Public Health News Roundup: December 12
Study Links Diabetes, Rise in Severe Vision Problems
Diabetes may be responsible for a significant increase in serious vision problems in U.S. adults, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. From 1999 to 2008, the rate of severe problems climbed 21 percent for adults ages 20 and older. "There has been a change on two fronts during the last seven to 10 years. One is that visual impairment is increasing, and this is visual impairment that can't be fixed with glasses. The other is that 20- to 39-year-olds are now losing vision as well," said Fang Ko, MD, an study author, ophthalmologist and resident at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. There were other contributing factors, but researchers identified diabetes as a consistent contributor. While diabetes has become more manageable, the study’s findings demonstrate the need for people to be more away about the risk factors that can lead to the disease. Read more on diabetes.
Americans Living Longer, But Not Always Healthier
While Americans are living longer on average, chronic diseases mean that those extended lives are not always healthier, according to the United Health Foundation's 2012 America's Health Rankings. In 2009, the American life expectancy was 78.5 years. "As a nation, we've made extraordinary gains in longevity over the past decades, but as individuals we are regressing in our health," said Reed Tuckson, MD, a medical adviser at the United Health Foundation and chief of medical affairs at the UnitedHealth Group. Preventable chronic conditions include diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. Read more on aging.
Study: Junk Food Taxes Can Improve Nutrition, Health
Junk food taxes that help subsidize fruits and vegetables can help improve eating habits and overall public health, according to a new study in the journal PLoS Medicine. A price increase of as little as 1 percent would cut the consumption of fatty foods by 0.02 percent, while a 10 percent jump in the price of soda would cut consumption by as much as 24 percent. While the rates might seem relatively low, researchers believe the positive health benefits would be greater for low-income families, who are at higher risk for poor health due to inadequate nutrition. Read more on nutrition.