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Brits Get Health-Wise in Late 30s, Survey Says

When we’re young, we like to think our bodies are invincible, and it’s easy to take our health for granted.

And according to a OnePoll survey for health insurance company Bupa, Brits don’t start taking their health seriously until they’re almost 40 years old.

A survey of 2,000 adults in the UK asked, “At what age did you start taking your health seriously?” The average age given by respondents was 38.

When asked what it was that made them start prioritizing their health, some people said it was after reaching a milestone age, like 35 or 40.

Others said it was after they started feeling the aches and pains that come with age.

And others said they started taking their health more seriously after a friend or family member passed away, or after having a health scare themselves.

Looking back, 84% of respondents admitted they didn’t take their health seriously when they were younger, and almost 40% said they wished they had started taking care of their health earlier.

Around a third of respondents also said they felt they drank too much when they were younger, had a bad diet or felt stressed often.

When asked why they hadn’t taken their health seriously, almost half of respondents said it was because they had felt generally fine. Another 36% believed they had been too young to worry about it, and a quarter of respondents had thought nothing bad would happen to them.

But health experts say it’s never too early — or too late — to start taking care of yourself.

1. Summarize the content of the article.

2. What are your thoughts on the survey’s findings?

3. Do you find it surprising that Brits don’t start taking their health seriously until their late-30s?

4. Why do you think young people feel invincible when it comes to their health?

5. If you could go back in time 10 years, is there anything you’d change about your lifestyle back then?

6. Have you taken up any healthy habits in recent years?

7. Are there any healthy habits you wish you’d started earlier?

8. Who are the most health-conscious people you know?

9. What do you think is the key to a long and healthy life?

10. Happiness lies first of all in health. — George William Curtis. What are your thoughts on this quote?


Fuji Climbers to Pay $13 Fee from Summer 2024

From this summer, climbers who want to go to the top of Mount Fuji by the most popular trail in Yamanashi prefecture will have to pay a fee of 2,000 yen — around $13.

Yamanashi’s prefectural government hopes that charging a fee will help decrease overcrowding on the mountain, and plans to use the money to pay for safety measures.

An increase in visitor numbers in recent years has brought human traffic jams to the mountain trails.

There has also been an increase in unsafe climbing practices, such as “bullet climbing” — trying to climb the mountain too quickly without resting in one of the mountain huts.

Announcing the new fee at a press conference, Yamanashi Governor Kotaro Nagasaki said, “Keeping the number of climbers in check is an urgent task as we observe overcrowding.”

The new fee will be collected at Yamanashi’s Yoshida Trail, and will be on top of a voluntary fee of 1,000 yen — just under $7 — that climbers are already asked to pay to help look after the mountain.

However, some people who work in the local tourist industry have said the 3,000-yen total might be too expensive.

Shizuoka prefecture has three trails going up the mountain, at which climbers are also asked for a 1,000-yen voluntary fee. But the prefecture has no plans to charge any extra fees.

Yamanashi prefecture has also announced plans to prevent bullet climbing by closing the Yoshida Trail at the mountain’s fifth station between 4 p.m. and 3 a.m. to climbers who have not booked a stay in one of the mountain huts.

Climbing season on Mount Fuji usually lasts from July to early September. According to the Ministry of the Environment, over 221,000 people climbed the mountain last summer.

1. Summarize the content of the article.

2. What are your thoughts on Mount Fuji’s new fee?

3. Do you think a total fee of $20 for the Yoshida Trail is reasonable?

4. Have you been to Mount Fuji? If so, did you climb to the top? If not, would you like to visit someday?

5. What are some of your country’s most popular natural tourist attractions?

6. Have you ever experienced overcrowding at an attraction or destination?

7. Are you into hiking? What’s the coolest trail you’ve hiked?

8. What are the best places to go hiking where you live?

9. What are your favorite ways to spend time outdoors?

10. Are there any outdoor activities you’d like to try?

11. What natural wonders or places are on your must-see list?


2 Million Foreign Workers in Japan for First Time

At the end of October 2023, there were more than 2 million foreign workers in Japan, according to government data.

