Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep

Most people don’t get enough sleep. We are a society that burns the candle at both ends, a nation where people stay up all night to study, work, or have fun. However, going without adequate sleep carries with it both short- and long-term consequences.
In the short term, a lack of adequate sleep can affect judgment, mood, ability to learn and retain information, and may increase the risk of serious accidents and injury. In the long term, chronic sleep deprivation may lead to a host of health problems including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even early mortality.
Healthy Sleep: A resource from the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School
"The fact that extending sleep led to a reduction in intake of free sugars -- the sugars that are added to foods by manufacturers or in cooking at home as well as sugars in honey, syrups and fruit juice -- suggests a simple change in lifestyle may really help people to consume healthier diets."
Dr. Wendy Hall, Department of Nutritional Sciences, King's College London

"Sleep duration and quality is an area of increasing public health concern and has been linked as a risk factor for various conditions."
"We have shown [through research] that sleep habits can be changed with relative ease in healthy adults using a personalized approach."
"Our results also suggest that increasing time in bed for an hour or so longer may lead to healthier food choices."
Haya Al Khatib, lead researcher, study

We all know that sleep deficits make us cranky and prone to malfunction, both physically and mentally. Missing sleeping hours occurs to most people on occasion, and there are always plans to 'make it up' at a later date, possibly in the days following that night when lack of adequate rest made us feel groggy and ill-tempered as morning dawned and we wrested ourselves out of bed to face the day.

The medical community is fairly firm, the conclusion beyond doubt, that lack of sleep leads to a dissatisfying day in the short term and health consequences in the long term. Now, a new study out of King's College London has found that people who sleep for longer periods at night are less likely to reach for sweetened foods or comforting carbohydrates. Sleep deficits were acknowledged previously to represent a risk factor for obesity, altering hormone levels which control appetite.

What this study concluded was that by getting more sleep -- an additional 90 minutes of it optimally -- people tended to select healthier food choices within a week, ending up consuming an average ten grams less sugar daily. The study trial enlisted twenty-one volunteers who slept for fewer than the recommended seven hours a night, who were exposed to counselling in a bid to help change their sleep habits.

Each was then asked to maintain a constant bedtime, to resist drinking caffeine before bedtime and not to eat anything close to retiring for the night. Instead, to just relax and be comfortable through the evening hours before heading to bed. An average of 90 minutes was added by each of the volunteers to their daily sleep patterns over the seven-day study period. By week's end, they were consuming less sugar and carbohydrates than they had at the beginning of the week.

As for the control group whose sleep failed to improve, no such change was seen; their sleeping patterns remaining the same deficit-laden events, ensured that they would also continue reaching for comfort foods high in carbohydrates, and sweetened 'treat' foods. Previous studies undertaken over the years had already observed the connection between short sleep periods and poorer quality diets.

Most of us need around eight hours of good-quality sleep a night to function properly – but some need more and some less. What matters is that you find out how much sleep you need and then try to achieve it.
As a general rule, if you wake up tired and spend the day longing for a chance to have a nap, it’s likely that you’re not getting enough sleep.
A variety of factors can cause poor sleep, including health conditions such as sleep apnoea. But in most cases, it’s due to bad sleeping habits.
National Health Services (NHS.UK) 

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Wasting the Environment

"It was also aluminum, drywall, wax paper. I have photos and you can actually read the cheese wrapper I found in the bird, and glass that you could read. Just big chunks, really."
"There were a lot of big things. I found rope. I found a piece of plastic knife. There's a lot of stuff in there for sure. They're [gulls at landfills] not selective."
"It's a small fragment [the photographs] of what the birds were actually eating."
Sahar Seif, Carleton University undergraduate student
Sea gulls fly at the beach in Germany In a newly published paper, Carleton University researcher Sahar Seif found gulls were gulping down everything from drywall to pointy bits of metal.  (Michael Probst/AP Photo)

Goats are known for their apparent lack of discrimination, in their proclivity to eat just about anything they come across. Presumably, their constitution as mammals is as iron-clad as that of gulls in the avian kingdom. And it was gulls in particular that Sahar Seif, an environmental biologist, and lead author of a paper recently published in the Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, was primarily interested in studying.

