Children with depressed fathers more likely to have emotional and behavioural problems
Personality has a strong hereditary component so this is not at all surprising. It is unlikely that any intervention will change it
The effect of mother's depression upon her children is a well-documented area. But up until now, there has been no formal study on the influence a father's depression may have on his children.
A study published today is the first step towards redressing the balance of information - and shows that children who live with a father who has mental health problems and depression have higher rates of behavioural and emotional problems themselves.
The study authors looked at a nationally representative sample of almost 22,000 children over four years. The team, led by Dr Michael Weitzman at NYU's Langone Medical Center, found that 11 per cent of children with depressed fathers had behavioural and emotional problems.
For children without depressed parents, the figure was just six per cent, while for a child of a depressed mother, the number was 19 per cent.
One in ten American adults has depression, which can be treated and is known to run in families. It is believed that a parents' depression affects the way he or she interacts with a child, in turn contributing to a child's behaviour. Indeed, at 25 per cent, the figures spiked for children or two depressed parents.
Speaking about the results, Dr Weitzman told Good Morning America that the study is 'remarkable' because it is the first of its kind. 'One can only postulate that treating the parents could have a positive effect on their children' [Hah!]
'I think fathers are underrecognized in terms of the impact they have in families and in children's lives,' he explained. 'It behooves us to try and devise clinical services that would identify fathers that are depressed and figure out ways to link them to services.
The authors hope the study will add to more successful treatment of depressed fathers and better education of health care workers.
'The same things that make parents excited about their kids when they feel good can exacerbate their depression when they're unhappy,' Dr Weitzman told the news programme.
After all, Alan Kazdin, professor of psychology and director of Yale's Parenting Center and Child Conduct Clinic, told GMA: 'One of the best things you can do for your children is maintain your physical and mental health.
'It's nice to see we're getting away from just bashing moms,' he said, encouraging parents with depression to 'go get treatment. It will make a difference in how you interact with your child.'
Study claims cooked meat boosts energy more than raw meat
It's only a rodent study but adds up on the whole
Contrary to popular belief, scientists at Harvard University have discovered cooked meat actually gives you much more energy than raw. They say the research suggests the advent of cooking was key in helping early humans become bigger, stronger and more advanced.
In the first test to look at differences in the total energy value of cooked and raw food, two groups of mice were fed a series of diets consisting of diced beef or sweet potato that was either raw or cooked. Whether meat or vegetables, the cooked food was found to deliver more energy to the body, so the mice ate less of the cooked food but still gained weight regardless of physical activity.
It was long believed cooking-- which is done uniquely by humans -- just made food easier to chew, but the study suggests it drove more fundamental biological changes by allowing more energy to get to the body's cells.
Early humans included meat in their diet for 2.5 million years, but around 1.9m years ago, they suddenly began to change -- their bodies grew larger, their brains increased in size and complexity, and they became adapted for long-distance running.
This has been attributed to eating more meat in their diet, but the researchers say it also coincides with learning how to control fire and cooking.
Cooking meat, the researchers explain, 'denatures' meat or causes the structure of the protein to unwind so it is more available to acids and enzymes in the digestive tract. If it remains largely undigested, it progresses to the gut, where instead of being digested and going to the body's cells, it starts competing with the gut bacteria, the researchers say.
The scientists gave mice meat and sweet potatoes either cooked, raw or pounded over several days, with control periods in between. When they checked their weight how often they used an exercise wheel, those who had eaten the cooked meat and vegetables got significantly bigger although not necessarily more active.
Although pounding the food up - as early humans did before working out how to cook - lead to some weight gain in the mice, the benefits of cooking were much greater than those of pounding.
Lead author Rachel Carmody said: 'We assume the same effects in humans, that cooking food makes more energy available to the body even by eating less of it. 'Every day we put so much effort into cooking food and presenting it - mashing it up, or cutting it, or slicing it -- but it's astonishing that we don't understand what effect that has on the energy we extract from food, since energy gain is the reason we eat it in the first place.'
Professor Richard Wrangham, also of Harvard, said: 'Increasing evidence suggests that the bacteria take a pretty good portion of the food we eat. In fact, research has shown that one of the ways to increase the value humans get, relative to the bacteria, is by processing food - and cooking is one way to do that.'
The research also calls into question the way our food is labelled with calorie counts and dietary recommendations as these do not take into account the way food is processed which can have a big impact on its nutritional value, the authors said.
The findings appear today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.