Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Four Loko poses threat to teens

This column was written prior to the FDA decision to issue an ultimatum that has forced the makers of Four Loko to remove caffeine from their product.

By Dr. Anthony Policastro

I have often written about the dangers of alcohol use in young teens who are not aware of how quickly alcohol can build up in the body. Now there is a new threat in the form of a flavored beverage called Four Loko. This beverage comes in a 23.5 ounce can, about twice the size of a can of beer. The beverage contains 12% alcohol, about twice what beer contains. The result is that one can of this is equal to about four cans of beer. For a 100 pound person, that would mean that one can would result in a blood level of 0.1. This is well above the current legal limit. For a 150 pound person, one can would give a blood level of 0.067. That is close to the legal limit. In addition to the alcohol, the can also contains about as much caffeine as a cup of coffee. Thus someone who drinks it would be more wide awake than someone who drinks alcohol alone because alcohol tends to make people sleepy. The result of the combination of alcohol and caffeine can be dangerous. Many emergency rooms across the country are now treating alcohol poisoning due to this beverage. There are people who drink a six pack of beer at a single setting. The result is a blood alcohol between 0.1 and 0.15 depending upon their weight. If someone decides to try drinking a six pack of Four Loko, their blood alcohol would be between 0.4 and 0.6. Both of those levels can be fatal. The individual might decide to only drink 72 ounces of Four Loko, the same volume as a six pack of beer. However, because of the high alcohol content, it would still produce levels of between 0.2 and 0.3. Both of those can produce significant alcohol poisoning. One real concern about this beverage is that it is relatively cheap. For that reason, people can afford to buy it in large quantities making it more available than more expensive alcoholic drinks. It is not likely that the people who decide to drink Four Loko are going to pay attention to the alcoholic content. For that reason we all have an obligation to spread the word. Six cans in a single night can kill you. Three cans in a single night can land you in the emergency room. Unfortunately, there will be some families that will find out the hard way.

Holiday eating - it's about portions

By Mary Trotter, MS, RD, LDN

The holidays can put even the most health conscious parents to the test when it comes to keeping their family's healthy habits on track. With leftover Halloween candy sitting around the house, Thanksgiving stuffing and Christmas cookies just around the corner, it's no wonder we're all resolving to some diet or another by New Years Day. So, what can we do to make sure our healthy habits don't get lost in the hustle and bustle of the holidays? Rather than trying to eliminate the holiday goodies altogether, it's more realistic to try to enjoy them moderately as a family. It's okay for you and your family to enjoy the holiday meals and treats as long as you are enjoying sensible portions. So what does a sensible portion look like? Obviously, children need smaller portions than adults to meet their nutrition needs and to fill them up. To help with this, consider that our youngest children should start with one-third the portion of an adult for meat, poultry or fish. The adult serving is about 3 ounces or the size of a deck of cards. Kids 3 to 6 years of age should start with half the adult serving (one and a half ounces) and older children can start with 2 or more ounces. The appropriate serving of grains for children 1 to 6 years of age is a quarter cup. For all over 6 years of age, it's a half cup of grains. Fruits and vegetables servings should be a half cup for all but the youngest group. Start with a quarter cup for children 1 to 3 years of age. Remember more is better for fruits and vegetables. Sensible tips for your family

  • Children and adults behave the same way when there is a large amount of food on the plate - both tend to eat more of what they like best if it's on the plate. So start with the right portion size and then let your children ask for seconds if they are still hungry.
  • Serve your meal family style if possible - this allows kids to put the right amount on the plate from the start and teaches them how to make healthy choices.
  • Create a positive eating environment and listen when a child tells you he or she is full. Try and get rid of the "clean your plate" habit.
  • Avoid rewarding good behavior with foods of any kind. A hug, praise, extra playtime and stickers are all good alternatives.
  • Fill half of everyone's plate – adults and kids – with fruits and vegetables.
  • Use smaller plates and use small glasses for drinks too.
  • Try to avoid the idea that dessert is a reward for eating the "healthy food" or cleaning the plate. Make dessert a special treat, rather than part of the everyday meal.
  • Be a role model, practice portion control and put the right amount on your plate too.
  • Many people forget to consider their beverage choices; the beverage is part of the meal too. For children ages two and up, choose a healthy beverage like water or fat-free or 1-percent milk (choose whole milk for tots 12 to 24 months old). Three-quarters of a cup (6 ounces) of milk is all young kids need at meal time. If they are still thirsty, offer water to finish out the meal.
Of course, these tips aren't just for the holidays. Portion control is important to follow everyday. The great thing about taking the approach of moderation during the holidays is that it will teach your children a healthy way to enjoy their favorite foods year-round.

