Round-Up of Global News In Health and Complementary Medicine
Week Beginning 3 June 2002
TV Too Much For Childhood Weight
Reflecting the worldwide concerns about adult obesity, childhood overweight problems are on the rise. Many factors have been highlighted but a major issue is the great reduction in physical exercise amongst our young populations. In tandem with reduced exercise is the increase in TV watching. And it is the excessive TV consumption which has been the subject of a report published this week. US scientists believe children with television sets in their bedrooms are more likely to be overweight. Researchers at Colombia University in New York have found that overweight children are likely to spend longer than others watching TV or videos. More than a third of children in the UK under the age of four have TVs in their bedrooms. The answer? Maybe that parents place important limits on their offspring’s TV watching and as a family start to introduce more physical pursuits. A good walk in the countryside would be a great start.
The Daily Mail
Link Between Smell & Memory Revealed
You know how certain smells evoke memories. For instance, you might be walking down the street and smell lavender, a smell which evokes memories of the happy holiday you had staying at your grandparents’ house one summer. You may have your own odour-memory experiences and it goes to prove how important our sense of smell is to our feelings of well being. Something major shop chains know only too well when they try to evoke a buying reaction in their high street establishments in response to exotic smells pumped around the stores. Until know, however, it was impossible to say why such incredible memories should be linked to certain smells. But this has now changed with the publication of groundbreaking research. Scientists believe they have discovered how a waft of perfume or strains of a familiar melody can evoke a vivid memory. A study, conducted by researchers from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, has located the precise region of the brain that appears to be responsible for connecting an everyday sensation with something that happened in the past. The area, the CA3 region of the brain’s hippocampus, plays a critical role in the formation of memories that can stay with a person for life.
Diet & Asthma Linked
Like many childhood disorders, asthma is very much on the increase. Over the last few years we have seen many tentative attempts to explain this epidemic of asthma, with a whole plethora of potential risk factors cited. However, there has been increasing evidence that there is a particularly strong link with poor diet. In particular a lack of fresh fruit and veg in the diet. Certainly there is ample evidence that in the Western world children are consuming far less than these once important staples of diet. But until now nobody was quite confident enough to stick out their necks and announce a possible link with increasing asthma prevalence. This week, though, that has all changed. Finally, a world expert has claimed that the asthma epidemic in children might indeed be linked to the dramatic drop in fruit and vegetable consumption in recent years. Professor Anthony Seaton says dietary deficiencies in the womb or early childhood could make children more vulnerable to the condition. Prof Seaton, professor of environmental and occupational health at Aberdeen University, added that the lack of vitamins could help explain rising rates of asthma and wheezing attacks.
The Daily Mail
Obesity rise prompts health warning
Heart disease is linked with a great number of risk factors. These include smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, high blood cholesterol and poor physical exercise. One risk factor, however, which always seems to be overlooked, and which would seem very obviously of importance, is obesity. This tendency to underestimate the importance of obesity is very much reflected in the UK government’s National Service Framework (NSF) for heart disease, a set of guidelines and goals set for the health service to improve and reduce the incidence of heart disease in our country. Amazingly, management of obesity is afforded only brief mention in the NSF document. But we ignore obesity as a risk factor for heart disease at our peril. Because its importance has steadily grown over the last few years. Indeed, the World Heart Federation is warning that obesity will overtake tobacco smoking as the biggest cause of heart disease unless the current trend of unhealthy living is reversed. An estimated 22 million children under the age of five are now severely overweight and nearly one in three children in the United States between the ages of five and 14 are obese, compared to one in six 30 years ago.
Left-handers Feel Neglected
Throughout history those who are left-handed have had a hard time. Even the Latin for left, sinister, has dark connotations. Of course, we know that your handedness has nothing to do with ability, and certainly not personality. Some of the true greats were left-handed. However, in our enlightened times it is surprising that left-handers that perceptions in many cases remain in the Dark Ages. This is reflected in biology as well though. This week a world-renowned psychology professor announced that society will never stop being biologically and culturally dominated by right-handed people at the psychological expense of left-handed people. Chris McManus, a professor of psychology and medical education at University College London, trawled thousands of years of the history of cells and culture – from 'left-handed' amino acids, to stone age tool-making practices and Giotto frescos – and found that 'right equals good and left equals bad' in common perception.
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