Patti Neighmond

Award-winning journalist Patti Neighmond is NPR's health policy correspondent. Her reports air regularly on NPR newsmagazines All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition.

Based in Los Angeles, Neighmond has covered health care policy since April 1987. She joined NPR's staff in 1981, covering local New York City news as well as the United Nations. In 1984, she became a producer for NPR's science unit and specialized in science and environmental issues.

Neighmond has earned a broad array of awards for her reporting. In 1993, she received the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award for coverage of health reform. That same year she received the Robert F. Kennedy Award for a story on a young quadriplegic who convinced Georgia officials that she could live at home less expensively and more happily than in a nursing home. In 1990 she won the World Hunger Award for a story about healthcare and low-income children. Neighmond received two awards in 1989: a George Polk Award for her powerful ten-part series on AIDS patient Archie Harrison, who was taking the anti-viral drug AZT; and a Major Armstrong Award for her series on the Canadian health care system. The Population Institute, based in Washington, DC, has presented its radio documentary award to Neighmond twice: in 1988 for "Family Planning in India" and in 1984 for her coverage of overpopulation in Mexico. Her 1987 report "AIDS and Doctors" won the National Press Club Award for Consumer Journalism, and her two-part series on the aquaculture industry earned the 1986 American Association for the Advancement of Science Award.

Neighmond began her career in journalism in 1978, at the Pacifica Foundation's Washington D.C. bureau, where she covered Capitol Hill and the White House. She began freelance reporting for NPR from New York City in 1980. Neighmond earned her bachelor's degree in English and drama from the University of Maryland, and now lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children.

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The Salt
12:26 am
Mon February 10, 2014

It Takes More Than A Produce Aisle To Refresh A Food Desert

Euclid Market, a corner store in East Los Angeles, recently got a makeover to promote healthier eating. It not only sells more fruits and vegetables, but also offers cooking classes and nutrition education.
Courtesy of Margaret Molloy/UCLA Fielding School of Public Health

Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 3:56 pm

In inner cities and poor rural areas across the country, public health advocates have been working hard to turn around food deserts — neighborhoods where fresh produce is scarce, and greasy fast food abounds. In many cases, they're converting dingy, cramped corner markets into lighter, brighter venues that offer fresh fruits and vegetables.

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Shots - Health News
12:27 am
Mon February 3, 2014

Most Teens Aren't Active Enough, And It's Not Always Their Fault

The CDC would be happy with these guys, who were playing in Birmingham, Ala., in July 2013. Teenage boys say basketball is their favorite activity.
Mark Almond AL.COM /Landov

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 4:43 am

Sure, you think, my kid's on a football team. That takes care of his exercise needs, right? Probably not.

"There are these bursts of activity," says Jim Sallis, a professor of family and preventive medicine at the University of California, San Diego. "But if you think about it, one hour of playing football out on the field means that the vast majority of that time is spent standing around waiting for the next play."

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Health News
2:15 am
Tue January 21, 2014

Diabetes, Cost Of Care Top Health Concerns For U.S. Latinos

A customer buys produce at the Euclid Market in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of East Los Angeles in December. The market was reopened in 2013 as part of a project to promote healthy eating among the city's Hispanic population.
Courtesy of UCLA Fielding School of Public Health

Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 9:57 am

Latino immigrants in the U.S. say the quality and affordability of health care is better in the U.S. than in the countries they came from, according to the latest survey by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. But many report having health care problems.

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Shots - Health News
12:09 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Pain In The Back? Exercise May Help You Learn Not To Feel It

Janet Wertheimer does a back hyperextension exercise at Boston Sports Club in Wellesley, Mass. Regular exercise has helped control her chronic back pain.
Ellen Webber for NPR

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 1:56 pm

More than 1 in 4 adult Americans say they've recently suffered a bout of low-back pain. It's one of the most common reasons people go to the doctor. And more and more people are being treated for it.

America spends more than $80 billion a year on back pain treatments. But many specialists say less treatment is usually more effective.

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Sleep Health
11:45 pm
Sun December 15, 2013

Healthful Habits Can Help Induce Sleep Without The Pills

Daniel Horowitz for NPR

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 12:23 pm

About one-third of American adults say they have problems falling asleep. And prescriptions for sleeping medications are on the rise, with about 4 percent of people using the drugs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But sleep specialists say people should exercise caution before deciding to take medication to help them sleep.

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Shots - Health News
12:14 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Teens Who Feel Supported At Home And School Sleep Better

Solid friendships can help buffer life's stress.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 3:31 am

A teen's relationship — or lack of good relationship — with parents, pals or teachers may have a lot to do with why most kids aren't getting the nine to 10 hours of sleep that doctors recommend. The hormonal disruptions of puberty likely also play a role.

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Shots - Health News
11:53 pm
Sun December 1, 2013

School Stress Takes A Toll On Health, Teens And Parents Say

Colleen Frainey, 16, of Tualatin, Ore., cut back on advanced placement classes in her junior year because the stress was making her physically ill.
Toni Greaves for NPR

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 2:35 pm

When high school junior Nora Huynh got her report card, she was devastated to see that she didn't get a perfect 4.0.

Nora "had a total meltdown, cried for hours," her mother, Jennie Huynh of Alameda, Calif., says. "I couldn't believe her reaction."

Nora is doing college-level work, her mother says, but many of her friends are taking enough advanced classes to boost their grade-point averages above 4.0. "It breaks my heart to see her upset when she's doing so awesome and going above and beyond."

