study suggests obesity in kids on the decline
Thousands of sixth-graders who participated in a school-based health program were less obese by eighth grade than a group of similar children who did not, according to a new study done for the National Institutes of Health. But the findings, reported by the New England Journal of Medicine, also showed overall rates of obesity and excessive weight dropped in both groups, suggesting that childhood obesity may finally be declining. "That's the perplexing but happy part of this," said study chairman Dr. Gary D. Foster, director of the obesity center at Temple University in Philadelphia. Researchers followed more than 4,500 students, divided in two groups. Thirty percent of the children in both groups were obese when the study started. By eighth grade, that percentage dropped to 24.6 in the group participating in the health program and 26.6 in the control group. "Something is going on in the environment that is leading kids to become less overweight or obese," Foster said. "We need to find out what it is and do more of it."
We still don't cover sneezes properly
After all the news last year about preventing flu by properly covering your mouth while sneezing, you might think hygiene habits have improved. Not so, to judge from an experiment in New Zealand. Medical students planted themselves in a shopping mall, a train station and even a hospital in the capital city of Wellington to watch people sneeze. Result: 26.7 percent of sneezes went entirely uncovered; 64.4 percent were covered by the sneezer's hand — and who knows where those hands went next. Only 4.7 percent were covered the right way: with a tissue, handkerchief or elbow.
Glucosamine fails for osteoarthritis
Despite mixed reviews of its effectiveness, glucosamine continues to be a popular supplement for people with joint pain. Now a study claiming to be one of the largest and longest trials of the product suggests that it does not help people with lower back pain and osteoarthritis. Some 125 Norwegian patients with the conditions were given 1,500 milligrams of oral glucosamine daily for six months, while a similar group received a placebo. Checked after six weeks, three months, six months and a year, the two groups reported no difference in levels of pain, disability and quality of life, researchers from Oslo University Hospital reported in the July 7 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Had shingles? Consider vaccine
After last week's Pulse article on why so few people have been innoculated against shingles, readers who already have had an outbreak wondered if they can still get the Zostavax vaccine. Although the issue is still being studied, experts think that the vaccine, though it doesn't treat an active outbreak, will help prevent future occurrences and may also lessen painful postherpetic neuralgia. Also, if your doctor doesn't administer the vaccine, you can get it at your local health department (the charge in Hillsborough is $165) and also at clinics such as Walgreens Take Care Clinics, where it is $220.
Times staff, wires