TIME Healthcare

Chilean 14-Year-Old With Cystic Fibrosis Asks To Be Allowed To Die

'I am tired of living with this disease'

A video of a 14-year-old Chilean girl with cystic fibrosis asking to be allowed to die has captured attention across the Spanish-speaking world and launched a debate about the right-to-die movement in a region with strong Catholic influence.

“I am asking to speak urgently to the president because I am tired of living with this disease, and she can authorize the injection to put me to sleep forever,” said a teary-eyed Valentina Maureira, addressing Chilean President Michelle Bachelet.

The video, which Spanish media outlets said had been posted to Facebook Sunday evening, shows Maureira sitting on a hospital bed speaking directly to the camera. She explained later that she was “tired of continuing to fight,” according to a translation of a BBC interview. Cystic fibrosis—a genetic disorder that causes problems in the respiratory, digestive and reproductive systems—is a terminal illness that typically results in death in a person’s 30s. In Chile, one in 8,000 newborns has been diagnosed with the disease in recent years, the BBC reported.

Fredy Maureira, Valentina’s father, told radio station Bío Bío Chile that the video had come as a surprise to him, though he said he knew that his daughter had been unhappy in recent months.

“I told her: ‘Daughter, if you want to fight, we will fight. You know how your disease is,'” he told the BBC.

It seems unlikely that Bachelet could authorize the procedure. Presidential spokesperson Alvaro Elizalde said that euthanasia violates Chilean law. Instead, he said, the government would provide Maureira with medical and mental health resources.

“We have to be completely clear, the current norm, the current law in Chile does not allow the government to agree to a request of this nature,” he said, according to Reuters.

The story had spread throughout the Spanish-speaking world by Thursday, with major Spanish language outlets on three continents covering the news, and inspired thousands of Facebook likes.

“I did not think it would get so high,” she told the BBC. “I liked it because [it] motivates people. And this [disease] is a reality.”

TIME Diet/Nutrition

13 Ways to Stop Drinking Soda for Good

soda-pouring-cup
Getty Images

Try giving up the sweet taste for two weeks

You know soda’s not exactly good for you—but at the same time, it can be hard to resist. Its sweet taste, pleasant fizz, and energizing jolt often seems like just what you need to wash down your dinner, get you through an afternoon slump, or quench your thirst at the movies.

But the more soda you consume (regular or diet), the more hazardous your habit can become. And whether you’re a six-pack-a-day drinker or an occasional soft-drink sipper, cutting back can likely have benefits for your weight and your overall health. Here’s why you should be drinking less, plus tips on how to make the transition easier.

Why you should quit

The biggest risk for regular soda drinkers is the excess calories, says Lona Sandon, RD, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. “The calories in regular soda are coming entirely from added sugar, and you’re not getting any value in terms of vitamins or minerals, or even good quality carbohydrates,” she says.

But soda may also be causing other types of harm. Studies have shown that its consumption is linked with tooth decay and diabetes, and it also seems to be bad for your bones. “It may have something to do with the phosphorus in soda, or it could be that people are drinking soda instead of other beverages—like milk—that have nutrients necessary for healthy bones,” Sandon says.

But what about diet soda?

Sugar-free sodas may not have any calories, but that doesn’t mean they’re any good for you. In fact, they may not even help you lose weight. (Research on this topic has been mixed, at best, but several studies have shown that diet soda drinkers are more likely to be overweight or obese than regular soda drinkers.)

Plus, diet drinks have many of the same health risks as regular soft drinks, including tooth decay and bone thinning, and they’ve also been linked to heart disease and depression in women. Switching to diet sodas may be a smart first step if you’re trying to eliminate excess calories, says Sandon, but your best bet is to eventually give them up, too.

Wean yourself off slowly

That news may be enough to convince you that you should stop drinking soda, but it could still be easier said than done. “People really can become addicted to soda, so you have to be a realist and not an idealist,” says nutritionist Stefanie Sacks, author of the forthcoming book What the Fork Are You Eating?. “I don’t recommend going cold turkey; you need to wean yourself off, just like you would anything you’ve become dependent on.”

If you typically drink multiple servings of soda a day, Sacks suggests first cutting back to one a day. Give that two weeks, then switch to three sodas a week. “It gives you a chance to adjust gradually, which should lead to real, sustainable change,” says Sacks.

