Friday, March 28, 2008

Research May Provide New Link Between Soft Drinks And Weight Gain

Research May Provide New Link Between Soft Drinks And Weight Gain

Total caloric intake was lower in the mice that consumed the fructose-sweetened water than in the other groups, except for the control animals provided with water only.

“We were surprised to see that mice actually ate less when exposed to fructose-sweetened beverages, and therefore didn’t consume more overall calories,” said Dr. Tschöp. “Nevertheless, they gained significantly more body fat within a few weeks.”

Results from an earlier study in humans led by Peter Havel, DVM, PhD, an endocrinology researcher at the University of California, Davis, and coauthored by Dr. Tschöp, found that several hormones involved in the regulation of body weight, including leptin, insulin and ghrelin, do not respond to fructose as they do to other types of carbohydrates, such as glucose.

Based on that study and their new data, the researchers now also believe that another factor contributing to the increased fat storage is that the liver metabolizes fructose differently than it does other carbohydrates.

“Similar to dietary fat, fructose doesn’t appear to fully trigger the hormonal systems involved in the long-term control of food intake and energy metabolism,” said coauthor Dr. Havel.

The researchers say that further studies in humans are needed to determine if high-fructose corn syrup in soft drinks is directly responsible for the current increase in human obesity.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Ananova - Man hired stripper for dad's funeral

Ananova - Man hired stripper for dad's funeral

Man hired stripper for dad's funeral

A Taiwanese man hired an erotic dancer to perform at his 103-year-old father's funeral.

An erotic dancer at a funeral in Taiwan /Lu Feng

The stripper danced in front of Cai Jinlai's coffin for more than ten minutes at the funeral in Taizhong town.

Son, Cai Ruigong, paid her more than £80 to dance in memory of his late father, reports United Daily News.

Cai Ruigong says he promised his father a stripper for his funeral if he lived beyond the age of 100.

Cai Jinlai passed away at the age of 103 after a three mile walk into town to vote. He was the oldest person in his village and had more than 100 descendants.

His son said his father was famous locally for his interest in strip clubs: "He would travel around the island with his friends to see these shows," he added.

Why doing nothing may sometimes be the best action of all - Lifehack.org

Why doing nothing may sometimes be the best action of all - Lifehack.org

Mr. Azar is interested in a topic much in vogue with contemporary economists: how investors make high-stakes decisions. In classical economics, people are assumed to make rational, independent choices based on self-interest. It’s an assumption that makes for neatness, but it appears to be wide of the mark.

Rather than construct some artificial experiment, Azar decided to study professional soccer goalkeepers and how they deal with the toughest, highest-stakes decision they are forced to make on a regular basis: how to act to stop a penalty kick at goal.

Faced with a player sending the ball towards them at 80 m.p.h. or more, the goalkeeper has only a fraction of a second to decide how to block the shot. It’s a fearful challenge: 4 out of 5 penalty kicks score a goal.

By analyzing data on more than 300 kicks, the researchers calculated the action most likely to prevent a goal being scored. Surprisingly, it is standing in the center of the goal and doing nothing until the trajectory of the ball can be seen. This resulted in a 1 in 3 success rate — far higher than the average.

Yet goalkeepers almost never act in this way. They typically try to guess the ball’s direction before the player’s foot has actually made contact with it, diving left or right to try to be in the right spot when the ball arrives. Neither is a good option. Diving left resulted in success 14% of the time; diving right only 12.6%.

Why then is it so common to act in a way that is even less successful than the average?

Fearing censure more than failure

The researchers suggest that the answer lies in the goalkeepers’ emotions and the response they meet from others after failing. By taking action — even if it’s neither rational nor likely to be successful — they can at least be seen to have done something.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Cuba Lifts Ban On Computer, DVD Sales -- Cuba -- InformationWeek

Cuba Lifts Ban On Computer, DVD Sales -- Cuba -- InformationWeek

HAVANA - Communist Cuba has authorized the sale of computers, DVD and video players, and other electrical appliances in the first sign President Raul Castro is moving to lift some restrictions on daily life.

