Summary of “Watch your step: why the 10,000 daily goal is built on bad science”

They concluded that the average Japanese person took between 3,500 and 5,000 steps a day, and that if these people increased their daily step count to 10,000, they could decrease their risk of coronary artery disease.
While the World Health Organization, the American Heart Foundation and the US Department of Health & Human Services have all gradually adopted 10,000 steps as a daily activity recommendation, in recent years the veracity of this number has been increasingly called into question.
Most of the scientific studies that have been conducted to try to test whether 10,000 steps a day is optimal for health are themselves relatively arbitrary.
“So, the study might find that 10,000 helps you lose more weight than 5,000 and then the media see it and report: ‘Yes, you should go with 10,000 steps,’ but that could be because the study has only tested two numbers. It didn’t test 8,000, for example, and it didn’t test 12,000.”
Scientists who have attempted to calculate an exact number of steps that equate to the public health guidelines of 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day, have found that we should perhaps aim for a minimum of 7,500 steps.
Scientists who have studied the Amish people in rural Canada, who use no motorised forms of transport, have found that they average 14,000-18,000 steps a day, while a study of Japanese patients with type 2 diabetes from the mid-90s found that those who averaged about 19,000 steps a day had far better outcomes compared with those who remained largely sedentary.
Researchers are currently conducting studies to see whether people who take 10,000 steps a day merely by pottering around their house achieve the same health benefits as those who do so by brisk walking or playing sport.
“More recently, scientists have started looking at cadence, which is the idea of step rate or frequency of stepping,” Tudor-Locke says.

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Summary of “Is a glass of wine a day really unsafe? A new alcohol study, explained.”

“The safest level of drinking is none.” This was the stunning conclusion of a big paper appearing last week in the Lancet – one that prompted dozens of news stories warning of the dangers of even the lowest levels of alcohol consumption.
Do people who drink more red wine have lower rates of heart disease? Is eating yogurt and nuts linked with a longer lifespan?
For example: Say you want to compare people who drink spirits and beer to wine drinkers.
As we saw with another recent alcohol study, beer and spirit drinkers were more likely to be lower income, male, and smokers and to have jobs that involved manual labor, compared with the wine drinkers.
“If eggs are bad, even if you eat eight eggs a day, this is no big deal, while with eight drinks of alcohol a day, the risk of disease and death is tremendous,” Ioannidis summed up.
The new Lancet paper went much further and made the bold claim that people should drink nothing because even a single drink per day is problematic.
For each set of 100,000 people who have one drink a day per year, 918 can expect to experience one of the 23 alcohol-related problems in any year.
We don’t know the precise threshold over which alcohol consumption gets risky, but based on this study, it certainly looks like more than zero drinks.

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Summary of “Online Bettors Know If Psychology Studies Will Replicate”

When Nosek reads studies like these, he asks himself whether he would care at all if the results were negative.
Prediction markets could help social scientists to decide which classic studies to focus on replicating, given limited time or resources.
Perhaps they were especially good at discerning unreliable studies from reliable ones.
In the wake of the replication crisis, rather than automatically thinking that any published or statistically significant finding is true, “Researchers are instead looking more carefully at various aspects of a study,” she says.
“These findings don’t mean we can each individually forecast with a crystal ball whether a given study result will replicate,” she says.
Dreber also cautions that the SSRP only looked at 21 studies, and can’t say much about whether prediction markets can more broadly gauge the reliability of social-science studies.
The same could be said about big projects in which psychologists work together to replicate past studies.
Between them, they’ve successfully replicated just 87 out of 190 studies, for an overall rate of 46 percent.

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Summary of “The 2,000-year-old origins of EQ and how it became a crucial job skill”

Emotional intelligence is one of the most important skills candidates need when they’re looking to land a job.
In a compilation for Tallinn University in Estonia, Sirje Virkus outlines the iterations of emotional intelligence beginning in the 1930s when Edward Thorndike discussed “Social intelligence,” or the ability to get along with other people.
The idea of emotional intelligence didn’t exist yet, but the professors were a fortuitous match: Salovey studied emotions and behavior, and Mayer studied the link between emotions and thought.
The two had a conversation while painting, and the name “Emotional intelligence” was born.
According to the history of the development of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, they opined that existing theories of intelligence had no place for emotions.
In his book, Goleman contends that emotional intelligence could guarantee business success.
At the time, Goleman said that if one day he was able to hear two strangers discuss the concept of emotional intelligence and understand what it meant, he would have met his personal goal to get the notion out to the world.
As Harvey Deutschendorf writes in a previous report in Fast Company, a study by McClelland showed that after supervisors in a manufacturing plant received training in emotional competencies such as how to listen better, lost-time accidents decreased by 50% and grievances went down from 15 per year to three.

