Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Teens preoccupied with how they look

The new series of BBC1’s Child Of Our Time, hosted by Professors Tanya Byron and Robert Winston aired last week.

In the first episode they looked at the effects of biology and technology on the body image of modern teenagers.

Professor Winston stated: “All our teenagers are more concerned about the way they look and their body image than they ever were as children”.

When the teens were 7 years old, the BBC asked them what they felt about their bodies. They were shown a set of images and asked to select the one that was most like them. They were then asked if they would prefer to look like one of the other images. On the whole, the children were happy with their body.

However, at 16 the teenagers are now much more critical of their appearance. Unlike when they were 7, given the choice most of them would prefer a different body”. The teen’s body image comments included:

'I would like to be taller, less fat.'
‘ I would prefer myself with a slimmer frame'.
‘I am a bit too skinny, I would just like to be able to put on a bit more weight. Being called anorexic is not too great'.

Most people recognize the fact that teenagers tend to be self-conscious. Science now points to a particular change in the teenage brain. In experiments with adults and teenagers, an adult brains shows little activity when asked to think about being judged by others, while teenagers show a huge amount of activity. The part of the brain of interest is called the Prefrontal Cortex; it is associated with how we perceive others and how we think others perceive us. During the teenage years, the Prefrontal Cortex undergoes enormous changes, resulting in a preoccupation in what teenagers think others think about them.

Alongside brain changes; technological change, social media in particular, has created an environment where teens are constantly posting selfies online, which are then judged by others. This effects, significantly in many cases, teenage body image and confidence.

“The combination of a world obsessed with selfies and a brain extra sensitive to the judgment of others”, concluded Professor Winston, “means that it is no surprise that today's teens are preoccupied with how they look”.


Thursday, April 06, 2017

'Apprehensive about taking my wig off'

Victoria Derbyshire has posted a video diary titled 'Taking my wig off'. In the video she expresses her feelings about her hair, wig, cancer and body image”

“Okay, so it's time to stop wearing a wig, which I have been wearing since December 2015, since I had chemotherapy for breast cancer treatment.

“Probably about ½ my hair maybe ¾ of my hair fell out as a result of the treatment. I have to say losing my hair was the worst bit about cancer treatment for me; more so then having a mastectomy. Don't judge me for that, it's just the way I felt. I am grateful to this wig actually, because it helped me get on with things, go to work, live my life normally without worry, it is time for it to go”.

[Victoria takes of her wig]

“This is my new hair, this is about 12 months growth since chemo finished and it's come back as thick as it was if not thicker; as shiny as it was, slightly more 'ringlety' than it was before, but I am actually apprehensive about taking my wig off, because this is not me. I know it doesn't really matter what my hair looks like, the point is this, if proof was needed, once chemotherapy is complete your hair does grow back. When you're in some of those dark moments during chemo, you do doubt that, as irrational and absurd as that sounds.

“Your body does slowly renew itself once chemo is complete and there is something really optimistic about that."


Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Inactivity and health

There is a warning that sedentary lifestyles could be slowly killing you.

A new report from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) states that 20 million Britons are physically inactive totaling 31% of the population. "Inactive" is defined as not achieving the government guidelines for physical activity of 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a week and strength activities on at least two days a week.

The report identifies a north south divide across England with people in the north-west the most inactive 47%, compared to the south east, the most active region, totaling 34%. 

Click on image to view enlargement.

The male versus female findings, show that each year men spent a fifth of their time or 78 days inactive (sitting down) why females spent 74 days.

More than 5 million deaths worldwide are attributed to physical inactivity. In the UK alone it causes one in ten premature deaths from coronary heart disease, and one in six deaths overall. Evidence shows keeping physically active can reduce the risk of heart and circulatory disease by as much as 35% and risk of early death by as much as 30%.

Dr Mike Knapton, BHF Associate Medical Director, said: “Physical inactivity is one of the most significant global health crises of the moment. Levels of physical inactivity and sedentary behaviour in the UK remain stubbornly high, and combined these two risk factors present a substantial threat to our cardiovascular health and risk of early death”.


Friday, March 31, 2017

Acne affects teenage confidence

Acne affects approximately 80% of teenagers aged 13-18 years. Despite acne being commonplace, a British Skin Foundation (BSF) study (10-18 year-olds) found that teenagers with acne are often on the receiving end of bullying, by friends, family and strangers.

The BSF survey of teens with acne found that, due to their acne:

• 62% have experienced verbal abused by friends, family or a person they knew
• 40% have been verbally abused by a member of the public
• 46% reported being bullied regularly
• 19% have contemplated suicide due to their acne, with another 4% actually attempting suicide
• 19% have considered self-harm and a further 16% have actually self-harmed

On a more positive note 48% relied on their family for support.

Regarding an acne remedy, 52% have tried five or more acne treatments.

