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Concept: Federal government of the United States


Adolescence is marked by the emergence of human sexuality, sexual identity, and the initiation of intimate relations; within this context, abstinence from sexual intercourse can be a healthy choice. However, programs that promote abstinence-only-until-marriage (AOUM) or sexual risk avoidance are scientifically and ethically problematic and-as such-have been widely rejected by medical and public health professionals. Although abstinence is theoretically effective, in actual practice, intentions to abstain from sexual activity often fail. Given a rising age at first marriage around the world, a rapidly declining percentage of young people remain abstinent until marriage. Promotion of AOUM policies by the U.S. government has undermined sexuality education in the United States and in U.S. foreign aid programs; funding for AOUM continues in the United States. The weight of scientific evidence finds that AOUM programs are not effective in delaying initiation of sexual intercourse or changing other sexual risk behaviors. AOUM programs, as defined by U.S. federal funding requirements, inherently withhold information about human sexuality and may provide medically inaccurate and stigmatizing information. Thus, AOUM programs threaten fundamental human rights to health, information, and life. Young people need access to accurate and comprehensive sexual health information to protect their health and lives.

Concepts: United States, Women's rights, Reproductive rights, Human sexual behavior, Federal government of the United States, Health, Sexual intercourse, Human sexuality


EDITORIAL: David Pimentel is a professor of ecology and agricultural sciences at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-0901. His Ph.D. is from Cornell University and had postdoctoral research at the University of Chicago, MIT, and fellowship at Oxford University (England). He was awarded a distinguished honorary degree from the University of Massachusetts. His research spans the fields of energy, population ecology, biological pest control, pesticides, sustainable agriculture, land and water conservation, livestock, and environmental policy. Pimentel has published more than 700 scientific papers and 37 books and has served on many national and government committees including the National Academy of Sciences; President’s Science Advisory Council; U.S Department of Agriculture; U.S. Department of Energy; U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare; Office of Technology Assessment of the U.S. Congress; and the U.S. State Department. He is currently Editorial Advisor for BMC Ecology. In this article, he reflects on 50 years since the publication of Rachel Carson’s influential book, Silent Spring.

Concepts: Cornell University, Federal government of the United States, Conservation biology, Science, Academic degree, Research, President of the United States, Agriculture


Prior research suggests that United States governmental sources documenting the number of law-enforcement-related deaths (i.e., fatalities due to injuries inflicted by law enforcement officers) undercount these incidents. The National Vital Statistics System (NVSS), administered by the federal government and based on state death certificate data, identifies such deaths by assigning them diagnostic codes corresponding to “legal intervention” in accordance with the International Classification of Diseases-10th Revision (ICD-10). Newer, nongovernmental databases track law-enforcement-related deaths by compiling news media reports and provide an opportunity to assess the magnitude and determinants of suspected NVSS underreporting. Our a priori hypotheses were that underreporting by the NVSS would exceed that by the news media sources, and that underreporting rates would be higher for decedents of color versus white, decedents in lower versus higher income counties, decedents killed by non-firearm (e.g., Taser) versus firearm mechanisms, and deaths recorded by a medical examiner versus coroner.

Concepts: Source code, Police, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Federal government, A priori, U.S. state, United States, Federal government of the United States



The U.S. government is in partial shutdown. Federal employees who are not engaged in activities considered absolutely essential are on furlough. It is like a hospital at 03:00: the skeleton crew is on, but the machine is not humming. The reason for the government shutdown is a political standoff over funding for the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Since the United States is a democracy, the best way to reopen the government - which provides numerous important services in the health sector, such as approval of drugs, devices, and diagnostics, surveillance for emerging infectious diseases, research into the biology and treatment . . .