It was the first time that the number of foreign workers has been above 2 million.

The new record number — of 2,048,675 — was an increase of more than 12% from 2022. The number has now increased every year since 2013.

Many companies need foreign workers because of labor shortages in Japan. And more than 318,000 companies now have foreign workers.

About a quarter of these workers are from Vietnam, while almost 20% are from China. There are also a lot of workers from the Philippines and Nepal.

One of the reasons for the increase has been the large numbers of people arriving as “technical interns.”

Technical interns come to the country for between one year and five years and often work in low-paid jobs.

Japan says that the idea is for workers to learn skills that they can use in their home countries, but some have said that the program should be stopped.

Thousands of these workers have gone missing before the end of their contracts, and according to Japan’s immigration agency this may be because of poor working conditions.

Most of the foreign workers are in Tokyo and more than 60% of the foreign workers across the country are working for companies with 30 employees or fewer.

1. Summarize the content of the article.

2. What are your thoughts on the increase in foreign workers in Japan?

3. Do you expect the number of foreign workers to continue to increase in Japan over the next 10 years?

4. Do you know many foreigners who have moved to your country for work?

5. Is your industry experiencing a labor shortage?

6. What industries in your country are struggling to find workers?

7. Have you ever lived and worked overseas?

9. What countries would you consider moving to for work?

10. Have any of your friends or family moved abroad for work? Where did they go?

11. What do you imagine makes people want to move to your country?

12. What do you imagine immigrants find hard to get used to about your country?


Do Plastic Bag Bans Actually Work? Researchers Say Yes

The impact of plastic bags on the environment is well known. They are polluting, they’re harmful to sea life, and they are not biodegradable — meaning they remain on our planet for many years after use.

And single-use plastic bags are particularly damaging to the environment because they are made from fossil fuels.

Over the past 20 years, several countries have introduced laws either banning or limiting the use of plastic bags in shops and other places.

But do these bans actually work?

Well, in just five US states and cities, they save billions of plastic bags per year, according to research by three American environmental groups.

Bans in New Jersey, Vermont, Philadelphia, Portland and Santa Barbara — which cover more than 12 million people — have reduced the use of single-use plastic bags by 6 billion bags a year.

The researchers say this is enough bags to go around the Earth 42 times.

And other bans have reduced plastic bag pollution in some cities and states by at least one third, according to the report.

However, there’s more that can be done, the researchers said, explaining that “loopholes” make certain bans less effective.

For example, some places ban single-use plastic bags, but still allow shoppers to buy thicker “reusable” plastic bags, which still add to plastic waste.

And while paper bags are more environmentally friendly, using them for every trip to the grocery store is very wasteful. Stores should be required to charge at least 10 cents for these bags, the researchers said, as a way of encouraging people to bring their own bags from home.

“The bottom line is that plastic bag bans work,” said Faye Park of the US Public Interest Research Group Education Fund, one of the groups that prepared the report. “People realize quickly it’s easy to live without plastic bags and get used to bringing a bag from home or skipping a bag when they can.”

1. Summarize the content of the article.

2. What are your thoughts on the researchers’ findings?

3. Are single-use plastic bags allowed in your country?

4. Do you use reusable bags when you shop?

5. Do you think plastic bags should be banned everywhere?

6. What single-use items do you think should be banned?

7. What single-use plastic items do you think you could live without?

8. Have you taken any steps to reduce how much single-use plastic you use?

9. Has your government taken any steps to reduce plastic waste?

10. In your opinion, who should be responsible for reducing plastic waste?

11. Do you expect the issue of plastic waste to improve over your lifetime?


Anxiety Has Kept 28% of UK Children Away from School

Many children in the UK are missing school because they feel too anxious, according to a new survey.

