Health bites

Study challenges ‘healthy but obese’ theory

Being overweight or obese does pose a risk of heart disease, despite claims to the contrary, a study of nearly 300,000 British adults suggested.

While it is generally accepted that being overweight increases a person's disease risk, some researchers have recently suggested that carrying extra weight does not actually boost death rates for some, particularly the elderly.

A number have even suggested that being overweight may protect against disease, a claim dubbed the "obesity paradox".

But the latest study, published in the European Heart Journal, said there is no paradox.

It looked at 296,535 people aged 40 to 69 who enrolled in an ongoing health study in the UK between 2006 and 2010.

The researchers noted the participants' body mass index. They then tracked who went on to develop cardiovascular disease, which includes heart attack, stroke or high blood pressure.

The World Health Organisation considers someone with a BMI of 25 as overweight, and 30 or higher as obese.

The research team found that the risk for cardiovascular disease increased beyond a BMI of 22.

"Furthermore, the risk also increases steadily the more fat a person carries around their waist," said a press statement summarising the findings.

"Any public misconception of a potential 'protective' effect of fat on heart and stroke risks should be challenged," said the study's co-author, Dr Stamatina Iliodromiti, from the University of Glasgow.- AFP

Probiotics during pregnancy linked to lower eczema risk for kids

Women who take probiotics while they are pregnant and breastfeeding could be less likely to have children with eczema than mothers who don't, a research review suggests.

Probiotic use during pregnancy and lactation is associated with a 22 per cent lower risk of young children developing eczema, an inflammatory skin disorder, the study found.

This is the equivalent of preventing 44 cases of eczema for every 1,000 children.

It is possible that taking probiotics changes the composition of breast milk and influences the way a baby's immune system and skin develop, said senior study author Robert Boyle of Imperial College London and the University of Nottingham in the UK.

"This study makes it clearer that maternal probiotics during pregnancy and while breastfeeding seem to protect infants from eczema, whereas probiotics added to an infant's diet directly do not seem to protect infants from developing eczema," he added. - REUTERS

Smoking tied to higher hearing loss risk

Smokers may be more likely to develop hearing loss than non-smokers, and the risk increases with each additional cigarette people smoke every day, a Japanese study suggests.

"The more one smokes, the higher the risk of hearing loss," said lead study author Huanhuan Hu from the National Centre for Global Health and Medicine in Tokyo.

"Quitting smoking eliminates the excess risk of hearing loss, even among quitters with a short duration of cessation. Because the risk increases with the number of cigarettes smoked per day, if quitting is impossible, people should smoke as little as possible." - REUTERS