Health Highlights: Nov. 17, 2011

Smucker's Peanut Butter Recalled More U.S. Companies Penalizing Workers for Bad Health Habits J&J; Working to Remove Chemicals From Baby Products 1 in 5 U.S. Adults Now Use Psychiatric Meds: Report Obama Criticizes Big Tobacco Over Label Opposition

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

Smucker's Peanut Butter Recalled

Possible salmonella contamination has led to the recall of some 16-ounce jars of Smucker's Natural Peanut Butter Chunky sold in nearly two dozen states.

Ohio-based J.M. Smucker Co. said the recalled jars have "Best if Used By" dates of Aug. 3 and Aug. 4, 2012, and carry the production codes 1307004 and 1308004, the Associated Press reported.

There have been no reports of illnesses associated with the peanut butter, according to the company.

The recalled product was distributed in: Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia.


More U.S. Companies Penalizing Workers for Bad Health Habits

A growing number of American companies are forcing workers with unhealthy lifestyles to pay a larger share of their health insurance premiums.

In the last two years, policies that financially penalize workers for things such as smoking, being overweight or having high cholesterol have doubled to 19 percent of 248 major U.S. employers, according to benefits consultant Towers Watson.

The firm said it expects the practice to double again next year among companies with at least 1,000 workers, The New York Times reported.

Another survey released Wednesday found that about a third of companies with 500 or more workers were using financial incentives to encourage employees into wellness programs.


J&J Working to Remove Chemicals From Baby Products

Efforts to remove traces of two potentially cancer-causing chemicals from its baby products worldwide are continuing, Johnson & Johnson said Wednesday.

Since May 2009, the company has been under pressure from an international coalition of consumer and environmental groups to remove 1,4-dioxane and quaternium-15 from a wide range of products, including Johnson's Baby Shampoo, the Associated Press reported.

It was revealed two weeks ago that the company had removed the chemicals from products in the U.K., Scandinavia, South Africa and several other countries. That prompted a boycott campaign to force J&J to remove the chemicals from products sold in the United States, China and elsewhere.

Over the past two years, J&J has announced more than two dozen product recalls for problems ranging from defective hip implants to glass and metal fragments in liquid medicines, the AP reported.


1 in 5 U.S. Adults Now Use Psychiatric Meds: Report

In 2010, more than 1 in 5 adults and more than 1 in 4 women in the United States took at least one drug for psychiatric and behavioral disorders, according to a report released Wednesday by pharmacy benefits manager Medco Health Solutions Inc.

The use of drugs to treat conditions such as depression and anxiety rose 22 percent since 2001, according to data from 2.5 million patients with 24 months of continuous prescription drug insurance and eligibility, the Associated Press reported.

Women aged 45 and older are most likely to be prescribed these drugs, but their use by men and younger adults has increased significantly.

Medco also said that the use of antipsychotic drugs and medicines for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) among adults 20 to 44 has more than tripled, and the use of anti-anxiety drugs has risen 30 percent since 2001, the AP reported.

More women are now taking ADHD medications than men, a reversal of uptake of these drugs in children, where boys outnumber girls, according to The number of U.S. women aged 20 to 44 who took a drug for ADHD soared 250 percent between 2001 and 2010, the Medco report found.

Women are also twice as likely as men to use anxiety medications and are also more likely to take antipsychotic drugs, which treat conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.


Obama Criticizes Big Tobacco Over Label Opposition

Tobacco companies fighting new cigarette warning labels in the United States are doing so because "they don't want to be honest about the consequences," of smoking, President Barack Obama says in a new White House video to mark the "Great American Smokeout" on Thursday.

Some of the new labels feature graphic images, such as the corpse of dead smoker, diseased lungs, and a man exhaling cigarette smoke through a tracheotomy hole in his throat, the Associated Press reported.

In August, a group of tobacco companies sued the Food and Drug Administration in an attempt to block the labels.

"Tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable early deaths in this country," Obama says in the video. "We also know that the best way to prevent the health problems that come with smoking is to keep young people from starting in the first place."

The tobacco companies' attempts to block the new warning labels aren't surprising, said Obama, a former smoker who was declared tobacco-free at his last medical report issued Oct. 31.

"We've always known that the fight to stop smoking in this country won't be easy," he says in the video.

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