Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Health Law Calls for Calorie Counts on Vending Machines
There may be a lot more counting of calories when people buy
snacks from vending machines or order food in certain restaurants
under rules currently being crafted as part of the final phase of
the Affordable Care Act.
Once the regulations are in place, calorie information will have
to be displayed on roughly 5 million vending machines in many
companies and in restaurants with more than 20 locations. The hope
is that the changes will help consumers make healthier choices, the
It won't be a cheap change, with the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration estimating it will cost almost $26 million the first
year and $24 million a year after that, the
APreported. And companies with vending machines will have to
foot the bill. Businesses will be given a year to comply with the
new rules, although the vending machine industry has already asked
for a two-year deadline, according to the wire service.
The rules will apply to about 10,800 companies that operate 20
or more vending machines. Nearly three quarters of those companies
have three or fewer employees, and their profit margin is extremely
low, an industry group told the
"The money that would be spent to comply with this -- there's no return on the investment," Eric Dell, vice president for government affairs at the National Automatic Merchandising Association, told the wire service.
Restaurant chains with more than 20 locations will also have to
post calorie information, under another set of rules the FDA is
finalizing. Certain cities already require this, and some large
fast-food operations do it voluntarily, according to the
Only one in six customers look at calorie counts, but those who
do tend to order about 100 fewer calories, according to a 2011
study that was done in New York City. A more recent study in
Philadelphia found no difference in food buying patterns after the
city's labeling law took effect, the wire service reported.
The vending machine industry group does have a program that
places stickers in front of products that meet healthy guidelines
for fat and sugar content. That program is used by nearly 14,000
businesses, schools and government agencies, along with the
Neanderthals May Have Passed on Diabetes Risk Gene
Thanks to interbreeding between modern humans and Neanderthals
some 60,000 years ago, a gene variation that raises the risk for
diabetes appears in up to 20 percent of people in Mexico and Latin
America, a new study suggests.
This higher-risk version of the gene -- known as SLC16A11 --
makes diabetes 25 percent more likely in people who carry the gene,
and 50 percent more likely in those who inherited copies from both
parents, according to the study published Dec. 25 in
Researchers Jose Florez and colleagues analyzed samples from
more than 8,000 people. Further analysis showed the gene variation
matched that in a newly sequenced Neanderthal genome from Denisova
Cave in Siberia, according to
"To date, genetic studies have largely used samples from people of European or Asian ancestry, which makes it possible to miss culprit genes that are altered at different frequencies in other populations," Florez, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, told BBC.
Up to half of people with recent Native American ancestry have
been found to carry the higher-risk gene type, according to the
"By expanding our search to include samples from Mexico and Latin America, we've found one of the strongest genetic risk factors discovered to date, which could illuminate new pathways to target with drugs and a deeper understanding of the disease," Florez said.
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