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couple-mistletoeHere is a little something to think about before you lean in to smooch your sweetie beneath the mistletoe this holiday season: with just one kiss you could be sharing millions bacteria with your special someone, according to a new study conducted by researchers in the Netherlands.

All it takes is about 10 seconds of lip locking to swap up to 80 million microbes, say researchers, who worked with nearly two dozen couples to determine the effects of “intimate kissing” on the bacterial environment in the mouth. After the couples answered several questions about how often (and for how long) they kissed each day, one person from each duo was asked to drink a probiotic beverage containing beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria before kissing his or her partner.

After taking an oral swab of each participant’s mouth, researchers determined that the amount of probiotic bacteria in the saliva of the receiver (the participant who did not drink the probiotic beverage) was, on average, three times higher—indicating about 80 billion bacteria had been exchanged during just 10 seconds of kissing. From their findings, researchers also determined that couples who kiss as often as nine times a day have oral bacterial communities that are roughly identical.

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belly-fatObesity continues to be one of the greatest health challenges in the United States. More than a third of all adults are overweight or obese, and roughly the same goes for our children and teens. If we keep heading in the same direction the impact on our national health could be devastating, which is why experts continue to examine the cause and effect of carrying excess weight in the hope of finding a solution. Here are two new obesity studies making headlines:

Obesity Shortens Life Expectancy
Scientists in Canada recently determined that being obese can take years off your life—and the younger you are obese, the worse off you may be. Using data gathered from national health survey results, a team of researchers developed a computer model to project disease outcomes in overweight and obese adults (compared with those of normal weight) between the ages of 20 and 79.

They focused in particular on heart disease and diabetes and found that obesity is associated with a higher risk of both, which significantly reduces not just life expectancy but the years of “healthy life” an individual should have. Those who were overweight (with a BMI of 25) lost between 0 to 3 years, while obese people (BMI 30+) lost 1 to 6 years and the severely obese (BMI 35+) saw their life expectancy decreased by 1 to 8 years. Not only that, but the long-term effects were more severe in younger overweight and obese people.

Experts Urge Policies to Reduce Childhood Obesity
Focusing on childhood obesity in particular, results of a recent study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine offer specific interventions for reducing obesity among children and adolescents. Of the 26 recommended policies examined, three were chosen based on projected effectiveness: after-school activity programs; an excise tax on sodas and sugary beverages (which, in turn, would channel money toward obesity prevention programs); and a ban on fast food ads aimed at children. Experts determined that all three policies, if put into action, would reduce childhood obesity prevalence in America by 2032.

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