Going for that pint of ice cream after a bad breakup may not do as much damage as you think. A new study shows that despite the emotional turmoil, people on average do not report gaining weight after a breakup.
The study, which included researchers from Penn State, investigated the German concept of “kummerspeck” — excess weight gain due to emotional eating — which literally translates to “grief bacon.”
According to the researchers, although hoarding food after a breakup may have made sense for humans thousands of years ago, modern humans may have grown out of the habit.
“Food was much scarcer in the ancestral environment, so if your partner abandoned you, it could have made gathering food much harder,” said Dr. Marissa Harrison, associate professor of psychology at Penn State Harrisburg.
“It may have made sense if our ancestors hoarded food after a breakup. But our research showed that while it’s possible people may drown their sorrows in ice cream for a day or two, modern humans do not tend to gain weight after a breakup.”
The findings are published in the Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium.
The researchers say it is well documented that people sometimes use food as a way to cope with negative feelings and that emotional eating can lead to unhealthy food choices. Because breakups can be stressful and emotional, it could potentially trigger emotional eating.
In addition, ancient relationship dynamics may have made packing on the pounds after a breakup evolutionarily advantageous.
“Modern women of course have jobs and access to resources now, but back then, it was likely that women were smaller and needed more protection and help with resources,” Harrison said.
“If their partner left or abandoned them, they would be in trouble. And the same could have gone for men. With food not as plentiful in the ancestral world, it may have made sense for people to gorge to pack on the pounds.”
Harrison also noted that the existence of the word “kummerspeck” itself suggested that the phenomenon existed.
The research team conducted two studies to test the theory that people may be more likely to gain weight after a relationship breakup. In the first experiment, they recruited 581 people to complete an online survey about whether they had recently gone through a breakup and whether they gained or lost weight within a year of that breakup.
Most of the participants — 62.7 percent — reported no weight change. The researchers were surprised by this result and decided to perform an additional study.
For the second experiment, the researchers recruited 261 new participants to take a different, more extensive survey than the one used in the first study. The new survey asked whether participants had ever experienced the dissolution of a long-term relationship, and whether they gained or lost weight as a result.
The survey also asked about participants’ attitudes toward their ex-partner, how committed the relationship was, who initiated the breakup, whether the participants tended to eat emotionally, and how much participants enjoy food in general.
While all participants reported experiencing a break up at some point in their lives, the majority of participants — 65.13 percent — reported no change in weight after relationship dissolution.
“We were surprised that in both studies, which included large community samples, we found no evidence of kummerspeck,” Harrison said. “The only thing we found was in the second study, women who already had a proclivity for emotional eating did gain weight after a relationship breakup. But it wasn’t common.”
Harrison added that the results may have clinical implications.
“It could be helpful information for clinicians or counselors with patients who tend to eat emotionally,” Harrison said. “If your client is going through a breakup and already engages in emotional eating, this may be a time where they need some extra support.”
Victoria Warner, a Penn State Harrisburg graduate student, was the lead author of this study. Samantha Horn from Penn State Harrisburg and Susan Hughes from Albright College also participated in this work.
Source: Penn State
Prisoners who are held in restrictive housing (i.e., solitary confinement) face an increased risk of death after their release, according to a new study led by researchers from the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill.
The findings show that incarcerated individuals who were placed in restrictive housing in North Carolina from 2000 to 2015 were 24% more likely to die in the first year after their release, compared to those who were not held in restrictive housing.
In addition, those held in restrictive housing were 78% more likely to die from suicide, 54% more likely to die from homicide, and 127% more likely to die from an opioid overdose in the first two weeks after their release.
Further, the number of restrictive housing placements and spending more than 14 consecutive days in restrictive housing were associated with an even greater increase in the risk of death and reincarceration.
“For the first time ever, using data shared with us from our partners at the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, we’ve been able to demonstrate a connection between restrictive housing during incarceration and increased risk of death when people return to the community,” said lead author Lauren Brinkley-Rubinstein, PhD, an assistant professor of social medicine in the UNC School of Medicine.
