Health Highlights: April 1, 201104/01/11
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
FDA Proposes Calorie Labels for Fast Foods, Vending Machines
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday proposed
regulations that would require calorie labeling on menus and menu
boards in chain restaurants, retail food establishments, and
"These proposals will ensure that consumers have more information when they make their own food choices," Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in an FDA news release. "Giving consumers clear nutritional information makes it easier for them to choose healthier options that can help fight obesity and make us all healthier."
Under the proposal for chain restaurants and similar food
establishments, consumers would see calories listed in eateries
that are part of a chain with 20 or more locations. Examples
include fast food establishments, bakeries, coffee shops and
certain grocery and convenience stores, the FDA said.
A companion proposal would require posting calorie information
for food sold in vending machines.
"Americans now consume about one-third of their total calories on foods prepared outside the home," FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg said in the news release. "While consumers can find calorie and other nutrition information on most packaged foods, it's not generally available in restaurants or similar retail establishments. This proposal is aimed at giving consumers consistent and easy-to-understand nutrition information."
The FDA is seeking public comment on the menu labeling proposal
for 60 days, until June 6. The comment period for the vending
machine proposal would last 90 days, July 5. The agency said it
plans to issue final rules before the end of 2011.
To comment on the proposals, visit
White House Plan Would Reduce Health Care Fragmentation
Proposed rules meant to encourage doctors and hospitals to work
together and reduce costs were released Thursday by the Obama
In return for forming these accountable care organizations and
meeting federal quality standards, health care providers and
facilities would be given financial rewards,
The New York Times reported.
The program could create 75 to 150 of these organizations, which
would serve 1.5 million to 4 million of the nation's 47 million
Medicare beneficiaries, according to federal officials.
Advocates of the plan believe accountable care organizations are
a good way to help patients and save money by reducing the high
level of fragmentation in the nation's health care system, the
No Health Risk From Radiation in U.S. Foods: Officials
Americans shouldn't be concerned about the health effects of low
levels of radiation in foods, according to health officials and
Traces of radiation from the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear
plant in Japan have started to appear in the United States. For
example, radioactive iodine was found in milk in California and
Washington state. The amount detected in the milk sample from
Spokane, Wash. was 5,000 times below the U.S. recommended limit for
exposure, and a similar trace amount was found in the milk sample
from a dairy in San Luis Obispo County, Calif., the
Associated Press reported.
"It is safe to drink milk. It is safe to eat dairy products," San Luis Obispo County Health Officer Penny Borenstein said at a news conference Thursday.
So far, no radiation from the damaged Japanese nuclear plant has
been found in any other foods in the U.S., according to the Food
and Drug Administration.
Experts say the current levels of radiation leaking from the
Fukushima complex are unlikely to cause health problems in the U.S.
or any other nations far away from Japan.
"This amount of radiation is tiny, tiny, tiny compared to what you get from natural sources every day," John Moulder, a professor of radiation oncology at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, told the AP.
It's possible that leafy vegetables such as spinach will be the
next U.S.-produced foods to show signs of radiation, which will
come from contaminated rainwater, Moulder said.
As in the case of the affected milk, the health risk "is about
as close to zero as you can get," he told the
U.S. Road Deaths Lowest in Six Decades
Increased use of seat belts, better safety features in cars, and
programs to reduce drunk driving helped push road deaths in the
United States in 2010 to the lowest number in more than 60 years,
say federal officials.
The 32,788 people killed on the nation's roads last year was a
decrease of about 3 percent from 2009 and is the fewest number of
fatalities since more than 30,000 were killed in 1949, the
Transportation Department said Friday, the
Associated Press reported.
Deaths fell 12 percent in the Pacific Northwest and there were
also large declines in Western states.
The lower number of traffic fatalities last year is especially
noteworthy considering that Americans drove 20.5 billion more miles
(0.7 percent) more than they did in 2009, says the Federal Highway
The rate of deaths per 100 million miles traveled also declined
to a record low of 1.09 in 2010. The previous record low of 1.13
deaths was set in 2009.
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Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.