Seagulls fly over garbage being dumped at a landfill site in Tokyo Bay in this April 18, 2000, file photo.
Landfill sites attract the presence of gulls in huge, swooping populations picking among the garbage to feast on what to other species of birds and mammals would surely represent indigestible, unpalatable and nutritionless waste. Their presence is so ubiquitous at waste sites all over the world that the contents of their stomachs are often examined as a monitoring device to estimate the amount of plastic in the environment.
  Three gull species were examined by Ms. Seif and her co-authors, common to a landfill in St. John's Newfoundland. Plastic in excess was discovered through necropsies of 41 birds. Plastic foam appears to have been particularly attractive to the gulls, its presence accounting for over one-quarter of all the garbage discovered in stomach contents of the birds. Bits of metal and glass comprised another 20 percent of stomach contents, while building materials represented over five percent.

A fast-food plastic snack bag 13 centimetres from top to bottom was also discovered. Yet as Ms. Seif pointed out, gulls are capable of regurgitating any items happening to upset their stomachs, making it obvious that what the research team chronicled in contents might have been a mere snapshot of total contents. The researchers also discovered that the gulls did not appear to be physically suffering from their intake of garbage.
Trash found in the stomach of a gull that had been feeding at a landfill in Canada.
Sahar Seif

They could detect no links between the human detritus discovered in the stomachs of these birds and the appearance of ulcers or lesions in their stomach linings. "They are very tough in that regard", observed Ms. Seif. Who also pointed out that gulls evolved as functional scavengers who in any environment, including wilderness settings, are capable of expelling potentially dangerous tidbits like sharp bone fragments.

But while it seems likely that gulls can scavenge debris without obvious harm resulting, the same may not be true for other seabirds who are in all likelihood also taking in similar castoffs and since they don't have the same evolutionary protection, they do come to harm. Ms. Seif's acute observation should give second pause to society as a whole, in this regard; that every bit of the detritus that the researchers discovered present in the gulls was designed for a single use then discarded.

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Monday, January 15, 2018

The Impulse to Self-Disfigurement

"There is significant psycho-social damage."
"Depression is relatively common. People become very self-conscious, and self-esteem suffers. They start to avoid social situations in which people could notice the effects of their behaviour, and often spend tremendous amounts of time trying to cover the effects."
"The behaviours seem to be both a problem of a habit gone awry and a way of coping with emotional distress."
Douglas Woods, professor of psychology, Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

"Why is this [that girls tend to react to body-focused repetitive behaviours and obsessive-compulsive disorders more than boys do]? We are not certain, but I suspect that many more females begin to pull [their hair out] around the age of puberty."
"Likely, there is a hormonal component that affects more females than males. Other hypotheses are that males are more able to cover hair loss, or maybe do not seek treatment as they can hide the results of their pulling."
"Some do it in response to emotion -- anger, anxiety, happiness -- while others in response to needing to feel a certain sensory sensation, while others pull or pick [at their skin] in response to certain environmental triggers, such as activities, places, mirrors."
"[ComB, as a treatment] looks at each person as an individual and evaluates [his or her] individual pulling/picking profile."
"Strategies are offered based upon their unique pulling/picking triggers. It is not a one-size-fits-all approach. It is quite tailored."
Suzanne Mouton-Odum, clinical assistant professor, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas

Most people are aware of some impulsive behaviours that afflict young people -- and old, of course. The focus is on critical awareness and dissatisfaction with one's body. Binge-eating might be included in this kind of dysfunction, but most certainly anorexia and bulimia are two conditions that do very well reflect an unhealthy regard of one's appearance and body weight. These are serious enough conditions to make anorexics and bulimics very sick indeed, and even threaten their very lives.

The human condition seems to provoke people to act in unorthodox, self-harming ways as a type of coping mechanism, to relieve stress, to satisfy an urge to be other than what they are, any number of issues that people find disturb their thoughts and their lives. It's unlikely that the general public has even heard of two of these disorders; hair pulling and skin picking, trichotillomania and excoriation/dermatillomania respectively, to give them their scientific names.

Each is known to the scientific medical community as body-focused repetitive behaviours (BFRBs). Repetitive 'self-grooming' habits capable of causing injury through pulling, picking or scraping, or biting the hair, skin and nails. There is a vast difference between most peoples' casual picking or nail biting, and the type of extreme behaviour that these more serious disorders represent. And the cause of that behaviour is linked to a mental state.

Compulsive Nail/ Finger Biting
Onychophagia or Dermatophagia?

