I found two seemingly unrelated articles in Monday's paper. The first is here: http://www.tucsoncitizen.com/daily/frontpage/31051.php
Ways schools hand out snacks could change
Violations of the Arizona food code could cost child-care providers hundreds of dollars to remedy if they continue to prepare food for their students.
Directors from child-care facilities and schools met with Pima County Health Department officials Monday to discuss options after being cited for unsatisfactory food preparation such as cutting an apple
or wrapping a burrito for students in facilities that are not up to code for commercial kitchens.
For the past three years the Second Street School has had a healthy snack program, in which teachers prepare snacks provided by parents, said Peggy Sterner, co-associate director of the school at 2430 E. Second Street.
School administrators were unaware of the regulations.
The food preparation rules went into effect in 1997 and were clarified through an update in 2003, according to Sharon Browning of the county health department.
"Preparation, for us, means that you are touching the food," she said. "The food code is set up to help prevent food-borne illness."
The regulations for these schools are the same as for any commercial kitchen requiring commercial-grade appliances, such as refrigerators and three-compartment sinks, many of which these facilities lack.
Many of the school directors worried about the cost of the renovations, as well as the fee to become a licensed facility: $382 initially with an annual renewal fee of $115.
"This is your economic choice," Browning said.
Schools either can provide the funding through tuition to make the changes, or change their snack programs.
"Then some people will not be able to afford our services," said Shanna Kukla, director of St. Alban's Episcopal Preschool and Kindergarten, 3737 N. Old Sabino Canyon Road.
As a small, private school of 63 students with a parent-run snack program, Second Street School would likely be unable to afford all of the upgrades needed, Sterner said.
"We want to work with the health department, but what they are asking right now is unreasonable," said Lissa Gibbs, parent of a 3-year-old student at Second Street School.
Snack time will not be eliminated in the schools, but many have modified their snack programs, including more pre-packaged foods, which require no preparation, and requests to students to bring their own snacks from home.
"We don't understand," said Sterner. "We could give them canned peaches, but not fresh-cut peaches? We could give them packaged crackers, but not snow peas?"
This means snack time will now likely be relegated to Ritz crackers and fruit roll-ups.
Then I found this article:
Diabetics get new tool, thanks to Gila monster
The venomous, multicolored Gila monster has become an unwitting hero to
some diabetics unable to control their blood sugar.
A substance found in the lizard's saliva improves blood sugar control and lowers appetite in humans, according to doctors.
A synthetic version of the substance is helping some insulin-dependent adult diabetics live more healthful lives.
This "missing gut hormone," said Tucson endocrinologist Dr. Raymond Graap, gives doctors who treat insulin-dependent diabetics a new tool to regulate blood-sugar levels.
Exenatide, marketed under the brand name Byetta, comes in a self-administered fixed-dose "pen" for under-the-skin injection. Byetta is FDA-approved for use by people with Type 2 diabetes.
The drug has been on the market for about a year and costs about $180 a month if not covered by insurance. Byetta is not approved for Type 1 diabetics or for use by children.
It was an endocrinology researcher in a Veterans Administration lab in New York's Bronx in the 1980s who discovered exenatide while using radioactive material to sort out the chemicals in poisonous lizard saliva.
In 1996, the researcher licensed the patent for exenatide.
The FDA approved Byetta for use in Type 2 diabetic adults about a year ago and began a marketing campaign to physicians.
Graap said he may prescribe Byetta after a patient tries to make changes in diet and exercise and uses other medicines to control glucose levels.
"I tend to be conservative," Graap said. "I'm a hard-sell type person. I need to be sure it's going to be effective."
The doctor requires patients to consult with a nutritionist to modify their diet.
"I also recommend they get moving on an exercise program. And then I look at them three months later to see if that strategy is useful to them," Graap said. He also cautions patients about the cost.
"We try to find out for the patients if the drug is on their insurance company's formulary (list of covered medications)," Graap said. "If not, we do the math to see if it is doable with their other medications. Diabetes can be very expensive
Many but not all Medicare drug plans cover Byetta. The drug is not included in the Veterans Administration's formulary.
"Byetta can work well in some and OK in others," Graap said. "It's not the only strategy."
At least he's making them exercise and change their diet, but geez. Maybe if they quit giving kids fruit rollups and Ritz crackers and getting them used to eating crappy snacks, they wouldn't have to make synthetic versions of lizard saliva to treat them when they get older.
This is the Gila monster, btw: