23,800 research outputs found

    Obesity, unhappiness, and the challenge of affluence : theory and evidence

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    Is affluence a good thing? The book "The Challenge of Affluence" by Avner Offer (2006) argues that economic prosperity weakens self-control and undermines human well-being. Consistent with a pessimistic view, we show that psychological distress has been rising through time in modern Great Britain. Taking over-eating as an example, our data reveal that half the British population view themselves as overweight, and that happiness and mental health are worse among fatter people in Britain and Germany. Comparisons also matter. We discuss problems of inference and argue that longitudinal data are needed. We suggest a theory of obesity imitation where utility depends on relative weight

    The Politics of Fragmentation in an Age of Scarcity: A Synthetic View and Critical Analysis of Welfare State Crisis

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    A general perception of crisis at the end of the postwar period of growth has spawned two types of theoretical response: while a conservative theory of overload focusses on ungovernability caused by postmaterialist value change, radical analysis points to the structural contradictions of the welfare and intervention state. This article suggests that the current crisis is characterized by postmaterialist persistence and structural contradictions under the conditions of economic constraint. It examines polarization and potential mobilization of fragmented postindustrial societies in the context of neo-conservative politics, and it suggests a regime of economic dualism and/or corporatism as the most likely outcome

    Family composition and age at menarche: findings from the international Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children Study

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    This research was funded by The University of St Andrews and NHS Health Scotland.Background Early menarche has been associated with father absence, stepfather presence and adverse health consequences in later life. This article assesses the association of different family compositions with the age at menarche. Pathways are explored which may explain any association between family characteristics and pubertal timing. Methods Cross-sectional, international data on the age at menarche, family structure and covariates (age, psychosomatic complaints, media consumption, physical activity) were collected from the 2009–2010 Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) survey. The sample focuses on 15-year old girls comprising 36,175 individuals across 40 countries in Europe and North America (N = 21,075 for age at menarche). The study examined the association of different family characteristics with age at menarche. Regression and path analyses were applied incorporating multilevel techniques to adjust for the nested nature of data within countries. Results Living with mother (Cohen’s d = .12), father (d = .08), brothers (d = .04) and sisters (d = .06) are independently associated with later age at menarche. Living in a foster home (d = −.16), with ‘someone else’ (d = −.11), stepmother (d = −.10) or stepfather (d = −.06) was associated with earlier menarche. Path models show that up to 89% of these effects can be explained through lifestyle and psychological variables. Conclusions Earlier menarche is reported amongst those with living conditions other than a family consisting of two biological parents. This can partly be explained by girls’ higher Body Mass Index in these families which is a biological determinant of early menarche. Lower physical activity and elevated psychosomatic complaints were also more often found in girls in these family environments.Publisher PDFPeer reviewe

    Consumption caught in the cash nexus.

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    During the last thirty years, ‘consumption’ has become a major topic in the study of contemporary culture within anthropology, psychology and sociology. For many authors it has become central to understanding the nature of material culture in the modern world but this paper argues that the concept is, in British writing at least, too concerned with its economic origins in the selling and buying of consumer goods or commodities. It is argued that to understand material culture as determined through the monetary exchange for things - the cash nexus - leads to an inadequate sociological understanding of the social relations with objects. The work of Jean Baudrillard is used both to critique the concept of consumption as it leads to a focus on advertising, choice, money and shopping and to point to a more sociologically adequate approach to material culture that explores objects in a system of models and series, ‘atmosphere’, functionality, biography, interaction and mediation

    Breastfeeding shows a protective trend toward adolescents with higher abdominal adiposity

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    Objective: The question of whether breastfeeding has a protective effect against the development of overweight or obesity later in life remains controversial, especially during adolescence. The objective was to assess the relationship between breastfeeding and adolescents' body composition. Methods: The HELENA study is a cross-sectional study involving 3,528 adolescents from 10 European cities. The outcome measures were body weight and height, subscapular skinfolds as well as waist circumferences. Breastfeeding, smoking status, and parental socioeconomic status were assessed by self-administered questionnaires. Dietary intake was recorded using two 24 hour recall surveys. Two adjustment approaches were used: i) covariance analysis adjusted for confounding factors (propensity score adjustment) observed between breastfeeding and body composition parameters (BMI Z-score; sum of skinfolds, waist-to-height ratio). An adjusted quantile regression analysis showed a non-significant trend for a protective effect of breastfeeding toward the highest percentiles of adiposity in boys but not in girls. This is of particular interest with respect to the superiority of the waist-to-height ratio over waist circumference and BMI for detecting cardiometabolic risk factors. Conclusion: This first European study, including a large set of factors influencing adolescents body composition, showed a non significant trend toward a protective effect of breastfeeding on highest percentiles of adolescent's abdominal adiposity

    The Emerging Wealth Belt: New Jersey's New Millenium Geography

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    Describes the emergence of an economic cluster of counties in New Jersey and explains the reason for this new spatial alignment of the economy. The report also traces the historical shifts in the economic geography of New Jersey from its rural beginnings to its high technology present. Finally, the report describes the countervailing deomgraphy and economic intiatives that once more may tilt growth back to urban New Jersey. It notes, however, that a variety of economic and public policy challenges raise serious questions about the outcome of the redirection of our state's spatial development