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Health apps could be doing more harm than good, warn scientists

Mar 2nd, 2017 by

App development likened to the ‘wild west’ as researchers raise concerns over one-size-fits-all targets and absence of sound science

Fitness trackers and mental health apps could be doing more harm than good because they are not based on sound science, researchers have warned, comparing some health app developers to “snake oil salesmen of the 1860s”.

Greg Hager, professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins University, said that in the absence of trials or scientific grounding it was impossible to say whether apps were having the intended effect.

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Key to keeping friendships alive different for men and women, scientists say

Mar 2nd, 2017 by

For women, phone calls can keep long-distance friendships going, but men need to meet face-to-face, study shows

Much like a long-distance romance, it can be difficult to keep the spark alive in a friendship with someone living in a different city. Now scientists say they have uncovered the key to staying close – and it appears to be different for men and women.

Men need to meet up face-to-face and bond over activities, according to the study of students leaving home for the first time, while for female friendships, long phone conversations can bridge the physical distance.

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‘Eating disorders are black women’s issues too’ – video

Mar 2nd, 2017 by

In the second of our three-part Speak your Mind series, we meet Georgia, 22, who suffered from eating disorders through her teenage years. Thinspiration Tumblrs inspired her to lose weight but that spiralled to starvation and bulimia. Now recovered, she wonders why black women are rarely identified as having eating disorders

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Number of cosmetic surgery procedures in UK fell 40% in 2016

Mar 2nd, 2017 by

Analysts say rising influence of a wave of ‘relatable’ social media celebrities could be behind a slump in demand

“I’ve had so much plastic surgery, when I die they will donate my body to Tupperware,” said the late Joan Rivers.

But while her hunt for the perfect look was defined by going under the knife regularly, it appears the image-conscious are now turning their backs on cosmetic enhancement.

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Anti-FGM campaign launched in UK to mark global day of opposition

Mar 2nd, 2017 by

Red Triangle initiative aims to encourage people to give police information to detect and prevent female genital mutilation

A national campaign carrying the symbol of a red triangle will be rolled out across the UK to mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council has partnered with the Freedom charity to encourage people to provide the police with information that can help detect and prevent FGM in the UK and abroad.

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Should I take vitamin D every day?

Mar 2nd, 2017 by

Although advice suggested people should take supplements during winter, unless you are seriously deficient, the chance of it stopping you catching a cold is minimal

It’s not too late to top up on vitamin D if you ignored advice issued last year by Public Health England (PHE) to take supplements. But while the PHE recommended we all “consider” taking 10µg of vitamin D daily during autumn and winter, researchers are now suggesting that food be fortified with the vitamin so that we can take it continuously. The main source of vitamin D is sunlight in contact with the skin – and that is pretty much never between November and April, hence the PHE’s recommendation.

Vitamin D is also available in oily fish (wild salmon or herring), liver, egg yolks and some fortified bread, but nearly a quarter of adults and 22% of children have low levels of the vitamin in their blood. Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, teeth and muscles.

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How much screen time should I let my teenager have?

Mar 2nd, 2017 by

A new study says that up to six hours a day is perfectly normal, and unlikely to do any harm – as long as your child is doing fine at school and getting enough exercise

What parent hasn’t tried to wrestle their teenager’s phone away from them? For years, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended a maximum of two hours’ screen time a day. Any more, it warned, and your child could get obese, sleep deprived and depressed. Research has also linked screen time to increases in risky behaviour, poor GCSE results and aggression. No wonder that screens, particularly iPads and smartphones that can be held under the bedcovers, have become a family battleground.

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Is the gym the best place to exercise?

Mar 2nd, 2017 by

A new study says gym-goers are indeed fitter and healthier than non-members. But there are other ways to stay fit, and some of them may be even more beneficial

The most popular New Year resolution in almost every survey is “exercise more” – which often translates into joining a gym. According to the 2016 State of the UK Fitness Industry report, one in seven people in the UK are members. But are they more likely to be fit?

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What I’m really thinking: the depressed new dad

Feb 2nd, 2017 by

I’d never want to hurt you, son, but I was terrified by the thoughts I had

You are supposed to be our future, a new chapter in the story of our lives, but I can’t help resenting you. Only a few weeks old, you’re demanding and unreasoning and I’m struggling to see the good that you bring.

To start with, we got on with it, settling into a routine as we stumbled through nappies and nights when you wouldn’t settle, but it started to wear me down. You hear about mothers with postnatal depression, but no one talks about the challenges a father has to face: working to put food on the table and a roof over our heads is tough when you’ve had only a couple of hours sleep, and we’re not supposed to need a break. Men are supposed to never cry, and provide for those we care about. I hope that I can teach you a better way, my son; that you’re allowed to be vulnerable, and not keep everything locked up until it bursts.

Related: What I’m really thinking: the night receptionist

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Ebola, war … but just two psychiatrists to deal with a nation’s trauma

Feb 2nd, 2017 by

Overwhelmed counsellors and medical staff in Sierra Leone must contend with suspicion and a collapse in funding

The history of Africa’s oldest psychiatric hospital is written on the walls of its isolation units, desperate messages chiselled into the woodwork like scars. “I came here for I don’t have any money,” reads one note in a corner of the room. “People want me to run from my father’s house,” reads another. “You go nowhere,” announces a third. “Stay out.”

Since the hospital opened in the early 19th century, most Sierra Leoneans have aspired to do exactly that, avoiding this imposing building perched high on a hill above the capital, Freetown.

We do counselling, though it’s not the type of counselling they do in America or Europe

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