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Health Predictions for 2009

Experts predict medical trends in the new year.

Dieting: Goodbye Fad Diets, Hello 'Positive Eating' in 2009? continued...

"I do believe the nutrient-rich or positive diet message is growing," she says. Positive eating refers to adding vegetables, nuts, berries and other healthy foods to your diet as opposed to cutting carbs or taking other draconian measures to lose weight.

In 2009, consumers will also be choosing more locally-grown foods, she predicts. "Feeling in control of our world is leading people to choose more local foods."

"While we have a long way to go it seems more restaurants are looking at portions," Diekman says. Now public health advocates and dietitians can aim their bow and arrow at sodium. "Sodium is the next big nutrient focus. Consumers don't know how much they need, but they are interested in knowing how much is in what they eat."

There's more: expect to see more tasty foods for those with food allergies on store shelves in 2009. "More and more manufacturers are figuring out how to keep taste and drop the allergen," she says.

Diabetes: Will Smart Insulin Pumps Change Lives?

"There will be some big studies and new guidelines coming out in 2009 that may change how we treat diabetes," says John Buse, MD, PhD, chief of the endocrinology division and director of the Diabetes Care Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Buse is also the American Diabetes Association's president for medicine and science.

Buse also predicts that we may see some more glucose-lowering drugs come to market in 2009. Specifically, liraglutide, a new drug in the same class as Byetta (also known as exenatide) that only requires one injection each day, may be approved by the FDA as early as next summer. Once-weekly exenatide LAR is further down the pike.

These drugs would be alternatives to Byetta which requires two injections a day.

"These will be a nice addition," Buse says. Speaking of treatment, "we may see insulin pumps that can control themselves at night," he says. "It is a major leap for diabetes care to have a computer that controls insulin delivery."

Basically, a person with diabetes wears and controls the insulin pump all day, but at night the pump takes over, so if your blood sugar drifts down at night, the pump will reduce the amount of insulin that it puts out.

Arthritis and a New Gout Drug

According to Eric Matteson, MD, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., 2009 will be a big year for our creaky joints and bones. "We will see more small-molecule drugs being researched and coming into trials," he predicts. Small-molecule drugs act like currently available biologic drugs, but can be taken by mouth, not injection or IV, which could be a huge boon to the millions of people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

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