Health Highlights: March 28, 2016

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

FDA Delays Menu Calorie Content Rules Again

Restaurants and other places that sell prepared foods now have until 2017 to comply with 6-year-old rules requiring them to provide customers with the calorie content of the food products.

The regulations were passed in 2010 as part of the health care overhaul and sellers of prepared foods originally had until the end of 2015 to comply. Last summer, the Food and Drug Administration extended that deadline to the end of 2016, and this month extended it again, the Associated Press reported.

When finally implemented, the rules will require restaurants, supermarkets, convenience stores and other retailers that have 20 or more locations and sell prepared foods to “clearly and conspicuously” post calorie information on menus, menus boards and displays.

Many retailers that would be covered by the regulations have mounted a vigorous campaign against them, and the FDA’s decision to once again extend the deadline means the final step won’t be made until a new president is in the White House.

The delay in providing consumers with calorie information is frustrating, Margo Wootan, a lobbyist at the Center for Science and the Public Interest.

“Not only is it simple and straightforward but so many states and localities have already done this,” she told the AP.

The FDA said it is still working on final guidelines for retailers who would be affected by the calorie content labeling rules, which would take effect one year after they are published.

“The FDA cannot speculate on the timing on when final guidance will be issued,” agency spokeswoman Lauren Kotwicki said, the AP reported.


Tribeca Film Festival Pulls Controversial Vaccine/Autism Documentary

Bowing to intense pressure from scientists and others, the Tribeca Film Festival halted plans to show a documentary about the debunked link between vaccines and autism.

The film was directed and co-written by Andrew Wakefield, whose study connecting vaccines and autism was published in the medical journal The Lancet but then retracted in 2010, The New York Times reported.

Wakefield’s medical license was later revoked because he did not reveal financial conflicts of interest and ethics violations.

The decision to pull the film, “Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe,” from next month’s film festival was announced Saturday and explained in a statement released by festival co-founder Robert De Niro.

“My intent in screening this film was to provide an opportunity for conversation around an issue that is deeply personal to me and my family. But after reviewing it over the past few days with the Tribeca Film Festival team and others from the scientific community, we do not believe it contributes to or furthers the discussion I had hoped for,” De Niro said.

While the film festival eventually made the correct decision, it’s troubling that a film promoting “discredited ideas” came so close to being shown at a prestigious event, Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, told The Times.

“It gave these fraudulent ideas a face and a position and an energy that many of us thought they didn’t deserve,” he said. “We’re all for ongoing reasonable debate and discussion, but these are ideas that have been proven to be incorrect many, many, many times over the past 15 years.”

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