Our weekly roundup of the latest news in the world of health.
People randomly assigned to a Mediterranean diet are less likely to have a heart attack or stroke, a new study has found. They also were less likely to die of related causes. People in the study followed either a Mediterranean diet or a low-fat diet for five years. The study was published this week. Another new study has found genetic links among five mental health conditions. Researchers found the links by analyzing genes of more than 61,000 people. First Lady Michelle Obama launched a new program this week to increase physical activity during the school day. She also visited Mississippi to praise efforts that have helped reduce child obesity in that state.
This Issue: Stronger Evidence Favors Mediterranean Diet Study Finds Genetic Links for 5 Mental Disorders First Lady Backs Active School Day, Praises Miss. Efforts
In the News:
Stronger Evidence Favors Mediterranean Diet
A new study may provide the best evidence yet that a Mediterranean-style diet reduces people's risk of heart attack and stroke. Unlike previous studies, the new one randomly assigned 7,500 people to specific diets. They followed the diets for 5 years. In that time, people on Mediterranean diets had 30% a lower combined rate of heart attack, stroke and deaths from related causes. Considered separately, only the stroke rate reduction was large enough to be clearly not the result of chance. Everyone in the study had a high risk of developing heart disease or stroke. Nearly all were overweight or obese. Most had high blood pressure and high cholesterol. About half had diabetes. Two groups were randomly assigned to a Mediterranean diet. This included lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, tomato sauce, fish and legumes. One group also consumed about 4 tablespoons of olive oil each day. The other ate a handful of nuts daily. The third group followed a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet. Researchers did urine and blood tests to ensure people followed the diets. The New England Journal of Medicine published the study online this week. The Associated Press wrote about it.
Study Finds Genetic Links for 5 Mental Disorders
Five mental health disorders may be more alike than they seem -- at a genetic level. That's the conclusion of a study published this week. Researchers from 19 countries took part. Together, they analyzed the genomes -- the total genetic code -- of more than 61,000 people. Some of them had autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder, major depression or schizophrenia. Others did not have any of these conditions. Variations in 4 areas of the genetic code were linked to all 5 disorders. Researchers cited 2 specific genes as a special concern. These genes regulate the flow of calcium in brain cells. This is a key part of how neurons signal each other. Researchers suggested that changes in genes could be one way that people become more vulnerable to these disorders. Usually, more than one change would have to occur for someone to develop a condition, they said. The journal Lancet published the study. The Associated Press wrote about it.
First Lady Backs Active School Day, Praises Miss. Efforts
First Lady Michelle Obama hit the road this week to further promote and expand her 3-year-old "Let's Move" campaign. It's part of an effort to reduce child obesity and improve kids' health. In Chicago, she introduced a new program, called "Let's Move Schools." Its aim is to increase physical activity during the school day. Mrs. Obama cited examples of schools where kids are learning their ABCs while dancing or reciting multiplication tables while doing jumping jacks. U.S. education grants will help other schools to develop programs. Nike and several foundations are supporting the campaign. They have pledged a total of $70 million. In Clinton, Miss., Mrs. Obama praised the state's success in helping kids slim down. New research shows that obesity among Mississippi elementary students fell 13.3% between 2005 and 2011. She mentioned several steps taken by the state and local school districts. These included new standards for what's sold in school vending machines and more fruits, vegetables and whole grains on lunch menus. The Associated Press wrote about both events.
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