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Am Fam Physician. 2006;74(9):1471

I scream, you scream, we all scream—for smaller bowls of ice cream? A study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine suggests that people wanting to lose weight should eat from smaller bowls and use smaller serving spoons. Eighty-five nutrition experts were given a 17-oz or a 34-oz bowl and were asked to serve themselves ice cream using either a 2-oz or a 3-oz scoop. Participants given the larger bowls served themselves 31 percent more ice cream than those with smaller bowls. Among those who used a larger spoon, portions increased by 14.5 percent regardless of the size of the bowl. (Am J Prev Med, September 2006)

Is pregnancy a lot more draining than most women expect? According to a survey of 1,000 pregnant women conducted by a baby charity, one in five pregnant women says she isn’t emotionally ready to have a baby. Sixty-seven percent of the pregnant women polled were more exhausted than they expected to be, and 27 percent experienced stress during pregnancy because of financial or relationship pressures. One third of the women received personal comments during pregnancy that upset them. The charity cites these as reasons why more social services should be available to women throughout pregnancy. (BBC News, August 31, 2006)

“Lettuce” grab a salad! The Journal of the American Dietetic Association states that people who eat salads have higher-than-average intakes of vitamins C and E, lycopene, folic acid, and carotenoids than those who don’t eat leafy greens. According to data collected from nearly 18,000 participants, men who ate raw vegetables or garden salads with dressing were 119 percent more likely to meet the recommended daily allowance for vitamin C than men who didn’t eat salads. Similarly, women who ate salads were 165 percent more likely to meet the allowance than their counterparts. (J Am Diet Assoc, September 2006)

If you have to choose between Victor Frankenstein or a safety-breaching donor service, you may be safer with the former. New Scientist reported that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shut down a firm that supplied body parts for surgery. According to FDA investigators, the firm harvested body parts and tissue from corpses in funeral homes without following federal guidelines. They found errors in the medical histories of donors and a failure to prevent bacterial contamination. By December 2006, the FDA expects that its Human Tissue Task Force, which will ensure that new tissue regulations are implemented, will propose changes to existing policies where necessary. (FDA press release, August 31, 2006; New Scientist, September 2, 2006)

You may not be able to set the clock forward to escape jet lag, but a study in the Journal of Biological Rhythms suggests that flights of no more than four hours may be less stressful on the body’s internal clocks. The most severe jet lag occurs when passengers fly eastward through five to eight time zones; this large leap results in the body’s master clock overshooting the actual time. For a leap forward of six hours, the peripheral components of the master clock will delay themselves for 18 hours. A four-hour advance, however, pushes the body’s entire set of internal clocks forward in an equal sequence. So if your destination is more than six hours away, the authors recommend a four-hour flight with an overnight layover. (J Biol Rhythms, August 2006)

A little water clears us of our deeds! Study results published in Science suggest that hand washing “cleanses” the mind of unethical behavior, a result the researchers call the “Macbeth effect.” They asked 170 undergraduate students to focus on their conduct throughout the day. Those who remembered a misdeed were more likely to feel dirty than those who remembered a good deed. Among volunteers who felt unclean and then washed their hands, only 41 percent helped a fellow student in need of assistance, whereas 74 percent of those who remembered a misdeed but had not cleansed their hands helped their peer. The researchers concluded that the volunteers who washed their hands no longer needed to perform a good deed to compensate for their bad ones. (Science, September 8, 2006)

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Copyright © 2006 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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