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Saturday, 11 August 2012

Shedding Light On the Evolution Of Jaws In Humans And Other Mammals

A University of Notre Dame researcher has shed light on the evolution and function of jaws. 
Researcher Matt Ravosa's integrative research program investigates major adaptive and morphological transformations in the mammalian musculoskeletal system during development and across higher-level groups. 
In mammals, the greater diversification and increasingly central role of the chewing complex in food procurement and processing has drawn considerable attention to the biomechanics and evolution of this system. Being among the most highly mineralized, and thus well preserved, tissues in the body, craniodental remains have long been used to offer novel insights into the behaviour and affinities of extinct organisms. 
Ravosa feels that the study of mandibular symphysis, which is the midline joint between the left and right lower jaws, is one of the most interesting and complex articulations in the bodies of mammals. This is due to the remarkable evolutionary and postnatal variation in the degree of fusion, or the amount of hard versus soft tissue, in this joint. For instance, humans, apes and monkeys all have a bony symphysis, which differs from the condition observed in most other living and fossil primates. 
In two papers about adaptive and non-adaptive influences on mandibular evolution with his postdoctoral fellow Jeremiah Scott, Rovosa and his colleagues present analyses based on more than 300 species and 2,900 individual mandibles from highly diverse mammal groups where the feeding behaviour of living species is well documented. 
Ravosa is particularly interested in determining if there is a relationship between the properties of food being consumed and the degree of fusion of the jaw. 
His recent paper in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology is most broad-based examination to date relating dietary properties of mammals to the degree of fusion. His research reveals that in the case of marsupials, carnivorans and strepsirrhine primates that eat harder, tougher and bigger foods have a lesser degree of fusion. 
By contrast, animals that consume softer, smaller foods do not have as great a degree of fusion. This supports biomechanical arguments that fusion strengthens the symphyseal joint during postcanine chewing and biting. 
In another paper appearing in the journal Evolution, Ravosa reports that in some bat lineages, the fusing of the jaw can be evolutionarily constrained as its morphology does not vary as a function of dietary products. Such evidence about limits on musculoskeletal variation is typically rare in mammals, with these findings having important implications regarding the evolution of the feeding apparatus in humans and other anthropoids. 
Though dietarily diverse, all members of this primate group exhibit a fused symphysis that also does not vary with diet. 
Ravosa noted that similar analysis of other species would further help our understanding of the evolution and development of the mammalian skull, which includes his lab's ongoing anatomical, imaging, cellular, molecular and engineering approaches to determinants of jaw-joint formation, aging and pathology.


New Screening Method for Hard-to-Diagnose Prostate Cancer

A new prostate cancer screening method that uses the combined power of a novel drug therapy and changes in PSA levels over time has been developed by researchers. This method identifies men with a high PSA who are more likely to have aggressive prostate cancer despite negative biopsies. 
The new study by researchers at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, published in the Journal of Urology, shows that PSA can be a much more effective marker for prostate cancer when an additional drug therapy is used than it can as a stand-alone test, which is how it is currently used by physicians. 
"At a time when the value of PSA is being increasingly debated, we have shown that when used in a specific way, it can be of great value in identifying men with previously undetected prostate cancer," says the study's lead investigator, Dr. Steven A. Kaplan, the E. Darracott Vaughan Jr., Professor of Urology at Weill Cornell Medical College and director of the Iris Cantor Men's Health Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell. 
"We have shown that using PSA with these drugs can help us differentiate prostate cancer from benign prostate disease in patients who are difficult to diagnose," says Dr. Kaplan, who is also chief of the Institute for Bladder and Prostate Health at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell. "It also demonstrates a better way to use both the PSA test and these powerful drugs." 
Dr. Kaplan created the combination screening method as a way to understand cancer risk in men who have consistently abnormal PSA readings despite one or more negative biopsies. This patient population offers physicians a "diagnostic dilemma" he says -- "despite the fact that biopsies are becoming more and more effective at detecting cancer in the prostate, a significant number of patients with prostate cancer continue to have negative biopsies." He adds that the PSA (prostate specific antigen) test alone is not a good indicator of prostate cancer. "It measures multiple factors associated with prostate disease, including enlargement of the prostate and inflammation." 
The research team decided to see what would happen to PSA levels after the use of two 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor drugs -- finasteride and dutasteride -- designed to reduce the size of an enlarged prostate. The theory is that these drugs might improve the usefulness of PSA in diagnosing prostate cancer. If the PSA remains persistently high even though the prostate has shrunk, or PSA rises after having reached its lowest level, it could indicate the presence of cancer. And when the gland is smaller, a biopsy can be more effective, according to researchers. 
The study was conducted in two phases. It enrolled 276 men at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell whose PSA was greater than 4, who had a normal digital rectal examination and two or more negative biopsies. 
In the first phase, 97 patients, who were given 5 milligrams of finasteride or 0.5 milligrams of dutasteride daily, had their PSA measured at 6 and 12 months, a transrectal ultrasonography and a biopsy performed at 1 year. Study results show that a year of the drug therapy reduced PSA in all the men -- an average of 48 percent -- but the magnitude of reduction was significantly greater in men with benign prostate disease and significantly less in 28 percent of the patients whose prostate biopsy detected cancer. 
In the second phase of the study, 179 patients received the same drug therapy but underwent a biopsy only if their PSA showed a change of 0.4 ng/dl. In all, 42 men (27 percent) had the biopsy, and 26 of those participants (54 percent) had cancer. Within that group, 77 percent of the patients had high-grade tumors. 
Researchers successfully identified cancer cases in men who participated in the second phase study with the combined drug therapy and evaluation of PSA trends, by sending those with minimal changes for a biopsy. This meant that men who didn't need a biopsy did not have one – unlike all the men in phase one. 
"Our study shows these drugs may be most helpful in helping us diagnose undetectable prostate cancer," Dr. Kaplan says. 


