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“The Weird Reason Looking at Art Makes You Eat Less” plus 4 more Health – TIME


“The Weird Reason Looking at Art Makes You Eat Less” plus 4 more Health – TIME

The Weird Reason Looking at Art Makes You Eat Less

Posted: 06 Jan 2017 09:01 AM PST

It will take more than one strategy to reign in Americans’ expanding waistlines. In a recent study, health experts suggest that environmental cues—like art and images—may be powerful tools to encourage people to make healthier choices, and possibly help address the obesity epidemic.

In the new research, published in the journal Appetite, researchers at the University of Bern in Switzerland did two studies to see whether viewing the notoriously thin sculptures by Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti had any impact on how a person ate afterward.

The first study tested how much 114 people ate after being exposed to a picture of thin sculptures. Some of the men and women went into a room where a screensaver of Giacometti’s sculpture Piazza was projected on the wall from an experimenter’s laptop. The other group didn’t see the screensaver. The men and women were then given either blueberries or chocolates and were told they could eat as much as they wanted, and to rate the healthfulness of the snacks. People who were exposed to the sculptures ate less chocolate and blueberries compared to the people who didn’t see the photograph.

In the second study, about 60 people were asked to list the first word that came to mind when they were shown fragmented words related to health or weight on a computer screen. Before completing the task, some of the people in the study were shown a screensaver of Giacometti’s sculptures, while others were shown a blank screen.

The researchers found that people who were considered “restrained eaters,” which meant they often tried to lose weight, came up with more weight-related words if they were shown the sculptures, compared to restrained eaters who were not shown the images.

People who looked at Giacometti’s art made more weight-related connections and ate less, the researchers concluded. This was even more pronounced in people who dieted often.

The choice of Giacometti’s sculptures, which depict impossibly skinny figures, was deliberate. In previous studies, these particular images have been shown to affect people’s eating decisions. The researchers wanted to understand whether that was because they trigger people to remember their weight-related goals.

Based on the findings, the study authors say environmental cues may nudge people in the right direction when it comes to make food choices, but there’s no need to display Giacometti’s sculptures around the office break room.

“It must be acknowledged that human bodies with figures similar to these [Giacometti sculptures] would be seriously underweight,” says study author Aline E. Stampfli of the University of Bern‘s department of consumer behavior. “Thus, they would be perceived as less attractive and thus less motivating than figures…of normal body mass. Using healthier-looking human figures could work better than skinny human figures.”

The researchers argue that people who are trying to lose weight are often sabotaged by their food environments. In many countries, cues to eat and buy more fast and processed food are ubiquitous. More research is needed to determine how art may play a role in encouraging healthy eating, but the researchers argue that environmental cues should be considered as a way to help people trying to lose weight stay on track.

Paul Ryan Says GOP Will Defund Planned Parenthood as Part of Obamacare Repeal

Posted: 05 Jan 2017 04:32 PM PST

Republicans will move to defund Planned Parenthood as part of a process to dismantle Obamacare, House Speaker Paul Ryan announced Thursday.

Cutting off federal funds to the organization will be included in Congressional Republicans’ “reconciliation” budget bill, which was first introduced Tuesday and essentially prevents Democrats from using a Senate filibuster to protect President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care overhaul, according to The Hill.

“Planned Parenthood legislation will be in our reconciliation bill,” Ryan said.

Ryan said in a separate statement that the Affordable Care Act is a “failed law” that is “hurting people right now.”

Planned Parenthood called the Republicans’ move a “crusade” against Americans. Dana Singiser, the organization’s vice president for government relations and public policy, said in a statement that 55 million women who now have access to things like birth control would be affected by the change.

“Americans across the political spectrum don’t want these dangerous and backward policies. The public believes it is wrong to tear apart their health care without knowing what the replacement plan is to keep their families healthy and financially secure,” Singiser said.

Yoga Is Officially Sweeping the Workplace

Posted: 05 Jan 2017 12:06 PM PST

The American workforce is becoming more mindful. In a new study of more than 85,000 adults, yoga practice among U.S. workers nearly doubled from 2002 to 2012, from 6 percent to 11 percent. Meditation rates also increased, from 8 percent to 9.9 percent.

