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Monday
Nov082010

Study: Are Fast Food Restaurants Really Promoting Healthy Options?

Photo Courtesy - Tim Boyle/Getty Images(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) -- How well is the effort to improve fast food and offer more healthful alternatives to kids really working? A new study by Yale University researchers is raising that question.

They say that while healthy options for kids are available, restaurant servers rarely mention them to parents.

Yale calls this new study the most comprehensive look yet at the nutritional content and marketing of fast food to kids.

The results are jarring.

Some key findings include restaurants don't guide people to healthier choices, children's exposure to fast food ads is increasing and companies actively target African American and Latino youth.

Of the more than 3,000 possible combinations of children's meals at eight different fast food restaurants, only 12 met nutrition criteria set by Yale for preschoolers and only 15 for older children.

"It's possible to get a healthy meal at a fast food restaurant but it's very difficult. You have to go in, you have to know exactly what you're looking for and you have to take the initiative to ask for it," said Marlene Schwartz, deputy director at Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.

Researchers sent people into 250 fast food restaurants across the country and found that when customers asked for kids meals, servers offered them the choice of healthy sides like apples only six-eight percent of the time at McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's.

Healthy drink alternatives like milk were offered by servers just 26-28 percent of the time at McDonald's and Burger King.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov082010

Researchers Identify Gene That Makes You Feel Tipsy

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CHAPEL HILL, NC) -- Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine recently discovered new information about how alcohol affects the brain. The scientific team led by Dr. Kirk Wilhelmsen uncovered a gene variant in 10 to 20 percent of the population that protects against alcoholism by making a person feel more inebriated than most after just a few drinks.   “Basically, we gave alcohol to college kids,” Wilhelmsen told the Charlotte News Observer.  He reported the discovery in the journal Alcoholism:  Clinical and Experimental Research.

The kids were pairs of siblings who had at least one alcoholic parent.  Researchers gave them alcohol then asked them how they felt, testing to see whether their level of drunkenness was linked to any specific gene. 

Researchers zeroed in on the gene that carries an enzyme that breaks down alcohol, CYP2E1.  The enzyme works in the brain, not the liver, where most alcohol gets broken down.  Wilhelmson says that means the people with the “tipsy” variant don’t act drunker  than anyone else but they do feel more intoxicated.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov082010

Drowsy Drivers Account for One in Six Deadly Car Crashes

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Falling asleep while driving is too common an occurrence, according to a government study which finds that one in every six deadly car crashes involves drivers who doze off at the wheel.  A new survey by the AAA Foundation backs these statistics, finding that 40 percent of drivers say they've fallen asleep at the wheel.

The survey also found that one in ten, or 10 percent of drivers, admit they have fallen asleep while operating their vehicles in the past year.

"Many motorists underestimate the real dangers associated with driving when they're that tired," says AAA Foundation's Peter Kissinger.  "I, for example, have in many instances when I'm at home at night watching TV and all of a sudden I wake up and I realize I missed half the show.  Now, if that were to happen when I was driving a car, the results could be catastrophic."

Kissinger advises drivers who feel tired to pull over and rest.  "As soon as possible, find a safe place to pull off the road and get some rest," he says.  "It could just save your life.  A power nap of 20-30 minutes is sufficient."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Nov072010

Drugs and Supplements to US from China Mostly Unregulated

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A review from the Government Accounting Office found a growing percentage of drugs and supplements sold in the United States comes from China and is largely unregulated and uninspected by U.S. officials.

Critics say consumers have no way to know where their pills originate because federal labeling laws are not being enforced.  The Food and Drug Administration says its staff is too small to properly inspect all the plants producing medicines for the U.S. market.  In a recent review, the Kansas City Star found 80 percent of the ingredients and 40 percent of the finished pharmaceuticals sold in the U.S. were made overseas.  The government said half of them come from China and India.

Chinese manufacturers defended their safety rate, but critics pointed to a recent case in which Chinese-made Viagra, the erectile dysfunction drug, was found to have drywall components in it.  Other drugs made in China have been found to contain none of the active ingredients required.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Nov072010

Government Pushing Cheese While Fighting Obesity

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- While the U.S. government fights an increasing national waistline through anti-obesity campaigns, a division of the United States Department of Agriculture is on a crusade to up the national intake of cheese and other dairy products. 

Dairy Management, a USDA marketing agency, recently worked with the Domino's Pizza chain to increase sales at the flagging national franchise operation, by getting the chain to put 40 percent more cheese on its pies and by paying for a $12 million marketing campaign.  The New York Times says it worked, consumers went crazy for the new pies and sales soared by double digits. 

Americans have been moving away from whole milk products, like most cheeses, for years, with plenty of encouragement from the USDA.  First lady Michelle Obama earlier this year launched an effort encouraging restaurants to include healthier items on their menus.  But Dairy Management has been working the past several years with restaurants to increase the use of cheese and other dairy products, with approval from both Bush and Obama administration officials.

