May 14th, 2013
02:28 PM ET
Reducing salt consumption below the currently recommended 2,300 milligrams – about 1 1/2 teaspoons– per day maybe unnecessary, according to a new report released Tuesday by the Institute of Medicine (IOM).
The news follows a decades-long push to get Americans to reduce the amount of salt in their diet because of strong links between high sodium consumption and hypertension, a known risk factor for heart disease.
The IOM, at the request of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reviewed recent studies published through 2012 that explored ties between salt consumption and direct health outcomes like cardiovascular disease and death. The organization describes itself as "an independent, nonprofit organization that works outside of government to provide unbiased and authoritative advice to decision makers and the public."
Researchers determined there wasn't enough evidence to say whether lowering salt consumption to levels between 1,500 and 2,300 mg per day could increase or decrease your risk of heart disease and mortality. But lowering sodium intake might adversely affect your health, the panel found.
April 23rd, 2013
03:03 PM ET
You walk into a fast food restaurant and examine the menu. You could get a salad with grilled chicken and dressing on the side. Or you could get a double cheeseburger.
Seeing the calories listed next to each item isn't likely to affect your decision, according to a new study being presented at the Experimental Biology 2013 meeting this week. But seeing the amount of time it would take you to work those calories off at the gym just might.
Researchers at Texas Christian University asked 300 men and women aged 18 to 30 years to purchase food from one of three fast food menus. All of the menus contained the same options, including burgers, chicken tenders, salad, French fries and desserts.
One group's menu had no labels of any kind. The second group's menu was labeled with the total calories in each item. The third group's menu was labeled with the number of minutes of brisk walking it would take someone to burn off the calories in the meal.
April 22nd, 2013
12:05 AM ET
While growing up, many children may have heard "clean your plate" or been denied candy. But how do parental attitudes toward food affect a child's weight?
Denying certain foods to children or pressuring them to eat every bit of a meal are common practices among many parents. But researchers at the University of Minnesota found parents who restricted foods were more likely to have overweight or obese children. And while those who pressured children to eat all of their meals mostly had children of normal weight, it adversely affected the way those children ate as they grew older, according to the study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics. FULL POST
March 25th, 2013
02:36 PM ET
At least 40% of moms are feeding their infants solid foods far too early, according a new study published in the medical journal Pediatrics, and that may lead to problems for their children later in life.
Researchers wanted to know how many babies were being fed solid foods (including cereal and baby food) sooner than recommended, whether breast-feeding or formula feeding made a difference and why solids were being introduced early. When the study began in 2005, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which also publishes the journal Pediatrics, recommended introducing solid foods when babies were between 4 and 6 months old.
In 2012, the AAP changed those recommendations. Now it says babies shouldn't be eating solid food until they are about 6 months old.
March 11th, 2013
01:10 PM ET
How'd you like to get paid to lose weight? Financial incentives can help improve your odds of dropping pounds, according to a new study.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic followed 100 Mayo employees over the course of a year as they took educational classes on how to eat healthy and lose weight.
The employees were broken up into several groups - some of which got financial incentives to shed the pounds and others that just got the classes.
March 11th, 2013
12:01 AM ET
Raw meat is a notorious Salmonella carrier. It can also be found on unclean kitchen counters. An investigation published this week in the journal of Pediatrics suggests we should also look for the deadly bacteria in pet frogs.
Investigators from public health agencies across the United States found that African dwarf frogs are causing a nationwide outbreak of a specific Salmonella strain in children.
A group of health professionals make up the Salmonella Typhimurium Outbreak Investigation Team, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recently, the team has been examining the effects of African dwarf frogs on people’s health.
“Amphibians and reptiles should never be kept in homes with children less than 5 years old or with people who have immune deficiencies,” said lead author and CDC public health advisor Shauna Mettee Zarecki. This includes day care settings and nursing homes, she said.
March 10th, 2013
07:58 PM ET
Talk about a startling juxtaposition: A mummy in a CT scanner. You may be wondering: Why in the world would a mummy get a CT scan?
It turns out that preserved peoples are great study subjects, especially when you are trying to figure out the roots of health problems that span millennia.
A study released Sunday in The Lancet suggests that atherosclerosis - the disease that makes arteries go rigid, and is a leading cause of death worldwide - may have been around for thousands of years.
"We like to say that we found the serial killer that's stalked mankind for 4,000 years," said Dr. Randall Thompson, attending cardiologist at Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute, and lead author of the study.
February 26th, 2013
10:49 AM ET
You’ve seen it added to cereal boxes, gallons of milk and bottles of orange juice. Experts tout its benefits – from strong bones to a strong immune system – and warn of the dangers of Vitamin D deficiency.
The public relations push is working; between 2002 and 2011, sales of vitamin D supplements increased from $42 million to $605 million, according to the Nutrition Business Journal.
New recommendations from the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force could bump those sales even higher, or - if critics are right - confuse consumers as they head down the pharmacy aisle.
After completing a review of existing research, the USPSTF, an independent panel of doctors and experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine, is advising against taking moderate amounts of Vitamin D and calcium supplements because there is not enough evidence to prove the supplements reduce the risk of bone fractures.
February 21st, 2013
12:01 AM ET
Americans are eating less fast food daily than they used to, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But it's not much less.
Using data from 2007 to 2010, the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics determined adults eat, on average, 11.3% of their daily calories from fast food. That number was 12.8% in 2006– a one and half point difference.
As you would expect, younger adults tend to eat more fast food than seniors. People older than 60 eat approximately 6% of their daily calories from fast food. Among the younger age groups, non-Hispanic black adults eat the most fast food - using more than one-fifth of their daily calories at fast food establishments.
The CDC did not see a significant difference in fast food consumption based on income, according to the report. Only in the 20-to-39 age group did fast food consumption drop as income increased.
Fast food has been linked to the obesity epidemic in the United States. Not surprisingly, obese adults in each age group ate more of their calories from fast food.
February 4th, 2013
06:32 PM ET
Semen quality is a much-discussed subject among scientists these days. Data suggests sperm concentration has been declining in Western countries over the past couple of decades - and reasons for the decline are debatable.
The lead author of a new study on the subject, Audrey Gaskins, has been studying the effects of diet and exercise on semen for several years as a doctoral candidate at the Harvard School of Public Health. Her latest research shows a lack of physical activity – and too much time in front of the television - may impact sperm count and concentration.
Previous studies have shown a link between physical activity and decreased levels of oxidative stress, Gaskins says. “Oxidative stress” is stress placed on the body as it tries to get rid of free radicals or repair the damage caused by them. Exercise may protect certain male cells from oxidative damage, Gaskins says, leading to increased sperm concentration.
Those findings led Gaskins to complete an observational study on young men’s exercise and TV habits as they relate to semen quality. The results were published online Monday in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
About this blog
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.