Pulse: Family Health

The best exercise for weight control, a youth cooking program, a beautiful union of stories and songs.

Good News!
drop in tobacco use rate* in Wisconsin teens from 2000 to 2012

*Refers to high schoolers reporting they currently use tobacco. (Source: “Youth Tobacco Use in Wisconsin and the United States,” a UW-Milwaukee report.)

The Desert is (Collard) Green

They plant seeds in February. In October, they prepare a feast with collards, carrots and other vegetables they harvest. That’s the full cycle kids get to experience through Farmfork Youth Cooking Program in Lindsay Heights, a low-income city neighborhood where fast food and items from gas station convenience stores dominate the culinary landscape.

Farmfork will grow in coming years, thanks to a $100,000 grant to its parent organization, Neu-Life Community Development. A totally remade commercial kitchen will allow more kids an opportunity to participate and take part in the “Top Chef”-for-teens competitions it hosts. A new van will give more neighbors rides to local farms to see firsthand how food is produced. And up to 200 more kids will get to partake in the regular farm-to-table meals served there.

There’s even talk of a “pop-up” restaurant.
– Dan Simmons

Ask a Trainer with Garrett Van Auken

Photo by Erich Schroeder.
Photo by Erich Schroeder.

What form of exercise is best for weight control?

While there’s no one exercise that’s best, I believe that strength training is the cornerstone. Weightlifting will result in bigger muscles, which require more calories and increase the resting metabolic rate. My philosophy with weight training is “the more the merrier”: The more body parts moving during a lift, the better. One, it helps the body coordinate and move in a more functional way. Two, more energy is needed and more calories are being burned. Three, you can get a phenomenal workout using relatively light weights.

Van Auken is health and fitness coordinator at the Milwaukee Athletic Club

Soothing Sickness with Songs

For a musician who is only 23, Milwaukeean Andi Heath has had quite a few highlights in her career, including playing not one but five sets at Summerfest 2016. But for Heath, the most memorable part of this year’s Big Gig was recording a song in a mobile studio for Sing Me a Story, a nonprofit organization that pairs musicians with stories written by kids undergoing treatment, including patients at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. The musicians turn the stories into songs, record them and make them available for the kids to listen to for free online.

Illustration by Kyle Fewell.
Illustration by Kyle Fewell.

The project has particular resonance for Heath, who underwent two open-heart surgeries by age 5. When she was 15, she was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis type II, a nerve disease that can lead to acoustic neuromas on the cochlea of the ear.

“That means that I’ll likely go deaf in my 30s or 40s,” Heath explains. “So when I found that out, I realized that there is a timeline on my music career. If I’m not going to have my hearing forever, then it’s go time.” Playing the guitar proved uncomfortable due to a tumor on her left shoulder, so Heath ultimately found her niche with the baritone ukulele.

Heath recorded her song during the downtime between her performances, as did other Summerfest performers. Heath turned a story provided by a 16-year-old patient named Haley about self-doubt and perseverance through struggles into a powerful piece of music.

Haley’s handwritten note begins: “My voice is small but mighty. Loud and sharp. Sometimes I can be harsh and blunt but I really don’t mean to be.” So begins Heath’s song, too, which stretches to a nearly four-minute ballad full of soul and nuance, bringing Haley’s words on the page to life in song.

To read the stories and listen to the songs, visit singmeastory.org. – Tom Conroy

Photo by iStock.
Photo by iStock.

What Ales You
If someone secretly lowered the alcohol in your beer from 6 percent to 4 percent, would you notice? According to a new report in the journal Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology, studies have found you wouldn’t notice, and the benefits of forgoing a small amount of booze would add up over time, lowering injury rates as well as those for liver diseases and cancer. That’s significant: In 2012, about 4 percent of Wisconsin deaths were attributable to alcohol, according to the state health department, and the World Health Organization says that for ages 20-39, alcohol plays a role in about a quarter of deaths. For now, you’ll need to police your own drinking. There’s no evidence of a conspiracy to water down your beer.

Affluence: The Key to Longevity

Average Lifespan:

1216_affluence2Wealthiest 25 Percent
Women  88
Men  85

Poorest 25 Percent
Women  81
Men  75

Roll Up Your Sleeves for That Flu Shot

No one likes getting a flu shot, so when drug maker AstraZeneca first won FDA approval for a nasal spray vaccine in 2012, it seemed like a victory for arm muscles everywhere. “Turn your nose into a flu-fighting force!” shouted one advertisement. The vaunted FluMist Quadrivalent treatment, designed to protect against four strains, contains “live attenuated” viruses, which are supposed to provide the most reliable form of inoculation. But still, the product didn’t work as advertised. In June, a CDC panel voted that FluMist “should not be used during the 2016-17 flu season” seeing as how research had found it to be only 3 percent effective, versus traditional injections, which worked 63 percent of the time. The kibosh is sending shock waves through health care, as the CDC says FluMist had risen to account for about a third of all flu vaccinations given to children.

‘Pulse: Family Health’ appears in Milwaukee Health, a special issue from Milwaukee Magazine.

Find the issue on newsstands beginning Monday, October 31, or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop.

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