Smartphone app aids college-age women in abusive relationships, study shows

Women between the ages of 18 and 24 are at the highest risk for dating violence, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, these women are less likely than older adults to seek formal safety resources and instead look to peers or technology for help and advice. In an effort to connect more young women with safety information, University of Missouri researchers collaborated with Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing and the One Love Foundation to develop the “One Love My Plan” smartphone application, an interactive tool that helps college-age women in abusive relationships clarify their priorities and customize personal safety plans.”At some point, almost everyone knows someone in an unhealthy relationship,” said Tina Bloom, an assistant professor at the MU Sinclair School of Nursing. “The purpose of the My Plan app is to quickly and confidentially provide women and concerned friends with information and available resources. Our goal is not to replace existing services, but to better connect students with them.”To ensure that young women would find the app helpful and comprehensive, Bloom and her colleagues conducted focus groups with college-age women who identified themselves as survivors of abusive relationships.”Students said that phones feel private, and they always have their phones with them,” Bloom said. “One student told us that she really liked the app because it provided strategies she could use immediately to help herself or a friend. In abusive situations, there are many factors to consider. The My Plan app gives students tools to examine their relationships, set their priorities and privately access resources when they are ready.”Previous research shows that, across all socioeconomic backgrounds, millennials comprise the age group most likely to own smartphones, and many smartphone users access health information using their mobile devices. Bloom says the free app is filled with helpful features, including:Information on healthy relationship dynamics, common relationship violence myths and potential behavioral red flags. Sample scripts for approaching friends who are possibly in dangerous relationships. …

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DIY Reading Nook: how to turn your wagon into a reading corner

Remember that awesome Touring Wagon we got from Step2 (as a Test Drive Blogger)? It has been wonderful all summer for walks around the neighborhood, to the park, and even this fall at the apple orchard. Well, in the Midwest, fall brings cold weather and winter brings lots of snow. Wagons and other outdoor ride-on toys are stored away in the garage or basement until the season is over.But not our Step2 wagon! We love it too much and I thought I’d get creative with ways to use it inside. We had used it as a toy bin, storage for the kids’ stuffed animals, and just an indoor wagon (Ryan likes to give his little sister rides)… I wanted to turn it into something awesome. …

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Red delicious or wolf apple? Brazilian savanna fruits high in antioxidants

Aug. 22, 2013 — Native Brazilian fruits grown in arid climates and poor soil have similar antioxidant activity to conventionally grown Red Delicious apples, according to research published August 21 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Sandra Fernandes Arruda from the University of Brazil and colleagues from other institutions.Share This:Twelve fruit species grown on the Cerrado, a savanna with acidic soils, were compared to conventional Red Delicious apples purchased at local markets; the researchers found that several of these native species had higher proportions of bioactive compounds and pigments than the apples. The proportion of these compounds correlated with antioxidant properties of the fruit extracts when experimentally tested. Based on these results, the authors conclude that native fruits grown in sub-optimal conditions can confer similar nutritional benefits to apples, which are considered among the most antioxidant-rich foods.The fruits studied here include indigenous species such as lobeira, also called ‘wolf apple’, tucum, a variety of palm, and other fruits which grow in the arid climate and poor soil of the Cerrado. Though commonly consumed fruits like apples or strawberries have been extensively studied for their chemical constituents, the nutritional benefits of fruits grown in such conditions are not well-known. The authors conclude, “Such fruits can provide a source of new bioactive compounds with functional properties beneficial to health, which should stimulate the pharmaceutical and food industries for the development of new products, promoting the sustainable development of regions with the characteristics of the Cerrado.”Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:|Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above. Journal Reference:Egle Machado de Almeida Siqueira, Fernanda Ribeiro Rosa, Adriana Medeiros Fustinoni, Lívia Pimentel de Sant’Ana, Sandra Fernandes Arruda. Brazilian Savanna Fruits Contain Higher Bioactive Compounds Content and Higher Antioxidant Activity Relative to the Conventional Red Delicious Apple. …

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Tidy desk or messy desk? Each has its benefits

Aug. 6, 2013 — Working at a clean and prim desk may promote healthy eating, generosity, and conventionality, according to new research. But, the research also shows that a messy desk may confer its own benefits, promoting creative thinking and stimulating new ideas.The new studies, conducted by psychological scientist Kathleen Vohs and her fellow researchers at the University of Minnesota are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.”Prior work has found that a clean setting leads people to do good things: Not engage in crime, not litter, and show more generosity,” Vohs explains. “We found, however, that you can get really valuable outcomes from being in a messy setting.”In the first of several experiments, participants were asked to fill out some questionnaires in an office. Some completed the task in a clean and orderly office, while others did so in an unkempt one — papers were strewn about, and office supplies were cluttered here and there.Afterward, the participants were presented with the opportunity to donate to a charity, and they were allowed to take a snack of chocolate or an apple on their way out.Being in a clean room seemed to encourage people to do what was expected of them, Vohs explains. Compared with participants in the messy room, they donated more of their own money to charity and were more likely to choose the apple over the candy bar.But the researchers hypothesized that messiness might have its virtues as well. In another experiment, participants were asked to come up with new uses for ping pong balls.Overall, participants in the messy room generated the same number of ideas for new uses as their clean-room counterparts. But their ideas were rated as more interesting and creative when evaluated by impartial judges.”Being in a messy room led to something that firms, industries, and societies want more of: Creativity,” says Vohs.The researchers also found that when participants were given a choice between a new product and an established one, those in the messy room were more likely to prefer the novel one — a signal that being in a disorderly environment stimulates a release from conventionality. Whereas participants in a tidy room preferred the established product over the new one.”Disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights,” Vohs concludes. “Orderly environments, in contrast, encourage convention and playing it safe.”Surprisingly, the specific physical location didn’t seem to matter: “We used 6 different locations in our paper — the specifics of the rooms were not important. …

