EDITORIAL ThUrSDAy, FeBrUAry 15, 2018 modi’s balancing act in the middle east 4 Acting Editor & Publisher : Jobaer Alam Telephone: +8802-9104683-84, Fax: 9127103 e-mail: email@example.com Thursday, February 15, 2018 Non performing loans threaten banking sector In June 2017 the government allocated Tk20bn (US$250m) to recapitalise Bangladesh's state-owned banks. There are signs that the country's banking sector is facing mounting problems, and regulators' efforts have so far been insufficient to tackle the issue. In a recent report, the IMF said that there were weaknesses in the banking sector of Bangladesh owing largely to the legacy of loans to large borrowers, who lack incentives to repay, and legal limitations that hamper recoveries. The eight state-owned commercial and specialised banks suffer from problems related to high levels of nonperforming loans (NPLs), low profitability, large capital shortfalls and balance sheet weaknesses. For decades, state-owned banks have lent large amounts to big, influential borrowers, who have been known to be lax with repayments. Defaulters are rarely penalised; instead, loans are routinely restructured to permit further lending to the same borrowers. According to a study by the Bangladesh Institute of Bank Management, on average banks rescheduled bad loans of Tk109.1bn annually during 2010-14. As a result of these issues, non-performing loans (NPLs) at state-owned banks have risen sharply in recent years. In January-March 2017, overall, bad loans in the banking sector rose by 18% from the previous quarter, to Tk734.1bn. NPLs at the six state-owned commercial banks rose by 15.1% quarter on quarter, to Tk357.2bn, accounting for just under half of total NPLs. Unsurprisingly, these high NPLs have hit profitability hard. In 2016 the operating profits of the six state-owned commercial banks dropped by 37% annually, to Tk20.1bn, while net losses surged by 309%, to Tk5.1bn. Meanwhile, losses at the two state-owned specialised banks (Krishi Bank and Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan Bank) rose by 150%, to Tk4.2bn. By contrast, the net profits of the banking sector as a whole rose by 4.9% in 2016, while those of private banks rose by 17.2%. The higher provisioning necessary against these NPLs has also weakened banks' capital. By the end of the first quarter of 2017, seven of the eight state-owned banks had capital shortfalls, totalling Tk147bn, compared with only two private banks with shortfalls. The decision to provide funding to the failing banks has been criticised, as it has been seen by some as the government diverting taxpayers' money away from needed investments in social sectors like healthcare without putting the necessary measures in place for structural reforms. In a March 2017 meeting the government's finance division observed that, despite the regular infusion of budget funds, state-run banks have not improved their NPL positions. Meanwhile, reportedly, in the past two years BB did not recommend any capital infusion for these banks to the finance ministry. In mid-2017 BB asked the state-owned banks to meet shortfalls at their own initiative, such as by boosting business activities. Despite this, in the budget for 2017/18 the government has again earmarked Tk20bn to recapitalise state-owned banks, against the March 2017 capital shortfall of Tk147bn, with the highest amount going to BASIC Bank (Tk10bn). In February 2017 the central bank governor termed the bad loan problem at state lenders "alarming" and attributed it to banks favouring a few large companies, pointing out that 40% of Janata Bank's loans, for instance, have gone to just nine big industrial groups. Nevertheless, the regulatory response to the banking sector's problems needs improving, with little action taken so far to penalise defaulters, improve risk management and strengthen bank management. Apart from the political influence of large borrowers, regulators are concerned that too hard measures could force corporate bankruptcies, raising unemployment. Since the six state-owned commercial banks employ almost 60,000 people and have 55% of branches in rural areas, regulators are also cautious about measures that might destabilise these. Regulatory measures to resolve NPLs have not been as successful as officials had hoped. For instance, in 2015, after pressure from large borrowers, BB issued a more lenient rescheduling policy for borrowers with loans exceeding Tk5bn. Thereafter, 20 companies applied for the facility, and 11 industrial groups were allowed to reschedule loans worth about Tk150bn. Repayment of the rescheduled loans was to begin in December 2016, but many of the companies have made only partial or no repayments and are now asking for further loans or rescheduling. Regulators will need to make further efforts to tackle the sector's deep-rooted problems of corruption, poor risk practices and collusion with industry. As the IMF pointed out in its report, an implicit government guarantee on their deposits keeps state-owned banks highly liquid, but a further deterioration in their balance sheets