TIME Mental Health/Psychology

5 Meditation Tips for People Who Can’t Focus

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Just a few minutes can shift your mindset for the whole day

Meditation is more than just a stress buster. New research shows it can help boost creativity; another review found it could reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and it could even improve decision making, in addition to a host of other health benefits.

But how can you embark on a serene course of meditation when you can barely quiet your multitasking brain long enough to finish tasks at home or at work? Here, five tips from meditation guru Amit Sood, MD, professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic and author of The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living.

Pick an activity that works for you

One assumption novices make is that you have to sit in a corner chanting “ommm” for meditation to work. But that’s a fallacy, says Dr. Sood. You can incorporate it into everyday activities, like your workout. If you’re running, for example, instead of listening to your iPod, silently repeat “peace” every time your foot strikes the ground. After a few minutes, you’ll find you’re chanting the word automatically and have entered a contemplative state.

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Grab a moment of gratitude

An easy way to get in a quick meditative moment is to sit down and take two minutes (yes, you can set your cell phone timer!) to think about five people in your life you’re grateful for. Start with the first one, and quickly run down the many ways this person has helped you. Now move to the second one, and imagine looking deep into their eyes. The third one, visualize giving them a quick, firm hug. By evoking images of folks who care about you, you’re releasing positive energy that will stay with you the rest of the day.

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Start small

Most people only meditate for 3 to 5 minutes when they first start the habit, according to data collected by the folks behind the goal-tracking app Lift. Dr. Sood suggests this simple exercise: Sit quietly and as you breathe in, imagine your brain filling with light. Exhale. Breathe in again, imagining your heart filling with light, then exhale. Repeat (rotating between brain and heart) for two to three minutes.

Wish others well

When you walk around the office, silently send each co-worker you see a wish. It can be specific—“I wish you well in your meeting with the boss this morning” or it can be general “I wish you health and happiness and general well-being.” Do it for everyone, even people you’re indifferent about or dislike: “It removes any sense of hostility or competitiveness you might feel towards others and replaces it with positivity, which is energizing,” says Dr. Sood.

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Turn to an app

If you don’t find any of these techniques helpful—or you crave more—there are plenty of apps out there to keep you meditating in the moment. (Sixty-two percent of people who meditate more than three days a week use a meditation app, according to Lift.) A few to try: Mayo Clinic Meditation ($2.99), Stop Breathe & Think (free), and Mental Workout (free). Or try one of the free guided meditations suggested by Lift.

The good news is if you stick with it, it’s likely to become automatic: people who meditated for 11 days were more than 90% likely to continue to a 12th day, according to the Lift survey.

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This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME Research

The Weird Reason Happy Things Make You Cry

No need to be embarrassed the next time you get all worked up

Think back to the one of the happiest moments of your life, say a wedding day or the birth of a child. During these life-changing moments, it’s safe to say you were probably crying. It may feel silly when it happens—especially if you’re someone who often turns into a blubbering mess over a heartwarming viral video. But it turns out crying when you’re happy isn’t so crazy after all: A forthcoming study in the journal Psychological Science found that people who are often reduced to happy tears may actually be better at regulating their emotions.

HEALTH.COM: 3 Reasons Why Crying Is Good for You

The researchers looked at “dimorphous expressions,” which is the technical term for when you’re experiencing one super strong emotion (say, happiness) but showing two expressions at the same time (like laughing and crying). To reach their findings, they asked people to report how they felt after viewing photos of babies, half of whom had their faces manipulated to give them rounder features and bigger eyes—tweaks meant to essentially push the participants past the edge of cute overload.

As expected, the babies with altered characteristics caused the strongest reactions, and more than half of participants said the photos caused them to feel not only happy but downright overwhelmed. But interestingly, many of the people in the overwhelmed group were also more likely to choose aggressive expressions, saying they wanted to pinch their cheeks or “eat them up.” And those people, the ones who used these dimorphous expressions, found it easier to regulate their intense feelings, says lead study author Oriana Aragón, PhD, a psychologist at Yale University.

