HEALTH

Luna unveils product line with new vitamin D recipe

BY Allison Cerra

BERKELEY, Calif. In response to women’s ever-changing nutritional needs, Luna, the maker of the Whole Nutrition Bar for Women, announced a new Luna bar recipe with added vitamin D to help support women’s calcium absorption and promote more complete bone health.

Coinciding with Luna’s 10th anniversary, the new recipe commemorates a decade of nourishing women from the inside out. LUNA continues to provide women with the taste they love and the nutrition that their bodies crave.

“Luna has always been dedicated to staying current with the latest knowledge around women’s nutrition to ensure that our food continues to deliver on the nutrients women need most,” said Nicole Pemerl, brand manager of Luna. “The new recipe underscores our commitment to women’s nutrition.”

Luna’s new vitamin D recipe hits shelves this summer in all of the Luna flavors that women have come to love, including White Chocolate Macadamia, Lemon Zest and Nutz Over Chocolate. Each bar is 170 to 190 calories each, rich in antioxidants and high in folic acid, calcium and iron.

Luna bars are sold at select retailers, including Target and REI stores nationwide, and online at www.lunabar.com with a suggested retail price of $1.39.

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Probiotics help gastric-bypass patients lose weight more quickly, Stanford study shows

BY Allison Cerra

STANFORD, Calif. New research from the Stanford University School of Medicine and Stanford Hospital & Clinics suggested that the use of a dietary supplement after Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery can help obese patients to more quickly lose weight and to avoid deficiency of a critical B vitamin.

In a study published in the July issue of the Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery, John Morton, MD, associate professor of surgery at the medical school, showed that patients who take probiotics after the gastric-bypass procedure tend to shed more pounds than those who don’t take the supplements. Probiotics are the so-called “good” bacteria found in yogurt as well as in over-the-counter dietary supplements that help in the digestion of food.

“Surprisingly, the probiotic group attained a significantly greater percent of excess weight loss than that of control group,” said Morton, who wrote the paper with lead author Gavitt Woodard, a third-year medical student, and five other medical students at the Surgery Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation in Stanford’s Department of Surgery. Morton has performed more than 1,000 of these bypasses at Stanford Hospital & Clinics.

The researchers followed 44 patients on whom Morton had performed the procedure from 2006 to 2007. Patients were randomized into either a probiotic or a control group. Both groups received the same bariatric medical care and nutritional counseling, as well as the support of weight-loss study groups. Both groups also were allowed to consume yogurt, a natural source of probiotics. In addition, the probiotic group consumed one pill per day of Puritan’s Pride, a probiotic supplement that is available online and in many stores. Morton has no financial ties to the company that makes the supplement.

The study showed that at three months, the probiotics group registered a 47.6% weight loss, compared with a 38.5% for the control group.

The study also found that levels of vitamin B-12 were higher in the patients taking probiotics — a significant finding because patients often are deficient in B-12 after gastric-bypass surgery. The probiotics group had B-12 levels of 1,214 picograms per milliliter at three months, compared with the control group’s levels of 811 pg/mL.

There was no outside funding for the study.

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Want to fix health care? Leverage clinics

BY Rob Eder

“We’re already paying for it—it’s just hidden in your premiums.”

That’s what President Barack Obama told attendees of a town hall meeting last month in Green Bay, Wis., one of the stops on his traveling road show to sell his vision for healthcare reform to America.

I have said before that I am optimistic that we can fix what is wrong with health care without socializing medicine—a fear that seems to play like a broken record among echo chamber dissenters who attempt to compare health care in Canada and the United Kingdom to a Breshnev-era toilet paper line in the former Soviet Union. I have met people from these countries, including some pretty conservative types who will tell you that the kinds of stories folks like Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., tell about having to wait longer for care just aren’t true.

That also doesn’t mean that we should socialize medicine either. Because the last time I checked, the debate wasn’t about shifting 300 million Americans—including the 250 million of us who already have insurance—to a government-run program, it was about finding a way to mitigate the rising cost of health care and getting coverage for the 46 million or so that either don’t have insurance or don’t have enough of it.

But I do agree with Sen. Graham and others like him who believe that ultimately, these types of issues—namely, the question of whether or not to create a public option to compete with private insurers, and who is going to pay for all of this—have the potential to derail health reform entirely. In the course of the debate, there has been much consideration given to the idea of cutting back reimbursements to providers who participate in such programs as Medicare and Medicaid. This industry knows full well what stuff like that means.

Squeezing providers limits access to quality health care. If a pharmacy goes broke and shuts down because it can’t afford to serve Medicaid patients, that store is closed to everybody, not just to the Medicaid patients that used to shop there. When a third-year medical student decides to pursue a specialty rather than go into family practice, that is one less GP that is available to treat Americans. Penalizing providers isn’t the answer.

I am not an economist, and I don’t pretend to have an answer for how or where America is going to come up with $1 trillion to pay for health reform. But I am certain that figure could be reduced substantially if the plan to fix health care included a bigger role for retail clinics and worksite-based healthcare solutions.

I was reminded of this again last month during the “ABC News” live broadcast of the President’s healthcare forum, a program it called “Prescription for America,” when a Johns Hopkins nursing student named Hershaw Davis addressed the issue of a shortage of primary care providers and the overcrowding that impacts our nation’s emergency room and urgent care facilities as a result. His basic question was, how can we get nurse practitioners more involved at the community level?

The answer Obama should have given was to push for the expansion of the clinic model in every city and town in America. How much could we shave off that $1 trillion estimate if we were talking about utilizing the clinics to do acute care and even play a greater role in prevention and wellness for 46 million uninsured Americans instead of funneling them through the ER or trying to come up with imaginary physicians that don’t exist to provide this kind of care?

Why do I believe this kind of care provides more answers than questions? Just take a look at the Big Three U.S. Automakers versus their top competitors in Japan and Europe. It is estimated that the cost of every car produced by Ford, GM and Chrysler includes about $1,500 to fund the price of health care; BMW is spending about $450 per car, while Honda spends about $150. One reason, though certainly not the only one, is that here in this country, Honda and BMW are utilizing worksite-based solutions to provide care for the people who build their cars and their families. The Big Three do not.

Editor’s Note: A headline for a story that appeared in the June 29 issue of Drug Store News (p. 12) regarding industry reaction to the Affordable Health Choices Act, commonly referred to as the Kennedy health plan, suggested that the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association fully endorsed the plan. To clarify, the groups support certain provisions of the bill, particularly a proposed grant program to implement medication therapy management services for people with chronic conditions. The groups do not patently support all aspects of the proposed legislation.

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