For more information on portion control and healthy eating habits, visit

About the author Mary Trotter is a senior program and policy analyst for Nemours Health & Prevention Services. A registered dietitian with a master's degree in human nutrition, Trotter provides technical assistance, training and staff support to community agencies, organizations and coalitions implementing new health promotion strategies.

Beare joines Nanticoke Health Nanticoke Health Services welcomes Nurse Practitioner Jennifer Beare, MSN, RN, FNP-BC to the Nanticoke Physician Network. Beare has joined the Nanticoke Family Practice Center in Seaford. Beare received her master of science in nursing, family nurse practitioner from Wilmington University.She has worked at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital since 2003 as a staff nurse/charge nurse in the Mother & Baby Care Center. She has also worked as a clinical instructor at Salisbury University and a flex-pool staff nurse in the Mother-Baby unit at Peninsula Regional Medical Center. Her professional memberships include Sigma Theta Tau, Honor Society of Nursing, American Nurses Association, Delaware Nurses Association and the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses.

Get your flu shot Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH) continues to urge all Delawareans 6 months of age and older to get vaccinated against the flu, a highly contagious virus. On Nov. 16, the DPH lab confirmed a case of H1N1 flu in a 50-year-old New Castle County man who is recovering at home. This serves as a reminder that people should get vaccinated as soon as possible. This year, the seasonal flu vaccine protects against three likely flu strains, including the H1N1 virus, and is readily available through medical providers, pharmacies and DPH clinics. It is especially important that the following groups get their flu shots as soon as possible:
  • Pregnant women and their household contacts;
  • Caregivers and household contacts of children younger than 6 months, since those children are too young to receive the vaccine;
  • Seniors;
  • Those with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems.
DPH offers free flu shots at health clinics in all three counties. Visit for flu clinic schedules and other flu information.

Breast cancer support group Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, Inc. (DBCC) has expanded its Beginning Your Pink Ribbon Journey, a program for women newly-diagnosed with breast cancer, by partnering with Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center in Seaford. The free, monthly program is offered at the Cancer Center located at 801 Middleford Road, Seaford, the third Thursday of each month from 3 to 4 p.m. The program is facilitated by Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center professional staff - Terri A. Clifton, MS, NCC, Cancer Care coordinator; Mary Brown, RN, DSN, manager Cancer Care Center; and Wendy Polk, nutritionist - with assistance from Lois Wilkinson, DBCC special projects manager, who helps facilitate the program at Bayhealth. Of particular value to newly-diagnosed women is DBCC's Peer Mentor Program through which they are paired with a long-term survivor for one-on-one support. To learn more about Beginning Your Pink Ribbon Journey at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center, call Lois Wilkinson at 672-6435. Registration is required and light refreshments and small gifts are provided.

Cancer Support Group The Wellness Community-Delaware offers a general cancer support group for people affected by cancer and their loved ones held at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital. The monthly support group meets in the second floor conference room of the Cancer Care center on the third Monday of each month from 4:30 to 6 p.m. The next meeting takes place on Dec. 20 at 4:30 p.m. The Wellness Community, an affiliate of the Cancer Support community, is dedicated to helping people affected by cancer enhance their health and well-being through participation in a professional program of emotional support and hope. Facilitators are trained mental health professionals with a master's degree or more. Call 645-9150 for information or to register. All support groups offered at the Wellness Community are free of charge. This program is made possible by the support of Nanticoke Memorial Hospital.

Bereavement luncheons Delaware Hospice's "New Beginnings" bereavement luncheons are an informal way to meet and talk with others, who have had similar loss experiences. Lunch begins at noon and is followed by a brief program.The location rotates each week of the month according to the following schedule:
  • 1st Thursday: Grottos Pizza, Rte. 26, Bethany Beach;
  • 2nd Thursday: Georgia House, 300 Delaware Ave., Laurel;
  • 3rd Thursday: Millsboro Pizza Palace, Rt. 113-southbound lane, Millsboro;
  • 4th Thursday: Blue Ocean Grill (formerly Milton House), 200 Broadkill Rd., Milton;
  • 5th Thursday (when applicable): Texas Grill (formerly Ocean Point Grill), 26089 Long Neck Rd., Millsboro.
"New Beginnings" luncheons are open to the public. Registration is not required.There is no fee except the cost of your lunch. For more information, call Carol Dobson or Paul Ganster at 856-7717.