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New meta-analysis tells it like it is: television viewing damages our health

A new meta-analysis in the Journal of the American Medical Association tells it like it is: television viewing damages our health.  The paper's title is "Television viewing and risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality" and its abstract reads:

Recent research: two studies on panic, two on attention training for anxiety disorders, and three on the effects of child abuse

Here are seven recent papers on panic, attention training, and the effects of childhood sexual abuse (all details & abstracts to these studies are listed further down this blog post).  Pfaltz & colleagues report on a novel ambulatory respiratory monitoring system that seems to demonstrate that panic sufferers are not routinely suffering from breathing abnormalities (e.g. hyperventilation) when they go about their daily lives.  The CBT theory of panic disorder would go along with this - panic being seen as due, in part, to catastrophizing about the meaning of experienced physical sensations rather than due to simply having unusual physical sensations.  Shelby et al's paper extends this understanding concluding that with sufferers from non-cardiac chest pain (NCCP) "Chest pain and anxiety were directly related to greater disability and indirectly related to physical and psychosocial disability via pain catastrophizing.

Recent research: six studies on eating habits, obesity, vitamin D, lifestyle & dementia

Here are half a dozen studies on weight, bite size, vitamin D, dietary supplements, and ways of avoiding dementia.  Andrew et al report on the "Incident cancer burden attributable to excess body mass index in 30 European countries" estimating that about 6% of cancers could be avoided if we could maintain healthier weights (abstracts & links for all six articles mentioned appear further down this page).  Zijlstra and colleagues suggest a possible response!  They randomized subjects to eating with different bite (mouthful) sizes and different chewing times.  They found that " ... greater oral sensory exposure to a product, by eating with small bite sizes rather than with large bite sizes and increasing OPT (oral processing time), significantly decreases food intake."  As Mum might put it "Don't wolf your food!"

Recent research: 3 studies on diet & (cardiovascular) health, 2 on fish oil, dementia & postpartum depression, and 1 on walnuts!

Here are half a dozen studies on diet (see below for all abstracts and links).  The first three are about the benefits of healthy lifestyle.  Trichopoulou & colleagues evaluated the contribution of nine widely accepted components of the Mediterranean diet (high intake of vegetables, fruits and nuts, legumes, fish, and cereals; low intake of meat and dairy; high ratio of monounsaturated to saturated lipids; and moderate intake of ethanol) in the inverse association of this diet with all cause mortality.  They concluded that "The dominant components of the Mediterranean diet score as a predictor of lower mortality are moderate consumption of ethanol, low consumption of meat and meat products, and high consumption of vegetables, fruits and nuts, olive oil, and legumes.

Recent research: six papers on helping children & adolescents

Here are half a dozen papers on helping kids and adolescents.  The Fuligni et al paper found that adolescents experiencing frequent interpersonal stresses tended to have increased levels of C-reactive protein, " ... an inflammatory marker that is a key indicator of cardiovascular risk ... ".  Jackson et al showed that in preschool kids each extra hour of regular TV viewing is associated with an extra 1 kg of body fat.  This appeared to be due to increases in calorie intake rather than reduction in physical activity.  Decreased family accommodation is associated with improved outcome in paediatric OCD, Merlo et al found.  Naylor et al found that a six lesson teaching block on mental health benefitted young teenagers.  Proctor et al provide a free full text overview of teenage life satisfaction assessment measures, while Wilkinson and colleagues report on 28 week follow-up in a treatment trial for depressed adolescents.  The authors found "Depression at 28 weeks was predicted by the additive effects of severity, obsessive-compulsive disorder and suicidal ideation at entry together with presence of at least one disappointing life event over the follow-up period.

Recent research: three depression papers that get me thinking

Looking back over relevant research papers that caught my attention last month, some stand out for me more than the others.  Here are three on depression that stood out and got me thinking.  The Fergusson et al paper looks at links between alcohol abuse and major depression.  There has been debate for years on whether alcohol dependence leads to depression or depression leads to alcohol dependence.  In this kind of debate, it's usually a good bet that both pathways contain some truth.  What this study adds is that often it is the alcohol dependence that is primary.  As the authors state " ... the associations between AAD (alcohol abuse or dependence) and MD (major depression) were best explained by a causal model in which problems with alcohol led to increased risk of MD as opposed to a self-medication model in which MD led to increased risk of AAD." 

Recent research: five papers on overweight - mortality, cardiovascular risk, diets, and schools

Here are five papers mostly looking at aspects of overweight.  The first, published recently in the Lancet, is a huge study on the effects of body-mass index (BMI) on subsequent mortality in nearly 900,000 adults.  It shows progressive excess mortality above the BMI range 22.5-25 kg/m2.  (To calculate your BMI click here).  At 40-45 kg/m2, the reduction in life expectancy of 8-10 years is comparable to the effects of being a smoker.  The second paper, by Neovius et al, also involved large numbers - over 45,000 older adolescents.  Again it showed excess mortality at long term follow-up, and commented "Obesity and overweight were as hazardous as heavy and light smoking, respectively".  The third study by Katseva et al looked at modifiable risk factors in European patients with cardiac disease.  The findings were depressing with obesity, for example, increasing stepwise from 25% at first survey, to 32.6% at second, to 38% at third survey.  Overall the authors concluded "These time trends show a compelling need for more effective lifestyle management of patients with coronary heart disease ... To salvage the acutely ischaemic myocardium without addressing the underlying causes of the disease is futile; we need to invest in prevention." 

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