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Photo of your face can predict your BMI

Your face can reveal a lot about you – even body mass index. Guodong Guo and colleagues at West Virginia University in Morgantown have developed an algorithm that can analyse a mugshot and predict that person's BMI, according to New Scientist.
BMI is a standard health metric that's equal to a person's weight (in kilograms) divided by the square of their height (in metres). Someone with a BMI over 30 is acknowledged as obese and below 18.5 as underweight.

The software assesses seven weight-related components in a face image, including the ratios of cheekbone width to jaw width, face length to cheekbone width and the average distance between eyebrow and eye.

They then ran the program across images of 14,500 faces of people with known BMIs. The predicted BMIs were mostly within two or three points of the person's actual BMI.
Guo said that tweaking the software to analyse more facial features should improve the results.

He added that the software could be used in smart health applications, relating face images to BMI and associated health risks. Or on online dating sites, where it could help you assess the BMI and state of health of people you might date.

Malaria’s deadly grip on blood cells revealed

Researchers have identified how malaria parasites growing inside red blood cells stick to the sides of blood vessels in severe cases of malaria.

The discovery by researchers at the University of Copenhagen, in collaboration with Seattle Biomedical Research Institute, the University of Oxford, NIMR Tanzania and Retrogenix LTD, may advance the development of vaccines or drugs to combat severe malaria by stopping the parasites attaching to blood vessels.

Though researchers have known for over a century that red blood cells infected with malaria parasites can kill their host by sticking to the sides of blood vessels, the binding mechanism associated with the most lethal forms of malaria was unknown. Now, the researchers show that the parasite binds a protein in blood vessel walls called endothelial protein C (EPCR), which is involved with regulating blood coagulation and the inflammatory response.

Malaria parasites grow in red blood cells and stick to the endothelial lining of blood vessels through a large family of parasite proteins called PfEMP1.

This way, the parasite avoids being carried with the blood to the spleen, where it would otherwise be destroyed.One of the most aggressive forms of malaria parasite binds in brain blood vessels, causing a disease called cerebral malaria.

Formula-feeding in infants could lead to obesity

A new study suggests that infants fed formula, rather than breast milk, experience metabolic stress that could play a part in the long-recognized link between formula-feeding and an increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and other conditions in adult life.
Carolyn Slupsky and colleagues explain that past research showed a link between formula-feeding and a higher risk for chronic diseases later in life.

Gaps exist, however, in the scientific understanding of the basis for that link.
The scientists turned to rhesus monkeys, stand-ins for human infants in such research, that were formula-fed or breast-fed for data to fill those gaps.

Their analysis of the monkeys’ urine, blood and stool samples identified key differences between formula-fed and breast-fed individuals.

It also produced hints that reducing the protein content of infant formula might be beneficial in reducing the metabolic stress in formula-fed infants.

“Our findings support the contention that infant feeding practice profoundly influences metabolism in developing infants and may be the link between early feeding and the development of metabolic disease later in life,” the researchers said.

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