If you see this person:
Notify the nearest police station for this man is wanted for theft and deceit.
Obese children have as much plaque in their neck arteries as middle-aged adults, according to a study presented this week at the American Heart Association meeting in New Orleans.
This precocious buildup of fatty deposits may give kids a looming risk of heart disease and other health problems that are beyond their years too.
“My premonition is that we will see more premature angina and strokes and such,” says study author Geetha Raghuveer, MD, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Medicine.
In the study, Dr. Raghuveer and colleagues used ultrasound to measure the plaque in the carotid arteries of 70 obese children and teens with an average age of 13. (The study participants were 6 to 19 years of age.) The researchers measured the carotid artery intima-media thickness (CIMT) in the neck and found that the average CIMT was 0.45 millimeters, which is typical of adults in their mid-40s.
The researchers were not surprised that the children had narrowing of their arteries. “We have known that the carotid artery’s inner lining is thickened in children with some combination of the traditional risk factors: high cholesterol, obesity, hypertension, insulin resistance, diabetes, even exposure to tobacco smoking,” says Dr. Raghuveer.
But finding 30 years’ worth of extra fatty buildup exposes the seriousness of the problem, she says. Clogged arteries can increase the risk of stroke and heart attack.
“Saying that a child has the arteries of a 45-year-old brings it home, and so I think it’s a really nice way to catch people’s eye,” agrees Sarah De Ferranti, MD, director of the Preventative Cardiology Clinic at Children’s Hospital Boston.
She applauds the idea of counting children’s vascular age, or the state or their arteries, if it helps spur action against the ongoing epidemic of childhood obesity. “I think people are worried, but it’s worried-sitting-on-the-couch versus worried-getting-up-and-doing-something.”
Public health campaigns that try to get kids to exercise and eat healthier haven’t made much of a dent in the problem of childhood obesity, Dr. Raghuveer says; they also haven’t cut the rates of heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems that often go along with obesity.
“This study is another red flag to people out there who are managing these kids, and to parents especially,” says Dr. Raghuveer. “These kids not only have the risk factors—like high cholesterol and hypertension—but they also have damage to their arteries.”
That leaves parents and health-care professionals in charge of finding dietary and fitness solutions that work for individual children, she says. In some cases, it may even be necessary to use cholesterol-lowering statinsand blood pressure medications. All the children in the study had some kind of abnormality such as elevated total cholesterol, LDL or bad cholesterol, or triglycerides.
“Some of these children may need [drugs] either because they’re not compliant to dietary changes or because they don’t respond,” says Dr. Raghuveer.
There’s been some controversy lately about the wisdom of prescribing statins to young children. In July 2008, the American Academy of Pediatrics caused a firestorm when it revised its guidelines to say that statins were appropriate for use in some youngsters with high cholesterol. But most doctors agree that obese children with multiple risk factors might benefit.
Dr. Raghuveer’s hope is that CIMT might help doctors decide with greater precision which children might need extreme interventions, a scenario that interests Dr. De Ferranti as well.
“You can imagine in the future that someone would measure cholesterol and do one of these tests and decide, that is a child who might be right for statins,” says Dr. De Ferranti. “So we can treat the really high risk and focus on lifestyle issues for the rest of the children.”
Recently Disney yanked the eagerly anticipated Season 3 opener ofHannah Montana, the popular preteen show starring Miley Cyrus. Among diabetics, the preseason hype was positive: A major star in a major show (its viewers may be small in stature, but the show draws 3.5 million of them) was going to spend significant air time focusing on diabetes.
In prepping the episode, Disney told E!Online that it conferred with medical experts to make sure the show’s content was handled responsibly. And it timed the episode’s airing to coincide with American Diabetes Month.
But the network’s awareness effort was scuttled when a few parents of type 1 diabetics saw an episode preview and ratted it out for promoting diabetic stereotypes.
A celebrity news writer got the scoop from one of them. The unnamed parent said the episode, in which shaggy-haired Oliver is diagnosed with diabetes and Hannah Montana tries to keep him from eating sugar, reinforced bad stereotypes about type 1 diabetes, such as type 1 diabetics can’t have sugar (they can) and sugar causes type 1 diabetes (it doesn’t). According to the source, Oliver is also never shown taking insulin or checking his blood sugar (both of which are realities of type 1 diabetes).
