Older Adults & Back Injuries; Cities Seek Warnings on Sugary Drinks, High-Sodium Foods

The rate of spinal cord injuries for older adults has spiked higher over the last 20 years, even as the overall pace of traumatic spine injuries has stabilized in the U.S., according to a new study published in the June 9 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“The largest increase in incidence was observed in older patients, largely associated with an increase in falls,” the report says.

As part of the study, the research team analyzed 63,109 cases from the U.S. Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) databases, from 1993 through 2012, featuring men and women —- age 16 and older -— with “acute traumatic spinal cord injury.”

For most age groups, the number of spinal cord injuries remained stable or dropped during the 20-year period, with an overall rate of 54 spinal cord injuries per 1 million people. That rate has remained consistent since 1993,  with a few notable exceptions: The rate declined 2.5 percent annually for young males, ages 16-24, and the rate was down1.2 percent annually for adult males, ages 25 to 44.

But the rate of spinal cord injuries increased for older men, ages 65 to 74, with a hike of 2.7 percent annually, according to the study, and “the percentage of spinal cord injuries linked to falls,” spiked to 66 percent for 2010-2012, versus 28 percent reported in 1997-2000.

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–Sharon Harvey Rosenberg

San Francisco First U.S. City to Require Warnings on Ads for Sugary Drinks.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors this week voted in favor of a measure that would require a strong warning -– similar to the caution label on cigarettes –- which will emphasize the connection between sugary drink consumption and chronic diseases.

City officials rejected arguments by soda industry representatives, who stated that beverages should not be treated differently than processed foods with unhealthy sugar levels, such as cupcakes and doughnuts.

The city’s board unanimously approved the requirement for warning labels on new soda advertising on city billboards, buses, transit shelters, posters and stadiums. The label would read, “WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.”

San Francisco officials also passed legislation banning soda advertising on city property.

The supervisors contended that sugary drinks amount to a public health issue.

“These are not just harmless products that taste good,” said San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener in a published statement.  “These are products that are making people sick and we need to take action.”

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— John Fernandez

New York City Health Department Seeks High-Sodium Labels on Restaurant Menus

Following efforts in recent years to bring healthier menu offerings to chain restaurants, the New York City Health Department this week proposed a requirement that would mandate chain restaurants to flag high-sodium items with a salt shaker symbol.

All chain restaurants in New York City would have to identify menu items that have more than the FDA-recommended daily limit of sodium, which for adults is 2,300 milligrams, or about 1 teaspoon. The FDA reports Americans are consuming about 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day, which is much more than the daily recommended amount, and that habit poses health risks. In November 2014, the American Heart Association (AHA) adjusted its recommendation, lowering it to 1,500 milligrams per day for adults, as part of an initiative to improve Americans’ cardiovascular health.

Studies have linked too much sodium to high blood pressure and a higher risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney problems. Approximately one in three adults in the U.S., or 80 million people, have high blood pressure, according to the AHA. And an additional 78 million adults suffer from slightly elevated blood pressure, which can turn into high blood pressure.

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— Tanya Racoobian Walton

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