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AMA Adopts New Public Health Policies at Annual Meeting

CHICAGO, June 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Medical Association (AMA), the nation's largest physician organization, voted today at its Annual Meeting to adopt the following new public health policies.

APPROPRIATE SUPPLEMENTATION OF VITAMIN D: The current Reference Intake Values for Vitamin D were established by the Food and Nutrition Board in 1997. Current research suggests that the Upper Limits for adults is likely overly conservative. Today the AMA called on the FDA to re-examine the current Daily Reference Intake Value for Vitamin D in light of new scientific findings.

"The health benefits of Vitamin D are plentiful, such as strong bones and a reduced risk of breast cancer and cardiovascular disease," said AMA Board Member Steven Stack, M.D. "It's time to take a good look at the current daily recommended level of Vitamin D and ensure that Americans know the appropriate levels so they can reap the full health benefits."

RATING SYSTEM FOR PROCESSED FOODS: Nutritional information can be difficult to understand. This new policy asks for an easier to understand food label that features a simplified, rating system in addition to the current food label.

"Incorporating a simplified rating system to the nutritional label could provide consumers with a better understanding of the product's nutritional value," said AMA Board Member William Dolan, M.D. "A rating system may also encourage manufacturers to increase the nutritional value of food in order to achieve a better rating."

OPPOSITION TO ADDITION OF FLAVORS TO CIGARETTES: In recent years tobacco products have been developed in a variety of flavors including chocolate, vanilla, mint and fruit. Surveys have shown that children are more likely to choose flavored tobacco products. Because these products appear to be specifically marketed toward children, today the AMA spoke out in support of state legislation that would prohibit the sale or distribution of flavored tobacco products.

"Research shows that the earlier a person begins smoking the more likely he or she will become addicted to tobacco products and will continue to smoke throughout his or her lifetime," said AMA Board Member William Dolan, M.D. "We all know the dangers of smoking and by prohibiting the sale of flavored tobacco products targeted toward children, we may be able to keep the younger generation tobacco free."

BANNING THE SALE OF TOBACCO PRODUCTS AND/OR BYPRODUCTS IN RETAIL OUTLETS HOUSING STORE-BASED HEALTH CLINICS: Store-based clinics are located in pharmacy and large retail chain stores, very often these facilities also sell tobacco products. Because the use of tobacco products leads to health problems, many believe the sale of these products in a facility that provides health care is counterproductive. Today the AMA voted to support efforts to ban the sale of tobacco products and/or byproducts in retail outlets housing store-based health clinics.

"It's ridiculous for stores that house health clinics to sell tobacco products," said AMA Board Member William Dolan, M.D. "To keep the objective of getting and keeping patients healthy, the sale of tobacco products must be banned from any health care facility."

PERSONAL MEDICATION SUPPLY IN TIMES OF DISASTER: Earthquakes, hurricanes and floods have headlined recent news reports. This new policy supports allowing all patients with chronic medical conditions to maintain an emergency reserve of prescription medications. It also encourages patients to carry a list of current medications and the prescribing physician's contact information with them to ensure continuity of care in the event of a disaster or other emergency.

"There are more than 125 million Americans living with chronic illnesses who rely on medication," said AMA Board Member Steven Stack, M.D. "Disasters can happen at any time, and ensuring that patients with chronic conditions have access to needed medications may help minimize the uncertainty, confusion and health risks following a disaster."

ELDER MISTREATMENT: Many physicians have encountered older patients they suspect may be mistreated, yet there is little guidance to help them in their care of these individuals. A set of nine policy recommendations have been adopted for better clinical care and increased education and research in the area of elder mistreatment. Among the recommendations is the development of curriculum at the residency level on how to recognize elder mistreatment, as well legislation that promotes clinical, research, and educational programs in the prevention, detection, treatment, and intervention of elder abuse.

"Elder mistreatment cuts across class, race, and gender lines and occurs in both urban and rural areas," said AMA Board Member Steven Stack, M.D. "Creating more guidance for physicians, residents and medical students on how to recognize elder mistreatment and what to do about it is a vital step in protecting our society's more vulnerable population."

SOURCE American Medical Association
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