Menu Labeling Can't Change Eating Behavior
With more Americans eating out and growing increasingly obese, several city and state governments are trying to help people eat healthier by forcing fast-food restaurants to divulge nutritional information on their menus. The idea is simple: putting calorie and fat counts on display should prompt consumers to opt for healthier, lighter fare.
But it turns out that eating habits die hard, according to a new study involving the Taco Time fast-food chain in Washington State. Researchers found that adding calorie counts to restaurant menus had no impact on diners' choices. Similar studies in New York City have recently reported conflicting results; some surveys showed that menu labeling led to fewer calories purchased, but others found no difference in meal selection.
Researchers are not discouraged by the results, however, noting that providing nutritional and calorie information on menus may still benefit consumers indirectly. As more local authorities mandate such changes, food vendors are pre-emptively modifying their menus to both lighten existing options and add healthier foods.
How Video Games May Contribute to Mental Illness
Obsessively playing video games isn't the healthiest way for a teen to spend an afternoon, but new research suggests that parents of "addicted" gamers may now have a more long-term concern: mental illness.
A two-year study of over 3,000 elementary and middle-school students in Singapore sheds light on the associations between personality, gaming and future mental disorders. Researchers found that students with impulsive personalities and less empathy or social skills were more likely to become pathological gamers to start, logging an average of 31 hours each week on their consoles, compared with 19 hours a week for other students. Addicted gamers also tended to be more aggressive and antisocial.
But more disturbingly, these pathological gamers were at higher risk of developing conditions such as depression, anxiety and social phobia two years later. The study's results highlight the long-lasting influence of excessive video-game playing, say the authors, and counter the popular belief among physicians that some teens play as a way to cope with existing mental issues. The latest results demonstrate that the relationship between gaming and mental health may be more complicated, with mental disorders being both contributors to and consequences of video-game dependence.
FROM THE LABS
Finding New Ways To Fight Bedbugs
As bedbugs continue to stage their cringemaking comeback across the U.S., researchers have completed the first comprehensive study of the pest's genes. The analysis revealed chunks of DNA coding for pesticide resistance and may lead to new ways of controlling the critters without using the same toxic options, like DDT, employed in the past.
Fetal Stem-Cell Transplants