Research by stem4, a mental health charity for young people, found that 28% of children aged between 12 and 18 had missed school in the last year because of anxiety.

There is “an epidemic of unhappiness that is keeping children away from the classroom,” said one politician.

The charity is asking the government, the health service and schools to do more to help pupils with their mental health.

More than 1,000 young people were surveyed, and almost half said that they were suffering from a mental health difficulty.

Experts say that the problems have gotten worse since the coronavirus pandemic.

At the moment, 38% of schools in England have a mental health support team.

But the government has said that it wants to increase that to at least 50% by the end of March 2025, as well as training teachers and giving more money to the health service.

However, the survey also found that it is not only mental health that is keeping children away from school.

Almost a quarter of children aged between 12 and 18 have missed school because of family problems, while 18% have stayed away because of problems with friends or other pupils.

The stress of exams was also given as a reason for missing school.

Nihara Krause, the founder of stem4, said that spending a lot of time away from school can have long-lasting negative effects on children.

1. Summarize the content of the article.

2. What are your thoughts on stem4’s findings?

3. Do you find it surprising that half of participants said they were suffering from a mental health problem?

4. Why do you think anxiety among young people increased after the pandemic?

5. Do most schools in your country have a mental health support team?

6. Has your government taken any recent steps to improve mental health among young people?

7. Did you have any classmates who often missed school?

8. What did you find most stressful about school?

9. What were your least favorite things about going to school?

10. Was bullying a big problem when you were a student?

11. Who were the most supportive teachers at your school?


US Workers Spend a Quarter of Average Work Day Bored

Shopping online, scrolling through social media and chatting to friends — that’s just another normal day at the office, according to a new survey!

You probably aren’t surprised to hear that workers spend some of their days doing these things instead of working. Maybe you do some of them yourself!

And the survey, of around 1,000 workers, found that the reason people are doing all these things is because many of them are bored at work.

That’s right — the survey, which was done by a card-playing website called Solitaire Bliss, found that Americans are bored for a quarter of their average day at work.

More than a third said they’ve found their job boring for years, and about the same number said they get bored at work several times a day.

Americans said there were a number of different reasons why they get bored. The most common answer was a lack of motivation, while many just said the work they’re doing isn’t very interesting.

Others reported their work is too easy or there isn’t enough to do.

But more than 40% said if they told their bosses they were bored, they’d be given more work to do.

About one in three people enjoy being bored, according to the survey. Some experts say being bored at work gives us time to reflect or even to be creative.

However, others say that feeling bored for a long time can cause stress and depression.

1. Summarize the content of the article.

2. What are your thoughts on the survey’s findings?

3. How often do you feel bored at work?

4. Do you ever find your work too easy?

5. When was the last time you felt you didn’t have enough to do at work?

6. Do you find it surprising that one in three people enjoy being bored at work?

7. When are you most productive at work? Why do you think that is?

8.Which of your tasks at work require the most concentration?

9. What would you say is the most tiring thing about your job?

10. How often do you take breaks at work?

11. What would you like to change about your job?


Paying More for Less: What is ‘Shrinkflation?’

From toilet paper to yogurt and coffee, manufacturers are shrinking package sizes without lowering prices. This is called “shrinkflation,” and it’s happening all over the world.

In the US, for example, a small box of Kleenex now has 60 tissues; a few months ago, it had 65. In the UK, Nestle reduced its Nescafe Azera Americano coffee tins from 100 grams to 90 grams. In India, a bar of Vim soap has shrunk from 155 grams to 135 grams.

Shrinkflation isn’t new. But it increases in times of high inflation as companies struggle with rising costs for materials, packaging, labor and transportation.

Global consumer price inflation was up an estimated 7% in May, a rate that will likely continue until September, according to S&P Global.

Edgar Dworsky, who documents shrinkflation on his Consumer World website, said shrinkflation appeals to manufacturers because they know customers will notice price increases but not changes in weight or small details.

