Archive | April, 2019

University of Tennessee Knoxville: Psychologists find smiling really can make people happier

14 Apr

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD BLACK FART. A prof at Vanderbilt University conducted a study to find out if hanging around high status folk makes one happy. Both China and the U.S. were studied and here is what the prof concluded:

Song found that in urban China, knowing high-status people was detrimental to mental health. This was true whether people knew mostly high-status people, any high-status people or even just many people of comparatively higher-status than themselves. This was surprising because China, being a collectivist society, places high value on interdependence, making a strong case for social capital theory. Song says these findings indicate that comparative reference group theory predominates in urban China, because while collectivist societies are more oriented toward interdependence, they also promote negative self-comparisons to people of higher status….
In the United States, the findings were even more interesting. Here, knowing high-status people or comparatively higher-status people than themselves was also detrimental to mental health, consistent with comparative reference group theory — we tend to feel worse except when most of a person’s network was clustered at one end of the status range. When, on average, members of an individual’s network had high-status jobs, depression rates were lower, and when many members of individuals’ networks had lower-status jobs than themselves, depression was higher, consistent with social capital theory….

Journal Reference:
Lijun Song. Does who you know in the positional hierarchy protect or hurt? Social capital, comparative reference group, and depression in two societies. Social Science & Medicine, 2015; 136-137: 117 DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.05.012

Preliminary research from the University of Tennessee Knoxville found that smiling is a clue to emotional state.

Science Daily reported in Psychologists find smiling really can make people happier:

Smiling really can make people feel happier, according to a new paper published in Psychological Bulletin.
Coauthored by researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Texas A&M, the paper looked at nearly 50 years of data testing whether facial expressions can lead people to feel the emotions related to those expressions.
“Conventional wisdom tells us that we can feel a little happier if we simply smile. Or that we can get ourselves in a more serious mood if we scowl,” said Nicholas Coles, UT PhD student in social psychology and lead researcher on the paper. “But psychologists have actually disagreed about this idea for over 100 years.”
These disagreements became more pronounced in 2016, when 17 teams of researchers failed to replicate a well-known experiment demonstrating that the physical act of smiling can make people feel happier.
“Some studies have not found evidence that facial expressions can influence emotional feelings,” Coles said. “But we can’t focus on the results of any one study. Psychologists have been testing this idea since the early 1970s, so we wanted to look at all the evidence.”
Using a statistical technique called meta-analysis, Coles and his team combined data from 138 studies testing more than 11,000 participants from all around the world. According to the results of the meta-analysis, facial expressions have a small impact on feelings. For example, smiling makes people feel happier, scowling makes them feel angrier, and frowning makes them feel sadder.
“We don’t think that people can smile their way to happiness,” Coles said. “But these findings are exciting because they provide a clue about how the mind and the body interact to shape our conscious experience of emotion. We still have a lot to learn about these facial feedback effects, but this meta-analysis put us a little closer to understanding how emotions work.” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190412094728.htm

Citation:

Psychologists find smiling really can make people happier
Date: April 12, 2019
Source: University of Tennessee at Knoxville
Summary:
Smiling really can make people feel happier, according to a new article. A team of psychologists combined data from 138 studies testing more than 11,000 participants and found that facial expressions have a small impact on our feelings.
Journal Reference:
Nicholas A. Coles, Jeff T. Larsen, Heather C. Lench. A meta-analysis of the facial feedback literature: Effects of facial feedback on emotional experience are small and variable.. Psychological Bulletin, 2019; DOI: 10.1037/bul0000194

Here is the press release from the University of Tennessee:

PUBLIC RELEASE: 11-APR-2019
Psychologists find smiling really can make people happier
Audio interviews available
UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE AT KNOXVILLE
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Smiling really can make people feel happier, according to a new paper published in Psychological Bulletin.
Coauthored by researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Texas A&M, the paper looked at nearly 50 years of data testing whether facial expressions can lead people to feel the emotions related to those expressions.
“Conventional wisdom tells us that we can feel a little happier if we simply smile. Or that we can get ourselves in a more serious mood if we scowl,” said Nicholas Coles, UT PhD student in social psychology and lead researcher on the paper. “But psychologists have actually disagreed about this idea for over 100 years.”
These disagreements became more pronounced in 2016, when 17 teams of researchers failed to replicate a well-known experiment demonstrating that the physical act of smiling can make people feel happier.
“Some studies have not found evidence that facial expressions can influence emotional feelings,” Coles said. “But we can’t focus on the results of any one study. Psychologists have been testing this idea since the early 1970s, so we wanted to look at all the evidence.”
Using a statistical technique called meta-analysis, Coles and his team combined data from 138 studies testing more than 11,000 participants from all around the world. According to the results of the meta-analysis, facial expressions have a small impact on feelings. For example, smiling makes people feel happier, scowling makes them feel angrier, and frowning makes them feel sadder.
“We don’t think that people can smile their way to happiness,” Coles said. “But these findings are exciting because they provide a clue about how the mind and the body interact to shape our conscious experience of emotion. We still have a lot to learn about these facial feedback effects, but this meta-analysis put us a little closer to understanding how emotions work.”
###
The study, “A Meta-Analysis of the Facial Feedback Literature: Effects of Facial Feedback on Emotional Experience Are Small and Variable,” is co-authored by Jeff Larsen, professor of psychology at UT, and Heather Lench of Texas A&M University. The research is supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship awarded to Coles.
CONTACT:
Brian Canever (865-974-0937, bcanever@utk.edu)
Andrea Schneibel (865-974-3993, andrea.schneibel@utk.edu)
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

