SHAPE Shares: The Latest Health Reports We're Reading

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Hello, dear readers! I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season. Once again, we've reached the middle of another week. This could be either good news (it's almost Friday!) or bad news (we've still got two days to go!), but either way, we've got the latest and greatest in health news to keep you informed.

Scroll down to read our favorite stories and then tell us: What did we miss? Tweet us @Shape_Magazine or let us know in the comments below!

1. The Atkins Diet is making a comeback. Sort of. Sweden may become the first western country to recommend a low-carb, higher-fat diet as a way to reduce obesity and diabetes, and improve heart health. The recommendations became official following a review of 16,000 studies on obesity and diet. The new official government recommendations resemble the Atkins "maintenance phase" and recommend that people follow a diet of about 40 percent carbs, with the remainder including protein, fats, and low-glycemic fruits and veggies.

2. Men and women's brains really are wired differently. A recent study that examined 1,000 young people aged eight to 22 revealed "small differences between boys and girls" before puberty that became larger at around age 12 or 13 and remained that way through adulthood, TIME magazine reports. The pattern showed that women's brains are better wired to integrate reason and emotion, while men's brains showe more links between coordinated action and perception. However, the study authors point out that they're not sure if these differences are indeed inherent biological functions or if they're a result of social and cultural pressures or influences.

3. A new "flu forecast" may tell you if you'll get the flu this winter. This is kind of cool: Researchers are using the same technology weather forecasters do to predict when cities and states will reach their peak flu outbreak this winter. Researchers tested the new model on 108 cities in the U.S. and found that they could accurately predict the timing of the flu peak in more than 63 percent of the cities, according to LiveScience.

4. If you walk for exercise, it pays to pick up the pace. Not a runner? No problem! Walking has long been known to be a beneficial form of exercise. However, a new study that examined almost 8,000 male walkers and around 31,000 female walkers of all paces, suggests that contrary to long-held beliefs that moderate or slow walking can be as beneficial as faster or higher-intensity walking, you may need to speed up in order to reap the benefits. Further, the slowest walkers in the study were more likely to die an early death compared to the faster ones.

5. Too much caffeine may strain your heart. Bad news, caffeine addicts: A recent study shows that adults who consume energy drinks have "significantly increased" heart contractions than adults who skip them. That said, while we'd recommend these all-natural ways to grab a quick energy boost, the study was small (it only included 15 participants) and is ongoing, so you don't have to give up your caffeine habit just yet—simply be mindful of how much you're consuming.

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