Stay fit and happy
Sixth-year primary students - especially girls - are less likely to report feeling depressed when they reach seventh grade if they're physically fit, says a study presented at the American Psychological Association's 122nd annual convention. Even when researchers considered existing symptoms of depression and weight, sixth-grade girls who performed better on a cardio-respiratory fitness test were less likely to feel depressed when they were surveyed again in the seventh grade. There was a smaller but similar effect on boys, according to the findings presented by Dr Camilo Ruggero of the University of North Texas.
Passing down the stress
To better understand stress during pregnancy today, we should look to the experiences of our ancestors, the open access electronic journal, BMC Medicine, suggests. Scientists investigating pregnancies in four generations of rats show that inherited but non-genetic effects of stress could affect pregnancies for generations. Researchers from the University of Lethbridge in Canada wanted to investigate how preterm births are influenced by stress.
Healthy diet set early in life
Promoting a healthy diet from infancy is important to prevent childhood obesity and the onset of chronic disease. This is the finding from a study published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health. Led by Rebecca Byrne from Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, the study described quantity and diversity of food and drinks consumed by children aged 12 to 16 months. "The toddler years are critical in the development of long-term food preferences, but this is also the age that autonomy, independence and food fussiness begins," Byrne says. "Childhood obesity in Australia has doubled since 1986, with about 21 per cent of children aged two and three now classified as overweight or obese. "Liking a nutrient-dense diet that incorporates all five food groups is important, as evidence suggests that food preferences develop at this early age and persist into adulthood.
A happy life is an eco-friendly one
The pursuit of true happiness can lead people to lifestyles that will not only be satisfying but better for the environment, according to an overview of psychological research presented at the American Psychological Association's 122nd annual convention.
"For decades, consumerism has been on a collision course with the environment, with consumer appetites draining the planet of natural resources and accelerating global warming. One view is that we need to change consumption in order to save the planet," says Dr Miriam Tatzel of Empire State College in New York. "But what if we approached it from the other direction? What if what's good for the consumer meets what's good for the environment?" Positive psychology, or the study of happiness, well-being and quality of life, provides the answers to what really brings happiness to consumers, Tatzel says.