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Slow walking speed in midlife linked with faster aging

New research finds that people who tend to walk more slowly at the age of 45 present with signs of premature accelerated aging, both physically and cognitively. Walking speed may be a powerful predictor of lifespan and health. A recent study, reported on by Medical News Today, found that the faster a person walks, the longer they may live, with older adults benefitting the most from a brisk pace. Medical professionals have long used gait speed as a marker of health and fitness among older adults, but the new research asks a slightly different question: Does a slow gait speed in midlife indicate and predict accelerated aging? Line J. H. Rasmussen, Ph.D., a researcher in the department of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University, in Durham, NC, and colleagues set out to answer this question by examining data from 904 study participants. Rasmussen and the team published their findings in the journal JAMA Network Open. "Doctors know that slow walkers in their 70s and 80s tend to die sooner than fast walkers their same age," adds senior author Terrie E. Moffitt, the Nannerl O. Keohane University professor of psychology at Duke University and senior author of the study. "But this study covered the period from the preschool years to midlife and found that a slow walk is a problem sign decades before old age." says Prof. Terrie E. Moffitt.

(Credits: www.medicalnewstoday.com)

Can more vegetarian options tempt carnivores away from meat?

With climate change on people's minds and livestock farming in trouble for greenhouse gas emissions, many people see vegetarianism as a positive step. A study suggests that offering a greater vegetarian selection could be a way to lure meat eaters into choosing more veggie meals. By passing gas, ruminants, such as cattle and sheep, pass methane into the atmosphere. Methane is 25 times more powerful at trapping heat than carbon dioxide — and concentrations have more than doubled in the last 200 years. So, lowering methane levels in the atmosphere could have a significantly positive impact on the environment, which is why vegetarianism seems like a good solution. But, the question remains — how do you get meat lovers to choose vegetables over meat meals? A new study from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom shows that the solution could be as simple as adding more vegetarian options to menus. The paper appears in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study looked at the sales data of over 94,000 meals in three unnamed Cambridge college cafeterias over a year. It found that by doubling vegetarian choices to 2 out of 4 of the meal options available, the sales of vegetarian meals increased by 40.8%–78.8%. This is the first major study to see whether offering different food options would encourage people to make healthier choices both for the planet and public health. "This study is important because high meat diets are incompatible with a safe climate, so we need to find effective, simple, non-controversial approaches to get us all to eat more plant based food." Says Lead author Emma Garnett. Garnett, a conservationist within Cambridge University's department of zoology, added, "This solution still needs testing in other countries with other demographics to see if our results still hold." An online national survey in the U.S. by the Vegetarian Resource Center (VRC) through The Harris Poll found that only 4% of adults were vegetarian or vegan. However, 46% of the 2,027 adults canvassed always or sometimes ordered vegetarian meals when out and about 20% of those ordered vegan options. The VRC called on food companies and restaurants to provide more vegan dishes. Garnett hopes that many cafes and other eating venues will reduce the number of meat options they offer and replace them with vegetarian options. The team claims that its study has helped change food policy at the university. Its catering service has removed beef and lamb from its menus and increased the number of vegetarian options it offers. (Credits: www.medicalnewstoday.com)