BFS’s Dr Mahto’s tips for tackling acne by include:
• Cleanse your face twice a day with a face wash designed for acne-prone skin. Products that contain salicylic acid and zinc may be beneficial. Exfoliate your skin weekly, this will remove the upper layer of skin cells, resulting in a brighter complexion and help reduce blackheads
• Try over the counter acne treatments such as benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid to apply directly onto spots
• Avoid heavy cosmetics and products that will block pores and choose items that are oil-free and non-comedogenic
• See your GP or a dermatologist if your acne fails to respond to these measures, if you notice scarring, or it is starting to affect your self-esteem

Source: British Skin Foundation


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Who won Leg-it?

When a very important meeting between the UK’s Prime Minister Teresa May and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, a meeting focused on Brexit, the UK’s future relationship with the EU and a possible second Scottish Referendum; one would assume the main issues would dominate the front pages of newspapers. The seriousness of the occasion was nowhere to be found on today’s Daily Mail front cover which read: ‘Never mind Brexit, who won Leg-it!’

Unsurprisingly, the Daily Mail found itself on the receiving end of much criticism; many people took to Twitter to publicise their displeasure:

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn): ‘Its 2017. This sexism must be confined to history. Shame on the Daily Mail

Yvette Cooper (‪@YvetteCooperMP): It's 2017. Two women's decisions will determine if United Kingdom continues to exist. And front page news is their lower limbs. Obviously

Speaking to Sky News, Nicky Morgan (former equalities minister) said:

"These two very senior female politicians are being judged by their legs rather than what they said.
"I think this headline is deliberately provocative and it is deliberately demeaning.

"There are very important issues at stake that the Prime Minister and First Minister were discussing yesterday.

"The union between England and Scotland is very important, the United Kingdom is very incredibly important and I think that's what should be focused on in terms of their meeting - not a picture of their legs."

In a BBC radio discussion of the front page, Catherine Mayer (co-founder of the Women's Equality Party, said that it was "laughable and ridiculous" to present two government figureheads in such a way. Continuing:

"This isn't treating women as professionals: this is treating two national leaders as unlikely sex symbols.

"It's precisely meant to diminish their power."

In response to the negative feedback from public figure and the general public, the newspaper attempted to minimize the damage by adding, "Sarah Vine's light-hearted verdict on the big show down" to the article. The action did little to appease its critics.

The Scottish edition of the paper had the alternative headline: "Oh so frosty! Secrets of Nicola and PM's talk-in”; giving the two women and their topic of discussion, a headline more befitting the sobriety of the occasion.



Friday, March 24, 2017

Dieting failure - Your body working against you

Evidence points to the fact that dramatic weight loss that stays off is possible, however over twenty years of research points to the fact that’s its highly unlikely that lost weight will not return. The scientific evidence was presented in Channel 4’s Super slimmers, did they really keep the weight off.

1. Significant weight loss is usually followed by regaining most, all or even more weight than was initially lost.

Dr Thomas Barber Human Metabolism Research Unit University Hospital Coventry:
"This is a hard wired response deeply set within our genetic architecture to change that it's not easy.
"The majority of people who lose weight ultimately do regain that weight. Certain studies have shown that over the course of 3 to 5 years the majority of people who have lost weight will then regain most of that”.

Professor Traci Mann, Health and Eating Lab University of Minnesota:
“Very few people know that diets don't work in the long run. Their body is changing, physically changing because of dieting”.

2. The body will try to replenish lost fat

Dr Barber:
“The current theory is that it comes down to our genetic hard wiring. During evolution one of the biggest threats to our species survival is starvation. Any loss of fat mass would have typically occurred during famine and so it makes sense, during those circumstances, to conserve energy and lay down more fat to mitigate the harmful effects of starvation. When we go on a diet and we lose weight that is a similar biological scenario to being starving.
“The bottom line is that regardless of how much weight you lose and the rapidity of that weight loss, the body will respond typically to regain the way that you've lost”.

Continue Reading


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Plus-size personal trainer

Kate Buckland, is a plus-size personal trainer.

Thee mum of two used to weigh 22 stone and was a size 26 at her biggest. Now she's a size 16. Kate shed the weight because she felt uncomfortable in her own skin.

"My back fat rubbed together, my tummy fat rubbed together. It felt horrible," she told the BBC.

"I'm not doing this [fitness] to be skinny. Body perfection doesn't fit with me and it's not something I aspire to. I am plus-size and I'm cool with that."

"I turned to fitness as a form of stress relief. It's the best thing I've ever done. Sometimes I hate it but I know I'll feel better once I've done it. I push myself to do things I don't think I can do."

Commenting on some negative responses from the general public Kate stated: "I've been body-shamed. I've been called 'fatty' while running down the road. You just have to get on with it. It's not easy and people can be nasty but that is their problem, not mine. Sometimes”, she admits, “it does make me want to turn around and walk away because it makes you feel small. I'm not going to let them ruin my day. You just have to go out there and do 'you'."

Talking about her job as a fitness trainer Kate says: "I'm helping people to be a version of themselves that they want to be but sometimes feel is unobtainable. To me it's really important and fulfilling."

It’s great to see someone take control of their lives and make the necessary changes to improve their overall health, fitness and quality of life. It’s even better when they both inspire and assist others to do likewise. We wish Kate well.