could negatively impact the fiscal balance. It suggests that banks should be held strictly accountable to numerical targets agreed upon with the authorities and that reforms should focus on improving supervision, containing risks from loan concentration and improving the legal and financial framework for loan recovery. However, ultimately, any real clean-up of Bangladesh's state-owned banks will have to begin with political will, which appears to have been limited so far. In one of his tweets during his recent Middle East tour, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that his country "will always support Palestine's development journey". He explained that the friendship between India and Palestine "had stood the test of time" … as the people of Palestine "have shown remarkable courage in the face of several challenges". Modi repeated the same sentiment during his three-hour long visit to Ramallah, headquarters of the Palestinian National Authority leadership. His statements sounded subtle and pragmatic. He was remarkably careful not to appear taking sides between Israel and Palestine. He refrained from directing any criticism of the brutal, continued Israeli occupation of Palestinian land or Israel's vicious expansionist colonial policy. But most importantly, Modi's approach seems to be reflecting the new thinking of India's current foreign policy on the Arab-Israel crisis. They could also indicate to a possible future role that India may play to revive the morbid peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. Unlike former Indian prime ministers, particularly those of the long line of the Gandhi dynasty who closely embraced the Palestinian cause to their heart, Modi presents to the world, as well as the region the new India of the 21st century. India is now the largest market for Israeli military products, buying around $1 billion (Dh3.67 billion) annually of weaponry in recent years. Though it does not represent more than 2 per cent of India's entire world trade, but it equals 45 per cent of Israel's total MOBS do many things in Pakistan: they harass women, they burn down buildings, they torch cars; they are guilty of devastating Gojra, of tearing the bodies of Muneeb and Mughees Butt to pieces, cheering the killer of a governor, mourning the death of a dictator. They are guilty also of the murder of a man named Mashal Khan. For anyone who needs to refresh their memory of the horror, in the parade of horrors that ticks by on news channels every day, he was the man killed by a mob after being dragged out of his hostel room at Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan. Mashal Khan was a student of mass communications; but to his murderers he was merely a target of vengeance and hatred, all the poison of intolerance cast on a single body. Such was the level of brutality that the mob continued beating him long after he was dead. Weeks later it turned out that university officials had conspired with students who disagreed with Mashal Khan's liberal views and orchestrated the attack. A number of them were suspended from their positions as the investigation proceeded. The student who ultimately shot Mashal Khan was also identified. Mashal Khan was murdered last April, and last week there was the beginning of accountability for the murderers who take refuge in mobs. On Feb 7, an ATC judge announced the verdict in the Mashal Khan case at Central Jail Haripur. Per the verdict, one man was Agroup of former Facebook and Google employees last week began a campaign to change the tech companies they had a hand in creating. The initiative, called Truth About Tech, aims to push these companies to make their products less addictive for children - and it's a good start. But there's more to the problem. If you think middle-class children are being harmed by too much screen time, just consider how much greater the damage is to minority and disadvantaged kids, who spend much more time in front of screens. According to a 2011 study by researchers at Northwestern University, minority children watch 50 per cent more TV than their white peers, and they use computers for up to 1 1/2 hours longer each day. White children spend eight hours and 36 minutes looking at a screen every day, according to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, while black and Hispanic children spend 13 hours. While some parents in more dangerous neighbourhoods understandably think that screen time is safer than playing outside, the deleterious effects of too much screen time are abundantly clear. Screen time has a negative effect on children's ability to understand nonverbal emotional cues; it is linked to higher rates of mental illness, including depression; and it heightens the risk for obesity. In 2004, Dimitri Christakis of Seattle Children's Hospital wrote in the medical journal Pediatrics that "early exposure to television was associated with subsequent attentional problems." Even mUSTAPhA KArKoUTI military sales. Opening doors However, the 1.3 billion people's India that Modi's government is leading now, is totally different from