shiruken t1_j9c0seq wrote

Direct link to the peer-reviewed study: M. P. Powell, et al., Epidural stimulation of the cervical spinal cord for post-stroke upper-limb paresis, Nature Medicine (2023).

>Abstract: Cerebral strokes can disrupt descending commands from motor cortical areas to the spinal cord, which can result in permanent motor deficits of the arm and hand. However, below the lesion, the spinal circuits that control movement remain intact and could be targeted by neurotechnologies to restore movement. Here we report results from two participants in a first-in-human study using electrical stimulation of cervical spinal circuits to facilitate arm and hand motor control in chronic post-stroke hemiparesis (NCT04512690). Participants were implanted for 29 d with two linear leads in the dorsolateral epidural space targeting spinal roots C3 to T1 to increase excitation of arm and hand motoneurons. We found that continuous stimulation through selected contacts improved strength (for example, grip force +40% SCS01; +108% SCS02), kinematics (for example, +30% to +40% speed) and functional movements, thereby enabling participants to perform movements that they could not perform without spinal cord stimulation. Both participants retained some of these improvements even without stimulation and no serious adverse events were reported. While we cannot conclusively evaluate safety and efficacy from two participants, our data provide promising, albeit preliminary, evidence that spinal cord stimulation could be an assistive as well as a restorative approach for upper-limb recovery after stroke.


shiruken t1_j8ecsld wrote

This is a little tricky since the OP's study was conducted over a long period of time prior to the existence of the bivalent boosters designed for the Omicron variant, which partially evaded the immunity conferred by the original vaccines and/or infection with earlier strains of SARS-CoV-2.

The CDC publishes a tracker that is updated monthly showing the rates of COVID-19 cases and deaths by vaccination status. In December 2022, people aged 5+ who were vaccinated with an updated (bivalent) booster had 3.1x lower risk of testing positive for COVID-19 compared to unvaccinated people. People aged 5+ who were vaccinated without the updated booster only had 2.4x lower risk compared to unvaccinated.

A recent peer-reviewed study by the CDC found that the bivalent boosters from both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna were 48% effective against symptomatic infection from the current predominant omicron subvariant. Note that this effectiveness was calculated relative to fully vaccinated individuals without the bivalent booster dose, so the effectiveness relative to unvaccinated individuals would be even higher (but was beyond the scope of the study).

For more information about vaccine effectiveness, see this comprehensive list maintained by the CDC.


shiruken t1_j69s6bd wrote

Correct, participants were enrolled from November 27, 2021 to June 30, 2022. The bivalent booster was not authorized until August 31, 2022.

That being said, vaccination was still highly effective at preventing several maternal complications and outcomes:

>Reassuringly, the vaccine effectiveness of all vaccines combined to prevent severe maternal morbidity and referral, ICU admission, or death was 76% amongst all women given a booster dose. The respective vaccine effectiveness values for mRNA vaccines with a booster dose was 81%. For women with a diagnosis, vaccine effectiveness for the same outcomes, of all vaccines combined, was 74% (95% CI 48–87) for the complete regimen and 91% (65–98) after a booster dose.


shiruken OP t1_j648qz4 wrote

That was a direct tax on consumption though (i.e. the consumer was taxed). The UK's is a tax on the production of sugar-sweetened beverages as an incentive for manufacturers to reduce the amount of sugar in their products.

Also, there's evidence that Chicago's sugar tax actually worked. According to a study published in Annals of Internal Medicine, purchases of the taxed beverages decreased by 21%, even after accounting for cross-border shopping.


shiruken OP t1_j61cta5 wrote

Looking closer at the 2021 study, it seems these results were in line with predictions:

>Assuming a mean UK household size of 2.4 people, this is equivalent to a reduction in sugar consumption from SSBs of 12.5 g per person per week... A modelling study conducted before implementation of the SDIL found that if the levy achieved reformulation it could be expected to lead to a decrease in sugar consumption from SSBs of 7-38 g per person per week and that this would be associated with a reduction in the number of obese individuals in the UK of 0.2-0.9% and a reduction in incidence cases of type 2 diabetes of 0.8-4.4 per 1000 person years. The reduction in sugar from SSBs we report one year after implementation of the SDIL is within this range.

