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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Pinoy Doctor Coppélius – Well, sort of…

His CV shows his varied exposures – from working as a part-time radio announcer, a telesales representative, a mainframe programmer, a freelance Web and graphic designer, and an I.T. assistant – but Oliver dela Rosa Ocampo found his real calling in dollmaking. Yes, making dolls – which is, the dollmaker says, no kid’s game.

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In Arthur Saint-Léon’s originally choreographed ballet Coppélia (with ballet libretto by Saint-Léon and Charles Nuitter, and music by Léo Delibes), the macabre character created by E.T.A. Hoffmann (in Der Sandmann, The Sandman; and Die Puppe, The Doll) in Doctor Coppélius was turned into one who was sentimental yet comedic (albeit in a somewhat pathetic kind of way) – he made the doll Coppélia so life-like, he fell for her (a la Pygmalion) hard, he wanted to give her life. The closest he got, however, was making hearts – one heart, in particular: that of the main male character Franz – flutter with love, proving the greatness of his invention, which, many thought, was real, meaning, obviously, that he was THAT good.

Oliver dela Rosa Ocampo: “The ‘business’ idea came when I saw the voodoo dolls being sold in Session Road (Baguio City) during the Panagbenga Festival. The dolls are plain and boring, and are quite expensive. I thought maybe if I could make better looking dolls, I could sell them for profit.”

Alas, the biggest lesson supposed to be derived from the story is on the truth of love – Franz, who was engaged to be married, in the first place, realized the follies of his ways and returned to his fiancée Swanilda. What is not often (if at all) mentioned is the artistry, the focus on coming up with something good that Doctor Coppélius, in his own way, represented (the story was, after all, said to have inspired Charles Babbage – the oft-cited/attributed inventor of the computer) with his making of something what may be seen as trivial, a doll

And it is in this that Filipino dollmaker Oliver dela Rosa Ocampo shares an affinity.

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CREATIVE PIECES

“I started making these dolls early this year (2009), around January,” Ocampo recalls. “I was playing around with pieces of felt cloth one lazy Sunday, and came up with small pillow dolls (plushies). I posted (their) photos in my Facebook account, and some friends inquired about them – one even told me that it could make for a great Valentine’s Day gift.”

Early on, of course, “I had no intentions of selling them or making them for profit. When I made my first dolls, it never really crossed my mind that I could sell my creations. I gave them away as gifts to close friends,” Ocampo says. “The ‘business’ idea came when I saw the voodoo dolls being sold in Session Road (Baguio City) during the Panagbenga Festival. The dolls are plain and boring, and are quite expensive. I thought maybe if I could make better looking dolls, I could sell them for profit.”

So Ocampo experimented on various designs and materials to come up with his version of a voodoo doll.

“I added accessories, I designed the packaging, and then I posted the photos on the Internet. A few days later, people started to inquire about them and I got my first orders. I even have people asking if I could display some of my dolls in their shops,” he says.

From then on, the dollmaking business was on.

BEYOND FIELDS

Interestingly, Ocampo did not – and still do not – belong to the artistic field, as would be surmised considering his chosen field of interest.

“I’ve been with the training and development field for five years now, and I’m currently working in a business process outsourcing (BPO) company in Baguio City,” says Ocampo, who, nonetheless, has extensive background in design and advertising.

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His work experiences are as varied as his, err, materials used for dollmaking, however, having been a part-time radio announcer, a telesales representative, a mainframe programmer, a freelance Web and graphic designer, and an I.T. assistant – perhaps reflective of his educational background, since Ocampo is a graduate of Computer Programming in Business Systems from STI College in 1996, while also having an undergraduate Bachelor of Arts Major in English from Baliuag University and CAP College Foundation Inc. in 1994.

LIMITED EDITIONS

“My family is very supportive of this venture. I even have my Mom help out in making some of the dolls. My Dad was the one who taught me how to use the sewing machine, in case I intend to use it for future projects. Most of my friends and co-workers buy my dolls and are really excited about them. They are the ones telling their other friends and friends of friends about my dolls,” Ocampo says of the support system he has that helped – and still helps – his entry in the field easier.