the India the world knew during the second half of last century. Opening to the world in the last two decades, helped propel India to an advanced position among the world's leading countries. Though India is not a permanent member of the UN Security Council, a membership which is long overdue, India matters, and Modi wants to make this very clear. India's ambition to become a permanent member of the Security Council is not new. Many believe if India manages to play a positive role on the peace front of the Middle East, this might ease its way to secure its seat on the Council. When it comes to the Middle East, Modi made it clear that his government backs an independent Palestinian state but emphasised this sentenced to death, five were given life sentences, and 25 other men, all accused in the case, were sentenced to three-year imprisonment. Twenty-six of the 57 men accused of the crime were acquitted. According to the judgement, there was not enough conclusive evidence that the 26 men who were set free had committed any overt act in the killing of Mashal Khan - although it appeared that they were identified in the video of the lynching. Mobs take refuge in the very anonymity afforded by large crowds. The government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has said that it will appeal against the acquittals. Members of Mashal Khan's family, still in mourning for a young man who became a victim of Pakistan's inner brutality, did not feel that the acquittals delivered complete justice in the killing of their son. Making must be done through dialogue with Israel. His visit to the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah was considered by Palestinian leaders as "historic". In a way it is, mainly for two reasons. First, it is the first visit ever by an Indian prime minister to the Occupied Territories. Second, it seems the visit was intentionally done through a direct helicopter flight from the Jordanian capital, Amman, rather than a hyphenated drop over after visiting Israel however, the 1.3 billion people's India that modi's government is leading now, is totally different from the India the world knew during the second half of last century. opening to the world in the last two decades, helped propel India to an advanced position among the world's leading countries. Though India is not a permanent member of the UN Security council, a membership which is long overdue, India matters, and modi wants to make this very clear. last July, as many world leaders usually do. Prior to visiting Ramallah, India's prime minister met Jordan's King Abdullah during which he discussed the peace prospects following the announcement of the US president, Donald Trump, to recognise [occupied] Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The relationship between India and Palestine goes back several decades and it half-justice is injustice rAFIA ZAKArIA sense of the verdict is vexing business. On one hand, in a country where so many killers walk with impunity, particularly when they have killed those who stand for freedom, there is a push to celebrate any punishment and any accountability as a victory. That perspective suggests that the fact that a man was sentenced to death and others mashal Khan was murdered last April, and last week there was the beginning of accountability for the murderers who take refuge in mobs. on Feb 7, an ATc judge announced the verdict in the mashal Khan case at central Jail haripur. Per the verdict, one man was sentenced to death, five were given life sentences, and 25 other men, all accused in the case, were sentenced to three-year imprisonment. Twenty-six of the 57 men accused of the crime were acquitted. when controlling for socio-economic status, gestational age and other factors, he discovered that an increase of one standard deviation in the number of hours of television watched at age 1 "is associated with a 28 per cent increase in the probability of having attentional problems at age 7." Every additional hour of TV increased a child's odds of attention problems by about 10 per cent. Kids who watched three hours a day were 30 per cent more likely to have attention trouble than those to imprisonment ought to sate those who have mourned Mashal Khan. They are wrong. The reason is simple. Punishing only half the members of a mob that was collectively responsible for the death of an innocent delivers only half the justice. Members of mobs take refuge in the very anonymity, the shadow, and the subterfuge afforded by large crowds. As experts have pointed out, mobs enable the abandonment of individual conscience. When everyone is who watched none. A 2010 article in Pediatrics confirmed that exposure to TV and video games was associated with greater attention problems in children. Meanwhile, Paul Morgan at Penn State and George Farkas at the University of California, Irvine, have found that African-American children are more likely to show symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder than their white peers. Unfortunately, too often the message we send low-income and lesseducated