New Scientist; The mother of obesity & First impressions count!

I picked up a stack of New Scientist magazines at a school fete a few months ago, and read them with great interest. Now I have become a regular subscriber, and thought I’d share summaries of a couple of beauties with you.

The mother of all obesity

The first article, from 28 Feb 2015 (issue 3010), is written by Edward Archer from the University of Alabama, and is titled “I’ve found the real reason so many children are obese.”

Archer is an obesity researcher, who has done studies on mice as well as on people. What he has been able to establish is truly enlightening; contrary to what most of us tend to believe, neither diet nor genes are the primary cause for obesity. Whether a baby grows up to be obese or not is determined by the pregnant mother’s activity (or lack thereof).

When a pregnant woman is physically active, her own increased energy demands will direct nutrients to her muscles AND therefore away from her foetus. Competition between the mother’s muscles and the developing foetus’s fat cells results in leaner, healthier babies. Genes and food intake are irrelevant to the process.

This competition doesn’t happen in inactive mothers. A lot more energy and nutrients is directed to the foetus, the fat cells in the foetus increase in both size and number, and the birth weight of the infant increases – which in itself is a factor strongly related to adult obesity and type II diabetes.

And of course, when a girl grows up to be obese, she is likely to pass this on to her own baby, since, just like her mother before her, she too is unlikely to be particularly active during pregnancy. And hence the problem is perpetuated generation after generation.

Based on these findings, Archer concludes that the best solution to the obesity epidemic is to encourage pregnant women to increase their levels of physical activity so that they can have leaner, healthier children.

At face value

The second article is called “Who do you think you are?”, and was published 30 Jan 2016 (issue 3058). It references a whole range of research articles, and establishes what we already knew; you CAN judge the man by his clothes. (Well, sort of.) And we all do, whether we are aware of it or not, even though, as research shows, we are not very good at it, and most of our judgements are over-generalisations, at best.

Nevertheless, people’s looks do influence our judgements of them. Within seconds of meeting someone, we have made character judgements of them, simply based on their appearance. We rate people with attractive faces as being more outgoing, socially capable, intelligent and even sexually responsive than average! Attractive people are also more successful at job interviews and are paid more than their plain counterparts, for example.

On the contrary, people with mouths that curl down at the corners or eyebrows that form a V are considered untrustworthy. And if you look untrustworthy you could get in unwarranted trouble too, as one study found. Volunteers that were given descriptions of crimes and photographs of the “culprits” required less evidence to arrive at a guilty verdict for defendants who had been judged as looking untrustworthy.

Men with rounder faces, large eyes, and a smaller bridge to the nose are perceived as being submissive and naïve, while men with wide, chiselled jaws are seen as stereotypically masculine and aggressive. And so on.

Well, I found those articles interesting, and just thought I’d share them with you. What do you think? Do you find them interesting too? I’d be interested in your comments! And please, feel free to share this with anyone else you think else may appreciate it!

Be well, and enjoy being!

Kind regards,

Lars Andersson