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Health Headlines - October 23

Posted Oct 23 2008 2:23pm
Chefs Serve Portions That Surpass Government Guidelines

Most restaurant chefs pay scant attention to calories when they decide how much food to put on a plate, a survey of 300 professional cooks in the United States finds.

Instead, USA Today reported Sunday, taste, presentation and customer expectations shape the size of an individual meal, and that serving is typically three to four times larger than what the U.S. government recommends. It also tends to be 60 percent more than what is usually served at home. Each American bought an average of 209 meals outside the home last year, the newspaper reported.

The survey results were presented at the Obesity Society annual meeting this weekend, in Boston.

Portion sizes have increased steadily since 1971, and there has been a spike in obesity rates during the same period, survey leader Barbara Rolls, a nutrition professor who specializes in obesity research at Pennsylvania State University, told the newspaper.

Egg Salad Recalled in 17 states for Possible Contamination

Ballard's Farm Sausage Inc. announced Saturday that it has issued a 17-state recall of its egg salad because of possible contamination, the Associated Press reported.

Some company tests produced mixed results for Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in children and the elderly, and miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women, the wire service said.

The company has stopped making the egg salad until it can determine the cause of the contamination, Ballard President David Ballard told the AP. Meanwhile, consumers in the affected states can return the egg salad for a full refund.

The states involved in the recall are Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia, the wire service reported.

Chinese Moss Eyed as Alzheimer's Treatment

The National Institute of Aging is conducting a national clinical trial to see if a plant commonly used in China for cognitive problems might work against Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, the Associated Press reported Saturday.

Chinese club moss is already sold in the United States as a nutritional supplement, but researchers give patients in the trial either a placebo or a dose of an alkaloid extract from the plant that is larger than what is currently available in stores. After the first phase of the trial, all patients take the extract for eight weeks and have the choice to continue taking it if they think it is helping them with their memory problems. Researchers also test the cognitive function of the volunteers during the course of the trial, the AP said.

The trial is one of several federally funded studies that will try to ascertain the effectiveness of alternative therapies for various health conditions; the National Institutes of Health has earmarked $300.5 million for such research in the 2007 budget year.

"That kind of data is completely missing today from most nutraceuticals," trial investigator Dr. Daniel Kaufer, a neurologist at the University of North Carolina, told the AP.

Governments Target Phony Diabetes Cures

American, Canadian and Mexican government agencies have launched a campaign to stop Internet advertisements for fraudulent diabetes cures and treatments.

About 180 warning letters and other advisories have been sent to online outlets in the three countries.

"The Internet can be a great source of information, but it also is a billboard for ads that promise miracle cures for diabetes and other serious diseases. Our advice to consumers: 'Be smart, be skeptical' when evaluating health claims online," Lydia Parnes, director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), said in a prepared statement.

As part of the crackdown, the FTC has sent warning letters for deceptive ads to 84 American and seven Canadian Web sites targeting U.S. consumers. It has also referred an additional 21 sites to foreign governments.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has sent warning letters to 24 companies that market dietary supplement products touted to treat, cure, or prevent diabetes.

The FTC also has launched a new campaign to educate consumers on how to avoid phony diabetes cures. The American Dietetic Association will help distribute the information.

Canada Allows Silicone Breast Implants Back on Market

Canada will lift restrictions on the use of silicone gel breast implants, which were pulled from the market in 1992 due to health concerns that included suspected heart problems and autoimmune diseases.

Health Canada said Friday that it will allow plastic surgeons to use silicone gel implants for breast augmentation or for reconstruction in patients who have had breast cancer surgery, the Canadian Press reported.

The agency made the decision after a review by an expert panel and public hearings. In recent years, companies that make the implants have been lobbying to have them allowed back on the Canadian market.

Despite the ban, some 10,000 silicone breast implants in Canada been approved in the past two years under a special program that gives patients access to non-approved medical devices or drugs, the CP reported.

Silicone implants were also removed from the U.S. market in the early 1990s. In July 2005, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration told two companies it would allow them to resume U.S. sales of the implants if the companies met certain conditions. Neither company has yet received new marketing approval from the FDA.
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