parents is that screen time is going to help their children. Fifteen years ago, when I was a Big Sister to a girl who attended one of Brooklyn's worst middle schools, her mother was given strict instructions by teachers to purchase a faster computer as soon as possible to get her daughter's grades up. Today, thanks to lucrative contracts with school districts, tech companies are happy to bring screens into the classroom and send them home. But there is little evidence that such programmes are helping students. Take Maine, which guarantees a tablet for every student. According to NPR, "at a cost of about $12 million[Dh44 million] annually," the state "has yet to see any measurable increases on statewide standardised test scores." When politicians and policymakers talk about kids and technology, it is usually about "bridging the digital divide," making sure that poor kids have as much access as wealthier ones. But there is no evidence that they don't. According to a is solidly based on deep-rooted historic links. The relationship pre-dates the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority in Ramallah and dates to the early 1970s, when Indira Gandhi's government established diplomatic relations with the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO). Indira Gandhi frequently hosted the late Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, and solidly supported the PLO's admittance into substantially significant numbers of international forums. India maintained its support exclusively to the PLO and Palestinian cause on the world stage and resisted various kinds of pressure to recognise Israel. This situation changed in 1992 when Israel and India established relations, following the infamous Madrid Conference in 1991, sponsored by the US and former Soviet Union where Israeli officials entered into face to face negotiations with delegations from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and - for the first time - individuals from Palestine. The Indian-Israeli relationship continued to improve following the signing of the Oslo Accords by Arafat and Israel's then premier Yitzhak Rabin, in a ceremony hosted by the former president Bill Clinton held in the White House. However, the bilateral relations began to rapidly warm up since Modi's ruling party, Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), won the election in 1992. But the world's international relationship in 2017 has considerably changed from what it was in the past. Source : Gulf News doing it, they believe, no one is responsible for it. Definitions of 'overt act' also become superfluous in this context. What, one wonders, constitutes an overt act in the case of a rabid crowd of men intent upon and successful in beating a man to death? Is handing a cudgel to another man in the crowd an overt act? Is kicking the already dead body of a man an overt act? Does it matter if the kick or the strike or the blow struck a still living or completely dead body? Isn't the intent of a man to watch while others kill also an act of murder by inaction? Isn't such inaction punishable? None of these questions have been answered. Ignoring them imposes a particular cost in Pakistan. After the verdict was given, the men who were acquitted in the case were set free. In Mardan, the city where the lynching occurred, the freed men were welcomed as heroes. A large crowd filled the Mardan motorway, blocking it completely. The crowd was addressed by impassioned clerics belonging to the JUI-F and the Jamaat-i-Islami, who vowed to push for the release of the others. According to at least one report, one of the acquitted men, who addressed the crowd from atop a vehicle, vowed to convene more mobs to kill those whom he thought were not worthy of life, lesser Muslims, lesser humans. Source : Dawn America’s dangerous and real digital divide NAomI SchAeFer rIley Unfortunately, too often the message we send low-income and less-educated parents is that screen time is going to help their children. Fifteen years ago, when I was a Big Sister to a girl who attended one of Brooklyn's worst middle schools, her mother was given strict instructions by teachers to purchase a faster computer as soon as possible to get her daughter's grades up. Today, thanks to lucrative contracts with school districts, tech companies are happy to bring screens into the classroom and send them home. 2015 Pew report, 87 per cent of Americans between the ages of 13 and 17 have access to a computer. For families earning less than $50,000 a year, that number is 80 per cent. As for a racial divide, Pew finds that African-American teenagers are more likely to own a smartphone than any other group of teenagers in America. These facts have not been allowed to get in the way of the shiny-new-things approach to learning. In 2014, New York received a half-million-dollar grant to lend internet hot spots to low-income families. According to the Urban Libraries Council, such lending programmes are "the latest buzz." Similar programs have begun in Chicago, Seattle and St Paul, with funding coming from Google and other companies. But no one is telling poorer parents about the dangers of screen time. For instance, according to a 2012 Pew survey, just 39 per cent of parents with incomes of less than $30,000 a year say they are "very concerned" about this issue, compared with about six in 10 parents in higher-earning households. Make no mistake: The real digital divide in this country is not between children who have access to the internet and those who don't. It's between children whose parents know that they have to restrict screen time and those whose parents have been sold a bill of goods by schools and politicians that more screens are a key to success. It's time to let everyone in on the secret. Source : Gulf News
