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The gene that links Alzheimers and diabetes, why there are more fat kids than ever and is legionnaires on its way out?

A round-up of the health news headlines on Friday 15 June

The Guardian reports that a second man has died of legionnaires disease in Edinburgh. The man, from the Gorgie area of the city which has suffered the worst from the legionnaires outbreak, is reported to have had ‘significant pre-existing underlying health conditions'.

His death comes as the outbreak appears to be in decline. On Thursday the Scottish government announced that there were no new cases, leaving the total of suspected cases at 48. And over the last week two factories in the area suspected as sources of the outbreak were ordered to shut down and clean their cooling towers.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish health secretary, said: ‘Despite this sad and tragic development, it remains the case that we believe the outbreak to have peaked. However, we continue to monitor the situation carefully.'

 

The Telegraph reports that the true number of obese children could be much higher than estimated. Current figures put the national childhood obesity rate at three in ten children aged 2-15. However, this figure is calculated according to Body Mass Index (BMI) and does not take into account where on the body the extra fat is carried.

Researchers from Leeds Metropolitan University claim that if waist circumference were measured as well as BMI, four out of ten children would be classed as overweight or obese.

They measured 14,500 children's BMI, waist circumference and waist to hip ratio and found six per cent of boys and 15 per cent of girls were overweight but would not have been identified using BMI alone.

It is fat around the middle that increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. Shockingly, the researchers found that 2,000 11-year-old girls were as big around the middle as a fat adult female, with a waist circumference exceeding 80cm – the point at which the diabetes risk increases.

 

The BBC brings us news of  positive discoveries. It has long been known that people with diabetes have a much higher risk of developing Alzheimer's, but scientists were at a loss as to why.

Now US researchers say a study of worms may have provided answers: an Alzheimer's gene also plays a role in the way insulin is processed.

Professor Chris Li, who led the study, said: ‘People with type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of dementia. The insulin pathways are involved in many metabolic processes, including helping to keep the nervous system healthy.'

Mark Johnston, editor-in-chief of the journal Genetics, said: ‘We know there's a link between Alzheimer's and diabetes, but until now it was somewhat of a mystery. This finding could open new doors for treating and preventing the disease.'

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