Health Alert for Pools and Hot Tubs; Fitness-Branded Foods Can Lead to Unfit Behavior

CDC: Outbreaks Linked to Pool Water; Safety Tips

Diseases linked to pools and hot tubs have spiked significantly, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The most recent data is from 2011 and 2012, and during those years there have been 90 outbreaks of water-associated outbreaks, according to health officials representing 32 states and Puerto Rico.

Those outbreaks led to “at least” 1,788 reported cases of illness, 95 hospitalizations and one death, according to the CDC’s Waterborne Disease and Outbreak Surveillance System.

Nearly 80 percent of the outbreaks occurred in “treated water” found in pools and hot tubs and are caused by “infectious pathogens” such as cryptosporidium, which is a diarrhea-causing parasite contained in feces.

“Cryptosporidium is one of the leading causes of waterborne disease, or disease caused by contaminated drinking water or recreational water,” the CDC says. “During the past two decades, Crypto has become recognized as one of the leading causes of waterborne illness in the United States. The germ is found in every part of the United States and the world.

Those most vulnerable to the illness include young children, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems.

To prevent the spread of illness the CDC recommends:

• Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea.
• Shower before you get in the water.
• Don’t urinate or defecate in the water.
• Don’t swallow the water.
source: CDC pool safety tips

Other recommendations include taking young children out of the pool for hourly bathroom breaks, frequently testing pool water for chlorine and disinfectant levels and frequently reapplying sunscreens.

“Crypto can stay alive for days even in well-maintained pools. We all share the water we swim in, so each of us plays an essential role in helping to protect ourselves, our families, and our friends from Crypto and other germs,” according to the CDC.

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–Sharon Harvey Rosenberg

Fitness-Branded Foods Can Spur Overeating, Less Exercise

The grocery shelves are packed with “fitness branded” foods including energy and protein bars and other products marketed to consumers who are health-conscious.

But the branding of these products can leading to overeating and less physical activity because of a mistaken notion that these foods are a substitute for exercise, according to a new study published in the Journal of Marketing Research.

As a result, people tend to eat more and exercise less when a food is branded to promote fitness

“Restrained eaters want to manage their weight, but their weight control behaviors are not always successful,” the study says. “Fitness branding in food marketing can exacerbate this problem because fitness cues make eating dietary permitted food compatible with weight control, and increased consumption of fitness-branded food may even serve as a substitute for actual physical activity.”

In the study, half of 162 participants received a bag of trail mix labeled simply “Trail mix snack.”  The other half got the same product, but with a label that said “Fitness snack” and showed a picture of running shoes. Those who were given the fitness-labeled snack ate significantly more of it than weight-watchers who received the regular trail mix. People with the highest score on a diet restriction questionnaire ate about 200 more calories of the “Fitness snack” trail mix than the regular kind.

“We therefore recommend that restrained eaters be particularly cautious with foods that are calorie dense but are viewed as dietary permitted,” the study concluded. “This is even more important given consumers’ tendencies to underestimate calorie content.”

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— John Fernandez

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