August 2008 News Tips

Note to media: To reach the media contacts for any of these health news tips, call the Office of News and Publications at 214-648-3404.

Classic PB&J sandwiches banned from your lunch table? Consider another butter.

Nothing says kids’ lunches more than peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches.

But with more schools banning the lunchbox staple because of peanut allergy concerns, brown-bagging it has gotten a bit trickier.

Nutrition experts at UT Southwestern Medical Center say parents don’t need to reach for the cold cuts.

“Spreads made from other nuts or seeds provide a nutritious alternative to peanut butter,” says Joyce Barnett, a registered clinical dietitian at UT Southwestern.

She recommends that parents give the following spreads a whirl. 

  • Almond butter — This nut butter is high in protein and is a great source of potassium. Research has shown that almonds, which are tree nuts, can help reduce the risk of heart disease as well as total cholesterol levels.
  • Soy nut butter — Made from soybeans, soy nut butter generally has as much fiber as its peanut counterpart. It’s free of peanuts and tree nuts, but children with soy allergies should avoid it.
  • Sunflower seed butter — Another spread created for kids with peanut allergies, sunflower butter is free of peanuts and tree nuts. A 2-tablespoon serving has more than one-third of a child’s daily magnesium and vitamin E requirements.

Visit to learn more about clinical services in nutrition at UT Southwestern.

Media Contact: Kristen Holland Shear

Buying proper shoes puts young feet on healthy path

As parents and children ready for another school year, UT Southwestern Medical Center orthopaedists have some suggestions for reshodding the young ones.

Wear in the toe or seams of footwear is a sure sign it’s time for new shoes. Other indicators include excessive wear to the midsole and heels, says UT Southwestern orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Michael VanPelt.

Most people’s feet aren’t exactly the same size, so one new shoe may feel different from its mate, but neither should feel too tight, Dr. VanPelt says. Measure both feet and ensure shoes fit the larger of the two. A good rule of thumb while shopping is to allow at least one finger’s width from the end of the longest toe to allow room for growth.

“Ill-fitting shoes can not only pose problems in proper foot development but can also lead to leg or back pain due to poor posture,” says Dr. VanPelt.

Also, it’s best to shop for shoes in the afternoon or evening, because feet naturally swell during the course of a day.

For children, avoid backless shoes, as well as footwear with high heels, which pose greater potential for injury and can hamper proper foot development. Look for soles that will provide good traction and shoes with good arch support.

Visit to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in orthopaedics.

Media Contact: Russell Rian

Simple steps can make trips easier, safer for expectant travelers

Travel can pose challenges for pregnant women, but for those in good health, a few tips can make getting from here to there a little smoother.

“Because of changes during pregnancy, women are already at increased risk for developing deep-venous thrombosis, or blood clots in their legs. The risk is increased with longer periods of inactivity and dehydration, which can occur during travel,” says Dr. Robyn Horsager-Boehrer, an obstetrician with UT Southwestern Medical Center. “I recommend women move around every couple of hours; even just moving feet and legs back and forth while sitting is helpful.”

Other recommendations from Dr. Horsager-Boehrer:

When traveling by motor vehicle:

  • Wear both a lap and shoulder belt. The lap belt should go below your baby bump.
  • Keep the airbags turned on. The safer you are, the safer your baby is.
  • Make frequent rest stops so you can walk around to keep the blood circulating in your legs.
  • Keep daily travel time to about five to six hours.

When traveling by plane:

  • Check with your health care provider and the airline about restrictions. Most airlines allow pregnant women to travel through their eighth month, and through their ninth month with permission from a health care provider.
  • Walk the aisle occasionally. Consider taking a bulkhead seat so you can stretch your legs while seated.
  • Consider wearing support hose, especially on long flights.

When traveling abroad or on a cruise:

  • Check whether a health care provider will be available on board or at destination spots.
  • Check if you’ll need vaccinations, and find out whether those vaccinations are advisable for a pregnant woman.
  • Obtain a copy of your prenatal records from your obstetrician and carry them on your trip in case you need to seek medical attention elsewhere.

Visit to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in gynecology and obstetrics

Media Contact: Aline McKenzie

Losing extra weight gets to the heart of the matter

Recent medical research has linked belly fat with higher risk for cardiovascular disease. As it’s difficult to specifically target belly fat, however, anyone trying to rid themselves of extra pounds around the middle should strive for overall weight loss, say physicians at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

“A key concept in weight loss is to ensure that you burn more than you eat, meaning your total calories have to end up negative for the day,” says UT Southwestern cardiologist Dr. Amit Khera.  “Reducing portion sizes, reading food labels and making smart food choices can go a long way toward weight loss.”

Visit to learn more about heart, lung and vascular clinical services at UT Southwestern.

Media Contact: Katherine Morales



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