The authors of the current study point out their results are similar to those seen in Mexico:

>Second, the magnitude and pattern of associations in our results are consistent with recent findings from Mexico that report a modest reduction in overweight or obesity prevalence in adolescent girls (aged 10 to 18) with a 1.3-PP absolute decrease 2 years after a 10% SSB price increase (compared to a 1.6-PP absolute decrease observed in this study in 10- to 11-year-old girls 19 months after the levy was introduced) [38]. Moreover, similar to the findings of this study, no significant reductions in weight-related outcomes were observed in adolescent boys in Mexico. We note, however, that the tax implemented in Mexico is not directly comparable with the UK SDIL; in Mexico; the tax had a different design aimed at increasing the price to consumers resulting in 100% of the SSB tax being passed through to consumers, equating to a 14% increase in prices [49], and, importantly, the tax was included as a wider package of anti-obesity measures, which included charging 8% on high-energy foods [23]. We note the importance of the finding that the tax in Mexico was more effective in girls who were heavier. Similar analysis was not possible here because we only had access to repeated cross-sectional data, which cannot be linked over time.


shiruken OP t1_j61bm8k wrote

>the tax has done nothing other than convince companies to reduce soda sugar

Well, that was the goal of the program.

>This is a rounding error at best.

An 8% reduction works out to over 5,000 prevented cases of obesity among 10-11 year girls each year. It's strong evidence for an effective, if modest, public policy intervention.


shiruken OP t1_j619d72 wrote

The amount of soft drinks sold didn't change but the soft drinks now contained less sugar, hence the reduction in total sugar consumption. Beverage companies reduced the sugar content of their products to avoid the levy.


shiruken OP t1_j614c6q wrote

Authors suggest it could be changes in advertising, which predominantly impacts boys:

>While our finding that the SDIL had greater impacts on obesity prevalence in girls than boys is consistent with previous studies [38], it is unclear why this might be the case, especially since boys were higher baseline consumers of SSBs [13]. One explanation is that there were factors (e.g., in food advertising and marketing) at work around the time of the announcement and implementation of the levy that worked against any associations of the SDIL among boys. There is evidence that soft drink manufacturers altered their marketing strategies in different ways in response to the SDIL including repackaging and rebranding products [55]. Numerous studies have found that boys are often exposed to more food advertising content than girls [56–59], both through higher levels of TV viewing [59] and through the way in which adverts are framed. Physical activity is often used to promote junk food, and boys, compared to girls, have been shown to be more likely to believe that energy-dense junk foods depicted in adverts will boost physical performance [56] and thus they are more likely to choose energy-dense, nutrient-poor products following celebrity endorsements. There is also evidence that girls tend to make healthier choices when it comes to diet (e.g., consuming more fruit and vegetables and less energy-dense foods) and other health behaviours (e.g., brushing teeth) [60]. One possibility for the observed differences between boys and girls may be that girls were more responsive to public health signalling arising from discussions around the SDIL or that they were more likely to choose drinks that had been reformulated to contain less sugar following the SDIL announcement.


shiruken OP t1_j60q51m wrote

Just to provide additional context, this "sugar tax" is imposed on the manufacturers of sugar-sweetened beverages as an incentive to reduce the amount of sugar in their products.

  • Drinks with ≥8 g sugar/100 mL are taxed at £0.24/L
  • Drinks with ≥5 to <8 g sugar/100 mL are taxed at £0.18/L
  • Drinks with <5 g sugar/100 mL are not taxed

Research published in 2021 showed that the levy did not impact the volume of soft drinks purchased but the amount of sugar in those drinks was 30 g lower per household per week (a 10% reduction).


shiruken OP t1_j60m6tu wrote

Direct link to the peer-reviewed study: N. T. Rogers, et al., Associations between trajectories of obesity prevalence in English primary school children and the UK soft drinks industry levy: An interrupted time series analysis of surveillance data, PLoS Medicine, 20(1), e1004160 (2023)

