HEALTH BITES

Tips for a longer life: don't live or eat alone, and take public transport to work

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 November, 2015, 9:02pm
UPDATED : Monday, 09 November, 2015, 9:01pm

Living alone is not good for you

People who live alone are more likely to have unhealthy diets, Queensland University of Technology research has found. The study reported inadequate cooking skills, no partner to go shopping with, the increasing cost of food and a lack of motivation to cook were among the reasons people living alone had different eating practices. Men living alone were more likely to have a poor diet than women. Dr Katherine Hanna and Dr Peter Collins analysed 41 previous studies to investigate the link between living alone and food and nutrient intake. "We found that people who live alone have a lower diversity of food intake and a lower consumption of fruits, vegetables and fish," Dr Hanna says. "The number of individuals living alone in the developed world continues to increase and, in 2010, 23 per cent of households in Australia were one-person households. A lack of motivation and enjoyment in cooking and/or eating alone often led to people preparing simple or ready-made meals lacking key nutrients. The absence of support or encouragement to comply with healthy eating guidelines and difficulty in managing portion control also influence diet."

Want to stay fit? Take the bus

Riding the bus or train to work may lead to a lower risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and being overweight. While it's established that a physically active lifestyle helps reduce the likelihood of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity, it is unclear whether these factors are affected by your commute. A Japanese study compared bus/train commuters, walkers/bikers and drivers and adjusted for age, gender, smoking and other factors. Compared to drivers, public transport users were 44 per cent less likely to be overweight; 27 per cent less likely to have high blood pressure; and 34 per cent less likely to have diabetes. The bus/train commuters had even lower rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and high weight than the walkers or bikers. One explanation could be that they walked farther to and from the train or bus station than walkers or bikers travelled to and from work. "If it takes longer than 20 minutes one-way to commute by walking or cycling, many people seem to take public transport or a car in urban areas of Japan," says lead study author Hisako Tsuji, director of the Moriguchi City Health Examination Centre in Osaka. "People should consider taking public transport, as a part of daily, regular exercise," Tsuji says.

Home cooking could reduce risk of type 2 diabetes

If you eat more meals prepared at home, you may reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2015. People who ate about two home-made lunches or dinners each day - or about 11 to 14 meals a week - had a 13 per cent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to people who ate less than six home-made lunches or dinners a week. Researchers analysed data from nearly 58,000 women in the Nurses' Health Study and more than 41,000 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. None of the participants had diabetes, cardiovascular disease or cancer at the beginning of the study. "The trend for eating meals in restaurants or as take-aways in the US has increased significantly over the last 50 years," says Geng Zong, a research fellow at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts. "At the same time, type 2 diabetes rates have also increased." In the study, researchers demonstrated that eating home-made meals was associated with less weight gain over eight years in these middle-aged and older health professionals.