Revamped Health Site Focuses on Prevention

Tuesday, October 7, 2008 (, the government's consumer health site, has just undergone its first overhaul since its debut 11 years ago, and the updates are worth a look. In addition to health news and links to government health agencies and vetted consumer groups, now offers calculators, videos and interactive tools, many of them as good as or better than applications you'd buy for your computer or your iPhone, BlackBerry or similar mobile device.

"The additions to the site focus on prevention, such as a tool that lists calories burned for time spent on the activity," says Penelope Slade Royall, deputy assistant secretary for health, disease prevention and health promotion at the Department of Health and Human Services.

It can take a bit of digging to get to the pages that interest you, so expect to wade through lists of podcasts and videocasts the first time you log on. Consider starting at "," on the upper right side of the home page. Key in your age and sex, and the site spits out a list of recommended screening tests and other precautions. (For example, a woman age 51 needs, among other things, an annual flu shot, a mammogram every one to two years and a Pap test every one to three years.)

Clicking on "Personal Health Tools" on the home page can bring you to "Health Calculators" (including ones for hydration, ovulation and the calorie content of alcoholic drinks), "Watch and Listen" (information on a wide range of topics, including a webcast lecture on "physical fitness for busy professionals") and "Activity and Menu Planners," which include food and activity diaries. Among the Menu Planners is a link to a "Cyber Kitchen" that can help you create a daily meal plan based on the government's recommended daily intake of fat, calories and sodium.

-- Francesca Lunzer Kritz

© 2008 The Washington Post Company