Read more: 27 Mistakes Healthy People Make

Mix it with water

Sandon also recommends weaning yourself slowly off soda, and sometimes suggests that her clients start drinking half-soda, half-water. “You’re automatically drinking less and hydrating and filling up with water, which is a good thing,” she says.

But there’s an added advantage, as well: “It cuts back on the sweetness you get from soda, which is one of the things people get really used to. If you’re drinking less sugar, your taste buds will change and soon you won’t need that sweetness anymore.”

Start tracking your calories

If you’re blindly throwing back colas without stopping to think of their impact on your waistline, you could be in for a rude awakening: Each 12-ounce can of Coke, for example, contains 140 calories, while a 20-ounce bottle has 240. (In comparison, here are some smarter snacks for just 200 calories—with filling protein and fiber, to boot.)

Downloading a calorie-tracking app may help you realize just how much those beverages can affect your daily calorie consumption—as long as you actually log in and record each serving. Instead of pouring yourself refill after refill, start paying attention to how much you’re actually drinking; once you do, you may be more willing to cut back.

Do the exercise math

Another way to quantify the calories you’re drinking is by thinking about how much exercise it would take to burn them off. In a 2014 Johns Hopkins University study, researchers placed signs in corner stores stating that a 20-ounce bottle of soda would take 5 miles of walking or 50 minutes of jogging to burn off.

These “advertisements” worked: When teenager customers saw these signs, they were more likely to buy a smaller soda, a water, or no drink at all. “When you explain calories in an easily understandable way such as how many miles of walking needed to burn them off, you can encourage behavior change,” said the study authors.

Read more: 10 Reasons to Give Up Diet Soda

Switch to unsweetened tea

Need that jolt of caffeine to wake up in the morning? If you’re not a coffee drinker, Sandon suggests sipping on unsweetened iced tea instead. “It can be just as refreshing, and there are real health benefits to drinking the phytochemicals in tea,” she says.

If you don’t like the taste of plain tea, mix in some lemon, mint, or a small amount of sugar or artificial sweetener—at least during your transition-from-soda phase. The important thing is that you’re aware of, and in charge of, exactly what’s going into your drink and how much is added.

Drink a glass of water first

Whenever the urge to drink a soda hits, fill up a big glass of ice water and finish that first. “A lot of times, people drink soda just because they’re bored, or they’re thirsty, and that’s what’s available or that’s what they’re used to,” says Sacks.

If you’re still craving a soda after you’ve downed your H2O, then you can reconsider whether it’s really worth it—but chances are your thirst will be quenched and you’ll feel satisfied from just the water. (You can make this work while you’re out and about, too, by always carrying a bottle of water with you.)

Treat yourself to natural brands

When Sacks has successfully weaned her clients down to just a few sodas a week, she often recommends they switch to a brand with fewer artificial ingredients. “They’re more expensive, but you’ll be drinking them less often,” she says. Sacks likes Grown Up Soda, Santa Cruz Organics, and Blue Sky because they don’t contain high-fructose corn syrup or artificial ingredients, and generally contain less sugar than the big brands. “They’re an overall healthier choice, especially if you’re only drinking them occasionally.”

Read more: 12 Strange-But-True Health Tricks

Give seltzer a try

If it’s carbonation you crave, try drinking plain or flavored seltzer water, suggests Sacks. You can buy seltzer by the bottle, or make your own at home with a SodaStream machine ($69, amazon.com).

“Toss a little fruit juice in there for flavor, and eventually change that juice to fresh-squeezed citrus,” says Sacks. “That way you still get the bubbles that you love in soda, but you’re in control of how much sweetness and sugar is added.”

Class up your water

Even still water (or non-bubbly) can be made more palatable with the addition of some fruit or natural flavors. “People tell me they don’t like water, but often they just need to experiment with new ways to drink it,” says Sandon.

She recommends adding lemon, orange, or cucumber slices to a pitcher of water in your refrigerator, which can serve as a detour when you go hunting for a cold soda. Frozen berries and fresh mint can also be tasty additions to a cold glass of H2O.

Buy caffeine-free

If you drink a lot of soda and you’re not quite ready to give it up, try buying caffeine-free versions instead. You may start drinking less without even realizing it, suggests a 2015 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition. In the study, participants were split into two groups and all told to drink as much soda as they’d like for the next 28 days. (One group got regular, one group got caffeine-free.) Even though there was no noticeable taste difference between the two, the caffeinated group drank 53% more over the next month—about 5 ounces a day. When our bodies get used to regular caffeine, we crave more of it, say the study authors, prompting us to drink more.

