Health Highlights: Sept. 14, 2015

Health Highlights: Sept. 14, 2015

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

NYC Mandates Salt Warnings on Chain Restaurant Menus

Sit down at a chain restaurant in New York City and you’ll soon see warnings about the food’s sodium content as part of the menu.

That’s because the city’s Board of Health unanimously voted on Wednesday to include such information on chain restaurant menus, the Associated Press reported. The warnings would appear alongside items containing more than the recommended daily total of sodium — about 2,300 milligrams, or around a teaspoon.

“My hope is that this impacts not only consumer practices but also impacts the practices of our restaurants,” one board member, Dr. Deepthiman Gowda, told the AP.

Not everyone applauded the move, however.

“This is just the latest in a long litany of superfluous hoops that restaurants here in New York must jump through,” making it tougher to do business, Melissa Fleischut, president of the New York State Restaurant Association, said in a statement.

The city’s move is the most recent in a number of steps aimed at helping New Yorkers get healthier, the AP noted. Over the past few years, heart-clogging trans fats were banned from restaurant fare and chain restaurants were made to post calorie counts on menus. One proposal — to limit the size of some sugary drinks — was not successful, however.


Surgeon General: For a Healthier Life, Step It Up!

Walk your way to better health.

That’s the thrust of a new message from U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, who said a brisk 20-minute daily walk could go a long way toward combating major health threats such as heart disease and diabetes.

“We know that an average of 22 minutes a day of physical activity — such as brisk walking — can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes,” said Murthy. “The key is to get started because even a small first effort can make a big difference in improving the personal health of an individual and the public health of the nation.”

But going for a healthful walk isn’t as easy as it might seem for many people, Murthy said.

A 2013 study by the U.S. Department of Transportation found that three of every 10 Americans said no sidewalks existed along streets in their neighborhood. And in many towns and cities, violence — and the perception of violence — may prove a barrier to walking.

Murthy is calling his campaign “Step It Up! The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities.” And it has the backing of the American College of Sports Medicine.

The Surgeon General is urging community planners and local leaders to create more areas for walking and wheelchair rolling, and to push for the development of safe routes for children to get to and from schools. The call to action also recommends the creation of more sidewalks, curb cuts, crosswalks, safe crossings for the visually impaired and more green spaces.

“Walking is the simplest way to add more physical activity into our everyday lives,” Lawrence Armstrong, president of the American College of Sports Medicine, said in a news release from the college.

Less than half of all American adults get enough physical activity to reduce their risk of chronic disease. And only a quarter of high school students get the recommended amount, the news release said.

A sedentary lifestyle contributes to heart and lung disease, diabetes and cancer, which account for 86 percent of U.S. health care costs. Building walking into daily life can reduce disease and save money, the news release said.

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