Thus, the challenge for Ocampo is not confronting homophobia, i.e. facing the erroneous association of dolls (much more dollmaking) with effeminacy, but in delivering the quality of dolls he wants. “Since my dolls are all hand-stitched, I have to limit the number of orders I get. This is very crucial to maintain the quality of the dolls that I create. And that means I cannot take in huge volumes of requests at a particular time,” he says.

There are also the expenses incurred to ensure high quality of goods. “Felt cloth is very expensive, but in order to maintain the required look of certain dolls, I do not substitute other fabric over felt cloth, however costly,” Ocampo says. “Divisoria is still the best place to get the materials that I need, so whenever I deliver orders to Manila, I take the opportunity to go there and purchase as much materials as I can.”
As far as marketing is concerned, “thanks to the Internet, I can easily reach people not just here in the Philippines, but also abroad. Word of mouth is very important, that’s why I am very critical about the quality of my dolls.”

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FORWARD LOOKING

Ocampo is already looking forward to, one day, owning his own doll shop in Baguio City – all the while offering workshops on, yes, dollmaking. For now, Ocampo’s dolls “are marketed mostly via Facebook and my Web site where I get majority of the orders. In Manila, my sister sells them in a small shop in BF Resort, Parañaque. If you’re in Baguio City, you may find them in Locus Cafe in Nevada Square. You can also check out my dolls during my weekend workshops at Cordillera Coffee in SM City Baguio,” Ocampo says.

The dollmaker is happy to have found dollmaking as a, well, call. “Aside from the profit, designing and creating these dolls help me de-stress. It also allows me to enjoy my passion for design. Whenever there are orders, I make it a point to schedule the deliveries so as not to interfere with my work. That means I get to keep my job and earn extra from the dolls,” Ocampo says.

And with that, Doctor Coppélius’ spirit (the jovial one, if it exists at all) lives on in the Philippines, as the focus on making dolls that moves, really touches people continues.

For more information about Oliver Makes Dolls, call (+63) 9296807986 ; email olivermakesdolls@gmail.com; or visit olivermakesdolls.co.nr.

Health & Wellness

Between 16% and 18% of preadolescents have ideas of suicide

Up to 18% of preadolescents have ideas of suicide, with the main risk factors including depressive symptoms, anxiety and compulsive obsessive disorder.

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Photo by @bernard_ from Unsplash.com

Up to 18% of preadolescents have ideas of suicide, with the main risk factors including depressive symptoms, anxiety and compulsive obsessive disorder. This is according to “Suicidality in a Community Sample of Early Adolescents: A Three-Phase Follow-Up Study”, done by Voltas, N., Hernández-Martínez, C., Arija, V. and Canals, J.

In the study, the researchers studied a group of 720 boys and 794 girls who studied in 13 schools in Reus. They were monitored during three developmental periods: 10 years old, 11 years old and 13 years old. At the beginning of the study, the students answered a series of psychological tests that were used to detect which of them presented emotional symptoms related to depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). From their responses, two groups were created: one group at risk of emotional problems and a control group.

The disorders were diagnosed with standardised international criteria and the boys and girls were monitored to see how suicidal ideation developed throughout the research period.

The figures were quite stable. During the first period, 16% of the students stated that they had thought about suicide, of whom 33% stated the same one year later. In both the second and the third period, ideas of suicide were expressed by 18% of the students surveyed. The risk of suicide was determined in a personal interview and was present in 12.2% of the children with an average age of 11 years old. Although there were no differences between the sexes, the severity of the suicidal behaviour was greater in boys.

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The researchers also observed what factors predicted suicidal ideation and they found here that there were differences between the sexes.

“In boys it is previous depressive symptoms which determine subsequent suicidal ideation,” says Núria Voltas, one of the researchers involved in the study. In girls, on the other hand, it is a combination of anxiety symptoms, OCD and the family’s socioeconomic situation.