That’s good news, say the study authors, since activities like yoga and meditation have been shown to improve employee well-being and productivity.

“Our finding of high and increasing rates of exposure to mindfulness practices among U.S. workers is encouraging,” they wrote in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) journal Preventing Chronic Disease. “Approximately 1 in 7 workers report engagement in some form of mindfulness-based activity, and these individuals can bring awareness of the benefit of such practices into the workplace.”

The study, which surveyed adults on whether they’d participated in specific activities in the last year, revealed that people with jobs were more likely to practice mindfulness techniques than those who were unemployed. (However, the participants were not asked where and when they practiced these activities, so it’s unknown how many people were actually doing them at work, versus on their own time.)

The authors point out that incorporating mindfulness practices into the workplace experience—through employee wellness and stress-reduction programs, yoga and meditation classes and web-based offerings—can be a way for companies to encourage their workers to take part.

The study also identified room for improvement in certain sectors. Blue-collar and service workers were less likely to practice mindfulness techniques than white-collar workers, and farm workers even less. Household income and education levels partially accounted for these disparities, but not entirely.

The authors say that employers in these occupations could benefit by identifying workers who do practice mindfulness techniques, and involve them in planning and promoting these activities for other employees.

Institutional obstacles, such as lack of funding, lack of time or personal beliefs, “should be addressed to make these practices available to all workers,” they wrote. Men and socioeconomically disadvantaged groups within these occupations are the least likely to do them.

In previous research, these types of workplace interventions have been associated with a host of benefits for employees. Mindfulness training has been shown to reduce burnout and mood disturbances in health care providers, and to improve sleep quality among teachers. (The study authors were unable to find any mindfulness studies that had specifically focused on blue-collar or farm workers.)

The new study also looked at the prevalence of two other mindfulness practices—tai chi and qigong—but did not find a substantial change in these rates over time. Yoga and meditation are likely more popular because they’ve received much attention in the general public over the past two decades, the authors point out.

As a whole, mindfulness practices can “address multiple workplace wellness needs, benefiting both employees and employers,” the study authors say. Kristin McGee, a yoga instructor in New York City and author of the upcoming book Chair Yoga, says that mindfulness techniques are important for managing workplace pressures, no matter what that workplace is. “Having any type of job nowadays is so stressful because of the long hours we spend working,” says McGee (who was not involved in the study). Mind-body techniques like yoga can help counteract some of that stress and some of the physical demands of work, whether from hard manual labor or sitting hunched over at a computer, McGee says.

McGee encourages people in all types of jobs to incorporate a bit of mindfulness into their workday, even if it’s just a simple breathing exercise. Research has shown that slowing down and deepening breath can have real effects on wellbeing, including controlling blood pressure and improving heart rate. “That oxygenating breath helps clear the mind and reminds you that you’re in charge of your breath and your body,” McGee says. “It’s a great tool for avoiding knee-jerk reactions, and having better control over the situation.”

To stretch a bit at work, McGee recommends side bends to help prevent back soreness and stiffness. These can be done standing or seated in a chair: Keep your back straight, lift your arms overhead, interlace fingers and press palms toward the ceiling, and bend gently to right and then to the left.

Other work-friendly yoga poses include spinal twists, (which can be done seated or standing) eagle arms (great for stretching out wrists and shoulders), and mountain pose (for resetting your posture, boosting energy, and improving focus).

Why Men Have More Body Image Issues Than Ever

Posted: 05 Jan 2017 12:03 PM PST

Superheroes today are a lot more shredded than they used to be. The original Superman and Batman look almost willowy compared to our muscle-bursting modern-day versions.

That’s no coincidence. America is in the midst of a cultural shift in terms of the ideal male body image, and as the ideal man grows more muscular, men stuck in the real world with real bodies are growing less satisfied with theirs—with potentially dangerous medical consequences.

