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If, like most of us, you carry more weight than you wish you did, you may have wondered, from time to time, how much that extra poundage affects your health. This has been intensively studied over the past decades. Generally, studies compare health outcomes at different values of Body Mass Index (BMI), which is a useful way to describe body type. BMI is the ratio of weight to the square of height, in metric units.Read the rest “You can eat fat, but don’t get fat”

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In 2006 the World Health Organisation coined a new term: “the Glasgow Effect”. It resulted from an analysis of life expectancy data in two neighbourhoods in Glasgow, Scotland. One, a prosperous upper-middle-class village outside the central city, Lenzie, had a life expectancy for a male child at birth of 82, up there with the highest in the world. In the other, a desperately poor and drug-riddled central city community called “the Calton”, a newborn boy could expect, on average, a lifespan of only 58 years (1).Read the rest “Life Expectancy I: How Far We’ve Come”

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(Microscopic image of C. elegans with Nomarski DIC optics: by permission, Prof. Sander van den Heuvel, Developmental Biology, Universiteit Utrecht. About 200x lifesize.)

How long can we expect to live in the future? The longest recorded human life is that of a French woman, Jeanne Calment, who died aged 122 and a half, in 1997. The eighth oldest, and currently oldest living person, is an Italian woman named Emma Morano, who will be 117 on November 29, 2016.… Read the rest “Life Expectancy II: It’s in the Genes”