HEALTH THuRsDay, FebRuaRy 15, 2018 5 Do arguing couples experience better conjugal life? amelia Hill It's not a message likely to be found on many Valentine's cards but research has found that couples who argue together, stay together. Couples who argue effectively are 10 times more likely to have a happy relationship than those who sweep difficult issues under the carpet, according to a survey of almost 1,000 adults. Many couples mistakenly believe that avoiding discussing sensitive issues means avoiding an argument, which, in turn, will be good for their relationship, said Joseph Grenny, co-author of the New York Times bestseller Crucial Conversations. "But the biggest mistake that couples make is avoidance," he said. "We feel something but say nothing. At least until we can't stand it anymore. So we wait until we are certain to discuss it poorly before we bring it up. "We tend to avoid these conversations because we are conscious of the risks of speaking up, but unconscious of the risks of not speaking up," he said. "We tend to only weigh the immediate and obvious risks without more than in four in five people in the survey said poor communication played a role in their last failed relationship. Photo: Peopleimages considering the longer term costs to intimacy, trust and connection." More than four in five respondents to the survey said poor communication played a role in a previous failed relationship. One half cited poor communication as the significant cause of the failed relationship. But crucially, Grenny said, fewer than one in five believe they are usually to blame when a conversation goes poorly. "The biggest unconscious mistake couples make is failing to take emotional responsibility for their feelings," he said. "We think others are 'making' us feel the way we are - and fail to see our role in our own emotions. That's why when we discuss our concerns with our loved one we are so often filled with blame and provoke defensiveness." Grenny said the three most difficult topics for couples to discuss were sex, finances and irritating habits. "The success of a relationship is determined by the way in which sensitive issues are debated," he said. "True love takes work. Real intimacy is not just about love but is also about truth. And crucial conversations are the vehicle for surfacing truth in a way that accelerates a feeling of intimacy, trust and connection." a step closer for trans women. Photo: Jade Read Transgender woman is first to be able to breastfeed Jessica Hamzelou A 30-year-old transgender woman has become the first officially recorded to breastfeed her baby. An experimental three-and-a-halfmonth treatment regimen, which included hormones, a nausea drug and breast stimulation, enabled the woman to produce 227 grams of milk a day. "This is a very big deal," says Joshua Safer of Boston Medical Center, who was not involved with the treatment. "Many transgender women are looking to have as many of the experiences of nontransgender women as they can, so I can see this will be extremely popular." The transgender woman had been receiving feminising hormonal treatments for several years before she started the lactation treatment. These included spironolactone, which is thought to block the effects of testosterone, and progesterone and a type of oestrogen. This regimen enabled her to develop breasts that looked fully grown, according to a medical scale that assesses breast development based on appearance. She had not had any breast augmentation surgery. When her partner was fiveand-a-half-months pregnant, the woman sought medical treatment from Tamar Reisman and Zil Goldstein at Mount Sinai's Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery in New York City. Her partner had no interest in breastfeeding, she explained, so she would like to take on that role instead. A hormone called prolactin usually stimulates the production of breastmilk in women who have just given birth, but this chemical isn't available as a labmade drug. Instead, the woman decided to try using a nausea drug called domperidone to trigger breastmilk. There's anecdotal evidence that this drug may boost milk production, although the US Food and Drug Administration has previously warned that it shouldn't be used for this purpose. She took it with increasing doses of the hormones oestrogen, progesterone and spironolactone. At the same time, she began