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Am Fam Physician. 2005;72(6):990

For those people who claim they are too busy to hit the gym, the Mayo Clinic Letter has the solution. It is called the NEAT (nonexercise activity thermogenesis) office. After years of research on the way people burn energy, the NEAT office was created to function as a working environment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and a way to integrate activity into the daily grind of office work. Desks have been replaced with treadmills and meetings are now held while employees walk around an indoor track. The mastermind behind the NEAT office found that by incorporating movement into daily activities, people can boost their caloric “burn rates,” thereby decreasing the risk of obesity and other weight-related health issues.

Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? According to a review published in the May 2005 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association it is, especially for school-aged children. Researchers evaluated the results of 47 studies on the correlation between a child’s breakfast consumption and his or her weight and performance in school. They found that children’s grades, attendance, and memory were affected positively by regularly eating breakfast. Researchers also found that even though breakfast eaters consumed a greater number of calories per day, they were still less likely to be overweight than children who skipped breakfast.

Hair dye users can breathe a sigh of relief. A review published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reveals that use of hair dye poses little to no cancer risk. This conclusion comes from almost 80 earlier studies on a variety of cancers. However, information on certain shades and types of hair dye was not available for analysis, researchers said. According to the study, a reduction in carcinogenic material in dyes starting in the 1970s might be the reason for the lowered risk.

Can fat accelerate the aging process? Lancet reports that scientists have found the first correlative evidence between fat and aging. Researchers say that obesity can accelerate aging on a molecular level by speeding the separation of genetic configurations inside cells that usually deteriorate naturally over time. Obesity can add up to nine years to the body’s chronologic age, and researchers believe that other weight-related health issues such as diabetes also may be a result of fat cells accelerating the aging process.

Lose that scale! According to a study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, obese women who focus on their nutrition and behavior and not on their weight and body mass index are more likely to be mentally healthy. Two groups of women (dieters and nondieters) were evaluated during a two-year study. The dieting group limited food intake and weighed themselves regularly. The nondieting group focused on body acceptance and understanding their emotions. Even though they didn’t lose weight, the nondieters felt better about their bodies and had significantly lower rates of depression than did the dieters.

Moms often tell their children that sitting too close to the television is bad for their eyes. However, The New York Times reports that scientists have determined mom’s idea to be a bit old-fashioned. Before the 1950s, television sets produced radiation that could increase the risk of eye troubles in some people. Fortunately, this is no longer the case because modern televisions are built with safeguards. These days, moms should be more concerned about eyestrain than radiation exposure. Watching television in a well-lit room and taking occasional rests can help to keep eyestrain to a minimum.

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Copyright © 2005 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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