UAB News works year round to bring the expertise of UAB’s own world-renowned experts to the consumer via our News You Can use stories. With the holidays fast approaching, we wanted to provide a one-stop shop for consumers as well as the news media shopping for holiday story ideas, so we have gathered up the news you really can use this season for a story or just to learn. From surviving holiday shopping, learning what to eat or not eat, how to stay safe, and navigating travel, we’ve got it all in one convenient place: right here. Be sure to check back weekly as we continue to add fresh stories to the line-up.
Holiday meals are steeped in tradition, but experts at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) suggest that checking grocery shopping lists twice is an important practice for better health.
A healthy diet emphasizes eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In addition, the guidelines say a healthy-eating plan is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, sodium and added sugars.
In the midst of America’s obesity epidemic, Santa Claus, that right jolly old elf with the twinkle in his eye, just might be a bad role model. He is chubby and plump (says Clement Moore in ’Twas the Night Before Christmas), and in a nation with the highest obesity rates in the world, it could be argued that a rotund St. Nick sends a mixed message.
“Would the world really be a better place with a thin Santa Claus?” wonders Beth Kitchin, Ph.D., R.D., assistant professor of nutrition sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). “Studies show that fitness level is an important measure of someone’s health, not just weight, so maybe a few extra pounds on a treasured icon aren’t such a bad thing.” Read more
This holiday season, most families will have the traditional turkey, cranberry sauce and a pumpkin pie, without which it wouldn’t qualify as a holiday meal. The one thing that usually falls off the list of must-haves is sensibility, says one University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) expert.
“Many of us toss our typical eating plans and healthy-living strategies to enjoy the winter festivities and just expect to gain weight during the holiday season,” says Lauren Whitt, Ph.D., a wellness coordinator and adjunct professor in the UAB Department of Human Studies.
But if you play the holiday season by the numbers, you can have your pie and eat it, too, Whitt says. Read more
Research published in the International Journal of Obesity is taking a deeper look factors in our environments that could be contributing to obesity -- specifically, keeping your house warmer in winter and losing sleep.
The end of the year is fast approaching and you know what that means: As soon as the calendar turns to 2013, you will be vowing to get physically active. But experts at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) say with all the benefits you can glean, why wait until you make those New Year’s resolutions to get active, especially if you are a woman?
Men are more likely than women to meet the federal guidelines for adults of at least 2.5 hours of physical activity per week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Inactive adults have a higher risk for early death, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression and some cancers. For women, increasing research is showing exercise may help reduce breast cancer risk, says Marcas Bamman, Ph.D., director of the UAB Center for Exercise Medicine. Read more
As Christmas quickly approaches and last-minute mall trips are planned, there is a good chance parents have something else on the docket, too: pictures with Santa Claus. But if the sight of jolly old Saint Nick frightens your little ones, that picture may not happen.
“Young children often see Santa Claus as a character in books, on television and in movies, but still he is a stranger to them,” Robinson said. “Around 1 to 2 years old, stranger and separation anxiety develop, and seeing Santa in person brings both of those out.” Read more
You’ve probably heard a holiday song today, or perhaps you even hummed one to yourself. This time of year, it’s hard to get away from them. They’re even on ring tones.
Whether you find it uplifting or annoying, there’s good reason to join in the caroling, says Casey Brasher, a board-certified music therapist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Singing, and even listening to music, is good for your body and your mind, and it is something everyone in the family, from youngest to oldest, can do together – perfect pitch not required.
“Music is so beneficial to so many different populations and ages, in so many different ways,” Brasher says. Read more
There are few holiday presents worse than a hospital stay. But if a loved one or friend must be hospitalized this season, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) experts say you can take steps to ensure their holiday is still merry and bright.
“Being in the hospital can be distressing for anybody,” says Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., a UAB clinical psychologist. “While the psychological impact may be short-lived, the bottom line is people would rather be well and home than sick and away.
“The holidays are about social interactions, the sharing of emotions and connecting as humans, and there is nothing written that says this cannot occur in a hospital setting. Bring the holidays to the hospital,” Klapow explains. Read more
If you’re already slipping away from those New Year’s resolutions, don’t fret. You’re not alone. People often make big plans for the 12 months ahead at the beginning of a new year but most never come to fruition. One University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) clinical psychologist suggests one task that can make you the exception and your year successful.
Good mental health improves your well-being, which according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is associated with decreased risk of disease, illness and injury and increased longevity. And people with high levels of well-being are more productive at work and are more likely to contribute to their communities. Read more
It’s the holiday season – time to be happy, mingle with friends and family, decorate the house, reminisce about holidays past and, in general, have a jolly good time. But what happens when life isn’t so jolly? When stress, a frantic pace or even depression threaten to crush the holiday spirit? University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) psychiatrist Jacqueline Feldman, M.D., has some suggestions that might help keep the holidays from being so overwhelming. Read more
Many New Year’s resolutions revolve around health — joining a gym, eating better and losing weight seem to be the biggest — but one of the most important health resolutions is much simpler and can have just as great an impact on overall health: flossing teeth regularly.
“The relationship between periodontal or gum disease and overall health is not a new concept,” said Nicolaas Geurs, D.D.S., chairman of the Department of Periodontology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Dentistry. “There have been a number of research studies over the past decade confirming the relationship between oral and overall health that physicians and dentists have observed for many years. Gum disease may contribute to or be a warning sign of potentially life-threatening conditions.”
If Grandma is coming up from Florida during Thanksgiving to see the grandbabies or Aunt Madge will be at Christmas dinner this year, use this opportunity to learn more about your family health history from people with pertinent knowledge, say University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) genetics experts.
Bowl season marks the end of college football games for the year, and one University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) expert says it could also mark the end of unhealthy times for some Americans, with five simple lifestyle modifications.
The most common chronic diseases are heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension and inactivity all implicated as causes or contributing factors. Nearly one in two adults are living with at least one chronic disease. Read more
Whether it’s over the river and through the woods to grandma’s house for Christmas or joining thousands in Times Square to rock New Year’s Eve, millions of people will take to the skies and the highways this holiday season. But for diabetics, travel can be dangerous if they’re not careful.
You can put an eye out with one of those. Fireworks, that is. From bottle rockets to M-80’s to sparklers, lighting off fireworks is a really good way of sustaining an eye injury.
According to the Birmingham-based United States Eye Injury Registry, there are an estimated 12,000 fireworks-related injuries treated in U. S. hospital emergency departments annually. As many as 400 Americans suffer permanent vision loss in one or both eyes as a result of injuries caused by fireworks each year.
“Let the professionals put on a show for you, rather than trying to light your own fireworks,” says Doug Witherspoon, M.D., director of the Ocular Trauma Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’sCallahan Eye Hospital. “Fireworks are dangerous and can be unpredictable. Attending a professional show is a better option than home fireworks.” Read more
Online shoppers can protect their identities and financial account numbers by following five safety tips this holiday season, says Gary Warner, international cyber-crime consultant and director of research in computer forensics at the UAB College of Arts and Sciences.
Americans purchased nearly $36 billion online during the 2009 holidays, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and criminals again are ready to target millions of Americans expected to shop via the Internet this year. Read more