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Polar bear DNA 'may help fight obesity'

New research suggests polar bears' genes may hold the answer to fighting heart problems linked with obesity in humans.

Analysis of polar bears' DNA suggests their genes have mutated to cope with their high-fat diet. Credit: Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press/Press Association Images

Scientists believe the bears' genetic make-up has adapted so that they can eat a diet containing very high levels of fat without any sign of heart disease.

Lead researcher Professor Rasmus Neilsen, of the University of California at Berkeley, said learning more about the bears' DNA may allow scientists "to modulate human physiology down the line".

Coe: Inactivity needs 'immediate national attention'

Lack of exercise has become such a health issue that it require "immediate national attention and urgent action", the former head of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games has said.

Double Olympic gold medallist Lord Sebastian Coe said:

Not many people are aware that physical inactivity currently accounts for nearly one-fifth of premature deaths in the UK.

With projections showing that inactivity levels are due to increase by a further 15% by 2030 there is no doubt that the issue requires immediate national attention and urgent action.

The report from the All-Party Commission on Physical Activity represents a true shift in how governments, NGBs, corporations, and the civil sector can work together in shaping the world's perception of sport and physical activity.

– Lord Sebastian Coe

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'Teach physical literacy' to tackle inactivity, say MPs

Schools are being urged by MPs to teach physical literacy to youngsters so they avoid developing health problems through inactivity in later life.

A report from a cross party group of MPs also recommended:

  • Redirecting investment in transport networks toward walking and cycling schemes.
  • Encourage employers to allow their workers to be active while at work.

Inactivity causes '37,000 early deaths' warn MPs

Lack of physical activity and the 37,000 deaths it is believed to cause each year have been highlighted in a parliamentary report.

MPs want a "national action plan" to tackle obesity and physical inactivity. Credit: PA

The All Party Commission on Physical Activity has warned that over half of all adults do not get the minimum amount of exercise recommended by experts.

Adults need a minimum two-and-a-half hours exercise every week, according to all four of the UK's Chief Medical Officers.

In a report titled Tackling Physical Inactivity published today, the commission claims that up to 37,000 lives are lost prematurely every year because of a lack of exercise.

The commission, which includes paralympian Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, calls for a cross party five-year "national action plan" to help combat inactivity.

Obesity 'becoming seen as normal', warns medical chief

Being overweight is now seen as normal, according to the Chief Medical Officer Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Being overweight or obese is in danger of becoming seen as normal, the Chief Medical Officer for England has warned.

Dame Sally Davies said she was "increasingly concerned that society may be normalising being overweight".

The Chief Medical Officer said consumption of sugary drinks was contributing to obesity. Credit: Lewis Whyld/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Her annual report on the state of the nation's health said excessive consumption of sugar, particularly in soft drinks, was one of the factors behind rising obesity.

Dame Sally is calling on food and drink manufacturers to tweak their products so they have less added sugar.

She also said a 'sugar tax' may need to be considered if the industry's efforts to make products healthier are not successful.

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Study: 'Link between obese teen girls and lower grades'

Obesity among teenage girls was shown by the study to drop attainment by one grade Credit: Jon Stillwell/PA

A new study has claimed to have discovered a link between obesity and lower academic achievement among teenage girls.

The research found that girls who were obese at the age of 11 had lower attainment at ages 11, 13 and 16 when compared to those of a healthy weight.

Adolescent girls who were obese were found to achieve grades "lower by an amount equivalent to a D instead of a C", researchers said. The study found no similar link among boys of the equivalent age.

The research, carried out by Dundee, Strathclyde, Georgia and Bristol universities was published in the International Journal of Obesity and claims to be the most comprehensive of its kind.

Labour: Imposing sugar tax 'is not fair'

Shadow public health minister Luciana Berger wrote on Twitter:

Medical chief: 'We have normalised being overweight'

Britain has "normalised being overweight" and needs to get a tough grip on the UK's sugar addiction, the chief medical officer has told MPs.

Speaking at the health select committee, Professor Dame Sally Davies warned promoting physical education would not be enough to solve the obesity crisis.

I worry that we have re-sized a women's dress size so that a size 14 now was a size 12 when I was student. We have normalised being overweight.

We have to find a new way - not of ostracising people who are obese and making them feel bad about themselves - but somehow of helping them to understand this is pathological and will cause them harm.

We have a generation of children who because they are overweight and lack activity may not live as long as my generation; they will be the first generation who will live less.

– Professor Dame Sally Davies

Readers unimpressed by 'sugar tax' idea

ITV News readers have spoken overwhelmingly against the suggestion of a 'sugar tax', made by England's chief medical officer in response to the country's obesity crisis.

At the time of writing, not a single response on Twitter or the ITV News Facebook page has supported the idea floated by Dame Sally Davies.

Aren't the public ever going to be allowed to be responsible for their own health? I am getting so fed up with being told what I can and can't eat.

– Steffie Hilgers

The government should focus on making healthy food cheap and stop food prices rocketing.

– Lucy Taylor

I actually think medical "experts" are a bigger threat to personal freedoms than the police, secret services, GCHQ, etc.

– Iain Gold
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