Saturday, August 14, 2010

IS OUR ATTITUDE ABOUT HEALTH UNHEALTHY? People who have the riskiest-for-their-health behavior are likelier to blame their genetic makeup than to attribute illnesses - primarily hypertension and various cancers - to their behavior. In fact, a study which was published in the journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine found that the more behavioral risk factors people had - like smoking, not exercising and eating a high-fat diet - the less likely they were to be interested in information about how to live healthier. By blaming their genes they didn't have to take responsibility for their actions - or lack of actions. Because of lack of action Americans are still getting fatter. In 1991 no state had an obesity rate over 20%. In 2010 more than two-thirds of the states did. A recent study showed obesity rates increased in 28 states in 2009. For the 6th year running Mississippi was the fattest state. In 2009 Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and West Virginia had obesity rates over 30%. In 2010 Louisiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Arkansas joined those states. The District of Columbia was the only area with a decrease in its adult obesity rate - in spite of all the "fat cats" in Washington. Because of parental denial American children are still getting fatter. According to a University of Michigan study, 43% of parents with obese children ages 6-11 said their children were "about the right weight"; 37%, "slightly overweight"; and 13%, "very overweight". However, parents with obese children ages 12-17 were more aware of the problem. Eleven percent said "about the right weight"; 56%, "slightly overweight"; and 31%, "very overweight". Some parents in both age groups said "slightly underweight". It seems parents think that their children will outgrow obesity, but in this case taking a "weight-and-see" attitude is unhealthy. Both adults and children should know that it's the brain that makes people crave sugary, fatty foods. There's a system of interconnected neurons called the reward pathway. It evolved millions of years ago to encourage prehistoric man to do things necessary to survive - like eat. Because high calorie foods were scarce, the brain learned to release feel-good chemicals like dopamine and serotonin in response to tastes, smells and places associated with rich food. This system worked well until rich foods became easily available. It's the stomach that signals real hunger by releasing ghrelin, the hunger hormone. If you want to avoid gaining weight, you can't have a "brain trust".
IF WISDOM COMES WITH AGE, WHAT AGE? Twenty-six percent of Americans don't know who America fought for independence. That's according to a 2010 telephone survey conducted by Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. The survey included 1,004 Americans age 18 and over across the country. Among the 26% of participants who didn't know the U.S. declared its independence from Great Britain, answers included France, China, Mexico, Spain and Japan. Six percent of the 26% were unsure the U.S. had fought any war of independence. Although the survey's margin of error was 3%, the U.S. school system must have a much larger "margin of error". According to another survey, money can buy happiness - at least one kind. Of the 136,839 people age 15 and older in 132 countries, people with money were likelier to say they were happy with their life overall. However, happiness associated with positive feelings was more affected by respect, control of life, family and friends to depend on and a fulfilling job. It seems money affects one's life evaluation. Positive feelings affect one's emotional well-being. According to the study, both kinds of happiness are basically the same from rural villages to large cities. The "i" in happiness is universal. The problem of not being able to "unplug" on vacation seems to be universal too. Increasing numbers of people can't go on vacation without being able to check their e-mail. According to a psychological principle called "a variable reinforcement schedule", it is harder to stop a behavior if you're randomly rewarded than to stop it if you're consistently rewarded. Thus the random e-mail of genuine importance increases the need to check e-mail. To deal with this problem psychologists suggest setting aside specific time for checking e-mail when on vacation - and I'm sure marriage counselors would agree. Hopefully, marriage counselors would also agree romantic love is addictive. Fifteen college-age men and women participated in a study done at Rutgers University. All of them had experienced a romantic breakup within 2 months of the study and all said they were still in love. As the participants looked at pictures of their ex-lovers, their brains were scanned. The parts of the brain affected were those associated with cocaine and nicotine addiction, physical pain and distress, and attachment. The good news is activity in the parts of the brain associated with attachment and addiction decreased with time. Maybe time does heal all wounds - and wounded hearts.

Knight Pierce Hirst

I may be the only writer who has moved to Los Angeles for the weather.

The Typepad Team

Recent Comments