Lack of sleep can lead to obesity in adolescents and children

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Children who get less than the recommended amount of sleep for their age are at a higher risk of developing obesity.

Research at the University of Warwick has found that children and adolescents who regularly sleep less than others of the same age gain more weight when they grow older and are more likely to become overweight or obese.

One of the co-authors, Dr Michelle Miller, Reader of Biochemical Medicine, Health Sciences, Warwick Medical School said: ‘Being overweight can lead to cardiovascular disease and type-2-diabetes which is also on the increase in children. The findings of the study indicate that sleep may be an important potentially modifiable risk factor (or marker) of future obesity.’

The paper, Sleep duration and incidence of obesity in infants, children and adolescents: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies, has been published in the journal Sleep. The paper’s authors reviewed the results of 42 population studies of infants, children and adolescents aged 0 to 18 years which included a total of 75,499 participants. Their average sleep duration was assessed through a variety of methods, from questionnaires to wearable technology.

The participants were grouped into two classifications: short sleeper and regular sleepers. Short sleepers were defined as having less sleep than the reference category for their age. This was based on the most recent National Sleep Foundation guidelines in the US which recommends that infants (4 to 11 months) get between 12 to 15 hours of nightly sleep, toddlers (1 to 2 years) get 11 to 14 hours of sleep, children in pre-school (3 to 5 years) get 10 to 13 hours, school aged children (6 to 13 years) get 9 to 11 hours and teenagers (14 to 17 years) between 8 and 10 hours.

Participants were followed up for a median period of three years and changes in BMI and incidences of overweight and/or obesity were recorded over time. At all ages short sleepers gained more weight and overall were 58% more likely to become overweight or obese.

Dr Miller said: ‘The results showed a consistent relationship across all ages indicating that the increased risk is present in both younger and older children. The study also reinforces the concept that sleep deprivation is an important risk factor for obesity, detectable very early on in life.’

Co-author Professor Francesco Cappuccio added: ‘By appraising world literature we were able to demonstrate that, despite some variation between studies, there is a strikingly consistent overall prospective association between short sleep and obesity.

‘This study builds on our previous analysis of cross-sectional data published in 2008. The importance of the latest approach is that only prospective longitudinal studies were included, demonstrating that short sleep precedes the development of obesity in later years, strongly suggesting causality.’

The prevalence of obesity has increased world-wide and the World Health Organization has now declared it a global epidemic. The paper’s authors stress that whilst healthy eating and exercise are important this study demonstrates that getting enough sleep is equally important. They suggest that educational programmes could be used to empower parents and children to maximise their sleep quantity.



Active April calendar available to download

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Action for Happiness has turned its attention towards physical activity this month, with its Active April calendar.

Like the movement’s Happy January, Friendly February and Mindful March calendars, Active April includes daily suggested activities to help people stay active and give their body and minds a much-needed boost.

Suggestions include the following:

  • Commit to doing something active every day this month
  • Go up and down the stairs whenever possible today
  • Choose to walk or cycle instead of going by car or bus

While the calendar suggests these actions could be followed in April, they can, of course, be applied throughout the year.

Download the calendar



Online survey on loneliness open to British public


The BBC and The University of Manchester are asking the British public to take part in a loneliness survey, so scientists can learn more about the experiences and attitudes towards social connections and belonging.

The study is expected to be the largest-ever survey on the subjective experiences of loneliness, and comes at a time when questions are being asked about links between loneliness and mental health, as well as the effect of increasing use of the internet.

Scientists at the University of Manchester hope that the findings will ‘increase understanding of people’s perceptions of loneliness and the way it is linked to health, internet use, and emotion processing across different ages and among different groups in society.’

The study will close on Thursday 12 April and the results will be announced and analysed on All in the Mind on BBC Radio 4 in September.

People can take part by visiting the, and share their experiences using the hashtag #LonelinessExperiment.



Brothers complete Atlantic Ocean row and raise more than £86,000 for skin cancer research


Half-brothers Greg Bailey (28) and Jude Massey (19) have completed a 3,000 mile unsupported Atlantic Ocean row for the British Skin Foundation, setting a Guinness World Record in the process.

Jude is now the youngest person to have rowed any ocean in a team of two which has been verified by Guinness. They are also believed to be the first people to complete the crossing on a vegan diet.

They set off on 18 January from Gran Canaria to Barbados, aiming to raise £100,000 for skin cancer research in memory of their father, Peter Massey who suffered with skin cancer until his passing in 2015.

