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Health Highlights: Nov. 16, 2004

Fall Hazard Prompts Recall of Bowflex Exercise Units Bhutan to Be First Country to Ban Tobacco Widespread Smoking Ban Proposed for England Low-Fat Diet Best at Keeping Weight Off Pfizer Ordered to Pull Viagra Ad Study Links Computer Use and Glaucoma

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

Fall Hazard Prompts Recall of Bowflex Exercise Units

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) on Tuesday announced the recall of 680,000 Bowflex Power Pro and 102,000 Bowflex Ultimate Fitness Machines.

The seat pin on the Power Pro with Lat Tower and Ultimate models can break or disengage, causing the seat to move suddenly. In addition, the incline support bracket on the Power Pro without a Lat Tower can break, causing the incline bench to move suddenly. Both problems pose a fall hazard to users.

The manufacturer, Nautilus Group of Vancouver, Wash., has received 46 reports of seat pin failure. Two of these incidents resulted in serious injuries to the userz, who required stitches to the head.

The company has also received 42 reports of incline support bracket failure, some of which resulted in users suffering back, neck and head injuries.

The CPSC said people should stop using these recalled products immediately. For more information, phone Bowflex at 800-820-8604 between 5 a.m. and 8 p.m. PT Monday through Friday.


Bhutan to Be First Country to Ban Tobacco

In December, the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan will become the first country in the world to impose a nationwide ban on the sale of tobacco.

Shops, restaurants, hotels, and bars have until Dec. 17, Bhutan's national holiday, to get rid of all their tobacco stocks, Agence France-Presse reported.

Along with the nationwide ban, there will be a 100 percent levy on any tobacco products that are brought into Bhutan for personal consumption. People caught selling tobacco after Dec. 17 face a $225 fine, a large amount of money in the poor, largely agricultural nation.

Bhutan has a population of about 734,000 and is located between China and India.


Widespread Smoking Ban Proposed for England

A government proposal to forbid smoking in all enclosed public spaces in England, including pubs, cafes, restaurants, factories, and offices, was released Tuesday.

The only public places that would be exempt would be pubs that don't serve prepared food and private clubs where members vote to allow smoking, BBC News Online reported.

The smoking ban proposal, contained in The White Paper on Public Health, goes further than had been expected. If it's implemented, 90 percent of bars in England could be smoke-free within a few years.

Similar strict anti-smoking measures are planned in Wales. A proposed ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces in Scotland doesn't go as far as the plan for England.


Low-Fat Diet Best at Keeping Weight Off

Low-fat beats low-carb when it comes to dieters keeping off precious pounds, according to a new study from Brown University.

The researchers compared the diets of 2,700 people who enrolled in the National Weight Control Registry between 1995 and 2003, the Associated Press reported. It didn't matter which kind of diet people followed to lose the weight initially, but the scales tipped decidedly in favor of low-fat regimens to keep the weight off, according to lead researcher Suzanne Phelan, a Brown psychologist.

The average age of study participants was 47, most of whom were women. The average weight loss among all participants initially was 72 pounds.

Those who increased their fat intake during the year after the initial weight loss regained the most weight, Phelan and her colleagues concluded. They presented their findings Monday at a meeting of 2,000 obesity experts in Las Vegas.


Pfizer Ordered to Pull Viagra Ad

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has ordered Pfizer, Inc., to pull new advertisements for Viagra that depicted users of the anti-impotence pill as mischievous playboys.

The ad campaign was dubbed "Wild Thing," since the phrase was mentioned at the beginning of the ads that described men who "wanted to spend the entire honeymoon indoors" and those who "couldn't resist a little mischief."

The television and print ads did not mention the drug's approved purpose to treat erectile dysfunction, according to The New York Times. The FDA took exception to this, since the ads "made it clear that Viagra was intended for sex" but withheld its medical use and any possible side effects, an agency spokesperson told the newspaper.

A spokesman for Pfizer said that the company would comply with the FDA's directive.


Study Links Computer Use and Glaucoma

Using a computer day after day for hours at a time may be linked to the degenerative eye disease glaucoma, Japanese researchers reported in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

The scientists at the Toho University School of Medicine tested the sight of workers in four different Japanese companies, each employing more than 5,000 people. They found that people who were nearsighted were particularly at risk, reported BBC News Online.

The researchers divided the computer users according to how much they said they used their PCs. The heaviest users tended to be younger men.

The authors speculated that the suspected link between nearsightedness and glaucoma may stem from computer use-related eye strain, according to the BBC account. They recommended additional research to confirm their findings.

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