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How Many Calories are in that Big Mac?

big macWould you be less likely to drink that Coca-Cola if you knew you had to run 4.2 miles to burn it off rather than simply knowing that it contains 210 calories? Scientists are calling for exercise data to be printed on packaging rather than for just the caloric information to be there.

They explain that the caloric information really doesn’t translate into understanding for most people – but that knowing how much exercise it would take to get rid of the drink or food would.

The researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore have found that teenagers who were given the exercise information were more likely to select healthier drinks or smaller bottles. The findings, published in the American Journal of Public Health, adds to the evidence that caloric information is ignored by most people.

As the study lead Professor Sara Bleich said, “People don’t really understand what it means to say a typical soda has 250 calories. If you’re going to give people calorie information, there’s probably a better way to do it. What our research found is that when you explain calories in an easily understandable way such as how many miles of walking needed to burn them off, you can encourage behavior change.”

For their study, the researchers at Hopkins displayed signs in six shops in Baltimore that presented the facts about a 590ml bottle of fizzy drink. The sign explained that it would take 50 minutes of running or a five mile walk to burn off the drink. The scientists found that customers bought far more healthy drinks when the signs went up than they had been afterwards.

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Want Your Kids To Be Better Readers? Get Them Moving!

readA new study led by author Professor Charles Hillman of the University of Illinois shows that you might want to get your kids out for more exercise to improve their reading. Children who are physically fit have faster brain responses when reading than do their less fit peers, according to the study.

They explain that they did not prove that higher levels of fitness don’t guarantee better reading proficiency, but they do see a connection.

The researchers used electroencephalography (EEG) to capture electrical impulses associated with brain activity for reading and doing other activities. Researchers looked at brain waveforms N400 and P600 and found that children who were more fit had higher amplitude N400 and P600 waves than their less-fit friends when reading sentences.

As Professor Hillman explained, “Previous reports have shown that greater N400 amplitude is seen in higher-ability readers…All we know is there is something different about higher and lower fit kids. But more work must be done to tease out the causes of improved cognition in kids who are more fit.”

As Professor Hillman concluded, “Many studies conducted in the last decade, on children and older adults have repeatedly demonstrated an effect of increases in either physical activity in one’s lifestyle or improvements in aerobic fitness, and the implications of those health behaviors for brain structure, brain function and cognitive performance.”

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Leaving a Legacy

36 year old mother of two, Charlotte Kitley, recorded her experiences battling stage four bowel cancer. She started a blog, writing about her various treatments and how the disease had impacted her life.

Passing away on September 16, her last blog post has gone viral. She asked her husband to upload the post to her blog when she died, and he did so on the day of her death. In the post, she wrote,

“As you read this, I will no longer be here. Rich will be trying to put one foot in front of the other, to get by, a day at a time, knowing I will no longer awake next to him. He will see me in the luxury of a dream, but in the harsh morning sun, the bed will be empty. He will get two cups from the cupboard, but realise there is only one coffee to make. Lucy will need someone to reach for her hairband box, but there won’t be anyone to plait her hair. Danny will have lost one of his Lego policeman, but no one will know exactly which one it is or where to look. You will look for the latest update on the blog. There won’t be one, this is the final chapter.

And so I leave a gaping, unjust, cruel and pointless hole, not just in Halliford Road, but in all the homes, thoughts and memories of other loved ones, friends and families. For that I am sorry. I would love to still be with you, laughing, eating my weird and latest miracle food, chatting rubbish ‘Charleyisms’. I have so much life I still want to live, but know I won’t have that. I want to be there for my friends as they move with their lives, see my children grow up and become old and grumpy with Rich. All these things are to be denied of me.”

And then she urged her readers to “in my absence, please, please, enjoy life. Take it by both hands, grab it, shake it and believe in every second of it. Adore your children. You have literally no idea how blessed you are to shout at them in the morning to hurry up and clean their teeth. Embrace your loved one and if they cannot embrace you back, find someone who will. Everyone deserved to love and be loved in return. Don’t settle for less. Find a job you enjoy, but don’t become a slave to it. You will not have ‘I wish I’d worked more’ on your headstone. Dance, laugh and eat with your friends.”

