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Health Highlights: June 2, 2010

Midnight Snacks Harm Teeth: Study Companies Offer Employees Money to Lose Weight More States Require Phys Ed for Students: Report FDA Approves New Bone Drug

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

Midnight Snacks Harm Teeth: Study

Midnight snacks pose a serious threat to your teeth, according to a new study.

Danish researchers analyzed the medical records of 2,217 people and found that those who snacked in the middle of the night were more likely to suffer tooth loss over a period of six years, no matter what type of food they ate during their nocturnal nibbling, BBC News reported.

The flow of saliva -- which is needed to remove food debris from the mouth -- tends to dry up at night, explained the University of Copenhagen researchers.

Dentists need to make patients aware of the risks of midnight snacks, said Dr. Jennifer Lundgren and colleagues, BBC News reported.

The study is published in the journal Eating Behaviors.


Companies Offer Employees Money to Lose Weight

A growing number of U.S. companies are offering financial incentives to encourage employees to lose weight.

Currently, at least one-third of companies either offer these types of programs or are planning to introduce them, according to the Associated Press.

For example, last year the hospital chain OhioHealth introduced a program that paid workers for walking. The more they walk, the more they earn, up to a maximum of $500. About half of the 9,000 employees at OhioHealth's five main hospitals signed up and more than $377,000 in rewards have been handed out.

"There's been an explosion of interest in this" type of program, Kevin Volpp, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Health Incentives, told the AP.


More States Require Phys Ed for Students: Report

Physical education for students is required in most states, but there are many loopholes -- such as waivers or exemptions -- that can seriously undermine those requirements, says a report released Tuesday by the American Heart Association and the National Association for Sport and Physical Education.

Currently, 84 percent of states require PE for elementary students (up from 70 percent in 2006), 76 percent of states require PE for middle and junior high schools (up from 65 percent), and 90 percent of states require PE in high school (up from 83 percent), the Associated Press reported.

But, only five states require physical education consistently from kindergarten to Grade 12. Few states require students to exercise for a specific amount of time, and there are an increasing number of exemptions and waivers for personal reasons or because a student participates in another activity, such as band.

While the heart association is pleased that more states require physical education for students, the group is concerned that the requirements lack sufficient teeth, the AP reported.

"We are concerned that the movement has not been more significant," said Nancy Brown, CEO of the AHA. "It's more of a sporadic approach."


FDA Approves New Bone Drug

An injectable bone-strengthening drug called Prolia has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treatment of postmenopausal women at risk for fractures.

The Amgen drug is given once every six months and will cost $825 per injection, the Associated Press reported.

The FDA approval was based on an Amgen study of 7,000 patients that showed Prolia reduced vertebrae and hip fractures in postmenopausal women. Back pain, high cholesterol and urinary bladder infections were common side effects of the drug.

The FDA said Amgen will have to distribute patient guides that explain the drug's risks, the AP reported.

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