Sugar tax debate
A COMMENT article in Nature argues that sugar is so harmful to health it should be regulated like alcohol. The authors argue that sweetened food is indirectly responsible for 35 million deaths annually worldwide due to lifestyle conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Australian experts are divided about whether a sugar tax is needed, reports the ABC’s AM program.

Testosterone increases egocentricity
TESTOSTERONE is associated with more egocentric decision making and less cooperation, according to a study of 34 women who were given a testosterone supplement. The research, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, found that testosterone markedly reduced the women’s ability to collaborate in pairs but left individual decision-making ability unaffected. The research may help increase understanding of hormonal factors that disrupt our ability to work together, the researchers said. The study was reported by ABC Health.

Call to ban smacking
THE head of Australia’s peak paediatric body says parents should be banned from smacking children, the Herald Sun reports. Dr Gervase Chaney, president of the paediatrics and child health division at the Royal Australasian College of Physicians says there is good evidence that there has been a reduction in child abuse in countries where smacking is banned, such as in New Zealand and much of Europe. He said the current position in Australia — opposing the use of physical discipline because it is “ineffective and unhelpful” — did not go far enough.

Mental health cuts changed
AFTER a backlash to changes to the Better Access scheme for mental health, the federal government has announced it will fund an additional six sessions per person in “exceptional circumstances” until the end of the year. The changes introduced in last year’s Budget reduced the number of rebatable sessions from 18 to 10. With the additional sessions, some patients will now be able to access a maximum of 16 sessions. The changes were reported by

Heart disease affects cognitive function
AUSTRALIAN researchers have found that heart failure is associated with changes in brain regions that are important for demanding cognitive and emotional processing, Science Network Western Australia reports. The research, published in the European Heart Journal, was a cross-sectional study of 35 participants with heart failure (HF), 56 with ischaemic heart disease (IHD), and 64 controls without either HF or IHD. Participants with HF showed more extensive grey matter loss on magnetic resonance imaging, and had lower scores than controls on immediate memory, long delay recall and digit coding. Those with IHD had lower long delay recall scores than controls.

Posted 6 February 2012

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