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New apple varieties: Ladies and gentlemen, get ready to taste SnapDragon and RubyFrost

Aug. 1, 2013 — After years of development and consumer testing as “NY1” and “NY2″ Cornell University and New York Apple Growers have given the hottest new apples in the Empire State names worthy of their unique assets: SnapDragon and RubyFrost.The names were revealed this afternoon by Jeff Crist, vice chairman of the NYAG board of directors, at the annual Fruit Field Days at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, where Cornell breeder and Horticulture Professor Susan Brown developed the varieties.”SnapDragon is a great name for this apple because consumers found its crispy texture and sweet flavor so appealing,” said Mark Russell, an apple grower and NYAG member. SnapDragon, formerly NY1, gets its juicy crispness from its Honeycrisp parent, and it has a spicy-sweet flavor that was a big hit with taste testers. Russell anticipates it will be a popular apple for snacking, especially for children.Brown said she recognized its promise and fast-tracked it for commercialization. “I remember my very first bite of SnapDragon. The taste, the crispness and the juiciness impressed us,” Brown said. “Retailers will appreciate its other qualities as well, because although SnapDragon’s harvest window starts relatively early — in late September — its long storage and shelf life means retailers may be able to offer it with consistent quality for a longer time than Honeycrisp.”RubyFrost, formerly NY2, which ripens later in the fall and stores well, will provide a boost of vitamin C well into winter. Brown expects it will be popular with fans of Empire and Granny Smith.”I think juicy and refreshing when I eat a RubyFrost,” Russell said. “It’s a fascinating apple, with a beautiful skin and a nice sugar-acid balance, but to me the crisp juiciness is rewarding every time.”The two varieties have been a decade in the making, and how they’ve gone to market is a first for the Cornell apple-breeding program and the New York apple industry. Historically, public universities developed new apple breeds and released them to the industry freely. …

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Detection of apple juices and cereals which exceed permitted levels of mycotoxins

June 7, 2013 — Researchers from the University of Granada (Spain) have analysed the presence of patulin, a type of toxin produced by fungi, in several commercial apple juices. The results show that more than 50% of the samples analysed exceed the maximum limits laid down by law. They have also discovered a sample of rice with more mycotoxins than permitted. For their part, researchers from the University of Valencia have also found these harmful substances in beers, cereals and products made from them, such as gofio flour.They are not very well known, but mycotoxins top the list of the most widespread natural contaminants in foodstuffs at the global level. They are toxic and carcinogenic substances produced by fungi, which reach the food chain through plants and their fruit. Now new analytical techniques developed in universities such as Granada and Valencia (Spain) show that some foodstuffs exceed permitted levels of these harmful compounds.Researchers from the University of Granada (UGR) have used their own method of ‘microextraction and capillary electrophoresis’ to analyse concentrations of a kind of mycotoxins, patulin, in 19 batches of eight brands of commercial apple juice. They differentiated between conventional juice, organic juice and juice designed specifically for children.”The results show that more than 50% of the samples analysed exceeded the maximum contents laid down by European law,” as explained by Monsalud del Olmo, co-author of the study, which is published this month in the magazine ‘Food Control’.The maximum levels of patulin established by the EU are 50 micrograms per kilogram of product (μg/kg) for fruit juices and nectars, 25 μg/kg for compotes and other solid apple products and 10 μg/kg if those foodstuffs are aimed at breast-fed babies and young children.However, some samples of conventional apple juices had as much as 114.4 μg/kg, and one batch labelled as baby food had 162.2 μg/kg, more than 15 times the legal limit.Patulin is produced by several species of fungi of the Penicillium, Aspergillus and Byssochylamys varieties, which are found naturally in fruit, mainly apples. They are transferred to juices during processing because of their solubility in water and stability.The neurotoxic, immunotoxic and mutagenic effects of this substance have been confirmed in animal models. “Even then, it is not one of the most dangerous mycotoxins for health and it is included in group 3 within the categories laid down by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC),” Monsalud del Olmo pointed out.This WHO agency classifies mycotoxins and other compounds in four groups according to their carcinogenic potential for humans: 1 (carcinogenic), 2 (probably or possibly carcinogenic), 3 (not classifiable as carcinogenic, although it has not been proven that it is not) and 4 (probably not carcinogenic).Some mycotoxins, such as aflatoxins, are in group 1 and can be found in dry fruit, such as peanuts and pistachios, and cereals. UGR scientists have also detected concentrations of this compound above the permitted levels in a sample of rice, and they have already informed the relevant authorities of this.Other toxins from fungi, such as fumonisins and ochratoxins, are also included in group 2. …

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