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“People who peaked really high after seeing the babies actually got back down better from the experience,” suggesting that two contrasting expressions may be the brain‘s way of bringing you back into equilibrium, Aragón explains.

The researchers also reported that the cheek-pinchers were more likely to say they shed tears during happy moments—like being reunited with a loved one—so the findings may apply to a lot of situations, from laughing when you’re nervous to bawling over that paraplegic veteran who surprised his new wife by standing up for their first dance.

So, no need to be embarrassed the next time you get all worked up, just let it out. You’ll be back to normal in no time.

HEALTH.COM: 22 Ways to Get Happy Now

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME Research

5 Science-Backed Reasons Why Music is Good for You

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Next time you’re preparing for a work presentation, crank up the Bach

Music is a powerful medium: Not only does it make us want to jump to our feet and “shake it off, shake it off” (thanks Taylor Swift), but soul-stirring tunes also can help us fight through myriad health challenges as well. Here are five great reasons to pump up the jams, and listen with intent:

It can help ease pain

Feeling achy? A study conducted in the journal Frontiers in Psychology found that when fibromyalgia patients were exposed to 10-minutes of music they liked—anything from pop to folk to classical—that was slower than 120 beats per minute, they experienced less pain versus when they listened to pink noise. The participants also saw an increase in their mobility with the music.

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It could help you focus

Next time you’re preparing for a work presentation or studying for something, listen to a little Vivaldi or Bach. A 2007 study from the Stanford University School of Medicine found that tuning into music from the late baroque period, leads to changes in the brain (recorded by an fMRI scan) that help with attention and storing events into memory.

It elevates workout performance

We all know that bopping to Beyoncé can be a lifesaver during that cardio kickboxing class, but did you know it could also be the key to successfully sweating through those unbelievably grueling high-intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions, too? Researchers had 20 active adults perform two interval workouts—four, 30-second “all-out” cycling sprints with four minutes of rest in between—one with music and one without. Those who sweated to beats not only found the interval training much more enjoyable, but it also revved them up, making them exercise harder, too.

HEALTH.COM: 10 Mood-Boosting Meals

It cheers you up

As we creep into the colder months, those winter blues have a way of raining on our happiness parade. Luckily, music is a proven spirit saver. According to a 2011 study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, certain classical tunes caused folks to get the chills, which in turn led to the release of dopamine, a chemical in the brain that can help you feel jollier. To reap this mood-boosting benefit, download “Clair de Lune,” by Claude Debussy, “New World Symphony—Movement 4,” by Antonin Dvorak, and “First Breath After Coma” by Alexander Keats—they have all been scientifically proven to keep you in good cheer.

It can keep you calm

Switching to mellow music during a stressful drive may prevent road rage and even help you drive better, according to a 2013 study in the journal Ergonomics. Researchers found that upbeat music made people happy, but as soon as the drive became demanding, an abrupt dial change to more soothing tunes kept study participants calmer and boosted driving ability better than those who didn’t change the station as quickly.

HEALTH.COM: 12 Worst Habits For Your Mental Health

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME Research

6 Breath Tests That Can Diagnose Disease

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A new study uses breath to diagnoses diabetes, but other diseases like cancer and obesity may be breath-detectable too

A new study shows that it may be possible to diagnose type 1 diabetes in kids even before the onset of severe illness.

Currently, about one in four kids with type 1 diabetes don’t know they have it until they start having life-threatening symptoms. However, a new study published in the Journal of Breath Research shows researchers might be able to diagnose the disease by detecting a chemical marker (acetone) in the breath that makes it smell sweet, but indicates a build-up of chemicals in the blood (ketones) that occurs when a person’s insulin levels are low. High levels of acetone in the breath can indicate high levels of ketones in the blood. The hope is that if proven effective, this breath test will help physicians make a diagnosis earlier.

