What Health Studies are London Universities up to this Year?

28th February 2015 Sam Atherton Study

Prospective science students in London are certainly in their element (pun intended). Whether they are looking for a specialist or multidisciplinary institution, their chances of finding  a science-based course that matches what they’re looking for in the UK capital are high.

Imperial College London is just one example of what London offers for prospective students who want to study a science-based course in the UK. The science and technology-focused institution is well known for its leadership in engineering and natural sciences. Excitingly, London university labs are regularly making new discoveries with some of the most recent studies at London universities linked with what we eat. Something we can all take an interest in. We take a look at some of the most interesting studies.

Parents’ influence on their child being overweight

A recent experiment from The London School of Economics and Political Science found that parents’ lifestyles, rather than their genes, are primarily responsible for their children being overweight.

Researchers at the Centre for Economic Performance compared the weight of biological and adopted children to that of their parents to determine whether children inherit their weight problems or whether they are the result of the environment they grow up in.

They found that when both adoptive parents are overweight, the likelihood of an adopted child being overweight is up to 21 per cent higher than when the parents are not overweight. The findings suggested that adoptive children tend to develop their weight problems due to their parents’ lifestyles rather than their genes.

When comparing children who have two biological parents who are overweight, the researchers found that 27 per cent were more likely to be overweight. This is only six per cent more than adopted children, showing that genetics only makes a small difference.

Dr Joan Costa Font, Associate Professor of Political Economy at LSE, said

‘The good news is that our research shows that we can do something about children’s weight problems. Although initiatives that target schools and children themselves are admirable, our results suggest that the primary focus should be on helping parents adopt healthier lifestyles and be better role models concerning healthy eating and physical exercise.’

Eating peanut products at a young age dramatically cuts the risk of allergy

Kings College London has also been doing some research into food-related science. They found that the risk of developing a peanut allergy is cut by over 80 per cent if babies eat peanut products.

The evidence contradicts years of advice which states to avoid giving young children peanuts, due to the fear of encouraging an allergy in later life.

Gideon Lack carried out a study with his team, they recruited hundreds of babies for a trial. Each baby had a skin test where a doctor pricked the skin and injected a trace of peanut. Then the doctors scanned for signs of some kind of immune reaction, such as a rash at the prick site. For those who had a strong reaction or were allergic to the peanut exposure, the trial ended.

Lack’s team then randomly assigned some of the babies to each  get small doses of peanut butter at least three times a week and others to totally avoid peanuts through to age five.

Among kids who had eaten peanuts, the rate of allergy was 10.6 percent. It was three times that high among children who had avoided peanuts: 35.3 percent.

These data swing the balance of evidence in favour of early consumption of peanuts as a way to cut rates of this serious food allergy.

An anti-ageing chocolate that reduces wrinkles

It may seem too good to be true, but guilt-free chocolate which promises to slow down the emergence of wrinkles  has said to have been discovered. ‘Esthechoc’, the brainchild of a Cambridge University spin-off lab, claims to boost antioxidant levels and increase circulation to prevent lines and keep skin looking beautifully youthful.

A small bar of anti-ageing chocolate contains the same amount of the antioxidant astaxanthin as a fillet of Alaskan salmon, and equal levels of free-radical fighting cocoa polyphenols as 100g of dark chocolate – let’s hope it doesn’t taste like fish!

According to its maker,  it can change the underlying skin of a 50-60 year old into that of someone in their 20s or 30s.

Creator, Dr Ivan Petyaev, a former researcher at Cambridge University, and founder of biotech firm Lycotec, said:

‘We’re using the same antioxidant that keeps goldfish gold and flamingos pink. In clinical trials we saw that inflammation in the skin starting to go down and the tissues began to benefit. We used people in their 50s and 60s and in terms of skin biomarkers we found it had brought skin back to the levels of a 20 or 30 year old. So we’ve improved the skin’s physiology. People using it claimed that their skin was better and we can see that the product is working to slow down ageing.’

Being a science-student at a London university is definitely the right place to be –  to be a part of this buzz, where major life impacting studies are taking place. To find out if we have any student rooms in London click here.

Sam Atherton

Sam Atherton

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