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Summary of “This Is What Your Brain and Body Do When You Hang Out With Animals”

“If you’re feeling sad, they know to come to you. The reliability of companionship is a big part of it because your dog is molded to your schedule. They’re never going to be too busy to take your call. If you train your dog right and treat them nicely, your dog is going to love you and need you, even if you’re failing in every other part of your life.”
Research has consistently shown that animals, particularly dogs, provide psychological benefits for humans-although the exact reasons are not known.
One lab result has been consistent: When interacting, humans and their pet dogs both experience increased levels of oxytocin, a “Love hormone” that is also triggered by hugging, orgasm, and lactation.
If spikes in oxytocin reveal how much humans love dogs, they really show how much dogs love humans.
There haven’t been any studies testing the oxytocin effect of humans interacting with cats, and feline-related research is scant compared to studies of the impact of dogs.
If you are looking for evidence that animals make people feel better, particularly when they are distressed, there are seemingly endless examples: Therapy dogs were shown to have reduced anxiety in people hospitalized with depression in Germany and did the same for long-term residents of a senior home in South Africa.
“As clinical psychologists, what have observed in other settings is that dogs provide wellbeing. Patients that are partnered with a dog might get to walk the dog or give the dog a treat. That gives them a purpose, and we know that there is good data to support that dogs help patients with their mood.”
Perhaps the trend that most shows the medicalizing of pets is the increase in “Emotional support animals.” ESAs, unlike therapy dogs, require no special training for the designation.

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Summary of “Soda Addiction Health Risks”

My drinking habit continued into college, where I powered through hangovers and all-nighters not with coffee but with Diet Coke, and slept with 2-liter bottles of Minute Maid orange soda by my bed in case I needed a nighttime nip.
In 2016, UTHSC followed up and found that participants’ waistlines increased …. 0.80 inches among people who didn’t drink diet soda.
1.83 inches among participants who drank some diet soda but less than 1 diet soda a day.
Another study, from the University of Melbourne, found that drinking regular soda can increase your risk of certain obesity-related cancers, such as liver and prostate cancer.
“We published an investigation last year on the health risks of food and beverages in the U. S., and soda was still in the top five of food priorities in improving health, particularly for obesity and type-2 diabetes. Advertisement – Continue Reading Below.”There’s simply no reason to drink sugar in water,” he continued, but people still do it.
The evidence about why diet soda isn’t a great choice is slowly emerging.
Kristina Ingeborg Rother, M.D., of the National Institutes of Health and an expert on artificial sweeteners, thinks people see benefits from dropping the pop because their tastes adapt, and because of diet soda’s disruptive effect on their gut biome.
If you want to have the soda, have the soda once in a while,” she adds.

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Summary of “What you’re getting wrong about mindfulness”

A new study suggests that mindfulness meditation, a popular type of meditation that practises being aware in the present, may not be the best way to increase your motivation at work.
In the first, 109 participants were given audio instructions in common mindfulness meditation techniques by a meditation coach.
“If mindfulness meditation came in a pill form, we’d all be on top of it. It’s calorie-free, portable, it doesn’t cost anything, and it’s capitalised onto you sitting down and doing nothing. To think the antidote to what ails you is to ‘just be’ is probably a welcome message, but it’s pure speculation.”
The effect of mindfulness and meditation in the workplace is a relatively unexplored field.
Research on mindfulness itself though is gathering pace – the number of high-quality trials has increased significantly in recent years but many studies have been small-scale and focused on short meditation interventions.
In Sunnyvale, a recent count found the nine mindfulness rooms were used on average 15 times a day, with over half of these visits specified as meditation.
The company measures the success of its wellness programme by keeping track of how many employees participate in meditation classes, use the mindfulness rooms, attend mindfulness workshops and use the promoted mindfulness apps.
“We certainly don’t teach or promote mindfulness as a way to be content in one’s current state. In fact, I would say the aim of mindfulness is the opposite. If a person finds discontent in their current state, mindfulness can help them understand why there is discontent, and ultimately, find their way out of the discontent,” he says.