Growing research suggests breath tests can be used to detect a variety of diseases, from diabetes to various cancers. Research is still early in some areas—and there are other factors beyond disease that can result in chemical markers in the blood and breath—but some medical institutions are already using the tests of a variety of diagnosis.

Type 1 Diabetes
In the new study, researchers collected compounds in the breath from 113 children and adolescents between the ages 7 and 18. They also measured the kids’ blood-sugar and ketone levels. They found a link between higher levels of acetone in the breath and ketones in the blood. “Our results have shown that it is realistically possible to use measurements of breath acetone to estimate blood ketones,” said study author Gus Hancock, a professor at Oxford in a statement. “We are working on the development of a small hand-held device that would … help to identify children with new diabetes.”

Colorectal Cancer
In a small study published in 2012 in the British Journal of Surgery, researchers from the the University Aldo Moro of Bari in Italy collected the breath of 37 patients with colorectal cancer and 41 healthy control participants. The researchers were measuring the amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the participants’ breath, with the thought being that cancer tissues and cells may release distinct chemicals. The researchers were able to identify 15 of 58 specific compounds that were correlated with colorectal cancer. Based on this, the were also able to distinguish between cancer patients and healthy patients with 75% accuracy.

Lung Cancer
In 2013, researchers from the University of Latvia used an electronic nose-like device to identify a unique chemical signature in lung cancer patients. As TIME has previously reported, there are several groups who think this process can be standardized for cancer with further research. In June, scientists at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago presented a device they think has real promise.

Obesity
There are obviously a number of ways that obesity can be diagnosed without a breath test, but a 2013 study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that obese people had unique markers in their breath, too. Researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center studied the breath of 792 men and women trying to detect methane. Those with higher levels of methane and hydrogen gases in their breath also tended to be heavier with a BMI around 2.4 points greater than those with normal gas levels. The hope, the researchers say, is that a test could be developed that could detect a type of bacteria that may be involved in both weight and levels of gas in the breath. There may be ways to clinically curb that bacteria growth.

Lactose Intolerance
Johns Hopkins Medicine uses breath testing to help diagnose lactose intolerance. Patients drink a lactose-heavy drink and clinicians will analyzed the breath for hydrogen, which is produced when lactose isn’t digested and is fermented by bacteria.

Fructose Intolerance
Johns Hopkins also uses breath tests to assess whether an individual is allergic or intolerant to fructose, a sugar used to sweeten some beverage and found naturally in foods like onions, artichokes, and wheat. The test is similar to a breath test for lactose intolerance. Patients will drink a cup of water with dissolved fructose and over a three hour period, clinicians will test their breath. Once again, a high presence of hydrogen can indicate that the patient is not properly digesting it.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Here’s the Scientific Way to Make a Perfect Pumpkin Pie

Prebake the crust for pumpkin pie before filling

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The kind of fat that goes into a pie dough can totally change the chemistry of the crust—and for a supremely flaky crust, you can’t beat lard, as former White House pastry chef Bill Yosses explains in the above selection from the 2014 World Science Festival event “Biophysics? More like Pie-o-Physics!” (Yosses is something of an authority on deliciousness; earlier this year, President Obama joked that his pies were so good he must be lacing them with crack cocaine.)

But traditional Thanksgiving fare presents additional “pie-o-physics” conundrums. Pumpkin pie filling is closer on the pastry evolutionary tree to flan or custard. Baking one requires some special considerations, according to Yosses.

In pumpkin pie, “the eggs coagulate to form a silken smooth network,” Yosses told us. “The egg proteins shrink as they cook, and you need to stop the process at the right time.” The time to remove a pumpkin pie, he says, is when it is “set,” but the center should still jiggle when shaken in the oven. “This is sensitive because too little cooking and the pie will be liquid.”

