Study: Obesity May Hasten Cognitive Decline
We all know obesity is bad for your heart, but new research suggests it's bad for the brain, too. People who are obese in middle age and who have high blood pressure or other metabolic risk factors experience faster mental decline as they get older than people of normal weight. Indeed, these folks tend to lose their memory and thinking skills nearly a quarter faster, according to a large study published Monday in Neurology. Though researchers aren't sure exactly how obesity and cognitive decline are linked, they speculate that heart disease and inflammation may be involved. "Our results add to this list of adverse health effects, showing poorer [mental] outcomes among the obese," study author Archana Singh-Manoux, research director of the Center for Research in Epidemiology in Paris, told HealthDay.
How Lying Affects Your Health
One little white lie here. Another there. Liar, liar—no, your pants aren't going to catch on fire. So what could it hurt? Plenty, say researchers, and a new study suggests that honesty may indeed be the best policy, for both your health and well-being. Listen up, because most of us tell 11 lies a week, or one or two each day. And all that fibbing could lead to headaches, sore throats, and feeling sad and stressed.
Anita Kelly, a psychology professor at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, spent 10 weeks tracking the health of 110 adults. She asked half of them to stop lying throughout the study period—which meant no false statements, though participants could still omit the truth, keep secrets, and dodge questions they didn't want to answer. The other folks weren't given any specific instructions about lying, though they knew they'd be reporting the number of fibs they told each week. In addition to taking a weekly lie-detector test, participants filled out questionnaires about their physical and mental health, as well as the quality of their relationships.
The results? Both groups lied less, but those instructed to tell the truth reaped more health improvements. "We established very clearly that purposefully trying not to lie caused people to tell fewer lies," Kelly says. "When they told more lies, their health went down. And when they told the truth, it improved." In fact, telling three fewer minor lies a week translated to four fewer mental health complaints, and three fewer physical complaints. (Those in the control group who independently told fewer lies logged around two fewer health complaints each week.) Kelly speculates that's because telling the truth improves relationships, as the study participants reported. And research has long indicated that people with good relationships have better physical and mental health. [Read more: How Lying Affects Your Health]
The Secret to Sticking With Exercise
There's a big reason why the average American only gets 17 minutes of physical activity a day, barely half of the recommended amount. Many people give excuses for falling short, usually attributing the gap to some variation of having "no time." The reality is it all comes down to one issue—value, writes U.S. News blogger Rebecca Scritchfield.
People do things that are important to them. Every day you set priorities, schedule your time and, for the most part, follow your "to-do" list. The most important things get done and things you care less about are most likely to fall off the schedule.
So why does the typical American value exercise less than other tasks? My theory is that it has to do with a lack of purpose for exercise. It's not meaningful. Arguments like "helps manage weight," "gives you more energy," and "helps prevent disease" just fall on deaf ears. People know that exercise has its benefits—even that it can help save their lives. But it just doesn't resonate enough with their day-to-day values to become a priority and eventually a habit. [Read more: The Secret to Sticking With Exercise]
Angela Haupt is a health reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow her on Twitter or reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.