Making Exercise Appealing for Young Couch Potatoes

Yes, there’s a television in Steinbeck’s Scottsdale, Ariz., home. But the family’s television room also boasts an exercise bicycle, mini trampoline, and several large exercise balls.

Her two children are just as interested in the tube as any other red-blooded American kids, but Steinbeck sees to it that if they’re tuned in, they’re exercising at the same time.

Everyone in the family uses the equipment as we watch television, the author of the best-selling Fat Free cookbook series explains. That way, the kids are hardly ever sitting and they’re in constant motion. It’s one way to make viewing more than a passive activity. Read more…

Canada is looking out for your health

A selection of our favourite Canadian health advisories issued over the last few days.

Solubilize, nebulize, die
When treating H1N1 flu patients, don't solubilize and then nebulize your powdered zanamivir (Relenza) and then put it in a ventilator. A pregnant woman died when the lactose in the powdered zanamivir combined with the liquid used to dissolve the powder and blocked her ventilator.

You'll need a miracle, inshallah
Muslim pilgrims should be vaccinated against influenza and other infectious diseases at least six weeks prior to the Hajj. The warning was issued four weeks before the beginning of the Hajj, which this year occurs November 25-30.

(But perhaps all is not lost. Some supremely strange Islamic websites interpret the word "ma'arej" from the Qu'ran to mean "wormholes" and assert that Mohammed and his angels may have used them to travel through time. So maybe you're not out of luck after all.)

"Consumable entertainment"
You may not be surprised to learn that consuming energy drinks called Mind Strike, Fearocity, Elixir of Tenacity and Power Pulse (right), made by a company called Chaotic Beverages, pose a health risk to children.

The company will certainly be shocked to hear this, considering the drinks were earlier this year in partnership with a company called 4Kids Entertainment, based on a children's card game (a 4-pack of the drinks came packaged with a set of the cards) and animated TV show, and were : "Fueled with natural energy from green tea extract, and loaded with vitamins, antioxidants and functional herbs, Chaotic Beverages offer kids a great tasting, healthier alternative, beverage that provides a convenient way to meet their hydration needs." (Functional herbs? Alternative to what? More convenient than, say, water? That sentence raises far more questions than it answers.)

The drinks' marketing consultants, U & Me Marketing, saw the product as so revolutionary that they invented a new classification to describe it: "Consumable Entertainment." Health Canada, it seems, wasn't amused.

What's in the news: Nov. 4 -- Newfoundland's first H1N1 flu death, and more

H1N1 flu news
Newfoundland and Labrador saw its first H1N1-flu death over the weekend.

Ontario's health minister, Deb Matthews, was surprisingly blunt in blaming municipal planning in Toronto for the city's slow start to the vaccination campaign, calling the work "simply unacceptable." City officials, predictably, were displeased with her assessment.

Several PEI schools are suffering H1N1 flu outbreaks, and nearly half of students are absent from class in one school. [Charlottetown Guardian]

Nova Scotia's government announced it will cover the cost of Tamiflu prescriptions for all residents, regardless of their private pharmaceutical insurance coverage.

An immunization campaign is underway in Ontario prisons, where the H1N1 flu has already appeared, but only inmates are being vaccinated. Guards in an Etobicoke jail staged a brief strike in protest.

The federal agency Public Safety Canada, which has a central role in coordinating the nation's pandemic response, is still not fully functional despite years of planning, Auditor General Sheila Fraser charged.

Relying on just one vaccine manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, to make all of the country's H1N1 flu vaccine is a decision that should be studied after this pandemic passes to determine whether it was the best course of action, federal health officials said. [Toronto Star]

Two women got into a fight on a New York City subway car when one accused the other of endangering others by not coughing into her hand.

Clorox and other companies are making a (figurative) killing on products related to the H1N1 flu pandemic. [Globe and Mail]

The Canadian Medical Protective Association, which is the legal defense fund of the country's physicians, speculated that if the H1N1 flu pandemic worsens "retired physicians, physicians who are in Canada but are unlicensed, or even medical students may be called on in a prolonged and severe disaster." The CMPA noted that licensure matters could become an issue if that were to come to pass.

Canadian astronaut Dr Robert Thirsk, who returns from an extended stint on the International Space Station on December 1, discussed his concern about his vulnerability to the H1N1 flu on his return from space because astronauts are known to have depressed immune responses when they disembark.

H1N1-free news
On Tuesday, Quebec's College of Physicians endorsed limited legal euthanasia in some circumstances in a position statement titled "End-of-Life Care: Getting Around the Impasse." The statement said that the question should not be whether euthanasia is right or wrong, but rather whether end-of-life care being delivered is appropriate. "We have to get beyond the logic of current legislation," said College president Dr Yves Lamontagne. "We need to move toward an appropriate care logic and adapt the legislative framework accordingly so that it allows us to reassure patients, physicians and society that the care provided at the end of an individual's life will be as appropriate as possible." "There do exist certain exceptional situations where euthanasia could be considered by the patient and their physician to be an ultimate and necessary step in assuring the patient receives appropriate and quality care to the very end," said Dr Lamontagne.

Dr Susan Burlacoff, a Toronto MD who billed $65,000 for treatments she never provided to members of her own family, was cleared of criminal charges of billing fraud by reason of mental illness. Medical experts testified that Dr Burlacoff's psychosis caused her to believe 2,700 insurance claims over a five-year period for visits that never occurred, were valid. She remains in practice. [Toronto Star]