Monday, March 04, 2013

Why being negative is good for your health: Pessimists are more likely to live longer

Finally the pessimists among us have something to be happy about.   Older people who are blighted by negative thoughts and fear for the future are more likely to live longer, a study has revealed.

Scientists found those with low expectations for a ‘satisfying future’ actually led healthier lives.

A study into 40,000 people found that being ‘overly optimistic’ in predicting a better future was associated with a greater risk of disability and death.

Lead author Frieder R.Lang said: ‘Our findings revealed that being overly optimistic in predicting a better future was associated with a greater risk of disability and death within the following decade.

‘Pessimism about the future may encourage people to live more carefully, taking health and safety precautions.’

The research, based on data collected between 1993 and 2003, asked participants in three different age groups to rate how satisfied they were with their lives and how satisfied they thought they would be in five years.  The age groups were divided into 18 to 39, 40 to 64 and 65 and above.

They were interviewed again five years later, and their satisfaction levels were compared with their own predictions.

A total of 43 per cent of the oldest group – 65 years old and above – had underestimated their future life satisfaction.

While 25 per cent had predicted their future happiness accurately, 32 per cent had overestimated it.

Surprisingly, those in the oldest group who overestimated how happy they would be were found to have a 9.5 per cent increase in reporting disabilities.  They had a ten per cent increased risk of death, the analysis showed.

Older people, who tended to have a ‘darker outlook’ on the future, were said to be more realistic with their predictions and therefore were more likely to be accurate.

In contrast, the optimistic youngsters had the sunniest outlook, overestimating their success.

People who were ‘overly optimistic’ about the days ahead had a greater risk of disability or death within ten years.

The research, published by the American Psychological Association, also found those with higher income were more likely to be at greater risk of disability.

‘Unexpectedly, we also found that stable and good health and income were associated with expecting a greater decline compared with those in poor health or with low incomes,’ said Dr Lang.

‘Moreover, we found that higher income was related to a greater risk of disability.

‘We argue, though, that the outcomes of optimistic, accurate or pessimistic forecasts may depend on age and available resources.

‘These findings shed new light on how our perspectives can either help or hinder us in taking actions that can help improve our chances of a long healthy life.’


How dieting makes you feel guilty about food but doesn't make you thinner

Probably true but the data is weak

It's long been said that diets don't work. But now it's been proven that women dieters do not actually cut the amount they eat – they simply end up feeling guilty about food instead.

Three studies of women found that those who were highly conscious of what they eat did not consume less calories than other women.

But women who dieted differed from women who didn't in one area – they experienced a lot more guilt when it came to eating.

These frequent dieters seem to rob themselves of the pleasure of enjoying food and set themselves up for failure, the findings suggest.

"Despite their good intentions, restraint eaters seem to gain nothing and lose twice," wrote the researchers from Utrecht University, Holland, in the journal Psychology & Health.

"Results indicated that restraint was not associated with food intake, but instead was associated with increased levels of guilt after eating.  "Guilt was explicitly related to food intake."

Some 148 female undergraduates were invited to a laboratory to take part in what they thought was a food-tasting session for a supermarket chain.

They were left alone for ten minutes to sample high calorie foods such as chips and chocolate-covered peanuts and low calorie foods such as crackers and apple slices.

Next they were asked about their emotions, including guilt, and about their attitudes towards food, including how much they diet and how often they worry about what they eat.

The results showed that so-called 'restrained eaters' – who diet often and fret about what they eat and weight fluctuations – had eaten just as much as other women, including just as much high-calorie food.

They also felt greater guilt afterwards, especially in relation to their recent indulgence.


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