Our Strength Lies in Our Humanity

Billie Eilish and Tourette’s: our new study reveals what it’s really like to live with the condition

Billie Eilish and Tourette’s: our new study reveals what it’s really like to live with the condition The American singer Billie Eilish recently spoke to her fans about having struggled with Tourette’s syndrome since she was a child. She’d previously avoided going public about her diagnosis as she said she didn’t want to be characterised by her condition. The hallmark of Tourette’s is tics. These can be motor tics, such…

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Almost a third of Scots are now obese – and at risk of more cancers than smokers

Almost a third of Scots are now obese – and at risk of more cancers than smokers Shutterstock Once smoking was the killer health problem in Scotland. Now comes the news from Cancer Research that around 29% of adults in Scotland are obese whereas 18% of the population continues to smoke. In the early 1980s the figures were markedly different, at around 6% and 40% respectively. That means in just…

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Cori Gauff: the support network behind 15-year-old who beat Venus Williams

Cori Gauff: the support network behind 15-year-old who beat Venus Williams Until recently, it seems likely that only dedicated tennis fans had heard of Cori Gauff: the second youngest winner of the Junior French Open in 2018, she was one to watch – but it’s unlikely anyone predicted just how fast her star would rise. Yet the youngest player in the professional era to qualify for the main draw at…

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Impact of child mental health problems is worse than 40 years ago – our new study suggests

Impact of child mental health problems is worse than 40 years ago – our new study suggests smolaw/Shutterstock In England, rates of childhood mental health disorders have increased in the past 20 years. The proportion of five to 15-year-olds with a mental health disorder rose from 9.7% in 1999 to 11.2% in 2017, with emotional disorders (such as depression and anxiety) becoming more common in particular. Now, on average, three…

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E-cigarettes: why I’m optimistic they will stub smoking out for good

E-cigarettes: why I’m optimistic they will stub smoking out for good Shutterstock/Lumen Photos There are over a billion smokers across the world – a habit which causes more than 7m deaths per year. We have known that smoking kills for decades, but this simple fact has not been enough to persuade every smoker to quit. Even more surprising is that the vast amount of evidence about the risks of smoking hasn’t been enough to put people off starting to smoke in the first place. If knowing smoking kills doesn’t stop people from taking up the habit, what will? I believe e-cigarettes provide real hope. Available since 2007, these devices often contain nicotine, the addictive substance in cigarettes, but without many of the harmful toxicants. Consequently, they are proving to be…

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Some baby care books are giving advice that goes against safe infant care guidelines

Some baby care books are giving advice that goes against safe infant care guidelines Parenting and baby care books may be unintentionally putting babies in danger. Cookie Studio/Shutterstock Becoming a new parent can be one of the most stressful things you ever do. It’s normal to feel blindsided between what you thought it would be like, and the reality. But it can lead to all sorts of emotions from panic and anxiety, through to grief for your former existence, and even (often hidden) regret at what you’ve got yourself into. This isn’t helped by how isolated many new parents now are. Just a few decades ago, family, friendships and networks were far more localised, but now, many new mothers have babies many miles away from family, and may not know…

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Not everyone uses a toothbrush and toothpaste to clean their teeth – here’s what science says about their effectiveness

Not everyone uses a toothbrush and toothpaste to clean their teeth – here’s what science says about their effectiveness A toothbrush made from a twig from the arak tree. mohamadhafizmohamad/Shutterstock Most people use toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss to clean their teeth, but their use is by no means universal. Many indigenous groups, as well as people in developing countries, use traditional techniques to clean their teeth. Some of these techniques are more effective than others. Many people in the Middle East, and some parts of South and Southeast Asia, use twigs from the arak tree (known as miswak) to clean their teeth. They fray the end of the twig, dampen the resulting bristles with water or rosewater and then rub the bristles against their teeth (see video below). The…

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Seven ways restaurants can nudge people to eat more healthily

Seven ways restaurants can nudge people to eat more healthily THE SinCos Studio/Shutterstock Here are the seven most effective “nudges” that restaurants and grocery stores can use to help tackle the obesity crisis while remaining in business and preserving our right as consumers to splurge if we want to. A nudge gently pushes us towards making better choices without resorting to economic incentives or restricting our freedom of choice. Reorganising a menu or a grocery shelf is a nudge. Taxing sodas or banning energy drinks is not. In our study of 96 field experiments, published in Marketing Science, we classified nudges into seven types and measured their effectiveness, after controlling for the characteristics of the respondents, setting and study. We then converted the expected daily decrease in energy intake into…

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Blood-flow-restricted training: a new way to boost muscle performance

Blood-flow-restricted training: a new way to boost muscle performance Participants undergoing a session of blood-flow-restricted training at the training facility. Author provided Strapping a band tightly around your limbs to reduce blood flow while training may seem like an odd way to boost athletic performance, but our latest study suggests that it does just that. In our study, we show that if you do interval cycling with reduced blood flow by strapping nylon cuffs around your legs, you become markedly better at exercising to exhaustion compared with training without reduced flow. Also, your muscles take up a lot more sugar (carbohydrate) from the bloodstream, increasing the amount of fuel available for muscles to work during exercise. This is good news for those engaged in endurance sports, such as long-distance runners,…

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Why the NHS needs a culture shift from blame and fear to learning

Why the NHS needs a culture shift from blame and fear to learning Finding and filling gaps in knowledge. Arlou Andrei/Shutterstock Being a sacred cow cannot forever protect the NHS from having to confront its shortcomings. Critical reports abound from the King’s Fund, Nuffield Trust, and the Institute of Economic Affairs. The list of scandals grows longer and, out of 35 countries in a European healthcare league table, the UK is in 16th place between Estonia and Slovakia. A British Medical Association survey of doctors in 2018 revealed a culture of fear and blame in the NHS. The workforce is demotivated with low morale and early retirement is increasingly being sought. Despite all this, no politician will openly acknowledge the deep-seated cultural problems of the NHS. The government announced in…

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