One of the best lists of what makes folk happy comes from Thomson’s 10 Characteristics of a Happy Person:

And the results are these ten characteristics that make a happy person.
1.Happy people always have happy friends. Remember the old proverb, birds of a feather flock together. Those having a positive and happy outlook to life understand and prefer the company of others with the same outlook to life.
2. Happy people usually know how to speak for themselves about what they feel and if they are not treated well. In addition to this, happy people tend to lead a life of integrity, are honest and sincere with others and themselves and always live according to their values.
3. Happy people love, and enjoy listening to music. Remember that music always makes the world go round, especially for happy people.
4. Happy people appreciate what they have and recognize the blessings that come their way. They know how to show appreciation and gratitude constantly.
5. As happy people receive and share lots of love, compassion and affection, they enjoy life better. And in the process, find that they can sleep better.
6. Happy people not only know how to eat well, they also know how to feed their body with great quality food. In addition to this, they also follow a regular exercise routine. This is because they believe in self care and work at reaching the epitome of mental and physical strength.
7. Happy people are both patient with people and things around them, and excitedly look forward to life everyday. They are always ready and welcome the adventures life offers them.
8. Happy people look for the best in themselves and in people around them as they are naturally optimistic. They know how to alter negative positions into positive ones.
9. Happy people know their purpose in life and live to their passions. It is because of this that they are always learning new things, and are open to new and fresh ideas.
10. Happy people are always ready to forgive themselves, and don’t beat themselves up for unavoidable mistakes. Being spiritual, they believe in the power of praying, and consider everything is possible and attainable through constant prayer…. http://www.growyourselves.com/10-characteristics-of-a-happy-person.html

Happy folk come in all flavors and any social status. It doesn’t matter the job title or social group.

If you want to be happy, be.
Leo Tolstoy

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Columbia University study: Is it genetic code or postal code that influence a child’s life chances?

11 Apr

For a really good discussion of the effects of poverty on children, read the American Psychological Association (APA), Effects of Poverty, Hunger, and Homelessness on Children and Youth:

What are the effects of child poverty?
• Psychological research has demonstrated that living in poverty has a wide range of negative effects on the physical and mental health and wellbeing of our nation’s children.
• Poverty impacts children within their various contexts at home, in school, and in their neighborhoods and communities.
• Poverty is linked with negative conditions such as substandard housing, homelessness, inadequate nutrition and food insecurity, inadequate child care, lack of access to health care, unsafe neighborhoods, and underresourced schools which adversely impact our nation’s children.
• Poorer children and teens are also at greater risk for several negative outcomes such as poor academic achievement, school dropout, abuse and neglect, behavioral and socioemotional problems, physical health problems, and developmental delays.
• These effects are compounded by the barriers children and their families encounter when trying to access physical and mental health care.
• Economists estimate that child poverty costs the U.S. $500 billion a year in lost productivity in the work force and spending on health care and the criminal justice system.
Poverty and academic achievement
• Poverty has a particularly adverse effect on the academic outcomes of children, especially during early childhood.
• Chronic stress associated with living in poverty has been shown to adversely affect children’s concentration and memory which may impact their ability to learn.
• School drop out rates are significantly higher for teens residing in poorer communities. In 2007, the dropout rate of students living in low-income families was about 10 times greater than the rate of their peers from high-income families (8.8% vs. 0.9%).
• The academic achievement gap for poorer youth is particularly pronounced for low-income African American and Hispanic children compared with their more affluent White peers.
• Underresourced schools in poorer communities struggle to meet the learning needs of their students and aid them in fulfilling their potential.
• Inadequate education contributes to the cycle of poverty by making it more difficult for low-income children to lift themselves and future generations out of poverty. http://www.apa.org/pi/families/poverty.aspx

See, While Black folk are immobilized and stuck on Ferguson, Asian ‘star’ tutors advance Asian achievement https://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/tag/poverty-and-education/

Science Daily reported in Is it genetic code or postal code that influence a child’s life chances?

