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Behind the Headlines

Fact or fiction?

Your guide to the science behind health stories in the news

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Previously featured headline analysis

Obesity may cause low vitamin D levels

02-07-2013

Image of a man running"Study finds obesity can lead to lack of vitamin D," BBC News has reported. This fascinating, insightful and accurate BBC story highlights a new danger to add to the list of problems caused by obesity. The headline is based on a large, complex and broad study investigating the link between obesity and vitamin D levels in the body. Previous research has suggested a link between vitamin D and obesity. Until now it has been unclear whether obesity caused vitamin D deficiency or whether low levels of vitamin D made people more likely to put on weight. This research found that people with genetic variations that are known to be associated with obesity had lower levels of vitamin D.…more

Does getting more sleep reduce memory loss?

01-28-2013

Image of sleeping woman"Boosting sleep 'may slow memory rot'," says the BBC, in a headline that could provide us with a plausible excuse to give our bosses when we fall asleep at our desks. The news is based on a complex study that involved testing younger and older people's memories before and after sleep. Researchers gave participants word pairs to remember in the evening, tested them on half of the word pairs before sleeping, and the other half of the words after they had slept. Older adults were found to have smaller grey matter volume in an area of the brain called the prefrontal cortex, which is involved in generating slow brain waves…more

Fast-food 'link' to child asthma and eczema

01-15-2013

Image of girl eating fruit“Fast food and takeaways linked to surge in child asthma and allergies,” reports The Guardian. Along with many other papers, it reports on a study attempting to shed light on one of the enduring medical mysteries of recent times – what explains the sharp rise in allergic conditions that has occurred during the past few decades? Researchers wanted to investigate the theory that changes to traditional diets in the developed world since World War Two may be partially responsible. This was an international survey looking at the links between diet and three allergy-related conditions in adolescents and children: asthma, eczema, rhinoconjunctivitis (stuffy or runny nose and watery eyes)…more

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