Health Replay: Calorie Counts on Menus … and More

What happened this week in health?

The week in health….
Putting calorie counts on restaurant menus  is supposed to make diners stop and think before making unhealthy food choices. New research, however, shows the tactic isn’t working. In a poll of 2,000 Philadelphia fast-food customers only about 10 percent used the information. That’s if they noticed it. “Forty percent of the sample saw it and about 10 percent [overall] said they used it and reported that they purchased fewer calories,” said study author Brian Elbel, an assistant professor of population health and health policy at the NYU School of Medicine.
The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology released new guidelines on who should take cholesterol-lowering drugs, stressing taking care of the sickest and those at the highest risk of a heart attack or stroke, instead of the current, more general emphasis on lowering cholesterol numbers. The changes may mean some people can skip medication, while others may need higher doses.
Think of diabetes as World War III, and we’re losing the battle. The number of people worldwide estimated to be living with the disease rose to a record of 382 million this year, medical experts said this week. Most of that 382 million have type 2 diabetes, which has been linked to obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. This year’s record number is up from 371 million cases in 2012. If the growing trend continues at this pace, experts predict there will be 592 million cases of the disease globally by 2035.
It’s a good news/bad news situation on the pancreatic cancer front: Death rates are decreasing among blacks, but our rates still remain much higher than among whites. Researchers from the American Cancer Society studied pancreatic cancer deaths between 1970 and 2009 and found that death rates from this particularly deadly cancer among blacks increased between 1970 and the late 1980s for women and in the early 1990s for men, before beginning to decline. Though the lower death rates are good, they remain substantially higher among black folks than among their white counterparts. The disparities are not fully explained by differences in smoking rates, which have decreased among blacks and whites since 1965. Smoking is one of the major causes of pancreatic cancer.
New research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has found that about one in 12 people in the U.S. has asthma. And the rate appears to be on the rise. From 2001 to 2011, the CDC says the number of Americans with asthma grew by 28 percent. According to the CDC, “the greatest rise in asthma rates was among black children (almost a 50 percent increase) from 2001 through 2009.” Research presented at this year’s American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology annual meeting shows a corresponding rise in allergy rates as well.

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