Starting Solid Foods Too Early My Lead to Obesity in Children

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BOSTON) -- A new study by Children’s Hospital Boston suggests childhood obesity can be triggered by when kids start solid foods. 

Study authors followed 847 infants from before birth until three years of age and surveyed the mothers about how they fed their children, particularly when they started feeding the infants solid foods. 

For the 67 percent of breastfed infants, there was no association between the timing of solid food introduction and obesity at three years of age.  For the 32 percent of formula-fed infants, however, those who were introduced to solid foods before four months of age were six times more likely to be obese at three years of age. 

The authors suggest that better adherence to the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines regarding the timing of solid food introduction may reduce the risk of childhood obesity. The AAP recommends that parents wait until infants are between four and six months of age before they introduce solid foods into their diet.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Mystery Meat: The Norm in Fast Food

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- How much meat is in your Taco Bell taco filling?  How much is in your McDonald's Quarter Pounder or your Burger King Whopper?  And is this meat really meat, or something else?

These questions took center stage in January when a California woman sued Taco Bell, claiming its taco filling is only 35 percent ground beef.  The rest, she alleges in her class action suit, consists of edible padding: binders, extenders, preservatives, additives and other non-meat ingredients.

Taco Bell says not only is its filling 88 percent ground beef, but that this beef is no different from what you'd buy at your local supermarket for use at home.  The company has fought back with a counterattack ad campaign.

Kantha Shelke, chief science officer of Corvus Blue LLC, a Chicago food science and nutrition research firm, says it's frankly impossible for a consumer to know how much meat is in a food item at Taco Bell, McDonald's, Burger King or any other fast food restaurant.  That's because such disclosure is not required.  Even when an item is touted as being "all-beef," it may be only 70 percent meat and not run afoul of regulations.

Non-meat ingredients in meat items include ones that add flavor or promote consistency, and binders.

"American consumers think they're being cheated out of their money when they hear that term," says Shelke.  "But logically speaking, binders are a very natural thing.  They prevent water from coming out during cooking.  When you make meatloaf at home, you use breadcrumbs for the same reason -- to hold the moisture."

As for the meat itself, some of it can be, well, not exactly what you think of when you think of meat.

Bill Marler, a plaintiffs' attorney specializing in food safety lawsuits, says that it's common for up to 10 percent to 12 percent of that juicy burger you're about to pop into your mouth to be "ammoniated beef product" -- scraps and trimmings left over from slaughter that used to be relegated for use in pet food.

They no longer are, thanks to a treatment process that uses ammonium hydroxide to protect meat made from scraps against bacterial contamination, thus rendering it fit -- at least according to regulators -- for human consumption.

The product is produced by Beef Products Inc. of South Dakota, whose website says that if you're eating a hamburger in a "quick-service restaurant" (the food industry's preferred term for fast food), "...chances are you'll be eating product produced by BPI."

Rich Jochum, a corporate administrator for BPI, says that the process "minutely adjusts" the level of ammonium hydroxide occurring naturally in meat, and that it enjoys USDA approval.  Further, ammonium hydroxide has received GRAS ("Generally Regarded As Safe") recognition by the FDA.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Government Releases Health Care Fraudsters Most Wanted List

Image Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Health care fraud has cost American taxpayers millions of dollars in recent years, and now the Office of the Inspector General has announced a top-ten list of people most wanted for exploiting the system for their personal gain.

While the OIG says health care fraudsters have cost taxpayers $124 million in total, there are a few notable fugitives who account for a large part of the missing money.

Three brothers working out of Miami allegedly ripped off Medicare for $110 million. One woman took Medi-Cal, the Medicaid program in the state of California, for $17.1 million, authorities say. The OIG says another man billed Medicare for $1.1 million.

Overall OIG says it is tracking about 170 fugitives, but that two of the top ten most wanted have been taken into custody. The organization stressed that it needs all the help it can get from the public, and offers both a phone number and online form to report a fugitive.

The most wanted list is available online at

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: School Lunches Linked to Obesity

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A study has found that childhood obesity can be linked to the consumption of school lunches.

The study found that children who regularly consume school lunches had a 29 percent higher chance of becoming obese, as compared to their classmates who brought lunches from home, according to a report by The New York Times.

The study was conducted in southeast Michigan, and involved over a thousand sixth grade students from area schools. According to the story by the Times, of the 142 obese students who took part in the study, almost half consumed school lunches on a regular basis, while only one-third of the 787 children who were not obese regularly consumed school lunches.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Perils of Pregnancy: Obesity and Advanced Age

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Preeclampsia -- out-of-control hypertension in pregnancy -- is the number-one cause of maternal death around the world. But another disease is taking a toll on mothers and babies, especially in the United States -- obesity.

"The number-one health condition that affects pregnancy is obesity," said Dr. Katharine Wenstrom, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Women and Infants Hospital at Brown University in Rhode Island. "It changes everything with an increased risk for all pregnancy complications."

