Health news nuggets
I'm trying something new in The Checkup today: A roundup of the latest health and nutrition news.
Let me know if you like this enough for me to do it, say, once a week, by voting in today's poll.
First Lady fleshes out anti-obesity plan
Michelle Obama unveiled a comprehensive plan, complete with deadlines and to-do lists, for achieving the goal of nearly eliminating childhood obesity by 2030. Strategies to be implemented by federal and local governments and by the private sector include everything from promoting breast-feeding to encouraging restaurants to reduce portion sizes.
Some of the suggestions would cost taxpayers -- extending the school lunch program to make decent lunches available to kids during the summer, but the private sector is called on to do its part, too. (Which, of course, will end up costing consumers.) Still, it's nice to have the whole issue laid out, and so visibly, and to have a working blueprint for fixing this big problem. (BTW, statistics suggest that childhood obesity rates may already have stopped rising. But that's no reason to sit back and relax.)
Far fewer have food allergies than believed
About 30 percent of us think we have a food allergy. But new research commissioned by the National Institutes of Health suggests that only about 8 percent of children and 5 percent of adults in fact are allergic to a food. That discrepancy can be explained in part by the difficulty in distinguishing between an intolerance and a bona fide allergy; that's exacerbated by the challenges inherent in testing people for food allergies. The research is part of the NIH's larger effort to establish a framework for diagnosing and dealing with food allergies in general.
IOM calls for better way for FDA to evaluate food health claims
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration should devise a scientific approach for evaluating health claims made on behalf of foods, the Institute of Medicine says in a new report. The IOM recommends targeting certain biomarkers -- such as levels of certain blood lipids, for instance -- that can be used to measure the effects of foods -- not just ingredients -- on the human body. That would bring the FDA's regulation of the food supply in line with the agency's handling of drugs, cosmetics and medical devices. Sounds good to me -- but it's hard to figure why this hasn't already been done.
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