The results of this research, published in the scientific journal Archives of Suicide Studies reveal the factors that can trigger ideas of suicide in this age group. “Our results will enable us to have greater control over this particular aspect and take prevention measures in preadolescents, who are going through a period of considerable vulnerability,” she concludes.

This is a noteworthy study, considering other – and earlier – studies have repeatedly highlighted how members of the LGBTQIA community are greatly affected by suicide. In 2018, for instance, a study from the University of Arizona noted that 50.8% of transmasculine adolescents between the ages of 11 and 19 have attempted suicide at least once, while 41.8% of nonbinary adolescents – those who don’t identify as exclusively male or exclusively female – have attempted suicide.

Still another study – also done in 2018 – that appeared in Pediatrics noted that almost 14% of adolescents reported a previous suicide attempt, with disparities by gender identity in suicide attempts. Female to male adolescents reported the highest rate of attempted suicide (50.8%), followed by adolescents who identified as not exclusively male or female (41.8%).

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Still another study – also done in 2018 – that appeared in LGBT Health found that a total of 37% of trans respondents reported having seriously considered suicide during the past 12 months and 32% had ever attempted a suicide. Offensive treatment during the past three months and lifetime exposure to trans-related violence were significantly associated with suicidality. 


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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Let’s talk about… orgies, says director Rod Singh

“Even within the gay community, there is this certain stigma on those who engage in orgies, or those who are highly sexual,” said director Rod Singh of Cinema One Originals 2018 movie “Mamu; And a Mother Too”. This is why he wants to “reclaim that narrative.”

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“Even within the gay community, there is this certain stigma on those who engage in orgies, or those who are highly sexual,” said director Rod Singh of Cinema One Originals 2018 movie “Mamu; And a Mother Too”. “Maybe because it doesn’t have a story. Like when people talk about orgies, all they know is just a group of people having sex.”

This is why, Singh said, he wants to “reclaim that narrative – that there is a story happening in orgies – that just like any other romantic relationships, there is a story happening in (people engaged in) sexual activities. I want to challenge the mindset of those who are sex-negative and communicate a very simple message: Sex is a language.”

Ad this is what Singh intended to do via gay dating app Blued’s new series, OrG! (Come & Play). Blued funded “Mamu; And a Mother Too”; and in return, Singh pledged to produce a series for Blued, thus OrG!

OrG!’s story revolves around a group of gay men engaging in an orgy, as they select their invitees, negotiating their desires and preferences. One of the members of the orgy, a medicine graduate named Ram, is secretly dating Niko, a filmmaker in his mid-20s. His orgy group finds Niko attractive and decides to invite Niko to join the group. As Niko slowly becomes more entwined in the setup, his romance with Ram begins to crumble, leading Ram to resolve that the only way to win Niko back is to tear apart his friendship with his sexual partners.

Aminin na natin (Let’s admit), while we aspire to be an empowered community, marami pa din talaga yung (many of us remain) backwards. When I say backwards, yung mga (those who are) sex negative. Isa na siguro sa mga issues na ito ang (One of the issues here is) orgy. I’ve read and heard a lot of gay people saying something negative about orgies. And with this series, I want people to re-evaluate their views,” Singh said.

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Singh added that perhaps many people look negatively at orgies because “in most cases, alam lang natin na (we just know that) it’s a group of highly sexual individuals having sex kaya ganoon na lang siya ka-stigmatized (which is why it’s extremely stigmatized). Tapos marami din na ina-associate yung (There are also many who associate) orgy with drugs and promiscuity. Sa series na ito, babaliin ko yun (I’ll break those). That orgy can just be a group of friends, with different character sketches, no drugs, it’s safe, and there’s a story.”

For OrG!, there are eight episodes with a running time of five to seven minutes per episode, with the short time considered as “somewhat of a limitation”. But Singh said “I just hope that (the audience) will dig deeper. I am hopeful that at the very least… they will have a new view on orgies kasi may story na siya (because it already has a story).”

