Today’s Headlines: Sandwiches, Intense Experiences and Epidurals

Sandwich eaters consume more sodium and calories. Nothing beats the versatility of the sandwich, a food concept that has spawned thousands of variations. But according to a new study, the popularity of the sandwich may be doing some health damage. “On any given day, nearly half of American adults eat at least one sandwich, which accounts for one-fifth of the recommended daily sodium intake. Depending on the person, sandwiches can contribute 30 to 46 percent of daily sodium intake recommendations [of 2,300mg per day].” That’s concerning because salt contributes to high blood pressure, which in turn can lead to heart disease and stroke. But salt wasn’t the only culprit. “Researchers also found that those who ate a sandwich consumed about 300 more calories than those who did not.” Fortunately, the sandwich’s versatility may also be its salvation. The researchers point out that they key to removing sodium and calories are to pick healthy ingredients to slot between those slices of bread. (Fox)

Sharing experiences makes them more intense. It’s long been known that having other people at your birthday is more fun than celebrating alone. A new study out this week indicates that may apply to more than just yearly celebrations. “In the small study, subjects shared chocolate with someone they thought was another study participant. In each case, they were given two pieces of chocolate. One was eaten at the same time that the fake participant also ate a piece, while the other was eaten while the researcher pretended to work on another task. Even though the chocolate was actually from the same bar, subjects rated it as tastier and more enjoyable when someone else was eating it, too.” It turns out the effect isn’t limited to pleasurable experiences. “The researchers then performed the same test with bitter, unpleasant chocolate. Sure enough, they rated the pieces they ate with a partner as more disgusting than those they ate alone.” According to the authors, this shows just how heavily we’re influenced by the presence of people around us. (Washington Post)

Timing of epidural unimportant in the outcome of labor. For years, debate has smoldered about when a woman in labor should receive an epidural. Fear that giving it too early would lead to a C-section led many doctors to wait until late labor to give any pain meds, in spite of the discomfort many women experience during the interval. “But a new formal review of past studies, published by The Cochrane Library, found that length of labor and the need for surgical intervention did not differ between women who received epidurals during early or later stages of labor.” The study combined work done by previous researchers on a total of 16,000 women at all stages of labor. “There were no differences between the two groups in the need for C-sections or other interventions, such as forceps, during labor. There was also no difference in the length of the second or ‘pushing’ stage of labor between the two groups.” The authors conclude that there’s therefore no reason to wait to give anesthesia if a woman in early labor wants it. (Reuters)