Read more: 7 Easy Ways to Drink More Water

Steer clear of soda triggers

You may notice that you only drink soda in certain places or situations: In the afternoon at the office, for example, or when you eat at a certain restaurant. You may not be able to completely avoid these scenarios—you’ve still got to go to work and should still enjoy eating out—but you may be able to change those bad habits.

If it’s the office vending machine that tempts you to buy a soda every day, try to stay away from it in the afternoon—and pack your own healthy beverage or a refillable water bottle so you have an alternative. Or if you tend to crave soda with a certain type of food, try restaurants that offer other options instead.

Try it for two weeks

Weaning yourself off something gradually works best for most people, says Sacks, but some may want to try the cold turkey approach. If you plan to go that route, think of it as a temporary change: Giving soda up for two weeks or a month may be easier and more manageable than ditching it forever.

The best part about this trick? Once your time is up, you may not even want to go back to soda—at least not at the frequency you drank it before. “We acquire a taste for sugar depending on how much we have on a daily basis,” says Sandon. “If you cut out soda for a while, you may be surprised at how sweet it tastes ones you go back.” (Want extra help with the cold-turkey method? Enlist friends to take the challenge with you.)

Save it for special occasions

Once you’re able to break your regular soda habit and the drink loses its grip on you, it can be treated just like any other junk food: If you really love the taste, there’s nothing wrong with an occasional indulgence, says Sacks. “If it’s your gotta-have-it food, then by all means splurge on a soda now and then,” she says. In fact, knowing that you can have a soda on your cheat day or during a special night out may help you resist them on a more regular basis. “Just do it from a place of education: If you understand that soda is essentially just sugar and artificial flavorings, then you can be more smart about when or if you’re going to drink it.”

Read more: 14 Surprising Causes of Dehydration

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME Infectious Disease

Deadly Stomach Bug Infects About Half a Million in U.S. Each Year, Study Shows

Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, was linked to 27,000 deaths last year

Nearly half a million Americans are infected by a deadly stomach bug every year, according to a recent report.

A study funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that an estimated 453,000 cases of Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, infection in the United States in 2011, which resulted in 29,000 deaths. That’s almost double prior infection estimates.

C. diff bacteria release toxins that drugs can’t fight; those infected usually contract it from hospitals or health care related settings, though sickness typically occurs after one leaves the hospital. A new, more severe strain of the bacteria was discovered in 2000. Ordinary antibiotics and hand sanitizers are considered no match for the bug, which causes severe diarrhea, inflammation and sepsis.

The CDC says that soap and water are essential to stopping its spread, NBC News reports. The Department of Health and Human Services will begin punishing hospitals that fail to reduce rates of C. diff in their facilities by 2017.

Read next: Measles Outbreak in U.S. Tops 150 Cases

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Heart Disease

Risk for Stroke is Greater in People Who Oversleep

Getty Images

Regularly sleeping over eight hours may be a sign of a serious health risk

Oversleeping feels like a treat on the weekend, but regularly sleeping too much is actually a sign that there may be a medical problem at play. According to a new study, people who sleep more than eight hours a day have a higher risk for a stroke compared to people who sleep between six and eight hours.

In the new study, published in the journal Neurology, researchers followed nearly 10,000 people between the ages of 42 and 81 for almost 10 years. They recorded both the amount of sleep they typically got each night, as well as whether they had a stroke.

Around seven out of 10 of the men and women slept between six and eight hours, and about one in 10 slept more than eight hours a night on average. The people who slept the most had a 46% higher than average risk of stroke when the researchers accounted for other variables that could contribute to risk. Their risk was about double that of people who reported getting a typical amount of shut eye each night.

Though the study only shows an association, but it’s fairly surprising since in the past, sleep deprivation has been linked to a greater stroke risk, too. The researchers speculate that long nights of sleep may be linked to increased inflammation, which can eventually lead to cardiovascular problems.

“Prolonged sleep might be a useful marker of increased stroke risk in older people, and should be tested further for its utility in clinical practice,” the authors conclude. Stroke isn’t the only risk that’s linked to sleeping too much. Physicians sometimes use sleep duration as a indicator for how well a patient is feeling. Getting too much sleep can often mean something under the hood is off.

