Could recession be good for your health?

When times get tough, the tough get on their bikes and start eating sensibly.

I came across an article on Care2Connect today that intrigued me – during recessions, people get leaner and greener.

Apparently, we eat more home-cooked meals during a recession, rather than restaurant fare loaded with hidden calories; we get out our bikes and stop using the car; and that decreased use of the car means we emit fewer greenhouse gases and have fewer accidents. 

It’s not all good news, though. Our physical health may get better but our mental health gets far worse as we worry about jobs, the economy and whether we’ll be able to keep up our mortgage payments. Here are a few of the details.

Upsides to the recession

1 – you’ll eat at home more – and home cooking is better for you. “Home cooking has fewer calories and more nutritional value than foods purchased outside the home,” says Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition at NYU.

2 – you’ll probably cut down on red meat. You may do that because it’s more expensive but it’s good for the environment and good for you. 

3 – you’ll probably buy more locally produced food. Again, that’s a money-saving thing: locally grown food is usually cheaper, but again it’s good for the environment and good for you.

4 – you’ll probably exercise more. There are several reasons for this. One is that you lose access to other forms of entertainment when you’re on a budget, and another is that people take up walking or riding a bike in order to reduce fuel costs. As most of us do far too little exercise generally, having a bit more can only be a good thing. 

5 – you’ll probably drink fewer fizzy drinks because they’re expensive – and that’s good for your teeth, your digestive system and your sugar levels. 

Downsides to the recession

1 – you’ll probably eat more chocolate. C’mon girls, we all know that one’s true – feeling depressed, fed up or overwhelmed? Chocolate’s the cure…

2 – you may eat more Spam. What, never, you say? Apparently sales in the US are burgeoning, which is bad news for your arteries, given that it’s a fatty meat that’s packed with bisphenol-A.

3 – you’ll probably have less sex. Being depressed about the state of the economy isn’t conducive to a good love-life. On the other hand, if you’re not depressed about the economy and you don’t have the money to go out, you might end up having more sex. 

4 – if you get pregnant, it’s more likely to be a girl. OK, this might not be a downside at all, but it’s something that intrigues researchers. It appears that when times are hard, female births go up partly because undersized male foetuses abort spontaneously. “Given the current economy, we should see reductions in male to female sex rations by January or February of next year,” says Ralph Catalano, professor of public health at UC Berkeley.

As one final bit of information, cosmetics sales are booming in the economic downturn – up 40 per cent at the last count, according to Care2Connect, as women treat themselves to a little bit of a pick-me-up in the face of all the gloom and doom. Nice to know that even if we’re queuing up at the dole office, we still like a bit of lippy. 


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