To avoid overcooking his pumpkin pies, one trick Yosses likes to employ is to lower the bottom of pie dish into cold water for about 30 seconds right after taking it out of the oven (take care not to splash water or burn yourself). This will stop the protein threads from continuing to cook.

“I like a filling made with acorn squash and some sugar pumpkin, and I love trying all kinds of vegetable and ginger variations—but then it is not really a pumpkin pie,” Yosses says. He prebakes the crust for his pumpkin pie before filling. If you do the same, but don’t want an extra-crispy edge on the crust that forms during the second round in the oven, he recommends covering the edge with aluminum foil before baking.

If any foodies reading this feel guilty about going with canned pumpkin instead of the fresh stuff, take comfort in the fact that Yosses himself often reaches for a can of Libby’s pumpkin pie mix. As he says: “Why reinvent the wheel?”

This piece originally appeared on World Science Festival.

TIME Research

14 Holiday Health Hazards to Avoid

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Check out these top holiday health risks and what you can do to avoid them

The holiday season is supposed to be a time for relaxing and celebrating with friends and family. Sorry to be a Grinch, but the most wonderful time of the year can also prove hazardous to your health and safety. The seemingly endless string of parties, the introduction of new foods and cooking techniques to your home, and even shopping for gifts can all put your wellbeing at risk. To ensure you make it to January 1 unscathed, follow this guide to the biggest holiday health hazards and how to avoid them.

Holiday weight gain

Christmas cookies, eggnog, late-night leftover ham sandwiches: All that holiday joy adds up to at least a pound a year, but studies suggest that you never really take it off. Keep eating everything you want over the holidays and you’ll end up looking like Santa when swimsuit season rolls around. Try these tips to avoid holiday weight gain.

Choking

You may wish your mother-in-law would choke on her snarky comments, but choking is a serious health hazard. Nearly 3,000 people in the United States die each year from choking, according to the National Safety Council, and since you’re eating more during the holidays anyway, better chew your chestnut pudding and pumpkin pie well. To avoid choking, take small bites, chew slowly and carefully, and avoid talking or being distracted while eating. Be wary of high risk foods including hotdogs, grapes, candy with nuts, and hard fruits and vegetables.

HEALTH.COM: 50 Holiday Foods You Shouldn’t Eat

Poisonous holiday plants

Hold the holly (and mistletoe) if you plan to have small children or pets around during the holidays. All can be toxic, and even pine cones and falling berries can pose a choking hazard. Best bet is to make sure no one smaller than a holly bush gets near seasonal plants this year.

Deep-fried-turkey fireballs

Deep-frying your turkey can be so dangerous that Underwriters Laboratories, the product safety certifier, has refused to stamp any fryers on the market with its iconic UL logo. From 1998 to 2007, there were at least 138 incidents involving turkey fryers that caused 36 injuries and more than $7.8 million in property loss. (Watch UL techs demonstrate the perils of frying.) Still, if you must deep-fry your bird, follow your fryer’s instructions carefully, and heed these safety tips.

Holiday heart attacks

Think the weather outside is frightful? Check the perfect storm of heart attack risk factors looming on the horizon. It’s the worst time of year for heart trouble, with heart-related deaths peaking in late December and early January. (The deadliest day? December 25, according to one study.) Why? There are lots of reasons: holiday stress, heavy meals (a known heart attack trigger), ignoring chest pain for fear of disrupting the festive mood, skipping meds in the hustle and bustle, and understaffed hospitals. Stay safe by being aware: Take your meds and watch for symptoms. Oh, and moderation is key.

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Flammable Christmas trees

Each year, more than 400 residential fires involve Christmas trees, resulting in as many as 40 deaths and 100 injuries. In fact, though Christmas trees cause the fewest holiday-related fires, they account for the greatest percentage of deaths, according to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The safest tree is a flame-resistant artificial one; follow this advice if you want to bring a fresh one home.

