Health tips — March 2014

Studies say stress eaters can keep on munching, but everyone should be mindful of the germs that lurk in office spaces

Snack to serenity

People who eat when they are stressed should go ahead and indulge. According to a study in Psychological Science, stress-eaters (munchers) are no more likely to be overweight than those who lose their appetites when anxieties rise (skippers). The study found that when faced with negative feedback — or social stress — munchers ate, on average, about 120 calories more than the skippers. When faced with positive feedback, however, the munchers ate 74 calories less than the skippers.

Where the germs are

One of the best ways to stay healthy is to avoid exposure to illness-causing microbes. Problem is, it's not always obvious where dangerous bacteria might be lurking. A study of six major US cities by Kimberly-Clark, maker of personal hygiene products including Kleenex, measured the contamination levels of surfaces at work and other locations, with surprising results. The germiest spot at the office was the break room, and the average desk, where many eat lunch, had nearly 21,000 germs per square inch. Sinks and microwave door handles were the dirtiest surfaces touched by workers on a daily basis, and high levels of contamination were found on keyboards and water-fountain and vending-machine buttons.