Health Highlights: Aug. 7, 2013

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Sleep Influences Food Choices: Study

Poor sleep leads to poor food choices, a new study says.

Researchers looked at 23 healthy young adults and found that they were more likely to favor unhealthy snack and junk foods, such as pizza and doughnuts, when they were sleep deprived. Brains scans revealed that sleep deprivation was linked with impaired activity in the brain's frontal lobe, which governs complex decision making, and increased activity in brain areas associated with rewards.

"What we have discovered is that high-level brain regions required for complex judgments and decisions become blunted by a lack of sleep, while more primal brain structures that control motivation and desire are amplified," study senior author Matthew Walker, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley, said in a university news release.

He added, "High-calorie foods also became significantly more desirable when participants were sleep-deprived. This combination of altered brain activity and decision-making may help explain why people who sleep less also tend to be overweight or obese."

The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.


Sports Injuries Sent 1.35 Million U.S. Kids to ER Last Year: Report

About 1.35 million American children were seen in hospital emergency departments for sports-related injuries in 2012, according to a new report.

The leading causes of sports injury-related ER visits by children ages 6-19 were sprains and strains, fractures, cuts and scrapes, and concussions, Safe Kids Worldwide said. The non-profit advocacy group noted that the cost of treating such injuries is more than $935 million a year, USA Today reported.

In 2012, concussion accounted for 12 percent of youngsters' sports injury-related trips to the ER, which works out to about one concussion-related visit every three minutes. Athletes ages 12-15 accounted for 47 percent of concussion-related visits.

Overall, one in five children who go to an ER for treatment of an injury is there for a sports injury, according to Kate Carr, Safe Kids president and CEO, USA Today reported.

"Far too many kids are arriving in emergency rooms for injuries that are predictable and preventable," Carr said.


Living to 120 Doesn't Appeal to Many Americans: Poll

Scientists are striving to extend people's lives, but 56 percent of Americans say they aren't interested in living to 120, a new survey finds.

Most respondents in the Pew Research Center poll said they consider the ideal life span to be between 79 and 100 years, with a median of 90 years, the Associated Press reported.

Current treatments to slow the aging process work in some laboratory animals, but it's not clear if they would work in people.

The average lifespan of Americans born today is nearly 79, according to the AP.

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