"Based on the improved availability of electricity the government at the highest level has approved the sale of some equipment which was prohibited," said an internal government memo seen by Reuters.

It listed computers, video and DVD players, 19-inch and 24-inch television sets, electric pressure cookers and rice cookers, electric bicycles, car alarms and microwaves that can now be freely bought by Cubans.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Boys' And Girls' Brains Are Different: Gender Differences In Language Appear Biological

Boys' And Girls' Brains Are Different: Gender Differences In Language Appear Biological

For the first time -- and in unambiguous findings -- researchers from Northwestern University and the University of Haifa show both that areas of the brain associated with language work harder in girls than in boys during language tasks, and that boys and girls rely on different parts of the brain when performing these tasks.

"Our findings -- which suggest that language processing is more sensory in boys and more abstract in girls -- could have major implications for teaching children and even provide support for advocates of single sex classrooms," said Douglas D. Burman, research associate in Northwestern's Roxelyn and Richard Pepper Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the researchers measured brain activity in 31 boys and in 31 girls aged 9 to 15 as they performed spelling and writing language tasks.

The tasks were delivered in two sensory modalities -- visual and auditory. When visually presented, the children read certain words without hearing them. Presented in an auditory mode, they heard words aloud but did not see them.

Using a complex statistical model, the researchers accounted for differences associated with age, gender, type of linguistic judgment, performance accuracy and the method -- written or spoken -- in which words were presented.

The researchers found that girls still showed significantly greater activation in language areas of the brain than boys. The information in the tasks got through to girls' language areas of the brain -- areas associated with abstract thinking through language. And their performance accuracy correlated with the degree of activation in some of these language areas.

To their astonishment, however, this was not at all the case for boys. In boys, accurate performance depended -- when reading words -- on how hard visual areas of the brain worked. In hearing words, boys' performance depended on how hard auditory areas of the brain worked.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Happiness can be inherited, research finds - Yahoo! News

Happiness can be inherited, research finds - Yahoo! News

A study of nearly 1,000 pairs of identical and non-identical twins found genes control half the personality traits that make people happy while factors such as relationships, health and careers are responsible for the rest of our well-being.

"We found that around half the differences in happiness were genetic," said Tim Bates, a researcher at the University of Edinburgh who led the study. "It is really quite surprising."

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Sex therapists: Best sex is 7 to 13 min. - UPI.com

Sex therapists: Best sex is 7 to 13 min. - UPI.com


Sex therapists: Best sex is 7 to 13 min.

Published: March 5, 2008 at 1:04 PM

ERIE, Pa., March 5 (UPI) -- A random sample of Canadian and U.S. sex therapists said that sexual intercourse of seven to 13 minutes is most "desirable."

The survey of North American sex therapists found they thought an "adequate" length for sexual intercourse was from three to seven minutes; "desirable" from seven to 13 minutes; "too short" from one to two minutes; and "too long" from 10 to 30 minutes.

Researchers Eric W. Corty and Jenay M. Guardiani of Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, said that lay public perceptions about how long sexual intercourse should last may be problematic and may be a factor related to perceived distress.

Dissemination to the public of these results may change lay expectations and prevent distress and may benefit couples in treatment for sexual problems by normalizing expectations, the researchers said.

The findings are published in the The Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Young Iraqis are losing their faith in religion - International Herald Tribune

Young Iraqis are losing their faith in religion - International Herald Tribune

Young Iraqis are losing their faith in religion
By Sabrina Tavernise
Published: March 3, 2008


BAGHDAD: After almost five years of war, many young Iraqis, exhausted by constant firsthand exposure to the violence of religious extremism, say they have grown disillusioned with religious leaders and skeptical of the faith that they preach.