Most children inherit both their postal code and their genetic code from their parents. But if genetic factors influence where families are able to live and children’s health and educational success, improving neighborhoods may not be enough. Latest research at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and University of California at Irvine, provides new insights into the highly debated question of whether the neighborhoods that children live in influence their health and life chances.
This is the first study to bring together genetic and geographic data to test links between children’s neighborhood and genetic risk. The findings are published online in Nature Human Behavior.
The research team led by Dan Belsky, PhD assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School, and Candice Odgers at the University of California, Irvine Department of Psychological Science, linked the genomic, geographic, health, and educational data of thousands of children living in Britain and Wales. They found that children growing up in worse-off neighborhoods also carried higher genetic risk for poor educational outcomes and earlier childbearing. The authors replicated their findings in the U.S.-based Add Health Study, where they found that gene-neighborhood correlations may accumulate across generations as young people with higher genetic risk for poor educational attainment and younger age at first birth were both born into, and subsequently moved into, worse-off neighborhoods.
“But genetic risk alone was not enough to explain why children from poorer versus more affluent neighborhoods received less education and were more likely to be Not in Education, Employment, or Training (NEET) by late adolescence,” said Belsky, who is also with the Columbia Aging Center. “The data on education could explain only a fraction (10-15 percent) of the link between neighborhood risk and poor educational qualifications and NEET status, suggesting that there is ample opportunity for neighborhoods to influence these outcomes.”
“Surprisingly, for obesity, one of the most prevalent and costly health problems facing this generation, we found no link between neighborhood and genetic risk,” observed Odgers. “Children who grew up in worse-off neighborhoods were more likely to become obese by age 18, but they did not carry a higher genetic risk for obesity than their peers living in more advantaged neighborhoods.”
Similarly, for mental health problems, children in worse-off neighborhoods experienced more symptoms of mental disorder, but there was little evidence that the reason for this link was due to genetic risk. For physical and mental health problems, postal code and genetic code both predicted children’s futures.
Analyses were based on data from The Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study, which has followed 2232 twins born in England and Wales in 1994-1995 into young adulthood, and The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, which followed 15,000 American secondary school students into adulthood. For “polygenic scoring” the investigators combined information across the genome based on recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of obesity, of schizophrenia, of age-at-first-birth, and of educational attainment. Neighborhood risk assessment and Neighborhood Mobility Analysis tools are described in the paper’s Supporting Details…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190408114330.htm

Citation:

Is it genetic code or postal code that influence a child’s life chances?
Study provides insights on children’s physical and mental health risk outcomes; genetics are a small piece of the puzzle
Date: April 8, 2019
Source: Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health
Summary:
Most children inherit both their postal code and their genetic code from their parents. But if genetic factors influence where families are able to live and children’s health and educational success, improving neighborhoods may not be enough. Latest research provides new insights into the highly debated question of whether the neighborhoods that children live in influence their health and life chances.

Journal Reference:
Daniel W. Belsky, Avshalom Caspi, Louise Arseneault, David L. Corcoran, Benjamin W. Domingue, Kathleen Mullan Harris, Renate M. Houts, Jonathan S. Mill, Terrie E. Moffitt, Joseph Prinz, Karen Sugden, Jasmin Wertz, Benjamin Williams & Candice L. Odgers. Genetics and the geography of health, behaviour and attainment. Nature Human Behavior, 2019 DOI: 10.1038/s41562-019-0562-1

Here is the press release from Columbia University:

CHILD AND ADOLESCENT HEALTH, GENETICS

Apr. 08 2019

Is It Genetic Code or Postal Code That Matters More for a Child’s Life Chances?
STUDY PROVIDES INSIGHTS ON CHILDREN’S PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH RISK OUTCOMES; GENETICS ARE A SMALL PIECE OF THE PUZZLE
Children in worse-off neighborhoods often leave school early and live shorter lives. Improving neighborhood conditions has been proposed as way of improving health and opportunities for millions of children. But if genetic factors influence both where families are able to live and their children’s health and educational success, improving neighborhoods may not be enough. New research from scientists at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health and the University of California at Irvine provides new insights into the highly debated question of whether the neighborhoods that children live in influence their health and life chances.

The study is the first to bring together genetic and geographic data to test links between children’s neighborhood and genetic risk. The findings are published online in Nature Human Behaviour.

The research team led by Daniel Belsky, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Columbia Mailman School, and Candice Odgers, PhD, at the University of California, Irvine, Department of Psychological Science, linked the genomic, geographic, health, and educational data of thousands of children living in Britain and Wales. They found that children growing up in worse-off neighborhoods also carried a higher genetic risk for poor educational outcomes and earlier childbearing, as determined by genome-wide association studies known as polygenic scoring. The authors replicated their findings in the U.S.-based Add Health Study, where they found that gene-neighborhood correlations may accumulate across generations as young people with a higher genetic risk for poor educational attainment and women who gave birth a younger ages were both born into, and subsequently moved into, worse-off neighborhoods.

“We found genetic risk alone was not enough to explain why children from poorer versus more affluent neighborhoods received less education by late adolescence,” said Belsky, who is also with the Columbia Aging Center. “The data on education could explain only a fraction of the link between neighborhood risk and poor educational qualifications, suggesting that there is ample opportunity for neighborhoods to influence these outcomes.”

“Surprisingly, for obesity, one of the most prevalent and costly health problems facing this generation, we found no link between neighborhood and genetic risk,” observed Odgers. “Children who grew up in worse-off neighborhoods were more likely to become obese by age 18, but they did not carry a higher genetic risk for obesity than their peers living in more advantaged neighborhoods.”