“In addition, our study found that the more time people spent in restrictive housing the higher the risk of mortality after release. This study provides empirical evidence to support ongoing nationwide reforms that limit the use of restrictive housing.”
“North Carolina is a leader in this thinking as the Department of Public Safety has preemptively implemented multiple reforms that have resulted in the limited use of restrictive housing.”
“We appreciate this research collaboration and recognize the importance of these results in shaping policy and practice,” said Gary Junker, PhD, Director of Behavioral Health for the N.C. Department of Public Safety Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice.
“Since 2015, the department has initiated several programs to divert people from restrictive housing, including Therapeutic Diversion Units for those with mental illness. While safety and security must remain our top priority, we recognize that reduced use of restrictive housing will likely improve post-release outcome.”
These findings, published in the journal JAMA Network Open, are from a retrospective cohort study conducted by Brinkley-Rubinstein and co-authors from UNC, Emory University, the N.C. Department of Public Safety and the N.C. Department of Public Health.
Incarceration data for people who were confined in North Carolina between 2000 and 2015 were matched with death records from 2000 to 2016.
“We also found that non-white individuals were disproportionately more likely to be assigned to restrictive housing than their white counterparts,” said co-author Shabbar Ranapurwala, PhD, MPH, an assistant professor of epidemiology in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and a core faculty member of the UNC Injury Prevention Research Center.
“In fact, the mortality and reincarceration outcomes after release were also quite different between these racial groups. The post-release opioid overdose and suicide death outcomes among those receiving restrictive housing were more pronounced among white individuals compared to non-whites, while the all-cause and homicide death and reincarceration outcomes were higher among non-white Americans compared to whites.”
Given the observational nature of the study, establishing cause and effect may be difficult, yet, the strength and consistency of the findings points to the fact that restrictive housing is an important marker of increased mortality risk among formerly incarcerated individuals.
Source: University of North Carolina Health Care
A recent study sheds new light on why people who frequently watch partisan news outlets are more likely to believe falsehoods about political opponents.
And contrary to popular opinion, it isn’t because these individuals live in media “bubbles” where they aren’t exposed to the truth. Rather, it is tied to the way in which partisan media outlets promote hostility against their “rivals.”
For the study, researchers from Ohio State University analyzed data from the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections and discovered that Americans who consumed more partisan media had stronger negative feelings than others toward political opponents.
This dislike was linked to greater belief in misperceptions about those from the “other side.”
“Partisan news outlets promote a feeling of animosity toward the other side and that animosity can help explain inaccurate beliefs,” said Dr. R. Kelly Garrett, lead author of the study and professor of communication at Ohio State.
“As people grow increasingly hostile towards those with whom they disagree, our study found they are more likely to believe false information about them.”
The results suggest that the link between partisan media use, hostility and belief in falsehoods was more pronounced among Republicans than among Democrats. Garrett said this finding was “provocative,” but that this data alone isn’t enough to prove that association.
But the findings, published online in the Journal of Communication, do offer a grim warning.
“If this (partisan) hostility translates into a willingness to believe anything that members of your party tell you, regardless of empirical evidence or claims made by those not belonging to the ingroup, then the U.S. political situation is dire,” the study authors wrote.
Two surveys were designed and carried out by Garrett and his team.
During the 2012 presidential election campaign, 652 Americans were interviewed online three times: near the beginning and middle of the campaign and right after the election.
During each wave of the study, the participants were asked about how often they used partisan news outlets to get information about the presidential candidates, Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney. They also rated how favorably they felt about each candidate on a scale of 0 to 10.
In addition, the respondents rated on a scale of 1 (definitely false) to 5 (definitely true) whether they believed four statements about Obama and four statements about Romney that were false but had been reported in partisan media outlets.
One of the statements about Obama was that he is a socialist and one about Romney was that he believes Mormon Church leaders (Romney is Mormon) should play a defining role in national affairs.
The findings show that the more any individual Republican in the study consumed conservative media outlets, the more that he or she disliked Obama and the more that he or she believed untruths about Obama.
