Today’s Headlines: Cooking Shows, Energy Drinks and Big Ears

Cooking shows may help pack on the pounds. Cooking shows have become exceedingly popular and the offerings come in all different flavors. But your die-hard watching of the latest cooking show may be helping you gain weight according to a new study out this week. “The study involved 500 women, aged 20 to 35. Participants filled out online surveys that included questions about their height and weight, and whether they preferred to cook from scratch or turn to books and television shows for inspiration. Then they categorized women into doers and viewers. Doers were women who watched the shows and then cooked from scratch and viewers watched shows but did not cook. Doers were, on average, 11 pounds heavier than viewers.” The researchers point out that the recipes on these shows are often geared more at entertaining, which means they’re often loaded with carbs and fat and may come in large portions. According to the authors, “If you want to make what you see on those shows, tune into the healthier cooking shows, or take the recipes you like and make them healthier. Make sure the portion sizes are correct and maybe save those special fried Oreo cookies for the special occasions.” (CBS)

Energy drinks boost your blood pressure. Energy drinks make all sorts of claims about how they bring your energy up when your levels get low, but new research has found they may be boosting your blood pressure as well. “Researchers found that energy drinks can raise blood pressure to potentially unhealthy levels. The effect was far more prominent in young adults who did not consume caffeine regularly. The research team gave a can of a commercially available energy drink to 25 healthy volunteers, whose ages ranged from 19 to 40. On a different day, the participants drank the same amount of a placebo drink. The researchers measured the participants’ heart rate and blood pressure before and after the drinks. The participants experienced a more marked rise in blood pressure after consuming the energy drink than after drinking the placebo. The participants’ average systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) increased by 3 percent more after they drank an energy drink, compared with the placebo drink.” While that amount might not seem like much, the researchers point out that even a small increase can be dangerous in some. “At a population level, an increase of three or four points on a systolic blood pressure reading could mean a significant increase in deaths from stroke. Scientists do not know whether it is the caffeine, taurine or other ingredients found in energy drinks — or a combination of ingredients — that adversely affects the heart.” (Fox)

If you have big ears, people don’t seem to mind. Having ears that seem too big or that stick out too much might seem like cause for embarrassment, but a new study out this week has found those self-conscious about their ears shouldn’t be so concerned. “To see how much people really notice protruding ears and if seeing them triggers any biased assumptions about personality, the surgeons showed 20 adult volunteers pictures of 20 children aged five to 19 as they were and digitally altered to make the ears sit closer to the head. The observers rated the kids in all the images on 10 personality traits by scoring them on a scale of one to 10 representing pairs of opposite extremes, such as friendly-unfriendly, creative-uninspired and honest-dishonest. Participants rated the kids equally assiduous, intelligent and likeable regardless of ear type. In fact, people spent the most time focusing on protruding ears in the unaltered photographs, and those images scored higher on assiduousness, likeability and intelligence than the doctored images.” (Reuters)