They arrived in Port St. Charles after 53 days at sea on Sunday 11 March, greeted by family and friends. So far they have raised a fantastic £86,500 and counting for the British Skin Foundation’s skin cancer research.

Greg said, ‘I just feel totally overwhelmed to be here in Barbados and even more so to have received such a wonderful reception from all our family and friends. I’m so happy that we managed to complete the challenge for the British Skin Foundation in memory of Peter and raise awareness of skin cancer at the same time.’

Jude said, ‘After 53 days at sea I feel really wobbly and I just can’t believe we’ve made it this far – it’s incredible. It also feels amazing to have a Guinness World Record and to have raised £82,000 for skin cancer research.’

Their journey has been tough as the duo battled through many challenges including:

  • A dramatic capsize at dusk, spending 20 minutes in the water before scrambling back on board their boat.
  • A broken water maker since day 4 – meaning they had to hand pump water for 5 hours every day to survive.
  • Equipment failures including the GPS auto helm, meaning they have had to row with one arm and steer with the other almost the entire way. This also caused extreme back pain.
  • Bad weather, 25 ft. swells, hallucinations, sleep deprivation, exhaustion, being followed by sharks after scraping barnacles off the bottom of the boat, plus both physical and mental pain.
  • Greg (a junior NHS doctor) suffering from a rotator cuff tear (painful shoulder injury).
  • A leaky boat and a constantly wet cabin.

However, it wasn’t all bad with the boys enjoying shooting stars at night, seeing wildlife such as whales, dolphins, flying fish and even picking up a stowaway bird (they named Pete) which stayed with them throughout.

Matthew Patey, CEO, British Skin Foundation said, ‘We are incredibly lucky to have such determined and dedicated fundraisers as Greg and Jude. They have tackled every challenge thrown at them by the Atlantic Ocean with true courage. The incredible amount of money they have raised will fund skin cancer research to find cures and treatments for future patients. Your dad would have been very proud.’

The brothers were previously novice rowers and decided to take on an ocean challenge due to Peter’s love of the sea. They wanted to show that it was possible to take on this type of challenge in a sun safe way (armed with sunscreen and UV clothing) and also on a vegan diet.

Their challenge has attracted support from HRH Princess Alexandra (the patron of the British Skin Foundation) plus Bear Grylls, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Andrew Triggs-Hodge OBE, Sir Ben Ainslie, James Cracknell OBE, Rob Da Bank and Chris Evans.

Acupuncture may be more effective than ibuprofen for lumbar disc herniation

Acupuncture has a more favourable effect in the treatment of lumbar disc herniation than lumbar traction and ibuprofen, according to a recent study published by the BMJ.

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Scientists from Guangzhou, China conducted a systematic review and meta analysis of randomised controlled trials in leading scientific databases to evaluate the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of lumbar disc herniation (LDH).

After an extensive search, the scientists narrowed down the study to thirty randomised controlled trials, involving 3503 clients, that were published in either English or Chinese and compared the effects of acupuncture with western medicine, lumbar traction, tui na and other techniques for LDH.

The results indicated that acupuncture alone had a ‘more favourable effect in the treatment of LDH than lumbar traction, ibuprofen, diclofenac sodium, meloxicam, mannitol plus dexamethasone and mecobalamin, fugui gutong capsule plus ibuprofen, mannitol plus dexamethasone, loxoprofen and huoxue zhitong decoction.’

Access the full study here


Forthcoming conference makes a case for improving health through the arts

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Aesop, a charity committed to improving health through the arts, has announced a  series of arts in health programmes taking place at its second Arts in Health Conference & Showcase for health decision makers, this April.

Aesop’s second national Arts in Health Conference & Showcase takes place from 9.45am – 6pm on Thursday 19 April 2018 at Milton Court, in partnership with the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and the College of Medicine.

For the second Conference & Showcase, the focus is on how the arts are contributing to current health priorities by reducing demands on the health system, addressing the neglect of mental health, supporting an ageing population and tackling health inequalities.

The event will showcase 24 arts programmes already helping deliver current health priorities. Each will feature a presentation of the programme, testament from beneficiaries and health and cost-effectiveness perspectives.

Patsy Rodenburg OBE is an international expert on teaching voice and speech. She has worked with Dame Judi Dench, Franco Zeffirelli, Tim Burton, Harold Pinter and high-profile politicians. She will explore ‘Presence’ – the quality of self-assurance and effectiveness that enables great performers to perform, great teachers to teach and all healers to heal.