Two Apples a Day Reduces Heart Disease Risk in Women

Researchers at the University of Florida wanted to see if eating the equivalent of two apples each day could significantly reduce the risk for heart disease. 
'An apple a day keeps the doctor away' is an old saying. And scientists did proved the adage true! 
These researchers discovered that apples have the ability to reduce the levels of cholesterol especially the ‘bad’ cholesterol, which can clog arteries and bring about life threatening situations, especially in the high-risk groups. 
In Britain, heart-related conditions and stroke account as the single biggest cause of death among 45% of post menopausal women. Until menopause sets in, women are protected from heart diseases by naturally occurring hormones such as estrogen. By the age of 50, the levels of these protective hormones wane, and the incidence of heart disease sharply increases. 
The researchers recruited 160 menopausal women and directed one half to consume 75 grams of dried apple, which is almost equal to two medium-sized fresh apples. 
The other half was prompted to eat the same amount of prunes. This was done to see if eating prunes had the same effect as eating apples. 
Blood samples from these women were tested every three months for a period of one year. It was seen that after three months the LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) levels dropped by 16% and the total cholesterol levels dropped by 9% in the apple-eating group. After 6 months, the total cholesterol fell by 13% and the LDL dropped by 24%. No further decline was observed in the next six months. 
In the group that consumed prunes, however, the cholesterol levels were reduced but not to the same extent as in the apple group. 
Earlier studies have shown that apple consumption had a remarkable impact on lung function too. The researchers suggested that two apples a day could lower cholesterol levels significantly. The present study has been reported in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 
High LDL (bad) cholesterol and low HDL (good) cholesterol are not desirable and need to be dealt with. Bringing about lifestyle changes, including diet and exercises every day can bring about reduction in risk factors for cholesterol related diseases. 
Source:The Mail


Olympic Village: 70,000 Condoms Already Used

A newspaper report has revealed that some 70,000 condoms have been used so far in the behind the scenes romps at the 2012 Olympic Games. 
Organizers packed a record number of free contraceptives into dispensers around venues to satisfy the Olympians' notorious sex drives but even that stockpile has started to run out. 
"70,000 have gone. Some dispensers were filled daily," the Daily Star quoted an Olympic Village worker as saying. 
"The Games have been such a success maybe they got carried away. 
"It seems performances on and off the field have been exhausting," the worker added.


Friday, 10 August 2012

Why do organisms build tissues they seemingly never use?

 Why, after millions of years of evolution, do organisms build structures that seemingly serve no purpose? A study conducted at Michigan State University and published in the current issue of The American Naturalist investigates the evolutionary reasons why organisms go through developmental stages that appear unnecessary."Many animals build tissues and structures they don't appear to use, and then they disappear," said Jeff Clune, lead author and former doctoral student at MSU's BEACON Center of Evolution in Action. "It's comparable to building a roller coaster, razing it and building a skyscraper on the same ground. Why not just skip ahead to building the skyscraper?"Why humans and other organisms retain seemingly unnecessary stages in their development has been debated between biologists since 1866. This study explains that organisms jump through these extra hoops to avoid disrupting a developmental process that works. Clune's team called this concept the "developmental disruption force." But Clune says it also could be described as "if the shoe fits, don't change a thing.""In a developing embryo, each new structure is built in a delicate environment that consists of everything that has already developed," said Clune, who is now a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University. "Mutations that alter that environment, such as by eliminating a structure, can thus disrupt later stages of development. Even if a structure is not actually used, it may set the stage for other functional tissues to grow properly."Going back to the roller coaster metaphor, even though the roller coaster gets torn down, the organism needs the parts from that teardown to build the skyscraper, he added."An engineer would simply skip the roller coaster step, but evolution is more of a tinkerer and less of an engineer," Clune said. "It uses whatever parts that are lying around, even if the process that generates those parts is inefficient."An interesting consequence is that newly evolved traits tend to get added at the end of development, because there is less risk of disrupting anything important. That, in turn, means that there is a similarity between the order things evolve and the order they develop.A new technology called computational evolution allowed the team to conduct experiments that would be impossible to reproduce in nature.Rather than observe embryos grow, the team of computer scientists and biologists used BEACON's Avida software to perform experiments with evolution inside a computer. The Avidians -- self-replicating computer programs -- mutate, compete for resources and evolve, mimicking natural selection in real-life organisms. Using this software, Clune's team observed as Avidians evolved to perform logic tasks. They recorded the order that those tasks evolved in a variety of lineages, and then looked at the order those tasks developed in the final, evolved organism.They were able to help settle an age-old debate that developmental order does resemble evolutionary order, at least in this computationally evolving system. Because in a computer thousands of generations can happen overnight, the team was able to repeat this experiment many times to document that this similarity repeatedly occurs.Additional MSU researchers contributing to the study included BEACON colleagues Richard Lenski, Robert Pennock and Charles Ofria. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation.


Michigan State University

Fitness Levels in Adolescence Determined by Childhood BMI

The importance of ensuring that your child is physically active and not obese has been reiterated in a recently published study. The study found that fitness during later life is determined by body weight right from childhood. 
Childhood obesity is a major problem affecting children all over the world. The easy availability and high intake of junk food coupled with a sedentary life spent in front of the television are major contributing factors. A study assessed whether a higher weight during younger age affected the health and the level of physical activity during adolescence. 
The study measured body mass index annually in children right from birth. The level of fitness was determined by conducting tests at two ages, a shuttle run test at age 9 and a maximal cycle ergometer test at age 17. A questionnaire was used to determine the physical activity during leisure time at ages 9, 13 and 17 years. 
Complete data regarding all the parameters under study were obtained from 351 children. 
It was found that the children with a lower BMI between the ages of 2 and 7 years were more physically fit in adolescence. An increase in leisure-time physical activity between the ages of 9 and 17 years also improved physical fitness during adolescence. 
The study thus reiterates the importance of maintaining an appropriate weight and being physically fit right from childhood in order to avoid health problems later in life. 


