Monday, April 11, 2011

Shopping and Health

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Shopping 'may improve health'

By Helen Briggs
Health reporter, BBC News

Shopping prolongs life, at least for the over 65s in Taiwan, according to research.

Even after adjusting for factors like physical and mental infirmity, men and women who shopped daily lived longer than those who shunned retail therapy, say scientists.

The data

  • Taiwanese researchers studied 1,850 people aged 65 plus
  • All were living independently at home
  • During a survey in 1999-2000 they were asked how often they went shopping
  • The team tracked how long they lived by linking individuals to national death registries between 1999 and 2008
  • Those who shopped daily were 27% less likely to die than those who shopped infrequently, with the biggest effect seen in men

Shopping may provide companionship, exercise and an opportunity to maintain a healthy diet, they report in the Journal of Epidemiology Community Health.

A leading UK expert said the findings "made sense" since shopping involves physical activity, social interaction and keeping mentally active.

In the study, published online in the academic journal, researchers led by Dr Yu-Hung Chang of the Institute of Population Health Sciences, Taiwan, studied nearly 2,000 men and women aged 65 and over who lived in their own homes.

They found those who shopped regularly lived longer than those who shopped just once a week or less, even after adjusting for factors such as physical limitations and cognitive decline.

They acknowledge that shopping could be a marker for those in good health to begin with, but suggest shopping itself may improve health.

"Shopping is often for pleasure with the potential to increase psychological wellbeing," they conclude.

"Compared to other types of leisure-time physical activity, like formal exercise, which usually requires motivation and sometimes professional instruction, shopping activity is easier to undertake and maintain."

David Oliver, visiting professor of medicine for older people at City University, London, said the findings "made sense".

He told the BBC: "What the Taiwanese researchers have shown is that continuing to shop is independently predictive of better well-being and longer life.

"Shopping is going to involve physical activity, social interaction with other shoppers and because it's quite a complex task it's going to keep you mentally active.

"It makes sense that it would be a predictor of better physical and psychological well-being."

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