During one week in 1946 British Scientists recorded every birth in England and followed those people, as far as possible, until 2016. It is the single largest and longest study of happiness, health and social circumstances every undertaken. Known as the Birth Cohort Studies, the results have shaped how we think about every aspect of our lives all over the world.
So what were the key findings that were so life changing? Some are obvious now, but revolutionary at the time, for example the link between pregnant women smoking and birth weight, the effects of obesity on the heart, smoking and lung cancer. Others were not so obvious and the list of top ten key predictors of life time happiness and health does contain some surprises.
At the Good Life, we take health seriously and all of these key findings from the Birth Cohort Studies are basic tenets of our life here. Aristotle defined happiness in similar terms more than two thousand years ago.
Here are the key findings from the Birth Cohort Studies;
- Don’t smoke – never if you are pregnant or at any time for better health outcomes all round
- Read to your children – overall improvement in all learning will ensue
- Breed contentment – give children a warm, non-hostile environment for the future happiness of a growing child
- Stick to bedtimes – it promotes good behavior and easy adaption to society
- Exercise and don’t get too thin or too fat – both are damaging
- Avoid arguments in the home – a toxic home atmosphere is worse than divorce for children and adults
- Avoid divorce – there can be bad outcomes for children, but divorce is preferable to a toxic home life
- Babies are safest sleeping on their back
- Class still counts – social mobility is falling, and lower social class is a predictor of high blood pressure in later life
- Air pollution is lethal – fog, diesel fumes, city pollutants give life long lung problems
- Mothers must eat well and often, iodine deficiency caused by diets low in seafood and dairy lowers childrens IQ
By Elspeth Geronimos