Similarly, for mental health problems, children in worse-off neighborhoods experienced more symptoms of mental disorder, but there was little evidence that the reason for this link was due to genetic risk. For physical and mental health problems, postal code and genetic code both predicted children’s futures.

Analyses were based on data from the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study, which has followed 2,232 twins born in England and Wales in 1994-1995 into young adulthood, and the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, which followed 15,000 American secondary school students into adulthood. Genetic risk was measured by polygenic scoring, combining information from recent genome-wide association studies of obesity, of schizophrenia, of age-at-first-birth, and of educational attainment. Neighborhood characteristics and mobility were derived from government data, surveys of residents, and virtual assessment method employing Google Street View.

Odgers, who developed the neighborhood virtual assessments noted that “advances in both genomics and geospatial analyses are rapidly positioning us to make new discoveries. In this case, they allowed us to identify outcomes, like obesity and mental health, where neighborhoods are most likely to have unique impacts.” But, she added, “This is only a first step in answering the really important question of whether changing neighborhoods can improve children’s lives.”
“In our study, polygenic risk scores showed a link between genetics and neighborhoods for teen pregnancy and poor educational outcomes,” said Belsky. “This finding suggests that we should consider neighborhoods when interpreting the results of studies searching for genes related to these outcomes, and also that we should consider genes when examining the effects of neighborhoods.” But, he cautioned that “polygenic risk scores are an evolving and still imperfect tool. They can help us test whether genes and neighborhoods are related. But they cannot tell us how.”

Genetic risk accounted for only a fraction of the differences between children living in different types of neighborhoods. According to Belsky and Odgers this provides some reason to hope that “targeting neighborhoods”—especially for physical and mental health—will be enough to improve children’s life outcomes.

Co-authors’ institutions are Duke University; Stanford University; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Kings College, UK; and University of Exeter, UK.

The study was supported by the Medical Research Council (UKMRC G1002190), NICHD (HD077482), Google, and the Jacobs Foundation. The Add Health Study was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (HD31921, HD073342, HD060726), with cooperative funding from 23 other federal agencies and foundations.

People tend to cluster in neighborhoods based upon class as much as race. Good teachers tend to gravitate toward neighborhoods where they are paid well and students come from families who mirror their personal backgrounds and values. Good teachers make a difference in a child’s life. One of the difficulties in busing to achieve equity in education is that neighborhoods tend to be segregated by class as well as race. People often make sacrifices to move into neighborhoods they perceive mirror their values. That is why there must be good schools in all segments of the country and there must be good schools in all parts of this society. A good education should not depend upon one’s class or status.

The lawyers in Brown were told that lawsuits were futile and that the legislatures would address the issue of segregation eventually when the public was ready. Meanwhile, several generations of African Americans waited for people to come around and say the Constitution applied to us as well. Generations of African Americans suffered in inferior schools. This society cannot sacrifice the lives of children by not addressing the issue of equity in school funding in a timely manner.
The next huge case, like Brown, will be about equity in education funding. It may not come this year or the next year. It, like Brown, may come several years after a Plessy. It will come. Equity in education funding is the civil rights issue of this century.

Related:

Michael Petrilli’s decision: An ed reformer confronts race and class when choosing a school for his kids
https://drwilda.com/2012/11/11/micheal-pettrillis-decision-an-ed-reformer-confronts-race-and-class-when-choosing-a-school-for-his-kids/

The role economic class plays in college success
https://drwilda.com/2012/12/22/the-role-economic-class-plays-in-college-success/

The ‘school-to-prison pipeline
https://drwilda.com/2012/11/27/the-school-to-prison-pipeline/

Trying not to raise a bumper crop of morons: Hong Kong’s ‘tutor kings and queens’
https://drwilda.com/2012/11/26/trying-not-to-raise-a-bumper-crop-of-morons-hong-kongs-tutor-kings-and-queens/

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©
https://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©
http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©
https://drwilda.com/

Northwestern University study: Poverty leaves a mark on our genes

7 Apr

For a really good discussion of the effects of poverty on children, read the American Psychological Association (APA), Effects of Poverty, Hunger, and Homelessness on Children and Youth:

What are the effects of child poverty?
• Psychological research has demonstrated that living in poverty has a wide range of negative effects on the physical and mental health and wellbeing of our nation’s children.
• Poverty impacts children within their various contexts at home, in school, and in their neighborhoods and communities.
• Poverty is linked with negative conditions such as substandard housing, homelessness, inadequate nutrition and food insecurity, inadequate child care, lack of access to health care, unsafe neighborhoods, and underresourced schools which adversely impact our nation’s children.
• Poorer children and teens are also at greater risk for several negative outcomes such as poor academic achievement, school dropout, abuse and neglect, behavioral and socioemotional problems, physical health problems, and developmental delays.
• These effects are compounded by the barriers children and their families encounter when trying to access physical and mental health care.
• Economists estimate that child poverty costs the U.S. $500 billion a year in lost productivity in the work force and spending on health care and the criminal justice system.
Poverty and academic achievement
• Poverty has a particularly adverse effect on the academic outcomes of children, especially during early childhood.
• Chronic stress associated with living in poverty has been shown to adversely affect children’s concentration and memory which may impact their ability to learn.
• School drop out rates are significantly higher for teens residing in poorer communities. In 2007, the dropout rate of students living in low-income families was about 10 times greater than the rate of their peers from high-income families (8.8% vs. 0.9%).
• The academic achievement gap for poorer youth is particularly pronounced for low-income African American and Hispanic children compared with their more affluent White peers.
• Underresourced schools in poorer communities struggle to meet the learning needs of their students and aid them in fulfilling their potential.
• Inadequate education contributes to the cycle of poverty by making it more difficult for low-income children to lift themselves and future generations out of poverty. http://www.apa.org/pi/families/poverty.aspx

