Checkup: Autism Prevalence Grows, Info Doesn't Curb Calories
More Kids on the Autism Spectrum
Research in the journal Pediatrics reports that in the United States in 2007 about one in 91 children ages 3 to 17 were somewhere on the autism spectrum. That's more than any previous survey has found, and the numbers put some muscle behind the push to better understand and treat the condition.
Parents or guardians of about 78,000 kids in that age group were contacted by telephone and asked whether a physician or other health-care professional had ever told them their child had autism or any related condition such as Asperger syndrome. Just over 1,400 answered yes. About half of them said their child had a mild case. The numbers also supported the current understanding that autism and related disorders are far more common among boys than girls and among white children than black or Hispanic kids.
When researchers asked parents whether their once-diagnosed child still carried that diagnosis, nearly 40 percent said they no longer did, which suggests that many may have been misdiagnosed. That finding helps demonstrate the difficulty of pinning these disorders down; though the numbers in this study suggest the phenomenon has grown, it remains unclear whether that growth means there are more cases before or we're just getting better at diagnosing these disorders.
-- Jennifer LaRue Huget
My beef with the autism movement is that the spokespeople are so busy screaming about vaccines that they drive away anyone who disagrees with them. This hysteria around vaccines diverts attention and money away from treating those who are already autistic. I have an autistic kid and, frankly I'm more concerned with helping him where he is now than worrying about how he got that way.
My son is likely to receive an Asperger's diagnosis this month. He's borderline, but definitely affected. In his case, I'm completely convinced of the genetic link. I think that somewhere around half of my extended family, at least three generations back, would have an Asperger's diagnosis and most of the rest are "eccentric." Yet my son will be the first of any of us to receive an evaluation, let alone a diagnosis.
Counting Calories in New York
Remember how requiring fast-food restaurants to post calorie counts on their menu boards was supposed to help people make better food choices? If the results of the first study to measure the impact of that initiative are any indication, we might want to rethink the premise.
Researchers reporting in the journal Health Affairs last week looked at fast-food purchases made in low-income areas of New York City -- where a menu-labeling law took effect July 18, 2008 -- and, as a control, in nearby Newark, where no such requirement exists. They found that while a little more than half the customers reported they'd noticed the calorie listings, just under 28 percent said the information had influenced their purchase.
The mean number of calories in the fast-food meals purchased in New York actually increased, to 846, up from 825 in a sampling taken before the law took effect.
-- Jennifer LaRue Huget
I live in New York City, and for me, the calorie data have changed my food choices. The calorie counts are a good reminder that a burger and small fries is more than enough food and I don't need the meal with the medium fries and a soda.
People going to McDonald's aren't going because they're worried about calorie counts.