Certain Foods and Meds Don’t Mix

Raise your hand if you typically ignore the tiny little writing on your prescription medication bottles or on the box that comes with your over-the-counter meds. You are not alone because according to medical researchers, millions of Americans—by some estimates, half or more of the people using medications or drugs – ignore the warning labels, either partially or completely.

Medical compliance broadly applies to how well you adhere to the directions, warnings, and advice you’ve received from your physician, pharmacist, or the drug company. It concerns frequency, dosage, time of day for taking a medication, and what foods, other medications or liquids to avoid when using certain drugs.

While it may be hard to imagine that food would play such an important role in how well our medications work, think vitamins, digestion, compounds, and chemicals . . . . lots and lots of chemicals. That’s what food and the medications we ingest, inhale, or otherwise insert into our bodies are made of.  How they work together – and if they work well together – is important information for medical consumers to understand and employ. Failure to comply with these warnings can minimize the effectiveness of the medications you are taking and, in some cases, endanger your life.

The range of foods that can counteract, boost, or reduce medicinal potency are far reaching. Some may be surprising — the list includes everyday items such as bananas, kale, grapefruit, black licorice, caffeine, alcohol, salami, and walnuts, just to name a few. Here’s a rundown on some common food/drug interactions consumers should be aware of:

Bananas shouldn’t be mixed with ACE inhibitors and so-called “potassium-sparing” diuretics, which can increase the amount of potassium in our bodies. Too much potassium can cause an irregular heartbeat and heart palpitations. So people who take those drugs should avoid large amounts of food high in potassium, including bananas, oranges, green leafy vegetables, and salt substitutes such as Morton Lite Salt. The meds that fall into these categories include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), and lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril), which are used to lower blood pressure or treat heart failure. Also avoid mixing with certain diuretics, such as triamterene (Dyrenium), used to reduce fluid retention and treat high blood pressure.

Kale shouldn’t be mixed with blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin). Kale and other greens, including broccoli, cabbage, spinach, and brussels sprouts are rich in vitamin K, which can reduce the drug’s anti-clotting effects. It’s good to eat a balanced diet with lots of greens, but if you have the urge to start drinking a daily kale smoothie, speak with your doctor first.

Black licorice shouldn’t be mixed with Digoxin (Lanoxin), which is used to treat heart failure and abnormal heart rhythms. Glycyrrhizin, a component of black licorice, can cause irregular heartbeat or even death when combined with digoxin. Licorice also appears to make certain drugs less effective. The list includes blood-pressure medications, blood thinners, pain relievers, and birth-control pills. Be careful if you eat a lot of it (only the real stuff counts; some candy is just licorice-flavored, so look for “licorice extract” on labels) or if you take licorice-root supplements for heartburn.

Grapefruit juice shouldn’t be mixed with cholesterol drugs such as atorvastatin (Lipitor) and lovastatin (Mevacor). Drinking grapefruit juice can raise the level of the drug in your bloodstream and increase the risk of side effects, especially leg pain. Grapefruit and grapefruit juice can interfere with other drugs, too.

 Walnuts shouldn’t be mixed with thyroid drugs such as levothyroxine (Levothroid, Levoxyl, Synthroid). Walnuts, soybean flour, cottonseed meal, and high-fiber foods can prevent your body from absorbing those medications. So if you eat a high-fiber diet, you might need a higher dosage.

Milk shouldn’t be mixed with Tetracycline antibiotics (Sumycin). Calcium, which we derive from dairy foods such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, and calcium supplements and fortified foods can prevent the body from absorbing the drug. In general, tetracycline works better if taken one hour before or two hours after eating.

Salami shouldn’t be mixed with drugs such as metronidazole (Flagyl) and linezolid (Zyvox), used to treat bacterial infections. If you eat or drink too much of anything that contains the amino acid tyramine, your blood pressure could spike. Tyramine is found in foods that are aged, pickled, fermented, or smoked such as processed cheeses, anchovies, and dry sausage. It’s also in avocados, bananas, chocolate, and alcoholic drinks.

Alcohol doesn’t mix well with most medications. Many medications come with instructions not to drink alcohol while you’re taking them. It’s an important warning—even a single glass of wine could be too much. Alcohol alone can make you drowsy, light-headed, and less coordinated; mixing it with certain drugs can magnify those effects. Even worse, it can cause serious problems, including internal bleeding and breathing and heart problems. And alcohol can make a drug less effective, even useless, or it can make a drug toxic. For example, just a few drinks mixed with acetaminophen (Tylenol) can damage your liver.

