Rested.

March 5, 2015

 Healthy bites took a winter break. It’s back.

 It looks fresh.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved genetically engineered apples that are resistant to turning brown when sliced or bruised. “Arctic Golden” and “Arctic Granny Smith” are expected to be available late 2016.

Yum. Genetically modified apples. Not everyone is thrilled.

In other food news. McDonald’s will gradually stop buying chicken raised with antibiotics needed to fight human infections. This is being called “the most aggressive step by a major food company to change chicken producers’ practices in the fight against dangerous superbugs.”

The Obamacare Supreme Court Case.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard arguments for King v. Burwell, the case that could deny more than 7 million people health insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.

The case of King v. Burwell. The Affordable Care Act states that people who get their insurance through websites “established by the state” are eligible for tax credits. But only 13 states and DC set up websites, meaning everybody else shops for insurance on the US government’s site, www.healthcare.gov. Millions of Americans in the remaining 36 states are getting tax credits from the US to help pay for their insurance.

If the lawsuit is successful, it would deny health insurance subsidies in 36 of the law’s state insurance exchanges, destroying much of Obamacare in those states.

The names. David King is a 64-year-old man from Virginia who was forced to purchase health care coverage because of the individual mandate. Sylvia Matthews Burwell is the US Secretary of Health and Human Services.

The decision. It appears that the Supreme Court is split. A final decision will be made in June.

Measles.

Measles is spreading in the US, with 170 cases so far this year in at least 17 states. Many infections are linked to an outbreak that began in Disneyland in December, likely started by someone who brought the disease from another country.

Contagious. Measles spreads through the air and is among the most contagious of all viruses. It’s estimated that 90 percent of people exposed will get sick, unless they are immune because they had measles already or have been vaccinated.

A recent poll shows that nearly 80% of Americans support vaccinations, saying that “all healthy, medically eligible children should be vaccinated.”

Their message. Some doctors went on Jimmy Kimmel Live last week with something to share: get your kids vaccinated.

Ebola update.

Worldwide. Ebola has infected nearly 24,000 people and killed around 10,000, according to the CDC.

Sierra Leone is one of the countries that has been hit hardest. In recent weeks, the number of new cases had gone down significantly. Schools reopened and travel bans were lifted. And then – some fishermen infected with the virus arrived and Ebola is back in Sierra Leone.

Didn’t see this coming. Nina Pham, the nurse who was the first person to contract Ebola in America, is suing the hospital where she contracted the virus. Pham said that the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas failed to provide her and her colleagues adequate training and protection while she cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, the first patient diagnosed in the U.S. during the outbreak. Pham wants “unspecified damages for physical pain and mental anguish, medical expenses and loss of future earnings.”

The PB&J comeback.

An estimated 2 million children in the US have peanut allergies, a figure that has more than doubled over the last decade. Peanuts cause the majority of deaths for food allergies and an estimated 15,000 emergency room visits per year.

A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that children are much less likely to develop peanut allergies if they consume peanuts at an early age, as early as 4 months.

Hope for the future. Maybe more kids will get to try fluffernutters. And Reeses Pieces. And Elvis-inspired sandwiches.

Hospital rankings.

A new study finds that the published rankings from various sources are often contradictory and confusing.

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