Livin' on the MDedge

Elderly mice receive the gift of warmth


Steal from the warm, give to the cold

If there’s one constant in life other than taxes, it’s elderly people moving to Florida. The Sunshine State’s reputation as a giant retirement home needs no elaboration, but why do senior citizens gravitate there? Well, many reasons, but a big one is that, the older you get, the more susceptible and sensitive you are to the cold. And now, according to a new study, we may have identified a culprit.

Senior woman getting out of an outdoor pool Elena Korenbaum/iStockphoto

Researchers from Yale University examined a group of mice and found that the older ones lacked ICL2 cells in their fatty tissue. These cells, at least in younger mice, help restore body heat when exposed to cold temperatures. Lacking these cells meant that older mice had a limited ability to burn their fat and raise their temperature in response to cold.

Well, job done, all we need to do now is stimulate production of ICL2 cells in elderly people, and they’ll be able to go outside in 80-degree weather without a sweater again. Except there’s a problem. In a cruel twist of fate, when the elderly mice were given a molecule to boost ICL2 cell production, they actually became less tolerant of the cold than at baseline. Oops.

The scientists didn’t give up though, and gave their elderly mice ICL2 cells from young mice. This finally did the trick, though we have to admit, if that treatment does eventually scale up to humans, the prospect of a bunch of senior citizens taking ICL2 cells from young people to stay warm does sound a bit like a bad vampire movie premise. “I vant to suck your immune cell group 2 innate lymphoid cells!” Not the most pithy catch phrase in the world.

Grocery store tapping your subconscious? It’s a good thing

We all know there’s marketing and functionality elements to grocery stores and how they’re set up for your shopping pleasure. But what if I told you that the good old supermarket subconscious trick works on how healthy food decisions are?

Produce displayed on grocery store shelves PxHere

In a recent study, researchers at the University of Southampton in England found that if you placed a wider selection of fruits and vegetables near the entrances and more nonfood items near checkouts, sales decreased on the sweets and increased on the produce. “The findings of our study suggest that a healthier store layout could lead to nearly 10,000 extra portions of fruit and vegetables and approximately 1,500 fewer portions of confectionery being sold on a weekly basis in each store,” lead author Dr. Christina Vogel explained.

You’re probably thinking that food placement studies aren’t new. That’s true, but this one went above and beyond. Instead of just looking at the influence placement has on purchase, this one took it further by trying to reduce the consumers’ “calorie opportunities” and examining the effect on sales. Also, customer loyalty, patterns, and diets were taken into account across multiple household members.

The researchers think shifting the layouts in grocery stores could shift people’s food choices, producing a domino effect on the population’s overall diet. With obesity, diabetes, and cardiology concerns always looming, swaying consumers toward healthier food choices makes for better public health overall.

So if you feel like you’re being subconsciously assaulted by veggies every time you walk into Trader Joe’s, just know it’s for your own good.


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