Total 43 News Articles

  • 30 Dec
    eWellness Expert

    Ocean views linked to better mental health

    girl watching ocean view 

    Here’s another reason to start saving for that beach house: New research suggests that residents with a view of the water are less stressed.

    The study, co-authored by Michigan State University’s Amber L. Pearson, is the first to find a link between health and the visibility of water, which the researchers call blue space.

    “Increased views of blue space is significantly associated with lower levels of psychological distress,” said Pearson, assistant professor of health geography and a member of MSU’s Water Science Network. “However, we did not find that with green space.”

    Using various topography data, the researchers studied the visibility of blue and green spaces from residential locations in Wellington, New Zealand, an urban capital city surrounded by the Tasman Sea on the north and the Pacific Ocean on the south. Green space includes forests and grassy parks.

    To gauge psychological distress, the researchers analyzed data from the New Zealand Health Survey. The national survey used the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale, or K10, which has proven to be an accurate predictor of anxiety and mood disorders. Mental health disorders are the leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

    Even after taking into account residents’ wealth, age, sex and other neighborhood factors, the study found that having a view of the ocean was associated with improved mental health.

    Pearson said that visibility of green space did not show the same calming effect. That could be because the study did not distinguish between types of green space.

    “It could be because the blue space was all natural, while the green space included human-made areas, such as sports fields and playgrounds, as well as natural areas such as native forests,” Pearson said. “Perhaps if we only looked at native forests we might find something different.”

    Like most wealthy countries, New Zealand is highly urbanized, meaning effective city planning is increasingly important, Pearson said. Designating a proportion of high-rise buildings or affordable homes in locations with ocean views could potentially promote mental health.

    Pearson said future research could investigate whether the findings hold true for large fresh bodies of water such as the Great Lakes.

    The study appears in the May issue of the academic journal Health & Place. Pearson’s co-authors include Daniel Nutsford, a former master’s degree student at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.

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  • 30 Dec
    eWellness Expert

    Breastfeeding linked to better childhood behavior: study

    breastfeeding

    WASHINGTON:  Children breastfed exclusively for their first six months of life have an easier time behaving as primary school students, according to new research.

    Carried out in South Africa, the study assessed more than 1,500 children and found a strong link between how long they were breastfed and signs of behavioral disorders between the ages of seven and 11.

     

    Children fed only breast milk for their first six months -- as recommended by the World Health Organization -- were 56 percent less likely to exhibit such disorders than those breastfed for less than one month, found the study published in the PLOS medical journal.

    "The duration of exclusive breastfeeding of an infant has greater importance than previously realized in several areas of development," said Tamsen Rochat of the Human Science Research Council in Durban, a lead author of the Canadian government-financed study.

    Rochat emphasized that childhood conduct disorders are associated with social problems -- including violence and crime -- later in life, as well as poor long-term mental health and low academic achievement.

    The research also found that young children who attended daycare for at least one year were 74 percent more likely to achieve higher executive functions, enabling them to plan, concentrate and remember instructions.

    The brain needs these skills to prioritize tasks, filter out distractions and achieve goals, noted study authors.

    Young children who received stimulation only at home were just 36 percent more likely to achieve high executive functions.

    The study also analyzed a number of environmental factors that could influence child development, and found that children were two-and-a-half times more likely to develop behavioral problems if their mothers showed signs of mental health issues or severe parenting stress.

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