Health Briefs

By Submitted December 18, 2012 10:25 am

People are living longer, but sicker

Nearly everywhere around the world, people are living longer and fewer children are dying. But increasingly, people are grappling with the diseases and disabilities of modern life, according to the most expansive global look so far at life expectancy and the biggest health threats.

Chronic illnesses and disabilities that strike later in life are taking a bigger toll, the research said. High blood pressure has become the leading health risk worldwide, followed by smoking and alcohol.

“The biggest contributor to the global health burden isn’t premature (deaths), but chronic diseases, injuries, mental health conditions and all the bone and joint diseases,” said one of the study leaders, Christopher Murray, director of the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

More meat, grain in school lunches 

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told members of Congress in a letter Friday that the department will do away with daily and weekly limits of meats and grains. Several lawmakers wrote the department after the new rules went into effect in September saying kids aren’t getting enough to eat.

School administrators also complained, saying set maximums on grains and meats are too limiting as they try to plan daily meals.

The new guidelines were intended to address increasing childhood obesity levels. They set limits on calories and salt, and phase in more whole grains. Schools must offer at least one vegetable or fruit per meal. The department also dictated how much of certain food groups could be served.

Drug-prescribing problems in Calif. 

An investigation finds California patients are at risk from reckless prescribing by doctors because of a lack of oversight at the state Medical Board.

The Los Angeles Times reports regulators seldom try to suspend the prescribing privileges of physicians under investigation for overprescribing.

At least 30 patients in Southern California have died of drug overdoses or related causes while their doctors were under investigation. The board ultimately sanctioned all but one of those 12 doctors, and some were criminally charged.

The newspaper says even when the board sanctions doctors for abusing their prescribing powers, in most cases it allows them to continue practicing and writing prescriptions.