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Health Highlights: Feb. 27, 2013

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

First Lady's Anti-Obesity Campaign Having an Effect

Michelle Obama's campaign against childhood obesity appears to be prompting changes meant to improve children's eating habits and help them maintain or achieve a healthy weight.

For example, millions of schoolchildren now eat vegetables from salad bars in school lunchrooms and children's meals at Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants include a side of fruit or vegetables and a glass of low-fat milk, the Associated Press reported.

The first lady launched her "Let's Move" campaign in February 2010. On Wednesday, she began a two-day promotional tour with stops in Mississippi, Illinois and Missouri. She's also been promoting the program on TV shows, on the radio, and in public service announcements.

"We're starting to see some shifts in the trend lines and the data where we're starting to show some improvement," Mrs. Obama told SiriusXM host B. Smith in an interview broadcast Tuesday, the AP reported.

"We've been spending a lot of time educating and re-educating families and kids on how to eat, what to eat, how much exercise to get and how to do it in a way that doesn't completely disrupt someone's life," the first lady explained.

About one third of American children are overweight or obese.


All Pediatric Trials of Sensipar Shut Down Following Patient Death

U.S. health officials said Tuesday that they have halted all clinical trials testing the use of the drug Sensipar in children following the death of a teen patient in one of the trials.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in a statement that it has not concluded whether the drug, made by Amgen Inc., played a role in the 14-year-old's death.

The agency has approved the use of Sensipar to treat an overactive parathyroid gland, which can lead to brittle bones, kidney stones and abdominal pain. It has been used since 2004 to treat symptoms of chronic kidney disease and parathyroid cancer.

Amgen Inc. had been studying the drug to see if it might work in children, according to the Associated Press.

In a statement, the company said that it "is working as rapidly as possible to understand the circumstances of what happened."

The drug is known to lower calcium levels, sometimes to dangerous levels, the AP reported.

The FDA said in its statement that patients' calcium levels should be monitored monthly, checking for symptoms of calcium deficiency, including cramping, convulsions and burning or prickling sensations. Calcium supplementation should be given if levels drop too low, the agency added.

The most common side effects of the drug in adults include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

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Posted: February 2013