>Background: Sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) are the primary source of dietary added sugars in children, with high consumption commonly observed in more deprived areas where obesity prevalence is also highest. Associations between SSB consumption and obesity in children have been widely reported. In March 2016, a two-tier soft drinks industry levy (SDIL) on drinks manufacturers to encourage reformulation of SSBs in the United Kingdom was announced and then implemented in April 2018. We examined trajectories in the prevalence of obesity at ages 4 to 5 years and 10 to 11 years, 19 months after the implementation of SDIL, overall and by sex and deprivation.
>Methods and findings: Data were from the National Child Measurement Programme and included annual repeat cross-sectional measurement of over 1 million children in reception (4 to 5 years old) and year 6 (10 to 11 years old) in state-maintained English primary schools. Interrupted time series (ITS) analysis of monthly obesity prevalence data from September 2013 to November 2019 was used to estimate absolute and relative changes in obesity prevalence compared to a counterfactual (adjusted for temporal variations in obesity prevalence) estimated from the trend prior to SDIL announcement. Differences between observed and counterfactual estimates were examined in November 2019 by age (reception or year 6) and additionally by sex and deprivation quintile. In year 6 girls, there was an overall absolute reduction in obesity prevalence (defined as >95th centile on the UK90 growth charts) of 1.6 percentage points (PPs) (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.1, 2.1), with greatest reductions in the two most deprived quintiles (e.g., there was an absolute reduction of 2.4 PP (95% CI: 1.6, 3.2) in prevalence of obesity in the most deprived quintile). In year 6 boys, there was no change in obesity prevalence, except in the least deprived quintile where there was a 1.6-PP (95% CI: 0.7, 2.5) absolute increase. In reception children, relative to the counterfactual, there were no overall changes in obesity prevalence in boys (0.5 PP (95% CI: 1.0, −0.1)) or girls (0.2 PP (95% CI: 0.8, −0.3)). This study is limited by use of index of multiple deprivation of the school attended to assess individual socioeconomic disadvantage. ITS analyses are vulnerable to unidentified cointerventions and time-varying confounding, neither of which we can rule out.
>Conclusions: Our results suggest that the SDIL was associated with decreased prevalence of obesity in year 6 girls, with the greatest differences in those living in the most deprived areas. Additional strategies beyond SSB taxation will be needed to reduce obesity prevalence overall, and particularly in older boys and younger children.


shiruken OP t1_j5w3otb wrote

Still too early to know for the XBB/XBB.1.5 subvariant:

>Officials said there isn’t enough data yet to know how well the updated boosters protect against more severe disease, hospitalization and death. But they expect that the updated boosters will provide higher protection against these outcomes.

Worth noting the current study also assessed bivalent vaccine effectiveness against symptomatic BA.5 infection at 52%. A study conducted between September and November 2022, when BA.5 was dominant, found the bivalent dose had 57% effectiveness against hospitalization compared with no vaccination, 38% compared with monovalent vaccination only (last dose 5–7 months earlier), and 45% compared with monovalent vaccination only (last dose ≥11 months earlier). It wouldn't be surprising to see similar results for XBB/XBB.1.5 once they're available.


shiruken OP t1_j5vyra1 wrote

Direct link to the peer-reviewed CDC report: R. Link-Gelles, et al., Early Estimates of Bivalent mRNA Booster Dose Vaccine Effectiveness in Preventing Symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 Infection Attributable to Omicron BA.5– and XBB/XBB.1.5–Related Sublineages Among Immunocompetent Adults — Increasing Community Access to Testing Program, United States, December 2022–January 2023, MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. (25 January 2023)


  • Vaccine effectiveness was compared to fully vaccinated individuals (2-4 monovalent doses) with no bivalent booster dose.
  • Protection was reduced in older groups: 40% effective in adults ages 50 to 64 and 43% effective in adults 65 and older.
  • The XBB sublineage accounted for >50% of sequenced lineages in the Northeast by December 31, 2022, and 52% of sequenced lineages nationwide as of January 21, 2023.
  • Tests from persons who reported a positive SARS-CoV-2 test during the preceding 90 days were excluded to avoid analyzing multiple tests from the same infection.
    • Statistical power was not adequate to stratify by presence of prior infection >90 days earlier.
  • All persons should stay up to date with recommended COVID-19 vaccines, including receiving a bivalent booster dose when they are eligible.

shiruken OP t1_j5m0uqb wrote

Don't really know the specifics, but it has to do with the structure of the Earth where the outer core is liquid while the inner core is solid. Anytime you start spinning layers with liquid, things get complicated.

