Trans fats ban linked to lower cardiac admissions

Hospital admissions for heart attack and stroke dropped more in New York counties that have restricted the consumption of trans fatty acids (TFA) than in areas without restrictions, according to a US study published in JAMA Cardiology. Consumption of TFAs is associated with an elevated risk for cardiovascular disease, and they primarily enter the diet via partially hydrogenated oils used in baked goods, yeast breads, fried foods, chips, crackers and margarine. New York City was the first large metropolitan area in the US to restrict TFAs in eateries, starting in July 2007. Similar TFA restrictions were subsequently enacted in additional New York state counties. The US Food and Drug Administration plans a nationwide restriction in 2018. The public health implications of TFA restrictions are not well understood. Researchers from Yale University conducted a study of residents in counties with TFA restrictions versus counties without restrictions from 2002 to 2013 using the New York Department of Health’s Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System and census population estimates, and included residents who were hospitalised for heart attack or stroke. In 2006, the year before the first restrictions were implemented, there were 8.4 million adults in highly urban counties with TFA restrictions and 3.3 million adults in highly urban counties without restrictions. Three or more years after restriction implementation, the population with TFA restrictions experienced significant additional decline beyond temporal trends in heart attack and stroke events combined (–6.2%) and heart attack (–7.8%) and a non-significant decline in stroke (–3.6%) compared with the non-restriction populations.

Toddler touchscreen use associated with less sleep

Increased daily use of touchscreen devices by infants and toddlers is associated with a decrease in the total amount of sleep they get, according to a British study published in Scientific Reports. However, further studies are needed to clarify what effects touchscreen use may have and the mechanisms that may underlie this association. In recent years, family ownership of touchscreen devices has risen rapidly, and reports from 2016 indicated that 86% of UK family homes had access to the internet, mainly via portable media devices. Nevertheless, the potential impact of touchscreen use on toddler development has been unclear. Researchers from the University of London questioned the parents of 715 infants and toddlers aged between 6 and 36 months, from June 2015 until March 2016. Parents were asked to report the average duration of their child’s daytime and night-time sleep, the time taken for their child to fall asleep and the frequency of night awakenings. The authors found that babies and toddlers who spent more time using a touchscreen slept less at night and, despite sleeping more during the day, slept for less time overall. Every additional hour of tablet use was associated with 15.6 minutes less total sleep (on average 26.4 minutes less night-time sleep and 10.8 minutes more of daytime sleep). Touchscreen use was also associated with an increase in the time it took for children to fall asleep; however, no link was found to the number of times children woke up during the night, although more objective measures such as sleep tracking are needed in future studies to confirm these effects. One of the researchers, Dr Tim Smith, points out: “It’s also important to note that one of our earlier studies showed that increased active touchscreen use (eg, scrolling, rather than passively watching videos) was associated with earlier achievement in fine motor milestones in babies. Before totally restricting touchscreen use, which may have potential benefits, we need to understand in depth how to use this modern technology in a way that maximises benefits and minimises any negative consequences for young children.”

Australian women think they age 2 decades faster than US counterparts

Australian women are ageing faster than Canadian, British or US women, and they’re losing volume in their faces up to 20 years earlier than those in the US, according to an international study published in the Australasian Journal of Dermatology. The Monash University researchers asked 1472 women to compare their features against photonumeric rating scales depicting degrees of severity for forehead, crow’s feet and glabellar lines, tear troughs, midface volume loss, nasolabial folds, oral commissures and perioral lines. Australians reported higher rates of change and significantly more severe facial lines (P ≤ 0.040) and volume-related features such as tear troughs and nasolabial folds (P ≤ 0.03) than women from the other countries. More Australians also reported moderate to severe ageing for all features 1 to 2 decades earlier than US women. The authors wrote that the results “may suggest that environmental factors also impact volume-related ageing. These findings have implications for managing their facial aesthetic concerns”. The researchers acknowledge that the self-reported nature of the data, without formal objective assessments by physician evaluators, may have been affected by response bias.

 

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