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Summary of “No, private schools aren’t better at educating kids than public schools. Why this new study matters.”

Despite evidence showing otherwise, it remains conventional wisdom in many parts of the education world that private schools do a better job of educating students, with superior standardized test scores and outcomes.
The results confirm what earlier research found but are especially important amid a movement to privatize public education – encouraged by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos – based in part on the faulty assumption that public schools are inferior to private ones.
DeVos has called traditional public schools a “Dead end” and long supported the expansion of voucher and similar programs that use public money for private and religious school education.
The new study was conducted by Robert C. Pianta, dean of U-Va.’s Curry School of Education and a professor of education and psychology, and Arya Ansari, a postdoctoral research associate at U-Va.’s Center for Advanced Study for Teaching and Learning.
“So when you first look, without controlling for anything, the kids who go to private schools are far and away outperforming the public school kids. And as soon as you control for family income and parents’ education level, that difference is eliminated completely.”
“In short, despite the frequent and pronounced arguments in favor of the use of vouchers or other mechanisms to support enrollment in private schools as a solution for vulnerable children and families attending local or neighborhood schools, the present study found no evidence that private schools, net of family background, are more effective for promoting student success.”
Pianta and Ansari note in the study that previous research on the impact of school voucher programs “Cast doubt on any clear conclusion that private schools are superior in producing student performance.”
A 2013 book, “The Public School Advantage,” by Christopher A. Lubienski and Sarah Theule Lubienski, describes the results of a look at two huge data sets of student mathematics performance, that found public school students outperform private school ones when adjusted for demographics.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The case for building $1,500 parks”

In neighborhoods where as little as about $1,000 was spent transforming a vacant lot with some grass, a few trees, and a short wooden fence, people felt less depressed and less worthless.
“The beauty of the intervention is that it’s pretty simple,” says Dr. Eugenia C. South, one of the authors on a new study that tracked hundreds of vacant lots across Philadelphia.
The study, published in JAMA Network Open by a group of five doctors at the University of Pennsylvania including South, is the first to observe a cause and effect between access to “Greened” vacant lots and improved mental health through a randomized controlled trial.
In their latest study, they created a randomized trial of 350 people and more than 500 vacant lots, which were broken into three groups: lots that received no intervention, lots where trash was removed, and lots that were remediated-by adding grass, trees, and a fence-by the Philadelphia Horticultural Society, whose LandCare program has greened 12,000 parcels since 2004.
The Horticultural Society spends between $1,000 and $3,000 on each project and greens about 400 lots every year.
“The wooden post-and-rail fence is not intended to keep people out of the lots, but rather to define the perimeter and signal that the lot is a well-maintained property and part of a citywide program. The fence has become the ‘brand’ of the Philadelphia LandCare program.”
That’s not to say people wouldn’t benefit from green lots with more amenities-in fact, South wants to study those in the future-but that cities can create similar programs with positive effects at a very low baseline cost.
Chicago has a program called Large Lots that lets residents buy vacant lots near their homes for $1. The program has seen more than 1,200 lots sold since 2014, many to residents who say they were already caring for the vacant lots before they bought them and many of which serve as ad hoc parklands, gardens, or event spaces.

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Summary of “Fool’s gold: what fish oil is doing to our health and the planet”

What does surprise me is how we continue to look at the world of fish and seafood through the amber lens of a fish oil capsule.
The confusion arises in part from the historical baggage of fish oil and the $30bn industry associated with omega-3 extraction.
Once upon a time, fish oil solved a major human health problem.
In the burst of RCTs preceding Cochrane, the Omega World line was that these most recent trials did not show benefits because things such as statins, stents and other forms of cardiovascular intervention masked the anti-inflammatory effect of fish oil pills; earlier RCTs had shown a fairly significant effect, but none of those treatments existed at the time of those trials.
Today, one in every four kilograms of fish caught is reduced into oil and meal and used for agriculture, land animal husbandry and, most recently, fish farming, AKA aquaculture.
The omega-3 industry argues that some vendors are turning to much more sustainable options, such as algae-based omega-3s and fish oil reclaimed from recycled byproducts.
We could make the farming of fish even more carbon- and resource-efficient if we used alternative ingredients for fish food based on algae and food waste.
While one such study associated eating fish twice a week with a possible reduction in mortality of 55,000 lives a year, we don’t know what a fish-eater does with the rest of their life beyond eating fish.

The orginal article.