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The Baltimore Sun


Teen girls' popularity may affect their weights

Where a teenage girl sees herself on her school's social ladder may sway her future weight, a study of more than 4,000 girls finds.

Those who believed they were unpopular gained more weight over a two-year period than girls who viewed themselves as more popular. Researchers said the study shows how a girl's view of her social status has broader health consequences.

The girls in the study were still growing -- their average age was 15 -- and all of them gained some weight. However, those who rated themselves low in popularity were 69 percent more likely than other girls to increase their body mass index by two units, the equivalent of gaining about 11 excess pounds.

The body mass index, or BMI, is a calculation based on height and weight. Girls who put themselves on the higher rungs of popularity also gained some excess weight, about 6 1/2 pounds.

Both groups fell within ranges considered normal. But a gain of two BMI units over two years is more than the typical weight gain, researchers said.

The research appears in this month's Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. It is based on data from a continuing study used frequently by scientists studying childhood obesity.

Associated Press


Testosterone supplements don't cause ill effects

In a study that may be reassuring to older men taking testosterone in hopes of combating the aging process, Dutch researchers reported this month that the hormone supplements did not cause any ill effects in healthy men.

Tens of thousands of American men are on testosterone despite long-standing concerns about long-term use, with some experts fearing it could fuel the growth of prostate cancer and possibly raise the risk of stroke and heart attack. Scientific evidence on testosterone's ability to preserve or restore age-related losses of sex drive, muscle mass and memory also has been mixed.

The study, published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association, was among the first in a series of trials to determine the safety and benefits of testosterone in older men, 60 to 80 years old.

The study found that men who took testosterone for six months developed more muscle mass and lost more fat than men who didn't take it. The men taking testosterone had better insulin sensitivity, but lower levels of HDL or "good" cholesterol.

The researchers, from Utrecht University in the Netherlands, screened nearly 2,000 men.

Chicago Tribune


Sports video games not enough for kids

Games such as Wii Sports may partially bridge the gap between the active child and the couch potato, a new study has found, but not enough to make much of a difference in a kid's overall fitness.

Researchers at Liverpool John Moores University in Liverpool, England, studied six boys and five girls ages 13 to 15 while they played four computer games -- a sedentary game and Wii Sports bowling, tennis and boxing. The children burned about 156 calories per hour playing Wii bowling, 168 during Wii boxing and 174 during Wii tennis. That's roughly 60 calories per hour more than expended playing the sedentary game.

Co-author Tim Cable, a professor of exercise physiology, says the exercise was not intense enough to contribute toward the recommended amount of daily physical activity for kids and is probably about 25 percent less than the energy that would be used playing the sport. The activity of the boys was significantly greater than for the girls, particularly for the tennis game. The study was published last month in the British Medical Journal.

Los Angeles Times


Fears about Sept. 11 give Americans heart problems

Stress and fear about terrorism after Sept. 11 are giving Americans heart problems, even if they had no personal connection to the attacks, according to a University of California Irvine study released Monday.

UCI researchers linked psychological stress responses to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon to a 53 percent increase in heart problems -- including high blood pressure and stroke -- in the three years after Sept. 11, 2001.

Most of those surveyed had watched the attacks on live television, and one-third had no personal connection to them. Most of them had no pre-existing heart problems, and the results persisted even when risk factors such as high cholesterol, smoking and obesity were taken into account. The three-year study took a random, nationwide survey of more than 1,500 adults whose health information had been recorded before the terror attacks.

Participants were asked in the online surveys to report doctor-diagnosed ailments and assess their fear of terrorism by rating on a scale how much they agreed with such statements as "I worry that an act of terrorism will personally affect me or someone in my family in the future."

Chronic worriers -- those who continued to fear terrorism for several years after the attacks -- were the most at risk of heart problems.

The study was written by six researchers and published in this month's edition of Archives of General Psychiatry.

Los Angeles Times

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