Health bites

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 April, 2014, 10:25am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 April, 2014, 10:25am

When Facebook steals more than just your time

The more time women spend on Facebook, the more negative feelings they have about their body image, according to a recent study by researchers in Britain and the US. Nearly 900 college-aged women were polled about their use of the social media site, eating, exercise habits and body image. While time spent on Facebook had no relation to eating disorders, it did lead to more negative feelings and more comparisons to the bodies of friends. "Poor body image can gradually lead to developing an unhealthy relationship with food," says researcher Petya Eckler of the University of Strathclyde.

Novel approach could lead to new obesity treatment

Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston have identified a protein in fat and liver cells that can be altered to increase energy expenditures, leading to weight loss. This metabolic manipulation dramatically reduced the development of obesity and diabetes in mice, they report in the journal Nature. The findings are "particularly exciting", says senior author Dr Barbara Kahn, because the technology used to inhibit the protein in the study is already approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of genetic causes of elevated cholesterol, as well as a viral eye infection. This means clinical trials to test the technology as anti-obesity therapy could readily move forward.

Clean hands, dirty nose courtesy antibacterial soap

An antimicrobial agent common in hand soaps, toothpastes and mouthwashes has been found to promote bacteria build up in human noses, which could cause an increased risk of infection in some people, such as those undergoing surgery, according to University of Michigan scientists. The man-made compound, triclosan, has been added into many antibacterial household products in the past decade, but senior study author Blaise Boles says there's no evidence it does a better job than regular soap. In the study published in the journal mBio, triclosan was found in the nasal passages of 41 per cent of adults sampled. Other studies have found traces of triclosan in human fluids including urine and milk.