Today’s Headlines: Altitude & Obesity, Hearing Loss Associated With Dementia, and Skipping the Salt

The Higher You Live, The Thinner You Are: Researchers have discovered that “Americans who live where the air is the thinnest are less likely to be obese than those in low-lying areas.” They assessed data on more than 400,000 people in the US and found that “Americans who lived closest to sea level were four to five times more likely to be obese, compared to people who live well above sea level in places like Colorado. However, the lead researcher mentions that “the results don’t mean people should move to higher altitudes to lose weight.” (Reuters)

Reducing Dietary Salt May Save Hundreds of Thousands of Lives: A new study published in the American Heart Association’s journal, Hypertension, found that “steadily reducing sodium in the foods we buy and eat could save a half-million Americans from dying premature deaths over a decade.” An immediate 40% reduction in salt intake could also result in 850,000 lives saved this decade. The estimates come from three separate teams from the University of California-San Francisco, Harvard University’s School of Public Health, and Canada’s Simon Fraser University “crunching the numbers” and reaching “estimates independently.” Americans consume over 3,600 mg of sodium daily, and the teams agreed if this were to be reduced to 1,500 mg, “as many as 1.2 million premature deaths could be averted over the course of a decade.” (LA Times)

Hearing Loss Connected With Increased Risk of Dementia: After examining nearly 2,000 older adults, researchers have found that those with hearing loss had a 30%-40% “faster rate of loss of thinking and memory abilities.” Some experts presume the connection relates to the “isolation” or “loneliness” that hearing loss can bring. The worse the hearing loss, they discovered, the worse the dementia symptoms. Further studies will focus on the effects of hearing aids on cognitive decline. (New York Times)