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Health Beat

• Though more than 10 million Americans suffer from eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, few recognize the extent to which these disorders affect individuals outside of adolescence and young adulthood. The Eating Disorders Program at the University of North Carolina noted that since 2003, half of its patients have been adults, which is a noticeable change from previous years. Experts say that doctors fail to diagnose older women with eating disorders because they mistake symptoms – such as stopping menstruating, anemia or osteoporosis – for menopause.

• Though the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf was more than a year ago, symptoms of mental illness are still a concern for response workers and community members involved in the recovery. According to LSU Health Sciences Center chair of Psychiatry Dr. Howard Osofsky, “Many communities affected by the Gulf oil spill were still recovering form Hurricane Katrina at the time of the Gulf oil spill, which increased the complexity of the response.” He says in a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine that the city is in need of improved services to deal with the psychological aftermath of such disasters. Osofsky and his colleagues have noted more than 52,000 responders with symptoms of mental and physical health problems since the oil spill.

• HealthGrades recently named Ochsner Clinic Foundation among the top five percent in the nation for emergency medicine for the second consecutive year. (See New Orleans Magazine February 2011 issue.) Ochsner is the only facility in Louisiana to receive the award for excellence in emergency medicine in 2011 and is only one of 195 nationwide to win the honor two years in a row.

• A recent study by Yale University’s Rudd Center for Obesity Research and Policy showed that food addiction and drug addiction work similarly in the brain. When 48 young women of varied body types were offered a chocolate milkshake, the sight triggered activity in the anterior cingulated cortex and the medial orbitofrontal cortex, both areas of the brain that have been connected to a drug addict’s cravings.

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