Entries in American Public Health Association (3)


FDA Should Cut the Salt, Public Health Group Says

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- One public health group wants the federal government to skimp on the salt, in the name of helping Americans cut their risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.

On Tuesday, the American Public Health Association (APHA) urged the Food and Drug Administration to begin regulating the amount of salt that winds up in processed foods. The group also said the FDA should remove or change salt’s status as a “Generally Recognized as Safe” ingredient, a designation that places few limits on the amount of sodium that can be added to foods.

“Reducing the amount of sodium added in the manufacturing and commercial preparation of food is a prudent and safe public health intervention, and the single most effective means of reducing the sodium intake of Americans,” the APHA said in a statement.

According to the FDA, the major culprits in salty American diets are processed and restaurant-prepared foods, which account for around 75 percent of Americans’ total salt intake.

Citing “strong, continuous, graded, consistent, independent” data linking high salt intake to increased blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, the APHA urged the FDA to reduce salt in the American diet by 75 percent over the next 10 years.

The APHA joins a growing chorus of groups such as the U.S. Institute of Medicine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Heart Association that say Americans should eat far less salt than they do, and even less than the amount currently recommended by the federal government.

In 2010, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines set the recommended daily level of sodium intake at 2,300 milligrams for the general population, and 1,500 milligrams for people older than age 50, African-Americans, and anyone who has high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease.

Many medical groups, including the APHA, say all Americans should consume no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium each day. That’s about the amount found in 1 cup of canned refried beans and a slice of white bread, or a quarter-pounder with cheese and a medium fries at McDonald’s.

The Salt Institute, an industry group representing salt companies, said that level of salt is too low and consuming such a low-sodium diet would negatively affect the health of all Americans.

Mortin Satin, vice president of science and research at the Salt Institute, said he disputes the evidence touted by medical groups that high salt intake has negative health consequences, noting that the human body actually relies on sodium to function.

“There are biological processes, physiological processes that respond when the body gets too little salt,” Satin said. “There’s a whole series of roles that salt has to play, it’s critical in the food system. You can’t just get rid of salt, you have to replace it.”

Satin said he doesn’t dispute the risks of high blood pressure, but noted that there are many ways in which Americans can reduce their blood pressure, such as getting more exercise and eating more fruits and vegetables.

In October, the Salt Institute accused the federal government of bias and of breaking federal law by disregarding scientific literature in its recommendations that Americans consume less sodium.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


More Vaccinations to Target Adults

Jeffrey Hamilton/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Children and adults alike are becoming equally targeted for immunizations, according to experts who claim adults also need protection from an array of diseases beyond the flu.

HealthDay reports that medical science is creating a host of new immunizations exclusively designed for adults to help prevent them from contracting life-threatening diseases in middle-age and beyond.

"Immunization is a life-long issue that we need to pay a lot of attention to," said Dr. Georges C. Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association.

"You need an influenza shot every year," Benjamin said. "Part of that is because the virus changes every year—sometimes a little and sometimes a lot.”

New vaccines, like the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine that protects women against cervical cancer, target specific age groups, which can make it more difficult to figure out which shots are needed.

Medical experts also report that a large number of vaccines target senior citizens specifically with immunizations designed to give the immune system an extra boost when needed.

"As we age, our ability to fight off disease wanes," Benjamin said. "Vaccines can help offset the waning of your body's normal immune responses."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Officials Warn of Global Warming Health Risks

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- U.S. medical authorities convened Thursday to urge lawmakers to consider the health risks of global warming.

Some experts allege global warming could endanger many citizens. The American Public Health Association cited deaths of the elderly during heat waves as likely in the event of rising world temperatures, according to a report by HealthDay.

The announcement comes in the wake of the House of Representatives's agreement to cut the Environment Protection Agency's budget, and Republican opposition to a strict greenhouse emissions rule.

Dr. Georges Benjamin, the APHA's executive director, argued that legislation against global warming could be modeled on the Clean Air Act, which was approved in 1970.

Nationwide polls have shown public support for global warming legislation waning in the past few years, especially after the so-called Climategate scandal in 2009, in which leaked emails from some prominent climatologists apparently showed them trying to hide the decline of global temperatures since the late 1990s. Concerns over the economy and the especially snowy winter of 2010/2011 also cooled global warming fears in this country.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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