There was no similar finding among Democrats who used liberal media, but Garrett warns against making too much of that finding. For example, it is possible that the differences found between Republicans and Democrats could be connected to the falsehoods chosen for this study.
The study of the 2016 election involved 625 participants who were also interviewed three times during the course of the election season. But in this case, the team focused on just one issue in which partisans on both sides had closely matched misperceptions: Russian interference in the election.
Investigations at that time showed evidence of Russian hacking into email accounts of the Democratic Party, but there was no conclusive evidence one way or the other about any coordination with the Trump campaign.
The interviewers asked respondents if the investigation had confirmed coordination between Russian intelligence and the Trump campaign (a liberal falsehood) or confirmed no coordination (a conservative falsehood). The participants could also choose that there was no conclusive evidence at the time, which was the true statement.
The findings were similar to the first study. Those who consumed more conservative media showed greater dislike than others of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and were more likely to believe the misperception that investigators had cleared Trump of coordination.
Again, there was no similar finding among those who consumed more news from liberal media outlets.
“The fact that we found the same difference between liberal media use and conservative media use in 2016 as we did in 2012 is provocative,” Garrett said. “It merits more careful scrutiny. We think these results provide a useful step forward. But it would be a mistake to treat this issue as settled.”
Garrett said the study helps fill the void left behind after research showed that most people aren’t viewing only news that supports their side.
“We used to think that if we could just expose people to all the information out there, the truth would emerge. The problem is that we now have a lot of evidence that people don’t live in bubbles — they may consume more media from one side, but they aren’t avoiding everything else,” he said.
“Our results suggest an alternative reason why partisan media viewers believe misperceptions.”
The findings also suggest that partisan media can help promote belief in falsehoods about political opponents without even mentioning the misperceptions themselves.
“Encouraging hostility toward political opponents has the same effect,” Garrett said.
Source: Ohio State University
People struggling with opioid addiction and chronic pain may experience fewer cravings and less pain if they use mindfulness techniques along with medication for opioid dependence, according to a new study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
Mindfulness is the meditative practice of focusing on the present moment and accepting one’s thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations, without judgment.
The study, led by researchers from Rutgers University in New Jersey, looked at the effects of mindfulness techniques and methadone therapy on 30 patients with opioid addiction and chronic pain.
The research team found that participants who received methadone and a mindfulness training-based intervention were 1.3 times better at controlling their cravings and had significantly greater improvements in pain, stress, and positive emotions, compared to participants who only received standard methadone treatment and counseling.
The findings held true even though the mindfulness participants were more aware of their cravings.
“Methadone maintenance therapy (MMT) has been an effective form of medication treatment for opioid use disorder,” said Associate Professor Nina Cooperman, a clinical psychologist in the Division of Addiction Psychiatry at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
“However, nearly half of individuals on MMT continue to use opioids during treatment or relapse within six months.”
Cooperman said that people with opioid addictions often experience chronic pain, anxiety and depression while on methadone maintenance, which is why mindfulness-based, non-drug interventions are promising treatments.
The researchers said mindfulness-based interventions could help people dependent on opioids increase their self-awareness and self-control over cravings and be less reactive to emotional and physical pain.
Individuals with an opioid addiction could also be taught to change their negative thought patterns and savor pleasant events, which may help them to regulate their emotions and experience more enjoyment.
In 2017, more than 70,000 people died from a drug overdose, making it a leading cause of injury-related death in the United States. Of those deaths, almost 68% (47,600 overdose deaths) involved a prescription or illicit opioid, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Overdose deaths involving prescription opioids were five times higher in 2017 than in 1999.
Source: Rutgers University
Research has established a link between food insecurity and higher rates of disease, but there is little evidence showing exactly why this occurs. A new study of more than 10,000 Canadian households shows this association may be at least partially attributed to lack of access to prescription medication.
“We knew that negative health outcomes are associated with food insecurity. But we didn’t really understand the mechanism,” said study co-author Dr. Craig Gundersen, distinguished professor of agricultural and consumer economics in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.
