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Latest News Around the Web

First Lady Unveils Program That Aims To Improve Medical Treatment For Veterans

ABC World News (1/11, story 8, 2:25, Sawyer) broadcast, “First Lady Michelle Obama,” “says she still plans to stay on her mission and push for those causes she cares most about,” including “working with wounded Iraq and Afghanistan war vets. And today, she was in Richmond, Virginia, to unveil a new program that trains doctors and medical students to better treat and diagnosis those veterans.”

The AP (1/12) notes that on Wednesday, Mrs. Obama “told an audience at Virginia Commonwealth University that 105 US medical schools and 25 schools of osteopathic medicine are bolstering their efforts to train students in treating brain injuries,” post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), “and other mental-health issues affecting service members.”

According to the AP, the “initiative is part of the Joining Forces campaign, an effort” by the First Lady “and Vice President Joe Biden’s wife, Jill, to focus on issues that affect veterans and their families.” Also reporting this story are Bloomberg News (1/12, Brower), CNN (1/12), and CQ (1/12, Subscription Publication).

Mental Health Professionals Take Fresh Look At Compulsive Hoarding

The Chicago Tribune /Premium Health News Service (1/11) discussed compulsive hoarding, a condition in which people acquire and accumulate “objects of dubious value (to others) in such large and disorderly quantities that their living space is filled and normal use of the home becomes dangerous or impossible.”

Now, “mental health professionals are…taking a fresh look at the problem and have proposed making ‘hoarding disorder’ a distinct category in the diagnostic manual used by psychiatrists,” the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association. “Until now, hoarding has been classified psychiatrically as a symptom affecting up to 20 percent of people who have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).”

However, “more than 80 percent of hoarders lack the compulsions and repetitive behaviors that characterize OCD, and sometimes hoarding becomes a problem for a person with no psychiatric illness (as currently defined) or psychiatric history.”

Congresswoman Decries Lack Of Progress On Mental Health Following Tucson Shootings

The Hill (1/10, Pecquet) “Healthwatch” blog reported, “‘The shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) one year ago in Tucson,” Arizona, “sparked a ‘hue and cry about mental health,’ but little progress on the issue’ has been made,” said Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA), co-chairwoman of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus, in an interview with The Hill.

Napolitano “in particular said she regrets that her legislation to fund mental health services in public schools went nowhere. The Mental Health in Schools Act would have authorized $200 million in competitive grants to provide mental health professionals in 200 or so public schools, but never got a committee hearing.”

The blog entry points out, however, that the congresswoman “led a letter (pdf) to House leaders that helped pare down cuts to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in the omnibus spending bill from $212 million to just $33 million, preventing $179 million in cuts.”

CDC Report Shows High Frequency Of Binge Drinking

USA Today (1/11, Lloyd) reports that a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report has found that “one in six adults in the USA is a binge drinker, consuming an average of eight drinks per occasion and doing so about four times a month.” The report’s author, CDC alcohol program lead Robert Brewer, remarked, “What is different with this study is we studied the frequency and the intensity, and the number of episodes by different groups. The frequency is very high and the amount consumed was also very high.”

Bloomberg News (1/11, Lopatto) reports, “Wisconsin had both the highest percentage of binge drinkers, with 25.6 percent of the population reporting they engaged, and the most-intense sessions, with an average of nine drinks,” while “the nation’s capital reported 21.9 percent of its population was binge-drinkers, tying it with North Dakota for third highest in a survey covering the District of Columbia and 48 of the 50 states.” Brewer commented, “We’re talking about a risk behavior that’s quite widespread in the population. And where people have the impression it’s not such a bad thing to do.”

The AP (1/11) quotes Brewer, who said, “I know this sounds astounding, but I think the numbers we’re reporting are really an underestimate.” The piece notes that while “binge drinking may be considered socially acceptable,” it “accounts for more than 40,000 deaths each year,” and “contributes to problems like violence and drunk-driving accidents and longer-term issues like cancer, heart disease and liver failure.”

Review: Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Benefit Youngsters With AD/HD.

HealthDay (1/10, Goodwin) reports that according to a review published in the February issue of the journal Pediatrics, “omega-3 fatty acids may” benefit children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD), “while fatty ‘Western-style’ diets do these children no favors.” Researchers arrived at this conclusion after reviewing “previous studies on diets and supplements that have been tried in children with AD/HD. Among the diets tested: restricting sugar, which some parents believe worsens hyperactivity; avoiding food containing additives and preservatives, known as the ‘Feingold diet’; an ‘elimination diet’ that avoids foods most often implicated in food allergies; and supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish oil capsules.”

WebMD (1/10, Mann) quotes psychiatrist Marshall Teitelbaum, MD, who was not involved in the study. Dr. Teitelbaum said, “What makes the most sense is to look at a child’s diet and see what changes may be healthy in general and may also help improve AD/HD symptoms.” He advised parents of children with AD/HD that they “cut back on soda, junk food, hot dogs, and processed foods” in their youngsters’ diets. However, psychiatrist Stephen Grcevich, MD, “says medication and behavioral changes should always come first, especially for children with issues in addition to AD/HD, such as anxiety or depression.”

Related Links:

— “Diet Might Have Some Effect on ADHD,” Jennifer Goodwin, HealthDay, January 9, 2011.

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