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Sunday, November 29, 2020
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Seeing past the dumpster fire

Covid-19   Psych/Mental Health   School Nurse   Vaccines   Stress Reduction

Today’s Read: 3.5 minutes

Today we find a fantastic quote about research, talk about BMI screening in schools, discover the happiest songs, and look at the second possibly-effective coronavirus vaccine. Good thing because we’re not sure how resilient the public is: Turns out life is getting lonelier for many people during the pandemic.

MORNING BRIEF

And now there are two

Monday morning Moderna announced that its coronavirus vaccine is 94.5% effective. There were 30,000 volunteers who participated in the trial, receiving either the placebo or the vaccine. Of the 95 trial participants who contracted the virus, only five had received the vaccine. And of the 11 severe Covid-19 cases, all were among those who had received the placebo. These results were put out in a press release and haven’t been peer-reviewed, but the news is still promising. The trial is ongoing, and more information is sure to come. 

If you remember, last week Pfizer announced its Covid-19 vaccine was 90% effective. Moderna’s is an mRNA vaccine, like Pfizer’s, but it doesn’t need to be stored at as low of a temperature, which should make it easier to distribute. In any case, we may have more than one vaccine that can be distributed.

Science says that playing ‘Animal Crossing’ could improve our wellbeing

For the first time, academia used gameplay data to determine whether playing video games can be good for your mental health. 

Oxford University researchers focused on the actual play-time data of people who played Ninetndo’s social simulation game Animal Crossing’s New Horizons or EA’s cartoon-shooter game Plants vs. Zombies 3: Battle for Neighborville (in full disclosure, both are played in my household). They found that people who played games more often reported greater wellbeing.

Previous studies focused on self-reported time playing, which is, the study found, only weakly correlated with reality. But since both of these video games are connected to the internet, the research team was able to link up psychological questionnaires with true records of time spent playing games.

“This is about bringing games into the fold of psychology research that’s not a dumpster fire,” said Andrew Przybylski, the lead researcher on the project told The Guardian. “This lets us explain and understand games as a leisure activity.”

So, did one game beat the other in terms of enhancing wellness? The study, he said, “shows that if you play four hours a day of Animal Crossing, you’re a much happier human being, but that’s only interesting because all of the other research before this is done so badly.” Though from personal experience, I can say it’s a great escape from reality.

School BMI screenings don’t prevent child obesity

U.S. schools screen millions of students’ for obesity using BMI and send the results home to parents with little evidence that they inspire lifestyle changes. Now, a JAMA Pediatrics study of 28,641 students in grades 3 to 7 in California finds that these reports have not affected BMI scores after a year or two years of follow-up. And in some cases, the BMI screenings may have caused weight dissatisfaction and more talk about weight among their peers. The researchers suggest that schools should consider more evidence-based approaches to improving student health.

ONE BIG NUMBER

65%

The percentage of 18-to-35 years old reporting an increase in loneliness during the Covid-19 pandemic. The survey of 1,008 participants also reported a rise in depression (64%), anxiety (62%), lack of connectedness (53%), alcohol use (48%), and drug use (44%).

DAILY DIVERSION

Neuroscientist Jacob Jolij figured out why certain songs were such effective mood-boosters. Listen to the 10 happiest songs, according to science.

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