TIME Research

Millennials Now Have Jobs But Still Live With Their Parents

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A Pew study finds the perplexing pattern has affected the housing industry

Halfway through this decade and nearly seven years after the Great Recession, Millennials are bouncing back—sort of.

In a new study released by Pew, researchers find that while Millennials—people who were born after 1981—are back to the pre-recession era unemployment levels of 7.7%, they haven’t been able to establish themselves as adults in other ways, like owning a home or getting married.

Richard Fry, an economist and lead author of the study, describes the situation as Millennials’ “failure to launch.” “I think the core is a bit of a puzzle with one clear consequence,” Fry told TIME. “There’s good news: the group that was hit the hardest—young adults—are now getting full-time jobs and earnings are tracking upwards. But the surprise is that with the recovery in the labor market, there are fewer young adults living independently.” (Living independently here is defined as heading a household; in other words, owning a home.)

When the recession hit, young people moved back into their parents’ house in droves, unemployed and without much hope for any future work. The thought process was that once the economy improved and Millennials returned to work, they’d scoot out of their parents lair.

But that hasn’t been the case, and economists aren’t sure why.

“Is it a good thing or a bad thing? I don’t know,” Fry said. He was also the author of a study three years ago that explored Millennials living and work situations using 2012 data, and he thought then that the explanation was clear. “My thought was, ‘Yeah, that’s true, the job market is crummy,'” he said. “My expectation was that as the labor market improves, more young people will strike out on their own, but that’s not the case.”

About 42.2 million 18-to-34 year olds are living away from home this year; 2007 numbers were just above 2015’s independent young adult population at 42.7 million. There are a few common characteristics of these Millennial householders; they are more likely to be women (72% compared to their male counterparts) and college-educated (86% of those with bachelors degrees were living independently compared to 75% of the same peer group holding only a high school education). Fry points to women getting in permanent romantic relationships earlier that either lead to marriage or cohabitation as the cause of this gender difference.

The consequences of Millennials still living at home go far beyond the household dynamics of adult children being at home with parents. Consider the housing sector, which has not recovered from the 2008 economic tumble. If more young adults had decided to take on home ownership, the economy may have improved more.

So how are Millennials most likely living if they’re not living at home? Probably with a roommate, or doubled up with a fellow adult who is not their spouse or partner, data suggests.

But having a roommate or living at home have real demographic effects for the future, Fry says. He goes back to two key facts: that people living independently tend to be better educated and that college educated people tend to delay marriage or not marry at all (though even Millennials with a high school education are not getting married as much as they used to.) That means that less educated Millennials are facing consequences in not just the job market, but beyond.

“There’s less sorting—that when the less educated do marry, they marry others who are also less educated,” he said. “That’s going to impact household income and economic wellbeing. That’s going to affect economic outcomes.”

TIME bugaboo

See The Racy Stroller Ad Causing An Outrage

Photograph by Duy Vo for Vogue Netherlands and Bugaboo This photo of model Ymre Stiekema for a Bugaboo shoot has caused an uproar among mothers after it was posted on social media.

Women say the image doesn't represent the reality of motherhood.

All it took was one photo posted on Facebook and Instagram, and stroller company Bugaboo is learning that hell hath no fury like busy mothers scorned.

The Dutch maker of high-end baby pushchairs posted a picture last week of 23-year-old Dutch model Ymre Stiekema running with her 2-year-old daughter. Stiekema was jogging with her $800 Bugaboo stroller, but was also dressed in a black-and-white bikini in a brand photoshoot with Vogue Netherlands. The kind of attire, you know, one normally sees on mothers who are taking a run in the park. “See how model and mum Ymre Stiekema stays fit and healthy with the Bugaboo Runner,” the caption reads.

That post has earned attracted over 590 comments (and counting) on the brand’s Facebook page, mostly from mothers who feel the image is a tad unrealistic. “I’m not gonna cus [sic] her out for what she’s wearing but I have 2 children and if was running in this on the school run it would be because I’d forgotten to put my clothes on because we’re late for school, my 5 year old had fallen off his scooter, my 2 year old refuses to put his shoes on and there’s a good chance I haven’t had the time to do my bikini line. There’s an image to leave you with,” summarized one commenter.

