MERRY CHRIS-MYTH 12/19/2008
 

i've been reading a lot of random stuff in the free daily newspapers that float around the tube stations every day during commuter hours (stuff like Metro, London Lite and The London Paper).  usually it's the basic global headlines of the day peppered with the most shocking crime reports available and the odd human interest story.  this past week i came across a little piece about common myths.  i thought i'd share some with you...

1.  EATING LATE AT NIGHT MAKES YOU GAIN WEIGHT- FALSE. 
this myth originally came out of a Swedish study that suggested night eating was bad because obese women tended to eat more at night than regular-size women.  what this failed to point out was that obese women eat more food at ALL times of day (not just night), so it's not WHEN they eat - it's simply WHAT and HOW MUCH.  this makes sense to me.  it also allows me to continue sneaking chocolate-dipped macaroons late in the evening.

2.  YOU LOSE MOST OF YOUR BODY HEAT OUT OF YOUR HEAD - FALSE. 
this is an old wives' tale borne out of poorly conducted research by the U.S. Army, which found that soldiers wearing Arctic suits in freezing temperatures lost 45% of their body heat via their heads.  the research failed to point out, however, that the soldiers weren't wearing hats, so NATURALLY their body heat exited via the only body part exposed to the cold.  heat would have been lost equally from ALL body parts if they had all been covered.

3.  GREASY FRIED FOOD AND ASPIRIN HELPS A HANGOVER - FALSE. 
according to Professor Rachel Vreeman at Indiana University (as published in the British Medical Journal), there is absolutely no scientific evidence to support ANY cure for, or effective prevention of, hangovers (though i will say that drinking three glasses of water for each alcoholic beverage you consume seems like a healthy way to go if you ARE hitting the pub, and a greasy diner breakfast used to hit the spot back in my 20s when i drank like a fish).

4.  SUICIDES INCREASE DURING WINTER AND HOLIDAYS - FALSE.
a U.S. study conducted over a period of 35 years shows there is NO increase in suicides before, during or after a festive holiday.  several additional studies found similar results.  there is also no hard evidence that a dark and/or cold winter edges people into depression.

5.  EATING SUGAR MAKES KIDS HYPERACTIVE - FALSE.
a dozen studies have found no proof of the so-called "sugar high."  in studies where children were given a drink that was sugar-free, but the parents were told that the drink DID contain sugar, parents rated their children as more hyperactive after having the drink.  in fact, says one professor, the differences in the children's behavior were simply in the parents' minds.

6.  POINSETTIA PLANTS ARE TOXIC - FALSE.
a study of 849 incidents conducted by the American Association of Poison Control Centers showed that no one can die from accidentally eating or ingesting part of a poinsettia plant, and 96% of people do not need medical attention of any kind.  also notable, none of the 92 children in the study needed any treatment at all, so go ahead -- get festive.