Toy horrors

Besides troublesome questions about the safety of toys made in China, now you must face the most dreaded of all holiday hazards—opening the gifts. Sounds simple, but each year about 6,000 people in the United States visit the ER with wounds from trying to pry, slice, or stab open gifts encased in hard plastic “clamshells” or held down with a thousand metal twist ties. Some retailers, including Amazon, Sony, Microsoft, and Best Buy, are moving toward easy-to-open packaging. Learn more about the health hazards of the toys themselves.

Seasonal car accidents

Thanksgiving is not only a traffic-filled holiday, it’s also one of the most deadly. In 2006, 623 people lost their lives in car crashes. Christmas and New Year’s, when alcohol is responsible for nearly half of accident fatalities, also have their share of road peril.

To stay safe from those statistics, John Kennedy, executive director of the Driver and Roadway Safety Department of the National Safety Council, offers these tips.

• Always wear your safety belt and have children in properly installed car seats.
• Stay sober or designate a driver.
• Keep your eyes on the road. Let passengers enjoy the scenery and chat on the phone.
• Maintain a safe following distance from the car in front of you.
• Plan your route ahead of time.
• Give your car a winter once-over: Check ignition, brakes, hoses, fan belts, spark plugs, tire air, headlights, battery, and wipers. Carry a shovel, jumper cables, tool kit, and a bag of salt or cat litter for traction.
• Don’t drive early on Saturday morning. “It’s a very hazardous time. A lot of people are driving under the influence or drowsy,” warns Kennedy. And if you can stay in or use public transportation on New Year’s Eve, do it.

HEALTH.COM: 21 Holiday Health Mistakes

Sledding catastrophes

As George Bailey from It’s a Wonderful Life could tell you, sledding can be very dangerous. What seems like good, clean family fun causes 33,000 injuries each year, according to the National Safety Council. Before you hit the hill, read these safety tips from the NSC.

• Keep all equipment in good condition.
• Choose a spacious, gently sloping hill free of trees, fences, rocks, or other obstacles—and make sure it doesn’t cross traffic.
• Do not sled on or around frozen lakes, streams, or ponds (like poor little Peter Bailey did).
• Assume the proper position: Sit or lie on your back on the top of the sled, with your feet pointing downhill.
• Wear thick gloves or mittens and protective boots.

Sleep problems

A good night’s rest is often the first thing we sacrifice in the midst of late-night parties, early-morning shopping, and year-end deadlines. For people traveling on vacations or to relatives’ houses, obstacles such as red-eye flights, jet lag, and unfamiliar bedrooms can disrupt z’s as well. But skimping on sleep can lower immunity, increase stress levels, and lead to weight gain; plus, it raises your risk for depression and automobile accidents. As tempting as it is to ignore, it’s important to make sleep a priority to ensure a happy and healthy holiday.

People who take sleeping pills may have their own set of holiday worries: Read about more ways the season can disrupt sleep and medication usage.

Decorating disasters

Decorations sure are pretty, but the fact that more than 5,000 people are injured in decorating-related falls each holiday season is not. To make sure you’re not a statistic this year, do the following when stringing lights or hanging mistletoe.

• Check that the ladder is on secure and level ground.
• Space the ladder 1 foot away from the wall for every 4 feet high it reaches.
• Stay centered between rails and do not overreach.
• Don’t step on the top two rungs.
• For roof access, extend the ladder at least 3 feet above the roof.
• Keep the top and the bottom of the ladder clear of obstacles.
• Make sure the ladder is locked open.

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Stress

Stress around the holidays can be worse than other times because people tend to overcommit themselves,” says Jennifer Caudle, DO, a board-certified family physician and assistant professor at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Stratford, New Jersey. Women especially find the holidays hard to manage. A study from the American Psychological Association found that 44% of women reported increased stress around the holidays compared to 31% of men. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to enlist some help. Say you’re worried the family dinner won’t be prepared on time. Ask others to bring dishes or help you set the table, Caudle suggests.

