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Am Fam Physician. 2002;66(3):367

Here's another reason girls should be encouraged to participate in sports: they are less likely to grow up to be obese adults. In a study published in Preventive Medicine, researchers evaluated the past athletic involvement and current body mass index (BMI) of 486 women. They found that women who participated most in sports when they were young continued to be physically active and had a lower BMI as adults. Surprisingly, the adult women's dietary intake did not seem to be influenced by their past sports involvement.

A child's pet rodent may bring along an unfriendly skin condition. According to findings presented at the annual meeting of the Noah Worcester Dermatological Society and published in Family Practice News, a mysterious rash affecting five 11-year-old patients resulted from exposure to pet gerbils. The children had an itchy rash on the trunk and extremities and had more pronounced symptoms at night. They reported seeing “bugs” on their bed sheets, which turned out to be avian mites that the gerbils may have picked up in pet stores where birds were also sold, or from an open window near the gerbils' cages. Once the cause of the rash was found, treatment required elimination of the mites from the gerbils and replacement of the animals' bedding material.

Prescribing a dose of red pepper to cool the flame of chronic indigestion may sound peculiar but, according to a research letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine, indigestion lessened by 60 percent when participants took preprandial pills containing red pepper for five weeks. In a small study, 30 patients with chronic indigestion or stomach pain with an unknown origin were given either placebo or pills containing 2.5 g of red pepper—the equivalent of eating two or three spicy entrees a day. Capsaicin, a chemical in red peppers, may block the nerves that transmit pain signals from the gut to the brain. But please consult your doctor before ordering the spiciest dish at your local restaurant.

Vegetarian adolescents are more likely than nonvegetarian teenagers to meet the national Healthy People 2010 dietary guidelines, according to a study in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. Results from surveys given to 4,746 teenagers reveal that vegetarian teens are more likely to eat fewer calories from fat and saturated fat, and less likely to consume fast food and sugary soft drinks. Although the findings suggest that some teens are making better food choices, vegetarians were also more likely to be female and weight-conscious, and they could be more concerned with weight control than with healthy eating.

Despite a national trend toward casual Mondays and dress-down Fridays, patients want their physicians to look professional and “well-groomed.” According to the results of a written survey completed by 275 persons and published in the Archives of Dermatology, most patients would prefer that their physician wear a white coat, name tag, and dress pants or skirt. One in three patients do not want their physician to wear jeans or sandals and, if their physician is a man, open shirts, long hair, and earrings are frowned on. Other fashion “no-no's” indicated by patients include tennis shoes, cologne, and surgical scrubs.

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