Tag: disease prevention

Does non-celiac gluten sensitivity really exist?

Gluten sensitivity: bread

When Linda Kerr’s son’s growth flatlined, a doctor suggested the teen might benefit from a gluten-free diet. In support, she tried the diet with him. Her son eventually decided he wasn’t going to follow it, but it did have an unexpected effect: after about a month, Kerr herself found her health improved. “I’d been struggling all…

Are food labels more sell than science?

Front-of-package labels

Probiotic ice cream. Antioxidant 7Up. Cupcakes that are “a good source of iron.” Grocery store shelves are lined with products that claim they’re good for you. Some food labels say they’ll help you dodge health conditions – like oatmeal boxes that say “oat fibre helps reduce cholesterol.” Others let shoppers infer the benefits of vitamins or minerals,…

Family medicine attracts record number of graduates

Family doctor

Family medicine was a popular choice among medical graduates in the 1980s, when Roger Strasser was training at The University of Western Ontario. “The residents had almost a missionary zeal that they were going to be family doctors,” he says. He shared their passion, becoming a family physician. But when he returned to Canada in 2002, after going back…

Family Care Clinics – filling a gap or costly duplication?

During her campaign for reelection in 2012, Alberta premier Alison Redford promised to create 140 Family Care Clinics (FCCs) over three years. She articulated a vision of primary care that would be one-stop, with many different health care providers under one roof. These clinics would have expanded hours to improve patient access, and would focus…

Groundbreaking Canadian cohort studies aim to shed light on risk factors for cancer, chronic diseases

Groundbreaking Canadian cohort studies aim to shed light on risk factors for cancer, chronic diseases

The British Whitehall studies helped establish the importance of the social determinants of health, while a Danish study of children provided strong evidence to disprove the damaging MMR-vaccine-causes-autism hypothesis. Those are just two of many international cohort studies—studies that follow large groups of people over many years. In Canada, starting such studies has never been…

Canadian alcohol pricing research makes waves abroad, not so much at home

Alcohol pricing and public health

Canadian research that shows how alcohol price policies can reduce alcohol-related harm is making waves in the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States—but not yet at home. International attention has far outstripped domestic attention for a surge of public health-related alcohol research coming out of the University of Victoria’s Centre for Addictions Research of…

“Chronic blindness” to health impact of alcohol policies

Health Impacts of Increased Availability of Alcohol

It’s a political football. Whenever the prospect of privatizing the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) is placed on the agenda, the result is a heated and polarized debate. Tax revenues, employment, competition and consumer convenience—these are the concerns that dominate discussion. But when it comes to any changes in alcohol policy, explicit consideration of the health…

Promoting vaccine benefits: public health officials call for a rethink of communication with parents

Promoting vaccine benefits: public health officials call for a rethink of communication with parents

Public health officials must find better ways to communicate with parents about the risks and benefits of childhood vaccination, researchers and public health officials agree. That task is particularly challenging in the absence of a national, or a provincial, vaccine surveillance registry because, to target messages effectively, accurate and timely information about vaccination rates and…

Absence of vaccine registry hampers ability to track vaccine-preventable outbreaks

Absence of vaccine registry hampers ability to track vaccine-preventable outbreaks

The re-emergence of vaccine-preventable illnesses is a major concern for Ontario’s public health officials. Efforts to create a national vaccine registry have stalled. A real time, comprehensive vaccine registry and surveillance system in Ontario may be the best answer to the information deficit. Faced with a measles outbreak at an elementary school, nurse Susan Otten spent…

Are Canadians too salty?

Salt intake is difficult for individuals to control, because more than three quarter of the salt we consume comes from processed foods, like bread, deli meats and dairy products. Most Canadians are consuming more than double the daily recommended amount of salt. While there is a link between salt consumption and heart disease and stroke,…

Should health care workers be required to get the flu vaccine?

flu vaccine

Each year several thousand Canadians die from influenza. Vaccinating health care workers against flu reduces transmission and would protect patients who are most vulnerable.  However, only about 40% of hospital staff in Ontario were vaccinated last winter. Is it time for Ontario to make the flu vaccine mandatory for health care workers? Explaining the influenza…

Need & access to bariatric surgery in Ontario

The frequency of obesity has skyrocketed across Canada, and its treatment is a major challenge to the health care system.  Bariatric surgery is an effective treatment for obesity that appears to be good value for money.  Although Ontario is expanding bariatric surgery capacity, some are concerned that capacity remains below current needs.  What is bariatric…

Are hand washing rates posted by Ontario hospitals believable?

Ontario’s hospitals are required to publicly report how often staff wash their hands. There is large variation in hand washing rates between hospitals. This variation more likely reflects how hospitals measure hand washing, rather than the frequency of hand washing itself. Ontario’s hospitals are required to publicly release information about how often staff wash their…