More evidence UK kids are not very happy

119460-117532Eight-year-old children in the UK are less happy than those in Romania, Poland, Turkey and Algeria.

That’s according to a survey by the University of York which produced a report “Children’s Words

England came 13th out of 16 countries surveyed ahead of Nepal, South Korea and Ethiopia. Britain came in the bottom half of the ranking on many issues with body image and school life the main areas for concern. (For which you can probably blame social media, selfies and self-obsession)

The three most positive aspects were family, health, and safety but we didn’t rate higher than eighth on any of the issues which included friendship, personal well-being, and possessions.

The co-author of the survey report, Professor Jonathan Bradshaw, thought it was due to “the balance between the high levels of attainment and the social environment in schools. …with our push to raise our children’s attainments

Well with all due respect professor we don’t have high levels of attainment do we? We rank in the bottom handful of countries in the OECD on literacy and numeracy. All these A* awards and 1st class honours degrees are just smoke and mirrors caused by grade inflation (at all levels in the education system) used as a marketing ploy to boost league tables and attract students.

Northwest of England has some of the best places to have a family

The best place to start a family in England and Wales is Bollington, near Macclesfield in Cheshire.

The best place to bring up a family is also in Cheshire in a village near Warrington called Higher Whitley.

That’s according to a survey and report by based on information about population density, schools. nurseries & childcare providers, and crime rates.

For example, Bollington boasts four primary schools and good quality childcare (and a decent sandwich shop which I know from personal experience).

It shares with Higher Whitley green space, low crime and activities for growing children.

The survey showed a clear North-South divide with few places in southeast England’s commuter belt in the top 100. When it comes to starting a family eight of the tope ten places were north of the Midlands.

Best places to start a family

  1. pregnant_woman_looking_at_belly_1600_wht_14393Bollington, Cheshire
  2. Mapperley, Nottinghamshire
  3. Packington, Leicestershire
  4. Chorley, Lancashire
  5. Delph, Greater Manchester

Best places to bring up a family

  1. stick_figure_family_portrait_1600_wht_2962Higher Whitley, Cheshire
  2. Durley, Hampshire
  3. Brentwood, Essex
  4. Croxley Green, Herfordshire
  5. Altrincham, Greater Manchester

Places like Tunbridge Wells, often considered a desirable location, is let down by its schools; Redgate has good schools but lacks amenities, and Stratford-on-Avon is let down by a lack of childcare.

According to a Bank of Scotland survey Orkney is the best place to bring up a family. A bit extreme living there I would have thought

Japan has problems with ageing population

japan_peg_figure_1600_wht_12106Japan is experiencing  a surge in crime among the elderly population. These geriatric delinquents steal, fight, and occasionally murder people.

Juvenile crime fell by 15% during the first half of this year but offences by the elderly rose 3%.

It has been called Japan’s tsunami. A quarter of Japanese are over 65 and 15% of them suffer from dementia. On top of that the birth rate is in decline so  if things continue in this way there won’t be enough younger people in work to pay taxes and support the increasing proportion of elderly people.

Japan has one of the lowest levels of crime in the world but older people are more likely to commit theft, including shoplifting, often because of poverty and out of desperation.

Murders are committed by elderly careers driven to desperation by a chronically ill spouse.

Tamano Tsujikawa, a lawyer and member of a committee on elderly people at the Japan Bar Association says “Behind this increase in crimes by elderly people lies hardship in daily living. Society’s safety net is broken.

In the old days elderly people were supported by younger generations. That family function has gone and forced old people to live alone. And the environment surrounding such people is getting worse because of economic stagnation and a society that neglects its weaker members.”

A 71-year old man who committed suicide by setting himself alight on a train after struggling to make ends meet had said to his sister shorty beforehand. “Do they just want us old ones to drop dead quickly?

I’ve posted about this problem before and it’s not going away.

Your face gives away your lifestyle and hides your real age

P1020307If you’re married, have fewer than four children, and come from a higher social class – you probably look younger than you actually are.

If you have lost a significant amount of weight, fallen down the social ladder, or are living as a lonely singleton – then you probably look older.