Some have used sarcasm to get their point across on the realities of juggling motherhood and staying fit. “So thaaaat’s what I have been doing wrong….. I need to jog with my baby in a Bugaboo to get my beach body back. 😉 ,” said one commenter. “Do you get a personal trainer after birth when you by [sic] this?” said another.

To be fair, some commenters also recognize the nature of the marketing campaign by Bugaboo and their aims of publicizing their Bugaboo Runner, a stroller designed to be used while running. The company also released a statement to NBC Today defending the depiction of Stiekema. “We want to inspire moms and dads everywhere to explore the world with their families, while keeping up with an active and healthy lifestyle,” they said. “We believe that all parents should run free no matter where they are on their fitness journeys and what they choose to wear on their runs.”

TIME Diet/Nutrition

The Science of Why You Crave Comfort Food

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It's not just because these foods are tasty. It's because they make us feel less alone

In mid-July, I was visiting my hometown in Minnesota when I happened upon the unmistakable scent of something deep-fried. I was at a concert, and no matter how off-brand a dietary choice of corn dogs and cheese curds may be for a health writer, I went for it. How could I not? I spent two thoroughly enjoyable summers during college working at the Minnesota State Fair, and that experience continues to make corn-and-grease-dipped hot dogs not only appetizing but somehow irresistible, too.

Summer is the season for nostalgic eating: Hot days in the park call for a trip to the ice cream truck, concerts call for corn dogs, baseball games call for hotdogs and beer, ice-cold movie theaters call for popcorn. And it’s not just me. Researchers suggest that when we associate foods with happy memories, the effects are profound, impacting how good we think foods taste as well as how good those foods make us feel.

It makes intuitive sense that positive experiences with a given food could influence our craving for it later on, but recent research also suggests something else is at play, too: comfort foods remind us of our social ties, which means they may help us feel less lonesome when we feel isolated. In a recent July 2015 study, Jordan Troisi, an assistant professor of psychology at Sewanee, The University of The South, and his colleagues found that people with strong relationships preferred the taste of comfort food when they experienced feelings of social isolation.

“Comfort food seems to be something people associate very significantly with close relationships,” says Troisi. “This probably comes about by individuals coming to associate a particular food item with members of their family, social gatherings, and people taking care of them, which is why we see a lot of comfort foods [that are] traditional meals or things had at a party.”

Of course, what counts as comfort food is different person to person. When Troisi has asked people write about an experience they’ve had with a comfort food, essays have ranged from soup to kimchi. “It’s not just that ice cream, for instance, is really tasty. It’s that someone has developed a really significant meaning behind the idea of ice cream due to their relationships with others, and that’s what is triggering this effect,” he says.

Even the smell of a meaningful dish can elicit feelings of belonging, some research suggests. In a February 2015 study, Virginia Commonwealth University researcher Chelsea Reid and her colleagues had 160 people smell 12 different scents, including apple pie, cotton candy and baby powder and rate the extent to which the scent was familiar, arousing, autobiographically relevant, and the extent to which it elicited nostalgia. “Nostalgia can be evoked in different ways, but scents may be particularly likely to evoke nostalgia due to the strong link between scents and memory. The smell of pumpkin pie might bring all those holidays with family flooding back, or the smell of a familiar perfume might arouse memories with your partner,” says Reid.

Biologically speaking, scent and memory are closely tied. “Psychological research has demonstrated that smells are powerfully linked to memory, and to autobiographical memory in particular,” says Reid. “The olfactory bulb, which is involved in the sense of smell, is linked to areas in the brain associated with memory and emotional experiences.”

Humans have a fundamental need to belong, says Reid, and because nostalgia often centers around personal events involving people they care about, she sees the evocation of nostalgia as one way people can obtain a sense of belonging even when the people they are close to are not close by.

So while corn dogs in the summer may not be fine dining by any standard, for me, they trigger happy memories of summers long ago—and that’s a good thing. In moderation, of course.

