September 28, 2018

Weekend reads: Why scientists had 16 volunteers drink their own blood

Daily Briefing

    Ben Palmer's reads

    Sleep, playtime, and limited screen time linked to better test scores for kids. A recent study published in the journal Lancet Child & Adolescent Health identified three childhood behaviors tied to higher test scores: at least an hour of physical activity during the day, nine to 11 hours of sleep each night, and a maximum of two hours of recreational screen time each day. The study, which included more than 4,500 children from ages 8 to 11, found that children who met those three criteria scored about 4% higher on six standard tests than those that didn't. Jeremy Walsh, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia and the lead author on the study, said that excessive screen time may be "affecting sleep" for children, adding that sleep is "a critical behavior for shaping our brains."

    Why Maryland is putting its health care costs on T-shirts. Maryland health officials have launched WearTheCost.org, a website where consumers can purchase T-shirts that display hospital costs, such as "HIP REPLACEMENT $30,067." According to Ben Steffen, executive director of the Maryland Health Care Commission who created the campaign, the goal is to raise awareness of health care costs and to "focus it on a level most consumers are at." The costs displayed on the T-shirts are averages in the state of Maryland and reflect commercial insurance rates, including hospital care and non-hospital spending.

    Danielle Poindexter's reads

    For the vampire study, participants had to drink their own blood. Sixteen volunteers drank their own blood to help researchers find a better method for diagnosing Crohn's and other inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). Doctors usually diagnose IBD by detecting the protein calprotectin, which is linked to intestinal inflammation, in a patient's stool. But calprotectin can also be an indication of gastrointestinal bleeding. Researchers examined the volunteers' stool samples before, during, and after drinking blood and found that, although the amount of calprotectin did increase after blood ingestion, the levels remained too low to indicate IBD. The researchers concluded that doctors should consider other symptoms if calprotectin levels are too low to confirm an IBD diagnosis.   

    With name change, Weight Watchers pledges to emphasize 'wellness that works.' After 55 years, Weight Watchers is changing its name to "WW" and shifting its focus from dieting to overall health.  The rebrand is part of the company's effort to find its place in a culture that encourages self-care and healthy living rather than weight loss. The new "WW" will include weekly check-ins called Wellness Workshops, incentive programs, and a new point system for counting calories.

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