Health Highlights: Dec. 26, 2007

The authors studied more than 17,000 women who recorded their dietary habits and their attempts to become pregnant. The researchers concluded that women had a lower risk of infertility caused by the lack of a viable monthly egg if their diets included monosaturated fats (i.e., olive oil instead of trans fat); vegetable proteins (in beans and nuts, rather than animal fats); whole grains instead of carbohydrates that cause a rapid rise in blood sugar; some whole milk products (ice cream in moderation); multivitamins containing folic acid; and iron (from foods and supplements), the newspaper said.

The newspaper reported that the book seems to go beyond establishing a statistical correlation between diet and fertility. "We have discovered 10 simple changes that offer a powerful boost in fertility for women with ovulation-related infertility," the Globe quoted the book's authors as saying.

And in a Dec. 10 interview with Newsweek, the authors said their diet plan was aimed at preventing and "reversing" infertility, the newspaper reported.

Critics of the book worry that some women could blame themselves if they did not get pregnant, or worse -- fail to see a doctor for needed medical guidance.

"This book is blatantly irresponsible," the Globe quoted Dr. Gil Wilshire, a reproductive endocrinologist at Boone Hospital Center in Columbia, Mo., as saying. "I will be having women who wasted one, two, three years of their lives with imprecise, ineffective treatment. Those are precious years you can't get back."

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Russian Farm Culls 600,000 Chickens to Block Bird Flu

Authorities at a farm in southern Russia have destroyed an estimated 600,000 chickens, hoping to prevent the H5N1 strain of bird flu from spreading, the Canadian Press reported Wednesday.

The massive cull occurred in the Rostov-on-Don region. Birds sickened from the deadly virus also have been reported in the neighboring Tselinsky district and Krasnodar region, the CP reported.

While no human cases of bird flu have been reported in Russia, the H5N1 strain has been confirmed among fowl in several other regions since 2005.

Global health authorities say avian flu is still difficult to transmit between fowl and people, but they have long feared that the virus could mutate and pose a significant threat of a human flu pandemic.

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Survey Finds Parents Don't Admit Kids Are Fat

Despite ongoing reports of the global obesity epidemic, many American parents whose children are obese do not see it, a new survey finds.

The survey of 2,060 adults, conducted by Internet research firm Knowledge Networks, collected height and weight measurements on the children from their parents, then used that to calculate body mass index. When a child's BMI was higher than the 95th percentile for children who are the same age and gender, the child was considered obese.

Among parents with an obese, or extremely overweight, child between 6 and 11 years old, 43 percent said their child was "about the right weight," 37 percent said their child was "slightly overweight," and 13 percent said "very overweight." Others said "slightly underweight."

For those with an obese teen between 12 and 17 years old, the survey found more awareness of weight as a problem. Fifty-six percent said their child was "slightly overweight," 31 percent responded "very overweight," 11 percent said "about the right weight," and others said "slightly underweight."

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