Companies also do things that draw attention away from the size reduction, like putting bright new labels on smaller packages.

Some companies are straightforward about the changes. In Japan, snack company Calbee Inc. announced 10% weight reductions — and 10% price increases — for many of its products. The company blamed a sharp rise in the cost of materials.

In India, “down-switching” — another word for shrinkflation — is mostly done in rural areas, where people are poorer, said Byas Anand, who works for Dabur India, a consumer care and food business. In cities, companies simply increase the prices.

Sometimes the trend can reverse. As inflation decreases, manufacturers might lower their prices because of competition. But Dworsky says once a product has gotten smaller, it often stays that way, and “upsizing” is rare.

Hitendra Chaturvedi, a professor of supply chain management at Arizona State University’s WP Carey School of Business, said he has no doubt many companies are struggling with labor shortages and higher material costs. But in some cases, companies’ profits are also increasing massively, which he said is troubling.

1.Summarize the content of the article.

2. What are your thoughts on shrinkflation?

3. Have you noticed any products that are smaller now than they used to be?

4. What products have seen the biggest price increases in your country recently?

5. Have your shopping habits changed since the start of the pandemic?

6. When was the last time your country went through a period of high inflation?

7. What areas of your country’s economy did COVID-19 impact the most?

8. Has your company made any changes to its products or services in recent months?

9. How has the industry you work in been affected by the pandemic?

10. What industries in your country do you imagine benefitted from the pandemic?

11. When do you expect the economic impacts of COVID-19 to subside?


European Committee Aims to End Homelessness by 2030

A European Union (EU) committee has called for governments across the continent to do more to combat homelessness.

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) said not enough is being done to address homelessness at either the European or national level, and the problem is only getting worse as a result.

In an opinion published in December 2023, the EESC said the number of people experiencing homelessness had doubled in the EU in the last 15 years.

Increases in the cost of living, as well as large numbers of migrants arriving in some European countries, have made things even more difficult.

However, instead of simply managing homelessness, the EESC has set the ambitious goal of working toward ending homelessness in EU member states by 2030.

It supports an approach called “Housing First,” which has already been used around the world, including parts of Europe and North America.

The principle of Housing First is quite simple: give everyone living on the streets a home — not just a shelter or a bed, but a permanent home.

Quite often, people who are living on the streets are first given a bed in a homeless shelter with other people in the same situation. They may then be moved to

temporary housing, and only later will they be given access to a more permanent place to live.

However, people living with addiction, perhaps to drugs or alcohol, are often told they will not be found a home until they have overcome their addiction.

But with the Housing First approach, people are given a long-term home first, even if they are still dealing with other problems.

The EESC believes people are better able to beat their problems and get the help they need when they have a permanent home.

However, while some European cities have been using the Housing First approach for some time, it has not always been implemented as intended, and results have been inconsistent. The EESC says training is required to encourage — and enable — more authorities to use the approach effectively.

1. Summarize the content of the article.

2. What are your thoughts on the EESC’s goal to end homelessness by 2030?

3. Do you find it surprising that the number of people experiencing homelessness has doubled in the EU in the last 15 years?

4. Does the Housing First approach seem promising to you?

5. Is homelessness a major issue in your country? Has your government taken any steps to tackle it?

6. Do you expect the number of homeless people in your country to increase or decrease over the next decade?

7. When was the last time you moved house?

8. How has the cost of living changed in your country in recent years?

9. How hard is it to find affordable housing in your town or city?

10. Where are the most expensive places to live in your country?

11. The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members. — Mahatma Gandhi. What do you make of this quote?


Why You Should Read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Arthur Dent wakes up one morning to find his house is going to be demolished.

And his day only gets worse. He then finds out one of his closest friends is actually an alien — and shortly after, the whole Earth gets demolished too.

This is the start of Douglas Adams’ 1979 novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. And while Earth being destroyed might seem grim, the novel is actually very funny.

