Health bites

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 December, 2013, 9:06pm
UPDATED : Monday, 02 December, 2013, 9:06pm

Food-throwing toddlers make better learners

The messier your child gets while playing with food in the high chair, the more he or she is learning, say University of Iowa researchers. Previous studies have shown that toddlers learn more readily about solid objects than non-solid objects because they can easily identify the unchanging size and shape. The researchers exposed 16-month-olds to 14 non-solid objects, mostly food and drinks and gave them made-up words, such as "dax" or "kiv". A minute later, they asked the children to identify the same food in different sizes or shapes. The toddlers who interacted most with their foods were more likely to correctly identify them. "It may look like your child is playing in the high chair, throwing things on the ground, and they may be doing that, but they are getting information out of [those actions]," says study author Larissa Samuelson.

Fruitier fruit flies live longer

There have been many suggested secrets to long life: eating fish, leading a stress-free life … now, a new University of Michigan study suggests sex may in fact help you battle ageing. Fruit flies who got it on showed good health, youth and had a longer lifespan, in the study published in Science. Male fruit flies that perceived sexual pheromones of their female counterparts - without the opportunity to mate - experienced rapid decreases in fat stores, heightened stress and died younger. Mating, on the other hand, partially reversed the negative effects on health and ageing.

Life satisfaction hits a peak with US$36,000 income

About US$36,000 - that's the sweet spot of gross domestic product per person for happiness, according to a new analysis led by economists Eugenio Proto of the University of Warwick and Aldo Rustichini from University of Minnesota. Using data on life satisfaction gathered from the World Values Survey and GDP figures, they found, as expected, that for the poorest countries life satisfaction rises as a country's wealth increases as people are able to meet their basic needs. However, once income reaches around US$36,000, adjusted for purchasing power parity, life satisfaction levels peak, after which they appear to dip slightly in rich countries.