In the end, Singh wants people – particularly members of the LGBTQIA community – to recognize that “sex between two people is okay. Sex between three people is okay. Sex between five people is hot,” he laughed.

For the curious, download Blued.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Career options that could benefit your family

More and more people are seeking a better home and work balance and a change of a career could be the ideal step in which to take it.

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Sometimes you can find that your career is far from flexible in terms of getting more quality time with your loved ones. You may have changed as a person over the years, but your job hasn’t, and the hours may still be long or unsociable, the stress and pressure may still be high and not much changes, and generally you might not feel passionate about. This means that more and more people are seeking a better home and work balance and a change of a career could be the ideal step in which to take it.

But what careers or opportunities could you consider? Here are some of the ones that you could consider. 

Sometimes you can find that your career is far from flexible in terms of getting more quality time with your loved ones.
IMAGE SOURCE: Pixabay.com

Working in the health and fitness sector

One of the first things to consider would be a career in the health and fitness sector. Often personal trainers are self employed, but you could also be employed and only work certain hours, making it very flexible and enjoyable. Not only could it be flexible in terms of hours, but it could also help you to change your lifestyle in the process. You might start to focus on your diet and what you eat, and of course, your fitness will be affected. Giving you the best of both worlds. 

Training for the army or navy seals 

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It may sound like a bit of a left field suggestion, but the army or navy is one consistent employer that are always in need of decent people. People that are prepared to work hard and do something they feel strong and passionate about. You may be wondering how much do navy seals make or how much of a salary can you expect from the army, and thankfully there is a lot of information online. Full training is provided, making it a possible option for many to consider. 

Starting your own business

The next thing to consider would be starting your own business. Perhaps you have had an idea for some time, maybe you like the idea of taking some of the skills you already have and doing things yourself. A business might seem like a lot of work, but many people start these ventures at home, which could mean that you choose the hours you work. Maybe evenings or early mornings to get things done. It could be a great way to earn a living for your family while being present for the important moments. 

Working freelance

If a business sounds a little scary right now you could still consider working for yourself by working freelance. Maybe you have skills that are in demand, perhaps you like the idea of trying something new? Working freelance is a great way to cut out the middleman and bank more profit in the long term. You take on the projects you want to work on and choose the hours in which you work them. 

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Train as a teacher

Finally, if you still feel like a secure employment is the way forward then one great career option that could work around a family and for the future is to train to become a teacher. This gives you the school vacations off, and it gives you the chance to work in a school environment which in turn, could help you when it comes to a child. It might be a more long term plan, but it could certainly be the career change that you want and need. 

Let’s hope that this has given you something to think about in terms of your career prospects and the next step. 

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Health & Wellness

FDA warns public on dangers of injectable whitening products like glutathione

The FDA stated that there are numerous side effects on the use of injectable glutathione for skin lightening, including toxic effects on the liver, kidneys, and nervous system.

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It sure took them a while, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has – finally – warned the public on the dangers associated with the use of injectable lightening agents such as glutathione.

In an advisory dated July 5, 2019 – FDA Advisory No. 2019-182 – the FDA noted that “in the Philippines, several health and beauty salons, wellness spa and beauty clinics are offering all kinds of beauty enhancements, services and skin treatments. It is alarming that they also offer services such as intravenous drip or infusion using skin lightening agents including reduced glutathione, vitamin C and other injections.

“To date there are no published clinical trials that have evaluated the use of injectable glutathione for skin lightening. There are also no published guidelines for appropriate dosing regimens and duration of treatment. The FDA has not approved any injectable products for skin lightening. Injectable glutathione is approved by FDA Philippines as an adjunct treatment in cisplatin chemotherapy.”

The FDA stated that there are numerous side effects on the use of injectable glutathione for skin lightening, including toxic effects on the liver, kidneys, and nervous system. “Also of concern is the possibility of Stevens Johnson Syndrome. Injectable glutathione is sometimes paired with intravenous Vitamin C. Vitamin C injection may form kidney stones if the urine is acidic. Large doses of Vitamin C have resulted in hemodialysis in patients with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency.”