Watch video


Friday, March 17, 2017

Magazine covers - A whole new place to go to

 Daniel Wheeler’s muscular physique following successfully losing (and keeping off) 8 stones earned him the coveted place on the front page of Men’s Fitness magazine.

Daniel explained (on Channel 4 Super Slimmers – Did they really keep the weight off?) the difficulties associated with achieving and maintaining his picture perfect muscular form.

“My mind-set at the time when I lost the majority of weight was kind of obsessive and addictive.

“A lot of people wont realise this, but in order to get that magazine shot, although you may look pleasing to the eyes, because of the abs and pecs and all that type of jaz, its a whole new place to go to; from a physical prospective it’s just disgusting. So any guy you see on the front cover, they’ve had to diet for months and months to achieve that spot like physique; which maybe they could hold for a couple of weeks and then they have got to let go of it.

“Dieting to low body fat levels is incredibly difficult, mind-set wise, because the body doesn’t want to lose that fat. You know, body fat is a protective mechanism, its an energy source and survival tool; and it doesn’t want to let go or it. So it does everything it possibly can not to get rid of it.”


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Scales removed from fitness centre


Carleton University (Canada) has removed scales from the campus fitness centre “in keeping with current fitness and social trends” aimed at people with a special sensitivity to learning their weight.

“Scales are very triggering,” Carleton University freshman Samar El Faki posted to Facebook in support of the decision. “I think people are being insensitive because they simply don’t understand. They think eating disorders are a choice when they are actually a serious illness.”

The college’s athletics manager, Bruce Marshall, explained the decision in an email: “We don’t believe being fixated on weight has any positive affect on your health and well-being. The body is an amazing machine and even when we are dieting and training it will often find a homeostasis at a certain weight. It takes weeks, even months to make a permanent change in your weight. So why obsess about it. Why not look at other indicators?”

Speaking on CBC Marshall suggested an alternative way (than weight) to measure health and fitness.

“Although it (scale) can be used as a tool to help measure certain aspects of fitness it does not provide a good overall indication of health and here at athletics we have chosen to move away from focusing solely on bodyweight. ”

“If you need a number to focus on in regard to reaching certain fitness goals we suggest using girth measurements. You can start by recording measurements in multiple areas, for example your torso, hips, chest, legs and arms. You would then revisit these measurements after a few weeks to keep tabs on your progress.”

Students and many others criticised the decision, a number went online to publicise their feelings.

“This is absolutely ridiculous,” Eduardo Platas posted to Facebook with a link to The Charlatan story. “Why is society becoming stupidly sensitive? So #Carleton gym removed the scale so that people won't be offended by the measurement it provides. Novel concept, don't step on the scale".

Aaron Bens, a communications student at Carleton, posted that he was “frustrated” by the “next escalation of trigger culture” and offered a common sense solution.

“We stand up for free speech and defend the books that offend certain people because of their merits. They can simply choose not to read them,” he wrote. “This is the same thing. Those who are offended by the scale can simply choose not to use the scale. Certain athletes like boxers and rowers rely on those measurements, for them (the scale) is vital,” he wrote.

Other comments were harsher. The fierce backlash has forced the college to revisit their ruling to remove the scales.

“We will weigh the pros and cons and may reconsider our decision,” Marshall said.


Monday, March 13, 2017

How nice are you?

If I asked you this question, would you point to a list of actions e.g. giving up your seat on a train, giving directions to a stranger or opening a door for someone, as proof that you are a nice person? According to a recent study, you might not be as nice as you think you are.

Psychologists from Goldsmiths University of London (in partnership with Monarch Airlines) conducted the study in order to determine if there is a link between nice people and their levels of health, wealth and happiness.

Facereader, which monitors facial features such as furrowing of brows, how eyes appear and shape of mouth, was used in conjunction with questionnaires to validate participates responses.

The researchers found that:

- 98 % of British people believe that that they are in the top half of the population when it comes to niceness.

- most people happily did the actions detailed above such as giving up their seat on public transport but:-
       i) two thirds rarely if ever helped someone to carry heavy shopping bags,
      ii) five-sixths infrequently give money to strangers, and
     iii) only a quarter of people give blood or help elderly or regularly helped the elderly/infirm to cross the road.

- Those who rated themselves as “nice” were likely to be richer (nicer people earn £3,500 more than those who are ‘nasty’) and happier, but not necessarily more pleasant.

- 81 per cent of the “nice” participants reported being content in their lives – almost three times the number of “not very nice” participants (30 per cent).

“Our study shows that participants who report that they are ‘nice’ scored higher on emotional intelligence – which can help them deal better with stress and chaos in their lives,” said Professor Jonathan Freeman, who led the study.

“The results reveal that our opinions of our own niceness do not always stack up with the psychometric data.

“We observed a really interesting result in relation to people’s ratings of how nice they are, and how they scored on validated measures of individual differences.

“For example, more than half of participants who rated themselves as the second-highest level of nice scored below the sample average on agreeableness - so people think they’re nicer than they really may be.”


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