HEALTH

Study finds stress, economy trigger digestive problems

BY Michael Johnsen

MORRISTOWN, N.J. According to a recent Yankelovich survey released by Bayer Consumer Healthcare Wednesday, travel worries and the economy are triggering more concerns over stomach problems.

Close to half of all Americans at some time have had or worried about having stomach problems while on vacation, the survey revealed, and a majority of Americans have experienced increased stress because of the current state of the economy. Nearly 40% of those Americans report they now eat more comfort food, more snacks and more fast food due to their increased stress levels.

Taking a probiotic can help to eliminate that worry, Bayer noted, as probiotics have been shown to help address travel related issues like traveler’s diarrhea.

“Stress and poor diet are triggers that could potentially cause digestive problems,” stated Anish Sheth, assistant professor of medicine, Yale University School of Medicine. “Probiotics can be especially helpful when the digestive system is under stress from all sorts of issues ranging from occasional diarrhea or constipation.”

The survey also revealed that 1-in-4 Americans at some time have made up an excuse for why they’re going to the bathroom in the first place. Men in this group were just as likely to make up an excuse as women.

“Making excuses for bathroom habits could be a sign that something else is going on,” Sheth said. “Millions of Americans experience digestive problems, but few know that the key to digestive health is maintaining a balance between the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria in the colon, a vital part of the digestive system. But there are things consumers can do such as taking a probiotic to address digestive symptoms like constipation, diarrhea, gas and bloating, as well as overall colon health.”

Additional findings included:

  • 10% of those surveyed spend 60 minutes or more in the bathroom a day;
  • Women are only slightly more likely to make excuses for why they are going to the bathroom than men (26% for women compared with 24% for men);
  • Women are more stressed because of the economy than men (60% of women versus 51% of men);
  • And economic stress had a bigger impact on the eating habits of younger Americans than older Americans (61% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 say they eat more comfort food, more snacks and more fast food compared with 29% of Americans ages 55 to 64).

The survey was conducted by Yankelovich, a part of the Futures Company, on behalf of Phillips’ Colon Health Probiotic Supplement. Survey results were obtained through online interviews among a representative sample of 1,042 adults 18 and older.

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HHS partners with Ad Council, Sesame Workshop to develop PSAs on H1N1

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Friday announced that HHS is joining the Ad Council and Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind “Sesame Street,” to launch a national public-service advertising campaign designed to encourage American families and children to take steps to protect themselves from the 2009 H1N1 flu virus.

“Since the outbreak of the H1N1 flu, many Americans have expressed concern about how they can protect themselves from being infected,” stated Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council. “We are proud to continue our longstanding partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services for this critical campaign that will educate parents and children about how to stay healthy. We are also grateful to Sesame Workshop for providing their resources and talent for the PSAs.”

As part of HHS and the Ad Council’s campaign, Sesame Workshop produced a television PSA featuring “Sesame Street’s” Elmo and Gordon explaining the importance of such healthy habits as washing your hands, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and sneezing into the bend of your arm.

The campaign was unveiled Friday morning by Sebelius at the HHS/Department of Education Childcare Center in Washington, D.C. The PSAs will be distributed nationwide and will be supported in airtime donated by television stations.

The new PSA campaign focuses on the importance of providing parents, teachers and children with accurate information about how to practice healthy habits, highlighting proper hand-washing and simple everyday actions that lead to staying healthy and keeping germs away. Created by Sesame Workshop, the television PSAs encourage audiences to visit www.cdc.gov to get more information on how to stay healthy. The PSAs are an extension of Sesame’s Healthy Habits for Life initiative, which helps young children and their caregivers establish an early foundation of healthy habits.

The Ad Council will be distributing the PSAs via satellite to television stations nationwide.

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Sanofi Pasteur announces U.S. government order of H1N1 vaccine

BY Michael Johnsen

SWIFTWATER, Pa. Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of the Sanofi-Aventis Group, on Monday announced it has received the first of what is expected to be a series of orders from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to commence production of a vaccine to help protect against the novel H1N1 influenza virus. The order is in the amount of $190 million.

“This initial order for A(H1N1) vaccine received [today] under our existing contract is part of a major effort by Sanofi Pasteur to support global public health efforts to prepare the world for the possibility of an influenza pandemic,” stated Wayne Pisano, president and CEO of Sanofi Pasteur. “Production of a new vaccine is not a simple task and there are a number of necessary and complex steps that must be taken before a vaccine can be made available to the public, but we have experience on our side. Previously, we developed and licensed the first pre-pandemic vaccine for H5N1, and we look forward to further demonstrating our experience and expertise in vaccine development as we prepare for this new threat from A(H1N1).”

The dosage requirements for the new vaccine are yet to be determined and will be based on clinical trials, which could begin as early as August, the company stated. Final formulation, filling and distribution of the vaccine also have not been established at this time.

Sanofi Pasteur is awaiting receipt of the seed virus to be used for vaccine production from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which could be delivered as early as the end of May, according to a CDC press conference held Friday.

Sanofi Pasteur is prepared to commence commercial scale production in June following certification of the working seed by the Food and Drug Administration. The company currently estimates it will have the first bulk concentrate vaccine in a few months. However, the company will be better able to determine the timing once the seed virus is received and development of working seed is underway.

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