Finally, beware of mixing supplements with your prescription and over-the-counter medications without consulting your physician or pharmacist. Like the foods and drinks above, some dietary supplements, including vitamins, minerals, and herbals, can cause problems if you take them with some drugs.

Even a multivitamin with iron can negate the effects of many drugs. But herbs are the worst offenders. For example, combining St. John’s wort with over-the-counter cough medicines or prescription antidepressants or migraine drugs can cause serotonin syndrome, a dangerous condition that can cause rapid blood-pressure changes, confusion, muscle spasms, and even death.

The most common drugs involved in negative interactions with supplements were, in order, warfarin (Coumadin), insulin, aspirin, digoxin (a heart drug), and ticlopidine. The supplements that most often caused problems were St. John’s wort, magnesium, calcium, iron, and ginkgo biloba.

Just because these foods and supplements might interact with certain drugs you’re taking doesn’t mean you have to avoid them completely. Speak with your physician about any short- or long-term medication you’re taking, read labels carefully, and learn when it’s safe to eat what you like, when you like it.


 

Be sure to check out the CBIA Healthy Connections wellness program at your company’s next renewal. It’s free as part of your participation in CBIA Health Connections!

Good fish, bad fish

When you stop to consider that most of the earth is covered by water, it’s a wonder that our diets aren’t primarily made up of seafood. But we’re land dwellers, and it’s far easier to chase something on the ground or dig it out of the garden than to rustle up dinner from the ocean. Still, fish are an inherently healthy food source — or were, at least, before we started polluting the world’s oceans, rivers and lakes. Much of our “fresh” fish is now farmed, as well, and can be treated with antibiotics or fed contaminants that aren’t good for us in larger quantities.

So how do we know what is safe to consume, how much, and when it’s good or bad for us?

Fish is a good source of protein and, unlike fatty meat products, it’s not high in saturated fat. Fish also is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.  Omega-3 fatty acids benefit the heart of healthy people and those at high risk of — or who have — cardiovascular disease.  Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids decrease risk of arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats), which can lead to sudden cardiac death. Omega-3 fatty acids also decrease triglyceride levels, slow the growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque and lower blood pressure.

Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna are high in two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids which have demonstrated benefits at reducing heart disease.

That’s all positive. But here’s the negative: Some types of fish may contain high levels of mercury, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), dioxins and other environmental contaminants. Levels of these substances are generally highest in older, larger predatory fish and marine mammals.

The benefits and risks of eating fish vary depending on a person’s stage of life:

  • Children and pregnant women are advised by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to avoid eating those fish with the potential for the highest level of mercury contamination (e.g., shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish); to eat up to 12 ounces (two average meals) per week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury (e.g., canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, catfish).
  • For middle-aged and older men and postmenopausal women, the benefits of eating fish far outweigh the potential risks when the amount of fish that are eaten is within the recommendations established by the FDA and Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Eating a variety of fish will help minimize any potentially adverse effects due to environmental pollutants.

Nutritional experts recommend eating fish (particularly fatty fish) at least two times (two servings) a week. Each serving should be approximately 3.5 ounces cooked, or about three-quarters of a cup of flaked fish.  Enjoy fish baked or grilled, not fried.  Choose low-sodium, low-fat seasonings such as spices, herbs, lemon juice and other flavorings in cooking and at the table. 

For many people, tuna is a lunchtime staple. The FDA and EPA continue to recommend that no more than six ounces of fish per week (of your 8 to 12 ounces weekly) should be white (albacore) tuna. Although canned light tuna is lower in mercury, albacore tuna has more of it.

Five of the most commonly eaten fish or shellfish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish.   

Avoid eating shark, swordfish, king Mackerel, or tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury. Also, be careful when buying canned seafood, as cans often are lined with a BPA-plastic coating. Look for seafood packed in shelf-stable, flexible pouches, as this is the environmentally preferable packaging.

Regardless of your age or gender, check local advisories about the safety of fish caught by family and friends in local lakes, rivers and coastal areas. If local advice isn’t available, you should eat six ounces or less of these locally caught fish per week, and children should eat no more than one to three ounces per week. Then avoid eating other fish for the rest of the week.