Dairy Management is largely financed, at $140 million a year, by a fee on dairy producers but The New York Times says it also receives funding from the Agriculture Department.  The department periodically reports to congress on its activities.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Nov062010

Doctors Perform Life-Saving Surgery on Texas Baby

Photo Courtesy - WFAA-TV Dallas/Fort Worth(FORT WORTH, Texas) -- Doctors at Fort Worth's Cook Children's Medical Center have performed a series of operations on a baby which experts say saved the child's life by removing a tumor in his neck that would have killed him seconds after his birth. 

The tumor was discovered about five months into his mother's pregnancy.  It was growing under the baby's skin, from his neck up to his skull, and blocking his airway.  Doctors did surgery while baby Benjamin was still connected to the placenta, to begin creating an artificial airway.  Claudia Alonso knew she might never see her baby alive and she says she was scared.  "What if something happens to him and I don't get to see him?"

But that didn't happen.  Two more surgeries later and baby Benjamin is growing fast.  He has one more surgery to go but doctors say once the operations are behind him, Benjamin will grow up to look like any other little boy.

And his mother says she knows what she will say to him if he asks about his swollen face in his baby pictures.  She says she'll tell him "He's a miracle baby."

Copyright 2010 ABC New Radio

Saturday
Nov062010

E. Coli Outbreak Linked to Apple Cider? FDA Issues Warning

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SILVER SPRING, Md.) -- The FDA is warning consumers to avoid Baugher’s Apple Cider after an E. coli outbreak sickened at least seven people in Maryland, sending three of them to the hospital. One individual was being treated for a possible case of hemolytic uremic syndrome, a disease that the FDA says may impair kidney function.

The company says the cider, available for purchase in Maryland and Pennsylvania, should be discarded. Consuming the product, the FDA says, could cause diarrhea and abdominal cramps, with longer and more severe infection possible.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Nov062010

Salmonella Worries in California Red Leaf Lettuce

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- The California Department of Public Health is worried about the possibility some consumers may contract salmonella poisoning from red leaf lettuce sold by three different grocery companies.

There have been no illnesses reported, but the state says there could still be some of the potentially contaminated lettuce on people's refrigerator shelves and they want to prevent any unpleasant or dangerous consequences. 

The recalled red leaf lettuce was sold between October 20 and November 1 at Canton Food Company in Los Angeles, Cardenas Market and Numero Uno Market locations throughout Southern California. The red leaf lettuce was produced by Fresh Choice Marketing of Oxnard. It was available in grocery stores as whole head lettuce with no identifying label.

If you think you have some, you can either take it back to the store for a refund or throw it out.

The state says salmonella symptoms include fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea which may be bloody. Most infected people recover within a week. Some may develop complications that require hospitalization. Infants, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are at highest risk for more severe illness.

Copyright ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov052010

Gene Screening vs. Family History: Which Wins?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CLEVELAND) -- The widely held belief that you can always rely on family may be especially true when it comes to your risk for certain diseases, new research shows.

Researchers led by Dr. Charis Eng, chairman and founding director of the Genomic Medicine Institute of the Cleveland Clinic, found that a thorough family history better predicted the risk for developing certain cancers than genomic screening did.

Eng and her colleagues assessed 44 people's risk for developing breast cancer, prostate cancer and colorectal cancer by obtaining a complete family health history and also by using a direct-to-consumer personal genomic screening tool. They presented their findings at the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics.

A comparison between the two methods showed they did not often place people in the same risk category for the three kinds of cancer. Researchers also found that personal genomic screening did not identify nine people who were found to be at high risk for colon cancer because of a previous family history.

In addition to helping assess disease risk, doctors say knowing a patient's family history can help offer insight into how someone will respond to certain treatments.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov052010

Hospitals Slow to Adopt Blood Stream Infection Prevention Program

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BALTIMORE) -- It's a common procedure in any intensive care unit -- doctors insert into patients what is called a central line, which can be used to administer vital medications while monitoring various critical elements within the heart and blood.

But a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate shows that 250,000 patients with central lines contract blood stream infections every year, and more than 10 percent die as a result.  The study, conducted in 2002, is the CDC's most current figure.

A doctor at Johns Hopkins University says these deaths can be eliminated -- at virtually no extra cost and with little additional training.  Moreover, a program exists that promises to do just that, but almost two years after its inception, only a fraction of hospitals choose to participate.

"In what other industry, would there be a known safety standard — and nobody's debating the evidence — that a failure to comply with kills people," Dr. Peter Pronovost, medical director for the Center for Innovation in Quality Patient Care at Johns Hopkins, told ABCNews.

Pronovost, a practicing anesthesiologist and critical care physician, believes these infections can be eliminated with a program he developed.  But, he said, progress is too slow.

Early last year, Pronovost set out to eliminate those infections.  He created a program called On the CUSP: Stop BSI (Comprehensive Unit-Based Safety Program to reduce Central-Line Blood Stream Infections in the ICU) in concert with Johns Hopkins, the Health Research and Educational Trust (an affiliate of the American Hospital Association), and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio