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Trends & Times

Health News Headlines: Ebola Screenings At Airports; Earlier Diabetes Testing; Longer Lifespans

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The Ebola epidemic topped the health news once again this week. The White House ordered extra Ebola screenings at several of the countries’ largest and busiest airports including JFK, OHARE and Atlanta Hartsfield. Homeland Security alerted agents to observe travelers for any possible signs of infection. The TSA says passengers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea will have their temperatures taken and get fact sheets on Ebola symptoms. 

A panel of health experts is recommending that every American over 45 should be screened for type 2 and pre-diabetes. And if there is a family history of the condition, that screening should start at the age of 18. The US Preventive Services Task Force—that’s the group that caused so much controversy with its changing recommendations for mammograms—that group says the number of Americans being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes is growing at an alarming rate. And early screening could help detect people who are at risk and help prevent or delay its onset. 

With all of the bad health news, there is at least one moderately good report from the CDC: Americans are living longer. The yearly report finds a child born in 2012 should live to be 78. Americans who are 65 can expect to live another 18 years if you are a man, and another 20 if you are a woman. Heart Disease and cancer continue to kill the most people, but suicide rates are rising. Health experts blame part of that on the increasing abuse of prescription painkillers. 

More fast food restaurants are putting their menu items on a diet. Researchers say McDonalds, Subway and Taco Bell added some lower-calorie choices to their menus last year. Most of those came in the sandwich or salad category. But before you pull up to the drive-thru, researchers say the calorie count may have gone down because the size of that sandwich did, too. 

And adding to that, the USDA says sandwiches are a large part of the American diet. And we like those sandwiches to be filled with processed cheeses and cured meats (i.e. bacon), all of which are loaded with sodium. In fact, a recent study found that just one fast food sandwich accounts for one fifth of the total recommended daily allowance of sodium. And most people don’t just order or eat one sandwich at one sitting, whether it’s at home or behind the wheel.