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Talking points: Health bribes, ‘extra’ suicides and the toll of bullying

A traditional fire dragon dance is performed in Hong Kong’s Tai Hang district on the eve of the annual mid-autumn festival.



Looking to push someone toward exercising and eating healthy? Try paying them. According to The London Free Press, a recent Canadian study shows that the smallest financial incentive goes a long way toward encouraging people to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Conducted by the Toronto Rehab Cardiovascular Prevention Program, the study focused on patients placed in rehab programs after a major heart event. The results showed that when patients received small bonuses, sometimes as low as $5 a week, they tended to stick with the program over the long haul. "People's actions tend to serve their immediate self-interest at the expense of long-term well-being," said Marc Mitchell, the study's lead author.


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An alarming increase in suicide rates in Europe and America is being attributed to the foundering world economy. BBC reports that a recent analysis in the British Medical Journal makes the connection between a spike in suicides and the worldwide impact of financial problems triggered by the collapse of U.S. credit and housing markets in 2008. The analysis, which examined data from 54 countries, says that in the year following the crisis, the male suicide rate rose by 3.3 per cent. All told, there were nearly 5,000 "extra" suicides in 2009, most of them in Europe and the U.S. In Europe, most were in the demographic group of males aged 15 to 24; in the U.S., the sharpest rise was in males aged 45 to 64.


A bully doesn't always have to hit a person to hurt them. As reported by CBS News, a new study says bullying can often take a toll on its victims in the form of increased psychosomatic symptoms. The study, published in the medical journal Pediatrics, shows that bullying victims frequently experience headaches, loss of appetite, sleeping problems, abdominal pains and bed-wetting. It also warned that bullying holds long-lasting negative implications for all parties involved. People who were either bullies or bullying victims in childhood were found to be six times more likely to develop a serious illness, smoke regularly or develop a psychiatric disorder than those who were not.


"If at first you don't succeed, then try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it."

W.C. Fields, comedian (1880-1946)

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