I have not seen the episode (though I have seen the show before—for months my four year old has been waging an unsuccessful campaign to watch it), but the title alone, “No Sugar, Sugar,” gives me an idea of where the Disney folks ran afoul. Sugar has been associated with diabetes for many decades; around some elderly people you’ll still hear the phrase “sugar diabetes.” But it’s an outdated reference.
Scientists don’t know the specific cause of type 1 diabetes, but they do know that the body’s ability to produce insulin is either damaged or destroyed due to an autoimmune response. Genetic and environmental factors are at the top of the list of possible causes, but sugar is not one of them.
Type 1 diabetes advocates often make this point, especially when they feel efforts to fight the disease are being overshadowed by its bigger brother, type 2 diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are 24 million diabetics in the U.S.—only 3 million have type 1.
Type 2 diabetes is not specifically caused by overconsumption of sugar, either, although obesity is considered a leading risk factor. But there are plenty of type 2 diabetics, like me, who were not obese or severely overweight when they were diagnosed.
But the perception that there is only one kind of diabetic and that diabetics can only get the disease by eating too much sugar (or by making other poor diet choices) is prevalent. It bothers type 1 diabetics so much that a few have humorously campaigned to rename the disease.
Though I’m type 2, I cringe when I run into the perception too. Like when I tell someone I’m diabetic, and they reply “But you’re not fat.” Or at the holidays, when someone holds out a plate of cookies for me, but suddenly remembers my glucose intolerance, and pulls it back. “Oh, you can’t have sugar, can you?”
I’m sure this is the point those type 1 parents were making when they complained to Disney—with so much misunderstanding about these two related diseases already out in the public, why add more? I’m not normally a fan of such efforts to tamp down a network’s efforts to portray a controversial topic. It usually smacks of overreaction and borders on censorship.
But if my daughter saw this Hannah Montana episode as described, how would she react? Would she chuck her Halloween stash or empty the sugar jar because she thinks Daddy’s not supposed to have sugar? Maybe Disney did the right thing.
We’ll see later this season. The episode is being reviewed and the network says it plans to make changes and air it.
Within hours of settling the U.S. presidential election on Tuesday, spam seen worldwide began incorporating the name and image of Barack Obama, according to various security vendors. The U.K.’s Sophos reported 60 percent of all spam seen by the lab on Wednesday was in some way Obama related.
One piece of spam alleges to contain a link to video of Obama’s acceptance speech. If you follow the video link within the e-mail message you will be taken to a Web page where you’ll be asked to update your Adobe Flash Player with a file, adobe_flash9.exe, first. This is not an official Adobe update file and downloading this file may in turn infect your computer with a Trojan.
Meanwhile, Websense is reporting a separate threat. An e-mail appears to be an interview with the new president elect. The e-mail features embedded links to a video site that attempts to install a file, BarackObama.exe. Downloading this file may infect your computer with a Trojan.
New research suggests that teens who spend the most time watching sexually charged television shows are twice as likely to become pregnant or impregnate someone else.
The findings, reported in the November issue ofPediatrics, don’t prove that sexy programming leads directly to pregnancy.
Still, parents should pay close attention to what their kids watch, said study author Anita Chandra, a researcher with Rand Corp.
“Not a lot of content on TV talks about the potential negative consequences of sex,” Chandra said. “Characters engage in sexual talk or activity, give positive attributes to sex, and there’s little discussion about the risks and contraceptive use.”
As a result, she said, kids might become interested in sex without realizing the potential pitfalls.
Previous research has linked the watching of sexually charged TV programs to sexual activity in teens, Chandra said. The new study aimed to look for a possible link to teen pregnancy.
About one in every three girls in the United States gets pregnant before age 20, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2006, more than 435,000 infants were born to mothers aged 15 to 19, and more than 80 percent of the births were estimated to have been unintended.
Federal statistics show that while the pregnancy and birth rates have declined by about a third among girls and women in that age group since 1991, birth rates in that group actually grew in 2006.