Potential exposure to some contaminants can be reduced by removing the skin and surface fat from these fish before cooking. Consumers should also check with local and state authorities about types of fish and watersheds that may be contaminated and visit the FDA website for the most up-to-date information on recommendations for specific subgroups of the U.S. population such as children and pregnant women.

Last, but not least, another important consideration when you consume fish should be about environmental sustainability. Some varieties of seafood have been overfished or caught in ways that may cause lasting damage to our oceans and marine life. Here are some basic rules to make smart seafood shopping choices that are good for your health and the health of our oceans.

  • Eat fish that are lower on the food chain – typically, smaller fish are more plentiful and contain less mercury.
  • Know how sustainable your seafood choices are. This link to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch guide provides valuable information on which fisheries provide the most sustainable seafood choices, based on health and a variety of other measurements.
  • Buy American. The United States has stricter fishing and farming standards than do other parts of the world.
  • Know how it’s caught. Hook and line is a low-impact method of fishing that does not damage the seafloor and let’s fisherman use intelligently designed traps and throw back unwanted species.
  • Eat Local. You’re usually better off eating the local variety of a particular type of fish instead of its counterpart from across the country or another part of the world, unless that species has been depleted in local waters. Even out of season, the local fish that has been frozen is preferable, since fresh fish must be transported by air, the most energy-intensive method of shipping.
  • Look for the label. The Marine Stewardship Council certifies seafood that is caught or raised in a sustainable, environmentally friendly manner. Items that meet its criteria are marked with a MSC-certified label.

###

Be sure to check out the CBIA Healthy Connections wellness program at your company’s next renewal. It’s free as part of your participation in CBIA Health Connections!

Being sandwiched eats away at our health

Generational forces are driving socio-economic changes in lifestyles and families that are contributing to stress and negatively affecting our health and wellbeing. One prime example is the pressures faced by Baby Boomers as they come of age and, in many cases, find themselves faced with caretaker burdens that “sandwich” them between supporting their children, themselves, and aging parents.

It is estimated that American families provide 80 to 90 percent of all in-home long-term care services for their aging family members, disabled adult children, and other loved ones.  These services may include assistance with activities of daily living, medical services coordination, medical supervision, administration of medications and assistance with financial, legal, spiritual and emotional concerns. These family caregivers often go unrecognized and are typically over-utilized. Focusing on their children, parents, and jobs, their own needs often go unfulfilled, which leads to additional stress.

Typically the American “Sandwich Generation” caregiver has been a woman in her mid-forties, married, employed and caring for her family and an elderly parent, usually her mother. Today, however, there are more and more men finding themselves in a caregiving role as well, and often they are squeezed in between the generations. 

The demanding role of being multi-generational caregivers spreads across all racial, gender, age and ethnic boundaries.  Some of the common stressors that affect both urban and rural sandwich generation caregivers are:

  • Splitting time between children/family and elder loved ones
  • Finding time for each caregiving role
  • Finding time for marriage or a significant other
  • Finding time for yourself
  • Not falling behind in your work or bringing your home stress to the work place
  • Keeping generational peace between children and elder loved ones
  • Finding the resources needed to care for family members
  • Combating feelings of isolation
  • Dealing with all the guilt associated with not having enough time to accomplish all that “should” be done.

Related challenges include geographic barriers to resources, and isolation from other caregivers, family members or informal supports.  The lack of service or care network availability, especially burdensome outside of cities, can add to caregiver stress, burnout, and depression. Solving these issues and controlling related stress and health factors is critical, though not easy – it requires adjustments on both sides, establishing boundaries, and setting priorities that include time for yourself, empathy and outreach to others. If you’re “sandwiched,” here are a few tips to help achieve better balance:

Regular “team” communication. Consider having a weekly family meeting where you discuss upcoming events, responsibilities, issues and opportunities. This gives everyone in the family the opportunity to discuss what’s on his or her mind in an open, safe environment. Use this forum to discuss the many different caregiving tasks that need to be accomplished each day or week. 

Set a family weekly or monthly task list.  Set mutual expectations for how the many tasks of caregiving will be accomplished.  Caregiving often becomes a one-person show but it does not need to be if you have family support. 

