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Stress on job lowers productivity

Psychological stress at the office can make it more difficult for depressed workers to perform their jobs and be productive, says a new study.

“There is a large economic cost and a human cost,” said study lead author Debra Lerner, Tufts Medical Centre. “We need to develop and test programmes that directly try to address the employment of people with depression.”

To reach the conclusion, the researchers screened 14,268 adult employees and ultimately compared 286 depressed workers to 193 who were not depressed. They recruited participants between 2001 and 2003 from doctors’ offices.

In many cases, the depressed employees had problems at work, Lerner said. “They’re often very fatigued and have motivational issues. They also may have difficulty handling the pacing of work, managing a routine, performing physical job tasks and managing their usual workload.”

The findings suggest that there is a link between productivity and an employee’s ability to control his or her work. “The workplace does play an important part,” Lerner said.

Kids in home-based day care overexposed to TV

A new American study has found that a significant majority of children aged between 2 to 5 do not get sufficient physical activity and are exposed to the TV for most of the day.

Stewart Trost, an internationally recognised expert on childhood obesity issues from Oregon State University, came up with his findings after studying nearly 300 home-based childcare providers.

The providers surveyed were looking after children up to age 5, and two-thirds said they the TV was powered on most of the day.

Almost 78 per cent providers said they daily gave tots over an hour of time for active play, while 41 per cent said kids lay inactive for long hours during the day. It was also found that nearly 63 per cent forbade play or exercise for children as punishment.

Trost said: “Would you withhold fruits and vegetables for kids who misbehave and negatively affect their health?” “All the research shows that restricting physical activity makes children more, not less, likely to misbehave. So it’s not even an effective means of punishment.”

However, providers did ‘pretty well’ in encouraging healthy eating habits. Very few said they allowed children to have fried foods or high-fat foods, with only a few serving sweets or chips as snacks.

High fat diet ups inflammation in the colon

Studies have previously established a link between colorectal cancer and a diet high in fat and low in fibre, vitamin D and calcium. Now, in a new research, scientists at Rockefeller University have shown what happens to colon tissue when mice are fed such a diet.

“There is convincing evidence that increased intake of red meat, processed meat and alcohol can increase risk of colorectal cancer, whereas greater consumption of dietary fibre, milk and calcium might decrease risk,” says Peter Holt. “Our findings show that a western diet induces oxidative stress and alters immune responses in the colon of mice long before tumours occur.”

For the experiment the researchers fed mice either a standard diet containing five per cent fat and ample amounts of calcium and vitamin D or a western diet containing 20 per cent fat and adequate but marginal levels of calcium and vitamin D for three or six months.

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