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Children choose fizzy drinks over fruit and veg, green light for home HIV test and new laser test to predict life expectancy

A round up of the morning’s health headlines on Monday 12 August

The Daily Mail reports this morning that a new simple home test for HIV is on its way. The Government hopes a change in the law banning home testing means people with HIV will be diagnosed earlier.

The move comes as public health experts warn the number of people infected with HIV in the UK is at a record level of nearly 100,000, but a quarter of people with HIV don’t know they are infected.

According to the paper, public health minister Anna Soubry is expected to say: ‘I hope that by removing the ban on self-testing kits people will be able to choose the right time and right surroundings to take a test and, if positive, help them get the best treatment available.

Elsewhere the Guardian reports that children are more likely to have a can of sugary drink each day than they are to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables, while the vast majority have less than an hour’s exercise each day.

Researchers backed by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) found 80% of children in England are not eating the recommended five-a-day vegetables and fruit, while 39% of girls and 43% of boys get through a can of fizzy drink each day. And at age 13, some 85% of girls and 73% of boys do not take the recommended minimum of an hour of physical activity each day.

‘This is simply unacceptable,’ said Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the BHF.

Finally, the Mirror reports that Lancaster University researchers have come up with a new laser test to rapidly identify diseases including cancer and dementia and predict a person’s life expectancy. The technique – rather alarmingly dubbed the ‘death test’ – comes in a wrist watch type device and analyses endothelial cells lining blood capillaries to determine how well they are functioning and thereby estimate the individual’s biological age.

The scientists say the device could be available to GPs and hospitals within three years for risk prediction.

One of the physics researchers involved, Professor Aneta Stefanovska said: ‘I’m hoping we will build a database that will become larger and larger, so every person measured can be compared against it. We will then be in a position to tell them the values [that] predict a certain number of years.’

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