‘Abdominal perimeters’ increase over holiday season, find researchers

by ARKANSAS DIGITAL NEWS

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Increasing perimeters

Some people are big on holidays – bigger than they were before those holidays. A team at the University of Castilla-La Mancha and the University of Valladolid, Spain, sized up some first-year undergraduate nursing students, then wrote about it in a paper called “Preliminary study of the increase in health science students’ body mass index during the Christmas holidays“.

The researchers assessed changes in the weight and waist circumference of 67 students during the course of Christmas vacation. They asked students to measure themselves on 23 December, the day before the holidays officially started, and again at two specified points during the break, then finally on 13 January, the day general university activities officially resumed.

(Presumably the students were honest and accurate. However, the study includes the careful statement “This was a preliminary pilot study with self-reports. It is known that these reports tend to underestimate weight.”) The self-reported numbers show that, on average, body weight went up by about half a kilogram during the holiday, then came back down by the return to campus.

The study says: “As a whole, the students who weighed more had a greater tendency to gain more weight, in the case of both males and females.” What (not just how much) the students ate may, the study suggests, have played a sizeable role: “The students with a high-fat diet presented with a more pronounced change in weight.”

What new hill of beans does this up-and-down poundage amount to? The study concludes: “Although the weight gain was not alarming, it does point to the possibility of weight gain among young adults during vacation periods.”

What of the student waistline size (the study calls it “abdominal perimeter”)? That increased, on average, by about a centimetre and stayed that way. In other words: post-holiday, people tended to be just a little stouter.

A small holiday bite

Little things that happen during any holiday can, thanks to the timing, be especially memorable.

So it is with the case of the snake that bit the genitals of a defecating man. G. H. Dijkema at Rijnstate hospital in the Netherlands and colleagues lay forth the details in a report called “Scrotal necrosis after cobra (Naja annulifera) envenomation“.

Essentially, this is a simple tale. The team compresses the basic facts into a single sentence: “A 47-year-old otherwise healthy male was on holiday in a South African nature reserve, and while toileting, a snake struck from the toilet and bit his genitals.”

Enough extra detail is added to fill two and a half pages, spiced up with three photos of the injured body part. The authors also add this kindly thought: “Our take home message? Always flush the toilet before sitting down in countries notorious for their snake population!”

A new holiday tradition

Some families like to gather to read aloud holiday stories, especially the Christmas tales written by Charles Dickens. But families who are tired of hearing the same old words year after year do have alternatives. Maybe the most profitable is to take a businesslike approach.

Yukyoung Kim has identified a heap of stories that – because no one is stopping you – you and your family can read to each other as you anticipate the arrival of New Year.

Kim compiled the material as the main chunk of a master’s thesis at the College of Liberal Arts and Convergence Science in South Korea, giving it the title “Study on CEO New Year’s address: Using text mining method“. “CEO”, as most holiday revellers know, is an acronym that stands for the phrase “chief executive officer”.

Kim’s summary of these New Year’s stories is more businesslike than Dickens’s summaries of his Christmas tales. Kim says: “This study analyzed the CEO New Year’s addresses of major Korean companies… [I] analyzed 545 New Year’s addresses published between 2012 and 2021 by the top 66 Korean companies in terms of market capitalization.”

Many Korean CEO New Year’s addresses are findable on the internet, or by sending a request in an admiring tone to the corporate offices. After an evening of hearing family members declaim these CEO stories, whatever happens during the next few days will feel like a rousing start to the year.

Muddy White Christmas

In contrast to snow blanketing the land in chilly climes, having a White Christmas in some warmer places is a matter of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) precipitating in balmy waters. The CaCO3 drops to the sea floor, coating it with thick, white lime mud.

Sam Purkis at the University of Miami, Florida, and team published a study about this, titled “Always a White Christmas in the Bahamas: Temperature and hydrodynamics localize winter mud production on Great Bahama Bank“.

Though for Christmas Eve recitation the writing isn’t quite Dickens (or Korean CEO), you can treat your relatives to the lyrical parts. This, for instance: “spatial heterogeneity in the degree of aragonite saturation is higher in the winter, and the zone of peak whitings is situated in an area of locally enhanced saturation state”.

Accompanied by festive music and good cheer, your calcium carbonate White Christmas dramatic reading will turn the thoughts of all to better things.

Marc Abrahams created the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony and co-founded the magazine Annals of Improbable Research. Earlier, he worked on unusual ways to use computers. His website is improbable.com

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