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Living in walkable area cuts obesity risk

People living in neighbourhoods where walking is easy are less likely to be obese, a Canadian study revealed. The researchers tracked 22,000 people living in Vancuover for their study. They used an online tool called Walk Score, which rates the neighbourhoods on the basis of how accessible things are around the area. They also measured the Body Mass Index of the participants. The study showed that 58% of the participants were overweight, while 7% had diabetes. Residents of walkbale areas had a walk score of 90 or more while those living in car-dependent areas scored less than 50. The researchers found that those living in walkbale areas were 31% less likely to be obese or overweight. The study was presented at this week’s World Diabetes Congress in Vancouver. Read more here

Asia-Pacific region faces epidemic of HIV among adolescents

India, China and Pakistan are among the 10 countries in the Asia-Pacific that account for 98% of youngsters aged 10 to 19 living with HIV, according to a UN report which said the region is facing a “hidden epidemic" of HIV among adolescents.

The report ‘Adolescents: Under the Radar in the Asia-Pacific AIDS Response’, published by the Asia-Pacific Inter-Agency Task Team on Young Key Populations, which includes UNICEF and the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS warned that the AIDS epidemic cannot be ended as a public health threat by 2030 without tackling the issue of adolescents. In 2014, 220,000 adolescents aged 10-19 were estimated to be living with HIV in Asia and the Pacific.

India is among the 10 countries in the region accounting for 98% of those aged 10 to 19 living with HIV. The other countries are Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Prevalence is particularly high in large cities like Mumbai, Hanoi, Jakarta, Bangkok, Chiang Mai and other urban areas. The 2014 figure accounts for almost 15% of all new cases in the region.

Although new infections are falling overall, they are rising among adolescents, coinciding with an increase in risky behaviour, such as multiple sexual partners and inconsistent condom use. The report, released ahead of World AIDS Day today, added that in hotspot urban areas, HIV prevalence can be many times the national prevalence.

In general, female sex workers in Asia and the Pacific are 29 times more likely to be living with HIV compared with all women of reproductive age, according to a global systematic review in low and middle-income countries.

“The Asia-Pacific region is facing a hidden epidemic of HIV among adolescents, with an estimated 50,000 new infections in 2014 among those aged 15 to 19," the report said calling on governments to develop specifically targeted prevention strategies. Those at highest risk include gay men and other men who have sex with men, transgender people, injecting drug users, and people who buy and sell sex.

In India, HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men is 3.5% for those younger than 25 years while it is 4.9% for men older than 25. HIV prevalence among sex workers under 25 years of age in India was 1.7% for the 2007-2014 period. (PTI)

Depression ups risk of death in breast cancer patients

Depression increases the risk of death in women diagnosed with breast cancer by 45%, claims research. Scientists from King’s College London examined 77,173 women with breast cancer for a period of 10 years. Depression was mentioned in the medical records of 1.2% breast cancer patients. They found that 55% of women with a record of depression lived five years after their breast cancer was diagnosed, whereas 75% women survived in the non-depression group. The researchers wrote depressive behaviours such as adopting a less healthy lifestyle, chronic stress or non-compliance with treatment are some of the factors that can help understand the link. The study was published in the journal Psycho-Oncology. Read more here

Pet dogs can help children overcome anxiety

Having pet dogs at home can reduce anxiety in children, claims an American study. Researchers enlisted 643 children in the age group of 4 to 10. They also carried out a survey in which their parents were asked questions about nutrition, physical activity, parental depression, child’s behaviour, social interaction and whether they had pets or not. They found that 57% of the children had a pet dog at home. The findings showed that children with a dog at home were less anxious than those who did not have pets. The researcher noted that pets help in creating a bond, encourages conversation and social interaction, which increase levels of oxytocin and reduces levels of cortisol. The study published in the journal Preventive Chronic Disease. Read more here

Too many friends on Facebook can cause stress in teens

Teenagers with too many friends on Facebook are more likely to be stressed, shows a new study. The study examined 88 participants in the age group of 12 to 17. They were asked questions on the number of times they accessed Facebook, the number of friends, and whether their friends were supportive or not. The researchers also measured their cortisol levels four times a day for three days and found that adolescents who had more than 300 Facebook friends tended to have higher cortisol levels than those with fewer friends. The researchers pointed out that higher cortisol levels in early adolescence can increase risk of depression in later years. The study was published in Psychoneuroendocrinology. Read more here

(Compiled by Abhijit Ahaskar)

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