Exposure to air pollution may damage brains; sugar and carbs the cause of obesity - not inactivity

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 April, 2015, 6:01am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 May, 2015, 10:05am

Exposure to air pollution may harm your brain

Long-term exposure to fine particle air pollution, even at low levels, may cause subtle structural changes in the brain that could precede cognitive impairment and hidden brain damage, according to research in the journal Stroke. Between 1995 and 2005, researchers tracked 943 adults from Boston and throughout New England and New York, who were relatively healthy and free of dementia and stroke. They found a 2 microgram per cubic metre of air increase in PM2.5, a range commonly observed across a metropolitan region, was associated with a 0.32 per cent smaller total cerebral brain volume - similar to about one year of brain ageing - and a 46 per cent higher risk of covert brain infarcts, a type of silent stroke. Fine particle air pollution, or PM2.5, comes from burning wood or coal, car exhaust and other sources.

You can't outrun a bad diet, say experts

Excess sugar and carbs, not physical inactivity, are behind the surge in obesity, say experts in an editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. The perception that obesity is entirely due to lack of exercise is rooted in corporate marketing, say the authors. They describe the public relations tactics of the food industry as "chillingly similar to those of Big Tobacco," which deployed denial, doubt, confusion and "bent scientists" to convince the public that smoking was not linked to lung cancer. Public health messaging has unhelpfully focused on maintaining a healthy weight through calorie counting, but it's the source of the calories that matters, they say. "Sugar calories promote fat storage and hunger; fat calories induce fullness or satiation," they write. And the evidence now suggests that carbs are no better, they add. Recent research indicates that cutting down on dietary carbohydrate is the single most effective approach for reducing all of the features of the metabolic syndrome.