Ask for assistance. Make a point of picking up the telephone and spending time calling resources such as your local area Agency on Aging, hospital, a social worker, a physician or a local church or temple. There are a variety of services available in most communities and cities. Many can be found on the internet or simply by talking with other caregivers, social service agencies, behavioral health centers and related professionals.

Take time to care for yourself.  Sandwich generation caregivers become run down and sick because they have not taken time to care for themselves.  You can’t care effectively for your loved ones if you don’t care for yourself, as well.  Here are some useful hints to help make sure you focus on your own needs as well as those you are caring for:

  • Take time every day to “check-in” with yourself, even if it is only for half an hour.  This should be your protected time.  Enjoy this time by reading, listening to music, exercising or whatever you like to do.
  • Remember to take time to laugh, talk with friends, and eat properly, especially nutritious food rather than prepared foods high in fat, sugar and salt.
  • Take time to be “in” your marriage or relationship.
  • Try to “be present” at work as much as possible… our jobs exercise our creativity and usefulness in different ways, and association with others outside the home is valuable, emotionally.
  • Listen to your body – if it’s telling you to slow down, or that something is not right, seek medical advice.  Also seek assistance from a therapist or professional counselor versed in caretaker stress.

Every caregiver and caregiving situation is unique, but there are always common factors bridging situations and caregivers.  Support can come from many different sources and in many different ways as long as you seek it out and remember, always, that taking care of yourself is your most important job.

# # #

Be sure to check out the CBIA Healthy Connections wellness program at your company’s next renewal. It’s free as part of your participation in CBIA Health Connections!

Whether We Walk, Run, or Crawl, Athletic Charity Events Help Us All

According to a new survey from Aon Hewitt, the National Business Group on Health, and The Futures Company, as employers explore new ways to create and maintain a healthy and productive workforce, employees who perceive their organizations as having a strong culture of health are happier, less stressed and more likely to take control of their well-being than employees in other organizations.

For the third straight year, these organizations surveyed more than 2,700 employees and their dependents covered by employer-sponsored health plans to determine their perspectives, behaviors and attitudes towards health and wellness. While the survey – called the Consumer Health Mindset survey* – focused on large employers, the information is largely applicable to medium- and small-sized employers, as well.

The report analyzed the responses of employees who work at organizations with strong cultures of health – or organizations that prioritize and encourage healthy behaviors in the workplace – and compared them to employees’ responses in organizations that do not.

Based on survey analysis, employees who work in strong cultures of health were more likely to say they have control over their health than those who work at companies where it is less of a priority (75 percent versus 63 percent). In addition, they were less likely to report that stress has a negative impact on their work (25 percent versus 49 percent). The report also showed a link between strong health cultures and general happiness. Sixty-six percent of employees in strong health cultures say they are extremely or very happy with their lives compared to just 32 percent of those in weak health cultures.

 Small efforts can produce large returns

There are many ways for employers to foster a culture of health and wellness. This month, we’ll focus on how employer encouragement and commitment focused on charity walks, runs and other athletic events can benefit employee morale, improve teamwork, boost health and wellness, and do good by increasing participation, raising awareness and raising funds for important charities and health-related benefit activities.

Now is the time to research and sign-up for a variety of charity events held in the spring across Connecticut. Employers should encourage their employees to find the events and activities they’d most like to support or participate in, and then – through financial underwriting, time for practice and involvement, sponsorship, or general cheerleading – make it easy for them to follow through, either individually or as teams. There also are non-athletic activities, such as helping Fidelco raise, train, maintain and support guide dogs for the blind – that bring people together and promote teamwork by working toward a common cause.

To get you started, here is a small listing of several popular and well-known charitable events held annually in Connecticut. Whether you support these or many other worthwhile charitable options, now’s the time to start. Choose one or more that work for you and your staff, get involved, and everyone wins!

The March of Dimes

The Multiple Sclerosis Foundation

Fidelco

Easter Seals

Relay for Life

Komen for the Cure

 

# # #

 

*For more information on the Consumer Health Mindset survey, visit www.aon.com/consumerhealthmindset.

If you’re not enjoying the benefits of a wellness program at your company, join CBIA Healthy Connections at your company’s next renewal. It’s free as part of your participation in CBIA Health Connections!

