Health line

Briefs: Some companies use money as a health motivator

TAKE CARE OF TEETH AND GUMS — AND SMILE

Oral hygiene is an important part of good health. Try these tips to prevent tooth decay and gum disease:

• Do not smoke.

• Limit alcohol to one to two drinks a day.

• Brush teeth twice a day.

• Replace your toothbrush every three or four months (sooner if the bristles are worn out).

• Floss daily (or use an inter-dental cleaner).

• Go to a dentist regularly for oral exams and cleanings. Adults should see a dentist every six to 12 months, depending on their oral health status.

• Eat a balanced diet; limit snacking, especially of sticky or high-sugar foods.

• Give supplemental fluoride to preschool children more than 6 months old whose primary water source is deficient in fluoride.

Resources: www.cdc.gov/oralhealth, www.ada.org.

Would money get you moving?

The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., has joined a business trend that offers monetary rewards to workers who set fitness goals.

The move seeks to improve employee health, while decreasing health costs that hurt the pocketbook of both employees and employers.

"It's an example of your large employer who's moving to put in wellness programs to improve health," said Roger Feldman of the University of Minnesota, which began a similar program this year.

Each Mayo employee who earns enough points through activities like filling out a health assessment or exercising will get a $10 per month decrease in health insurance premiums or a $100 deposit into a health savings account, said Mayo spokeswoman Sara Lee.

Study links B12 and brain volume

Vitamin B12 may help protect against brain volume loss in the elderly, according to a University of Oxford, England, study of 107 people between ages 61 and 87 without memory or thinking problems.

The researchers collected blood samples to check the levels of vitamin B12, a nutrient found in meat, fish, and milk. Participants underwent yearly brain scans using magnetic resonance imaging, memory testing and physical exams.

The researchers found that people who had higher vitamin B12 levels were six times less likely to experience brain shrinkage compared with those who had lower levels of B12.

According to study author Anna Vogiatzoglou, the results suggest ''that simply adjusting our diets to get more vitamin B12 through eating meat, fish, fortified cereals, or milk may be something we can easily adjust to prevent brain shrinkage and so perhaps save our memory.''

Compiled from Times staff, wires

Briefs: Some companies use money as a health motivator 09/22/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 23, 2008 5:30pm]

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