Holiday shopping

With any shopping trip, you need to watch how much you carry. Going from store to store with several bags could bring on back pain and wear you down. “This is not the time to be a superhero,” Caudle says. “Take breaks so you’re not standing on your feet the entire day.” Another smart move: when shopping at the mall, drop bags off at your car between stores. How you carry and lift heavy objects is also important. “Bend at the knees and tighten the stomach muscles while lifting,” Caudle says. “Hold the item close to you to distribute the weight with legs a good distance apart.”

Food poisoning

Each year, about 48 million people are hospitalized because of foodborne diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With all the food made around the holidays, it’s a prime time to get sick. You should be mindful of preparing meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs especially, Caudle says. Use separate cutting boards and dishes so bacteria can’t spread from one food to the next. Make sure ground meat like is cooked to 160 degrees, chicken reaches 165 degrees, and whole meat (like steak) gets to at least 145 degrees. “Bacteria grow on foods as they drop in temperature,” Caudle says. So don’t leave dishes sitting out for long periods and put away leftovers within two hours, she says.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME Research

Study: Brain Abnormalities Found in 40% of SIDS Cases

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A quirk in the brain may be causing unexplained deaths in babies

The unknown cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) could be a brain abnormality, a new study suggests.

A team of researchers reported that around 43% of infants who died of SIDS shared a brain abnormality that affects the area of the brain called the hippocampus, which is responsible for basic functions like breathing and heart rate, in study published in the journal Acta Neuropathologica.

The team from Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s office, and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston looked at sections of the hippocampus from 153 infants who underwent an autopsy in San Diego. All of the infants had died suddenly between the years of 1991 and 2012. Some of the infants’ deaths could be explained; those that could not be explained fell were ruled as SIDS. Eighty-three of the cases were classified as SIDS.

MORE: Don’t Count on Smart Baby Monitors To Prevent SIDS

Within the infants with SIDS, the researchers found an abnormality in a part of the hippocampus called the dentate gyrus. Specifically, at some parts of the dentate gyrus, it contained a double layer of nerve cells instead of the typical single layer. It’s possible that this abnormality interferes with the brain’s regulation of breathing control and heart rate while a child is sleeping. This abnormality was found in 43% of the SIDS cases.

Researchers believe that there might be a variety of factors that influence the risk of SIDS, which is why the researchers say not all of the cases had the brain abnormality.

It’s also possible that when a child is sleeping in an unsafe position or environment (it is recommended that infants sleep on their backs), the abnormality is triggered. More research is needed to conclude how exactly this quirk in the brain plays out.

TIME Environment

Vodka Leftovers Can Help Make Driving Safer by Removing Highway Snow

City Of Chicago Prepares For Another Winter Storm
Streets and Sanitation workers in Chicago prepare to load trucks with road salt as the city braces for another winter storm on Feb. 4, 2014 Scott Olson—Getty Images

Scientists are looking to curb the use of road salt, which damages roads, vehicles and the environment

Cold-climate researchers at Washington State University (WSU) are using barley residue from vodka distilleries to develop environment-friendly deicers to combat highway snow.

Every winter season, the U.S. government spends $2.3 billion to remove highway snow and ice, but also another $5 billion to mitigate additional costs the process accrues. Most of the hundreds of tons of salt that is applied to American roads doesn’t degrade, and actually causes damage to the surface, vehicles and the environment.

“In 2013, the [Environmental Protection Agency] reported alarming levels of sodium and chloride in groundwater along the East Coast,” says Xianming Shi, associate professor in civil and environmental engineering in a press release from WSU. As a nation, “we are kind of salt addicted, like with petroleum, as it’s been so cheap and convenient for the last 50 years.”

Shi’s work is part of a U.S. Department of Transportation–funded collaboration between WSU, the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Montana State University.

