Public Health

Most parents cannot recognize that their child is overweight, a Deakin University study has revealed, with a majority believing their overweight child is of normal weight.

Researchers with Deakin's Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research surveyed more than 1200 families to find out if parents had concerns about their children's weight and if they took any preventative action to avoid obesity in their children.

Portable inspection devices that detect food safety and quality problems are being developed by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists. Recent food safety outbreaks highlight the need for "space-age" ways to prevent such problems at every step in the food production process -- from farm field to grocery store or restaurant.

Scientists led by Yud-Ren Chen at the ARS Instrumentation and Sensing Laboratory, Beltsville, Md., are designing such portable inspection devices by adapting optical technology used for remote sensing of Earth.

Prototypes include binoculars with lenses that detect fecal matter on meat, produce or processing equipment--as well as diseases or quality defects.

Also, read Scientific Blogging columnist Seth Robert's interview with Brian Wansink here.

Sitting down to a family meal more often and cutting down on television watching can help keep children from becoming overweight, according to a new University of Missouri-Columbia study.

After following 8,000 children from kindergarten to third grade, researchers concluded that kids who watched the most TV were at the greatest risk of being or becoming overweight. Children who ate fewer meals with their families also were at risk for becoming overweight.


Common sense used to be more common

Heartbeat and breathing cycles can become synchronized, a new study shows.

Looking for patterns in the sequence of human heartbeats is a much studied subject; evidence for pattern-revealing characteristics such as chaos and fractal or spiral geometry have been sought. Breathing, which is more under direct conscious control than heartbeat, is much less studied.


Ayurvedic Yoga uses a synchronized breathing/heartbeat system

Immigrants in the United States require less than half the health-care services than do native-born Americans, according to study findings published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Immigrant children get even lower levels of care, receiving 84 percent less than U.S.-born children, according to researchers at Harvard and Columbia universities and the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California.

Mechanical 'artificial hearts' can be used to return severely failing hearts to their normal function, potentially removing the need for heart transplantation, according to new research.

The mechanical devices, known as Left Ventricular Assist Devices (LVADs), are currently used in patients with very severe heart failure whilst they await transplantation. The new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, shows that using an LVAD combined with certain drug therapies can shrink the enlarged heart and enable it to function normally once the LVAD is removed.

For the study, researchers from Imperial College London and the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Trust gave the full combination therapy to 15 severely ill patients. Of these 15, 11 recovered.

When it comes to the inequality in people's health across the globe, says Professor Danny Dorling (University of Sheffield, United Kingdom) "you can say it, you can prove it, you can tabulate it, but it is only when you show it that it hits home."


Public Health Spending: Worldmapper Poster 213. Source of data used to create map: United Nations Development Program, Human Development Report 2004. (Credit: Worldmapper)

A single protein in brain cells may act as a linchpin in the body's weight-regulating system, playing a key role in the flurry of signals that govern fat storage, sugar use, energy balance and weight, University of Michigan Medical School researchers report.


The fat mouse on the right lacks the gene to make SH2B1, while the mouse on the left is normal. Restoring SH2B1 just in the brain overcame this mouse strain's weight-gaining tendencies, even when mice were fed a high-fat diet.