For the second year in a row, obesity research features prominently in the group of 10 most-visited news releases posted on EurekAlert! during the 2013 calendar year. The year's most-visited release details a technique that triggers muscle stem cells to turn into brown fat, a type of "good fat" that is known to burn energy and correlate with lower body mass. Two other news releases in the top 10 most-visited also concern obesity research.
Other subjects covered in 2013's list of most visited news releases are energy efficiency, animal behavior, mental health, and several other diverse fields.
Web traffic statistics collected during 2013 identified the 10 most-viewed releases on EurekAlert!. The No. 1 most-visited release captured more than 660,000 views.
For second consecutive year, obesity research is prevalent among the 10 most-visited news releases
Included in the list of 2013's most-viewed news releases are three items about obesity research.
In the first, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute scientists, along with colleagues from Canada, Denmark and the Netherlands, report on the discovery of a gene regulator called microRNA-133, which induces adult muscle stem cells to turn into muscle fiber and brown fat. Brown fat is a type of tissue that burns energy, regulates body temperature, and is associated with lower amounts of white fat in the body - the presence of large amounts of white fat constitutes obesity. The researchers caution that the discovery does not guarantee obese individuals will lose weight if treated with microRNA-133, but rather that it is a "first step" toward learning more about how the gene regulator can work. The research appeared in the journal Cell Metabolism.
The ninth release, posted by the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, describes a potential gene therapy for obesity and its associated diseases. Researchers observed in a mouse study that blocking the gene TRIP-Br2 kept subjects from becoming obese, and regulated how much fat the body stored. The tenth release covers a follow-up study of gastric band recipients and indicates that this type of weight-loss surgery provides long-lasting and safe results. That finding appeared in the Annals of Surgery and was authored by Monash University researchers.
Diverse, cutting-edge research featured in 2013's top 10 most-viewed news releases
The remainder of news releases that received the most visits in 2013 describes research from a wide range of science topics. Here is a breakdown:
A news release from the University of California - Santa Barbara describing the cause behind the droop in LED (light-emitting diode) bulb efficiency came in second on 2013's list. In an experiment, researchers found that LED bulbs lagged in efficiency when subjected to higher electrical currents. Now that the cause is known, new LED designs taking it into account will make these highly efficient bulbs an even more viable replacement for older incandescent and fluorescent lighting.
The first ever known mutation of a receptor that completely blocks estrogen in a female patient was the topic of the third most-viewed news release. Reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, the finding is medically unique, having only been seen before in a male subject.
Coming in at No. 4 is a release about a study claiming that 40 years' worth of research performed through the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey is "fatally flawed." In their paper, the authors stated that the measurement methods - i.e., the reliance on self-reported calorie intake and use -- used for the survey's data collection resulted in skewed and thus invalid information.
Man's best friend has the ability to visually recognize other dogs in images shown to them alongside images of humans and other species of animals, a study reports in the fifth most-visited news release. The researchers, whose work appeared in the journal Animal Cognition, shows that dogs can distinguish other members of their species regardless of breed.
The sixth most-visited release is from the University of Warwick and concerns the problem of bullying, a topic often highlighted in the news. A meta-analysis examined how different parenting styles influence a child's likelihood of being targeted by bullies. The researchers conclude that negative parenting, including neglect, abuse, and overprotection, may lead children to be more prone to bullying, and to being a bully themselves. They also call for anti-bullying programs to extend beyond school by promoting positive parenting behaviors at home.
The stuff of science fiction may be nearer to reality with the discovery described in the seventh most-visited news release of 2013. Physicists observed a never-before-seen type of matter: the photon molecule. Photons are the particles that make up light, and according to the researchers, these photon molecules behave very much like light sabers and challenge conventional knowledge within atomic and particle physics.
Finally, the eighth most-visited news release describes a survey analysis that suggests psychedelic drug use does not lead to an increased risk of mental health problems. The analysis used data from the 2001-2004 US National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The study authors also found that there is a chance psychedelic drug use could actually decrease risk for mental health problems, but caution that their use may not be harmless for everyone.
A special editor's note
This list of most-visited news releases is slightly inaccurate. The reason is that, statistically speaking, 2013's actual No. 1 most-viewed news release on EurekAlert! was our own describing 2012's list. We felt that our own news release should not be included in the list here, but mentioning it is necessary in the interest of being fair and balanced!
10 Most-visited news releases from 2013
Below are the 10 most-visited news releases posted on EurekAlert! in 2013. The list begins with the news release that received the most views.
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