Today’s Headlines: Why Government-Subsidized Food May Not Be the Best Food, The Chemicals Being Removed From Wal-Mart Products, and New Regions Discovered in the Brain

The U.S. government’s agricultural subsidies encourage the production of unhealthy foods. Crops like corn and wheat and foods like meat are often turned into sweeteners, refined carbs, and processed meats, which are usually inexpensive but less nutritious. This impacts public health as a whole. “CDC researchers found that, of the 10,000 adults surveyed, those who had the highest consumption of federally subsidized foods had a 37 percent higher risk of obesity, the New York Times reported. This group was also more likely to have abdominal fat, abnormal cholesterol, and high levels of blood sugar.” The CDC is hoping that this information, in addition to past research, will encourage a change in the way subsidies are approved and distributed. (Fox)

Wal-Mart announced that eight chemicals will be removed from their products. Many of these harmful chemicals have been found in Wal-Mart’s cleaning, beauty, and personal products. “The chemicals Wal-Mart wants to remove include butylparaben, used as a preservative in cosmetics, and triclosan, used in clothing, kitchenware, furniture and toys. Triclosan is also used in toothpaste, but Wal-Mart said it would not press for its removal because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other regulators have deemed it safe for this use.” This announcement comes as a way to uphold Wal-Mart’s 2013 promise to be more transparent about the products being sold in their stores. (Reuters)

97 “territories” in the brain have been discovered. Researchers have released a new map of the brain identifying areas that didn’t exist before. “The new map identifies 180 areas for each hemisphere, including 97 new territories along with 83 previously known regions. Each area has been defined based on the fact that they are “similar within themselves, but different from their neighbors,” explained Glasser [a neuroscience doctoral student]. Each has a unique microstructural architecture (including thickness of the cortex), plus a unique pattern of activity and connectivity with other brain areas…The newly identified areas mainly reside in regions of higher cognitive function… A dozen distinct cortical areas, for instance, have been identified within the area known as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which is involved in planning, working memory and abstract thinking, among other functions.” These discoveries allow scientists and doctors to learn more about the brain which can help improve diagnoses and operations. (CNN)