Other potential risks include transmission of infectious agents, such as HIV, hepatitis C and B. This is of particular concern when non-medical practitioner administers this treatment or done in a non-sterile facility.
Photo by Jair Lázaro from Unsplash.com

And given that glutathione affects the production of melanin (the pigment that gives the human skin, hair and eyes their color), “there are (also) theoretical concerns about the long term skin cancer risk.”

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Other potential risks include transmission of infectious agents, such as HIV, hepatitis C and B. This is of particular concern when non-medical practitioner administers this treatment or done in a non-sterile facility.

The FDA is urging people to consult ONLY a board-certified dermatologist, and avoid buying injectable products online and from being lured to a promising effect of medicines as beauty products.

“Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any side effects and report it to FDA at pharmacovigilance@fda.gov.ph or via online reporting through www.fda.gov.ph.” The Center for Drug Regulation and Research may also be reached at (02) 809-5596.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Facial plastic surgery in men enhances perception of attractiveness, trustworthiness

The findings suggest that both men and women undergoing facial cosmetic surgery can experience not only improved perception of attractiveness, but other positive changes in society’s perception of their persona.

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Photo by Malik Earnest from Unsplash.com

In the first of a kind study, plastic surgeons at Georgetown University Medical Center found that when a man chose to have a nip or a tuck on his face, it significantly increased perceptions of attractiveness, likeability, social skills, or trustworthiness.

The study, published in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery, shows that men benefit from facial cosmetic surgery in much the same way as women: other people find more to like in that new visage. However, the study did not show a significant impact on perceptions of gender (masculinity), whereas a similar study performed with women in 2015 showed a significant increase in ratings of femininity.

“The tendency to judge facial appearance is likely rooted in evolution, as studies suggest evaluating a person based on appearance is linked to survival–our animal instinct tells us to avoid those who are ill-willed and we know from previous research that personality traits are drawn from an individual’s neutral expressions,” explains the study’s senior investigator, Michael J. Reilly, MD, an associate professor of otolaryngology at Georgetown’s School of Medicine. Reilly is board certified in Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery and sees patients at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

“Taken together, our findings suggest that both men and women undergoing facial cosmetic surgery can experience not only improved perception of attractiveness, but other positive changes in society’s perception of their persona,” he says.

In recent years, men in America have changed their social attitudes about “appearance maintenance” from one bordering on narcissism to somewhere on a continuum of well-being, Reilly adds. Men are now 15-20% of the cosmetic surgery market, but many preferred male facial features are the opposite of what is prized on a female face. For example, it is believed that attractive male features include prominent cheekbones, a square jaw and prominent chin, while attractive female features are round cheeks, softer contours, wide smile and large, wide eyes.

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“Our studies are deigned to see if this is indeed true,” Reilly says.

In this study, 24 men underwent facial cosmetic surgery by one of two Georgetown surgeons — Reilly and Steven P. Davison, MD, who is also a co-author. The men had one or more of the following surgeries: upper eyelid lift (upper blepharoplasty), reduction of lower eyelids (lower blepharoplasty), face-lift, brow-lift, neck-lift, nose reshaping (rhinoplasty), and/or a chin implant.

These men, who paid for their own surgery, agreed to the use of their before and after photographs for research purposes. Six surveys were designed, each of which included eight photographs (4 before surgery, 4 after surgery. No survey contained both of a single individual).

More than 150 participants (mostly white, between the ages of 25-34, and with a college degree) who reviewed the photos were not told of the study’s intent. They were asked to rate their perception of each patient’s personality traits (aggressiveness, extroversion, likeability, risk-seeking, sociability, trustworthiness), attractiveness and masculinity.

The research team built a complex multivariate linear mixed model to be able to assess participants’ reaction to a specific surgical procedure — rhinoplasty (nose job), for example — while controlling for changes from additional procedures done on other areas of the face.

