living residences, specifically those meant alternatives to nursing homes, can be vulnerable to exploitation from their caregivers. Let’s look at an invention from the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS)  called “adult family homes”, which allow people to license their homes to house adults in need of care and care for them. Though DSHS claims to do its best to ensure only caring people run adult family homes, the rate of which they have grown has made it impossible to adequately license everyone. As a result, there have been several reported cases of abuse and neglect of people living in licensed adult family homes.

Those wanting more information on illness and mortality, and are unsure where to start should research their rights as consumers in this realm of life. A good place to start could be this this page outlining funeral and burial rights or or this more general page regarding rights after death. In order to make the best choices for yourself and your family in such sensitive times, it is important to know what others can and can’t do in terms of end-of-life arrangements.

Sources:

Allen, M. (2013, September 20). How Many Die From Medical Mistakes In U.S. Hospitals? Northwest Public Radio. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2013/09/20/224507654/how-many-die-from-medical-mistakes-in-u-s-hospitals

Bernes, M. J. (2010, January 30). How the aged and frail are exploited in Washington’s adult family homes. The Seattle Times. Retrieved from http://old.seattletimes.com/html/seniorsforsale/2010939195_seniors31.html

The FTC Funeral Rule. (2016, September 01). Retrieved July 20, 2017, from https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0300-ftc-funeral-rule

Geography Is Destiny in Deaths from Kidney Failure, Study Shows. (2015, June 24). Science Daily. Retrieved July 20, 2017, from http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-419219367.html?refid=easy_hf

James, J. T. (2013). A New, Evidence-based Estimate of Patient Harms Associated With Hospital Health. Journal of Patient Safety, 0(0), 1-7. Retrieved from https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/781687-john-james-a-new-evidence-based-estimate-of.html#document/p1/a117333.

J. K. (n.d.). For Dying Cancer Patients, Geography is Destiny. Pacific Standard. Retrieved November 16, 2010, from https://psmag.com/social-justice/for-dying-cancer-patients-geography-is-destiny-25370

Legal/Your Rights Archives. (n.d.). Retrieved July 20, 2017, from https://funerals.org/consumers/legalyour-rights/

My Photovoice Proposal

For my photovoice project, I will be examining the nutrition labels and price tags of two sets of “healthy” and “unhealthy” foods. I will be attempting to answer the following questions: “Do I really know what I need to make a healthy choice?” and “Why is it so difficult to be healthy/easy to be unhealthy?”

To answer the first question, I will compare the photographs of the nutrition labels of the four items that I pick. I will research the information on each nutrition label. In order to compare my current knowledge on the subject to my knowledge after my research, I will write down which foods I consider to be the most healthy/unhealthy.

In order to answer the questions, I will compare the prices of the “healthy” and “unhealthy” foods, in order to determine how easy/hard it might be to be healthy when it comes to cost.

Glossary Post 1

Here are a few terms that I find to be useful in terms of consumer health, which I found while researching for my birth and early life post.

Evidence-based:  “the development, implementation, and evaluation of effective programs and policies in public health through application of principles of scientific reasoning, including systematic uses of data and information systems, and appropriate use of behavioral science theory and program planning models. ” (Ross et. al, 2003)

I found this term on the birth slides in the class resources. I did know this word before this class, but not in the context of public health. It is of up-most importance for consumers to make health-related decisions based on what is in their best interest. For this reason, it is important for them to have access to information that takes all appropriate information into account. This includes risk factors, scientific studies, and data.

Cost-sharing: “The share of costs covered by your insurance that you pay out of your own pocket. This term generally includes deductibles, coinsurance, and co-payments, or similar charges, but it doesn’t include premiums, balance billing amounts for non-network providers, or the cost of non-covered services. Cost sharing in Medicaid and CHIP also includes premiums.” (Cost Sharing, n.d.)

I have come across this term a few times so far, as this is only my second quarter studying public health. I most recently came across it when doing my research for my early life prompt. I think this term is important, because it is a very common word used in the context of health care, and the definition can be confusing for many consumers.

Preconception:  Occurring before fertilization of an ovum, as in genetic counseling.” (Preconeption, 2009)

I came across the medical meaning of the term while studying the birth slides. It stuck in my mind, because I know the word under a different meaning. The second definition of preconception in the Medical Dictionary is: “An idea or belief held before analysis or investigation,” which is what the meaning that I have always associated with the word. This is important in the context of consumer health because those doing their research on induction technology may not know the medical definition of this word, and knowing it will likely make their research a lot less confusing.

Sources:

Brownson, Ross C., Elizabeth A. Baker, Terry L. Leet, and Kathleen N. Gillespie, Editors. Evidence-Based Public Health. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Cost Sharing. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.healthcare.gov/glossary/cost-sharing/

Pearson, R. (2016). Consumer Health: Birth, Birth Options, Maternal-Child Consumer Issues [PowerPoint Slides]. Retrieved from chrome-extension://bpmcpldpdmajfigpchkicefoigmkfalc/views/app.html

Preconception. (2009). In Medical Dictionary . Retrieved from http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/preconception