Health Highlights: Feb. 4, 2011

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Vitamin Waters Ads Misleading: Consumer Group

A consumer group wants U.S. officials to stop what it calls misleading advertising claims about vitamin waters.

The National Consumers League says the Federal Trade Commission should halt "dangerously misleading" ads that suggest vitamin waters can prevent illness or replace flu shots, United Press International reported.

The products contain fructose and other forms of sugar that are high in calories, the group said.

"These advertising claims are not only untrue, they constitute a public health menace," said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg, UPI reported. "Stopping these vitamin water claims, which contradict information by the Centers for Disease Control and other public health authorities, should be a top FTC priority."

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States Offered Ways to Cut Medicaid Costs

The White House has given states a number of suggestions for cutting their spending for Medicaid, the government-sponsored health program for lower-income individuals.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius outlined a number of approaches, including charging higher co-payments for certain services, more efficient management of high-cost patients, limiting some benefits, finding ways to lower drug costs, and cracking down on improper payments, the Associated Press reported.

But Sebelius didn't suggest one item favored by a number of governors -- reducing the number of Medicaid beneficiaries by restricting eligibility. That approach is being considered by some states, the news service said.

The federal government pays an average of close to 60 cents of every $1 spent on Medicaid, but the program is generally the first or second most expensive item in state budgets, the AP reported.

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Worldwide Obesity Rates Double Since 1980: Researchers

Obesity rates worldwide doubled in the last three decades, from about 5 percent of men and 8 percent of women in 1980 to nearly 10 percent of men and 14 percent of women in 2008, according to new research.

About 205 million men and 297 women were obese in 2008, and another 1.5 billion adults were overweight, the Associated Press reported.

"Being obese is no longer just a Western problem," said researcher Majid Ezzati, a professor of public health at Imperial College London, England.

People in American Samoa and other Pacific Island nations are the heaviest in the world. Among developed nations, the United States is the fattest and Japan the slimmest, the AP reported.

The research was published Friday in The Lancet.

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Some SafetyCraft Cribs Unsafe: CPSC

SafetyCraft full-size and portable drop-side cribs distributed by Generation 2 Worldwide may pose a strangulation and suffocation risk to infants due to faulty hardware, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warns.

The agency said parents and caregivers should not attempt to fix these cribs. They should stop using the cribs immediately and find an alternative, safe sleeping environment for their baby, the Associated Press reported.

The safety alert applies only to SafteyCraft cribs distributed by Generation 2 Worldwide of Dothan, Ala., which ceased operations in 2005. SafetyCraft cribs made and sold by Foundations Children's Products of Medina, Ohio, are not included in the safety alert, the news services said.

The CPSC said consumers can identify Foundations SafetyCraft cribs by looking for "Foundations" printed on the mattress support assembly instructions label under the crib mattress, the AP reported.

Posted: February 2011


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