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Archive for Sunday, May 23, 2004

Family briefs

May 23, 2004

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Researchers ask why pets, owners look alike

You've noticed it at the park, the veterinarian's office and even in many children's books: People often bear a striking resemblance to their pets.

California researchers decided to test the idea, to see if people tend to pick dogs that look like themselves, or whether dog and person somehow grow to look more alike over time, as husbands and wives seem to do.

The researchers photographed 45 dogs and their owners at three dog parks and gathered information about the breeds and how long owners and pets had been together. They then asked 28 students to try to match the people to the pooches.

The students were able to match dogs to their owners, but only when the dogs were purebred.

"The results suggest that when people pick a pet, they seek one that, at some level, resembles them," the researchers wrote in the May issue of the journal Psychological Science.

'Terrible two' avoidance cuts down on obesity

A simple way to help prevent obesity, pediatrician William Sears tells BabyTalk magazine, is to avoid two food ingredients that provide nothing but empty calories: corn syrup and hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.

You'll find one or both listed among the ingredients of many packaged cookies, crackers, bakery goods and other snacks. Foods containing the "terrible two" teach children to prefer sweeter, fattier foods.

Soap outdoes sanitizers for peanut exposure

With peanut allergy the third most common allergy in young children and the most common in older kids, teens and adults, there's been considerable discussion of how best to protect allergic people from inadvertent exposure to peanuts.

Soap-free hand sanitizers apparently aren't enough.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore applied a teaspoon of peanut butter to the hands of 19 nonallergic adults and then had them wash their hands with a variety of cleansers, plain water and an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Hand wipes, liquid soap and bar soap removed all of the allergen that sets off allergic reactions. Water and the hand sanitizer left some behind.

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