HEALTH

Survey finds nearly half of Americans have trouble living healthy

BY Michael Johnsen

ADA, Mich. While 93 percent of Americans report attempting to make everyday choices to be healthy and live well, nearly half (47 percent) struggle to do so, according to the Amway Global Wellness Index, a recent national survey of more than 15,000 Americans regarding their health and wellness.

The two main barriers that prevent people from living a healthier lifestyle are lack of time (39 percent) and the rising cost of a balanced diet (21 percent). The top three wellness challenges, according to survey respondents, are getting enough exercise, getting enough sleep and maintaining a well-balanced diet.

Forty-two percent of Americans report that the economy is having a negative impact on their wellness choices, and personal wellness issues will affect the results of the election. In fact, 33 percent of Americans claim that the candidates’ positions on personal wellness will influence how they vote this election. Current economic conditions appear to have a greater impact on the unemployed, with the wellness of 51 percent of non-working parents negatively impacted, versus 43 percent of working parents. According to survey respondents, the health decisions of women are affected more by the economy than men (44 percent versus 40 percent, respectively).

While Americans say getting enough exercise is the most challenging part of living a healthy life (38 percent), only 24 percent believe regular exercise at least three days per week is the most critical aspect of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Getting enough sleep is reported as the second greatest challenge (34 percent), with eating a well-balanced diet (25 percent) coming in third. Four in 10 (43 percent) aged 55 and older claim to struggle with making healthy choices, compared to 48 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds and 50 percent of 35- to 54-year-olds.

Despite a national push to make better wellness choices, Americans are sedentary the survey found. The survey shows more than one in five (23 percent)—or close to 51.7 million people—are not exercising for at least 30 minutes or more at a time on a regular basis.

According to the Amway Global Wellness Index, perception and reality don’t seem to align when it comes to weight. Forty-five percent of Americans consider themselves obese or overweight, yet the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reports that an estimated 66 percent of U.S. adults are either overweight or obese (2003-2004 study). Only four percent of people perceive themselves as obese, while in actuality, more than one-third of U.S. adults were obese in 2005/2006, according to the CDC. A higher proportion of American parents (45 percent) report being overweight than do non-parents (34 percent). Further, half of those Americans who feel the economy is having a negative impact on their wellness choices consider themselves obese or overweight.

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FDA responds to WHO’s query on ten medications

BY Michael Johnsen

ROCKVILLE, Md. The Food and Drug Administration last week requested comments concerning abuse potential, actual abuse, medical usefulness, trafficking, and impact of scheduling changes on availability for medical use of 10 drugs, including the over-the-counter cough suppressant dextromethorphan. The information will be utilized by FDA in its preparation of the United States’ response to a World Health Organization query.

Dextromethorphan is the only OTC medicine on WHO’s list. The other medicines being examined include:

  • Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid, a narcolepsy drug marketed in the United States under the brand name Xyrem (Jazz Pharmaceuticals) and controlled under Schedule III status (drugs with recognized medical use with a moderate to low incidence of dependence);
  • the anesthetic ketamine, controlled under Schedule III status;
  • benzylpiperazine, an illegal drug in the United States;
  • trifluoromethylphenylpiperazine, not marketed in the United States;
  • meta-chlorophenylpiperazine, not marketed in the United States;
  • methoxyphenylpiperazine, not marketed in the United States;
  • methylenedioxybenzylpiperazine, not marketed in the United States;
  • the reagent gamma-butyrolactone, not marketed in the United States, but controlled as a list I chemical ; and
  • the solvent butanediol (a scheduled substance in some states but not nationally).

WHO has called for information on these drugs to ascertain whether or not the organization should recommend that certain international restrictions be placed on distribution of the medicines.

Comments submitted to FDA are due Oct. 6. WHO meets April 20-23, 2009, to discuss the issue.

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Senate judiciary passes anti-‘smurfing’ legislation

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday passed the Methamphetamine Production Prevention Act, introduced by Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Grassley’s office stated in an announcement.

The legislation addresses the practice of “smurfing,” where individuals looking to circumvent federal purchase restrictions on pseudoephedrine by the maximum quantity allowed across several retailers, by making it easier for pharmacy operators to use electronic logbook systems in their sale of PSE products.

“Smurfing pseudephedrine products from store to store in city to city is a growing problem, especially in communities that border another state,” stated Grassley. “When we wrote the Combat Meth Act, we didn’t account for these unscrupulous individuals who have learned that if they provide false information or visit multiple stores, tracking and arresting these people is more difficult. … An electronic logbook will be a tremendous asset for local law enforcement and businesses as they work to end the devastating impact of meth on our communities.”

Today’s legislation revises the technical logbook requirements found in the federal Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act, which passed in 2006. The Durbin-Grassley bill would change the Combat Meth Act to facilitate the use of electronic logbooks instead of written logbooks. For instance, the bill would revise the Act’s purchaser signature requirement to allow signatures to be obtained and stored on paper when the rest of the logbook information is captured electronically. This would make electronic logbook systems far more cost-effective without hurting law enforcement efforts. The bill would also allow for the use of bar code reader technology, and would revise the current requirement that each purchaser “enter” his or her name and address into a logbook so that retailers can type in the information electronically.

The legislation has been endorsed by numerous organizations, including the National Narcotics Officers’ Associations’ Coalition, the National Criminal Justice Association, the National District Attorneys Association, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

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