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Study: College-educated, middle-aged Americans most likely to pursue healthier behaviors

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — Better-educated middle-aged Americans are less likely to smoke and more apt to be physically active than their less-educated peers. They also are more inclined to make healthy changes and adhere to them, according to a new study in the September issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

"This study documents that there are very large differences by education in smoking and physical activity trajectories in middle age, even though many health habits are already set by this stage of the life course," stated study author Rachel Margolis, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Western Ontario. "Health behavior changes are surprisingly common between ages 50 years and 75 years, and the fact that better-educated middle-aged people are more likely to stop smoking, start physical activity and maintain both of these behaviors over time has important health ramifications."

Margolis found that 15% of college-educated respondents smoked at some point between ages 50 years and 75 years, compared with 41% of college dropouts. There also were large differences by education in physical activity over the study period. For example, 14% of college-educated respondents were physically active at all interviews during the study period, compared with 2% of those with less than a high school education. 

Margolis also discovered that one’s level of education became decreasingly important as a moderator of healthy behavior changes upon diagnosis as age increased. Having more education increased the odds of smoking cessation among people in their 50s who were diagnosed with a new condition, but not those in their 60s or early 70s.

"Well-educated smokers in their 60s and early 70s are a small and select group," Margolis said. "They may be the most addicted or the most stubborn."

Another possible explanation for why well-educated smokers in their 50s were more likely to quit than those in their 60s and early 70s is that the longer people expect to live when they get sick, the more likely they are to make a healthy behavior change, Margolis said.

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Weis Markets launches sixth annual Fight Hunger Program

BY Michael Johnsen

SUNBURY, Pa. — Weis Markets on Wednesday announced that it will launch its sixth annual Fight Hunger Program to run throughout Hunger Action Month this September. The program works to provide food and monetary donations to local food banks and emergency food providers in Weis’ 165-store service area.

“Each September, we ask our customers to consider donating to local food banks in all of the markets we serve,” stated Kurt Schertle, EVP sales and merchandising for Weis Markets. “Food insecurity is a growing challenge in our country, and we are committed to helping our food bank partners meet this rising demand. We are grateful to our customers for their continued support.”

Customers are able to donate shelf-stable items, as well as purchase $3, $5 and $10 vouchers during the checkout process. All of the proceeds will be donated to area food banks in the form of gift card donations to help fill gaps in food supplies. Weis also offers convenient, pre-filled Fight Hunger donation boxes containing pasta, sauce, fruit, vegetables, tuna, cereal and soup — all for less than $10.

 

 

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Study uncovers new groups at risk of influenza complications — new moms and obese people

BY Michael Johnsen

HAMILTON, Ontario — New mothers and obese people, two groups not typically regarded as risk groups, were found to have a higher risk of death and other severe outcomes from influenza, according to a global study sponsored by the World Health Organization that was released Tuesday.

“Policy makers and public health organizations need to recognize the poor quality of evidence that has previously supported decisions on who receives vaccines during an epidemic,” stated Dominik Mertz, lead author of the study and an assistant professor of medicine of McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine. “If we can define the risk groups we can optimally allocat[e] vaccines, and that is particularly important when and if there is vaccine shortage, say during a new pandemic.”

“These data reinforce the need to carefully define those conditions that lead to complications following infection with influenza,” added Mark Loeb, senior author on the paper. He also is a microbiologist and professor of medicine of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.

But, in contrast to current assumption, such ethnic minorities as American aboriginal people and pregnant women were not found to have more complicated influenza and would not need priority vaccination.

The report is published online in the BMJ, the journal of the British Medical Association.

The researchers reviewed 239 observational studies between 1918 and 2011, looking at risk factors for complications of influenza including developing pneumonia or needing ventilator support, admission to hospital or its intensive care unit, or dying.

 

 

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