TIME public health

Why the Beach Is So Much Grosser Than You Thought

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Dirty sand can make you sick

With all the news reports—about everything from shark activity to “flesh-eating” bacteriathe ocean is getting a lot of nasty press this summer. But actually, it may be the sand that’s the ickier part of the beach, according to a new study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. It harbors far more fecal bacteria (yes, that means poop) than the water.

“Beach goers should be aware of the health implications of contaminated beach sand, and should not assume that sand is always safe,” lead researcher Tao Yan, PhD, explained to Health.

It turns out that previous studies have shown that the sand is actually grosser compared to the water; it often has 10 to 100 times the fecal bacteria than the water, the study authors note.

For the most recent investigation, however, Yan and his team wanted to understand why.

In a lab, the researchers created a set up of three “microcosms” using samples from three Hawaii beaches, including sand and seawater normally found in those places, and then contaminated them with fecal bacteria commonly found on beaches. They then watched the samples to see how the bacteria populations changed over time. Ultimately they found that the decay process of harmful bacteria was much slower in the beach sand than in the water, which might explain why sand seems to be more of a hotbed.

But can this bacteria really hurt you? A 2012 study in the journal Epidemiology suggests that yep, it’s possible dirty sand can make you sick. The researchers analyzed sand samples from two beaches (one in Alaska and one in Rhode Island) within two miles of waste-water treatment facilities. Then, they surveyed nearly 5,000 visitors to those beaches, and found that those who played in the sand or got buried in the sand were more likely to develop diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or other GI upset in the weeks after their visit.

Still, researchers insist their findings are no reason to quit the beach all togetherjust take the obvious precautions.

“The symptoms we observed are usually mild and should not deter people from enjoying the beach, but they should consider washing their hands or using a hand sanitizer after playing in the sand or water,” senior author Timothy Wade, PhD, said in a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency press release.

Also, rinsing off in the public access showers ASAP, and following that with a good shower at home after a day at the beach might not be a bad idea either. Just sayin’.

This article originally appeared on Health.com

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TIME medicine

You Asked: Is It Bad To Hold In A Sneeze?

Holding in Sneezes
Illustration by Peter Oumanski for TIME

Pulled muscles and perforated eardrums are a couple of the calamities that could befall a sneeze suppressor.

Spend some time reading medical case studies—a great way to ruin a pleasant morning, by the way—and you’ll be shocked at the unlikely ways people manage to hurt themselves. Focus on sneeze-related accidents, and you’ll notice a trend: Bad things happen when people hold in their sneezes. A fractured larynx, acute cervical pain and facial nerve injuries are just a few of the documented mishaps caused by a stifled achoo.

“I’ve seen patients with a ruptured eardrum or pulled back muscles, and you hear about cracked ribs,” says Dr. Michael Benninger, an otolaryngologist—that’s an ear, nose and throat doctor—and chairman of the Head and Neck Institute at Cleveland Clinic.

While sneezes (and the schnozes that expel them) come in many sizes, a whopper sneeze can blast air out of your nose at 500 miles per hour, Benninger says. If you redirect that force inward, your suppressed sneeze can send waves of force rippling through your head and body.

MORE: Don’t Sneeze In Space: When Astronauts Get Sick

Usually that’s not a big deal. After all, most of us have bottled a sneeze here or there without issue. But Benninger says a preexisting musculoskeletal injury or weakness, odd ear or throat physiology or some other anatomical quirk could lead to an adverse reaction to a held-in sneeze.

While such reactions are unlikely, Benninger says sneezes aren’t meant to be caged. “Sneezing probably cleanses the nose of irritants, viruses and those types of things,” he explains. He uses the word “probably” because there’s research to suggest sneezing might perform other functions, from signaling to people that you’re sick to resetting the homeostatic environment in your nose.

“I’ve read reports that people sneeze differently in different cultures—almost like a learned behavior,” he says. He adds that everything from your lung capacity to the structure of your face and nose can play a role in how forcefully you sneeze, and the potential of your sneeze to cause or exacerbate an injury.

