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Health Highlights: April 28, 2011

Food Companies Should Push Healthy Foods for Kids: U.S. Government Episiotomies Decline in U.S.: Report Cheaper Drug as Good as Costly One for Eye Disease: Study Blushing Makes People More Likely to Forgive Mistakes: Study

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Food Companies Should Push Healthy Foods for Kids: U.S. Government

Food makers should voluntarily replace child-targeted ad campaigns for unhealthy products such as chips, soda and candy with healthier foods, says a proposal released Thursday by several U.S. government agencies.

American children need to consume less sugar, sodium, saturated fat and trans fat, and eat foods that "make a more meaningful contribution to the diet," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Agriculture and the Federal Trade Commission, the Wall Street Journal reported.

"The proposed voluntary principles are designed to encourage stronger and more meaningful self-regulation by the food industry and to support parents' efforts to get their kids to eat healthier foods," the agencies said in a joint new release. "While the goals they would set for food marketers are ambitious and would take time to put into place, the public health stakes could not be higher."

The agencies noted that about one-third of children in the U.S. are overweight or obese, the Wall Street Journal reported.


Episiotomies Decline in U.S.: Report

Episiotomies in the United States decreased 60 percent between 1997 and 2008, according to a federal government report released Thursday. Episiotomy is a surgical incision to widen the vaginal area during childbirth.

During the same period, the use of forceps during child delivery fell 32 percent, from 14 percent to 10 percent, and the proportion of hospital stays of women who delivered via cesarean section rose by 72 percent, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Between 2007 and 2008, the number of hospital stays for childbirth fell from 4.5 million to 4.2 million, after increasing an average of 2 percent a year since 1999.

Of all childbirth hospital stays in 2008, 36 percent were in the South, 26 percent were in the West, 23 percent in the Midwest and 16 percent in the Northeast.


Cheaper Drug as Good as Costly One for Eye Disease: Study

A cheaper drug is as effective as a more expensive drug for treatment of an eye disease that's a leading cause of vision loss in elderly people, according to a new study.

Researchers compared patients with wet macular degeneration who received monthly shots of Avastin ($50 per treatment) or Lucentis ($2,000 per treatment) for one year. Lucentis is approved in the United States for treatment of wet macular degeneration, while Avastin is a cancer drug used off-label by many doctors to treat the eye disease, the Associated Press reported.

Vision improvement was the same for both groups of patients, the study said.

The findings were published online Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine and will be presented at a meeting this weekend, the AP reported.


Blushing Makes People More Likely to Forgive Mistakes: Study

If you blush after you make a mistake or social gaffe, people are more likely to be more forgiving, a new study suggests.

It included 196 college students who played an online game with a virtual opponent who cooperated in the first round and shared the winnings, but later defected and earned a larger prize than the participants, reported.

After each round, the participants were shown photos of their virtual female opponent with one of four expressions: neutral, neutral with a blush, embarrassment, and embarrassment with a blush.

The participants judged the opponent less harshly when she blushed and believed she was less likely to defect again. Blushing even prompted some participants to give the opponent more prize money and a higher honesty rating, reported.

"After you do something wrong, people like you more when you blush," said lead author Corine Dijk, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

The study was published in the April issue of the journal Emotion.


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