Wellness Never Takes a Vacation

Summer’s wrapping up quickly. The days are getting shorter and school is right around the corner. You and your employees are probably reliving your vacations and wondering where the time went. As the hot weather starts to wane and attention spans lengthen, it’s a great time to revisit your wellness planning to ensure continuity and keep your workforce focused and motivated about their health.

To reduce costs, employees need to become engaged in both their healthcare spending and in reducing their health risks. A standard approach is to focus on wellness, education, and consumer support by weaving wellness into the fabric of your company’s culture.

While one obvious goal of any wellness program is to reduce costs, it is not the primary message. Wellness is about improving health and quality of life. Successful programs place heavy emphasis on personal outcomes. Employees benefit from access to healthcare education and information on topics ranging from stress management and exercise to healthy cooking. They also benefit from smoking-cessation courses and materials, and through an understanding of their own personal responsibility in ensuring their health and wellness.

Making connections between costs and choices

When you integrate wellness and intervention programs, you have the opportunity to educate employees about how the connections between their healthy behaviors and lifestyle choices relate to their premiums and other healthcare costs.

The impact of health data and supportive outreach to drive changes is working for employers across the country. There are a variety of interactive, online wellness programs that can help employers enhance the health and productivity of their employees and support a more complete system of care.

If you’re not there yet, the first step is encouraging your team to complete an in-depth health assessment. This assessment yields revealing, yet actionable information for the individual, and can be used to help guide the employee to programs and actions that will address his or her health needs.

Quality educational courses and materials, sensible fitness activities, and effective communication are all core components of a successful wellness program. Employers must make the connections between medical costs, health risks, and personal responsibility. The more we understand that health risks, many of which are modifiable, drive health utilization and cost, the more effective we can be in helping our employees adjust their behaviors and attitudes toward wellness.

If you’re not enjoying the benefits of a wellness program at your company, join CBIA Healthy Connections at your company’s next renewal. It’s free as part of your participation in CBIA Health Connections!

Doctors Orders: Take as Prescribed?

Last time you were prescribed an antibiotic, did you take every pill in the bottle or packet as directed, or take them for the recommended number of consecutive days? Or, like millions of medical consumers, did you take them the first few days and then stop when you were feeling better?

Do you remember to take your blood pressure pills, cholesterol meds, or other prescriptions every day? Are you eating what you need to eat or avoiding what you shouldn’t be eating, again per your physician’s recommendations? Did you stop smoking yet, or cut back on caffeine and alcohol?  Do you visit a doctor annually for a full physical or for recommended preventive screenings based on your age and gender?

This isn’t a lecture, it’s pointing out a dangerous reality shared by many of us – the failure to comply with pharmaceutical or medical recommendations…or to even understand them.

Truth is, more than one in four Americans don’t follow their physicians’ guidance. That’s a huge problem, and in the case of medications – where the number of non-compliers is even higher – failing to take prescriptions as prescribed is common, costly, and can be deadly. Medicines are an important part of treatment for serious infections. They can help relieve pain and lift depression. They also can help combat some of the nation’s leading causes of death and disability by helping control many common chronic diseases and lower the complications associated with them.

Consider these statistics on just Rx non-compliance alone:

  • 75 percent of patients sometimes fail to take their medications as directed.
  • 33 percent of prescriptions are never filled.
  • 50 to 60 percent of the time, patients with chronic conditions do not take their medications.
  • 33 to 69 percent of medication-related hospitalizations are linked to drug noncompliance.
  • 125,000 patient deaths each year are linked to drug noncompliance.
  • $290 billion is spent annually on care needed because of medication noncompliance.
  • Why we don’t comply and how to improve our odds

    There are dozens of reasons for why we don’t take our medications as prescribed. We forget to take them. We leave them at home. They upset our stomachs or make us drowsy. They cost too much. They taste lousy. They’re hard to swallow. Or, we don’t understand why we’re taking them or how they help us, so we don’t take it seriously. It also could be because of cultural issues, language problems, or literacy challenges.

    Taking medications on time and correctly is extremely important. When we don’t take medications as prescribed, they may not work as well as they should, or we may have a greater risk for side effects. Also, many drugs work over a longer period and in less obvious ways. People who don’t take their blood pressure or cholesterol medications may feel well, but their blood pressure or cholesterol numbers may be rising. That can increase their risk for heart attack or stroke.