Researchers found that chin augmentation was the only procedure that did not have an effect on perceived attractiveness, masculinity or personality. The authors believe this was due to the low number of study patients undergoing this procedure. The other procedures showed the following changes, among others:

  • Upper eyelid — increased likeability and trustworthiness
  • Lower eyelid — decreased risk-taking
  • Brow-lift — improved perception of extroversion and risk-taking
  • Face-lift — increased likeability and trustworthiness
  • Neck-lift — increased perceived extroversion and masculinity
  • Nose — improved attractiveness
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The statistically significant findings overall reflected increases in attractiveness, likeability, social skills and trustworthiness.

“It is really interesting that different anatomic areas of the face have varying degrees of contribution to overall personality perception,” Reilly says. “And it is also noteworthy that the study did not find a significant change in masculinity. Just one procedure, a neck-lift, was found to enhance that trait.

“This suggests that the current menu of cosmetic procedures for men are likely not as gender-enhancing as they are for women,” he says. Reilly’s study in women examined the same cosmetic procedures in 30 white females and found a significant increase in femininity for many of the procedures.

“Cicero described the face as the ‘mirror of the soul,’ meaning that a person’s physical appearance is the personal characteristic most obvious and accessible to others in social interaction — so it’s not surprising that subtle changes in neutral facial appearances are powerful enough to alter judgments of personality, “Reilly says.

Reilly says more study is needed in order for cosmetic surgery to reach its full potential. “Optimizing patient outcomes will require a broader understanding of the potential changes in social perception that can occur with surgery.”

Additional study co-authors include Keon M. Parsa, MD, a resident at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital; William Gao, MD, a former resident at the hospital; and Jack Lally, MD, of Brooke Army Medical Center, Texas.

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Health & Wellness

Seeing greenery linked to less intense and frequent cravings

The findings add to evidence that points to the need to protect and invest in green spaces within towns and cities, in order to maximize the public health benefits they may afford.

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Photo by Samuel Zeller from Unsplash.com

Being able to see green spaces from your home is associated with reduced cravings for alcohol, cigarettes and harmful foods, new research has shown.

The study, led by the University of Plymouth, is the first to demonstrate that passive exposure to nearby green space is linked to both lower frequencies and strengths of craving. It builds on previous research suggesting exercising in nature can reduce cravings, by demonstrating the same may be true irrespective of physical activity.

Researchers say the findings add to evidence that points to the need to protect and invest in green spaces within towns and cities, in order to maximize the public health benefits they may afford. They also suggest the causality of this link needs to be investigated further.

The study, published in the journal Health & Place, is the first to investigate the relationship between exposure to natural environments, craving for a range of appetitive substances and the experiencing of negative emotions or feelings.

It involved academics from the University’s School of Psychology, with support from the European Centre for Environment and Human Health at the University of Exeter.

Leanne Martin, who led the research as part of her Master’s degree in Plymouth, said: “It has been known for some time that being outdoors in nature is linked to a person’s wellbeing. But for there to be a similar association with cravings from simply being able to see green spaces adds a new dimension to previous research. This is the first study to explore this idea, and it could have a range of implications for both public health and environmental protection programs in the future.”

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For the research, participants completed an online survey that explored the relationships between various aspects of nature exposure, craving and negative affect.

Among other things, it measured the proportion of green space in an individual’s residential neighborhood, the presence of green views from their home, their access to a garden or allotment; and their frequency of use of public green spaces.

The results showed that having access to a garden or allotment was associated with both lower craving strength and frequency, while residential views incorporating more than 25% greenspace evoked similar responses.

The study also measured physical activity undertaken within the same time frame that cravings were assessed, showing the reduced craving occurred irrespective of physical activity level.

Dr Sabine Pahl, Associate Professor (Reader) in Psychology, added: “Craving contributes to a variety of health-damaging behaviors such as smoking, excessive drinking and unhealthy eating. In turn, these can contribute to some of the greatest global health challenges of our time, including cancer, obesity and diabetes. Showing that lower craving is linked to more exposure to green spaces is a promising first step. Future research should investigate if and how green spaces can be used to help people withstand problematic cravings, enabling them to better manage cessation attempts in the future.”

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