5 Things to Read on Improving Health

How California’s fires affect physical and mental health, changes in physical activity guidelines from the U.S. government and how one expert wants to tackle the obesity epidemic are all in this week’s roundup.

The far-reaching effects of wildfire smoke

The wildfires in California have destroyed homes and forced thousands to flee. Now experts say the smoke from the fires put residents’ health in danger, too. The smoke aggravates asthma. It can cause lung infections, bronchitis and pneumonia, the Associated Press reports. Disasters also affect people’s mental health. Anxiety and depression may emerge months after the fire is out.

[Related: As Wildfires Burn, Clearing the Air for Montana Schoolchildren]

Fewer American kids are getting vaccinated

The number of kids who haven’t gotten recommended vaccines quadrupled from 2001 to 2017. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said lack of access to health insurance and difficulty accessing doctors in rural areas are the main reasons why. Read more from ABC News.

[Related: The Persistent Threat of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases]

FDA approves first new flu drug in 20 years

In October, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new, single-dose antiviral medication that can fight the flu. It’s the first antiviral for influenza the agency has approved in 20 years. The new drug may shorten the duration of flu symptoms, but it is not a substitute for the flu vaccine, the FDA commissioner noted.

Add a 2-minute burst of activity to your routine

Just two minutes of physical activity can help improve health. That’s according to new physical activity guidelines from the U.S. government. The previous version of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans said activity needed to last 10 minutes to make an impact. Get more details from HealthDay.

Big changes are necessary to reverse obesity trend

America is getting fatter. More than half of today’s children will be obese by the time they turn 35 if the nation doesn’t make some big changes, John Auerbach, president and CEO of Trust for America’s Health, writes in a post on the Health Affairs Blog. His ideas include serving healthy food in schools, remaking roads with more room for walkers and cyclists and having Medicare cover obesity counseling.



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