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New research shows that people who work toward a financial reward, tend to lose more weight than others

SCOTT LAFEEIf you want people to lose weight, pad their pocketbooks.

In a randomized, eight-month-long study in Singapore, participants paid $161 to join an intensive weight loss program that included learning healthy lifestyle skills, with a goal of losing at least 5 percent of their body weight. Some of the participants paid an additional $119 to participate in a rewards program that offered cash or lottery tickets if they met monthly weight loss and step goals. The maximum possible reward was $477.

Researchers found that participants working toward rewards lost more pounds than those who were just rewarded with, well, lost pounds. The findings, they say, may offer a template for insurance companies and employers looking for relatively low-cost strategies to improve population health.

Body of knowledge

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a major role in managing moods (it makes you feel happy). Most of it is produced, however, in the gut, not the head.

Number cruncher

A single serving of Wienerschnitzel's chili cheese fries (231grams) contains 540 calories, 342 from fat. It has 38 grams of total fat — or 58 percent of the recommended total fat intake for a 2,000-calorie daily diet.

It also contains 55 milligrams of cholesterol (18 percent); 1,380 mg of sodium (57 percent); 39 grams of total carbohydrates (13 percent); 4 g of dietary fiber (16 percent); 1 g of sugar and 12 g of protein.

Counts

100,000: Estimated number of suspected cholera cases in Yemen

791: Resulting deaths blamed on bacterial disease

50: Percentage of cases involving persons under age of 15

33: Percentage of deaths involving persons over age 60

14.5 million: Estimated number of Yemenis cut off from reliable access to clean water and sanitation, both keys to curbing cholera outbreaks

— Source: World Health Organization

Doc talk

Oligoneuronal: The prefix "oligo" derives from Greek and means "few" or "scanty." Thus a patient who is oligoneuronal lacks abundant brain cells. In other words, they're not smart.

Phobia of the week

Venustraphobia: fear of beautiful women

Never say diet

The Major League Eating record for pepperoni rolls is 36 in 10 minutes, held by Geoffrey Esper. Warning: Most of these records are held by professional eaters; the rest by people who really should find something better to do.

Hypochondriac's guide

Cotard delusion is a rare neuropsychiatric disorder more colorfully known by the name "walking corpse syndrome." Sufferers believe they are dead, either figuratively or literally. In the latter case, sufferers may believe they are putrefying or have lost all of their organs or blood. In even rarer cases, the syndrome induces delusions of immortality.

Cotard delusion should not be confused with binge-watchers of "The Walking Dead" who haven't moved from their couches in days.

Medical history

This week in 2000, completion of a working draft reference sequencing the human genome was announced at the White House by President Bill Clinton, with representatives from the Human Genome Project and the private company Celera Genomics.

Self exam

Q: Where does the word "lung" come from?

A: It derives from German meaning "light." The description is apt: A pair of adult human lungs weigh only 2.5 pounds.

Medical myths

Can you catch poison ivy if you touch someone who has a poison ivy rash?

Maybe, but it would be hard. A poison ivy rash itself is not contagious, nor is the fluid released from rash blisters. A poison ivy rash is caused by contact with urushiol, the oil from poison ivy plant leaves. Typically, by the time a rash appears, the urushiol oil is no longer present. However, poison ivy can be transmitted if urushiol oil on one person's skin or clothing rubs off on another person's skin. Likewise with animal fur or even inanimate objects.

Epitaphs

Been Here

Now Gone

Had a Good Time

— Tombstone of J.J. Subers, Rosehill Cemetery, Macon, GA


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