See, While Black folk are immobilized and stuck on Ferguson, Asian ‘star’ tutors advance Asian achievement https://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/tag/poverty-and-education/

Moi blogs about education issues so the reader could be perplexed sometimes because moi often writes about other things like nutrition, families, and personal responsibility issues. Why? The reader might ask? Children will have the most success in school if they are ready to learn. Ready to learn includes proper nutrition for a healthy body and the optimum situation for children is a healthy family. Many of society’s problems would be lessened if the goal was a healthy child in a healthy family. See Dr. Wilda on poverty https://drwilda.com/tag/poverty/ and https://drwilda.com/tag/poverty/page/2/

Science Daily reported in Poverty leaves a mark on our genes:

A new Northwestern University study challenges prevailing understandings of genes as immutable features of biology that are fixed at conception.
Previous research has shown that socioeconomic status (SES) is a powerful determinant of human health and disease, and social inequality is a ubiquitous stressor for human populations globally. Lower educational attainment and/or income predict increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, many cancers and infectious diseases, for example. Furthermore, lower SES is associated with physiological processes that contribute to the development of disease, including chronic inflammation, insulin resistance and cortisol dysregulation.
In this study, researchers found evidence that poverty can become embedded across wide swaths of the genome. They discovered that lower socioeconomic status is associated with levels of DNA methylation (DNAm) — a key epigenetic mark that has the potential to shape gene expression — at more than 2,500 sites, across more than 1,500 genes.
In other words, poverty leaves a mark on nearly 10 percent of the genes in the genome.
Lead author Thomas McDade said this is significant for two reasons.
“First, we have known for a long time that SES is a powerful determinant of health, but the underlying mechanisms through which our bodies ‘remember’ the experiences of poverty are not known,” said McDade, professor of anthropology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern and director of the Laboratory for Human Biology Research.
“Our findings suggest that DNA methylation may play an important role, and the wide scope of the associations between SES and DNAm is consistent with the wide range of biological systems and health outcomes we know to be shaped by SES.”
Secondly, said McDade, also a faculty fellow at Northwestern’s Institute for Policy Research, experiences over the course of development become embodied in the genome, to literally shape its structure and function.
“There is no nature vs. nurture,” he adds.
McDade said he was surprised to find so many associations between socioeconomic status and DNA methylation, across such a large number of genes.
“This pattern highlights a potential mechanism through which poverty can have a lasting impact on a wide range of physiological systems and processes,” he said.
Follow-up studies will be needed to determine the health consequences of differential methylation at the sites the researchers identified, but many of the genes are associated with processes related to immune responses to infection, skeletal development and development of the nervous system…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190404135433.htm

Citation:

Poverty leaves a mark on our genes
Study’s findings challenge understandings of genes as fixed features of our biology
Date: April 4, 2019
Source: Northwestern University
Summary:
In this study, researchers found evidence that poverty can become embedded across wide swaths of the genome. They discovered that lower socioeconomic status is associated with levels of DNA methylation (DNAm) — a key epigenetic mark that has the potential to shape gene expression — at more than 2,500 sites, across more than 1,500 genes.
Journal Reference:
Thomas W. McDade, Calen P. Ryan, Meaghan J. Jones, Morgan K. Hoke, Judith Borja, Gregory E. Miller, Christopher W. Kuzawa, Michael S. Kobor. Genome‐wide analysis of DNA methylation in relation to socioeconomic status during development and early adulthood. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 2019; 169 (1): 3 DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.23800

Here is the press release from Northwestern University:

PUBLIC RELEASE: 4-APR-2019
Poverty leaves a mark on our genes
Study’s findings challenge understandings of genes as fixed features of our biology
NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY
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EVANSTON, Ill. — A new Northwestern University study challenges prevailing understandings of genes as immutable features of biology that are fixed at conception.
Previous research has shown that socioeconomic status (SES) is a powerful determinant of human health and disease, and social inequality is a ubiquitous stressor for human populations globally. Lower educational attainment and/or income predict increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, many cancers and infectious diseases, for example. Furthermore, lower SES is associated with physiological processes that contribute to the development of disease, including chronic inflammation, insulin resistance and cortisol dysregulation.
In this study, researchers found evidence that poverty can become embedded across wide swaths of the genome. They discovered that lower socioeconomic status is associated with levels of DNA methylation (DNAm) — a key epigenetic mark that has the potential to shape gene expression — at more than 2,500 sites, across more than 1,500 genes.
In other words, poverty leaves a mark on nearly 10 percent of the genes in the genome.
Lead author Thomas McDade said this is significant for two reasons.
“First, we have known for a long time that SES is a powerful determinant of health, but the underlying mechanisms through which our bodies ‘remember’ the experiences of poverty are not known,” said McDade, professor of anthropology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern and director of the Laboratory for Human Biology Research.
“Our findings suggest that DNA methylation may play an important role, and the wide scope of the associations between SES and DNAm is consistent with the wide range of biological systems and health outcomes we know to be shaped by SES.”
Secondly, said McDade, also a faculty fellow at Northwestern’s Institute for Policy Research, experiences over the course of development become embodied in the genome, to literally shape its structure and function.
“There is no nature vs. nurture,” he adds.
McDade said he was surprised to find so many associations between socioeconomic status and DNA methylation, across such a large number of genes.
“This pattern highlights a potential mechanism through which poverty can have a lasting impact on a wide range of physiological systems and processes,” he said.
Follow-up studies will be needed to determine the health consequences of differential methylation at the sites the researchers identified, but many of the genes are associated with processes related to immune responses to infection, skeletal development and development of the nervous system.
“These are the areas we’ll be focusing on to determine if DNA methylation is indeed an important mechanism through which socioeconomic status can leave a lasting molecular imprint on the body, with implications for health later in life,” McDade said.
###
“Genome-wide analysis of DNA methylation in relation to socioeconomic status during development and early adulthood” published recently in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.
In addition to McDade, co-authors include Calen P. Ryan, Northwestern; Meaghan J. Jones, University of British Columbia; Morgan K. Hoke, University of Pennsylvania; Judith Borja, University of San Carlos; Gregory E. Miller and Christopher W. Kuzawa of Northwestern; and Michael S. Kobor, University of British Columbia.
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

One person does not speaks for a group, but members of a group can often provide useful insight about the group.

Here is Arthur Hu’s take on INTRODUCTION TO BASIC ASIAN VALUES:

One of the most central features of a culture are its values. Values are the standards by which one may judge the difference between good and bad, and the right and wrong things to do. Though some values are universally shared among all cultures, it is the contrast and differences in values of different cultures that can account for the interactions and perceptions that occur between different cultures.
Traditional values are a common thread among individuals in a culture. Stereotyping comes about because of common behavior patterns that are based on common values, and distortion and misperception can come about as a result of misunderstandings of those values. Stereotyping can also be dangerous because people are individuals with their own values which may vary a great deal from the traditional ideal. Values can vary quite a bit depending upon one’s generation, class, education, origin, among other factors. For example, there is considerable difference in what might be called “traditional” and “modern” American values.
Although each distinct Asian culture actually has its own set of values, they all share a common core, which is probably best documented in the Japanese and Chinese traditions, and by philosophers such as Confucius, whose writings had considerable influence throughout Asia. In the Asian American experience, these values interact with what might be called simply “western” or “Caucasian” values, but if one contrasts the values of America with those of Europe, it can be seen that these are really “Modern American” values that provide the best contrasts.
Asian values are very much inter-related. They all support the view of the individual as being a part of a much larger group or family, and place great importance on the well-being of the group, even at the expense of the individual. American values, on the other hand emphasize the importance of the well-being of the individual, and stresses independence and individual initiative. Although it may seem that values such as education, family, and hard work are shared between cultures, these values manifest themselves quite differently in the two cultures…..’’
http://www.asianweek.com/2012/04/28/introduction-to-basic-asian-values/

See, While Black folk are immobilized and stuck on Ferguson, Asian ‘star’ tutors advance Asian achievement https://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/tag/poverty-and-education/

Moi wrote in 3rd world America: The link between poverty and education:

The Huffington Post article, Poor Students With Poorly Educated Parents More Disadvantaged In U.S. Than Other Countries about the effect of income inequality:
Intuitively, a child’s academic performance is likely higher if he or she has highly educated parents, and lower if the child has less educated parents. A new report confirms that’s true, but reveals that American children of poorly educated parents do a lot worse than their counterparts in other countries.
Income mobility just within the U.S. has significantly declined since the mid-90s, according to a report this month by the Boston Federal Reserve. In recent years, families were more likely to stay within their income class than before — the rich are staying rich, and the poor and middle-class are struggling to move up the economic ladder.
But the Pew Economic Mobility Project takes it a step further by asking the question, “Does America promote mobility as well as other nations?” Researchers in 10 countries took to analyzing socioeconomic advantage as a function of parental education.
Researchers found that a child’s economic and educational status is more affected by parental education than in any other country studied.
Using a basic metric, researchers studied performance gaps on vocabulary tests among five-year-olds with highly educated parents, moderately educated parents and poorly educated parents. Among the English-speaking countries studied, the American gap between children with highly educated parents and poorly educated parents was the widest, while the Canadian gap proved to be the most narrow. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/18/poor-students-with-poorly_n_1101728.html?ref=email_share

The is no magic bullet or “Holy Grail” in education, there is what works to produce academic achievement in each population of students.

