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China’s new mental health law, ‘irreversible’ obesity and two minutes of exercise to burn 200 calories

Broody women should lie back and think about being on a beach, says the Telegraph this morning, after Israeli researchers found women that took part in stress management therapy significantly increased their chances of pregnancy.

In a small study of women undergoing IVF, 88 per cent who committed to a ‘talking cure’ therapy programme such as cognitive behavioural therapy became pregnant, compared to just 60 per cent who did not receive the therapy.

Some of the sessions involved breathing exercises, muscle relaxation and ‘guided imagery’ techniques such as imagining oneself in a relaxing place, such as lying on a beach.

The paper also featured a plea from Professor Louise Howard, head of women’s mental health at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London that pregnant women should not be discouraged from taking anti-depressants, as they are often their only option in managing their condition. 

The Guardian brings us the welcome news of new legislation in China which prevents people from being held and treated in mental health institutions against their will- a practice that induced public outrage as it was often used to silence government critics.

The new law states that mental health examinations and treatments must be conducted on a voluntary basis, unless the person is considered a danger to himself or others. Only psychiatrists will now have the authority to send people for treatment, though the police can recommend an individual for diagnosis.

In the past, activists report cases of people being forced into mental hospitals by employers with whom they had wage disputes, family members in fights over money, and after making complaints about the police.

Over at the Daily Mail today you’ll find some good and bad news for those trying to lose weight.

A study found that being obese can reset your ‘normal’ body weight to an elevated level, meaning the longer you remain overweight the more irreversible it becomes.

Tests on mice found that those that were obese found it difficult to lose weight even after dieting and taking part in strenuous activity. The longer they remained overweight, the more likely their condition would become irreversible, and the harder it was to lose weight.

Study author Dr Malcolm Low, from the University of Michigan said the results emphasise that intervention in childhood is crucial, as losing weight as an obese adult is much more difficult.

He said: ‘Our model demonstrates that obesity is in part a self-perpetuating disorder and the results further emphasise the importance of early intervention in childhood to try to prevent the condition whose effects can last a lifetime.

‘Our new animal model will be useful in pinpointing the reasons why most adults find it exceedingly difficult to maintain meaningful weight loss from dieting and exercise alone.’

But it’s not all doom and gloom because the Mail also featured an American study which found that only two and a half minutes of intense exercise a day can make you slim, leaving few excuses for those who claim they are too busy for the gym.

The study from Colorado State University found that men who carried out four 30 high intensity sprints on an exercise bike, each sprint followed by four minutes of recovery, burnt almost 200 extra calories.

The news comes with the caveat that three quarters of British adults are failing to meet the recommended guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate exercise three times a week.