Reporting on health and quality of life in South LA

Petition asks FDA to set safe levels for added sugars

New York City Board Of Health Approves Bloomberg's Over Sized Sugary Drink Ban

Mario Tama/Getty Images

The Center for Science in the Public Interest wants federal regulators to set limits for how much sugar can be added to beverages like soda – so it filed a petition.

A nonprofit consumer advocacy group is urging federal food regulators to identify a safe level of added sugars for beverages, saying excessive added sugars in American diets has "created a public health crisis of epic proportions."

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) filed a petition with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday, citing data which establishes "the serious public health risks associated with large intakes of added sugars, particularly when consumed in beverages."

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health lent its support to the initiative, signing onto an accompanying letter addressed to Dr. Margaret Hamburg, the FDA's commissioner.

The FDA classifies high fructose corn syrup, sucrose and other sugars as "generally recognized as safe," but CSPI's petition says it's the quantities in which these sweeteners are used in food that makes them so dangerous to people's health. In order to recognized as safe, there must be a scientific consensus that that's true – and CSPI is telling the FDA that consensus isn't there, even if it once was.

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'Engaging folks where they are' key to improving community health in South LA

umma community clinic in South LA

José Martinez/KPCC

UMMA Community Clinic is one of a handful of federally qualified community health clinics in the South Los Angeles area.

The way health care is done in American Samoa may resonate with the way it's done in South Los Angeles.

More than one in five adults in the Pacific U.S. territory have type 2 diabetes, and researchers wanted to gauge the best way to care for them. So, for a study appearing in the journal Diabetes Care, they divided more than 250 diabetic Samoans into two groups:

  1. A group that received traditional primary care.
  2. A group that, in addition to primary care, received a "culturally-tailored intervention" from a team of community health workers led by a nurse.

Members of the latter group were visited by community health workers either weekly, monthly or quarterly, depending on the severity of the patient's diabetes. The workers would not only test, but explain blood sugar readings, as well as remind patients to keep up with diets, exercise habits and visits to their health provider. When patients encountered a problem, workers trained them to deal with it, rather than just fixing it for them.

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Prostate cancer treatment times and synthetic pot's effect on the kidneys: In health news today

Marijuana

David McNew/Getty Images

The synthetic form of marijuana has been linked to serious kidney damage in a new study.

In today's health news:

Shorter treatment times may be on the horizon for patients with prostate cancer, reports the New York Times. A new study found that men with a high-risk form of the disease who were treated for 18 months with hormone therapy live just as long as those treated for the standard 36 months. Shorter treatment times mean less unpleasant side effects, noted researchers.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest has filed a petition with federal food regulators asking the agency to identify a safe level for added sugars in beverages. USA Today says the Food and Drug Administration currently classifies high-fructose corn syrup and other sugars as safe, while the filers of the petition contend that it's the levels at which these sugars are used that makes them harmful.

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Subway, Heinz and others reduce salt in food as part of New York-led effort

Flickr via overthinkingme

As part of a New York City-led effort, 21 restaurant chains and food manufacturers have been reducing the amount of sodium in their foods.

Subway, Heinz and Kraft are three of 21 companies that have reached goals to reduce the salt content in their foods, as part of a New York City-led effort to reduce sodium levels in pre-packaged and restaurant items.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced on Monday that these businesses "met one or more of their voluntary commitments" to help bring down salt levels in items such as ketchup, bread, cold cuts and canned soup.  

Among the successes are Kraft Singles American Slices, the salt in which has been reduced by 18 percent per serving;  Ragu's Old World Style Traditional Tomato Sauce, which has reduced salt by 20 percent per serving; and two Subway sandwiches which have had sodum levels reduced by 27 to 32 percent.

These efforts are part of the National Salt Reduction Initiative (NSRI), a country-wide movement started in 2008 that involves more 90 state and local health authorities and national health organizations. The NSRI’s goal is to reduce salt in manufactured foods by 25 percent over five years.

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Bud Light is the alcohol of choice for the underage; Smirnoff takes second place

SVTHERLAND/Flickr Creative Commons

A game of beer pong, a drinking game. Bud Light was shown to be the alcohol of choice among underage drinkers in a recent survey.

As many as one in five L.A. County high school students reported an episode of binge drinking over the previous month, said the county's public health department in late 2011, underscoring that underage drinking is a "particular cause for concern" for local health officials.

"Underage drinking is a major cause of death from injuries among persons under the age of 21," they wrote in a report on alcohol-related harms in the county, "and the early onset of drinking increases the risk of alcohol-related problems later in life."

While the county doesn't have specifics on the prevalence of underage drinking in South Los Angeles, that same report showed that the alcohol-related death rate in the area is among the county's highest: nearly 13 such deaths for every 100,000 people in L.A. City Council District 9.

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