Public Health England said the report was a “useful contribution to the debate”, as Hugh Pym reports. The worldwide cost of obesity is about the same as smoking or armed conflict and greater than both alcoholism and climate change, research has suggested. Some 2.1bn people – about 30% of the world’s population – were overweight or obese, the researchers added. They said measures that relied less on individual responsibility should be used to tackle the problem.

Complex jobs ‘may protect memory’

People with mentally taxing jobs, including lawyers and graphic designers, may end up having better memory in old age, research suggests. A study of more than 1,000 Scottish 70-year-olds found that those who had had complex jobs scored better on memory and thinking tests. One theory is a more stimulating environment helps build up a “cognitive reserve” to help buffer the brain against age-related decline,  The research was reported in Neurology. The team, from Heriot-Watt University, in Edinburgh, is now planning more work to look at how lifestyle and work interact to affect memory loss.

Those taking part in the study took tests designed to assess memory, processing speed and general thinking ability, as well as filling in a questionnaire about their working life.

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