Archive for January 23rd, 2013

Active video games boost physical activity in kids

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

In the fight against childhood obesity, video games are often seen as the enemy.

But a new study by researchers at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services (SPHHS) suggests that certain blood-pumping video games can actually boost energy expenditures among inner city children, who tend to be at the highest risk for becoming overweight.

“A lot of people say screen time is a big factor in the rising tide of childhood obesity,” says lead author Todd Miller, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Exercise Science at SPHHS.

“But if a kid hates playing dodge ball but loves Dance Dance Revolution why not let him work up a sweat playing E-games?”

Miller and his colleagues recruited 104 kids in grades 3 through 8 from a public school in the District of Columbia.

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Why obese people are prone to asthma

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

A study by researchers at Columbia University (USA) reveals that leptin, a hormone that plays a key role in energy metabolism, fertility and bone mass, also regulates the diameter of the airways.

The findings could explain why obese people are prone to asthma and suggest that body weight–associated asthma may be relieved with medications that inhibit signaling through the parasympathetic nervous system, which mediates leptin function.

“Our study started with the clinical observation that both obesity and anorexia can lead to asthma,” said Gerard Karsenty MD, PhD, professor and chair of genetics and development and professor of medicine at CUMC, and lead author of the study. “This led us to suspect that there must be a signal coming from fat cells that somehow affects the lungs —directly or indirectly.” The most likely candidate was leptin, a protein made by fat cells that circulates in the bloodstream and travels to the brain.

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Fat transplant could help combat obesity and prevent diabetes

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

A transplant of brown fat, which burns calories and regulates the metabolism, could combat obesity, a study has revealed.

Scientists have discovered that transplanting fat could hold key to weight loss.

It sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s thought adding the right type of fat to the body could speed up calorie burning and improve conditions such as diabetes, the Daily Mail reported.

The theory is that there are two types of fat in the body. One is the much-dreaded white fat, which sits under the skin and gives us that beer belly or wobbly thighs. It’s caused by eating too much.

But we also have a smaller amount of brown fat, which generates heat. It does this by boosting the metabolism, burning large amounts of energy so the body starts to burn up the “white fat.”

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Breath test helps identify bacteria’s ‘fingerprint’ in lung infection

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

In a new study, researchers have identified the chemical fingerprints given off by specific bacteria when present in the lungs, potentially allowing for a quick and simple breath test to diagnose infections such as tuberculosis.

The researchers have successfully distinguished between different types of bacteria, as well as different strains of the same bacteria, in the lungs of mice by analysing the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in exhaled breath.

It is hoped that a simple breath test could reduce the diagnosis time of lung infections from days and weeks to just minutes.

“Traditional methods employed to diagnose bacterial infections of the lung require the collection of a sample that is then used to grow bacteria. The isolated colony of bacteria is then biochemically tested to classify it and to see how resistant it is to antibiotics,” Jane Hill, co-author of the paper from the University of Vermont, said.

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Daydreaming at work ‘boosts creativity’

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Staring into space at their workplace could help employees become more creative and even help the business, psychologists have claimed.

Two studies – carried out by Dr Sandi Mann and Rebekah Cadman at the University of Central Lancashire – explored the effects of “passive” boredom, like staring into space during meetings, the Daily Mail reported.

In the first study, 40 volunteers were asked to do a boring task, where they copied numbers out of a telephone directory for 15 minutes.

The people were then told to complete another work, which asked them to come up with different uses for a pair of polystyrene cups, giving them a chance to showcase their creativity.

It turned out that the people who did the boring work were more creative than a control group of 40, who had just been asked to come up with uses.

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Ugly cholesterol triples risk of heart disease

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

People with high levels of the so-called ‘ugly’ cholesterol have three times higher risk of developing ischaemic heart disease.

This is the finding of a new study of 73,000 Danes, which is shedding light on a long debate on this topic.

Cholesterol is divided into ‘the good’ HDL cholesterol, ‘the bad’ LDL cholesterol and ‘the ugly’ cholesterol. It is the so-called ‘ugly cholesterol’ – also called ‘remnant-like particle cholesterol’ – that is the really bad guy.

“LDL cholesterol or ‘the bad’ cholesterol’ is of course bad, but our new study reveals that the ugly cholesterol is the direct cause of arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) resulting in ischaemic heart disease and early death. By examining 73,000 persons, we found that an increase in the ugly cholesterol triples the risk of ischaemic heart disease, which is caused by lack of oxygen to the heart muscle due to narrowing or blocking of the coronary arteries,” said Professor Borge Nordestgaard, chief physician at Herlev Hospital and Clinical Professor at the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Copenhagen.

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Modern women weaker than their grannies

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Humans are getting weaker and today’s generations simply don’t have the same muscle power as their parents, new evidence suggests.

In Western countries such as the UK, U.S. and Canada, muscular strength has hit a plateau and muscular endurance — the ability to repeatedly exert force, such as doing sit-ups — has declined by 8 to 10 per cent since the Eighties, according to Dr Grant Tomkinson, senior lecturer in health sciences at the University of South Australia, a leading researcher on trends in fitness over time.

And it’s women who are affected most, the Daily Mail reported.

London-based physiotherapist Sammy Margo says he sees a massive epidemic of weak women who have no muscle strength.

There are skinny women who have no muscles supporting their spine, and overweight ladies who don’t have any muscles under the fat, he noted.

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Watch out for the hidden sources of salt

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Salt or sodium chloride is what we cannot do without in cooking. Sodium is an essential element the body needs for its fluid balance. Yet in excess, it can also upset that balance. And if you have been advised to cut down on salt or sodium for health reasons like high blood pressure, kidney or heart conditions, then it becomes a culinary challenge to whoever is cooking your food at home to reduce salt and still make the food palatable.

Under normal conditions our body requires only half a gram of sodium. But people lavish salt in foods to the point that they end up eating twenty or more times than required. Though salt requirements depend on outside weather conditions, and how much we lose through sweating, a healthy quantity is 6 grams or one teaspoon of salt. Salt or sodium chloride is only 40 % sodium. So 6 grams of salt furnishes 2400mg sodium.

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