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Obesity and its consequences – Understanding how brain impacts overeating

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New research reveals that the brain has complex circuitry that locks appetite to memories of finding and enjoying food. This drives the feeding behaviors necessary for survival and the circuits include one mechanism that does the opposite: curbing the compulsion to eat in response to food.

Once, scientists thought that gut instincts drove animals’ feeding behavior with very little input from the brain.

The sight and smell of food, they maintained, was enough to trigger eating.

However, since then, more and more evidence has suggested that the brain does intervene to perform some decision-making about whether to proceed with eating or not, with less clarity of which nerve cells are involved.


Meanwhile, According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more deaths globally are linked to overweight and obesity than to underweight. Since 1975, the number of people worldwide with obesity has tripled.

The WHO attribute this crisis to the rising consumption of energy-dense, high-fat food at the same time that lifestyles and jobs have become less physically demanding. The result is an upset in energy balance that favors weight gain.

National survey figures from 2013–2014 — which the National Institutes of Health (NIH) use in their reports — show that overweight or obesity affects more than two-thirds of adults in the United States. The survey also found that about 1 in 6 children and teenagers aged 2–19 years have obesity.


Overweight and obesity can have serious health consequences. They can raise the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular conditions. Cardiovascular disease was the leading cause of death worldwide in 2012.

Carrying too much weight can also increase the risk of some cancers and make it more likely that disabling conditions that impair the joints, such as osteoarthritis, will develop.

Children with obesity are more likely to have obesity and disability and die prematurely as adults. They are also more likely to develop respiratory problems, fractures, high blood pressure, and show early signs of cardiovascular disease.

However, Treatments for overweight and obesity usually focus on changing lifestyle and habits in order to lose weight. These changes include adopting healthful eating patterns and increasing physical activity.

However, lifestyle changes may not be enough to help some people lose weight and keep it off. Doctors need to consider additional aids to weight loss, including drugs and surgery.

 Gaining a better understanding of the brain circuits that control eating impulses could help improve such treatments.

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Health & Lifestyle

Cote d’Ivoire: Destroying the Killer Rice

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Authorities in Cote d’Ivoire have destroyed 18,000 tonnes of rice declared to be unfit for human consumption.

This follows tests carried out by the country’s consumer association which had demanded the government to do so after the cargo from Myanmar had been refused entry in Togo, Guinea and Ghana over quality issues.

The national and international quality control tests revealed the unfit nature of the rice.

It should be noted that most African countries depend on imports because local farmers are unable to meet the ever rising demands.

Source: Africanews

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Health & Lifestyle

Mali: Donkeys deliver vaccines as diseases spike with violence

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Reuters DAKAR –

With spiraling ethnic violence exposing more children in Mali to fatal diseases, health workers are using donkeys and boats to deliver life-saving vaccines, charities said on Wednesday.

In the central Mopti region – where 157 people died in one attack last month – suspected measles cases rose five-fold in one year to 98 in 2018, U.N. children’s agency UNICEF said, due to a four-fold jump in unvaccinated children to 70,000.

Motorcycles, which health workers used to reach remote villages, have been banned to reduce militant activity, forcing them to use traditional means like horses, it said.

“The problem of vaccination is directly linked to the current conflict,” said Patrick Irenge, medical coordinator for the charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), which is using cars and boats as mobile clinics to reach cut off communities.

“If there is a lull in the violence, a small window that opens, we organize a vaccination campaign.”

Last month’s massacre was the deadliest to date in a conflict between Dogon hunters and Fulani herders which has displaced tens of thousands of civilians in the West African country since it escalated last year.

Pneumonia is one of the top killers of children in Mali and it can be prevented with vaccines – as can measles – but it is too dangerous for many parents to venture out with children.

“Transport is difficult because we don’t have the means to rent a vehicle or a horse cart,” said Aissata Barry, a 34-year-old mother in the village of Kankelena, about 4 km (2.5 miles) from the nearest health center in the town of Sofara.

“There are rapists on the road. That’s what we’re afraid of,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone, adding that one of her neighbors was raped two weeks ago.

Mamadou Kasse, a local health worker who vaccinated Barry’s children, said the number of children he can reach each day has fallen since he swapped his motorbike for an eight-hour ride in a donkey cart with a cooler full of vaccines.

Reporting by Nellie Peyton; Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit news.trust.org

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