Partner more influential than upbringing when it comes to obesity – study

A person’s partner has a greater impact on their chances of becoming obese than their upbringing, findings of a new study show.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have analysed data provided by 20,000 Scottish families.

They found that by middle age, the routine a couple shares – including their diet and exercise habits – has a greater impact than the lifestyle they shared with their siblings and parents when growing up.

Professor Chris Haley of the Medical Research Council’s Human Genetics Unit led the research and said that the study will help scientists better understand the links between obesity, genetics and lifestyle.

He added that the study findings support the message that lifestyle changes in adulthood may mean that people from families with a history of obesity can still reduce their risk by changing their habits.

“Although genetics accounts for a significant proportion of the variation between people, our study has shown the environment you share with your partner in adulthood also influences whether you become obese and this is more important than your upbringing,” said Professor Haley.

The information was gathered as part of the Generation Scotland project, a resource of health data that helps researchers to investigate genetic links to health conditions.

Scientists compared people’s genetics and home environments in childhood and adulthood and related those to measures linked to health and obesity.

A total of 16 measures were considered including waist to hip ratio, blood pressure, body fat content and body mass index.

The study is published in the journal PLoS Genetics.

Hair’s to Aloe Vera

Aloe vera can be found in many beauty products – from off-the-counter brands to luxury items, this much-used ingredient is clearly beneficial for your beauty routine. The aloe vera plant contained many natural ingredients that are good for your body, including Vitamins A, B, C, and E, as well as a crucial element, a complex carbohydrate called acemannan. This allows nutrients to reach the cells in your skin, nourishing them and relieving them of toxins at the same time.

While aloe vera can be found in many skin products, it can also be used for your dry or damaged hair as well. Just as it affects your skin, aloe vera can nourish, cleanse and protect your tresses, and has a host of benefits when used on your locks regularly. Since aloe vera is a natural plant and not man-made, it’s been around for centuries, even dating back to the ancient Egyptians, who used the plant to cure hair loss, according to research conducted by the University of Hawaii. Aloe vera contains enzymes that can get rid of dead skins cells on the scalp which could be clogging the hair follicle, thus not allowing the nutrients to properly penetrate into your hair. When aloe vera is applied, it breaks down the dead scalp cells, allowing for further hair growth. It can also bring your scalp and hair back to a normal pH balance, which allows your hair to retain more water and moisture and therefore promote hair growth.

Relatedly, the same enzymes in get rid of dead skin cells also help with reducing dandruff. For a simple dandruff treatment, add a few drops of tea tree oil to aloe vera gel. Mix in a few drops of rose water to get a serum-type consistency. Then cover your scalp with the serum, let it sit for about an hour, and rinse out normally.

Aloe vera also contains anti-bacterial and antiseptic properties to help get rid of an itchy scalp. Just like putting aloe vera on a sunburn, it gives your scalp a calming and cooling sensation, as well as reducing the scaling, inflammation and itching of the scalp.

Runny eggs OK during pregnancy

Here’s some good news for pregnant women out there, the runny egg is back on the menu. For around 30 years expectant ladies in Britain have been warned against cracking into undercooked eggs and advised to avoid hollandaise sauce, homemade mayonnaise and mousse.

However, anyone yearning for a runny boiled egg to dip your toast soldiers into will be happy to know a year-long review conducted by government approved scientists has determined that the risk of contracting salmonella from a British egg is “very low”.

Salmonella is caused by bacteria living in hens and can be very serious in pregnancy, increasing the risk of miscarriage or premature labor. In some cases it can also be fatal for toddlers or older people.

The advice now being issued is that pregnant women, toddlers and elderly people can enjoy soft yolks from eggs bearing the British Lion kitemark on the shell. It is reassuring to know that 90 per cent of the eggs produced in the UK do carry this stamp of approval.

“The Working Group is in agreement that there has been a major reduction in the microbiological risk from Salmonella in UK shell eggs from hens since the 2001 report,” states the report by the British Government’s Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food.

“The very low risk level means that eggs produced under the Lion Code, or produced under demonstrably equivalent comprehensive schemes, can be served raw or lightly cooked to all groups in society, including those that are more vulnerable to infection, in both domestic and commercial settings, including care homes and hospitals.

“The group’s view is that this is especially the case for those eggs produced under the Lion Code Scheme, which comprises a suite of measures including: vaccination, a cool chain from farm to retail outlets, enhanced testing for Salmonella, improved farm hygiene, better rodent control, independent auditing, date stamping on the eggs and traceability.”

However, those individuals previously deemed to be at risk have been warned that eating runny eggs from cafes or restaurants should be avoided as they can’t guarantee the eggs will have the kitemark.

The British government first issued warnings about eating eggs following a salmonella scare in 1988, when everyone was told to only eat thoroughly cooked eggs. A decade later the advice was relaxed and aimed at groups deemed a greater risk, such as pregnant women, toddlers, those with long-term illnesses and elderly people.

Nutritionists have welcomed the news, explaining eggs offer a vital source of high quality protein and Vitamin D which are beneficial during pregnancy.

Chocolate can be beneficial during pregnancy

Pregnant women often worry about gaining too much weight when they are expecting, but a new study has shown that eating chocolate could provide essential health benefits. Anyone who has been through pregnancy will have experienced cravings at any time of the day or night – with chocolate being top of many women’s list. Now you no longer need to stress about tucking into your favorite sweet treat, as scientists have found high–flavanol chocolate can boost fetal growth and help the placenta perform more efficiently.

The study conducted by experts at Universite Laval in Quebec City, Canada, also determined the sweet stuff can decrease the risk of pre-eclampsia, a potentially serious condition which can occur in the latter stages of pregnancy.

“This study indicates that chocolate could have a positive impact on placenta and fetal growth and development and that chocolate’s effects are not solely and directly due to flavanol content,” explained study co-author Dr Emmanuel Bujold.

Previous studies have produced conflicting findings when it comes to the impact of eating chocolate during pregnancy, so this latest trial focused on the effect of high-flavanol chocolate, such as dark chocolate, which is high in cocoa solids.

For the study, 129 women were chosen, all between 11 and 14 weeks pregnant with one baby. They were given 30 grams of either high-flavanol or low-flavanol chocolate to eat every day for 12 weeks, and their progress was followed until they gave birth. Each participant’s uterine artery Doppler pulsatility index (PI) was measured, which shows blood velocity in placental, fetal and uterine circulations. The PI showed noticeable improvement for both groups.

Gestational hypertension, placenta weight, pre-eclampsia and birth weight was also noted for each woman – and no differences were found between the two groups.