MORE: The 7 Best Food Combinations For Weight Loss

His advice? Don’t hold in a sneeze. “If you feel one coming on and you want to stop it, rubbing your nose can help,” he says. For patients who may feel pain when sneezing—those who’ve recently undergone surgery or broken a bone—Benninger advises opening your mouth wide to minimize a sneeze’s strength. “It’s like forcing water through a pipe,” he says. “If the air can escape through your nose and mouth, that creates less pressure than forcing it through a smaller opening.”

Just make sure that when you sneeze, you’re doing it into the crook of your arm, not your hand. “We know sneezing can project smaller particles 10 to 12 feet, so it’s important to cover your mouth,” Benninger says. “But if you sneeze into your hand, everything you touch is going to be contagious.” Your clothes help absorb particles, and you probably won’t be touching much with the inside of your arm, he adds.

Gesundheit! And safe sneezing, everyone.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Is Halal Meat Healthier than Conventional Meat?

Halal refers to Muslim criteria for how food is raised slaughtered and prepared. But do the requirements make the food healthier?

On Monday, Denmark announced it would ban Halal and Kosher slaughtering practices. Halal meat is reared—and slaughtered—differently from conventional meat. But is it healthier?

Like kosher food, Halal food is guided by religious criteria that govern everything from how the animals destined to be eaten are fed and raised, to how they are slaughtered and prepared for consumption.

According to the Muslims in Dietetics and Nutrition, a member group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Halal food can never contain pork or pork products (that includes gelatin and shortenings), or any alcohol. Rasheed Ahmed, founder and president of the Muslim Consumer Group (MCG), which both certifies Halal food and educates Muslims about different foods’ Halal status, says that to be truly Halal, how the animals are raised is taken into account. Animals must be fed vegetarian diets, which means that many chickens and cows raised on U.S. farms don’t qualify (some feed contains animal byproducts). Halal animals also can’t be treated with antibiotics or growth hormones, since the hormones may contain pork-based ingredients.

Halal animals must be slaughtered by a Muslim, who says a blessing, and by hand, not by machine (which is the way many chickens in the U.S. are killed. Once killed, the animal’s blood must drain completely, since Muslims who eat Halal do not consume the fresh blood of animals.

Ahmed admits that his criteria for certification are a bit stricter than others; for example, MCG won’t certify fish if it’s farm-raised, since it’s not clear whether they fish was fed animal byproducts. Only wild-caught fish are Halal certified by MCG standards.

While some people believe that these criteria make Halal food healthier, Carol O’Neil, professor of nutrition and food sciences at Louisiana State University Agricultural Center says that there simply aren’t studies showing that to be true. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which serves as the reference for nutritional content of food, does not separate out Halal meat (or kosher meat, for that matter) from other meats for its nutritional information.

“It’s difficult to know if there are any kind of nutritional differences,” says O’Neil. “There are certainly no studies done looking at people who consume Halal meat to see if their cholesterol levels are different, or anything like that. We just don’t know.”

O’Neil does note, however, that Halal practices may be more humane for the animal, and therefore that may make a difference for some people. “Our religion does not allow us to put any pressure on the animals,” says Ahmed. “So we treat them as humanely as possible.”

MORE: The 50 Healthiest Foods of All Time (With Recipes)

TIME Solutions That Matter

See How Robotics Is Changing What It Means to Be Disabled

At the Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL) in Pittsburgh, Pa., veterans, engineers, doctors and researchers are working together to improve the lives of people with disabilities. Since 1994, Dr. Rory Cooper and his team have been solving everyday problems of people with disabilities and inventing new technologies to change the way people with disabilities interact with and experience the world around them

TIME public health

Kroger Recalls Spices Due to Possible Salmonella Contamination

Grocery stores in 31 states are affected

National supermarket chain Kroger Co. is recalling four of its house line of spices, which could be contaminated with salmonella.

The recall includes Kroger Ground Cinnamon, Kroger Garlic Powder, Kroger Coarse Ground Black Pepper and Kroger Bac’n Buds.

