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Real Rainbow Awaits Those Stuck in Casts : Firms Offer New Product to Brighten Bad Situation


Broken arms and legs are no fun. But the recovery period for patients has never looked brighter because of new casting tapes offered in a rainbow of colors by at least three companies.

Carapace, a company in Broken Arrow, Okla., claims to have first introduced colored fiberglass casting tape, mostly to ease the trauma of broken bones for children.

But "we didn't realize adults would like it so well," too, said Ralonda Lindsay, a spokeswoman for Carapace, which along with 3M and Johnson & Johnson makes the tape.

Color choices vary by manufacturer; 3M, for instance, offers green, blue, light blue, red, yellow and pink. A 3M spokesman estimates that colored tape already makes up 15% of its total tape sales.

"Colored casts make a bad situation seem not so bad," said Dr. Kevin Ehrhart, an orthopedic surgeon at St. John's Hospital and Health Center, Santa Monica. Ehrhart often applies colored casts and recently fashioned one that was red, white and blue.

Not-So-Lean Hot Dogs

Fat-conscious frankfurter fans beware: even a hot dog labeled lower fat is not actually low in fat, says the current Tufts University Diet & Nutrition Letter.

The confusion arises because manufacturers determine whether their hot dogs are light, leaner or lower fat under U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines that measure a product's fat-content simply by weight.

But nutritionists say it is more important to consider the percent of calories from the fat in a food. (No more than 30% of the total calories eaten should come from fat sources, many dietitians recommend.)

If you've switched to franks labeled low-fat, the products cannot exceed 22.5% fat, by weight. But gram for gram, fat has more than twice the calories of protein so even a hot dog that is 22.5% fat by weight "could easily be . . 60% or 70% fat in terms of the total calories it adds to the product," the newsletter noted.

For the average person--who the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council estimates eats about 80 hot dogs a year--the newsletter conclusion may be depressing: "A lower-fat frank, or one that is 80% fat-free, will still contain much more fat, in terms of percentage of total calories, than can be incorporated into a prudent diet on a regular basis."

"But once in a while is OK," said Bettye Nowlin, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Assn.

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