Weight-based victimization (WBV) is a common form of bullying associated with maladaptive eating, and poor weight-related health. Although sexual and gender minority (SGM) youth experience a number of eating and weight-related health disparities, the link between WBV and these outcomes has not been investigated in this
Data came from the LGBTQ Teen Study, a national survey of SGM adolescents.
Participants provided data to assess body mass index (BMI), WBV, sexual identity, gender identity, dieting, binge eating, eating to cope with stress, weight control behaviors, exercise, and stress (N = 9679). The sample was 66% White, with a mean age of 15.6 years; 58.5% had healthy weight, and 37.2% had overweight or obesity.
Over half of participants reported WBV from family members and peers. WBV from family members was associated with maladaptive eating (i.e., binge-eating, unhealthy weight-control behaviors), dieting, and poor weight-related health (i.e., stress, exercise avoidance, less physical activity and poorer sleep); relationships remained significant after accounting for participants’ age, BMI percentile for age and sex, race, gender identity, and sexual identity. Higher frequency of WBV at school, but not history of peer weight-based victimization, was associated with more maladaptive eating, dieting, and poorer weight-related health on all outcomes except physical activity. This is the first large-scale study that examined links between WBV, maladaptive eating behaviors, and weight-related health in SGM adolescents. These results suggest the need for increased awareness that WBV may play a role in maladaptive eating, and weight-related health of SGM youth, and may contribute to both elevated levels of eating disorders and obesity in this population. Read More at The Rudd Center For Food Policy & Obesity. (opens a PDF)
Men’s health may be compromised by weight stigma, finds the latest research from the University of Connecticut.
As many as 40% of men report experiencing weight stigma, but little is known about how this stigma affects their health. This study found that men experiencing weight stigma have more depressive symptoms, are more likely to binge eat, and have lower self-rated health. Read More at Science Daily
Professor Semir Zeki from University College London (UCL) has received a Wellcome Trust Strategic Award to establish a programme of research in the new field of “neuroaesthetics”. The research will build on his previous work into the neural mechanisms behind beauty and love.
Together with Professor Ray Dolan, Director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at UCL, Professor Zeki will look at questions that have been debated for millennia by writers, artists and philosophers and yet have been little studied by neurobiologists: Can we measure beauty objectively” How are beauty and love related” What does it mean to be happy”
“All human societies place a high premium on art and the pursuit of beauty,” says Professor Zeki. “We all value and reward creativity. We all want to pursue happiness. But what do these entities mean in concrete, neurobiological terms” We hope to address these issues experimentally. The results will not only increase our knowledge about the workings of the human brain but will also give deep insights into human nature and how we view ourselves.”
Neuroesthetics aims to illuminate the brain’s workings through its cultural products in a similar way to how neuroscientists study the brain through malfunctions caused by disease. However, Professor Zeki believes its impact may be much wider.
“The new field of neuroaesthetics will teach biologists to use the products of the brain in art, music, literature and mathematics to better understand how the brain functions,” he says. “Success will encourage an interdisciplinary approach to other fields, such as the study of economics or jurisprudence in terms of brain activity. This will have a deep impact on social issues.”
Using Wellcome Trust funding, Professor Zeki hopes to attract students and researchers from the sciences, arts and humanities in truly interdisciplinary research. Their work will be overseen by an Advisory Board that will include author AS Byatt, physician, opera producer and broadcaster Sir Jonathan Miller and Dr. Deborah Swallow, Director of the Courtauld Institute of Art, London.
“Professor Zeki is a Renaissance Man for the twenty-first century,” says Professor Richard Morris, Head of Neurosciences and Mental Health at the Wellcome Trust. “His research sees no boundaries between science and the arts and humanities and will provide an exciting insight in issues that strike at the heart of what it is to be human.”
Physical activity reorganizes the brain so that its response to stress is reduced and anxiety is less likely to interfere with normal brain function, according to a research team based at Princeton University.
The researchers report in the Journal of Neuroscience that when mice allowed to exercise regularly experienced a stressor — exposure to cold water — their brains exhibited a spike in the activity of neurons that shut off excitement in the ventral hippocampus, a brain region shown to regulate anxiety.
These findings potentially resolve a discrepancy in research related to the effect of exercise on the brain — namely that exercise reduces anxiety while also promoting the growth of new neurons in the ventral hippocampus. Because these young neurons are typically more excitable than their more mature counterparts, exercise should result in more anxiety, not less. The Princeton-led researchers, however, found that exercise also strengthens the mechanisms that prevent these brain cells from firing.
Creativity can be enhanced by experiencing cultures different from one’s own, according to a study in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (published by SAGE).
Three studies looked at students who had lived abroad and those who hadn’t, testing them on different aspects of creativity. Relative to a control group, which hadn’t experienced a different culture, participants in the different culture group provided more evidence of creativity in various standard tests of the trait. Those results suggest that multicultural learning is a critical component of the adaptation process, acting as a creativity catalyst.
The researchers believe that the key to the enhanced creativity was related to the students’ open-minded approach in adapting to the new culture. In a global world, where more people are able to acquire multicultural experiences than ever before, this research indicates that living abroad can be even more beneficial than previously thought.
“Given the literature on structural changes in the brain that occur during intensive learning experiences, it would be worthwhile to explore whether neurological changes occur within the creative process during intensive foreign culture experiences,” write the authors, William W. Maddux, Hajo Adam, and Adam D. Galinsky. “That can help paint a more nuanced picture of how foreign culture experiences may not only enhance creativity but also, perhaps literally, as well as figuratively, broaden the mind.
The article “When in Rome… Learn Why the Romans Do What They Do: How Multicultural Learning Experiences Facilitate Creativity” in the June 2010 issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.