Our weekly roundup of the latest news in the world of health.
American children get way too much salt, a new report finds. And the top salt eaters are the most likely to have high blood pressure. Another report released this week found that cancer is the top cause of death for U.S. Hispanics. It replaces heart disease in the No. 1 spot. Two advocacy groups predicted this week that more than half of adults in 39 states will be obese by 2030. That's higher than U.S. government estimates. Consumer Reports magazine published measurements of arsenic in 223 rice products this week. The consumer group behind the magazine urged the U.S. government to set limits on arsenic in rice.
This Issue: Saltiest Diet Boosts Kids' Blood Pressure Cancer No. 1 Cause of Death for Hispanics Report Predicts Bigger Increase in Obesity Group Calls for Limits on Arsenic in Rice
In the News:
Saltiest Diet Boosts Kids' Blood Pressure
American children eat too much salt, and those who eat the most have higher blood pressure, a new study finds. The study came from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers looked at data on 6,200 children who took part in recent national health surveys. The children were ages 8 through 18. Children were asked twice over several days to list all foods they had eaten the day before. Researchers estimated how much sodium they ate. Salt is the biggest source of sodium in food. On average, children ate 3,300 milligrams daily. That's 1,000 milligrams above the recommended amount. Overall, 15% of children had either prehypertension or high blood pressure. Prehypertension is blood pressure that is above normal but not as high as in high blood pressure. Children who ate the most salt were twice as likely to have one of these conditions as children who ate the least. Rates were triple for overweight and obese children eating the most salt. The journal Pediatrics published the study online September 17. The Associated Press wrote about it. Another study in the journal found that children's doctors don't always check blood pressure. They measured it at one-third of all visits and two-thirds of checkups.
Cancer No. 1 Cause of Death for Hispanics
Cancer is now the leading cause of death among U.S. Hispanics, the American Cancer Society says in a new report. The rest of the country may follow in the next 10 years, the author told the Associated Press (AP). Some U.S. health officials think cancer may replace heart disease as the top killer even sooner, in the next 2 or 3 years. The reason it's already the leading cause of death for Hispanics is mainly related to age, AP said. On average, U.S. Hispanics are younger than non-Hispanic whites and blacks. Cancer occurs more often at younger ages than heart disease does. As for the overall trends, death rates for both heart disease and cancer have been falling. But heart disease deaths have fallen faster because of better treatments, AP said. Cancer is also the leading cause of death for Asian and Pacific Islander Americans. The report appears this week in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.
Report Predicts Bigger Increase in Obesity
Two health advocacy groups predict that more than half of adults in 39 states will be obese -- not just overweight -- by 2030. The estimates came in a report published this week. The authors were the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Associated Press (AP) wrote about the report. It forecasts that Mississippi will be the fattest state, with 67% of adults obese. The current obesity rate in the state is 35%. The report forecasts a higher obesity rate than U.S. officials do. The official estimate is that 42% of U.S. adults will be obese by 2030. The current rate is about 36%. The new report did not include an overall U.S. estimate for 2030. But a researcher told AP that it would be close to 50%. The Trust for America's Health said its estimates are based on multiple sources. They include health surveys in which people were asked their height and weight and other studies that included actual measurements.
Group Calls for Limits on Arsenic in Rice
A consumer group this week urged the U.S. government to set limits on allowable levels of arsenic in rice. Organic arsenic passes right through the body. It is considered harmless. Inorganic arsenic, found in some pesticides, can be toxic or cause cancer if consumed for a long time or at high doses. The new report from Consumer Reports magazine was based on arsenic levels in 223 samples from rice products. Inorganic arsenic ranged up to 8.7 micrograms per serving. The report compared this with New Jersey's limit of 5 micrograms per liter of water. That's one of the strictest standards in the country. But it's unclear if standards for water and food should be the same. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) responded to the report by releasing its own test results for 200 rice samples. They showed 3.5 to 6.7 micrograms of inorganic arsenic per serving. The FDA said the full study will include 1,200 products. So far, the FDA said, there's no reason to believe arsenic levels in food are unsafe. But officials said people should vary their diets for the sake of good health as well as a precaution against concerns with any specific food. The Associated Press wrote about the issue.
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