“If people are sleeping too much, it’s a bad sign,” says Dr. David Gozal, a pediatric sleep disorders physician at the University of Chicago Medicine. “Very few people can sleep more than what they need. It’s a sign there is an underlying health-related problem, whether it’s depression, cancer, or neurological deterioration. It’s usually not a good thing.” Gozal was not involved in the study.

If you like to sleep in on the weekends, don’t fret. Occasionally spending extra time in bed is likely not a bad sign, experts say, but when it becomes a regular habit, it might be worth checking out. For now, the researchers of the new study say their findings need further investigation, and priority should be given to understanding the underlying mechanisms.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

5 Things You Should Know About Cholesterol

butter
Getty Images

Recent research shows no substantial relationship between the consumption of dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol levels

Cholesterol seems to be one of those words that’s in everyone’s vocabulary, but many of my clients are incredibly confused about what cholesterol is, and how it affects their health. It also happens to be buzzing in the media at the moment, thanks to a new report from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, a group of top nutrition researchers who advise the government about what and how Americans should be eating.

If you’re feeling a little perplexed by all this cholesterol talk, here’s a simple breakdown of what you really need to know.

Cholesterol is only found in animal-based foods

There are two types: dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol. Dietary cholesterol is the cholesterol found in foods, and only foods of animal origin contain it, because animals’ bodies naturally produce this waxy, fat-like substance. So when you eat an animal-based food (think eggs, dairy, meat, seafood) you’re ingesting cholesterol that an animal’s body produced. Plant-based foods do not contain any cholesterol, so if you see a jar of nut butter marked “cholesterol free” know that they didn’t remove the cholesterol—it just wasn’t there to begin with.

Read more: 16 Most Misleading Food Labels

Cholesterol is essential for your health

Even if you ate zero animal foods, you’d still have cholesterol in your body. That’s because your liver produces cholesterol and it’s needed for several key functions, including the making of hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help you digest food. While cholesterol is vital, it isn’t considered to be an essential nutrient, meaning something you must obtain from foods, like vitamin C or potassium. That’s because your body produces all of the cholesterol it needs.

Read more: 27 Mistakes Healthy People Make

There are “good” and “bad” types of cholesterol in your blood

The two types of blood cholesterol you hear about most often are HDL (the “good” kind; think happy cholesterol) and LDL (the “bad” kind; think lousy cholesterol). HDL and LDL are actually carriers of cholesterol called lipoproteins. HDL is good because it carries cholesterol away from arteries and back to the liver, where it can be removed from your body. LDL—the bad type—has the opposite effect. Too much LDL can lead to a build-up, which clogs and narrows arteries, and creates inflammation. This chain of events can lead to a sudden rupture, which sends a clot into the bloodstream, causing a heart attack and/or stroke.

Read more: 9 Subtle Signs You Could Have a Heart Problem

Dietary cholesterol may not impact blood cholesterol as much as previously thought

The old thinking was that consuming dietary cholesterol added to the cholesterol that your body naturally produces, thus raising the amount in your blood. This was perceived to be risky, because too much blood cholesterol has been shown to up the risk of heart disease, the top killer of both men and women. One often-cited statistic is that every 1% increase in total blood cholesterol is tied to a 2% increase in the risk of heart disease.

For many years, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommended that dietary cholesterol should be limited to no more than 300 mg per day. To put that in perspective, one egg yolk contains about 185 mg, three ounces of shrimp contains about 130 mg, two ounces of 85% lean ground beef about 60 mg, and one tablespoon of butter about 30 mg. The brand new report eliminated this cap, however, because the committee believes that the research shows no substantial relationship between the consumption of dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol levels. As such, they concluded, “Cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.”

Read more: 14 Things Heart Doctors Tell Their Friends

The new guidelines aren’t carte blanche to other kinds of animal fat

Nearly every media outlet covered the release of the report from the Dietary Guidelines committee, zeroing in on the omission of cholesterol limits—but that doesn’t mean it’s now healthy to go out and down cheeseburgers and pepperoni pizzas. The committee is still concerned about the relationship between blood cholesterol and saturated fat from foods like cheese.