1. Body mass index, fitness and physical activity from childhood through adolescence; Katja Pahkala et al; Br J Sports Med doi:10.1136/bjsports-2011-090704 


Good news: Migraines hurt your head but not your brain

According to new research from Brigham and Women's Hospital, migraines are not associated with cognitive decline

Migraines currently affect about 20 percent of the female population, and while these headaches are common, there are many unanswered questions surrounding this complex disease. Previous studies have linked this disorder to an increased risk of stroke and structural brain lesions, but it has remained unclear whether migraines had other negative consequences such as dementia or cognitive decline. According to new research from Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), migraines are not associated with cognitive decline.
This study is published online by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) on August 8, 2012. "Previous studies on migraines and cognitive decline were small and unable to identify a link between the two. Our study was large enough to draw the conclusion that migraines, while painful, are not strongly linked to cognitive decline," explained Pamela Rist ScD, a research fellow in the Division of Preventive Medicine at BWH, and lead author on this study.
The research team analyzed data from the Women's Health Study, a cohort of nearly 40,000 women, 45 years and older. In this study, researchers analyzed data from 6,349 women who provided information about migraine status at baseline and then participated in cognitive testing during follow-up. Participants were classified into four groups: no history of migraine, migraine with aura (transient neurology symptoms mostly of the visual field), migraine without aura, and past history of migraine. Cognitive testing was carried out in two year intervals up to three times.
"Compared with women with no history of migraine, those who experienced migraine with or without aura did not have significantly different rates of cognitive decline," explained Rist. "This is an important finding for both physicians and patients. Patients with migraine and their treating doctors should be reassured that migraine may not have long term consequences on cognitive function."
There is still a lot that is unknown about migraines. However this study offers promising evidence for patients and their treating physicians. More research needs to be done to understand the consequences of migraine on the brain and to establish strategies to influence the course of the disease in order to optimize treatment strategies.
Source:Brigham and Women's Hospital 

Team creates new view of body’s infection response

A  new 3-D view of the body’s response to infection — and the ability to identify proteins involved in the response — could point to novel biomarkers and therapeutic agents for infectious diseases.Vanderbilt University scientists in multiple disciplines combined magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and imaging mass spectrometry to visualize the inflammatory response to a bacterial infection in mice. The techniques, described in Cell Host & Microbe and featured on the journal cover, offer opportunities for discovering proteins not previously implicated in the inflammatory response.Access to unique resources at Vanderbilt made the unprecedented 3-D infection imaging possible, said Eric Skaar, Ph.D., Ernest Goodpasture Chair in Pathology and one of the senior co-authors of the paper.“The studies in this paper couldn’t have happened at any other university, because the resources simply don’t exist at most schools,” Skaar said.
The team using MRI and imaging mass spectrometry to visualize the inflammatory response includes (bottom row, from left) Lisa Manier, Erin Seeley, Ph.D., Eric Skaar, Ph.D., and Richard Caprioli, Ph.D., (top row, from left) Kristie Rose, Neal Hammer, Josh Nicklay, Kevin Wilson, MESc, and Daniel Colvin, Ph.D. (photo by Joe Howell)
The resources include animal imaging technologies available through the Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science (VUIIS), directed by John Gore, Ph.D., and imaging mass spectrometry technologies available through the Mass Spectrometry Research Center (MSRC), directed by Richard Caprioli, Ph.D. Gore and Caprioli are also senior co-authors of the paper.
“The fact that my research group, which studies infectious diseases, has access to these powerful imaging and mass spectrometry technologies is a real strength at Vanderbilt and has allowed us to develop these new tools that will enable high impact discovery,” Skaar said.Skaar and his team were interested in imaging infection in three dimensions — in the whole animal — while also being able to identify the proteins that are produced at sites of infection. MRI provides detailed anatomical images of tissue damage.Imaging mass spectrometry is a unique technology that directly measures proteins, lipids and other metabolites and maps their distribution in a biopsy or other tissue sample.Ahmed Attia, Ph.D., a former member of Skaar’s group now on the faculty at Cairo University, Egypt, infected mice with Staphylococcus aureus, a major cause of human disease.He then delivered the infected animals to Daniel Colvin, Ph.D., in the VUIIS, who imaged them with MRI. Kaitlin Schroeder and Erin Seeley, Ph.D., in the MSRC then conducted imaging mass spectrometry studies.Putting together the two technologies and multiple data sets accurately required the expertise of Kevin Wilson, MESc, in the VUIIS, who developed algorithms to show consolidated 3-D views of the inflammatory response.“This is another example of the multi-modality approach we have been pursuing in general within the Imaging Institute,” Gore said.The technologies allow the investigators to see a single image of an infected animal, look at how proteins of the immune system are responding, and identify where the infected tissue is located, Skaar said.“Part of the strength of this work is not where the research is now, but where it allows us to go from here.”His team plans to identify “proteins that are important at the interface between the host and the pathogen — the battleground between the immune system and the bacteria,” Skaar said.The researchers will study the proteins they identify to discover new biomarkers for infection, which could improve diagnostic tools, or new targets for therapeutic intervention.The technologies available through the MSRC and the VUIIS will be useful for any investigator interested in imaging the inflammatory response, which has roles in infectious diseases, cancer and autoimmune diseases, Skaar said.And although the technology is not non-invasive (imaging mass spectrometry requires tissue sections), it could be applied to tissues removed from patients, such as tumors.“Imaging mass spectrometry is extremely valuable for the discovery process because it does not require a target-specific reagent such as an antibody — that is, you do not have to know in advance what you’re looking for in order to correlate molecular changes with disease outcome,” Caprioli said. “An area of intense interest is the application of this technology to molecular pathology.”The research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (AI069233, AI091771, AI073843, GM058008), the establishment of an NIH-funded National Resource for Imaging Mass Spectrometry, and a Pfizer 2009 ASPIRE research award.Skaar is a Burroughs Wellcome Fellow in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Diseases and is associate professor of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology. Gore is University Professor of Radiology and Radiological Sciences and Hertha Ramsey Cress Chair in Medicine. Caprioli is Stanford Moore Chair in Biochemistry.
Source:Leigh MacMillan,

Of Mice and Melodies

Singing mice (scotinomys teguina) are not your average lab rats. Their fur is tawny brown instead of the common white albino strain; they hail from the tropical cloud forests in the mountains of Costa Rica; and, as their name hints, they use song to communicate.University of Texas at Austin researcher Steven Phelps is examining these unconventional rodents to gain insights into the genes that contribute to the unique singing behavior—information that could help scientists understand and identify genes that affect language in humans."We can choose any number of traits to study but we try and choose traits that are not only interesting for their own sake but also have some biomedical relevance," said Phelps. "We take advantage of the unique property of the species.""FOXP2 is famous because it's the only gene that's been implicated in human speech disorders specifically," said Phelps.Having at least one mutated copy of the gene has been associated with a host of language problems in humans, from difficulty understanding grammar to an inability to make the precise mouth movements needed to speak a clear sentence.The FOXP2 gene is remarkably similar overall between singing mice, lab mice and humans, said Phelps. To find parts of the gene that may contribute to the singing mouse's songs, Phelps is searching for sequences unique to the singing mouse and testing them for evidence of natural selection, which weeds out mutations with no likely observable effect from those that are likely to contribute to singing behavior."Those two things go a long way," said Phelps, " And when you look at the intersection of those two things they give us a really good set of candidate regions for what might be causing species differences."

The Molecular Connection

Most genetic mutations don't cause serious problems. They are often a part of the genome that is not expressed, still make a functional product, or are simply drowned out by the amount of genes and gene products that are working correctly.

Singing mice are native to the tropical cloud forests of Costa Rica. Photo courtesy of Bret Pasch.The song of the singing mouse song is a rapid-fire string of high-pitched chirps called trills used mostly used by males in dominance displays and to attract mates. Up to 20 chirps are squeaked out per second, sounding similar to birdsong to untrained ears. But unlike birds, the mice generally stick to a song made up of only a single note."They sound kind of soft to human ears, but if you slow them down by about three-fold they are pretty dramatic," said Phelps.Most rodents make vocalizations at a frequency much too high for humans to hear. But other rodents typically don't vocalize to the extent of singing mice, which use the song to communicate over large distances in the wild, said Andreas George, a graduate student working in Phelps' lab.Within the last year Phelps research on the behavior of the mouse has appeared in the journals Hormones and Behavior and Animal Behavior. But one of his newest research projects is looking deeper: examining the genetic components that influence song expression. Center stage is a special gene called FOXP2.FOXP2 mutations, on the other hand, can have significant effects on speech because of the gene's role as a transcription factor—a gene product that helps control the expression of other genes.

This means a mutation in the FOXP2 gene can start a chain of events that can lead to reduced expression, or possibly even no expression, of a number of other genes.Phelps and his team are figuring out what activates FOXP2 expression and the genes that are expressed after its activation by playing singing mice recording of songs from their own species and neighboring species and observing the gene expression patterns."We found that when an animal hears a song from the same species, these neurons that carry FOXP2 become activated. So we think that FOXP2 may play a role in integrating that information," said Lauren O'Connell, a post-doctoral researcher in the Phelps lab.Learning what activates FOXP2 and what genes are activated by it could provide clues into how outside stimuli affects gene expression and what genes are important in the understanding and integration of information, said Phelps."We ask two things, whether there are sequence changes in the DNA that are associated with the elaboration of the song and whether particular elements seem to be interacting with FOXP2 more," said Phelps. "That gives us leads into what role FOXP2 might play into the elaboration of vocalization."

Big Data Mining

Phelps' uses next-generation sequencing to decipher how FOXP2 interacts with DNA to regulate the function of other genes. The process involves reading tiny fragments of overlapping DNA so that the entire sequence can be deduced. It is a procedure that generates massive amount of data that only the processing power of a supercomputer can handle, said O'Connell."You need TACC to do it," said O'Connell, referring to the Texas Advanced Computing Center, which houses the supercomputers the lab uses. "The more data you have, the more memory it requires, so a lot of the data we can only process on Lonestar's high memory nodes."Lonestar and Ranger are the names of the two supercomputers that the Phelps lab uses to crunch their data, with Ranger running programs in two hours that used to take the lab three days to run on their desktop. Both computers are among the top 100 supercomputers in the world.

Future Applications

At the most basic level, Phelps' research is asking questions about the biology and behavior of an exotic rodent. But finding out more about the link between FOXP2 and the song of the signing mouse could bring a better understanding into how the gene may contribute to language deficits in people, especially those with autism, said Phelps."When people do genome wide association studies in humans the genetic variation tends to occur in huge blocks. So if you get some DNA sequence that predicts a phenotype, like risk for autism, it's very hard to know what aspect in this very long stretch of DNA is actually important for that," said Phelps.By identifying the sequences of DNA that interact with FOXP2 and other associated genes that are most vital to gene function, researchers in the future might be able to narrow down the "huge blocks" where a possible causal sequence is located into smaller pieces. In other words, reducing the size of the metaphorical haystack to a size where finding the needle is a much simpler task.While a singing mouse may seem like a strange place to look to study the impact of genetics on language, O'Connell says that the advent of gene sequencing technology is allowing a whole menagerie of animals to be used for research that could later be applied to humans."I use TACC to sequence a lot of different animals: birds and fish and frogs and mammals and beetles," said O'Connell, mentioning the other organisms she studies outside of the Phelps lab. "Each of these model systems has something unique to contribute that teaches us about biology that is still applicable to humans."
Source:Texas Advanced Computing Center

Boost for AYUSH Pathies

India has mooted a proposal for universal coverage of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) under the country's flagship National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). The move will be a major push for the country's traditional medicine, which will not only be made available in all public health facilities — primary and community health centers and district hospitals under the 12th five year plan — AYUSH doctors will also be posted in these centres along with their allopathic counterparts.So far, only 24.6% of the public health facilities have availed central assistance for AYUSH medicines and 8.7% PHCs, 5.8% CHCs and 13.9% district hospitals used the centrally-sponsored scheme for setting up the infrastructure required for co-location of AYUSH facilities.

Ayush Department taken steps to improve quality of ASU drugs: Secretary

The Department of Ayush has stepped up its activities to achieve its mandate in certain specific areas such as improvement of educational standards, strengthening of the regulatory mechanism, protection of consumers’ interests, quality control and research, and for propagation of Ayush in the international arena.
Talking to media persons, Ayush Secretary Anil Kumar said the Department has taken a series of measures in the recent past to deal with quality control issues of Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathic drugs. These include notification of the shelf life for the ASU (Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani) medicines, amendment in the labelling and licensing provisions, imposing a legal ban on the misleading use of prefixes or suffixes in ASU medicines, initiating action for setting up of a more effective central regulatory mechanism etc. Such measures have been taken by the Department notwithstanding that the major licensing and other powers vest with the State Governments under the relevant legislations.
Ayush secretary said that within a short timeframe, the Department has streamlined the system of dealing with applications received from Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani educational institutions for taking student admissions.
Procedures have been streamlined to make the annual inspections of the educational institutions more effective inducing institutions to improve their infrastructure. The impact of the various measures taken has already percolated down to the colleges which are making concerted efforts to improve their functioning, thus having a beneficial impact on the quality of education, he said.
For the first time ever, Minimum Standard Requirements for Ayurveda colleges have been notified. Similar standards for other streams of medicines are also under preparation. Improvements have also been brought about in the Homoeopathic education stream, and the existing Regulations are being re-examined through the Regulator CCH in consultation with the State Governments to rationalize the requirements for educational institutions.
“Concerted efforts have been made within the last two years to bring about functional improvements in both the regulatory bodies (i.e. CCIM, the Central Council of Indian Medicine and CCH, the Central Council of Homoeopathy) which together oversee the functioning of over 500 colleges in the streams of Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathy. Such steps have included the holding of elections in the CCIM as per the directions of the Judiciary by adopting innovative steps to ensure that elections took place, which in many cases have been held after a gap of more than 15 years. Elections in the CCH are currently underway. For the first time ever after their publication in 1975, the Rules governing the elections to the regulatory bodies have been amended to remove ambiguities in the conduct and procedure of elections,” he said.
To enable the numerous Central Research Councils and National Institutes to develop themselves and to deliver their specified mandates more effectively, the Department has given complete functional autonomy to these organizations since early 2011. Support has also been provided to strengthen the institutional and infrastructural capacities of these organizations. All the schemes implemented by the Department were also revised in 2011 to ensure their better implementation in a more clear and transparent manner, and with greater accountability, he said.
The Department has re-defined its strategy for International Cooperation. In addition to taking part in seminars and conferences, the Department is now increasingly engaging with other countries in a more structured and concrete manner by entering into MoUs for cooperation in Traditional Medicine as well as for setting up of Academic Chairs in educational institutions abroad. Thus as compared to the previous years where only one MoU had been signed with China in 2008, MoUs on Traditional Medicine have already been entered into with Malaysia and Trinidad & Tobago in the recent past. An MoU with Nepal is currently under Government’s consideration. Furthermore, MoUs with Nepal and Serbia are also in the pipeline. In addition, Academic Chairs have already been set up in South Africa, and are in the process of being set up in Germany and Trinidad & Tobago. Chairs will also be set up in Nepal and Sri Lanka after the MoUs have been signed, he added.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Ayurvedic treatments to release your stress

According to a recent survey conducted by ASSOCHAM, over 72 per cent of corporate employees are switching over to Ayurvedic treatments like naturopathy, massages, acupuncture and acupressure due to demanding schedules and high stress levels.
The survey, ‘Demand of homeopathic and Ayurvedic medicines in metros’ was conducted under the aegis of ASSOCHAM’s Social Development Foundation (ASDF) reveals that 72 per cent of the population opts for Ayurveda, naturopathy and homeopathy, while the rest prefer allopathy.
A little over 200 employees each were selected from cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Pune, Chandigarh and Dehradun. Delhi ranked first followed by Mumbai, Kochi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Hyderabad, Pune with Dehradun finishing last.
Around 55 per cent of the respondents fell under the age bracket of 20-29 years, followed by 30-39 years (26 per cent), 40-49 years (16 per cent), 50-59 years (2 per cent) and 60-69 years (approximately 1 per cent) interestingly indicating larger acceptance by the younger population.
According to Raveendran P K, an Ayurveda vaidya, people are taking to Ayurveda beca­use it cures diseases from the roots unlike allopathy. “Ayurveda treatments have been used in Kerala for ages. Ayurvedic medicines start taking effect after five-six days but cure the disease.”
The demand for homeopathic and Ayurvedic medicines has increased in the last few years primarily because of low or zero side effects. These treatment also cure chronic ailments such as respiratory diseases, fevers, skin diseases, viral infections, asthma and allergic disorders. People are preferring the traditional way of treatment shunning the allopathic system, largely due to greater efficacy.
“With increasing reports of fake allopathic medicines in the markets coming out, Ayurveda is proving to be a safer option any day,” adds Raveendran.
The dependency on Ayurvedic medicine has improved for an increasing number of lifestyle diseases such as migraine, stress, obesity and asthma. However, in cases requiring surgeries or emergency operations, there is no alternative yet, adds the report.
Some of the major treatments in Ayurveda and spa centres include rejuvenation programmes and therapy (Rasayana Chikitsa), body immunisation and longevity treatment, body sudation (Sweda Karma), panchakarma treatment, shirodhara treatment etc. 
“In ayurveda we have a basic panchakarma treatment, which is useful for all kinds of diseases along with proper food intake. One should avoid excessively salty and spicy food during Ayurveda medication. Food which is easy on the stomach should be taken,” adds Raveendran.
“With yoga, meditation, Ayurveda, homeopathy and other Indian systems of medicines, India offers a vast array of services combined with the cultural warmth that is difficult to match by other countries,” says D S Rawat, Secretary General of Assocham.
Source:Deccan Hearld

IICT scientist selected for NASI Young Scientist Award

Dr Surya Prakash Singh, a young scientist from Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT), Hyderabad has been selected for National Academy of Sciences (NASI) young scientist platinum jubilee award for the year 2012. This is the first time a scientist from IICT gets this award.
Recognizing his remarkable contributions in the field of Chemical Sciences and for his valuable research work on “dye based solar cell” using organic compounds, NASI has selected Dr Surya Prakash Singh, from Inorganic and Physical Chemistry division of the IICT at Hyderabad for the most prestigious ‘Young Scientist Platinum Jubilee Award-2012’.
NASI, the earliest science academy in India, selects bright and young scientists below the age of 35 years for this award every year to recognize significant contributions in their respective areas of research.
Conveying his feelings for being selected for the award, Dr Singh said, “It is a great honour. I am really happy for being recognized for my work. And thank all those who had been supporting me all through my research work.”
Elaborating further on his research work, Singh said, “My research work is on making a dye based solar cell using an organic compound which is similar to that of chlorophyll in plants. As chlorophyll generates energy by taking light from sun, in the same way the organic dye can also be used to harvest electrical energy from the sun light. This dye can be embedded into ‘dye sensitive solar cells’ to generate electricity similar to silicon based solar cells.”
The research work is almost complete and by next year the dye based solar cell can come into the market. “At present we are working on the durability of the dye cell which is only 2-3 years. We want to increase its durability for at least 5-10 years. We are also planning to collaborate with some companies such as Moser bear to manufacture the dye based solar cells on a commercial scale,” said Dr Singh.
In India, there are no factory manufacturing solar cells; and almost 99 per cent solar cells are imported from other countries. And moreover the silicon based solar cells are very costly and unaffordable by the common man. Once the dye based solar cells come into the market we can generate electricity at a very low cost, informed the scientist.
During the past few years of his research, Dr Singh has published over 60 research
 papers in renowned journals and has five patents to his credit.

Heat can Help Treat Prostate Cancer

A switch in cells that help kill prostate tumors with heat has been discovered by scientists. 
Prostate cancer and other localized tumours can be effectively treated by a combination of heat and an anti-cancer drug that damages the genes. 
Behind this novel therapy is the enigmatic ability of heat to switch off essential survival mechanisms in human cells. Although thermotherapy is now more widely used, the underlying principles are still unclear. 
The researchers at Bangor University based in the School of Biological Sciences report now that heat modulates these survival systems by promoting the production of a novel protein. Intriguingly, this protein is only produced when elevated temperatures activate a gene that hides inside another gene. 
"The discovery is reminiscent of a Russian doll were a set of smaller wooden figures is placed inside a larger doll. The existence of such hidden genes may explain why the human genome has a much smaller number of genes than initially expected," leader of the Genome Biology group, Dr Thomas Caspari said. 
"Our work may also help to improve heat-treatment of cancer for the benefit of patients. This research success was a real team effort made possible by the generous funding from Cancer Research Wales and the European Leonardo DaVinci Program," he added. 
The study was recently published in the Journal of Cell Science.


Study Says Corticosteroids Not Effective for Treating Acute Sinusitis

Corticosteroids show no benefit in treating acute sinusitis, states study published in CMAJ. 
The common cold is the main cause of acute sinusitis, which is characterized by inflammation of the nasal cavities, blocked nasal passages and sometimes headaches and facial pain. Allergies and bacteria can also cause the condition, which is uncomfortable and difficult to treat. Antibiotics are a common treatment, despite the fact that the cause is often viral and will not respond to antibiotics. Corticosteroids are increasingly being used to alleviate symptoms, although the evidence for efficacy is inconclusive.To determine the effectiveness of oral corticosteroids on acute rhinosinusitis (sinusitis), researchers from the Netherlands conducted a randomized, double-blind controlled trial involving 174 adults with clinically diagnosed acute rhinosinusitis. 
Eighty-eight patients were randomized to a group that received 30 mg/d of prednisolone for a week and the remaining 86 received placebo. In the prednisolone group, 55 of 88 patients (62.5%) reported that their facial pain or pressure had resolved by day 7, versus 48 of 86 (55.8%) in the placebo group. Although there was a slight reduction of facial pain in the prednisolone group, the results were neither statistically nor clinically significant. Moreover, other patient-relevant outcomes revealed similar results."We found no clinically relevant effect of systemic corticosteroid monotherapy among patients with clinically diagnosed, uncomplicated acute rhinosinusitis," writes Dr. Roderick Venekamp, University Medical Centre Utrecht, Utrecht, the Netherlands, with coauthors."There is no rationale for the use of corticosteroids in the broad population of patients with clinically diagnosed acute rhinosinusitis," write the authors. "Future studies should focus on identifying subgroups of patients who may benefit from intranasal or systemic corticosteroid treatment."


Ginger Extract Could Help Control Diabetes

In long-term diabetic patients, ginger helps increase glucose uptake, say researchers. 
A new report reveals the potential power of ginger to control blood glucose by using muscle cells. Ginger extracts were able to increase the uptake of glucose into muscle cells independently of insulin, says Basil Roufogalis, professor of pharmaceutical chemistry, University of Syndey, who led the study. 
"This assists in the management of high levels of blood sugar that create complications for long-term diabetic patients, and may allow cells to operate independently of insulin," says Roufogalis, the journal Planta Medica reports. 
"The components responsible for the increase in glucose were gingerols -- the major phenolic components of the ginger rhizome. Under normal conditions, blood glucose level is strictly maintained within a narrow range, and skeletal muscle is a major site of glucose clearance in the body," says Roufogalis, according to a Sydney statement.
The pharmacy researchers extracted whole ginger rhizomes obtained from Buderim Ginger and showed that that one fraction of the extract was the most effective in reproducing the increase in glucose uptake by the whole extract in muscle cells grown in culture.
Analysis by colleagues Colin Duke and Van Tran from Sydney's Faculty of Pharmacy showed this fraction was rich in gingerols.


Key Neural Mechanism Underlying Dyslexia Identified

Researchers have discovered faulty signal processing in brain behind dyslexia - a learning disability. 
A research carried out by Begona Diaz and her colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, has discovered an important neural mechanism underlying dyslexia and shown that many difficulties associated with dyslexia can potentially be traced back to a malfunction of the medial geniculate body in the thalamus. 
The results provide an important basis for developing potential treatments. 
People who suffer from dyslexia have difficulties with identifying speech sounds in spoken language. 
For example, while most children are able to recognise whether two words rhyme even before they go to school, dyslexic children often cannot do this until late primary school age. Those affected suffer from dyslexia their whole lives. However, there are also always cases where people can compensate for their dyslexia. 
"This suggests that dyslexia can be treated. We are therefore trying to find the neural causes of this learning disability in order to create a basis for improved treatment options," said D¡az. 
Between five and ten percent of the world's children suffer from dyslexia, yet very little is know about its causes. Even though those affected do not lack intelligence or schooling, they have difficulties in reading, understanding and explaining individual words or entire texts. 
The researchers showed that dyslexic adults have a malfunction in a structure that transfers auditory information from the ear to the cortex is a major cause of the impairment: the medial geniculate body in the auditory thalamus does not process speech sounds correctly. 
"This malfunction at a low level of language processing could percolate through the entire system. This explains why the symptoms of dyslexia are so varied," said D¡az. 
Under the direction of Katharina von Kriegstein, the researchers conducted two experiments in which several volunteers had to perform various speech comprehension tasks. When affected individuals performed tasks that required the recognition of speech sounds, as compared to recognize the voices that pronounced the same speech, magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) recordings showed abnormal responses in the area around the medial geniculate body. 
In contrast, no differences were apparent between controls and dyslexic participants if the tasks involved only listening to the speech sounds without having to perform a specific task. 
"The problem, therefore, has nothing to do with sensory processing itself, but with the processing involved in speech recognition," stated Diaz. 
No differences could be ascertained between the two test groups in other areas of the auditory signalling path. 
The findings of the Leipzig scientists combine various theoretical approaches, which deal with the cause of dyslexia and, for the first time, bring together several of these theories to form an overall picture. 
The researchers' next project is now to study whether current treatment programmes can influence the medial geniculate body in order to make learning to read easier for everyone in the long term.

Calorie Restriction may be the Secret to Longevity

Certain animal studies conducted on mice and monkeys have shown the benefits of a low-calorie and nutrient-rich diet in extending life expectancy. 
Now, recent studies suggest intermittent fasting might be the key to longevity. 
Scientists have understood the role played by the growth hormone IGF-1 and how lower levels of this hormone is the key to a long life. 
The IGF-1 hormone stimulates growth and makes the cells reproduce. While this is good when we are young, lower levels of this hormone offer protective benefits as we age. A high level of IGF-1 fastens ageing and age-associated diseases. 
Scientists have found that IGF-1 levels can be lowered by fasting. Further, when our bodies do not have access to food, they go into repair mode in the place of growth mode, which is why researchers advice calorie restriction to live healthy and long. 

Hormone in fruit flies sheds light on diabetes cure, weight-loss drug for humans

 Manipulating a group of hormone-producing cells in the brain can control blood sugar levels in the body – a discovery that has dramatic potential for research into weight-loss drugs and diabetes treatment.
In a paper published in the October issue of Genetics and available online now, neurobiologists at Wake Forest University examine how fruit flies (Drosophila) react when confronted with a decreased diet.
Reduced diet or starvation normally leads to hyperactivity in fruit flies – a hungry fly buzzes around feverishly, looking for more food. That happens because an enzyme called AMP-activated kinase stimulates the secretion of the adipokinetic hormone, which is the functional equivalent of glucagon. This hormone acts opposite of insulin, as it tells the body to release the sugar, or food, needed to fuel that hyperactivity. The body uses up its energy stores until it finds food.
But when Wake Forest's Erik Johnson, an associate professor of biology, and his research team turned off AMP-activated kinase, the cells decreased sugar release and the hyperactive response stopped almost completely – even in the face of starvation.
"Since fruit flies and humans share 30 percent of the same genes and our brains are essentially wired the same way, it suggests that this discovery could inform metabolic research in general and diabetes research specifically," said Johnson, the study's principal investigator. "The basic biophysical, biochemical makeup is the same. The difference in complexity is in the number of cells. Why flies are so simple is that they have approximately 100,000 neurons versus the approximately 11 billion in humans."
Medical advances as a result of this research might include:
Diabetes research: Adipokinetic hormone is the insect equivalent to the hormone glucagon in the human pancreas. Glucagon raises blood sugar levels; insulin reduces them. However, it is difficult to study glucagon systems because the pancreatic cells are hard to pull apart. Studying how this similar system works in the fruit fly could pave the way to a drug that targets the cells that cause glucagon to tell the body to release sugar into the blood – thus reducing the need for insulin shots in diabetics.
Weight-loss drugs: An "exercise drug" would turn on all AMP-activated kinase in the body and trick the body into thinking it was exercising. "Exercise stimulates AMP-activated kinase, so manipulation of this molecule may lead to getting the benefits of exercise without exercising," Johnson said. In previous research published in the online journal PLoS ONE, Johnson and his colleagues found that, when you turn off AMP-activated kinase, you get fruit flies that "eat a lot more than normal flies, move around a lot less, and end up fatter."
Source:Wake Forest University 

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Chronic 'Butter Flavoring' Exposure Linked to Harmful Brain Process

Chronic exposure to an artificial butter flavoring ingredient, known as diacetyl, may worsen the harmful effects of a protein in the brain linked to Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study.The findings should serve as a red flag for factory workers with significant exposure to the food-flavoring ingredient, researchers from the University of Minnesota said in the report published in a recent issue of the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology.Diacetyl is used to give a buttery taste and aroma to common food items such as margarines, snack foods, candy, baked goods, pet foods and other products.The investigators pointed out that previous studies have already linked diacetyl to respiratory and other health problems among workers at microwave popcorn and food-flavoring plants.Although diacetyl forms naturally in fermented beverages, such as beer and wine, its chemical structure is similar to a substance that makes beta-amyloid proteins clump together in the brain. This clumping, the study authors noted, is a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease.In their study, the researchers found that diacetyl also increases the amount of beta-amyloid clumping in the brain. And it worsened the beta-amyloid protein's harmful effects on nerve cells grown in a lab when the cells were exposed to the same levels of diacetyl that factory workers might be exposed to in their jobs.The study authors pointed out that other experiments revealed that diacetyl also crosses the "blood-brain barrier," which helps protect the brain from dangerous substances. Diacetyl also prevented a beneficial protein from protecting nerve cells."In light of the chronic exposure of industry workers to diacetyl, this study raises the troubling possibility of long-term neurological toxicity mediated by diacetyl," Robert Vince and colleagues concluded in a news release from the American Chemical Society.The study was funded by the Center for Drug Design research endowment funds at the University of Minnesota.While the study found an association between chronic diacetyl exposure and certain brain protein processes, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
More information
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about Alzheimer's disease.

ICMR to begin research on communicable diseases among tribal population

In order to prioritize research, addressing specific health needs of the tribal population in the country, so as to result in a positive difference in their overall health situation, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) will soon begin research on communicable diseases among tribal population in the broad priority areas like childhood infectious diseases; tuberculosis; STDs, HIV and co-infections with HIV; and genetic aspects.
Senior officials said that the ICMR advocates a holistic approach to understand the health situation among the tribal population of the country, and to address the health-related disparities. This research initiative is being taken by the ICMR under the Tribal Sub-Plan of the Division of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases.
Officials said that commemorating the “International Day of the World's Indigenous People”, the ICMR had initiated the “Tribal Health Research Forum” on August 9, 2010, with the mandate to address and discuss all health-related issues pertaining to indigenous people. The Tribal Health Research Forum, under chairmanship of DG, ICMR is committed to prioritize research addressing specific health needs of the tribal population, so as to result in a positive difference in their overall health situation.
Priority areas for research in tribal health include childhood infectious diseases such as vaccine-preventable diseases, immunization coverage, diarrhoeal diseases and lower respiratory tract infections. In the area of tuberculosis, studies will be conducted to address awareness, health-care seeking behaviour, response to treatment and applicability of DOTS in inaccessible tribal areas; to study whether different strategies are needed to institute diagnostic measures and deliver the treatment regimens in the tribal areas; operational research to improve treatment reach; MDR and XDR TB – prevalence and determinants; and scientific research to study pathogen and host pathogen interaction, nature of the disease, and the clinical course.
With a view to conduct situational analysis to assess the burden of Tuberculosis and its co-infection with HIV and malaria in tribal population, the ICMR has identified the areas such as disease burden estimation of tuberculosis and its co-infection with HIV and malaria; health care seeking behaviour of the affected tribal population in light of the ongoing RNTCP in those areas; and identifying deficiencies in the ongoing RNTCP and developing interventions to improve access to and acceptability of the health care services.
To study the process evaluation of National Vector-borne Disease Control Programme for malaria in tribal areas, the study will focus on identification of the gaps in the ongoing malaria control programme in the tribal areas, with proposed plan to implement effective interventions to address those gaps.
Other priority areas of the study include STDs, HIV and co-infections with HIV – prevalence, health promotional interventions to develop risk-free approaches, awareness, health-care seeking behavior; and Genetic Aspects – genetic association in tribals in context of susceptibility to communicable diseases, HLA typing, polymorphisms (SNPs) as well as on prevalence of haemoglobinopathies in tribal population.

Eyes can Reveal Your Sexual Inclination

A recent Cornell university research has found that sexual inclinations can be known by optical reflexes. 
Pupil dilation has long been known to hold a clue to a person’s level of excitement and now they may reveal one’s sexual orientation as well. 
During the study, 165 men and 160 women who were a mix of straight, gay and bisexual, watched one-minute videos of a man masturbating, a woman masturbating and neutral landscape scenes. 
The study showed that the response of participants agreed with their sexual orientation -scientists observed pupil dilation according to their level of excitement on seeing the different images. 
Researchers now wish to explore this connection due to perplexing results in the case of women, who appeared to respond in an excited way to sexual images itself ,irrespective of their sexual orientation. 

Cornell university

Eating Healthy Diets in Early Age Increases Children's IQ

New research from the University of Adelaide revealed children who are fed healthy diets in early age may have a slightly higher IQ, while those on heavier junk food diets may have a slightly reduced IQ. 
The study looked at the link between the eating habits of children at six months, 15 months and two years, and their IQ at eight years of age. 
The study of more than 7000 children compared a range of dietary patterns, including traditional and contemporary home-prepared food, ready-prepared baby foods, breastfeeding, and 'discretionary' or junk foods. 
"Diet supplies the nutrients needed for the development of brain tissues in the first two years of life, and the aim of this study was to look at what impact diet would have on children's IQs," Dr Smithers says. 
"We found that children who were breastfed at six months and had a healthy diet regularly including foods such as legumes, cheese, fruit and vegetables at 15 and 24 months, had an IQ up to two points higher by age eight. 
"Those children who had a diet regularly involving biscuits, chocolate, sweets, soft drinks and chips in the first two years of life had IQs up to two points lower by age eight. 
"We also found some negative impact on IQ from ready-prepared baby foods given at six months, but some positive associations when given at 24 months," Dr Smithers says. 
Dr Smithers says this study reinforces the need to provide children with healthy foods at a crucial, formative time in their lives. 
"While the differences in IQ are not huge, this study provides some of the strongest evidence to date that dietary patterns from six to 24 months have a small but significant effect on IQ at eight years of age," Dr Smithers says. 
"It is important that we consider the longer-term impact of the foods we feed our children," she says. 


Obesity Underestimated By Mothers And Children in China

According to Penn State health policy researchers, childhood obesity is on the rise in China, and children and parents there tend to underestimate body weight. 
"Because many overweight Chinese children underestimate their weight, they are less likely to do anything to improve their diet or exercise patterns," said Nengliang Yao, graduate student in health policy and administration. "If they don't make changes, they are likely to be obese and have a lot of health problems in the future -- as we often see in the United States already." 
Children between the ages of 6 and 18, living in nine different provinces in China, had their height and weight measured and body mass index (BMI) calculated as part of the 2006 China Health and Nutrition Survey (CHNS). The children and their mothers were separately asked to indicate whether they thought the child was underweight, normal weight or overweight. 
The researchers looked at data from the CHNS for 176 overweight Chinese children and found that 69 percent of these children underestimated their own weight. Mothers were even more likely to underestimate the weight of their children, with 72 percent of the mothers rating their overweight children as normal or underweight, Yao reported in a recent issue of the World Journal of Pediatrics
If a mother's BMI was lower, she was less likely to recognize her own child as overweight than a mother with a higher BMI. The researchers suggest that overweight mothers may have a better understanding of what "overweight" means from personal experience. 
"Our study is more representative than previous studies because they have samples from only one province or maybe two cities," said Yao. "We have a better representation with nine provinces." 
This research also is unusual because it includes measured height and weight, while much past research used self-reported height and weight. The researchers also used a larger population sample to gain a better understanding of how children's age, maternal education and place of residence affect weight and perceived weight. 
They note that parental education and involvement is important in changing children's dietary and physical behaviors in the U.S., and recommend a similar approach for Chinese children. Public education campaigns can also help to raise awareness of the problem in China. 
"I think the main message is that parents and kids often don't have an accurate perception of weight," said Marianne M. Hillemeier, associate professor of health policy and administration and demography. "In the U.S. some health care providers don't measure height and weight and compute BMI at regular well-child visits, so parents and children aren't always getting information from the doctors. Awareness is important no matter where you live." 


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