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Blood-glucose levels indicator of retinopathy risk

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO — Individuals who have higher blood-glucose levels and poorer control of those levels over time appear more likely to develop eye-related complications 10 years later, according to a report in the February issue of Archives of Ophthalmology published Monday.

The high blood-glucose levels accompanying diabetes are known to be associated with microvascular complications, including the eye condition retinopathy, according to background information in the article. “However, some controversy concerns the actual value of this glycemic threshold for identifying retinopathy,” wrote Pascale Massin of Hôpital Lariboisière in Paris and lead researcher. “It is now well established that the nondiabetic population also has retinopathy, albeit at a lower frequency than patients with diabetes and in a milder form, indicating that there may be factors other than fasting plasma glucose levels that increase the risk of retinopathy.”

The study examined the retinas of 700 men and women (average age 52) who were enrolled to participate. Out of that group, 44 were diagnosed with retinopathy. Compared with those without retinopathy, those with the condition had higher average levels of fasting plasma glucose 10 years prior (130 mg vs. 106 mg per deciliter) and higher HbA1C (6.4% vs. 5.7%).

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Report: Spending on positive trend

BY Allison Cerra

PURCHASE, N.Y. — Total retail sales grew 5.5% during the month of January, according to MasterCard Advisors’ "SpendingPulse" report.

The increase underscored that shopping and spending maintained its momentum, following a strong holiday season. The last two months, MasterCard Advisors noted, marked the strongest growth rate for total U.S. retail sales (excluding autos) since April 2010. Additionally, "year-to-year growth for three-month totals stood at 4.9% in January, the highest growth rate since August 2007," MasterCard Advisors reported.

Spending grew in every part of the country, with the best unadjusted year-over results in the South Central and Southeast regions, which posted 9.7% and 7.7% growth, respectively.

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Keeping kids moving with GeoPalz

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK — A line of kid-friendly pedometers is expanding to include two new water-resistant products.

Designed to motivate physical activity among children, GeoPalz are pedometers that can measure speed and distance of activity and store up to 21 days of data. Each pedometer flips open to reveal how much activity is exerted via the digital tracking display. The mode can be changed to toggle between displaying the steps or the time of day. Each GeoPalz product features kid-friendly designs.

New to the GeoPalz lineup are water-resistant pedometers that can be worn around the wrist or around one’s shoelaces. The original GeoPalz product, the company said, is worn around the waistband.

"With the heightened importance of children’s fitness, we wanted to supply children with even more motivation to be active," said Rich Schmelzer, CEO of GeoPalz. "These new pedometers give kids additional ways to wear their GeoPalz, letting them further express their personalities while having fun and being active."

The new GeoPalz wrist and foot pedometers retail for $24.99, while the original GeoPalz activity tracker for kids retails for $19.99. Additional GeoPalz products, including an optional slap-style bracelet and digital reader for the wireless pedometers retail for $9.99 and $24.99, respectively. GeoPalz products are available in more than 250 retailers nationwide, and on the GeoPalz website.

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