You may have heard about another recent report, which concluded that a lower intake of saturated fat wasn’t linked to a lower risk of heart disease. That’s true, but it’s not the whole story, because the risk really lies in what you replace the saturated fat-laden foods with. When people curb saturated fat, but eat more carbohydrates, they lower protective levels of “good” HDL cholesterol, and drive up triglycerides (a type of blood fat), a combo that may actually up the risk of heart disease. But numerous studies have shown that replacing foods like butter and cheese with plant-based fats like almond butter, avocado, and olive oil can help lower heart disease risk.

Bottom line: the number one message from the new Dietary Guidelines report is that we all need to be eating less sugar and processed foods, and more plants, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and lentils. So if you have cholesterol from something like eggs, pair them with other whole, nutrient-rich plant foods, like veggies and avocado, combined with some fruit, black beans, sweet potato, or quinoa. That’s good nutrition.

Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

8 Things You Don’t Know About Supplements

483106863
Getty Images

The author of a new book about vitamins shares some tips

In early February, the New York Times reported that New York attorney general Eric T. Schneiderman launched an investigation into some of the largest supplement retailers. DNA testing revealed that 79% of supplements tested did not contain what the labels on their bottles claimed, though the industry criticized the testing methods used by the attorney general.

The wild, mysterious world of vitamins and dietary supplements is the subject of author Catherine Price’s new book Vitamania. Here’s what she thinks every American needs to know before popping another over-the-counter pill.

1. Vitamins and supplements are not required to undergo safety or efficacy testing before they’re sold. “I feel like people don’t really think about the implications of that,” says Price. “I could pretty much create something this afternoon in my kitchen and sell it and not have to do any kind of testing ahead of time.” That’s not to say all supplements are not safe; it’s just to say that the companies that make them don’t have to show evidence of their safety before they go to market.

2. There’s no regulatory definition for a “multivitamin.” “If you buy a multivitamin from Centrum, it could be totally different from a different company’s product,” says Price. That’s confusing if you’re trying to compare brands while you shop.

3. Vitamins and supplements are not the same thing. There are only 13 vitamins: vitamins A, C, D, E, K and eight B vitamins. Supplements are any substance you ingest by mouth that’s intended to supplement the diet. “While vitamins are dietary supplements, all dietary supplements are not vitamins,” says Price. “There are an estimated 85,000 dietary supplements in the U.S. marketplace.”

4. Most dietary supplement ingredients and vitamins are not made in America. Sometimes the pills may be manufactured in the U.S., but the raw ingredients typically come from out of the country. “A large percentage of the ingredients in dietary supplements come from China, and there are nearly no vitamin manufacturing plants in America,” says Price. “Considering how dependent we are on vitamins and fortified foods to meet our needs, it’s surprising how dependent we are on other countries to keep us healthy.”

5. It’s difficult to tell if a supplement is of good quality. “People ask me all the time, ‘How do I pick a good dietary supplement?'” says Price. “The unfortunate thing is that given the state of regulation right now, that is an extremely difficult question to answer.” Looking for evidence that the product has been tested by a third party can help. She recommends visiting sites like the subscription-based site ConsumerLab.com, which randomly tests products, and the similar company LabDoor. There are also two independent verification programs called United States Pharmacopeia (USP) and NSF International (NSF). “If you are a supplement user, you should really use these to help pick your brands,” says Price.

6. Dietary supplements can be spiked with prescription drugs. The three biggest categories where this can happen are weight loss, body building and sexual enhancement, Price says. “What I like to tell people is that if you think your Chinese herbal supplement is just as good as Viagra, it’s probably because it has Viagra in it,” she says with a laugh. You can read more about some of these cases here.

7. More is not better. Taking more vitamins or supplements does not provide extra benefit and could cause harm. Be sure to tell your doctor what you are taking, since supplements can negatively interact with your other medications, and respect the upper-limit dose suggestions on the bottle.

8. You probably ingest supplements even if you don’t realize it. “There’s so much fortification in our food supply that for most people you are probably getting a multivitamin just from the foods you are eating,” says Price. “Most people don’t need to get a separate multivitamin.” In some cases, supplements are needed. For instance, Price agrees with the recommendation that women of child bearing age take folic acid to prevent birth defects.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Better Grocery Stores Alone Can’t Improve Kids’ Diets, Study Finds

105783758
Getty Images

Even if you build them, they won’t come, says the latest study on finding ways to get more healthy foods to young children

There’s been a lot of talk lately about food deserts and lack of access to healthy, nutritious food for many families living in rural and lower-income urban areas. So the solution seems to be to increase the availability of healthier fare, and what better way than to build a full service supermarket in the neighborhoods without one?

