Today in Research: In Praise of Leather Helmets; Weight Watchers

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Discovered: praise for old football helmets, the latest way to search for alien civilizations, why potential scientists don't pursue science careers, and more good news for Weight Watchers.

  • In praise of leather football helmets. A new study to be published in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spineis touting itself with a pretty eyebrow-raising claim: vintage football helmets from a century ago are "are often as effective as -- and sometimes better than" modern football helmets. Although USA Today notes that they "conceded that modern helmets in many instances provided better protection from skull fracture and brain bleeds." After a series of literally head-to-head crash tests of the ancient helmets and modern ones, the Cleveland Clinic researchers came to the conclusion that the old helmets offered good protection. "The point of this study is not to advocate for a return to leather helmets but, rather, to test the notion that modern helmets must be more protective than older helmets simply because 'newer must be better,'" said the lead researcher, Adam Bartsch, in a release that will certainly get attention for the message that more helmet safety reforms are needed. [Cleveland Clinic, USA Today]
  • Weight Watchers gets more good news from research. A study published in the British Medical Journal found that "weight-loss programs such as Weight Watchers and Slimming World are more effective and cheaper than family doctor-based services led by specially trained staff," Reuters informs us. It doesn't say in the Reuters write-up who funded the latest research, but that "results suggest that while commercial schemes generally help people to lose weight, doctor-led programs do not." Reuters does point back to another randomized-controlled trial that found a favorable result for Weight Watchers last month. That one was funded by Weight Watchers International, but conducted by an independent research team. [Reuters and Reuters

Read the full story at The Atlantic Wire.

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