New York City Mayor: Ban Use of Food Stamps for Buying Sugary Drinks
As part of a fierce campaign against diabetes and obesity, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Wednesday asked the federal government for permission to ban 1.7 million food-stamp users from buying sodas and other sugary drinks, the New York Times reports. He's asking for a two-year trial initially to assess whether banning the drinks—which research has shown contributes to the two conditions—has a health impact. "This initiative will give New York families more money to spend on foods and drinks that provide real nourishment," Bloomberg said in a statement to the Times. Federal officials in the U.S. Department of Agriculture would have to approve the mayor's request. Education, however, might be the better route, some say. "The world would be better, I think, if people limited their purchases of sugared drinks," George Hacker, a health adviser for Center for Science in the Public Interest, told the Times. "However, there are a great many ethical reasons to consider why one would not want to stigmatize people on food stamps." Bloomberg has been actively involved in anti-obesity measures, including recent advertisements (like one of a man drinking packets of pure sugar), sales of junk food in schools and a measure to tax sugared drinks.
- The Cost of Being Obese: More Expensive for Women Than Men
- To Avoid Diabetes Complications, Think Lifestyle Changes Over Drugs
Overmedication: Are Americans Taking Too Many Drugs?
Socrates once declared that medicine "acts as both remedy and poison" and that "this charm, this spellbinding virtue, this power of fascination, can be—alternately or simultaneously—beneficent or maleficent." Modern America clearly appreciates the benefits. Today, a full 61 percent of adults use at least one drug to treat a chronic health problem, a nearly 15 percent rise since 2001. More than 1 in 4 seniors gulp down at least five medications daily. The trend has multiple causes: a spike in diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis related to obesity; revised medical guidelines that treat high blood sugar, hypertension, and high cholesterol sooner; and a multibillion-dollar push by pharmaceutical companies to speak directly to consumers about the payoff in trusting our hearts to Lipitor, say, or taking Boniva to help stop bone loss, US News's Deborah Kotz writes.
Therapeutic advances have, no question, proved lifesaving for many. Heart disease deaths have dropped steadily over the past 15 years, for example, thanks in large part to cholesterol-lowering statins and clot-busting drugs administered during heart attacks and strokes. But a growing chorus of experts worries that one unintended effect of all the pharmacological success is that many people may be blithely taking drugs they don't need, potentially setting themselves up for severe consequences. Clinical trials that prove a medicine safe and effective may demonstrate nothing about long-term risks or whether it benefits elderly folks or people with multiple health issues; usually new drugs are tested for just three or so years in a few thousand middle-age adults with a single particular problem. Given that a drug's serious side effects might show up only after months or years on the market, someone whose dangerous heart disease can't be controlled by existing meds has a much clearer incentive to try a new drug than people with a mild condition. Consider Vioxx, the blockbuster arthritis drug withdrawn from the market in 2004 after researchers estimated that it caused between 88,000 and 139,000 heart attacks during the five years it was prescribed. [Read more: Overmedication: Are Americans Taking Too Many Drugs?]
Too Noisy at Work? Watch Out For Heart Risks
An invisible, tasteless and odorless pollutant may be affecting your health, and no, you're not inhaling it. Turns out noise pollution may increase your risk of heart problems. New research released Wednesday in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine shows that those who work in noisy environments have a higher prevalence of chest pain, heart attacks, heart disease and high blood pressure, US News reports.
Researchers at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, found that workers in noisy professions (defined as a volume at which they had to raise their voices to be heard), had two to three times the likelihood of having a heart problem compared to those who worked in quieter places. The study, which included more than 6,000 survey participants, found that 3.6 percent of workers who said they worked around noise developed heart disease compared to 2.4 percent of workers who said they didn't. The study author Wenqi Gan, an environmental-health expert at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, speculates that excessive noise can be considerably stressful, triggering the release of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which constrict arteries and reduce blood supply to the heart. That's "cause for concern," he says. [Read more: Too Noisy at Work? Watch Out For Heart Risks.]
Popular Health Articles from USNews.com
- Use These 8 Foods to Help You Lose Weight
- 5 Reasons That May Explain Why Type 1 Diabetes Is on the Rise
- How to Decide if a Nursing Home Is Necessary
- Flu Season 2010-11: What to Know to Stay Healthy
- Video: How to Prevent High Cholesterol