In two months of interviews with 40 young people in five Iraqi cities, a pattern of disenchantment emerged, in which young Iraqis, both poor and middle class, blamed clerics for the violence and the restrictions that have narrowed their lives.

"I hate Islam and all the clerics because they limit our freedom every day and their instruction became heavy over us," said Sara Sami, a high school student in Basra. "Most of the girls in my high school hate that Islamic people control the authority because they don't deserve to be rulers."

Atheer, a 19-year-old from a poor, heavily Shiite neighborhood in southern Baghdad, said: "The religion men are liars. Young people don't believe them. Guys my age are not interested in religion anymore."

The shift in Iraq runs counter to trends of rising religiousness among young people across much of the Middle East, where religion has replaced nationalism as a unifying ideology. While religious extremists are admired by a number of young people in other parts of the Arab world, Iraq offers a test case of what could happen when extremist theories are applied.
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Fingers caught smoking were broken. Long hair was cut and force-fed to its owner. In that laboratory, disillusionment with Islamic leaders took hold.

It is far from clear whether the shift means a wholesale turn away from religion. A tremendous piety still predominates in the private lives of young Iraqis, and religious leaders, despite the increased skepticism, still wield tremendous power. Measuring religiousness furthermore, is a tricky business in Iraq, where access to cities and towns that are far from Baghdad is limited.

But a shift seems to be registering, at least anecdotally, in the choices some young Iraqis are making. Professors reported difficulty recruiting graduate students for religion classes. Attendance at weekly prayers appears to be down, even in areas where the violence has largely subsided, according to worshipers and imams in Baghdad and Falluja. In two visits to the weekly prayer session in Baghdad of the followers of Moktada al-Sadr last autumn, vastly smaller crowds attended than had in 2004 or 2005.

Such patterns, if lasting, could lead to a weakening of the political power of religious leaders in Iraq. In a nod to those changing tastes, political parties are scrubbing overt references to religion.

"In the beginning, they gave their eyes and minds to the clerics, they trusted them," said Abu Mahmoud, a moderate Sunni cleric in Baghdad, who now works deprogramming religious extremists in American detention. "It's painful to admit, but it's changed. People have lost too much. They say to the clerics and the parties: You cost us this."

"When they behead someone, they say 'Allah Akbar,' they read Koranic verse," said a moderate Shiite sheik from Baghdad. "The young people, they think that is Islam. So Islam is a failure, not only in the students' minds, but also in the community."

High Prevalence Of Eating Disorders Found In Narcoleptics

High Prevalence Of Eating Disorders Found In Narcoleptics

The majority of patients with narcolepsy/cataplexy experience a number of symptoms of eating disorders, with an irresistible craving for food and binge eating as the most prominent features, according to a new study.

The study, authored by Hal Droogleever Fortuyn, MD, and Sebastiaan Overeem, MD, of the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center in The Netherlands, focused on 60 patients with narcolepsy/cataplexy who were recruited from specialized sleep centers and 120 healthy controls.

According to the results, 23.3 percent of the narcolepsy/cataplexy patients fulfilled the criteria for a clinical eating disorder, as opposed to none of the control subjects. Half of the patients reported a persistent craving for food, as well as binge eating. Twenty-five percent of patients even reported binging at least twice a week.

"These data make it clear that narcolepsy is not just a sleeping disorder, but a hypothalamic disease with a much broader symptom profile," said Dr. Fortuyn. "Hypocretin, the neurotransmitter that is lost in narcolepsy, has been implicated in the regulation of feeding through animal studies. Earlier studies in narcolepsy found a clear increase in body weight. However, we did not find a correlation between binge eating and increased weight. Binge eating is apparently not the direct cause of the obesity in narcolepsy, and this suggests that metabolic alterations may be involved. Nevertheless, our study shows that the loss of hypocretin function makes narcolepsy patients not only struggle with staying awake, but also destabilizes their eating pattern, which makes it harder to stay away from the candy jar."