HEALTH

Harris poll shows probiotics not yet on Americans’ packing lists

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN BRUNO, Calif. According to a recent survey released Wednesday by BioCodex, makers of the probiotic Florastor, 63 percent of survey respondents reported traveler’s diarrhea as a problem they’ve had during travel, even domestically. When preparing for a trip, one in four U.S. travelers pack an anti-diarrheal medication, but while probiotics are gaining recognition in this country as a method to manage diarrhea, only 1 percent of U.S. travelers say they pack probiotics.

“Many people in other parts of the world, particularly Europeans, are firm believers in using probiotics to ward off traveler’s diarrhea, but Americans are just catching on to the concept of probiotics in general,” stated Dr. Patricia, BioCodex spokeswoman. “[Probiotics are] a great alternative to anti-diarrheals that simply stop the symptoms, but don’t address the cause.”

Harris Interactive fielded the study on behalf of Robin Leedy & Associates Feb. 21-25, 2008, interviewing a nationwide sample of 2,602 U.S. adults aged 18 years and older.

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CIGNA launches health risk analysis program

BY Michael Johnsen

BLOOMFIELD, Conn. CIGNA HealthCare, a medical benefit plan provider that covers 47 million worldwide, on Tuesday launched a “next generation” health assessment and predictive capabilities tool that will enable consumers to identify risky health behaviors and take recommended courses of action in an effort to avoid higher healthcare bills in the future.

CIGNA has coupled these capabilities with an online health coaching program in the areas of sleep, stress, nutrition and physical activity to help motivate and support people to address these risks.

Based on more than 30 years of research by Professor Dee Edington and researchers at the University of Michigan Health Management Research Center, the system, called the Trend Management System, analyzes an individual’s responses and clusters them into four main categories: low risk, risk-taking, biometric and psychological. It is programmed to recognize 34 dangerous risk combinations and predict—with an accuracy rating of 83 percent—how likely an individual is to face health problems that could lead to high health care costs in the next few years.

The analytics can help identify in priority order those risks or behaviors that an individual should address to prevent future health issues. The analytics also rank order individuals to help CIGNA better identify which individuals should be offered health coaching first, and help coaches determine the best approach to take to address an individual’s health issues.

“Taking a health assessment can be a good way to help people think about how their lifestyle could impact their health today and in the future,” stated Keith Dixon, president of CIGNA’s health solutions unit. “But the key to better health is action. That’s why our new health assessment system, online coaching courses and entire suite of health programs focus on helping people take action, week by week, one small step at a time, to make changes that will have lasting impact.”

According to a recent CIGNA survey, 87 percent of people reported they would value getting information that can predict risk for developing health problems, and 94 percent said they would be motivated to make healthy lifestyle changes if the assessment showed they were at medium or high risk for developing health problems.

CIGNA’s online or paper health assessment is an extensive yet simple questionnaire that asks an individual a variety of biometric, health and lifestyle questions. Included are topics such as blood pressure and cholesterol; smoking, exercise and sleep habits; diet and alcohol consumption; perception of health and stress; quality of life issues; seatbelt use and other behaviors; and questions about dental care, medications and vaccinations, and how illness and other factors have affected productivity and time off from work.

The system immediately creates a personal health assessment profile, which displays an overall wellness score from 50 to 100 and identifies the top three risks most likely to affect the individual within the next few years. The report offers recommended behavior changes to reduce the risks, and also tells individuals what they’re doing well right now.

Then, based on individual results, some are immediately and proactively invited to participate in one or more six- to eight-week online coaching programs focused on stress, sleep, nutrition or physical activity. Others are invited to participate in one-on-one coaching or counseling. The system, along with the existing CIGNA suite of services, provides the most appropriate action for each individual.

For a brief video demonstration of the health assessment tool and online coaching courses, visit www.cigna.com/hrademo

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C&D launches Trojan Evolve tour to raise safe sex awareness

BY Michael Johnsen

PRINCETON, N.J. Beginning Tuesday in Atlanta, Church & Dwight will kick off its Trojan Evolve tour—a U.S. road show to raise awareness regarding the poor state of sexual health in America and urging Americans to petition for change.

“With primetime network television restrictions on condom advertising still in effect, the multi-faceted grassroots effort, which includes a 40-foot long interactive bus and 40-foot wide IMAX-style rollercoaster ride, kicks off its nationwide tour in the hometown of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the campus of Georgia Institute of Technology,” C&D stated.

“Trojan Evolve is a call to action,” stated Jim Daniels, vice president of marketing for C&D. “We’re quite literally going city to city asking Americans to pledge to use a condom every time, sign a petition for change and help turn the tide on the unhealthy state of sexual health in this country.”

The tour will crisscross America through November 2008 inviting people to evolve, by personally pledging to use a condom every time and advocating for comprehensive sexual education in schools by signing the Trojan Evolve Petition. Along the bus tour route, participants can also encourage friends to continue or change sexual health behaviors by recording video testimonials, which will be posted to the Trojan Evolve Web site, www.trojancondoms.com.

The Trojan Evolve tour launches in the wake of newly released CDC statistics indicating that one in four teen girls has a sexually transmitted infection, and syphilis, gonorrhea and Chlamydia, continue to rise in the general public.

And for the first time in fourteen years, rates of unintended teenage pregnancy are growing, contributing to the over three million unplanned pregnancies occurring each year, C&D noted. Yet, only about one in four sex acts among singles involves a condom, resulting in over a billion acts of unprotected sex each year.

“The Trojan Evolve tour is critical and timely,” stated Dr. Joycelyn Elders, former U.S. surgeon general and current advisor to the maker of Trojan brand condoms. “The problem is clearly not due to a lack of resources. Ninety percent of American households want comprehensive sex education, yet the government has spent over a billion dollars on only abstinence education, which according to its own studies is ineffective.”

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