The FDA found traces of salmonella in spices at a store in North Augusta, S. Carolina. The recall affects not only stores in South Carolina but also locations in 31 states under other Kroger franchises, such as Fred Meyer, Food 4 Less and Foods Co., among others. A full list of store locations can be found here.

There have been no reports of illness related to the spices, according to the FDA.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

This Is Why You’re a Total Sucker for Sweets

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It's true: smelling fatty food really does make you crave dessert

Bakeries may want to keep their doors open if they want to attract more customers; new research suggests that when people unconsciously smell a sweet and fatty odor—like the kind that emanates from a just-baked chocolate croissant—they’re more likely to choose to eat a high-calorie dessert.

In the new study published in the journal Appetite, researchers tested whether background cues, like sniffing something delicious, have an effect on a person’s food choices. Before the 147 people in the study even realized the experiment had begun, they were told to sit in a waiting room for 15 minutes. In one control group, they simply sat in a regular room. In another (luckier) group, they sat in a room in which the researchers had just baked pain au chocolat and activated a fragrance diffuser with the scent of the treat. The third group sat in an unscented room while a radio aired a piece about the nutritional dangers of fatty and sweet foods, and the final group experienced both the chocolate scent and the audio messages.

MORE: You Asked: Is Eating Dessert Really That Bad For Me?

Then, the people in the study were taken into a different room where they were asked to serve themselves a lunch of a starter, a main course and a dessert from a buffet.

People who had unwittingly smelled the sweet-fatty odor of the pain au chocolat were more likely to choose a high-calorie dessert, like a waffle, compared to people who hadn’t been exposed to the scented room. (Those people were more likely to choose the low-calorie dessert of applesauce.)

MORE: A New Taste Has Just Been Added To The Human Palate

Surprisingly to the researchers, the people who heard the nutritional messages also picked more high-calorie desserts that the control group, as did the group that experienced both the scent and the messaging. “We can assume that people who are faced with a complex and potentially overwhelming set of health messages every day do not pay attention to these messages,” the study authors write. “Consumers are exposed to hundreds of advertising messages per day and cannot pay attention to all of them.” Instead of taking away a healthy eating message from the radio, the researchers surmise that the men and women may have unconsciously focused on the words “fatty” and “sweet” instead.

The study sample is small, and the researchers acknowledge that they weren’t able to examine other factors related to eating habits and preferences, like gender and age. Still, the study provides insight into cues we may not even realize are influencing the foods we choose.

TIME Healthcare

Hospitals Have Reduced Deaths, Hospitalizations, and Costs Among Medicare Patients

"It's a jaw-dropping finding"

American hospitals have reduced deaths, hospitalizations, and costs among people over the age of 65 in the past couple of decades, according to a new report released Tuesday.

“We didn’t expect to see such a remarkable improvement over time,” said Harlan Krumholz, a cardiologist at the Yale School of Medicine and lead author of the study, which appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Krumholz and his colleagues looked at over 68 million Medicare beneficiaries between 1999 and 2013. The group was chosen for their “fee-for-service” structure, where doctors and hospitals would be paid per procedure or visit.

They found that hospitalization rates for this group plummeted 24%, saving more than 3 million people unnecessary hospital visits. Their chance of survival and recovery had improved from less than two decades ago: patients were 45% less likely to die during their stay, 24% less likely to die within a month of being admitted, and 22% less likely to die within the year.

Deaths among the group fell 16%, meaning 300,000 lives were saved in the 14-year span, according to the report. Patients who visited the hospital also saw a 15% drop in their bills compared to 1999.

Krumholz said that better training for hospital staff led to many of the improvements.

“There has been tremendous focus on making sure that our hospitals are safer and that treatments are more timely and effective,” Krumholz told USA Today.

People are also living healthier, longer lives—smoking less, breathing cleaner air, and able to take advantage of scientific breakthroughs in medicine.

Despite doing so well, Krumholz doesn’t think it’s time for hospitals to get lax.

“The things we’re trying to do to make things better are working,” Krumholz noted. “Rather than wave the victory flag, we want to see that trend continue. There’s no reason to take our foot off the pedal.”

 

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