US health study reveals ‘dangerous disparities’ among states

Working-age Americans in 21 states faced a higher probability of premature death from 1990 to 2016, according to the most extensive state-by-state US health study ever conducted.

The likelihood of early death for men and women age 20 to 55 is highest in West Virginia, Mississippi, and Alabama. In contrast, same-age residents of Minnesota, California, New York, and several northeastern states have a lower probability of premature mortality.

“We are seeing dangerous disparities among states,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, whose organization coordinated the study. “Unless and until leaders of our health care system work together to mitigate risks, such as tobacco, alcohol, and diet, more Americans will die prematurely, and in many cases, unnecessarily.”

Source: Warning signs: New US health study reveals ‘dangerous disparities’ among states

Why Deceit Is a Hard Habit to Break?

Why, once it starts, is bad behavior difficult to curtail? What makes deceit such a hard habit to break?

New research from three faculty members at the Kellogg School sheds light on this phenomenon and the psychological processes that enable it. Maryam Kouchaki and Nour Kteily, both assistant professors of management and organizations, and Adam Waytz, an associate professor in the same department, found that people who cheat view themselves as having less capacity for certain uniquely human traits, such as self-control and planning. This dehumanized self-image, the researchers show, increases the likelihood that they will continue their bad behavior in the future.

“Because morally questionable behavior is uncomfortable, people don’t want to take responsibility for it,” Kouchaki explains. As a result, people subtly adjust their self-image and begin to view themselves as possessing fewer of the human traits that would curb that bad behavior. They, themselves, aren’t to blame, this line of thinking goes—they’re just not capable of behaving any better.

Source: What Makes Deceit Such a Hard Habit to Break?

Brain differences in athletes: contact vs. noncontact sports


A study from researchers at Indiana University has found differences in the brains of athletes who participate in contact sports compared to those who participate in noncontact sports.

While more research is needed, senior author Nicholas Port said the findings contribute important information to research on subconcussive blows — or “microconcussions” — that are common in sports such as football, soccer, ice hockey, snowboarding and skiing. Interest in subconcussions has grown significantly in recent years as the long- and short-term risks of concussions — or mild traumatic brain injury — have become more widely known and understood.

“The verdict is still out on the seriousness of subconcussions, but we’ve got to learn more since we’re seeing a real difference between people who participate in sports with higher risk for these impacts,” said Port, an associate professor in the IU School of Optometry. “It’s imperative to learn whether these impacts have an actual effect on cognitive function — as well as how much exposure is too much.”

Source: Study finds brain differences in athletes playing contact vs. noncontact sports

No benefit from studying according to supposed learning style

The results are bad news for advocates of the learning styles concept. Student grade performance was not correlated in any meaningful way with their dominant learning style or with any learning style(s) they scored highly on. Also, while most students (67 per cent) actually failed to study in a way consistent with their supposedly preferred learning style, those who did study in line with their dominant style did not achieve a better grade in their anatomy class than those who didn’t.

Instead, there were specific study strategies, such as practising microscope work and using lecture notes, that were associated with better grade performance, regardless of students’ learning style. Other activities, such as using flash cards, were associated with poorer performance, perhaps because they were a sign of learning by rote rather than deeper learning.

Source: “Another nail in the coffin for learning styles” – students did not benefit from studying according to their supposed learning style

How social support affects mental health after a natural disaster

A new Journal of Traumatic Stress study found that social support may have helped alleviate depressive symptoms for displaced and nondisplaced residents who survived Hurricane Katrina. Also, social support appeared to only moderate the effects of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms for nondisplaced residents, indicating that displaced individuals may require more formal supports for reducing PTSD symptoms following a natural disaster.

Eighteen to 24 months after Hurricane Katrina, researchers surveyed 810 adults who survived the disaster. Participants reported the number of Katrina-related traumatic events experienced, perceived social support 2 months post-Katrina, and PTSD and depressive symptoms experienced since Katrina.