BFRBs were once classified in medical literature along with other impulse-control disorders such a kleptomania and addiction to gambling. The most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, however, now categorizes BFRBs as obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCDs). "The  truth is", says Dr. Woods "they probably belong in an in-between category". 

Viewed by the scientific community as being on the same spectrum, the two conditions are quite different as it happens, with classic OCD occurring with uncontrollable, recurring thoughts; revulsive fear of germs as opposed to behaviour compelling the person afflicted to endlessly repeat motions, such as repetitively excessive hand-washing. Whereas impulse-control disorders involve an inability to resist a potentially harmful or self-destructive urge.

Hair or skin eating, lip and cheek biting, tongue chewing and compulsive haircutting, according to a non-profit based in Santa Cruz, California, are typical of other types of BFRBs. Among boys and girls hair pulling occurs equally before age twelve, while at a later age, it occurs mostly in girls, according to Dr. Moutom-Odum at Baylor College. There is a belief by researchers of a genetic component in the disorders since they tend to run in family groups, leading researchers to study genes of affected people in an effort to identify markers to provide clues to their origins.

One study found higher rates of OCD in immediate family members, with people demonstrating extreme cases of hair pulling, than in the general population. As well, a twins study suggested the existence of a higher occurrence of hair pulling in identical as compared to fraternal twins. Add to that, research that has detected differences in the brains of people with these disorders, compared to the brains of others who show no symptoms of like disorders.

Clomipramine, an antidepressant used to treat OCD, has been moderately useful, but the most effective therapy according to experts in the field, is behavioural modification, of which there are two frequently used protocols. Habit-reversal training, teaching patients to be more self-aware when they pull and pick, and recognition of cues trains those affected to make use of a 'competing response' when the urge rises; clenching the fist with the hair-pulling hand and pressing it to the body's side.

The other is called ComB or comprehensive behavioural treatment, explained by Dr. Mouton-Odum as enabling clinicians to design a treatment plan taking into account specifics related to an individual.

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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Stupidity As An Addiction

"We have to be aware that there are many species out there that are defecating, that are emptying the contents of their enteric tracts onto the land and into the water."
"There's a long human history of consuming raw water over millennia and centuries and that has resulted in numerous documented outbreaks of serious infectious diseases and fatalities."
Dr. Ray Copes, Public Health Ontario

We do have a tendency to think of fresh-water streams as crystalline pure. Dr. Copes reminds us that any water taken directly from nature is likely to contain bacteria such as E.coli, salmonella and campyilobacter, along with parasites like cryptosporidium and giardia, disease-causing microbes that farm animals, for example cattle and sheep, not to mention wild animals shed into the environment. All their shedding contaminates surface water.

When you take your companion pet to the veterinarian for an annual check-up and vaccination, you're given options to protect them against picking up any of these microbes occurring naturally in the environment that can be a threat to their health as well. Should they become contaminated they will become ill. Just as humans are likely to, and when that happens because a number of people have taken to a new fad the potential for disease outbreaks can shake our confidence in modern health science.

It's not that modern health science is in any way deficient, it is that people seem to have a tendency to cluster around any new idea that celebrates itself as 'green', or 'natural'. In this particular instance, it's 'raw water'. the rage among that demographic of environmentally aware/unaware people who believe that 'natural' means healthy. If they gullibly believe what promoters of the new raw water bottling assure them, it's because they haven't been responsible enough to themselves to educate themselves of the dangers inherent in the belief that 'natural' is superior for human consumption.

But guess what? Humans may be civilized to the point where we flush what we defecate down a toilet and do the same with the waste from our domestic pets and that waste is then processed at waste treatment plants, but animals in the wild consider nature itself to be their toilet. Everything gets washed by rainfall into streams and rivers and lakes. If you happen to be out enjoying nature by camping in a wilderness area, camping gear includes a vital piece of equipment, to render lake water sterile of most bacteria.

But now a new health craze appears to be sweeping the United States, the belief that raw water (read untreated) is "healthier" than water that pours out of a tap, or alternately bottled water. Healthier because it won't contain fluoride, retaining beneficial minerals and "good" bacteria otherwise removed by disinfection methods or through sanitary filtration. Remember what Dr. Copes explained? There's a kind of reverse psychology effect going on here.