The combination of lifestyle, medical history and diet has a measurable impact on how your looks age.

Generally speaking a youthful face is an accurate indicator of good health (as is how energetically you walk).

Marriage is more beneficial for a woman knocking almost two years off her age (and if she moves up the social ladder she can look four years younger – and the same applies to men).

For men marriage generally only knocks off one year but having one to three children makes a man look a year younger while it makes no difference to a woman.

These benefits disappear in families with four children.

Looking chubbier as you get older helps men look younger as it smooths out the wrinkles. Adding 2 points to your body mass index (bmi) will take of a year whereas a woman would have to add 7 points to her bmi to get the same effect.

An affluent married man with no more than three children will took ten years younger than someone who is homeless, single and has lost weight (2 points off his bmi).

All the factors combined can lead to people in their 40s looking up to seven years younger than their contemporaries.

Public Health scientists at the Danish twin registry led the study to be published in the journal Age and Ageing.

They asked nurses to guess the ages of almost 2,000 identical and non-identical twins in their seventies. They then looked at environmental factors including marriage, parenthood and social class. Previous studies have shown that non-genetic factors account for 40% of the variation in perceived age.

The effects of heavy smoking are relatively  modest. You would have to smoke 20 a day for 20 years to gain extra wrinkles and tobacco smoke only causes half that damage to women’s skin.

However heavy drinking can add a year to both sexes as can diabetes, chronic asthma or the regular use of painkillers.

Excessive exposure to sunlight had no effect on the perception of men’s ages but added over a year to women’s faces by the time they reached seventy.

Depression makes women look a lot older than men. Almost 4 extra years compared with 2.4 for men.

One of the researchers, Dr Kaare Christensen, said “It is a lot more dangerous looking one year older than one year younger”. If you are not depressed, not lonely, not a smoker, and not too skinny, you are basically doing well”.

Dr Chris Philipson, professor of social gerontology at Keele University says “diet and exercise are crucial factors. You can do an awful lot over the age of 40 to 50 to change the way you experience growing old“.

My most popular posts in 2014

100%Once again those kind people at WordPress provide me with all kinds of statistics about my blog. 

Last year I published 168 new posts all with at least one picture on this blog. Not all my own work to be sure so thanks to those wonderful bloggers whose posts I re-blogged.

This blog is followed in 96 countries, mostly in the UK, the USA, Spain and the Philippines but with a small number of readers from African nations including Ethiopia, Qatar, and Iceland.

My ten most popular posts in 2014 were:

  1. Do you have a technical mind – top for the second year running and first published in January 2013
  2. Health predictors? Use your tape measure – published in May 2013
  3. Tough Mudder 2014 in Yorkshire – published in August 2014
  4. Everybody’s walking – published in September 2014
  5. Simple tests to predict your life expectancy – published in May 2014
  6. Dementia sufferers told to live dangerously – published in July 2014
  7. Don’t stress about Xmas – published in December 2014 but updated from 2011
  8. Burnley FC dreams become a harsh reality – published in August 2014
  9. Fun with screen printing – second favourite last year and first published in August 2013
  10. Scottish children laziest in the world – published in May 2014 jointly with Glasgow visit for Foodies – joint 10th place and reblogged from KindaDukish in May 2014

So thank you for reading and following and I look forward to another year of finding interesting and relevant topics for you.

The posts you liked in 2013

Priorities for over-50s

stick_figure_blue_family_umbrella_1600_wht_1884Forget Botox and blue rinses. The new over-50s say they feel better than ever and don’t care what people think.

A quarter of them say they feel at least 10 years younger than their real age.

They were asked by, a lifestyle website for over-50s about their priorities.

They listed the most important things as:

  1. Financial security
  2. Good health
  3. Seeing their grandchildren growing up
  4. Avoiding stress
  5. Happiness
  6. Family Time
  7. Fulfilment
  8. Travelling
  9. Seeing children happily married
  10. Helping children buy their own home

The results suggest that as people get older they become more confident and stop worrying about things they can’t change.

More than a third said their spouse was the most important person in their lives and almost a half said they felt younger than their parents felt at the same age.