    Here are tips to help medications work safely and effectively:

    • Gather information. Request brochures and pamphlets from your doctor’s office about a condition and medication. Ask your doctor to recommend reliable websites that may help. Your nurse-information service is another good resource, if you have access to one.
    • Make a list of your medications. Include all medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies that you use. Share this list with all your doctors and your pharmacist, and keep it up-to-date. This makes it easier for medical professionals to spot – and hopefully prevent – potentially dangerous drug interactions.
    • Don’t rely on your memory. Buy a special pill case that’s divided into the days of the week. Then keep it somewhere in plain sight but safe from children. Newer boxes have built-in alarms. Also, take your medication at the same time every day, like when you brush your teeth or feed the dog. Set your watch or cell phone alarm to go off when you need to take a dose. Even a note on the refrigerator may help you remember.
    • Talk with your doctor. Before you stop taking a medication or start taking fewer doses to save money or simplify your schedule, call your doctor – even if symptoms disappear or you don’t think the medicine is working. Suddenly stopping some medications can be dangerous.
    • Ask about a simpler schedule. If you just can’t keep track of all your medications and when to take them, ask your doctor for help. With some medications, you may be able to switch to a different dose that doesn’t need to be taken as often.
    • Explore more affordable options. Prescriptions can take a big bite out of your budget, even if your health benefits include drug coverage. But, taking less medication or skipping doses isn’t a safe way to save money. If you’ve been prescribed a brand-name medication, ask your doctor about using a generic instead. It will have the same active ingredients as its brand-name version but may cost less. Some pharmacies and drug companies offer discount cards. Additionally, you may be able to buy a larger dose and split it to save money. It may be cheaper, for instance, to buy 200 mg tablets and break them in half if you only need 100 mg. But ask your pharmacist because selected medications are not safe to split apart.

    Taking your medication as directed is just one part of a comprehensive strategy for staying healthy. Ask questions if you’re not sure what you’re taking and why you’re taking it, and especially if you’re in doubt about instructions.

    # # #

    Be sure to check out the CBIA Healthy Connections wellness program at your company’s next renewal. It’s free as part of your participation in CBIA Health Connections!

    Steps to Ensure Medication Safety

    Taking prescription and over-the-counter medications can be confusing and even dangerous if you are already taking supplements or other prescription drugs or supplements without your physician’s knowledge. Compliance with directions for taking each medication is critical, and following these simple steps and procedures can help prevent mistakes, potential overdoses or negative drug interactions.

    • Always accept the offer to speak to a pharmacist on each new prescription (Pharmacists are required to provide counseling upon request by the patient and are required to make an offer to counsel on each new prescription).
    • Look at the label
      • Is this your medication?
      • Does your name appear on the label?
      • Is it the right medication?
    • Open the bottle
      • If it looks different ask the pharmacist why
      • Be familiar with both brand and generic names of your medication
      • Know the size, shape and color of your medication
    • Be sure you know the purpose and dose of your medication, how often you should be taking it and whether you should take it with or without food.
    • Ask if there are any side effects, or whether you should avoid any activities, foods or other medications (like supplements or over-the-counter remedies).
    • Ask what you should do if you miss a dose (don’t double up). Pill reminders are often helpful.
    • Try to get all your medications at the same pharmacy to enable the pharmacist to cross-check your records for medication interactions.
    • Tell your pharmacist what other medications you are taking, including herbal remedies.

    What should patients do if they think there has been an error in their medication?

    • Never take any medication if you suspect an error has been made
    • Immediately contact the pharmacy and ask to speak to the pharmacist alerting them that you believe there may be an error with your medication
    • After speaking with the pharmacist, if you believe a mistake has been made, call your physician right away.

    Be sure to check out the CBIA Healthy Connections wellness program at your company’s next renewal. Employees in this program have access to tools and information that can help improve their overall physical and mental well-being. The program is free to both you and your employees as part of your participation in CBIA Health Connections!

    Obesity Prevention at the Workplace

    In 2008, the annual healthcare cost of obesity in the U.S. was estimated to be as high as 147 billion dollars a year. The annual medical burden of obesity increased to 9.1 percent in 2006 compared to 6.5 percent in 1998. Medical expenses for obese employees are estimated to be 42 percent higher than for a person with a healthy weight. Workplace obesity-prevention programs can be an effective way for employers to reduce obesity and lower their health care costs, reduce absenteeism and increase employee productivity.