In the new study, researchers surveyed 2,003 children aged 12 to 17 in 2001, and then followed up with many of them in 2002 and 2004.
Researchers narrowed down the teens surveyed to those who were sexually active. After adjusting the survey results to take into account factors like race and parents’ education, they found that those who watched the most sexual programming were still twice as likely to have gotten pregnant or gotten someone else pregnant since the start of the survey, compared to those who watched the least of that kind of programming.
The researchers declined to mention the TV shows that they considered to be sexually charged. Disclosing the shows would divert attention “from our core message that this kind of programming can have an impact on teen health, including pregnancy risk,” Chandra stressed.
Overall, 14 percent of those in the survey reported getting pregnant or impregnating someone else after they were first interviewed.
The findings “add to the growing body of evidence that what children see on screen affects their behavior in real life,” said Dr. Dimitri A. Christakis, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington who studies kids and television.
“We know that children imitate the behavior they see on screen, and that makes these results much more credible,” he said.
Still, it’s possible that there’s some other reason for the findings, he said, adding that “no one can be positive that there isn’t some other explanation.”
Studying the overall software security landscape for the first half of 2008, Microsoft has reported a general decrease in vulnerabilities. However, malware itself is on the rise. In addition, makers of malicious software have continued to target applications rather than operating systems, according to Microsoft.
Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) on Monday released its Security Intelligence Report (MSIR), which covers the first half of 2008. The report, according to the software maker, is an in-depth look at the overall software security threat environment. It’s based on data received from hundreds of millions of computers around the globe.
During the first half of 2008, the report found, software makers and security vendors made significant inroads in protecting their customers from malicious threats. As a result, reports of vulnerabilities have gone down.
That said, however, the actual threat posed by cyber criminals and malware continues to grow.
“The boost in malware just goes to show that vulnerabilities and malware/exploits do not follow a direct relationship, despite the fact that malware and exploits are based on security vulnerabilities. Tracking the number of reported vulnerabilities shows the efforts of the security community to thwart attacks. Tracking the malware and exploits shows the efforts of hackers and cyber criminals,” Chris Rodriguez, a Frost & Sullivan analyst, told TechNewsWorld.
A Vulnerable Place
The MSIR shows that malware and potentially unwanted software removed from PCs worldwide increased more than 43 percent in the first half of 2008. While both Trojan downloaders and high-severity vulnerabilities rose sharply — from just about 15 percent of all unwanted software in the second half of 2007 to more than 30 percent in 2008 — worms, backdoors, password stealers and monitoring tools dropped significantly, from 15 percent to 10 percent.
Despite differences in the methodologies used by Microsoft and Frost & Sullivan, Rodriguez said that Microsoft’s findings are very similar to what his research firm has found.
“The number of total vulnerabilities reported climbed steadily and peaked in early 2007. The total reported decreased each quarter until early 2008, at which point our research showed a slight increase. Most notably, our research showed the same drastic increase in threat severity in mid-2007,” he said.
“In Q3 of 2007, 63 percent of reported vulnerabilities were rated as high severity, and low severity vulnerabilities accounted for only 3 percent of total vulnerabilities. This jump coincides with the release of the new version of the Common Vulnerability Scoring System, which was meant to more accurately portray the security and threat landscape,” he continued.
Apps at Risk
Microsoft’s report suggests that online attackers continue to shift focus away from the operating system and toward applications. In the first six months of 2008, nine out of 10 newly reported vulnerabilities affected applications; the rest aimed at OSes.
Even so, Rodriguez said, vulnerabilities are not necessarily the right way to measure the actual security of an application. “Every application has a set number of vulnerabilities depending on how big and complex it is. When it comes down to it, they are developed by humans and lower numbers of reported vulnerabilities are simply less tested,” he explained.
Compared to Windows Vista, XP is a little more tested, he said. “That’s why a lot of enterprises are sticking with that and haven’t made the jump [to Vista]. That vulnerabilities have been decreasing and malware has been increasing points to a shift from hackers trying to hack these very ubiquitous applications to more Web-based application attacks is because these are largely untested.”