Source: Study examines how social support affects mental health after a natural disaster

Launching big, audacious ideas

The Audacious Project builds on TED’s track record of surfacing important ideas, and getting them to people who’ll be deeply inspired by them. Each year, we’ll invite social entrepreneurs to share their boldest ideas with us — and we’re looking for ideas that truly take your breath away, that flood you with a sense of possibility. We’ll use our curatorial expertise to vet these ideas, help shape them and surface the ones that have both thrilling potential and a ready-for-action plan on how to accomplish it. We’ll bring these ideas to both donors and to the public, inspiring people across the world to come together to act and turn these audacious dreams into realities.

For the past 12 years, TED has turned big ideas into action through the TED Prize — an endeavor we celebrate this week in a new series of short documentaries made with CNN’s Great Big Story. But to have greater impact, we know we need partners alongside us. So while The Audacious Project is replacing the TED Prize, we see it as a significant ramp-up of the Prize’s mission. It’s a bigger bet on the power of ideas and the entrepreneurs that champion them.

Source: A new initiative for launching big, audacious ideas

Medical marijuana welcomed by 80% of older adults

ANN ARBOR, MI – Few older adults use medical marijuana, a new national poll finds, but the majority support its use if a doctor recommends it, and might talk to their own doctor about it if they developed a serious health condition.

Four out five of poll respondents between the ages of 50 and 80 said they support allowing medical marijuana if it’s recommended by a physician. Forty percent support allowing marijuana use for any reason.

And two-thirds say the government should do more to study the drug’s health effects, according to the new findings from the National Poll on Healthy Aging.

While more than two-thirds of those polled said they thought that marijuana can ease pain, about half said they believed prescription pain medications were more effective than marijuana.

The poll was conducted in a nationally representative sample of 2,007 Americans between the ages of 50 and 80 by the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation. It was sponsored by AARP and Michigan Medicine, U-M’s academic medical center.

Source: Medical marijuana gets wary welcome from older adults, poll shows

Does a Mediterranean diet slow aging?

A series of six articles appearing in the March issue of The Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences finds new correlations between a Mediterranean diet and healthy aging outcomes — while also underscoring the need for careful approaches to the use of data in order to measure the diet’s potential benefits.

“Greater clarity on how this diet is defined, in both interventions and observational studies, will be critical in the aim of achieving a consensus on how to optimally apply this dietary pattern towards maximizing healthy aging,” state Michelle A. Mendez, PhD, and Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences Editor-in-Chief Anne B. Newman, MD, FGSA, in an opening editorial.

Hallmarks of the Mediterranean diet include: a variety of minimally processed whole grains and legumes as the staple food; plenty of a huge diversity of fresh vegetables consumed on a daily basis; fresh fruits as the typical daily dessert; cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, and seeds as the principal source of fat; moderate consumption of fish; dairy products consumed in low amounts; red and processed meat consumed in very low frequency and amounts; and wine consumed in low to moderate amounts only with meals.

Source: Can a Mediterranean diet pattern slow aging?

Urban design and childhood obesity

Children who live in more walkable neighbourhoods have a smaller waist measurement and a lower BMI (body mass index). Those are the findings of a Montreal research team led by INRS professor Tracie A. Barnett. According to the results of the study published in Preventive Medicine by Adrian Ghenadenik (lead author) with Professor Barnett (senior contributing author), urban design is a factor in the development of childhood obesity. The study suggests that infrastructure designed to encourage walking can help reduce childhood obesity. Pedestrian-friendly amenities, such as pedestrian crossing lights, wider sidewalks, and signs to help pedestrians cross the road, are thought to have a greater impact in high-density neighbourhoods. Such features can also encourage children to ride bicycles, play outside, and engage in similar activities, all of which help them burn off energy.

Source: The link between urban design and childhood obesity

Competition into conflict

Competition, while often seen as beneficial, can escalate into destructive conflict. This occurs, for instance, when athletes sabotage each other or when rival executives get caught up in a career-derailing fight. These escalations into conflict are especially likely among status-similar competitors, who are fraught with discordant understandings of who is superior to whom. We examine the link between status similarity and conflict as well as the conditions under which this link holds. We find that status-similar Formula One drivers are more prone to collide, especially when they are age-similar, perform well, are embedded in a stable role structure, and feel safe. Our inquiry deepens our understanding of when violent conflict emerges and can guide conflict prevention efforts.

Source: Escalation of competition into conflict in competitive networks of Formula One drivers