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Food Security Roundup

July 7, 2006

In many societies, being overweight is a sign of affluence. But in the United States, it’s more common for poor people to be overweight. Why?


Underfed but overweight. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

People who live in what scientists call "food-insecure households" are more likely to be overweight and to have diabetes, according to researchers at Ohio University. The researchers say people in these environments often rely on inexpensive high fat foods, and are also more likely to fast and then binge. That primes the body to store fat. Finally, some research shows that when children are malnourished, they develop slower metabolism.

In other public health news, researchers are testing a vaccine to prevent smoking. It works by priming the body’s immune system to recognize the nicotine molecule as an enemy. Antibodies bind to the molecule, making it too large to enter the brain. If cigarette smoking doesn’t lead to a pleasurable nicotine high, smokers may find it easier to quit.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.