Op-ed: Controversy over India’s COVID-19 mortality rate illuminates need to address “holes” in mortality statistics and death registration data

Head shot of Aashish Gupta

Harvard Bell Fellow Aashish Gupta, along with his colleagues Murad Banaji and Vipul Paikra, have published an op-ed in The Indian Forum that points out how increased global attention on India’s COVID-19 mortality statistics could ultimately help to illuminate and potentially improve the underlying unreliability of mortality statistics and death registration data in India.

A look at alcohol use among youth taking alcohol-interactive medications

 Elissa Weitzman, ScD, Harvard Pop Center faculty member and associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, is an author on a study that found that youth with chronic medical conditions who take medications that can interact negatively with alcohol (AI medications) were less likely to consume alcohol than their peers not taking AI medications. The study suggests that interventions aimed at increasing awareness of the risks of consuming alcohol…

Using cash transfers to reduce HIV risk in young South African women

Bell Fellows Molly Rosenberg and Xavier Gomez-Olives have contributed to a paper looking at a phase III, individually randomized trial to assess the effect of a conditional cash transfer on HIV acquisition among South African young women. The study has found that interventions like cash transfers that address structural factors such as schooling and poverty have the potential to reduce HIV risk in young women in South Africa. The paper’s…

Amount of crime perceived and reported by adolescents is connected to their BMI and activity levels

Ann Forsyth was recently lead author on a paper titled “Perceived and Police-Reported Neighborhood Crime: Linkages to Adolescent Activity Behaviors and Weight Status.” Published in Journal of Adolescent Health, the study addressed the relationships of perceived and objective reports of neighborhood crime to adolescent physical activity, screen media use, and BMI. BMI was positively associated with perceived crime among girls, reported crime in girls, and perceived crime in boys.

Kawachi on link between neighborhood social capital and participation in health checks

Ichiro Kawachi recently published a study in BMC Public Health revealing that higher level of neighborhood social capital was associated with higher probability of participating in the health check phase of a population-based lifestyle intervention, suggesting that activating social relations in the community may be an avenue for boosting participation rates in population-based health checks.

The protective effect of education for cohorts graduating in bad times

Timing is everything. A study by David Cutler confirms that graduates who enter the labor market during bad economic times experience lower income, lower life satisfaction, greater obesity, more smoking and drinking later in life. The study also noted that education plays a protective role for these outcomes, as educated individuals, even when entering the market at times of high unemployment, have a much lower incidence of these outcomes than their…

Being Socially Well-Integrated Reduces Risk of Suicide

A 24-year prospective cohort study authored by Harvard RWJF Health & Societies Scholar Program Alum Alexander Tsai and Harvard Pop Center affiliated faculty member Ichiro Kawachi indicates that middle-aged men who are well-integrated socially have more than a 2-fold reduced risk for suicide. Being married, having a larger social network, and attending religious services on a regular basis showed the strongest protective associations. This study was published online July 14…