Health Buzz: FDA Issues New Sales and Advertising Rules for Tobacco

Kids’ big weight problems can start early; is salsalate an effective diabetes treatment?

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FDA Issues New Sales and Ad Rules for Tobacco

Food and Drug Administration officials today announced new limits on tobacco sales and advertising that might target kids, HealthDay reports. Among the restrictions set to take effect in late June: Cigarettes cannot be sold in vending machines or in packs containing fewer than 20 cigarettes. The federal rules also prohibit tobacco companies from sponsoring athletic and entertainment events and from selling merchandise such as hats and T-shirts bearing their logo, according to HealthDay. Also, any ads likely to be seen by children must be in black and white. A law enacted last June gives the agency power to enforce the new rules.

[Read Don't Assume 'Smokeless' Substitutes for Cigarettes Are Safe and 12 Reasons to Really Quit Smoking.]

Big Weight Problems Start Early: 6 Percent of Kids Are Extremely Obese

Children are piling on the pounds while still in grade school, with 6 percent qualifying as extremely obese, according to an extensive new survey of kids in California.

"We were surprised to find an alarmingly high number of extremely obese children: 7 percent of boys and 5 percent of girls," says Corinna Koebnick, a nutritionist and research scientist for Kaiser Permanente in Pasadena, Calif., who led the study. "That's scary."

A 10-year-old boy is supposed to weigh about 70 pounds, and an extremely obese 10-year-old of average height weighs 114 pounds. That's not merely a cosmetic issue, U.S. News contributor Nancy Shute writes. There's growing evidence that being obese in childhood raises the risk of a host of serious health problems in adulthood, including heart disease and diabetes. "These children will likely continue to be extremely obese adults," says Koebnick. Read more.

[Read What Parents Can Do to Keep Kids From Snacking Their Way to Obesity and 3 Ways to Find Obesity Treatment That Works for Your Child.]

Salsalate as a Type 2 Diabetes Treatment? It Looks Promising

It's been a confusing few years for people with diabetes, with concerns about the risks tied to various treatments weighing heavily on the minds of patients and clinicians. This week, even as federal regulators look into the safety of Avandia—the latest diabetes medication to hit the news because of possible cardiovascular risks—a new study suggests that an old drug called salsalate, typically prescribed for arthritis, could hold promise for people with type 2 diabetes, U.S. News's January Payne writes.

It's too early to be sure, experts say. Salsalate, an anti-inflammatory medication, was first examined as a potential treatment for diabetes during the 1800s, but it never caught on, "probably because people didn't know the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes," says study coauthor Steven Shoelson, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and associate research director at Joslin Diabetes Center. The drug, he says, would serve no use for type 1 diabetes, which requires insulin treatment. But given the "modern-day thinking about inflammation being a mediator in [type 2] diabetes," he says, this "sounded like a good connection."

In the new research, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, a greater proportion of people treated with salsalate saw their A1C levels (a measure of blood sugar over time) decrease than did those in the control group. The study, which included 108 people ages 18 to 75, was small, and its results are considered preliminary—but intriguing nonetheless. Read more.

[Read 2 Ways to Lower Your A1C Levels Without Medication and 6 Things You Should Know About Avandia.]

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