The New York Time's coverage of this research offers this explanation:

>What’s going on? One idea is that two titanic forces are battling for control over the world’s heart. Earth’s magnetic field, generated by swirling iron currents in the liquid outer core, is pulling at the inner core, causing it to spin. That impulse is countered by the mantle, the mucilaginous layer above the outer core and below Earth’s crust, the immense gravitational field of which grasps the inner core and slows its spin.


shiruken OP t1_j5lu9td wrote


shiruken OP t1_j5lq3jx wrote

Direct link to the peer-reviewed study: Y. Yang and X. Song, Multidecadal variation of the Earth’s inner-core rotation, Nature Geoscience (2023)

>Abstract: Differential rotation of Earth’s inner core relative to the mantle is thought to occur under the effects of the geodynamo on core dynamics and gravitational core–mantle coupling. This rotation has been inferred from temporal changes between repeated seismic waves that should traverse the same path through the inner core. Here we analyse repeated seismic waves from the early 1990s and show that all of the paths that previously showed significant temporal changes have exhibited little change over the past decade. This globally consistent pattern suggests that inner-core rotation has recently paused. We compared this recent pattern to the Alaskan seismic records of South Sandwich Islands doublets going back to 1964 and it seems to be associated with a gradual turning-back of the inner core as a part of an approximately seven-decade oscillation, with another turning point in the early 1970s. This multidecadal periodicity coincides with changes in several other geophysical observations, especially the length of day and magnetic field. These observations provide evidence for dynamic interactions between the Earth’s layers, from the deepest interior to the surface, potentially due to gravitational coupling and the exchange of angular momentum from the core and mantle to the surface.


shiruken OP t1_j5golub wrote

Yup. This was a motivating factor for this research and addressed in the discussion.

>The concerns surrounding dollar stores and food access center around selection and healthfulness.^(13) The selection of foods available in dollar stores is typically both less diverse and less healthful than what is found in grocery stores. Historically, dollar stores have only carried shelf-stable beverages and snacks, but now many also carry eggs and dairy, and, more recently, select locations also carry fresh produce.^(14) Such changes may also partially explain the observed increase in household food purchases at these outlets. Public health advocates have raised concerns that the foods sold in dollar stores are mostly packaged, higher in calories, and lower in nutrients.^(15,16) Several studies support these claims; they have found that the foods and beverages sold in dollar stores tend to be lower in nutrients and higher in calories.^(2,4)


shiruken OP t1_j5gclkf wrote

Direct link to the peer-reviewed study: W. Feng, E. T. Page, and S. B. Cash, Dollar Stores and Food Access for Rural Households in the United States, 2008‒2020, American Journal of Public Health (2023)

>Dollar stores have rapidly expanded their food offerings in recent years. These foods tend to be higher in calories and lower in nutrients, raising public health concerns, especially in rural and low-income areas where food-access challenges are often greatest. However, there is limited empirical evidence evaluating the impact of this expansion on household food purchases on a national scale.
>Using data from a yearly, nationally representative panel of approximately 50 000 households, we estimated the share of food purchases from 2008 to 2020 by store type and evaluated the role of dollar stores as food retailers in the United States.
>We found that dollar stores were the fastest-growing food retailers by household expenditure share (increasing by 89.7%), with rural growth outpacing growth elsewhere (increasing by 102.9%). Though dollar stores still represent a small share of national household food purchases (2.1% in 2020), they play an increasingly prominent role in food-at-home purchases for certain disadvantaged and rural communities. Understanding the quality of the foods they offer and how this may affect diet-related health outcomes is warranted.