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Success in the child obesity fight and how tooth loss may affect the heart: In health news today

A patient has six bad teeth removed at a health care clinic in Virginia in 2008. A new study suggests that poor oral health, tooth loss in particular, is associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
A patient has six bad teeth removed at a health care clinic in Virginia in 2008. A new study suggests that poor oral health, tooth loss in particular, is associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
John Moore/Getty Images

In today's health news:

The fight against child obesity is seeing some progress, according to a new report that says more than 1,700 U.S. cities have promoted exercise and gotten nearly 3 million children off their feet. Reuters says the report also notes that 141 grocery stores have been either built or renovated in food deserts, helping more than 500,000 people.

Being overweight at a young age can lead to a bigger heart later in life – and not in the good way. That's according to research being presented at the American College of Cardiology's 62nd Annual Scientific Session (press release), which said an enlarged heart could indicate serious cardiovascular problems and can even be fatal. People who had been overweight for a long time were found to be much more likely to have a heart that got bigger – and, said researchers, timing is everything: The earlier someone is overweight, the more time their heart has to grow.

Another study from the same Scientific Session (press release) says the fewer teeth a person has, the higher their risk of hardened arteries, bad cholesterol, high blood sugar, blood pressure and excess fat around the waist. Bleeding gums were also associated with higher levels of cholesterol and high blood pressure. The authors said it's unclear what accounts for the association between oral health and heart health.

In case you didn't have enough health risks on your mind, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have one more for you: According to Reuters, the agency warned health officials across the U.S. about coronavirus, a potentially fatal virus that was previously unseen in humans. As of now, coronavirus – which is from the same family of viruses as SARS – has killed eight people and made 14 sick, although no cases have been reported in the U.S. yet.

Recent changes to Pap smear screening guidelines may weaken its chances of catching aggressive cervical cancer, suggests a new study. HealthDay says current guidelines call for women to get a Pap test every three years, but researchers say two years is enough time for a particularly aggressive form of cancer to do major damage.

Anorexia is an eating disorder that can quickly become life-threatening, but researchers think they may have arrived at the beginnings of a breakthrough. They used electrodes to stimulate certain parts of the brain, in what was essentially an attempt to rewire it. Only six women were involved in the study, and the treatment only helped three women gain weight and improved the emotional and mental health of four. But Forbes has more on why this study matters.

The Los Angeles Times says the American Meat Institute responded to a study that claimed 3.3 percent of early deaths could be prevented if people ate less processed meat: The study's research methodology was flawed, said the Institute, and the data was unreliable.

About 11 percent of people who report vision loss are depressed, compared to about 5 percent of people who don't report vision loss. That's according to a new study, which HealthDay said showed an association between depression and vision loss but didn't say whether one causes the other.

If there was any lingering doubt about the negative effects of tobacco smoke: More research that'll be presented at the American College of Cardiology's Scientific Session (press release) says the more a person is exposed to secondhand smoke, the more likely they are to develop early signs of heart disease, like hardened arteries.

And finally: A petition to get the dyes Yellow #5 and Yellow #6 out of Kraft's Macaroni & Cheese has been signed more than 50,000 times, after allegations that the ingredients can cause hyperactivity in children, asthma and migraines. The Chicago Tribune says Kraft hasn't yet responded.