“If you think about the changes over the last 30 to 45 years in how men are depicted in Hollywood, cartoons, magazines and action toys, you’ll see that men’s bodies [today] appear much more muscular,” says Dr. Harrison Pope, director of the Biological Psychiatry Laboratory at McLean Hospital in Massachusetts. These unrealistic media images have contributed to low body image satisfaction among men—usually just considered a problem for women. A study last year found that American men are just as likely as women to feel unsatisfied with their physiques, while another study found adolescent boys who are dissatisfied with their body shape may be more likely than girls to self-criticize and feel distress. Studies have even shown that men feel worse about their bodies after playing video games with ripped characters.

“There’s this drumbeat that muscularity equals masculinity, and so we’re seeing more and more young men with muscle dysmorphia,” says Pope. The consequences of this kind of thinking can be dangerous. As more and more men hit the gym in the hopes of transforming themselves into the Rock, many are also turning to anabolic steroids to achieve the muscle mass they associate with masculinity. Up to 4 million Americans—nearly all of them male—have tried steroids at some point, according to Pope’s recent research.

“There’s a widespread misperception that anabolic steroid use is an issue of cheating in sports, but the vast majority of anabolic steroid users in this country are not athletes,” says Shalender Bhasin, a men’s health researcher at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Pope’s co-author on a new article in the Journal of the American Medical Association. “Most young men using these drugs are doing it to improve their appearance.”

The potential side effects of anabolic steroids include premature death and neurobehavioral disturbances, like problems with thinking and attention. But Pope says the links to heart problems are the most worrying. “There’s a growing body of literature that suggests long-term steroid use can cause cardio myopathy, where the heart doesn’t pump or fill with blood efficiently.” That could lead to heart attack or stroke, he says.

It’s not yet clear just how significant these heart risks are, because steroid use is a relatively new phenomenon. Pope says few men used them before the 1980s, and those early adopters are just now hitting their 50s and 60s—ages when heart problems take their toll.

Another big risk of steroid use is hormone dysfunction. “If you’re taking steroids, your body sees all this testosterone coming in from the outside, and so it stops producing it,” Pope explains. Bhasin says that can lead to psychiatric problems, from “roid rage” to suicidal thoughts.

Also, when men stop using steroids, their bodies’ testosterone production often struggles to ramp back up. The resulting lack of the sex hormone can lead to depression, irritability, erectile dysfunction, low sex drive and more, Pope explains.

Few doctors or psychologists realize how common steroid use and abuse has become, say Pope and Bhasin, and almost none are trained to treat steroid addiction or dependence. Men taking steroids who want to quit therefore have few professional resources, which may lead many to go back on steroids or try other substances—like cocaine or opioids—in order to feel better, Bhasin says.

“Until we see greater awareness of this problem and more attention paid to treating it,” Pope says, “most of these men are on their own.”

Transgender Man Sues Catholic Hospital for Rejecting His Surgery

Posted: 05 Jan 2017 10:42 AM PST

A transgender man is suing a Catholic hospital in New Jersey after he says it refused to allow his hysterectomy on religious grounds.

Jionni Conforti’s doctors concluded that a hysterectomy was medically necessary for him, so he found a surgeon and scheduled the procedure at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson in 2015. He didn’t expect any problems —until a hospital administrator told him they could not allow his surgery because it was a “Catholic hospital,” he alleges in the federal lawsuit.

“Being humiliated and rejected by a hospital because of who you are as a person is not okay,” Conforti, 33, told TIME.

St. Joseph’s allegedly denied Conforti’s surgery despite having a “patient’s bill of rights” that guarantees medical service without discrimination based on categories including “gender identity or expression.” The hospital did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

While Conforti found another hospital to perform his hysterectomy three months later, he said he felt betrayed and became depressed after St. Joseph’s denied his surgery. He pointed to the high rate of suicide among transgender people, saying that an experience like his can make transitioning even harder.

“My goal is to make a change for the up and coming trans people so they never have to go through this,” he said.

Conforti, who is represented by Lambda Legal, is seeking monetary damages and to require the hospital to perform any needed medical care for transgender patients.

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