Daily Rounds: Somerville Shapes Up; Plea To Brown; Free Rider Myth; Milk Allergies

How effective are anti-obesity campaigns? Somerville has waged a decade-long campaign to reduce rates of obesity (The Boston Globe) – “A decade after an ambitious experiment dubbed Shape Up Somerville was launched to lower obesity rates in elementary school children, the campaign has been expanded and woven into the fabric of everyday life…But measuring whether the trail-blazing initiative has, in fact, lowered the city’s obesity rates and improved health is a much trickier proposition, in Somerville, as well as in the dozens of communities nationwide that are receiving federal and private grants to try to replicate Somerville’s early success.”

Groups urge Sen. Brown to embrace health care law (AP in Boston Herald) – “A coalition of health care, neighborhood and labor groups is urging U.S. Sen. Scott Brown to drop his opposition to the health care law signed by President Obama. In a letter sent to Brown on Sunday, the groups say if Brown cares about creating jobs and making health care affordable, he should encourage fellow Republicans in Congress to abandon efforts to repeal the 2010 law.”

The legend of the free rider (Rick Holmes in Metro West Daily News) – “Obama’s victim in this drama is a near-mythical figure: The American free-rider, that rugged individualist who doesn’t want health insurance and chafes at the government order to get it. It’s like being forced to eat your broccoli, he scowls, when steak and a beer are plenty. His motto: Live uninsured or die. I haven’t met the free-rider. The people I’ve known who couldn’t get or couldn’t afford health insurance considered it a scary problem, not a badge of honor. But I’ve heard from plenty of people who wouldn’t think of going a day without health insurance, yet they are caught up in the free-rider’s struggle to stay uninsured.”

Got milk? You don’t need it (Mark Bittman in The New York Times) – “Today the Department of Agriculture’s recommendation for dairy is a mere three cups daily — still 1½ pounds by weight — for every man, woman and child over age 9. This in a country where as many as 50 million people are lactose intolerant, including 90 percent of all Asian-Americans and 75 percent of all African-Americans, Mexican-Americans and Jews. The myplate.gov site helpfully suggests that those people drink lactose-free beverages. (To its credit, it now counts soy milk as “dairy.” There’s no mention of water, which is truly nature’s perfect beverage; the site simply encourages us to switch to low-fat milk.”

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