Health

At the rate they're going, those nutritious-looking sprouts may disappear from sandwiches and salads near you in not too long. And that may be a good thing.

This week, the Beaumont, Tex.-based Jason's Deli chain announced that it would no longer serve fresh sprouts, citing frequent recalls due to bacterial contamination.

Obesity epidemic may have peaked in U.S.

Jan 17, 2012

The nation's obesity epidemic appears to have hit a plateau, according to the latest federal data released Tuesday.

Obesity soared in the U.S. during the 1980s and 1990s, doubling among adults and tripling among children. That raised widespread alarm and debate about the causes and possible solutions. Obesity can increase the risk for diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other serious health problems.

Washington schools superintendent Randy Dorn is expected Tuesday to endorse a state takeover of K-12 employee health care. But the union that represents Washington teachers is prepared to defend its decades-long role as a provider of health insurance.

The teachers’ union calls it a taxpayer “rip off” and government “boondoggle.” Fiery language to describe a plan to put the state of Washington in the driver’s seat when it comes to K-12 employee health benefits.

Clinics and hospitals that serve low-income people are holding candle-light vigils in Seattle, Yakima and Spokane this week to draw attention to proposed budget cuts they call devastating. After education, the second biggest slice of the state budget goes to health care, totaling about a third of the general fund.

Some community clinics are taking the desperate step of marketing themselves to people with private insurance. That's a big change for non-profits with a mission to serve the poor.

montchr / Flickr photo

The ability to smoke a cigarette on college campuses is becoming a subject for the history books.

Several colleges in the Pacific Northwest have banned smoking – not only in and around buildings as required by law – but everywhere on school grounds.

Zoe Cooley

Some of the longest relationships are the life-long ties between siblings. But that connection can get complicated when one sibling suffers from a mental illness.

Many support programs don’t focus much on the sibling relationships. Northwest News Network reporter Jessica Robinson recorded the story of two brothers: one in Moscow, Idaho, the other in Anchorage, Alaska. One has schizophrenia. The other grew up in the shadow of it.

Rajah Bose / Northwest News Network

Experts say mental health services for teens are especially inadequate in rural areas. That describes huge swaths of our region.

Michael Clapp / Northwest News Network

The research is clear that the key to keeping a mentally ill teen in treatment and out of trouble is early intervention. Yet, most counties in the Northwest do not offer comprehensive treatment to kids in the initial stages of a mental breakdown.

Every year in the Northwest, thousands of mentally ill teenagers get caught up in the juvenile justice system. In fact, some counties estimate more than half of the kids they place behind bars have a diagnosable mental health condition like schizophrenia, bi-polar or personality disorder. Yet many of these teens do not get the treatment they need. Instead, they cycle in and out of detention.

Idaho National Lab

The Idaho National Lab is monitoring 16 of its workers who were exposed to Plutonium 239. That isotope is used in nuclear weapons.

If you’ve ever wondered why your health insurance rate has gone up, that information is now public. Washington State’s Office of Insurance Commissioner has a new website that can help explain that.

Whenever an insurance company wants to raise rates for individual or small group plans, the Insurance Commissioner's Office reviews those requests. In the past, the agency could approve or reject the new rates, but it couldn't release any information behind the decision.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

There’s a major milestone this week in the cleanup of Seattle’s Duwamish River. Excavators are removing toxic sludge from one of the most polluted spots in the city’s industrial core. Completion of this work will allow cleanup on the rest of the river. 

But critics say there are already signs it won’t go far enough.

"zoomar" / flickr.com

The state of Washington is limiting Medicaid recipients to three non-emergency Emergency Room visits per year, beginning October 1st.

Visits over the limit won't be covered by Medicaid, and hospitals will be allowed to bill patients for those services.

Robin Cedar / KPLU

A brightly colored totem pole was given a send off celebration at the Seattle Center. The carved cedar log is embarking on a 4,000 mile journey.  It’s headed to the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., where it will be the centerpiece of an exhibit on Native American concepts of  healing. 

Update 3:58 p.m.: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Dr. Robert Tauxe, deputy director for the division of foodborne, bacterial and mycotic diseases, tells NPR's Richard Harris the bacterium seen in the European outbreak isn't brand new. Tauze identified it as E. coli O104:H4. "This organism that's been isolated from the sick people in Germany has been seen before," he says.

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