Health Highlights: March 13, 2013

Nutrition Experts Rally in Support of NYC Drinks BanAnother Death From SARS-Like Virus in Saudi Arabia

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

Nutrition Experts Rally in Support of NYC Drinks Ban

New York City's proposed ban on supersized sugary drinks may have been derailed by a judge, but many nutrition experts say such measures are needed to curb Americans' consumption of such beverages.

The ban was a good idea, according to Dr. Walter Willett, a nutrition expert at the Harvard School of Public health. "It is the role of a health department to protect the public from these hazards," he told NBC News.

"There is really very clear evidence now that soft drinks are related to weight gain and obesity and, most certainly, diabetes," Willett said. "We are in the midst of an epidemic of diabetes and obesity. The evidence is very clear that soda consumption has a role in the epidemic."

"Kids are eating their weight in sugar every year. And sodas, energy drinks and sports drinks are the No. 1 source of sugar in kids' diets," nutritionist Deborah Kennedy, CEO of Build Healthy Kids and co-author of "Beat Sugar Addiction Now! For Kids," told NBC News.

When he was New York City's health commissioner, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Thomas Frieden called for an extra tax on sugary drinks, saying that a 1 cent per-ounce tax would cut consumption by 10 percent.

Soft drinks are "liquid candy" and should be labeled with health warnings, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, NBC News reported.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said New York City will appeal State Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling Jr.'s ruling against the ban on supersized sugary drinks.


Another Death From SARS-Like Virus in Saudi Arabia

A 39-year-old man in Saudi Arabia is the latest victim of a SARS-like virus, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.

The agency said the man developed symptoms on Feb. 24, was hospitalized four days later, and died March 2, Agence France-Presse reported.

Including the latest victim, 15 cases of the SARS-like coronavirus have been reported in the Middle East and Britain and there have been nine deaths. The cases in Britain involved a family with a member who had visited the Middle East and Pakistan.

"The WHO is currently working with international experts and countries where cases have been reported to assess the situation and review recommendations for surveillance and monitoring," the agency said.

In 2003, a SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) epidemic killed more than 800 people worldwide. One of the major ways that the new virus is different from SARS is that is causes rapid kidney failure, AFP reported.

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