Concepts: Puerto Rico, Political philosophy, Washington, D.C., United States Constitution, President of the United States, United States, Federal government of the United States, U.S. state


The Affordable Care Act (ACA) seeks to change fundamentally the US health care system. The responses of states have been diverse and changing. What explains these diverse and dynamic responses? We examine the decision making of states concerning the creation of Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan programs and insurance marketplaces and the expansion of Medicaid in historical context. This frames our analysis and its implications for future health reform in broader perspective by identifying a number of characteristics of state-federal grants programs: (1) slow and uneven implementation; (2) wide variation across states; (3) accommodation by the federal government; (4) ideological conflict; (5) state response to incentives; (6) incomplete take-up rates of eligible individuals; and (7) programs as stepping-stones and wedges. Assessing the implementation of the three main components of the ACA, we find that partisanship exerts significant influence, yet less so in the case of Medicaid expansion. Moreover, factors specific to the insurance market also play an important role. Finally, we conclude by applying the themes to the ACA and offer an outlook for its continuing implementation. Specifically, we expect a gradual move toward universal state participation in the ACA, especially with respect to Medicaid expansion.

Concepts: Health economics, Medicine, Federalism, Federal government, U.S. state, Federal government of the United States, Health care, Health insurance


The degree of punishment assigned to criminals is of pivotal importance for the maintenance of social order and cooperation. Nonetheless, the amount of punishment assigned to transgressors can be affected by factors other than the content of the transgressions. We propose that sleep deprivation in judges increases the severity of their sentences. We took advantage of the natural quasi-manipulation of sleep deprivation during the shift to daylight saving time in the spring and analyzed archival data from judicial punishment handed out in the U.S. federal courts. The results supported our hypothesis: Judges doled out longer sentences when they were sleep deprived.

Concepts: Judge, Sociology, United States federal courts, Sleep deprivation, Federal government of the United States, Daylight saving time


The school environment is an ideal setting for healthy weight programming with adolescents. The federal government has reinforced the importance of school-based health promotion. The current study examined the preliminary influence of the 2006 school wellness policy requirement of the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act (CNWICRA) on adolescent Body Mass Index (BMI) and physical education participation. Nationally representative data from the 2003 and 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey (YRBSS) were used. The authors examined BMI percentile and physical education participation based on survey year and geographic region. Results suggest a slight decrease in BMI with no changes in physical education participation. A main effect for geographic region was found for both physical education participation and BMI percentile, while a geographic region-by-survey year interaction was discovered when analyzing BMI percentiles. Results suggest a need for continued investigation and may inform future healthy weight programming and geographically tailored wellness policies.

Concepts: Nursing, Health, Federal government of the United States, Regional geography, Mass, Geography, Nutrition, Body mass index


Abuse of widely available, over-the-counter drugs and supplements such as laxatives and diet pills for weight control by youths is well documented in the epidemiological literature. Many such products are not medically recommended for healthy weight control or are especially susceptible to abuse, and their misuse can result in serious health consequences. We analyzed the government’s role in regulating these products to protect public health. We examined federal and state regulatory authority, and referred to international examples to inform our analysis. Several legal interventions are indicated to protect youths, including increased warnings and restrictions on access through behind-the-counter placement or age verification. We suggest future directions for governments internationally to address this pervasive public health problem. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print December 13, 2012: e1-e6. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2012.300962).

Concepts: Weight loss, Health care, Federal government of the United States, Government, Epidemiology, Public health, Regulation, Health


The use of tobacco-based products, most notably cigarettes, is related directly to wound healing problems and poorer outcomes in plastic surgery. Current abstracts have highlighted the potential complications from nicotine, specifically following plastic surgery in patients who choose to smoke. Recently, products that use electricity to vaporize liquid nitrogen have been gaining popularity. New rules were recently proposed that would give the federal government authority over electronic cigarettes. However, the health-related issues surrounding e-cigarettes are still largely unknown or misunderstood. These issues also extend to their impact on surgical procedures, notably their effect on plastic surgical procedures that rely heavily on the vascularity of either the host wound bed or the replacement tissue.

Concepts: Electronic cigarette, Tobacco, Nicotine, Cigarette, Wound healing, Federal government of the United States, Smoking, Surgery