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Pleas to exempt the NHS from TTIP, the ‘learning impairment’ of female obesity, and shorts in the workplace

A round-up of the morning’s health news headlines on Friday 18 July.

Unions have appealed to David Cameron to exempt the NHS from a major US-EU trade agreement, over fears that it could lead to the irreversible privatisation of the health system.

The Independent reports that while negotiators claim the NHS will not be part of the TTIP deal, Unite say the deal will make it difficult for future UK governments to reverse privatisation of any part of the health service. This is due to TTIP proposals that enable private companies to sue countries that threaten to harm their profits.

Unite’s general secretary, Len McCluskey said: ‘There is no doubt the NHS is at risk because of TTIP. David Cameron must now make clear he intends to exempt the NHS from TTIP, otherwise our health service could be irreversibly sold to American corporations.’

Obese women display signs of learning impairment when it comes to food, reports the BBC. A study at Yale School of Medicine suggests that women are more likely to display this behaviour than men due to concerns they have around food.

Researchers at Yale School of Medicine tested the ability of 135 men and women to learn and predict the appearance of food or money on a series of coloured flashcards. Participants were told that they would be given whatever was on these ‘reward’ cards, which were presented in a sequence. The study showed that even when other factors were accounted for, obese women tended to overestimate how often the pictures of food appeared.

Researchers believe that the study could help develop new ways to tackle obesity. Study author Prof Ifat Levy said: ‘This is not a general learning impairment, as obese women had no problem learning when the reward was money rather than food. An intriguing possibility is that, by modifying flawed association between food and environmental cues, we may be able to change eating patterns.’

And finally - what are you wearing as you read this? If the answer is ‘an increasingly sticky suit’, then look away now - the Telegraph reports that many public sector workers will be wearing shorts to work today, following an appeal from unions including Unite to let workers ‘dress down for summer’.

The appeal was made in recognition of the heatwave that yesterday saw some parts of the UK become warmer than Barbados. Today temperatures are expected to reach up to 32C in sheltered areas.

Public health officials have warned that Muslims fasting for Ramadan should be particularly careful. Public Health England has also advised people to avoid venturing outside and to ‘eat salad, drink plenty of water and avoid extreme physical exertion’.

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