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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.
More than 70 million displaced worldwide, says UNHCR
The number of people fleeing war, persecution and conflict exceeded 70 million globally last year – the highest number in the UN refugee agency’s almost 70 years.
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The almost 70.8 million people forcibly displaced is up 2.3 million on the previous year, according to the agency’s annual Global Trends report.
This is also double the level recorded 20 years ago.
The number averaged out to 37,000 new displacements every day.
“What we are seeing in these figures is further confirmation of a longer-term rising trend in the number of people needing safety from war, conflict and persecution,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.
“While language around refugees and migrants is often divisive, we are also witnessing an outpouring of generosity and solidarity, especially by communities who are themselves hosting large numbers of refugees.
The actual figure is likely to be higher as the Venezuela crisis is only partly reflected, the report states.
Around four million Venezuelans have fled their country, according to some figures from countries taking them in, making it one of the world’s biggest recent displacement crises.
The report identifies three main groups.
Firstly, there are refugees, or people forced to leave their country because of conflict, war or persecution. In 2018, the number of refugees reached 25.9 million worldwide, 500,000 more than in 2017. Included in this total are 5.5 million Palestine refugees.
The second group is 3.5 million asylum seekers. These are people outside their country of birth who are under international protection, but are yet to be granted refugee status.
Thirdly, there are internally displaced persons, or IDPs. These people are displaced within their country and amount to 41.3 million globally.
More than two thirds of all refugees worldwide came from Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia.
Syria had a considerably higher number than any other country with 6.7 million, followed by Afghanistan with 2.7 million.
Only 92,400 refugees were resettled in 2018, fewer than 7% of those awaiting resettlement.
The global population of forcibly displaced people has grown substantially from 43.3 million in 2009. Most of this increase was between 2012 and 2015 as a result of the Syrian conflict.
However, other conflicts have cropped up and continued across the globe, for example, in Iraq and Yemen in the Middle East, as well as parts of sub-Saharan Africa such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan.
The massive flow of Rohingya refugees to Bangladesh at the end of 2017 after they were driven out of Myanmar’s Rakhine state during military crackdowns was another major crisis.
At more than 1.5 million, Ethiopians were the largest newly displaced population in 2018, 98% of them internally, more than doubling the previous number.
These were mainly attributed to inter-communal violence throughout 2018, with communities living along disputed boundaries most affected.
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