But that scientific/health point of view doesn't appear to have given second thought to groups promoting living off the water grid such as Live Water, based in San Francisco, delivering untreated water to clients, water they source from Opal Spring in Madras, Oregon. The water that its promoters celebrate as 'raw' just incidentally, may be free for them to scoop and bottle, but they sell it for $70 a 9.5-litre jug. If it were freely given away, as a sweetly charitable act of public good after all, no one would be interested.

The great likelihood is that untreated water carries a host of micro-organisms that can cause severe illness and even death. Knowing human nature and the suspicion of science by those committed to a more 'natural', 'healthful' way of living and eating, however, some people are just hard to convince. Until such time as they become predictably ill and modern medicine aided by scientific protocols responds to rush in and save them from themselves.

It's a pretty safe bet that those people who love and respect nature and who make it an important part of their lives, searching out unspoiled areas of forest and mountain, lake and ocean to explore and simply enjoy the serenity and beauty of it all, have the knowledge it takes to ensure they don't become ill through that kind of exposure. They take precautions by carrying with them the gear required to make the most of their outdoor experience and closeness to nature while guarding against consuming or imbibing harmful organisms natural to the landscape.

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Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Arctic Afire

"Higher temperatures also spur more thunderstorms."
"Lightning from these thunderstorms is what has been igniting many more fires in these recent extreme events."
Sander Veraverbeke, study author, Arctic Report Card

"High latitude ecosystems are characterized by unique fuels. In particular, fast-drying beds of mosses, lichens, resinous shrubs and accumulated organic material [duff] that underlie dense, highly flammable conifers."
"These understory fuels cure rapidly during warm, dry periods with long daylight hours in June and July. Consequently, extended periods of drought are not required to increase fire danger to extreme levels in these systems."
"During this period, 65,000+ strikes in Alaska gave rise to nearly7 270 ignitions of the preconditioned fuels."
"2014's fuel conditions reached a level that is 34 percent to 60 percent more likely to occur in today's anthropogenically changed climate than in the past."
Arctic Report Card
Image of a burning forest.
In recent years, an increase in large wildfires has been seen in Alaska. Credit: USGCRP (2014)

This annual compendium of peer-reviewed research with its focus on climate change and its impact on the North has recently been released with a warning of what could be considered to be the 'new normal' in the North, according to climate scientists. Average temperatures remain relatively cool across the Arctic as they did the summer of 2017, but the trend is a low and aggressive warming. Decade on decade winter arrives with warmer air, warmer water, less ice and, surprisingly, more fire events.

The mental image that has infiltrated the awareness of most people who keep abreast of environmental news is of starving Polar bears, melting glaciers and tundra unfrozen. The fact of fire becoming common in the Arctic environment intrudes as an unexpected visitor in the land of ice and snow and penetrating cold, and it is one that is destined to continue and likely increase in incidence.
There is a "strongly non-linear" relationship identified between fire and climate in the North, according to the report.

The correlation becomes clear when it is explained that mean temperatures in July have become common over the past 30 years, seeing 13.5C the acknowledged average. One study the report cites points out that lightning ignitions in the Northwest Territories (Canada) and Alaska have increased two to five percent annually since 1975. Two issues come to play: more fuel for more lightning to ignite. The longer and hotter, stormier summers in the North result in drier, more fertile ground.
Locations of 12 Native Villages considering relocation. Source: GAO (2009

Earlier starts on Northern summers that last longer make for a longer snow-free season in Alaska, increasing by roughly five days each decade, one 2011 study points out. Giving the northern earth more time to dry itself in an environment where even small changes in temperature can result in a large flammability impact of northern soil. So, along with greater numbers of fires in the North, they burn longer, consuming more territory.

In 2015, 5.1-million acres were burned in Alaska, representing the second-worst fire season on record there, which only 2004's fire season exceeded with the burning of 6.2-million acres.

A confluence of predictable factors was held to be responsible, according to a 2016 study, when an unseasonably warm spring caused an early snow melt and a June heat wave dried the surface and subsurface fuels (duff/forest detritus). Followed by a cluster of unusual storms, a cascade of lightning strikes resulted in hundreds of fires.

Climate models mentioned in the report card predict a fourfold increase in area impacted by wildfires in the North by century's end.

Photograph of seaside house that lies nearly on its side with one end on higher sands and one side on the beach.
Thawing permafrost: the ground under a home in Shishmaref, Alaska collapses from erosion.
Image credit: The Alaska Conservation Foundation (2010)

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Friday, January 12, 2018

Is Moderate Climate the Matter Over Mind?

