Today in Research: Commuting's Harm; Debunking the Freshman 15

Discovered: which commuters have more health worries, the smell of aroma molecules in chocolate, a catch with modified mosquitoes, zapping away addictive spending tendencies, and trying to debunk the "Freshman 15."

  • Little about commuting to work seems good for your health. Car, bus, and train commuters have more health complaints ("everyday stress, exhaustion, missed work days," ABC News clarifies) than those on foot or bicycle, according to a Swedish study of 21,000 people. The key word there appears to be "complaints," as the "study does not reveal whether commuting by car or public transit actually causes health problems," ABC News reported. But it's easy to understand the worries: sitting in traffic and breathing in fumes has been shown to raise heart attack risk. And, a small but maybe not entirely unrelated link, gas station pump handles were named the filthiest/germiest things you can encounter on a commute. [ABC News]
  • Some evidence that the 'Freshman 15' is, generally, more like a 'Freshman 3.' The idea that college students gain weight in their first year won't go away soon, but Ohio State researchers gave their best effort at debunking the cliché. An analysis of longitudinal data that began in 1997 using a sample of 7,418 people found that "women gained an average of 2.4 pounds during their freshman year, while men gained an average of 3.4 pounds. No more than 10 percent of college freshman gained 15 pounds or more -- and a quarter of freshman reported actually losing weight during their first year." [Ohio State University]

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