Health Officials Say 1 in 50 Children Have Autism

Plus: Harvard researchers report that 180,000 deaths worldwide are linked to sugary drinks, and more health news.

A new government survey released Wednesday by the CDC reveals that every 1 in 50 schoolchildren has autism. This is larger than the previous government estimate of 1 in 88. Health officials are stressing that this doesn’t mean that autism is occurring more frequently but that doctors are diagnosing it more often. This is all based on a national phone survey of more than 95,000 parents in 2011 and 2012. Less than a quarter contacted agreed to answer questions, CDC officials said. [Globe]

Researchers from Harvard reported this week that 180,000 obesity-related deaths worldwide were linked to sugary drinks. About 25,000 of those deaths were adult Americans. Overall, about 1 in 100 deaths of obese people globally can be blamed on too many sweetened beverages, according to a study presented at an American Heart Association scientific conference in New Orleans. Maybe limiting drink sizes isn’t such a bad idea. [USA Today]

One in three people age 65 and older dies with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, a new report says. Release this week by the Alzheimer’s Association, the report says that only 30 percent of 70-year-olds who don’t have Alzheimer’s are expected to die before their 80th birthday. But if they do have dementia, 61 percent are expected to die. [CBS News]

Heading a soccer ball may affect your ability to think, according to a new study of high school soccer players. Researchers created an iPad-based cognitive test and the results after heading a soccer ball were significantly slower, suggesting some degree of cognitive impairment. The more times the ball was headed, the worse scores on the test. But more studies definitely are needed. The test was only conducted on a female soccer team. [NY Times]

Every minute of exercise could lengthen your life by seven minutes. WBUR and a Harvard physicist did the math on a recent paper published in PloS Medicine and found that a middle-aged person who gets the recommended 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise — defined as the level of brisk walking — can expect a 1-to-7 return, meaning seven extra minutes of life gained for each minute spent exercising. [WBUR]