Healthy and Slim

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Activities Planned to Help Protect America’s Mental Health

America’s mental health has reached a crisis, and with the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Month, efforts to raise the conscience of Americans are taking place nationwide.

The Georgetown University Center for Global Health Science and Security partnered with the Office of the D.C. Auditor to evaluate the data available to quantify the impacts of COVID-19 on mental health across the District of Columbia.

In the study released on April 23, researchers identified more than 50 datasets related to behavioral health care service needs, supply, and demand at the local, regional, and national levels. 

Experts also found a notable increase in mental health diagnoses during the COVID-19 pandemic in D.C. 

The researchers concluded that investments in behavioral health data systems could lay the foundation for early solid warning systems to identify crises and target responses across all levels of the behavioral system.

“Given the wide range of patient needs, care providers, and services offered, layered analysis and interventions are needed to understand ongoing and emergent needs related to behavioral health in the District,” the researchers determined.

“Accordingly, stakeholders involved in response need access to timely, publicly available data to inform these efforts.”

 Meanwhile, experts note that mental health challenges like eating disorders have also increased.

According to a recent JAMA report, “a common misconception is that eating disorders affect a specific type of person: the media’s portrayals are not always accurate.”

In the United States, the organization said eating disorders already affect 28.8 million people, and those aged 12 through 25 comprise 95% of cases. 

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) reported that eating disorders are severe mental and physical illnesses affecting “all genders, ages, races, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, body shapes, and weights.”

These disorders have the second-highest mortality rate of all mental health disorders, surpassed only by opioid

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Food, Family, and Good Nutrition

In the United States, millions of events such as holidays, birthdays, and weddings are marked with small celebrations that embrace food, family, and friends. The special foods associated with these occasions convey traditions of gathering and expressions of gratitude. Other cultures around the world honor their own food traditions, often linked with religious events and other remembrances.

To the extent that people can afford them, the meals consumed on these occasions are often rich in nutritional content as well as historical meaning. Special dishes laden with protein, fats, and sugar signal a deep sense of abundance and well-being. Indeed, there may be some scrimping on the resources allocated to the daily meals before or after the holiday in order to meet the needs of the celebratory feasts.

But holiday meals are the exception. They do not reflect optimal dietary standards or sustained patterns of healthy eating. Nearly 40 percent of the world’s population cannot afford to acquire healthy diets on any given day, leading to endemic levels of malnutrition. In other places, acute food insecurity (a severe lack of food) is the result of persistent drought, extreme flooding, conflict, or other factors. According to the World Food Program, nearly 50 million people are estimated to be teetering on the edge of famine, unable to access even the minimum quantity of calories needed for survival. 

The global nutritional picture is one of high contrast. Even in countries experiencing widespread hunger, a substantial number of people are, at the same time, eating diets that symbolize abundance but that literally make them sick. The foods they eat contain more calories than their bodies need or include too few of the micronutrients (iron, zinc, Vitamin A, among others) that are needed for good health. Unhealthy diets are contributing to alarming levels of obesity and

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