In Brief

July 24, 2008

Weight

CDC data show more than one in four Americans obese

Americans, who have been getting fatter for decades, reached an unwelcome milestone in a report released last week: More than one in four of us are obese.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the number of adults who say they are obese increased between 2005 and 2007 - to 25.6 percent in 2007 from 23.9 percent in 2005. That doesn't include people who are overweight.

A different CDC survey - a gold-standard project in which researchers weigh and measure survey respondents - put the adult obesity rate at 33 percent for adult men and 35 percent for adult women in 2005 and 2006.

"It's alarming," said Dr. Robert Kush-ner, professor of medicine at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine and an expert on obesity, fitness and lifestyle.

"As a country, it means we have a whole population of individuals developing increased risk for chronic illness - diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, cancer," he said. "All of these are related to obesity."

Obesity is defined as a body mass index (a measure of weight related to height) of 30 or more. For a 5-foot-4-inch-tall person, that means carrying an extra 30 pounds.

Chicago Tribune

Psychology

Sexes view come-hither differently, studies find

When a flirtatious vamp or a sexy hunk tries to intrude on a committed relationship, men are more likely to tumble to temptation and women more likely to reinforce the emotional fortress to protect their relationship, according to studies reported in this month's issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. "Men may have the will, but not the way," says lead author John Lydon, a psychologist at McGill University in Montreal.

Researchers presented 724 heterosexual volunteers, mostly college-age, with a scenario involving an attractive member of the opposite sex. They were then asked to fill in blanks in a word game. Men saw B E _ A _ E and were likely to write "became." Most women wrote "beware." Given L O _ A L, men wrote "local," but women, "loyal." "A situation with an attractive alternative implicitly brings to mind threat and commitment for women, but not for men," Lydon says.

If women have a stronger internal voice that says, "If tempted, then defend," researchers tried teaching such thinking to men. Half were coached in strategies to protect their relationships, then all were presented with computer temptations: virtual-reality hussies urging them to come hither. Though 75 percent of untrained men went through the virtual door of temptation, only 38 percent of trained men succumbed.

Los Angeles Times

Medical devices

FDA says CT scans can cross equipment's signals

The Food and Drug Administration is warning doctors and patients that electronic devices such as pacemakers, cardiac defibrillators and insulin pumps can malfunction when people get computerized tomography (CT) scans.

The popular scans can cause medical devices to shock patients or start sending inaccurate signals, the FDA said in a public health alert issued last week.

The agency has received six confirmed reports of devices that malfunctioned after a CT scan and another nine reports of suspected problems, FDA spokeswoman Karen Riley said. No deaths occurred.

Also, a study published last year by researchers at the Mayo Clinic found that CT scans frequently interfered with electronic heart devices, although the impact was temporary.

Chicago Tribune

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