The findings, published in the journal CMAJ Open, suggest that people may become ill or get worse because they can’t afford their medications. “For example, we know that there is a close connection between food insecurity and diabetes; it could be the case that part of the reason is medication nonadherence,” he said.
The study draws on data from the Canadian Community Health Survey, conducted annually by the Canadian national statistics office.The researchers evaluated data from 11,172 respondents, combining information on food insecurity with prescription drug use.
Overall, they found that food insecurity affects 12.6% of Canadian households, and 8.5% of respondents reported some form of nonadherence to prescription drugs. Nonadherence includes skipping or reducing doses of medication, as well as delaying or not filling prescriptions because of cost.
The researchers found a strong link between food insecurity and prescription drug nonadherence. Almost half (47.9%) of those who did not adhere to their prescription drug usage also reported some level of food insecurity. Of those who did adhere to their medications, only 10.5% were food insecure.
The findings indicate that nonadherence increases as food insecurity status gets worse. While just 4.9% of food secure households reported nonadherence to prescription drugs, cost-related nonadherence was reported by 13.2% of marginally, 29.4% of moderately, and by 47.1% of severely food insecure households.
Gundersen says that even though the health care system in Canada differs from the United States, there are lessons to learn for Americans in the study. All Canadians have access to health care; however, prescription drugs are covered by a combination of private and public insurance. Over four million Canadians are not enrolled in any drug insurance program.
“The study helps separate the effects of access to medical care from access to prescription drugs,” Gundersen said.
“Even if health insurance is covered, people still face struggles if prescription drugs are not covered. This amplifies the conclusion that illness associated with food insecurity is related to lack of access to medication.”
Source: University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Heart patients with depression, anxiety or stress are more likely to drop out of cardiac rehabilitation, according to a new Australian study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.
Cardiac rehabilitation is a medically supervised program designed to improve cardiovascular health for patients who have experienced a heart attack, heart failure, angioplasty or heart surgery.
For the study, researchers examined the prevalence and impact of depression, anxiety and stress in patients attending cardiac rehabilitation at two hospitals in Sydney, Australia between 2006 and 2017. A total of 4,784 patients completed the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale questionnaire.
The findings show that approximately 18%, 28% and 13% of participants had moderate to extremely severe depression, anxiety or stress, respectively.
Patients with moderate symptoms of depression (24% versus 13%), anxiety (32% versus 23%) or stress (18% versus 10%) were significantly more likely to quit cardiac rehabilitation compared to those with no or mild symptoms.
“Heart patients living with depression are more likely to feel despondent and hopeless, which reduces their ability to manage their symptoms,” said study author Angela Rao, of the University of Technology Sydney, Australia.
“They may minimize successes and exaggerate failures, thereby reducing their motivation to exercise and complete a cardiac rehabilitation program.”
“Anxiety may lead to fear of another cardiac event and stop people from being active,” she continued. “Depression and anxiety can also impair the ability to retain new information needed to make health-related behavior changes.”
After a heart attack or procedure to open blocked arteries, patients should be encouraged to quit smoking, take up exercise, improve their diet, reduce stress, and control blood pressure and cholesterol; these can be achieved through cardiac rehabilitation.
“Depression can dampen positive intentions to exercise even when receiving support from health professionals and being aware of the benefits,” said Rao.
“People with anxiety may underestimate their abilities, for example to walk on a treadmill during a rehabilitation class.”
Around one half of patients with moderate depression or anxiety who completed cardiac rehabilitation did not show significant improvements in these conditions.
Depression, anxiety and stress were related, with one increasing the likelihood of the other. Patients with anxiety or stress were more than four times more likely to be depressed than those without.
Anxiety was three times more common in patients with (versus without) depression and more than five times more frequent in patients with (versus without) stress.
“These relationships were independent of age, sex, clinical characteristics, medication use and quality of life,” said Rao.
Rao urges clinicians to screen for depression and anxiety at the beginning and end of rehabilitation to identify those needing extra help. Stress management, cognitive-behavioral therapies, meditation and mindfulness can be included to improve mental health and raise participation.
Source: European Society of Cardiology