New study finds that adults consume nearly as many empty calories from alcoholic beverages as sugar sweetened beverages; report evaluates the nation’s physical education programs in schools; and new proposal suggests requiring a license for buying cigarettes. Read these and more public health stories for Thursday, November 15, 2012.

FOX News – Booze calories nearly equal soda’s for US adults
Americans get too many calories from soda. But what about alcohol? It turns out adults get almost as many empty calories from booze as from soft drinks, a government study found.
Soda and other sweetened drinks – the focus of obesity-fighting public health campaigns – are the source of about 6 percent of the calories adults consume, on average. Alcoholic beverages account for about 5 percent, the new study found.

New York Times – New infection, not relapse, brings back Lyme symptoms, study says
When people who have been treated for Lyme disease recover but later come down with its symptoms again, is the illness a relapse or a new infection?
The question has lingered for years. Now, a new study finds that repeat symptoms are from new infections, not from relapses. The results challenge the notion, strongly held by some patients and advocacy groups, that Lyme disease, a bacterial infection, has a tendency to resist the usual antibiotic treatment and turn into a chronic illness that requires months or even years of antibiotic therapy.

Huffington Post – Physical education programs stalled by state loopholes: 2012 shape of the nation report
report by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education and the American Heart Association has found that while nearly 75 percent of states require physical education in elementary through high school, over half of states permit students to substitute other activities for their required physical education credit, or otherwise fail to mandate a specific amount of instructional time.

Health Canal – Flame retardants linked to neurodevelopmental delays in children
UC Berkeley researchers link prenatal and childhood exposure to PBDE flame retardants, a prevalent chemical found in households, to deficits in motor and cognitive development among school-aged children.
The new study, published today (Thursday, Nov. 15) in the journalEnvironmental Health Perspectives, focuses on PBDEs, or polybrominated diphenyl ethers, aclass of persistent, endocrine-disrupting compounds widely found in foam furniture, electronics, carpets, upholstery and other consumer products. The chemicals easily leach out into the environment and are inhaled or ingested through dust, then accumulate in human fat cells.

CBS News – Public health proposal considers mandatory “smokers license”
A public health proposal suggests that tobacco smokers should be required to apply and pay for a “smoker’s license” in order to continue buying cigarettes.
In this week’s PLOS Medicine medical journal, two leading tobacco control advocates debate the merits of the smoker’s license. Simon Chapman, a professor at the University of Sydney, proposes that users would have to apply and pay for a mandatory license in the form of a smartcard that would be shown when buying cigarettes.