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Health
12:27 am
Mon October 28, 2013

Recipe For Strong Teen Bones: Exercise, Calcium And Vitamin D

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 4:03 pm

It's really only a sliver of time when humans build the bulk of their skeleton. At age 9, the bones start a big growth spurt. And by the time puberty ends, around 14 or 15 years old, the adult-sized skeleton is all but done, about 90 percent complete.

But doctors say a lot of children aren't getting what they need to do that. Calcium and vitamin D are essential, sure, but so is lots of time jumping and running.

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Shots - Health News
12:19 am
Mon October 14, 2013

Exercise May Help Knees More Than Glucosamine And Chondroitin

With osteoarthritis, knees become swollen and stiff, and cartilage can degenerate.
Ted Kinsman Science Source

Originally published on Mon October 14, 2013 6:18 am

If you're among the estimated 27 million Americans who suffer from osteoarthritis of the knee or hip, then perhaps you've tried the nutritional supplements glucosamine and chondroitin. They've been marketed for joint health for about 20 years, and sales are still brisk. But do they help?

Some horses might say yes. The supplements were first tried in horses, and there's some evidence that the supplements might improve joint function for them.

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The Salt
12:35 am
Mon September 30, 2013

Kombucha: Magical Health Elixir Or Just Funky Tea?

Kombucha made by artisan tea brewer Bill Bond in Akron, Ohio, comes in an array of flavors, such as lemongrass, ginger, blueberry and watermelon.
Peggy Turbett The Plain Dealer /Landov

Originally published on Tue October 1, 2013 9:34 am

Chances are, you've seen it in your local grocery store. Maybe you've even mustered the courage to taste it — or at least take a whiff.

Once mostly a product of health food stores and hippies' kitchens, kombucha tea is now commercially available in many major grocery stores.

And people aren't necessarily scooping it up for its flavor. Its taste has been described as somewhere between vinegar soda and carbonated apple cider.

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Shots - Health News
12:22 am
Mon September 16, 2013

Calling Obesity A Disease May Make It Easier To Get Help

Differences in brain chemistry can affect an individual's likelihood of weight gain.
Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 6:04 am

Under the Affordable Care Act, more insurance plans are expected to start covering the cost of obesity treatments, including counseling on diet and exercise as well as medications and surgery. These are treatments that most insurance companies don't cover now.

The move is a response to the increasing number of health advocates and medical groups that say obesity should be classified as a disease.

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Shots - Health News
12:45 am
Mon August 26, 2013

Sweet Cigarillos And Cigars Lure Youths To Tobacco, Critics Say

Candy-flavored cigars like these in a shop in Albany, N.Y., are the focus of efforts to restrict sales of sweet-flavored tobacco.
Hans Pennink Associated Press

Originally published on Tue August 27, 2013 11:56 am

The good news: Cigarette sales are down by about a third over the past decade. Not so for little cigars and cigarillos. Their sales more than doubled over the same time period, in large part owing to the growing popularity of these little cigars among teenagers and 20-somethings.

The appeal among young people has lots to do with the large variety of candylike flavors in the little cigars, according to Jennifer Cantrell, director of research and evaluation at the anti-tobacco Legacy Foundation.

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Shots - Health News
12:25 am
Mon August 5, 2013

When Treating Abnormal Breast Cells, Sometimes Less Is More

Sally O'Neill decided to have a double mastectomy rather than "do a wait-and-see."
Richard Knox NPR

Originally published on Tue August 6, 2013 8:39 am

When Sally O'Neill's doctor told her she had an early form of cancer in one of her breasts, she didn't agonize about what she wanted to.

The 42-year-old mother of two young girls wanted a double mastectomy.

"I decided at that moment that I wanted them both taken off," says O'Neill, who lives in a suburb of Boston. "There wasn't a real lot of thought process to it. I always thought, 'If this happens to me, this is what I'm going to do.' Because I'm not taking any chances. I want the best possible outcome. I don't want to do a wait-and-see."

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Shots - Health News
11:59 pm
Sun July 28, 2013

How To Find A Path Off The Dreaded Diet Plateau

Illustration by Tim Robinson for NPR

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 9:12 am

Chances are that if you've ever lost weight following a strict diet and exercise regimen, you've also reached the diet plateau. On that lonely plateau, pounds never seem to melt away, no matter how hard you try to shed them.

You're not alone. Consider the plight of Susan Carierre. When the 5-foot-6-inch Carriere hit 230 pounds, she decided to enroll in a weight-loss program at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center near her home in Baton Rouge, La.

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Shots - Health News
12:00 am
Mon July 15, 2013

Patients Seek A Different Approach To Hip Replacement Surgery

Michael Pagliaro, left, laughs with Paul Scattaretico at the Muzic Store Inc. in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., as Pagliaro picks up instruments for his rental business. Before Pagliaro had a hip replacement, pain made it difficult to work.
Maggie Starbard NPR

Originally published on Mon July 15, 2013 2:10 am

Every year more than a quarter of a million Americans have total hip replacement surgery. It's almost always a successful operation that frees patients from what's often described as disabling pain.

But in recent years, there's been lots of discussion on the Internet about "anterior approach" hip replacement, a surgical technique that's different than the standard procedure. It's one that proponents say can lead to quicker recovery, three to four weeks compared to six to eight weeks for typical surgery.

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