More than half of all women in the U.S. are overweight or obese when they become pregnant, and most go on to gain more than the recommended amount during pregnancy, according to Kaiser Permanente.

Doctors now know that fat cells are not inert and can produce inflammation. For pregnant women, that inflammation affects the placenta, according to Wenstrom. Obese women have smaller babies, more pre-term labor, airway problems and chances of serious complications during a C-section.

"The chance of death is higher and it's a real risk," she said.

"Most women do just fine," said Dr. Maurice Druzin, chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford University.

But social changes such as women delaying childbirth are making pregnancy more complicated. Advanced reproductive technologies have allowed women "who are not supposed to get pregnant" to have children, said Druzin.

"If you left it to nature, they would not get pregnant at this age," he said. "There are big ramifications of infertility with more multiples. ... Women who are older tend to have more chronic medical illnesses like hypertension and diabetes and are at more risk of getting gestational diabetes and preeclampsia."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Gallup: Caregivers Suffer Poorer Physical Health

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Americans who work a full-time job and care for an elderly or disabled family member or friend, suffer from poorer physical health than those who work full-time but do not have caregiving responsibilities, according to results from a recent Gallup poll.

Caregivers, representing 16 percent of full-time workers in the American workforce, have a Physical Health Index of 77.4 -- significantly lower than the 83.0 found among non-caregivers.

As for overall well-being, Americans between the ages of 18 to 29 working full-time suffer the effects of caregiving more than any other group, the report stated.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Consumer Reports Survey Shows Some Heart Tests Not Needed

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A survey by Consumer Reports magazine suggests many healthy adults are getting screening tests for heart disease that they don't need.

Forty-four percent of healthy adults surveyed reported that they had received at least one heart screening test, such as an electrocardiogram or exercise stress test, which show limited evidence of effectiveness in low or normal risk patients.

Consumer Reports evaluated whether the benefits of nine common heart screening tests, based on guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, outweigh the potential harms. 

Blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose received the highest ratings for most adults. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


FDA Approves Diagnostic Radiology Apps for iPhone, iPad

Photo Courtesy - Apple, Inc.(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Friday approved a new mobile application that will allow doctors to view radiology images on their iPhone and iPad.  The application is the first to be cleared for making medical diagnoses based on computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and nuclear medicine technology.

Though it may benefit physicians not to be forced to wait for film or be confined to a workstation, the FDA notes that the application is not meant to replace full workstations and is only for use when a workstation is not accessible.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Women Take Biggest Hit in Divorce, Say Experts

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- More than half of all marriages -- there were more than 2 million in 2009 -- end in divorce, according to the National Council of Family Relations.

The probability of a first marriage ending in divorce within five years is 20 percent. After a decade, the chances of a divorce are 33 percent. As the number of marriages increases, so does the risk. By the third time around, about 73 percent will dissolve, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Women are often hit harder than men, as they try to navigate new lives with fewer financial resources, more child-care responsibilities and the challenge of dating again.

One report in Marie Claire magazine said a woman's quality of life drops 45 percent after divorce.

Stacy Schneider, a lawyer and author of the 2008 book He Had It Coming: How to Outsmart Your Husband and Win Your Divorce, says women mistakenly wait to make a clean break from their husbands before they figure out their finances. She sees many women emotionally "going to pieces" and "wimping out" when it comes to protecting their property rights.

Another earlier study from Iowa State University's Institute for Social and Behavioral Research showed that divorce had no immediate effects on a woman's physical health, but had lingering effects on her mental health that led to illness a decade after divorce. The incidence of physical illness is 37 percent higher in divorced women than in married ones after a decade.

Researchers said that social isolation and comparatively poor job opportunities after divorce could be responsible for the illness reported a decade later.

One woman from Texas, who did not want to be identified, told ABC News that hardest part of divorce was being a single working mother with a 2-year-old.

"While, of course, there's huge financial stress, I find the emotional stress to be greater," she wrote in an e-mail. "First, it's the lack of time to raise my son as I'd hoped and dreamed, the guilt and inadequacy associated and the worry of future effects it may have on have such limited bonding time with his mother."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Researchers Link Type 1 Diabetes in Children to Common Cold

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SYDNEY, Australia) -- Researchers say the common cold could be linked to type 1 diabetes in at risk children. 

This research can explain the dramatic rise in diabetes cases among very young children, researchers suggest, and could lead to improved treatment and prevention.

The analysis of the 26 studies published in BMJ Online First showed that young type 1 diabetic patients are 10 times more likely to exhibit symptoms of enterovirus infection than children without the disease.

Researcher Maria Craig, PhD, of the University of South Wales in Sydney, Australia told WebMD, "We saw a very strong association between enterovirus infection and type 1 diabetes."

"Obviously studies like the ones we looked at cannot prove cause and effect, but the findings make a strong case for this association," she added.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio