Being underweight may increase dementia risk
Being underweight in middle age may actually increase your risk of developing dementia later in life.
So says a research team at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which has conducted the largest study connecting weight and dementia risk. The team analyzed medical records of more than 2 million people, covering a span of 20 years. Those in the group studied were aged 55 or older, and had an overweight median BMI of 26.5.
The researchers found that in just nine years, 45,507 people developed dementia. They also found that compared to those with a healthy BMI (20-25), middle-aged adults who were underweight - having a BMI lower than 20 - were 34 percent more likely to develop dementia. Comparatively, previous studies have shown that obesity may safeguard elderly adults against dementia risk.
The team noted that even after adjusting the data for other dementia risk factors, such as smoking and alcohol use, the results were similar. They were also unaffected by a person’s age at the time of their diagnosis or the decade in which they were born. The results were published in the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.
The researchers said more studies should be done to better understand the mechanisms that connect dementia risk with being underweight.
Sarcasm center of brain located
New research from Johns Hopkins University has found that damage to a specific area of the brain could explain why stroke patients can’t recognize sarcasm.
Researchers examined 24 stroke survivors who experienced damage in the right hemispheres of their brains. Those with damage to the right sagittal stratum, an area that connects a variety of brain regions that process auditory and visual information, were less likely to perceive sarcasm.
Additionally, the researchers wanted to further examine previous findings that linked the brain’s cortex to difficulties processing sarcasm by determining if white matter tracts (brain areas that relay information between brain regions) also played a role. So the scientists took MRI images of the 24 patients’ brains and looked for damage in eight white matter tracts. The stroke patients were then given a sarcasm test, including 40 sentences spoken either sincerely or sarcastically.
Processing sarcasm is a complex process for the brain, since it must first understand the literal meaning of the words being heard before detecting the components of sarcasm- including pitch, brief pauses, extended syllables, and variations in volume. It’s not a huge surprise that a stroke could alter this complicated process.
The results, published in the journal Neurocase, found that five of the patients had significant damage to the right sagittal stratum and they correctly answered only 22 percent of the sarcasm statements. In general, people in the general population identify 90 percent of sarcastic statements correctly.
The researchers said that caregivers for stroke victims should be aware that they may have difficulty understanding sarcasm.
The Twinkie is born: April 6,1930
A confection with a somewhat dubious reputation is born near Chicago when a plant manager at the Continental Baking Company creates new kind of treat he calls a “Twinkie.”
Jimmy Dewar had become frustrated that he could use the baking pans for sponge cakes only during the summer when strawberries are fresh. So he took sponge cakes and injected them with banana crème. Dewar called his invention a “Twinkie,” inspired by a billboard near the plant advertising “Twinkle Toe” shoes. The company put two Twinkies in one package and sells it for a nickel.
The filling was switched to vanilla during World War II when it was hard for the company to get bananas. Also, because the original ingredients of eggs, milk and butter allowed Twinkies to stay fresh for only a few days, they were replaced with less natural ones. That change, along with airtight packaging, gave Twinkies a shelf life that became legendary.
That longevity, along with the exposure the brand received as a sponsor of the popular “Howdy Doody Show” in the 1950s, made Twinkies a favorite desert packed in the school lunch boxes of Baby Boomers. And then, during the height of the Cold War between the U.S, and the Soviet Union, they were celebrated as food that could be stored forever in fallout shelters. More recently, in 1999, President Bill Clinton placed a package of Twinkies inside a millennium time capsule, describing it as an “object of enduring American symbolism.”
In truth, the life of a Twinkie, which stays fresh longer because it contains no dairy products, was estimated to be about 25 day. Also, it developed a reputation as the type of junk food that was helping Americans gain too much weight. Again, though, that reputation isn’t quite merited. Each Twinkie has about 150 calories, which isn’t that bad as far as snacks go. (You could eat two and still consume fewer calories than in a chocolate donut at Dunkin Donuts.) A Twinkie does, however, contain 4.5 grams of fat, including 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 19 grams of sugar and no fiber.
So Twinkies aren’t recommended as a daily treat, although, according to legend, their inventor, Jimmy Dewar, ate 40,000 of them during his lifetime. He lived to be 88 before dying in 1985.
Over the years, chefs have done some exotic things with the iconic confection. It’s been deep-fried, converted into wedding cakes and served with sushi and tiramisu.
But the basic Twinkie endures, even surviving the bankruptcy of its parent company, Hostess Brands, in 2012. Under new ownership, Twinkies returned to grocery store shelves a few years ago, although they had been changed a bit. Their shelf life is now 45 days, about three weeks longer than before.
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