In Brief


November 24, 2008

Unhappy people watch more television

A 30-year study of television viewing habits published in the December issue of scientific journal Social Indicators Research suggests that unhappy people watch considerably more TV, vote less, read fewer newspapers and are generally less socially active than happier people.

While some of that may not be breaking news, the study's authors took particular interest in how happiness shaped TV viewing. The University of Maryland researchers noted that TV is more popular than many other leisure-time activities, considering that viewers don't have to leave the comfort of their homes, dress up, plan ahead or expend much energy. Perhaps it's not surprising that TV takes up more than half of Americans' free time.

The study indicated that unhappy people watch about 20 percent more television than very happy people, after factoring in their education, income, age and marital status. What's still unclear, researchers said, is whether watching TV is a symptom or a cause of unhappiness.

But while viewers said TV was enjoyable in the short run, they rated their overall satisfaction as low - meaning that even they recognized what a waste of time it can be.

(To read more, go to Baltimore Sun TV critic David Zurawik's blog at

Chicago Tribune

Eating slower may keep the pounds off

Thanksgiving kicks off the eating season that stretches until Super Bowl Sunday. It can be a daunting time for anyone trying to lose weight or keep from adding any pounds.

University of Rhode Island researchers have a suggestion: slow down.

To test the notion that eating deliberately can help cut calories, the researchers asked 30 volunteers to have lunch twice in a nutrition lab. Each time the menu was the same - pasta with garlic and tomato sauce. On one visit, the volunteers were asked to eat quickly, and used a soup spoon to scoop the food. On the other visit, they were asked to eat slowly with a teaspoon, taking a break between mouthfuls, and chewing each one 20 to 30 times.

When eating slowly, the volunteers took nearly 30 minutes to finish, compared to 10 minutes when they ate quickly. They also consumed 10 percent less food and drank more water when eating slowly.

Tribune Media Services

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