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Research Briefs

Unhealthy ad-traction?
Normal-weight adolescents may be swayed more than their overweight peers by ads for unhealthy food, says a Dartmouth paper in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. Researchers led by Anna Adachi-Mejia, Ph.D., asked 2,300 kids age 10 to 13 from Vermont and New Hampshire to name their favorite TV ad. Less than a fifth of favorite commercials were for food, but favorite food ads were mostly for unhealthy foods. After controlling for sex, age, TV exposure, and other factors, they found that "overweight adolescents were significantly less likely to be receptive to food advertisements" than normal-weight adolescents.

Double jeopardy
Men with chronic kidney disease may have an increased risk of heart failure, says a paper in Circulation: Heart Failure. DHMC cardiologist Ravi Dhingra, M.D., led a 10-year study of 10,181 elderly men. He found that cardiovascular deaths or heart failures increased as liver function decreased, independent of alcohol intake, smoking history, and physical activity. The team concluded that men with moderate chronic kidney disease, even without diabetes or hypertension, were more than twice as likely to suffer heart failure or cardiovascular death than men with well-functioning kidneys.

DMS's Samir Soneji, Ph.D., reported in the journal Demographic Research that Americans are living up to 1.8 years longer than Social Security and Census projections, due to the decline in smoking.

A hard-hitting study
Smack! Collisions are part of the game of hockey, but just how often, how hard, and where do players get hit? Investigators from Dartmouth, Harvard, and Brown examined that question among 88 male and female collegiate hockey players, using specialized helmets. They found that men and women had about the same number of collisions but that men were hit with much greater force. More research is needed to understand why female players have higher rates of concussions despite lesser impacts, the authors wrote in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.

Hand it to these surgeons
A common hand procedure called carpal tunnel surgery costs less and takes less time when it's done in a doctor's clinic rather than in an operating room, according to a study by DHMC surgeons. Previous research found the procedure to be just as safe in either location, but the Dartmouth study revealed that it cost two to four times as much when performed in an OR; the profit margin was smaller, too, despite the higher cost. The study relied on DHMC data from 2007, but "it is highly likely that similar findings would hold true in other institutions," wrote Abhishek Chatterjee, M.D., and his coauthors in the Annals of Plastic Surgery.

DMS's James Sargent, M.D., noted for his studies of smoking in U.S. movies, advised researchers in India who documented the impact on Indian adolescents from smoking in Bollywood films.

Belt it out
Seatbelts and airbags when used together are a lot better at helping people survive a car crash than when either is used alone—or not at all. So found Dartmouth researchers in an analysis of 184,992 trauma patients between 1988 and 2004. "Compared with the no-device group, the seat-belt-plusair- bag group had a 67% reduction in mortality, . . . the seatbelt-only group had a 51% mortality reduction, . . . and the air-bagonly group had a 32% mortality reduction," wrote Kevin Spratt, Ph.D., et al. in the American Journal of Orthopedics. Injury severity scores showed a similar pattern.

Bad influence
The alcohol industry spends over $1 billion a year on ads that supposedly target adults. But such ads appear to influence adolescents, too, according to research led by DMS pediatrician Susanne Tanski, M.D., and published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. Based on responses from 2,700 teens, she found that adolescent drinkers favor highly advertised brands. Moreover, those who identified a favorite brand—Smirnoff was tops with girls, Budweiser with boys—were more likely to have binged in the previous month. And the more a brand spends on TV ads, the more likely adolescents were to name it.

Two Dartmouth pediatricians were invited to write an editorial in a major pediatric journal about a study documenting widespread use of multiple drugs in hospitalized children.

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