That’s what a government-sponsored program called Health Food Financing Initiative does, enticing supermarket chains to build stores in lower income areas with favorable tax credits. These stores are also required to meet some criteria meant to make the most of their presence in areas where fresh and nutritious foods are harder to come by. In New York, for example, the state program requires that at least 30% of a store’s floor space be devoted to perishable foods like produce and fruit, with at least 500 square feet dedicated specifically to fresh produce.

MORE: How the Nation’s Nutrition Panel Thinks You Should Be Eating

A new study published in journal Public Health Nutrition looked at whether the supermarkets are actually making a difference. Brian Elbel, associate professor of population health and health policy at New York University School of Medicine, and his colleagues compared eating habits in families in a part of the Bronx with a new supermarket and in a close by neighborhood without one.

To capture any change in the families’ food-buying habits over time, the researchers stopped parents on the street in these neighborhoods and asked them questions about their eating and food buying patterns, and then called the participants around six months later, and again a year after that first encounter.

The results were sobering. While there was an increase in those who said they shopped at the supermarket between the first and second rounds of questioning, that difference disappeared a year later. What the families were buying also didn’t change much, despite the supermarket selling fresh and healthy foods. At the start of the study 77% of those living in the neighborhood with the new supermarket said they had fresh fruits and vegetables in their homes, which dropped to 68% by the second follow up. The other neighborhood, however, showed a similar decline, from 78% to 65%.

MORE: Most Schools Still Don’t Meet Federal Nutrition Standards

In fact, both neighborhoods showed similar changes in food-buying trends, including positive ones such as a decrease in the availability of cookies, cakes, pastries and salty snacks in the home, so Elbel says it’s not possible to attribute them to the presence of the supermarket in the one community.

“It’s very clear that a supermarket alone does bring access to healthy food,” says Elbel. “But at the same time, does it bring unhealthy stuff, and introduce new products to the neighborhood that weren’t there before? Potentially.”

While healthy foods were available at the store, for example, they were not always the most affordable items, or the ones that the store promoted with special discounts or deals. Cost, it seems, overrules nutrition for many families making food-buying decisions.

While programs to increase the availability of full service food stores are laudable, Elbel says his results highlight the fact that access isn’t the only answer. “We can definitely imagine criteria that would make it more stringent for stores to qualify for these programs, and provide more detail on how the store is structured, what products are promoted or which products are available and how they are priced,” he says. “The question is, if we provide the tax credits and these constraints, will stores still be interested in opening in [food desert] neighborhoods? I don’t know.”

MORE: Nearly 60% Of People Use Nutrition Info on Menus

It’s also possible that the supermarket didn’t have the impact public health officials anticipated because the neighborhoods already had reasonable access — a train or bus ride away — to full service stores, before the new store opened. Almost 90% of the participants said they shopped at a supermarket, not convenience stores, for meals they made at home, so the new store likely didn’t do much to change that pattern. That suggests, says Elbel, that policy makers may also need stricter definitions of food deserts or areas that need nutritional attention.

“Just building a supermarket is not enough,” he says. “We need more data on what exactly a food desert is, and exactly where to place a supermarket. We have to look at access more broadly, and make clear that improving health is not just about access.” That’s a bigger challenge, but as the study shows, needs to be addressed if healthier fare is going to find its way onto more dinner plates.

TIME Crime

Ohio Steps Up Fight Against Heroin Deaths

TIME.com stock photos Health Syringe Needle
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Heroin-related fatalities have surged in recent years

Ohio lawmakers are looking to expand access to a drug that helps revive heroin overdose victims, as the state attorney general attempts to reduce its cost.

An Ohio House committee approved a bill Wednesday that would allow any individual—not just emergency responders—to provide heroin overdose antidote Naloxone to friends and family members without a prescription and/or fear of prosecution.

MORE: Heroin Deaths Have Doubled in 2 Years

The bill expands a law passed last year that provided increased access to the drug and allowed police and emergency responders to carry it. The latest bill, approved by the House Health and Aging Committee, would also allow pharmacies to hand out the drug without prescriptions.

Naloxone has been shown to temporarily revive overdose victims, allowing them to breathe and giving paramedics time to save their lives.

