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Sneeze timebombs, why hospitals are bad shoppers and what Popeye did right

By Alisdair Stirling

Our roundup of health news headlines on Wednesday 2 February.

Never visit a doctors waiting room unless you want to get sick, says the Daily Mail. US research published in Journal of the Royal Society Interface shows sneezes contain up to 40,000 virus-laden droplets, some of which leave the body at 100 miles per hour. These can remain airborne – and potentially infective – for days, the study suggests.

According to The Guardian, hospitals are wasting more than 500m a year of NHS funding because some are paying more than twice as much as others for basic supplies. A National Audit Office inquiry into the purchasing of 66,000 objects – nurses uniforms and bandages to paper clips – says each trust could save an average £900,000 annually by buying the same items at the lowest available price.

Several papers – including the Daily Telegraph – go for the ‘Popeye was right‘ line in reporting new research from Sweden´s Karolinska Institute. Researchers found that eating spinach does make muscles ‘profoundly’ more efficient.

Eating 300g of the vegetable reduced the amount of oxygen needed to power muscles by as much as five per cent when exercising, a study found. The effect is so powerful it works after just three days. The secret is not iron but nitrates which are abundant in the vegetable, according to the research published in Cell Metabolism. In the cartoon, Popeye the Sailorman famously downed cans of spinach before knocking seven bells out of his nemesis Bluto.

Spotted a story we’ve missed? Let us know, and we’ll update the digest throughout the day…

Daily digest