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Science!
July 8, 2014
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A new study released Tuesday found that children are more than twice as likely to be obese if they have an obese sibling, as opposed to if they have an obese parent. If the sibling is of the same gender, the risk is even stronger.

Researchers at the Mongan Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital looked at data from roughly 2,000 respondents to the Family Health Habits Survey, a nationwide survey of parents that looks at health between family members. The study, which will be published in the October issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found that younger children turn to older siblings as examples, whether good or bad.

"Younger children look up to their big brother or sister for behavioral cues, often seeking their approval," Dr. Mark Pachucki, the author of the study, said in a statement. "Siblings may spend more time each other than with their parents, often eating and playing sports together."

In one-child families, having an obese parent more than doubled the risk the child would be obese, though high levels of physical activity lowered the child's risk. But for households with two children, the obese parent risk factor was true for the older child, but not the younger sibling.

Having an obese older sibling created a risk more than five times greater than a non-obese sibling, but an obese parent didn't affect the younger sibling's risk. For siblings of the same gender, the results were even more alarming: The older sibling created an obesity risk 8.6 times greater for girls and 11.4 times greater for boys.

"While this study doesn't allow us to say that one sibling's obesity directly influences the other's, the associations we found are pretty interesting," Pachucki said. "Now we need to try and replicate these analyses with other national datasets and think through how to use this information to improve family-based health intervention models." Meghan DeMaria

1000 words
10:58 a.m. ET

Europe is in the middle of a colossal migration crisis, as over 350,000 refugees from the Middle East and Africa make the difficult journey across the Mediterranean in search of a better life. While parts of Eastern Europe have fought to close their borders and train stations, many migrants remain in limbo, waiting for their tickets to Germany or Austria, where they've been greeted by thousands of welcoming volunteers and human rights supporters. Even the police have stood by as new trains roll daily into stations in Munich and Vienna — not even checking passengers' papers.

But for those who haven't yet reached the end of the line, Europe's train stations have become just another stepping stone in the path toward an uncertain future. Below, a selection of sobering photos of the crisis. Jeva Lange

baltimore uprising
10:44 a.m. ET

The first public hearing for the six Baltimore police officers charged in connection with the death of Freddie Gray was held this morning to determine whether the case should be dismissed, whether the officers should be tried together, and whether State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby will stay on the case.

Outside the Circuit Courthouse, protesters have assembled, chanting "What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!" and "No justice, no peace!"

The assembly has been peaceful, and so far only one protester has been arrested after allegedly attempting to block traffic. Live updates on the hearing and protests are available from the Baltimore Sun here. Bonnie Kristian

Easing the blow
10:43 a.m. ET

The new movie Concussion apparently doesn't live up to its tagline: "Nothing hits harder than the truth."

The Will Smith–starring movie set out to highlight the unsettling issues surrounding the NFL's concussion problem. But emails uncovered by hackers reveal that Sony ultimately opted to pull its punches, lest the NFL get too upset, a report from The New York Times, based on emails uncovered by hackers, reveals.

One email said "'unflattering moments for the NFL' were deleted or changed." In another email, a Sony lawyer says that "most of the bite" was taken out of the movie "for legal reasons with the NFL and it was not a balance issue." Other messages detailed marketing tactics, including positioning the film and Smith "as not anti-football" and specifying that Smith "isn't planning to be a spokesman for what football should or shouldn't be but rather is an actor taking on an exciting challenge." Another executive wrote: "We'll develop messaging with the help of NFL consultant to ensure that we are telling a dramatic story and not kicking the hornet's nest."

While the NFL is more popular and more profitable than ever, the league has also been grappling with a major concussion problem for years. The NFL has already agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to several thousand retired players who sued the league for allegedly covering up the potentially lethal dangers of a degenerative brain disease that has been linked to football's repetitive head trauma. In Concussion, which comes out in December, Will Smith's character discovers that very disease. Watch the trailer below. Becca Stanek

This just in
10:37 a.m. ET
Mandal Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) has become the crucial 34th senator to pledge to support the nuclear deal with Iran, ensuring that President Obama will have enough votes to uphold his veto in the event that a Republican-backed resolution against the deal lands on his desk later this month. The deal between Iran, the U.S., and five other world powers relieves sanctions on Iran in exchange for the nation limiting its nuclear program. Obama's sights may now be set on securing 41 votes — the amount required to filibuster the resolution in the Senate to avoid a veto altogether. Jeva Lange

survey says
10:11 a.m. ET

Poll results released by YouGov this morning find that Americans are almost evenly split on the question of whether prostitution should be illegal, with 44 percent supporting legalization and 46 percent opposing it. Respondents' opinions varied significantly by party affiliation, with Democrats more likely than Republicans or independents to back legal prostitution:


(YouGov)

Asked whether prostitution is immoral, however, Americans are much less divided: Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) say it is wrong to hire a prostitute. Currently, all forms of prostitution are illegal in every state except Nevada, where some rural counties allow brothels (but not street solicitation). Prostitution is not regulated at the federal level. Bonnie Kristian

nice tries
9:12 a.m. ET

Ohio governor and Republican presidential hopeful John Kasich pushed the limits of social media advertising Wednesday, unveiling the first ever location-specific Snapchat campaign ad. It's got a rather porky theme:

The ad is a geofilter — a location-specific "sticker" that users can put on their photos — and Kasich's ad is also the first of its kind to be offered only during a specific time of day (in this case, the morning hours, to go along with the bacon theme).

"Budget pork isn't our taste but who doesn't love bacon and, of course, who doesn't love Snapchat?" Scott Milburn, a Kasich campaign spokesman, told Time. "You've got to have some fun with it all, right?"

Snapchat users in the early primary state of New Hampshire will have access to the bacon from 6 a.m. to noon on Wednesday. Jeva Lange

Under the sea
9:12 a.m. ET
Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images

Roughly 8,000 years ago, Doggerland was swallowed up by the rising North Sea — researchers believe a 5-meter-tall tsunami may be to blame — never to be seen again. Now, archaeologists are working to resurrect the long-buried landmass, which was "once the home to thousands of stone age settlers and was an important land bridge between Britain and Northern Europe," The Telegraph reports. Doggerland was inhabited by humans from around 10,000 BC until some 8,000 years ago, when it was flooded in what is described as a "single titanic event" at the end of the last ice age.

In a reconstruction project of unprecedented scale, archaeologists at the University of Bradford are using seabed mapping data to create a 3D chart showing the country's landscape, including its rivers, hills, and coastlines. Ships are collecting sediment samples from the submerged Doggerland to discern what plants and animals once lived there. "This is the first time that this type of reconstruction has been attempted at this detail and scale in any marine environment," David Smith from the University of Birmingham told The Telegraph.

Although University of Bradford professor Vince Gaffney says that archaeologists "have known for a long time" that Doggerland could hold valuable insights into how an ancient society reacted to climate change, he says that archaeologists "have lacked the tools to investigate this area properly." But now, archaeologists may finally be able to unearth what Gaffney says could be Doggerland's "unique and important information about early human life in Europe." Becca Stanek

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