Is Moderate Climate the Matter Over Mind?

"Growing up in temperatures that are close to the psycho-physiological comfort optimum encourages individuals to explore the outside environment, thereby influencing their personalities."
Study, Nature

"Overall, it is interesting that although people instinctively believe that better weather results in better moods, the evidence for this assumption is weak. In general, the effects of "better weather" on people's feelings are modest, inconsistent, and at times counter to commonly-held expectations. Moreover, warm weather seems associated with breakups and more antisocial behavior. Yet there can be benefits, not only directly for people who suffer from SAD, but via indirect effects when people get out in nature and exercise more. As with many assumptions in life, presumed cause-effect relations can be wrong. Often, the key to experiencing benefits depends on what people do with their opportunities rather than whether they simply have them in the first place."
Allen R McConnell Ph.D., Psychology Today

Does climate determine personality? I am not sure."
"But from my own research, I do know that weather and climate affect mood, and this may be reflected in some of the [study] authors' assessments."
Alan Stewart, professor of psychology, University of Georgia

So, does geographical climate have an effect on forming peoples' personalities? As in making them happier, more satisfied people, easier to get along with? If, that is, they happen to live where the climate is moderate, not given to extreme swings of warm and cold. We commonly think of people from the Nordic countries as being slightly morose in temperament, and people living say, in Hawaii, light-hearted and stable. These are impressions, they don't reflect actual scientific measurements of human nature being formed by prevailing weather patterns.

People living in northern climes, it is true, tend to fixate on the weather because they live with extremes of temperature and those extremes impose on their style of living, from travelling and communicating to recreational opportunities. In Canada, as an example, there is an outdoor winter culture that impresses people to get out in the snow and the cold because not only is it beautiful in appearance, but these conditions lend themselves to enjoying and taking part in winter recreational habits available to anyone -- and staying fit in the process.

Human beings tend to become bored with any kind of environment that seems static, unchanging. The change in seasons is a natural, unending ritual that brings a changing landscape introducing another chapter to the year's seasons, resulting in anticipation and appreciation of season-appropriate activities. If the transitions are to relatively moderate, albeit vastly different seasons they're more than tolerable. If the transitions herald extremes of alternate weather landscapes they can seem intrusive and unwanted.

If we take a geography like Hawaii as ideal, however, why is it that according to the U.S. Census Bureau there are more people leaving the state daily than there are those moving into it. While the weather may be great, the geological beauty impressive, the unemployment rate low with a robust labour market, and few concerns about cyclones hitting states like Florida, it is an enormously expensive place to live in. So while people living there may be happily satisfied with the climate, they are dissatisfied with the opportunities to forge ahead financially.

And quite the same can be said for Canada's Pacific coast province of British Columbia, a spectacular geography, never too hot and sun-baked in the summer, and with mild winters where snow falls for the most part in the interior and coastal mountains and cities like Vancouver enjoy moderate climatic features. The fly in that particular urban ointment is spectacularly high real estate costs, so much so that even with well-remunerated employment few residents can dream of owning their own homes in the urban core.

Tokyo's situation is much the same, with weather very similar to that of Georgia, for example, where a snowfall is rare, and when it does come down, it is languid and scarce and quickly dissipates as the unusual cold that brought it in leaves. On the other hand, summer heat and humidity in Tokyo can make life uncomfortable for those who prefer dryer, less humid and hot atmospheres. And again, like Hawaii and Vancouver, home ownership and rental costs are phenomenally expensive.

So what does make people happy and content? The researchers in the most recent study cited above conclude that in places where the comfort of warmth prevails for most of the year with an average high temperature about 21C people tend to be agreeable, open and emotionally stable growing up and maturing in a warm climate, as compared, for example to being raised and coming to maturity in Marquette, Michigan with its average high temperature of 10C.

Research has previously linked personality to geography; as in "Midwest nice", and "New York abrasive". But while it can be true that regions appear to have group personalities with social cultures that are recognizably linked to geographies, there is little proof of cause and effect. Yet according to the researchers linked to this new study  the significant factors in personalities are linked to the average temperatures prevailing in the places that nurture us. We are shaped personally by the climate we live with.