What moi observes from Asian culture is that success does not occur in a vacuum and that students from all walks of life can benefit from the individual intervention to prevent failure. The question must be asked, who is responsible for MY or YOUR life choices? Let’s get real, certain Asian cultures kick the collective butts of the rest of Americans. Why? It’s not rocket science. These cultures embrace success traits of hard work, respect for education, strong families, and a reverence for success and successful people. Contrast the culture of success with the norms of hip-hop and rap oppositional culture.

See, Hip-hop’s Dangerous Values
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1107107/posts and Hip-Hop and rap represent destructive life choices: How low can this genre sink? https://drwilda.com/2013/05/01/hip-hop-and-rap-represent-destructive-life-choices-how-low-can-this-genre-sink/

Resources:

Culture of Success                                          http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/culture-success

How Do Asian Students Get to the Top of the Class?
http://www.greatschools.org/parenting/teaching-values/481-parenting-students-to-the-top.gs

Related:

Is there a model minority?
https://drwilda.com/2012/06/23/is-there-a-model-minority/

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Rice University study: Digital device overload linked to obesity risk

3 Apr

Lisa Simonson wrote in the Livestrong article, What Are Good & Bad Healthy Lifestyle Choices?

Everyone makes both good and bad lifestyle choices. You may make the choices you do because of learned habits, stress, exhaustion and even timeliness. To live a healthy lifestyle you need to have a nutrient-rich diet, moderate exercise each week, get enough rest and avoid products that can lead to unhealthy habits…. https://www.livestrong.com/article/381713-what-are-good-bad-healthy-lifestyle-choices/

See, Why Digital Overload Is Now Central to the Human Condition https://singularityhub.com/2016/01/15/why-grappling-with-digital-overload-is-now-part-of-the-human-condition/#sm.0001du9uyrj9zefstyx14vmmdlhp8

Science Daily reported in Digital device overload linked to obesity risk:

If your attention gets diverted in different directions by smartphones and other digital devices, take note: Media multitasking has now been linked to obesity.
New research from Rice University indicates that mindless switching between digital devices is associated with increased susceptibility to food temptations and lack of self-control, which may result in weight gain.
“Increased exposure to phones, tablets and other portable devices has been one of the most significant changes to our environments in the past few decades, and this occurred during a period in which obesity rates also climbed in many places,” said Richard Lopez, a postdoctoral research fellow at Rice and the study’s lead author. “So, we wanted to conduct this research to determine whether links exists between obesity and abuse of digital devices — as captured by people’s tendency to engage in media multitasking.”
An upcoming print edition of Brain Imaging and Behavior will report on the study, entitled “Media multitasking is associated with higher risk for obesity and increased responsiveness to rewarding food stimuli.”
The research was conducted in two parts. In the first study, 132 participants between the ages of 18 and 23 completed a questionnaire assessing their levels of media multitasking and distractibility. This was done using a newly developed, 18-item Media Multitasking-Revised (MMT-R) scale. The MMT-R scale measures proactive behaviors of compulsive or inappropriate phone use (like feeling the urge to check your phone for messages while you’re talking to someone else) as well as more passive behaviors (like media-related distractions that interfere with your work).
The researchers found that higher MMT-R scores were associated with higher body mass index (BMI) and greater percentage of body fat, suggesting a possible link.
In follow-up research, 72 participants from the prior study underwent an fMRI scan, during which the researchers measured brain activity while people were shown a series of images. Mixed in with a variety of unrelated photos were pictures of appetizing but fattening foods.
When media multitaskers saw pictures of food, researchers observed increased activity in the part of the brain dealing with food temptation. These same study participants, who also had higher BMIs and more body fat, were also more likely to spend time around campus cafeterias.
Overall, Lopez said these findings, although preliminary, suggest there are indeed links between media multitasking, risk for obesity, brain-based measures for self-control and exposure to real-world food cues…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190402164520.htm

Citation:

Digital device overload linked to obesity risk
Date: April 2, 2019
Source: Rice University
Summary:
If your attention gets diverted in different directions by smartphones and other digital devices, take note: Media multitasking has now been linked to obesity.
Journal Reference:
Richard B. Lopez, Todd F. Heatherton, Dylan D. Wagner. Media multitasking is associated with higher risk for obesity and increased responsiveness to rewarding food stimuli. Brain Imaging and Behavior, 2019; DOI: 10.1007/s11682-019-00056-0

Here is the press release from Rice University:

