If you’ve just shed a lot of pounds, you might want to hold off on buying a new wardrobe full of “thin” clothes. That’s because new research finds that lost weight starts creeping back almost immediately after a diet stops. “We noticed that individuals transitioned from a weight loss intervention immediately to weight gain,” said Kathryn Ross, of the University of Florida, Gainesville, College of Public Health and Health Professions. As to why weight started to come back so quickly, Ross said, “There are a lot of different reasons. There’s not an easy answer.” It may be that people need a specific maintenance intervention where the focus shifts from how to lose weight to how to maintain that loss. Ross said people also need to understand how challenging the environment is, and how it’s geared to weight gain because of the easy and seemingly endless access to high-calorie foods. People also get a lot of positive reinforcement when they’re losing weight. Family and friends probably comment on what a great job the dieter’s doing. Once weight loss is done, however, no one pats you on the back and says, “Hey, great job maintaining your weight!” said Ross, an assistant professor in the clinical and health psychology department. There are also physiologic and metabolic changes that may make it easier to regain weight if you’re not…  read on >

The growing popularity of snowboarding and skiing has meant more injuries on the slopes, a new review shows. In 2015, more than 140,000 people were treated in U.S. hospitals, doctors’ offices and emergency rooms for skiing and snowboarding-related injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Snowboarders are three times more likely than skiers to be injured. In 1989, snowboarding injuries accounted for 4 percent of all snow sport-related injuries, before rising to 56 percent by 1999, according to the review. The review was published this month in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. “Skiing and snowboarding are associated with a large number of injuries, with specific patterns and anatomic areas affected,” said study author and orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Brett Owens. “While some injuries are unavoidable, many are caused by skiers and snowboarders exceeding their comfort zone in either speed or technical challenges on the mountain,” Owens said in a journal news release. “It is critical to stay in control and be prepared to slow and stop to avoid contact with another person on the slope.” The most common skiing and snowboarding injuries are to the spine, pelvis, shoulders, wrists, hands, knees, feet and ankles. “Snow sport athletes can best prepare for their sport with a general preseason conditioning program, as well as familiarity and maintenance of equipment,” said Owens, who’s…  read on >

With a severe flu season now widespread across 46 states, do symptoms you or a loved one have point to the dreaded illness? Amid the sniffles, coughing and fever, “it’s sometimes difficult to determine whether you have the common cold or the flu,” said Dr. Boris Khodorkovsky. He’s associate chair of emergency medicine at Staten Island University Hospital in New York City. But it’s an important question, he said, because while colds and flu share some symptoms, flu can become severe enough to land you in the hospital. Certain symptoms — runny nose, congestion, sneezing, minor body aches and fever — are common to both maladies. But “your alarm should go off when you start experiencing high fever and chills” — that’s most probably the flu, Khodorkovsky said. He said “high fever” is typically thought of in this context as 101 degrees or above, but lower fevers can sometimes occur in otherwise severe flu. Dr. Len Horovitz, an emergency physician at New York City’s Lenox Hill Hospital, agreed. He added that one thing to watch for is how quickly the illness escalates. “The common cold can come on slowly — sore throat, sneezing, cough, fever — while the flu is rapid in onset,” Horovitz said. “The onset of flu is also often “accompanied by severe body aches, weakness and sometimes skin sensitivity,” he added. If…  read on >

Wine and spirits are tallied in the “empty calories” column because they lack any nutritional benefits. Add cream or soda to make a mixed drink and you can more than double the caloric damage. So how can you enjoy a cocktail without wrecking your diet? Here are some options. Choose your alcoholic drinks wisely. A light beer has about a third less calories than regular beer. A shot of vodka, whiskey or gin — that’s 1.5 fluid ounces — has about 100 calories or less; so does a 4-ounce glass of wine or champagne. When you want a mixed drink, make your own lighter version of classics by limiting the amount of alcohol you put in. For instance, for a Bloody Mary, mix half the amount of vodka with extra tomato juice and spices. If you’re trying to lose weight, you’ll want to skip some drinks, especially those made with cream liqueurs, like those flavored with chocolate and coconut, as well as drinks with cream or creamy ingredients like Egg Nog, Pina Coladas and White Russians. Some of these indulgences have more than 400 calories — the amount in an entire meal of wholesome ingredients. Prepackaged drink mixers might be convenient, but they’re also very high in sugar. Make your own flavored frozen daiquiris and margaritas by blending a shot of liquor with unsweetened frozen…  read on >

Carefully targeted deep brain stimulation might one day enhance long-term memory, a small study suggests. The experiment involved just 14 epilepsy patients, all of whom had undergone an invasive procedure to insert electrodes deep within their brains as a means of identifying the source of future seizures. Taking advantage of the opportunity, the researchers asked the patients to participate in an additional memory study that involved presenting them with a series of 200 computerized images. Some of the images were viewed without any additional intervention. But some were viewed in tandem with exposure to highly controlled electrical impulses directed towards a specific part of the brain called the amygdala. The amygdala is known to be a key center for the regulation and processing of both emotions and memory. The result? “We found that delivering small-amplitude brief electrical pulses at a particular frequency just after a patient viewed an image on a computer screen would significantly enhance their ability to recognize that same image the next day,” said study co-author Dr. Jon Willie. How? Willie said deep brain stimulation appeared to spark immediate changes in brain activity. And that led his team to conclude that “this type of amygdala-mediated memory enhancement works by telling the brain to prioritize certain experiences to remember later.” Willie is an assistant professor of neurosurgery at Emory University’s departments of neurosurgery…  read on >

They may be touted as relatively harmless, but rubber and plastic bullets can cause serious injury and death, and should not be used when riots occur, researchers say. These types of bullets — widely used by police, military and security forces to disperse crowds — are meant to incapacitate people by causing pain or injury. But a team from the University of California, Berkeley, said the speed at which many rubber or plastic bullets leave the weapon is the same as live ammunition. In fact, the new study suggests “that these weapons have the potential to cause severe injuries and death,” said researchers led by Dr. Rohini Haar, of UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health. They looked at data from 26 published studies examining outcomes among nearly 2,000 people, mostly young adults, who suffered injuries after being hit by rubber or plastic bullets in numerous countries — Israel/Palestine, Britain/Northern Ireland, South Asian countries, the United States, Switzerland and Turkey. In total, 53 (3 percent) of the people died of their injuries, Haar’s team reported Dec. 18 in the journal BMJ Open. “Penetrative injuries” accounted for 56 percent of the deaths, and blunt trauma for 23 percent of the deaths, the research group said. Disability after being hit by a rubber or plastic bullet wasn’t rare, either: About 300 (16 percent) of survivors suffered permanent disability.…  read on >