It features aliens from different planets, a very depressed robot, a restaurant at the end of the universe, a fish you can place in your ear to help you understand any language — and so much more.

The story was first written as a BBC radio comedy series. In a 1986 interview with Terry Wogan, Adams said he’d first gotten the idea for the title while “drunk in a field in Innsbruck,” a city in Austria.

He had a copy of the Hitch-hiker’s Guide to Europe with him, and he thought somebody should write a similar book about the galaxy.

“It didn’t even occur to me it was going to be me who would do it,” he said. “It just seemed like a good idea that somebody should do.”

It certainly turned out to be a good idea. It sold 250,000 copies within three months of its release. Adams wrote five Hitchhiker’s books in total, often referred to jokingly as “a trilogy in five parts.”

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is very easy to read — it’s written in clear language, the story flows effortlessly, and it’s very funny.

But beyond humor, the novel also explores philosophical and existential themes. One of the central parts of the story features a giant computer that spends millions of years trying to find the “answer to life, the universe, and everything.”

But the answer it finds is so dissatisfying that everyone has to work even harder to find what the question might be.

1. Summarize the content of the article.

2. Have you read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? If so, what did you think of it? If not, would you like to?

3. Do you like science fiction? What are your favorite books or movies?

4. Have you read any books that were grim and funny at the same time?

5. Do any of your favorite books deal with philosophical or existential themes?

6. Do you have any ideas that you think should be made into a book or movie?

7. Have you read any books you’d describe as effortless to read?

8. What are some of your favorite comedy books, movies, or TV shows?

9. What are your favorite series of books? How many times have you read them?

10. What do you think are some of the most successful book-to-movie adaptations?

11. Are there any books you think everyone should read?


UK Study Finds Bad Behavior in Pandemic Pups

You may have heard the saying, “A dog isn’t just for Christmas.” But what about, “A dog isn’t just for the pandemic”?

A new study by the UK’s Royal Veterinary College suggests that puppies bought during the coronavirus pandemic have high levels of problem behavior, which may make owners more likely to rehome them.

The study asked more than 1,000 UK pet owners with young dogs about problem behavior in their pups. The study is part of a project looking at puppies bought during the pandemic in 2020.

Almost all pandemic puppy owners said their dogs displayed at least one problem behavior from a list of 24. The most common included pulling on the leash (67%), jumping up at people (57%), and not returning when called (52%).

Most problems involved control issues and attention-seeking behavior. But some involved fear and aggression.

And while nearly all owners said they praised their dogs to train them, many also admitted to training their dogs by doing things they didn’t like, such as shouting at them or spraying them with water.

Lead study author Rowena Packer warned that punishing problem behavior can lead to dogs becoming anxious and fearful, which can cause further problem behavior, including aggression.

Puppy sales increased in the UK during the pandemic, with people buying the animals to improve their mental health.

However, due to lockdown laws, pandemic puppies were less likely to go to training classes, have visitors to their home, or go to the vet for health checks.

Packer told the BBC that introducing puppies to people, other dogs and the world around them is “potentially very important” for their long-term mental and emotional health.

“Puppies have a blueprint for the future based on just the first couple of months of their life,” she said.

Packer warned that the dogs’ challenging behavior, along with the increasing cost of living, might lead owners to decide to rehome them.

1. Summarize the content of the article.

2. What are your thoughts on the Royal Veterinary College’s findings?

3. Do you know anyone who got a pet during the pandemic?

4. Have you ever had to train a pet? How challenging was it?

5. Do you know anyone who has a badly behaved pet?

6. Would you ever consider getting a pet that was given up by a previous owner?

7. Did you have any pets growing up? What was your first one?

8. In your opinion, what’s the hardest thing about having pets?

9. What advice would you give to someone thinking about getting a pet?

10. What animal would you most like to have as a pet?

11. If money and space weren’t an issue, how many pets would you have?