As more companies deploy business critical applications online in order to make their services available to customers 24/7, concern over their relative security grows. Whether an app is developed and deployed in-house or outsourced to a third party, inadequate security testing is a problem.
“They represent a dangerous attack vector. It’s the availability. These Web applications have to be available to the public 24/7 and are tied to back-end systems with sensitive data and servers and critical infrastructurethat an attacker might not be able to get to otherwise,” Rodriguez noted.
Chicago police have linked a gun found last week in a vacant lot to the killings of Oscar-winning actress and singer Jennifer Hudson’s mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew.
Police found the .45 caliber gun in a vacant lot about a block from where the body of Hudson’s nephew, Julian King, was discovered Monday morning, ABC News Chicago affiliate WLS-TV reported.
Forensic testing on the gun showed it to be the same weapon used to kill all three people, police said.
Police have not named a suspect in the killings, but Chicago Police Department Superintendent Jody Weis said that identifying the weapon used in the crimes was a positive step.
“We’ve still got a lot more to do,” said Supt. Jody Weis, Chicago Police Department. “There’s still a lot more forensic examination to do. Right now, we’re extraordinarily pleased and satisfied that the weapon has been identified as the weapon that has been used in the homicides. And there’s still more work to do which we are doing at this time.”
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms traced the gun to the original owner in Michigan, who had reported it stolen, WLS-TV reported.
“Recovering the weapon was a good sign. It gives us some additional clues. We’re going to keep running them down. Like I mentioned before, I am extremely confident that this case will be solved,” Weis said Thursday, the day after a police trainee found the gun.
Though he has not officially been called a suspect, William Balfour, the estranged husband of Jennifer Hudson’s sister, is a person of interest in the case, police said.
Balfour, 27, has reportedly refused to take a polygraph test and has stopped cooperating with investigators. He is being held on a parole violation.
Julian King’s body was found Monday in the back seat of a white Chevrolet Suburban that police had been looking for since Oct. 24, when he went missing and Hudson’s mother and brother were found shot to death in their home on Chicago’s South Side.
The vehicle was found about 10 miles southeast of the Hudson family home, and police said that the boy had been shot multiple times.
Hudson’s mother, Darnell Donerson, 57, was found dead on the living room floor by her other daughter, Julia Hudson. Officers later discovered Hudson’s brother, Jason Hudson, 29, in a bedroom.
Police say until they find evidence to the contrary, they believe one person is responsible for all the killings.
Records from the Illinois Department of Corrections show Balfour is on parole and spent nearly seven years in prison for attempted murder, vehicular hijacking and possessing a stolen vehicle.
According to their marriage license, Balfour and Julia Hudson were married on Nov. 14, 2006. Neighbors and his family members said the couple had been separated for about a year.
Balfour’s mother, Michelle Davis Balfour, said Donerson had ordered Balfour to move out of the family’s home last winter, according to local reports.
According to neighbor Bernice Russell, there was “a lot of tension” between the pair, and Russell overheard another neighbor say that Balfour had threatened to kidnap Julia’s son a couple weeks ago.
Russell said as far as she knew, Balfour was living with his girlfriend, with whom he is expecting a child. The Tribune reported that police had interviewed her and that her account contradicted Balfour’s alibi the day of the killings.
Russell’s husband Joe said he had been “very dismayed” by the slayings. “I’ve never seen this kind of violence before,” he said about his neighborhood of 17 years. “They were nice people.”
The tragic events come just before Jennifer Hudson was scheduled to embark on a world tour today to promote her self-titled debut album with its chart-topping single, “Spotlight.”
Hudson, whose star had been on the rise after she was ousted on Season 3 of “American Idol,” was featured in the summer blockbuster “Sex and the City” and stars in the film “The Secret Life of Bees.”
In 2007, she hit superstardom with her debut film role in “Dreamgirls,” earning a best supporting actress Academy Award for her role as rising singer turned down-and-out single mother Efie White — a role Hudson said she always wanted to play.
The singer also recently announced her engagement to David Otunga, best known for his stint on VH1’s reality show “I Love New York.”