Is obesity contagious ? Researchers studied 1,519 military families who were assigned to 38 military bases across the country and living in counties with higher or lower rates of obesity. The scientists collected data on height and weight of children and parents using questionnaires and in-person examinations. The study, in JAMA Pediatrics, used data on county obesity prevalence from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. County obesity rates ranged from 21 percent to 38 percent, and each percentage point increase in obesity was associated with a 5 percent higher rate of obesity in military parents and a 4 percent higher rate in their 12- or 13-year-old child. “Subconsciously, you are affected by what people around you are doing,” said the lead author, Ashlesha Datar, adding, “If you move to a community where a sedentary lifestyle is the norm, you join that.”

Mushrooms pack a nutritional punch

Mushrooms may lack the deep green or brilliant red hues consumers have come to associate with nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables, but they are a “powerhouse of nutrition” and not a white food to be avoided, said Angela Lemond, spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Low in calories and fat and cholesterol-free, mushrooms contain a modest amount of fiber and over a dozen minerals and vitamins, including copper, potassium, magnesium, zinc and a number of B vitamins such as folate. Mushrooms are also high in antioxidants like selenium and glutathione, or GSH, substances believed to protect cells from damage and reduce chronic disease and inflammation.

New seizure drug shows promise

A new class of epilepsy medications based on an ingredient derived from marijuana could be available as soon as the second half of 2018, pending Food and Drug Administration approval. GW Pharmaceuticals announced promising results from a study on 171 patients ages 2 to 55 who have a condition called Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and were suffering from seizures that were not being controlled by existing drugs. The results show that over a 14-week treatment period, 44 percent of patients taking the drug, called Epidiolex, saw a significant reduction in seizures, compared with 22 percent of the placebo group. Moreover, more of the patients who got the drug experienced a 50 percent or greater reduction in “drop” seizures, which involve the entire body, trunk or head and often result in a fall or other type of injury.

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