Digital device overload linked to obesity risk
AMY MCCAIG
– APRIL 1, 2019POSTED IN: FEATURED STORIES
If your attention gets diverted in different directions by smartphones and other digital devices, take note: Media multitasking has now been linked to obesity.
Long Description
New research from Rice University indicates that mindless switching between digital devices is associated with increased susceptibility to food temptations and lack of self-control, which may result in weight gain.
“Increased exposure to phones, tablets and other portable devices has been one of the most significant changes to our environments in the past few decades, and this occurred during a period in which obesity rates also climbed in many places,” said Richard Lopez, a postdoctoral research fellow at Rice and the study’s lead author. “So, we wanted to conduct this research to determine whether links exists between obesity and abuse of digital devices — as captured by people’s tendency to engage in media multitasking.”
An upcoming print edition of Brain Imaging and Behavior will report on the study, entitled “Media multitasking is associated with higher risk for obesity and increased responsiveness to rewarding food stimuli.”
The research was conducted in two parts. In the first study, 132 participants between the ages of 18 and 23 completed a questionnaire assessing their levels of media multitasking and distractibility. This was done using a newly developed, 18-item Media Multitasking-Revised (MMT-R) scale. The MMT-R scale measures proactive behaviors of compulsive or inappropriate phone use (like feeling the urge to check your phone for messages while you’re talking to someone else) as well as more passive behaviors (like media-related distractions that interfere with your work).
The researchers found that higher MMT-R scores were associated with higher body mass index (BMI) and greater percentage of body fat, suggesting a possible link.
In follow-up research, 72 participants from the prior study underwent an fMRI scan, during which the researchers measured brain activity while people were shown a series of images. Mixed in with a variety of unrelated photos were pictures of appetizing but fattening foods.
When media multitaskers saw pictures of food, researchers observed increased activity in the part of the brain dealing with food temptation. These same study participants, who also had higher BMIs and more body fat, were also more likely to spend time around campus cafeterias.
Overall, Lopez said these findings, although preliminary, suggest there are indeed links between media multitasking, risk for obesity, brain-based measures for self-control and exposure to real-world food cues.
“Such links are important to establish, given rising obesity rates and the prevalence of multimedia use in much of the modern world,” he said of the findings.
Lopez and his fellow researchers hope the study will raise awareness of the issue and promote future work on the topic.
The study was co-authored by Todd Heatherton of Dartmouth College and Dylan Wagner of Ohio State University.
TAGS: Psychological Sciences, Social Sciences
About Amy McCaig
Amy is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University’s Office of Public Affairs.

Well duh, it appears that lifestyle choice has a great deal to do with good food choices.

Patti Neighmond reported in the NPR story, It Takes More Than A Produce Aisle To Refresh A Food Desert:

In inner cities and poor rural areas across the country, public health advocates have been working hard to turn around food deserts — neighborhoods where fresh produce is scarce, and greasy fast food abounds. In many cases, they’re converting dingy, cramped corner markets into lighter, brighter venues that offer fresh fruits and vegetables. In some cases, they’re building brand new stores.
“The presumption is, if you build a store, people are going to come,” says Stephen Matthews, professor in the departments of sociology, anthropology and demography at Penn State University. To check that notion, he and colleagues from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine recently surveyed residents of one low-income community in Philadelphia before and after the opening of a glistening new supermarket brimming with fresh produce.
What they’re finding, Matthews says, is a bit surprising: “We don’t find any difference at all. … We see no effect of the store on fruit and vegetable consumption.”
Now, to be fair, the time was short. The store was only open for six months before residents were surveyed. Matthews says most residents knew that the store was there and that it offered healthy food. But only 26 percent said it was their regular “go to” market. And, as might be expected, those who lived close to the store shopped there most regularly.
Matthews says the findings dovetail with other work, and simply point to the obvious: Lots more intervention is needed to change behavior. For one thing, we’re all used to routine, and many of us will just keep shopping where we’ve been shopping, even if a newer, more convenient and bountiful store moves in.
But more than that, he says, many people, particularly in low-income food deserts, just aren’t used to buying or preparing healthy meals — they haven’t had the opportunity, until now.
Alex Ortega, a public health researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, agrees that providing access to nutritious food is only the first step.
“The next part of the intervention is to create demand,” he says, “so the community wants to come to the store and buy healthy fruits and vegetables and go home and prepare those foods in a healthy way, without lots of fat, salt or sugar.”
Ortega directs a UCLA project that converts corner stores into hubs of healthy fare in low-income neighborhoods of East Los Angeles. He and colleagues work with community leaders and local high school students to help create that demand for nutritious food. Posters and signs promoting fresh fruits and vegetables hang in corner stores, such as the Euclid Market in Boyle Heights, and at bus stops. There are nutrition education classes in local schools, and cooking classes in the stores themselves….
The jury’s still out on whether these conversions of corner stores are actually changing people’s diets and health. The evidence is still being collected. http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/02/10/273046077/takes-more-than-a-produce-aisle-to-refresh-a-food-desert

In other words, much of the obesity problem is due to personal life style choices and the question is whether government can or should regulate those choices.

Personal Responsibility:

There is only one person responsible for your life and the vocation you have chosen. That person is the one you see in the mirror in the morning when you wake up. Don’t blame God, your boss, your parents, your former teachers, your coach, your co-workers or your dog. You and only you are responsible for your work life and what you have achieved. The sooner you accept this notion, the sooner you will begin to make changes that lead to a happier and more productive life and career. http://www.corethemes.com/coreconcepts/

It’s all about ME unless I have to take responsibility for ME. The same brilliant minds who think the government can substitute for family have fostered a single parenthood rate of 70% in the African-American community and about 50% for the population as a whole. Given the child abuse and foster care numbers, this plan hasn’t worked well. Sometimes folks have to be responsible for their choices.

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