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      Health, Happiness and Eating Together: What Can a Large Thai Cohort Study Tell Us?


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          Our research investigates the significance of frequent solo consumption of main meals and the association with a holistic wellbeing measure of happiness using data from 39820 Thai Cohort Study members who completed 8-year follow-up in 2013. This nationwide cohort has been under study since 2005 to analyse the dynamics and determinants of the health-risk transition from infectious to chronic diseases. Here we analyse data from the 2009 and 2013 follow-ups.

          Approximately 11% reported eating more than half of the main meals per week alone. Sociodemographic attributes associated with eating alone were being male, older age, unmarried, smaller household, lower income, and urban residence. Dissatisfaction with amount of spare time (ie ‘busyness’) was also linked to eating alone. In the multivariate cross-sectional model, reporting being unhappy was associated with frequent solo eating (Adjusted Odds Ratio – AOR 1.54, 95% Confidence Intervals 1.30-1.83). Stratified by age and sex groups, the effects were strongest among females (AOR 1.90 1.52-2.38). A monotonic relationship linked frequent eating alone and 4-year longitudinal unhappiness. The larger the dose of unhappiness the greater the odds of eating alone – AOR 1.29, 1.31, 1.72 after controlling for potential covariates.

          Having a meal is not only important for nutritional and health outcomes; it is also a vital part of daily social interaction. Our study provided empirical evidence from a non-Western setting that sharing meals could contribute to increasing happiness.

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          Most cited references28

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          The increasing burden of depression

          Recent epidemiological surveys conducted in general populations have found that the lifetime prevalence of depression is in the range of 10% to 15%. Mood disorders, as defined by the World Mental Health and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition, have a 12-month prevalence which varies from 3% in Japan to over 9% in the US. A recent American survey found the prevalence of current depression to be 9% and the rate of current major depression to be 3.4%. All studies of depressive disorders have stressed the importance of the mortality and morbidity associated with depression. The mortality risk for suicide in depressed patients is more than 20-fold greater than in the general population. Recent studies have also shown the importance of depression as a risk factor for cardiovascular death. The risk of cardiac mortality after an initial myocardial infarction is greater in patients with depression and related to the severity of the depressive episode. Greater severity of depressive symptoms has been found to be associated with significantly higher risk of all-cause mortality including cardiovascular death and stroke. In addition to mortality, functional impairment and disability associated with depression have been consistently reported. Depression increases the risk of decreased workplace productivity and absenteeism resulting in lowered income or unemployment. Absenteeism and presenteeism (being physically present at work but functioning suboptimally) have been estimated to result in a loss of $36.6 billion per year in the US. Worldwide projections by the World Health Organization for the year 2030 identify unipolar major depression as the leading cause of disease burden. This article is a brief overview of how depression affects the quality of life of the subject and is also a huge burden for both the family of the depressed patient and for society at large.
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            Effects of the presence of others on food intake: a normative interpretation.

            The authors review the effect of the presence of others on food intake. In social facilitation studies, people tend to eat more in groups than when alone. In modeling studies, the presence of others may facilitate or inhibit intake, depending on how much these other people eat. Studies of impression management demonstrate that people tend to eat less in the presence of others than when alone. The authors attempt to reconcile these divergent literatures by reference to a model of inhibitory norms that govern eating. In the presence of palatable food, and in the absence of clear signals of satiety, people look outward to cues from the environment to determine when to stop eating. Socially derived inhibitory norms can account for either increased or decreased intake in the presence of others, depending on how much the others eat and the extent to which one is eager to impress them.
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              Burden of depressive disorders by country, sex, age, and year: findings from the global burden of disease study 2010.

              Depressive disorders were a leading cause of burden in the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) 1990 and 2000 studies. Here, we analyze the burden of depressive disorders in GBD 2010 and present severity proportions, burden by country, region, age, sex, and year, as well as burden of depressive disorders as a risk factor for suicide and ischemic heart disease. Burden was calculated for major depressive disorder (MDD) and dysthymia. A systematic review of epidemiological data was conducted. The data were pooled using a Bayesian meta-regression. Disability weights from population survey data quantified the severity of health loss from depressive disorders. These weights were used to calculate years lived with disability (YLDs) and disability adjusted life years (DALYs). Separate DALYs were estimated for suicide and ischemic heart disease attributable to depressive disorders. Depressive disorders were the second leading cause of YLDs in 2010. MDD accounted for 8.2% (5.9%-10.8%) of global YLDs and dysthymia for 1.4% (0.9%-2.0%). Depressive disorders were a leading cause of DALYs even though no mortality was attributed to them as the underlying cause. MDD accounted for 2.5% (1.9%-3.2%) of global DALYs and dysthymia for 0.5% (0.3%-0.6%). There was more regional variation in burden for MDD than for dysthymia; with higher estimates in females, and adults of working age. Whilst burden increased by 37.5% between 1990 and 2010, this was due to population growth and ageing. MDD explained 16 million suicide DALYs and almost 4 million ischemic heart disease DALYs. This attributable burden would increase the overall burden of depressive disorders from 3.0% (2.2%-3.8%) to 3.8% (3.0%-4.7%) of global DALYs. GBD 2010 identified depressive disorders as a leading cause of burden. MDD was also a contributor of burden allocated to suicide and ischemic heart disease. These findings emphasize the importance of including depressive disorders as a public-health priority and implementing cost-effective interventions to reduce its burden. Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.

                Author and article information

                Glob J Health Sci
                Glob J Health Sci
                Global Journal of Health Science
                Canadian Center of Science and Education (Canada )
                July 2015
                14 January 2015
                : 7
                : 4
                : 270-277
                [1 ]National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Research School of Population Health, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
                [2 ]School of Human Ecology, Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University, Nonthaburi, Thailand
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Dr. Vasoontara Yiengprugsawan, The Australian National University, College of Medicine, Biology and Environment, Research School of Population Health, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Building 62, Mills Rd, Acton 2601, Canberra, Australia. Tel: 61-2-6125-5111; Fax: 61-2-6125-0740. E-mail: vasoontara.yieng@ 123456anu.edu.au ; vasoontara.yieng@ 123456gmail.com
                Copyright: © Canadian Center of Science and Education

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/).


                eating alone,solo eating,commensalism,unhappiness,cohort study,thailand


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