Health Highlights: May 12, 2015

By on May 12, 2015

Health Highlights: May 12, 2015

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

Binge Drinking by Young People on the Rise Globally

Binge drinking by young people in some wealthy, developed countries has increased over the past two decades, even as overall alcohol consumption has fallen, according to an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development study.

Average annual alcohol consumption in the OECD’s 34 member nations fell 2.5 percent over the past 20 years, to 9.1 liters (2.4 gallons) of pure alcohol per capita, the Associated Press reported.

However, regular binge drinking (five or more drinks on one occasion per week) has risen among young adult men and women in Canada, Germany and Italy, and among men in France and women in New Zealand.

Binge drinking rates fell in England and Ireland. There is conflicting data about whether binge drinking has risen in the United States or remained the same.

The OECD also said that the proportion of boys 15 and younger who have been drunk rose from 30 percent to 43 percent during the 2000s, and rose from 26 percent to 40 percent among girls 15 and younger, the AP reported.

Binge drinking by young people is a “major public health and social concern,” the OECD said.

It also noted that harmful consumption of alcohol accounts for a higher percentage of deaths worldwide than HIV/AIDS, violence and tuberculosis combined, the AP reported.


Preventive Care Coverage Gaps Closed by Federal Government

Gaps in health insurers’ coverage of preventive services such as birth control and colonoscopies are being closed by the federal government.

On Monday, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department said insurers must cover — at no extra cost to patients — at least one birth control method in each of 18 categories approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the Associated Press reported.

The government also said insurers can’t charge patients for anesthesia services in connection with colonoscopy screening for colorectal cancer.

Under the Affordable Care Act, most insurance must cover recommended preventive services at no additional charge to patients, including birth control. However, some coverage gaps for birth control methods have been identified by women’s groups and experts, the AP reported.

Insurance companies said federal rules did not provide enough detail.


San Francisco Bans Chewing Tobacco From All Playing Fields

San Francisco has become the first U.S. city to ban smokeless tobacco from all playing fields, including the home park of the San Francisco Giants baseball team.

The law takes effect Jan. 1, 2016. It bans the use of smokeless tobacco at athletic facilities, and targets baseball, which has a long history of players using smokeless tobacco, the Associated Press reported.

The San Francisco ban on smokeless tobacco — which includes chewing tobacco and moist snuff — is part of a larger effort by the Washington, D.C.-based Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

“Today, San Francisco entered the history books as the first city to take tobacco out of baseball. The home of the world champion Giants has set an example that all of Major League Baseball and the rest of the country should quickly follow,” said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the AP reported.

A bill to ban all tobacco use — including smokeless tobacco and electronic cigarettes — wherever organized baseball is played in California is being considered by state legislators.

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