Heroin overdoses have grown into a public health crisis in Ohio within the last few years. According to the Ohio Department of Health, heroin-related deaths have increased from 16% of all drug-involved deaths throughout the state in 2008 to 35% in 2012, when 680 people died from a heroin overdose.

MORE: Holder Urges Use of Drug to Fight Heroin Overdoses

As heroin-related deaths have increased, the price of Naloxone has gone up as well. According to the Dayton Daily News, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is currently negotiating with Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, Inc., to decrease the cost by getting a price rebate for the drug.

TIME Mental Health/Psychology

How Facebook Is Helping Suicidal People

Facebook will offer suicide prevention resources to users posting troubling messages

Facebook is going to give timelier help to users who post updates suggesting thoughts of suicide, the company announced on Wednesday.

According to a Facebook post written by Product Manager Rob Boyle and Safety Specialist Nicole Staubli, a trained team will review reports of posts that appear to be suicidal and if necessary send the poster notifications with suicide prevention resources, such as a connection to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline hotline.

The Facebook support posts are expected to look something like this:

Facebook-Suicide-Prevention-hotline-posts
11001747_817721204932386_5834579040372627570_n

They also will contact the person reporting the posts, providing them with options to call or message the potentially suicidal friend, or to also seek the advice of a trained professional.

The new approach is an update on a clunkier system, implemented in 2011, that required users to upload links and screenshots to the official Facebook suicide prevention page.

For the project, Facebook worked with suicide prevention organizations Forefront: Innovations in Suicide Prevention, Now Matters Now, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Save.org.

The company was clear that the update was not a replacement for local emergency services.

TIME Reproductive Health

How a Baby Was Born Encased in an Amniotic Sac

Silas Johnson born still in the amniotic sac at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, part of the Maxine Dunitz Children's Health Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on Dec. 6th, 2014 in Los Angeles.
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Silas Johnson born still in the amniotic sac at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, part of the Maxine Dunitz Children's Health Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on Dec. 6th, 2014 in Los Angeles.

The physician was so surprised that he snapped a photo on his phone

Correction appended

Silas Johnson is barely a day old and is already an internet sensation. The Los Angeles infant was born three months early, and was remarkably still completely encased in his amniotic sac, making it appear as if doctors delivered a large bubble with a tiny baby inside.

Johnson was born at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center via C-section, curled in the hallmark fetal position within, and his hands were visible pressing against the clear membrane of the sac. His physician was so surprised by the rare birth that he snapped a photo on his cell phone while his team rushed to ensure that the baby’s breathing and heart rate were normal.

The sac is the baby’s home during gestation, filling with fluid to cushion him during pregnancy. Just before birth, it normally ruptures — the so-called ‘water breaking’ that signals an expectant mom that labor is underway. (In cases where the water doesn’t break, doctors can puncture the sac to release the fluid.) In Cesarean sections like this one, doctors frequently pierce through the sac as they make their incision to remove the baby.

Silas Johnson born still in the amniotic sac with mother Chelsea Philips at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, part of the Maxine Dunitz Children's Health Center at  on Dec. 6th, 2014 in Los Angeles.
Cedars-Sinai Medical CenterSilas Johnson born still in the amniotic sac with mother Chelsea Philips at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, part of the Maxine Dunitz Children’s Health Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on Dec. 6th, 2014 in Los Angeles.

In vaginal births, the sac remains in the mother as part of the placenta, and isn’t released until the placenta is removed in the afterbirth. But in some births, parts of the sac follow the baby through the birth canal.

While seemingly unusual, births ‘en caul,’ in which the infant remains entirely inside the sac during the journey through the birth canal, can be intentional, particularly when the baby is premature. Dr. Amos Grunebaum, director of obstetrics at NewYork-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center, purposefully delivers some of his babies in the sac, as a way to protect them during the delivery process. “It protects the baby from being injured; it serves as a cushion around the baby.”

Amniotic sacs and its fluid are connected to the placenta, which provides oxygen to the baby. So as soon as the baby is born, the sac must be ruptured to help the baby breathe.

“There are a lot of myths surrounding en caul births,” says Grunebaum. “There are many, many difference sources in the literature where people think the person delivered that way has certain powers.”Johnson’s mother Chelsea isn’t worried about that, but told CNN after seeing her doctor’s picture that “Silas, you’re a little special baby.”

Correction: This article originally misstated the baby’s last name. It is Johnson.

Read next: How to Parent Like a German

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser