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Researchers Are Finding That Saliva May Change The Flavor of Food. Here’s How It Works. 

By Chris Groski, USA Today

Most people don’t think twice about saliva. However, researchers are finding that saliva plays a vital role in how a food tastes. People tend to believe that what they taste stems 100% from the food in their mouth, but in reality, they are tasting a mixture of that food and their own saliva. Saliva acts as a mediator between the food itself and people’s taste buds, so to experience a flavor from the food requires that the chemical responsible for that flavor passes through the saliva and onto a taste bud. Since people produce different levels of saliva, it is possible two people eating the same food experience different intensities of flavors. Thus, saliva may not only impact our perception of a food’s taste but whether we are willing to eat it again. Researchers are trying to find a way to get people to eat healthier food and they believe that coating vegetables with a good-tasting chemical that reaches the taste buds will create the positive association needed to get people to eat vegetables more often. 

by Andrew Feld

F.D.A. Seeks More Authority to Oversee CBD Products

By Andrew Jacobs, New York Times

Four years ago, Congress legalized the sale of products made from hemp and classified them as dietary supplements. The FDA is now asking congress to step in and give the agency more authority to regulate these products. Hemp is a variety of marijuana that contains only trace amounts of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical that makes marijuana psychoactive. Instead, hemp has high levels of Cannabidiol (CBD). People who market CBD products claim it can treat a wide range of ailments, including anxiety, inflammation, and diabetes. However, there is little evidence to support these claims or even to establish its safety. The FDA is currently only authorized to respond to complaints and concerns about dangerous ingredients or false health claims, not to regulate the products as they can for prescription drugs. The FDA is requesting more power from Congress to regulate how CBD products are produced and marketed to avoid misinformation. 

Industry groups and legislators are mixed in their opinions on this request. Some see this as a power grab from the FDA and an attempt to expand their control over producers. Others want more clarity on the uses and benefits of CBD to avoid confusing consumers. Legislators who have been working on the issue are cautiously optimistic that putting the problem in the hands of Congress will lead to positive change.

— by Gabrielle Stearns

Why Experts Are Urging Swifter Treatment for Children With Obesity

by Gina Kolata, NYTimes  

The American Academy of Pediatrics (A.A.P.) issued new guidelines for children and adolescents with obesity. The AAP says the cause of obesity is not only the consequence of bad eating and poor exercise but also includes genetics. Obesity is defined by BMI, where children and teenagers of the same sex and age above the 95th percentile are considered obese. Since the 1980s, the American obesity rate has quadrupled, making it an epidemic in the United States.  According to Dr. Stanford, an obesity health specialist at Harvard, holistic approaches, such as sending children and teenagers to clinics to eat healthier and exercise more, was not enough to change body weight or prevent weight gain in the future. Thus, the AAP recommends medications or bariatric surgery for children and teenagers to prevent long-term health consequences. Although “intensive behavioral and lifestyle treatment” is the best option for most children and teenagers, such programs are not readily available as insurance does not pay for them. The AAP guidelines wish to help doctors, families, and individuals understand the dire consequences of pediatric obesity, and that perhaps its time to change from delayed treatment to accelerated options. 

by Emily Kim

Procrastination may harm your health. Here’s what you can do

By Meghan Rosen, ScienceNews

A recent study of university students linked procrastination behaviors to symptoms of depression and anxiety. The question remains for a study like this one, however, whether procrastination leads to depression and anxiety, or whether these issues lead to procrastination. Or, is there another factor that facilitates the link between these? Current research suggests that, as procrastination furthers depression and anxiety, the more likely it is that procrastination itself leads to these issues. Interestingly, while procrastinators might seem rushed in completing their work, this study also found that procrastination led to slower, more deliberate work done with fewer errors. A study from 2018 showed that cognitive behavioral therapy might help procrastinators. This type of therapy usually involves recognizing the emotions and feelings surrounding a certain behavior, like procrastination, and modifying the emotions associated with that. Mindfulness training and self-compassion may also help procrastinators, who sometimes fall into a “spiral of shame” during periods of procrastination that lead to feeling unable to complete daily tasks. 

by Annika Urban

Items contributed by: Andrew Feld, Gabrielle Stearns, Emily Kim, and Annika Urban