Dame Darcey Bussell DBE will present her new venture, Diverse Dance Mix.

Tim Joss, Aesop Chief Executive and Founder has programmed the Conference alongside Dr Michael Dixon, Chair of Council, College of Medicine and National Clinical Champion for Social Prescribing and Professor Helena Gaunt, Vice Principal and Director of Guildhall Innovation at Guildhall School of Music & Drama. Of the programme he says –

‘The showcase opens a window on programmes which are both strong artistically and powerful contributors to health improvement. They demonstrate how arts and culture are part of the solution to today’s health challenges’.

The 24 Arts in Health programmes that will be showcased at the Conference are as follows:

  1. AesopDance to Health: a falls prevention dance programme for older people
  2. Akademi Dance Well: South Asian dance with cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation outpatients
  3. Breathe Arts Health ResearchMelodies for Mums
  4. British Lung FoundationSinging for lung health
  5. Clod EnsemblePerforming Medicine
  6. English National BalletDance for Parkinson’s: A person-centred approach
  7. Equal ArtsCreative Age Challenge
  8. Guildhall School of Music & DramaCareful: Supporting nurses’ physical and emotional well-being through theatre and dance performance
  9. Guildhall School of Music & DramaMusic, Memory and Me: celebrating the person within the patient
  10. Guildhall School of Music & Drama – Music therapy for older people
  11. Healing Arts Cumberland InfirmaryAbout Being: A dance from hospital to home
  12. Historic Royal PalacesSensory Palaces for people with dementia and their carers                   
  13. Jack Drum ArtsPerforming Arts for Positive Mental Health
  14. Lime Music for HealthMedical Notes: Music at the Heart of Life
  15. Live Music NowDeveloping sustainable live music as part of care ‘toolkits’ in residential care for older people
  16. Liverpool PhilharmonicPartnerships for Recovery musician in residence
  17. Manchester Camerata –  Music in Mind: the co-delivery of music-making sessions by musicians and care staff for people living with dementia   
  18. Mental Fight ClubFounded, led and delivered by People with Mental Health Experience 
  19. National Museums Liverpool House of Memories: The impacts of museum-led dementia awareness programme                                    
  20. Outside Edge Theatre CompanyUnfinished Business: theatre performance on rehab / addiction    
  21. Pavilion Dance (South West) – ‘Mind the gap’: the bridge between therapeutic health provision and independent self-management for People with Parkinson’s
  22. SomewhereSee beyond Stroke
  23. South Staffs & Shropshire healthcare NHS FT UP Tempo: music for health
  24. The ReaderBuilding community and personal resilience through weekly shared reading

The Conference will be facilitated by Vivienne Parry OBE, science writer and broadcaster with the following speakers: Dame Darcey Bussell DBE President of the Royal Academy of Dance & Founder of Diverse Dance Mix, Professor Gillian Leng CBE NICE Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Health & Social Care, Professor Tim Kendall NHS England National Clinical Director for Mental Health, Professor Martin Vernon NHS England National Clinical Director for Older People and Noel Gordon, Chair at NHS Digital, NHS England Non-Executive Director & Board member.

Tickets for the Conference are £95 (plus booking fee) and include the day’s events, lunch and refreshments.

The Conference and Showcase will take place from 9.45am – 6pm on Thursday 19 April 2018 at Guildhall School of Music & Drama Milton Court, 1 Milton Street, London EC2Y 9BH.

Tickets are available to buy online


How to be mindful in March


Following the launch of its Christmas Kindness calendar, Action for Happiness continues to promote positivity all year round with Mindful March.

Mindful March follows a similar format to Christmas Kindness, as a calendar of daily inspirational suggestions.

Suggested actions are designed to promote happiness and improve wellbeing and include eating mindfully, having a device-free day, taking deep breaths each hour, and making a list of amazing things that you take for granted.

Action for Happiness is a movement dedicated to creating a happier and more caring society.

Download the Mindful March calendar


Learn more at the 2018 FHT Training Congress

Seán Collins will be giving a talk on mindfulness for therapists at this year’s FHT Training Congress at the Holistic Health Show on Sunday 20 May.

Book your FHT Training Congress tickets here

Remember to also register for free entry to the Holistic Health Show on their website here.

FHT 2018 Training Congress at Holistic Health