The Diet Detective: Memory, Learning and Emotional Issues for Those Overweight

According to research from Jeremy D. Coplan at SUNY Downstate, "Being overweight appears related to reduced levels of a molecule N-acetylaspartate (NAA) that reflects brain cell health in the hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in memory, learning, and emotions, and likely also involved in appetite control.

According to the researchers, the hippocampus has long been connected to memory and emotional control, but the discovery of its relationship to appetite control is relatively new. It makes sense, since so many of our food choices are related to our associations with those foods and the emotions they arouse.

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Knowing Your Heart Age is Key

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one of the world's biggest killers, but creating more awareness of the risks can be problematic. So, in 2008, in collaboration with researchers at Boston University, Unilever Sustainable Living Plan Progress and the World Heart Federation developed the Heart Age Calculator. The calculator expresses an individual's risk score as their estimated Heart Age to make it more personally relevant to the individual.

To see if the calculator worked, researchers at the University of the Balearic Islands, Spain, studied 3,153 patients. The results showed that patients who had been told their CVD risk (both as a percentage or Heart Age) demonstrated significant decreases in their risk scores compared to the control group—who received only general guidance on healthy living—with improvements being greatest in the Heart Age group. Furthermore, patients who were told their Heart Age were far more likely to take action to live healthier lifestyles, such as quitting smoking. Quitting rate for smokers was four times greater in the Heart Age group compared to those who received the traditional percentage risk scores.

Check out your Heart Age.

Japanese Comics Increase Fruit Consumption

When minority students were exposed to a healthy version of Manga comics (Japanese comic art) the students increased fruit intake and picked healthy snacks. "Manga comics could be used to promote healthier behaviors and beliefs related to fruit consumption in at-risk youth. The graphics and minimal text make it a promising format to engage younger populations," said lead author May Leung, Ph.D., R.D., of the City University of New York School of Public Health at Hunter College. Let's get these healthy comics distributed in our schools.

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