Apart from developing deicers, the team is working on the technology of smart snowplows, which are equipped with sensors that collect data to help operators regulate the amount of salt they apply. They are also working on software and new types of concrete.

“Our ultimate goal is to apply the best amount of salt, sand or deicers at the right location at the right time,” Shi said.

Any advances would be welcome as road salt is in short supply in northern states, and prices have ballooned by 10% to 30% since last year.

Read next: Road Salt Prices Skyrocket After Last Winter’s Snowstorms

TIME Obesity

You Exercise Less When You Think Life Isn’t Fair

The 'why try' effect gets in the way of weight loss

People who have been the target of weight discrimination—and who believe the practice is widespread—are more likely to give up on exercise than to try to lose weight, according to a new study published in Health Psychology.

The online study of more than 800 Americans specifically looked at whether participants believed in “a just world,” or in this case, the belief that their positive actions will lead to good results. People who experienced weight bias in the past and didn’t believe in a just world were more likely to say they didn’t plan to exercise than those who did believe the world is just. In a separate part of the study, participants primed with anecdotes designed to suggest that the world is unjust were more likely to say they didn’t plan to exercise.

Experiencing discrimination leads some people to adopt a pessimistic view of the world, and they accept negative stereotypes about themselves, including the belief that they’re lazy, said study author Rebecca Pearl. “When someone feels bad about themselves and is applying negative stereotypes to themselves, they give up on their goals,” said Pearl, a researcher at Yale University, referring to a phenomenon known as the “why try” effect.

It’s an area of conflicting research. Some previous studies found that weight discrimination leads to weight loss, while others concluded that weight discrimination discourages exercise. Belief in a just world may be the factor that distinguishes between the two, Pearl said. People who think their exercise will pay off are more likely to try.

Because believing in a just world is key to losing weight, Pearl said that legislation and other public policy efforts could act as a “buffer against loss of sense of fairness.”

“It’s important for doctors to be aware of what people are experiencing, to know that these experiences might have real effects on people’s confidence,” Pearl said.

TIME

Your Pharmacist Called. You Owe $1.3 trillion

A new report predicts that drug spending will shoot up 30% by 2018

Here’s a shocker: global spending on drugs is going up. Way up.

A new report from IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics projects the world will shell out $1.3 trillion for medications in 2018, a 30% increase over the figure in 2013.

The proliferation of new, pricey specialty medications like Sovaldi, Gilead’s $84,000 Hepatitis C wonder drug, has something to do with this spending increase, particularly in developed markets, but so does an aging population and increased accessibility of healthcare around the globe.

Take the U.S., the world’s largest drug market, where spending is forecast to rise 11.7% in 2014. New innovative treatments— particularly for cancer, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders—are one bigger driver for this, but so is Obamacare, which has expanded the number of individuals receiving medical care. (The spending increase in the U.S. this year was particularly dramatic because of the small number of drugs that went off patent. Also, the $1.3 trillion figure does not reflect the impact of rebates and discounts, pricing adjustments that are increasingly common in the modern health care landscape.)

A growing middle class and the adoption of universal healthcare is fueling drug spending in other parts of the world. Generics, rather than branded drugs, dominate these markets: IMS predicts spending on pain medication, the largest category of drugs in developing marketing, will increase roughly 10% annually. (IMS pegs the compound annual growth rate at between 8% and 11%.)

The rise in drug spending isn’t inexorable. The research firm points out that France and Spain are likely to see drug spending decrease, thanks in part to cost containment efforts.

The world is in a relative sweet spot for drug innovation. Whisked along by the FDA’s new breakthrough drug designations, the number of launches of novel medications will remain high in the coming years, IMS says. That’s particularly true in oncology. Cancer drugs account for 30% of the world’s pharmaceutical pipeline, and sales are expected to top $100 billion in 2018, largely because of breakthrough immunotherapy treatments.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

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