    Obesity and the health conditions associated with it; such as, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, stroke, coronary heart disease, and certain types of cancer are responsible for much of the increase in health care spending by employers. Obese persons spend 77% more than non-obese persons for necessary medications.

    Obesity affects more than health care costs, it also has a significant impact on worker productivity because the more chronic medical conditions an employee has, the higher the probability of absenteeism or presenteeism.

    Organizations can benefit directly by improving employee health through an obesity-prevention program. A survey of CEOs found that “healthier employees” is the number one reason why companies choose to implement health promotion programs. Additionally, well-designed programs have the potential to extend beyond the worksite and positively influence dependents (spouses and children), and thereby reduce an organization’s health care costs.

    Although it may seem that only large organizations can implement obesity prevention and control programs, organizations of all sizes have done so successfully. Many types of organizations, including those with few employees and resources, are implementing successful obesity prevention programs.

    Why Should Employers Get Involved

    Potential benefits to employers:

    • Reduces cost for chronic diseases
    • Decreases absenteeism
    • Reduces employee turnover
    • Improves worker satisfaction
    • Demonstrates concern for your employees
    • Improves morale

    Potential benefits to your employees:

    • Ensures greater productivity
    • Reduces absenteeism
    • Improves fitness and health
    • Provides social opportunity and source of support within the workplace

    CDC offers free obesity-reduction resource

    Leading Employees to Activity and Nutrition” (LEAN) is a free web-based resource offered by The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that offers interactive tools and evidence-based resources to design effective worksite obesity prevention and control programs. You will be able to calculate your company’s ROI using CDC’s Obesity Cost Calculator, [http://www.cdc.gov/leanworks/costcalculator/index.html] a tool designed to allow employers to create scenarios to estimate the financial impact of specific obesity interventions, including the costs, benefits, and time required to break even.

    To reap the benefits of a wellness program at your company, join CBIA Healthy Connections at your company’s next renewal. It’s free as part of your participation in CBIA Health Connections!

    What’s Your Fitness Personality?

    Find an activity that’s perfect for you

    Busy moms find it hard to squeeze in time for fitness, even though managing kids, home and job can feel like a workout in itself. To find an exercise that works for you (and to improve your chances of sticking with it), you need to match your personality to the perfect activity. Whether it’s yoga, running or even boxing, each has great benefits for your heart and your head.

    Personality Type: Couch Potato

    The Perfect Activity: Cardiovascular training. Ten-minute exercise sessions three times a day can be as beneficial as a longer session. Use the kids’ nap or homework time to do squats or sit-ups, run in place or jump rope.
    Time: 30 minutes per day, three to five days per week
    Calories burned: 300 per day*

    Personality Type: Social Butterfly

    The Perfect Activity: Group sports. Find a partner and start running, or organize a regular group cycling time. Just be careful not to turn exercise into a pure social hour — if you can easily carry on a full, animated conversation during your aerobic exercise (no gasps for air), you may not be working at a high enough intensity.
    Time: 30 minutes per session, three to five days per week
    Calories burned: cycling, 250*; running, 327*

    Personality Type: Multitasker

    The Perfect Activity: Out-of-the-box aerobic classes. Try kickboxing, for example. It requires focus, yet offers variety — you’ll constantly switch from the punching bag and push-ups to jumping jacks and sidekicks. With circuit-training classes, you move from one exercise to the next without resting, which keeps your heart rate elevated and maximizes your workout time.
    Time: 30 minutes per session, three to five days per week
    Calories burned: kickboxing, 422*; circuit training, 281*

    Personality Type: Soloist

    The Perfect Activity: Swimming or yoga. Swimming laps can be both a solitary and a rigorous exercise. Yoga is a personal practice involving a great deal of introspection and concentration. Both are great full-body workouts — and perfect for getting some healthy time alone.
    Time: half-hour swim; one-hour yoga session (video or class)
    Calories burned: swimming, 144*; yoga, 90* to 300* (depending on the type of yoga)

    *Calories burned are approximate, based on a 150-pound person and will vary with intensity level. Consult your doctor before starting any exercise program.

    From www.makinglifebetter.com