- Communities Can Do More to Stop Childhood Obesity: Report
- Tobacco Makers Sue Over FDA Oversight
- Docs to Watch for Guillain-Barré After H1N1 Vaccine
- Workouts Trump Angioplasty for Heart Woes, Experts Say
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:
Communities Can Do More to Stop Childhood Obesity: Report
Incentives to increase the local availability of healthy food and better policing to give kids safe places to walk and play are just some things U.S. communities can do to help children stay at a healthy weight, according to a federal report released Tuesday.
The report, drafted by experts appointed by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council, notes that almost a third of the nation's children between 2 and 19 are now overweight or obese -- about 23 million kids. Overweight increases a child's odds for type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, sleep apnea and a myriad of other health troubles.
But communities can turn the child-obesity epidemic around by helping kids and their parents make healthy choices easier. According to the report, communities could offer tax and other incentives to get smaller shops (often the only source of groceries in underserved areas) to offer more fruits and vegetables, or to encourage larger supermarkets to settle in the area. Schools should be situated near shops or restaurants that offer healthy food options, and away from fast-food outlets.
Kids might also be encouraged to walk or bike to school if better policing resulted in safer streets, the report said.
In many neighborhoods right now, finding exercise or healthy food isn't easy, and "too often the easiest thing to do is the least healthy, and that goes for kids," family physician Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, chairman of the expert committee that prepared the report and vice president and chief medical officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, told USA Today.
Some of the initiatives outlined in the report will cost money, but Sanchez said that "(benefits from) the relative costs involved far outweigh the cost of doing nothing. Obesity in children leads to some diseases, and the cost of their medical care will go up fairly quickly."
Tobacco Makers Sue Over FDA Oversight
Two major cigarette makers filed a federal lawsuit Monday, claiming that a new tobacco law, which gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authority over cigarette marketing, violates their right to free speech.
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., maker of Camel cigarettes, and Lorillard Inc., which sells Newport cigarettes, and several other tobacco companies filed the lawsuit against federal authorities, including the FDA, the Associated Press reported.
In a 44-page complaint, the tobacco companies claim provisions of the bill, passed in June, "severely restrict the few remaining channels we have to communicate with adult tobacco consumers," Martin L. Holton III, senior vice president and general counsel for Reynolds, said in a statement.
The companies further claim the law keeps tobacco makers from "making truthful statements about their products in scientific, public policy and political debates."
Reynolds doesn't oppose the whole law, just portions of it, said its spokesman, David Howard.
Under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, the FDA can limit nicotine in tobacco products, ban candy flavorings and bar labels such as "light." The FDA cannot ban nicotine or tobacco outright, but it can regulate what goes into tobacco products, make public those ingredients and block specific marketing campaigns, such as those aimed at children, the news service said.
Docs to Watch for Guillain-Barré After H1N1 Vaccine
Neurologists should be on the lookout for any signs of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) in people vaccinated against H1N1 swine flu, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Neurology announced Monday.
Experts do not expect the 2009 H1N1 vaccine to increase risk of the rare disorder, but are acting out "an abundance of caution," according to a news release from the American Academy of Neurology. Because of its association with the 1976 swine flu vaccine, GBS could be of greater concern with any pandemic vaccine, the release said.