Her husband is asking people to support the Bowel Cancer UK and all donations will go to the Never Too Young and Time For Guts campaigns.

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Cerebral Palsy, a Typewriter and the Magic of Creativity

Enjoy this incredible story of victory over disability. It’s amazing what we can do when we explore our hidden talents.


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Eating with the Fish

If you love aquariums, you might want to check out the Tianjin Haichang Polar Ocean World in China. Visitors here can dine by candlelight in an underwater tunnel while watching fish, sea turtles and others swimming above them.

They can also be serenaded by underwater musicians during the meal. The Tianjin Haichang Polar Ocean World opened in the city of Tianjin in 2010 and has over 30,000 polar and sea creatures including sharks, jellyfish, seals, penguins, sea lions and beluga whales.

But from these pictures, the best part of the aquarium is definitely the chance to eat while watching the fish from below.








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Don’t Shame Overweight People, Shows New Study

weightIn a fascinating study, researchers from University College London have found that shaming people about their weight makes it six times more likely that people will be obese.

When people get criticized for their weight they are more likely to comfort eat. And fear of ridicule also makes them avoid exercise. Lead author Sarah Jackson advises the medical community to avoid using the word “fat” and to be careful about shaming patients.

Their study included almost 3000 English men and women aged 50 plus who were weighed once, and then again four years later.

Published in the journal Obesity, the study showed that the victims of “fat shaming” put on just over 2 pounds over the course of the study. They were six times as likely to become obese. Those who weren’t criticized for their weight became slimmer over the four years, although only be a small amount. Dr. Jackson said, “Our results show that weight discrimination does not encourage weight loss and suggest that it may even exacerbate weight gain. Previous studies have shown that people who experience discrimination report comfort eating.”

Dr. Jackson explained that weight bias exists for the general public, and also for health professionals. As she said, “Doctors tend to spend less time with obese patients. They feel that treating obesity is a futile task and many avoid doing it.We need to find a way of addressing this during training, highlighting that blaming and shaming isn’t going to help resolve the problem.”

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Blocking the Vagus Nerve for Weight Loss?

weight lossIf you’re struggling with your weight, this just might be the solution. Researchers from the University of Minneapolis have created a device that uses electrodes to block the vagus nerve from communicating the feeling of hunger to the brain. The vagus nerve runs the length of the torso and tells the body when it’s full – but often with obese people the vagus nerve becomes desensitized and causes people to overeat.

The researchers looked at 239 severely obese people whose BMI were between 35 and 45 and who had at least one or more obesity-related condition. They implanted the device to block the vagus nerve in 162 participants. The other 77 participants had a fake device implanted and both groups were offered weight management.

The results are published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study found that, after 12 months, those fitted with the device lost 24% of their excess weight, while those in the control group lost only 16%.

As the study concluded, “Additional studies are needed to compare effectiveness of vagal nerve block with other obesity treatments and to assess long­ term durability of weight loss and safety.”

But it’s certainly worth keeping your ear to the ground with this type of weight loss idea.

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Overcoming Emotional Eating with Deepak Chopra

In a recent episode of Help Desk, Hannah sat down with Deepak Chopra, author of the book What Are You Hungry For? He is a pioneer of mind-body medicine and in the series they connect spiritual leaders with people looking for guidance.

When asked how to overcome emotional eating, Chopra offered three key ideas.

1. Practice body awareness. Everytime that she thinks of putting food in her month she should ask herself if she is hungry and how hungry she is. This will “break the reflex” according to Chopra.

2. Cutting out sugar: Next he advised her to cut sugar from her diet.

3. Sleep: Finally, he said that getting enough sleep is essential. As he said, “Sleep deprivation causes obesity, as does stress.”

He said that people should meditate, get enough sleep and walk 10,000 steps a day.

See the full video below:

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