WHO foresees a global obesity epidemic
At least one billion of the world’s population of 6.45 billion is overweight, warns the World Health Organization (WHO). And rates of overweight and obesity are rising dramatically in poorer countries, not just wealthy nations, reports New Scientist. According to the WHO report, if the current trend continues, by 2015 there will be 1.5 billion overweight people in the world. Being overweight or obese greatly increases a person’s risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other chronic diseases. The hike in obesity in lower-income countries is due to many factors, including a “global shift” towards eating more high-energy foods, fats, salt and sugar, the WHO says. This is coupled with decreased physical activity “due to the sedentary nature of modern work and transportation, and increasing urbanisation”, it concludes.
Hygiene link to heart disease
Childhood viral infections might reduce the risk of developing heart disease later in life by as much as 90 per cent, researchers from Sweden and Finland reported at the World Congress of Pediatric Cardiology inBuenos Aires recently. They said, “improved hygiene in early childhood might partially explain the greatest epidemic of the 20th century ' coronary heart disease.” This strenghthens the old ‘hygiene hypothesis’ which proposes that reduced microbial exposure because of cleaner lifestyles has facilitated the rise in asthma and allergic diseases. In a study involving 700 patients they found a link between the number of childhood infections and the reduced risk of coronary diseases.
Stammerers need early cure
Children who stutter should be treated before they start school to improve the speech disorder that affects about five percent of youngsters, Australian scientists said. Stuttering, or stammering, usually begins when a child is three or four years old. Boys are three times more likely to suffer from the problem. There is no cure for the condition, but researchers at the Australian Stuttering Research Centre at the University of Sydney who developed and evaluated an early treatment called the Lidcombe programme to treat stuttering said it somewhat reduced the problem.The programme, which is named after a Sydney suburb, is a behavioural treatment for young children. It’s adminis tered by a parent with guidance from a speech pathologist.
Acupuncture pokes are bluffs
Inserting acupuncture needles in random places in the body is just as effective as placing them at proper acupuncture points, says a study in the British Medical Journal. Doctors in Munich, who treated 270 tension headache sufferers with either traditional or random needle placements, found that both yielded equal relief.