That should make Canadians pretty surly people, and they are, in fact, noted for their tendency to be rather moderate in their emotional presence to the point of being boringly predictable in their easy-going attitudes. Still, it is the researchers' contention that people who are raised in regions with average temperatures around 22C tend to be agreeable, conscientious, emotionally stable, extroverted and open; personality traits psychologists identify as "the big five".

Take it with a grain of salt.

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Thursday, January 11, 2018

A Nimble Mind Trapped in an Awkward Body

"Quite simply, we have found support for the existence of internal bathroom scales."
"The weight of the body is registered in the lower extremities. If the body weight tends to increase, a signal is sent to the brain to decrease food intake and keep the body weight constant."
John-Olov Jansson, University of Gothenberg, Sweden

"[One theory is that the internal scales] give an inaccurately low measure when you sit down. As a result you eat more and gain weight."
Claes Ohlsson, study co-author
Researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have found evidence for the existence of an internal body weight sensing system. This system operates like bathroom scales, registering body weight and thereby fat mass. More knowledge about the sensing mechanism could lead to a better understanding of the causes of obesity as well as new anti-obesity drugs.

So imagine, if you will, we animals who call ourselves human have been equipped with a "gravitostat", whose function is similar in a sense to a bathroom scale. When we step on that scale and see our weight moving northward, we tell ourselves, 'uh-oh! better watch what we're eating'. In a like fashion, the biological scale has a specific function, keeping tabs on our weight and sending a message to our brain that we've eaten enough, time to push away from the table.

The scientists that studied this issue have postulated that cells in weight-bearing skeletal bones called osteocytes produce a protein whose function is to signal the brain to stop eating. In people who are obese, it seems obvious that the cells have become inoperative. The theory floats around that too much sitting helps to add adipose tissue to our bodies, and this seems to fit right into the researchers' conclusions.

Experimentally, the researchers, using the animal-model laboratory rodents provided to them by the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute in Toronto, implanted capsules weighing 15 percent of their body weight into the rats' and mice's abdomens. (In equivalent weights humans would be implanted with somewhere around a 10-kg weight within the abdomen of  a 70-kg individual.) Experimental control animal counterparts had empty capsules implanted weighing 3 percent of their body weight.

Body weight in both the rats and mice with the additional loads saw body weight decrease, with total body weight (biological body weight, plus capsule weight) was similar in both groups of rodents after two weeks' elapse. As much weight was lost by the artificially loaded rodents matching what had been added; the animals simply ate less, resulting in a reduction in the amount of white adipose tissue, 'bad' fat that hoards calories.

Once the tiny weights were removed, the mice gained body weight and fat mass "demonstrating that the body weight sensor is functional in both directions", wrote the research team in their study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Although rodents are most commonly used as animal models before research is conducted in humans to judge impacts, mice and rats are not humans and what works with one species will not necessarily match what is found in another animal species.
"As much as we'd love to advise people to strap on some extra weights and off you go -- you'll be less hungry and you'll lose weight -- we have no idea whether or not this would carry over into humans."
"But it does make a little bit of sense that we would have multiple ways that we sense how much we weigh and regulate that."
"If we said to a bunch of scientists who study body weight and appetite today, 'did you know that your bone cells send a signal to your brain to control your appetite', the answer before this paper was published would be 'no'."
Dr. Daniel Drucker, Lunenfelt-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Toronto
Although the actual biological mechanism remains elusive to science, the findings were similar whether testing normal mice, obese mice fed high-fat diets or mice lacking leptin, the hormone whose function is thought to suppress appetite. What is immensely fascinating is that if this process holds true and all humans are biologically outfitted with this weight-management mechanism, why is there such an epidemic of obesity?

Is the communication corridor from bone cells signalling the brain to withhold hunger symptoms when the weight metering mechanism has been triggered because of an increased load, somehow disturbed on such a wide societal scale, and why? Dr. Drucker, groping for a response that seems reasonable feels the signalling system from the bones somehow misfires "and that's why simply carrying around more weight when you're obese doesn't automatically shut off your appetite".

A response that might seem unhelpfully trite to those struggling to come to terms with their misbehaving bodies.

Davos divided on tackling the scourge of obesity
Shao Qian (R) and an unidentified reporter pose for a picture after Shao wins the Fat and Happy contest in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, Aug 10, 2012. Shao, 21, weighs 182 kilograms. The contest, organized by a local newspaper, aims at encouraging the overweighed to better engage in public activities. [Photo by Li Jie/Asianewsphoto]

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