to use a breast pump to stimulate her breasts. Within a month, the woman was able to express milk droplets. After three months of treatment, this increased to 227 grams of breast milk per day. Once the baby was born, she was able to exclusively breastfeed the infant for six weeks - during which time a paediatrician confirmed the baby was growing and developing normally and healthily. Although significant, this is below the average of around 500 grams that a baby consumes by the time the it is 5 days old. After six weeks, the woman supplemented her breastfeeding with formula. This is the first case of breastfeeding by a trans woman to be reported in the medical literature, say Reisman and Goldstein. Safer agrees. "It's out there on internet forums, but there's a lot on the internet that's true or untrue to varying degrees," he says. "It's a very big deal to have this recorded in a reliable document." But Safer isn't surprised that it's possible. "When I treat transgender women, we see good breast development" he says. There's no reason why the cells in these breasts wouldn't make milk the same way that those of non-transgender women do, he says, although he notes that it is unclear to what extent the drugs and hormones helped. "For all we know, breast stimulation alone might be sufficient." If the treatment is proven safe and effective, it could benefit the babies of other transgender women, as well as women who adopt or those who have difficulty breastfeeding, says Safer. However, the woman's breastmilk has not been assessed yet, so we don't know if it has the same mix of components as in milk from new gestational mothers. This means the practice cannot yet be recommended, says Madeline Deutsch at the University of California, San Francisco. She says she can see the potential benefits of breastfeeding, but that the long-term impact of this milk on the baby - including on subtle measures like IQ - is unknown. Deutsch herself is a transgender woman with a six-month-old baby who is currently being breastfed by Deutsch's wife, who was the gestational mother. "I am very sad not to be able to breastfeed her and at the same time I did not consider doing this for the above reasons," she says. " Nevertheless, Safer thinks there is likely to be demand for treatments like this. "This is very special," he says. "It will be very important for the many transgender women who want to breastfeed but do not feel they have the opportunity to do so." The researchers wanted to come up with a way to make male infertility testing as simple and affordable as home pregnancy tests. Photograph: vignesh natarajan Test your fertility through smartphone app HannaH Devlin Men may soon be able to measure their own sperm count and quality at home, using a smartphone app developed by scientists. In early tests the gadget, designed to clip onto a smartphone, detected abnormal sperm samples with an accuracy of 98%. In more than 40% of cases where couples struggle to conceive, the underlying fertility issue is linked to sperm abnormalities, but the researchers said that social stigma and lack of access to testing meant than many men never seek evaluation. Hadi Shafiee, who led the work at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, US, said: "We wanted to come up with a solution to make male infertility testing as simple and affordable as home pregnancy tests." The team put the device together using spare parts from DVD and CD drives at a total cost of $4.45. Using the device simply involves drawing semen into a disposable holder that is plugged into one side of the phone attachment, in a similar way to a USB. In seconds, results of the analysis are displayed on the phone's screen. In the study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the research team recruited 10 volunteers with no formal training, including administrative assistants employed at a Boston fertility clinic. They correctly classified more than 100 semen samples using the app. Overall, the scientists examined 350 clinic samples and were able to identify those with low sperm counts and inactive or poorly motile sperm with 98% accuracy. John Petrozza, director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center and a co-author, described the device as a "true game-changer". "Men have to provide semen samples in these rooms at a hospital, a situation in which they often experience stress, embarrassment, pessimism and disappointment," he said. "Current clinical tests are labbased, time-consuming and subjective. This test is low-cost, quantitative, highly accurate and can analyse a video of an undiluted, unwashed semen sample in less than five seconds." Allan Pacey, professor of andrology at the University of Sheffield, who was not involved in the research, said that the techniques used for sperm quality assessment have not changed significantly since the 1950s, and that even when carried out at specialist centres can be prone to errors if the laboratory worker has not had sufficient training. "As such, the development of an easy, cheap and accurate method to evaluate the sperm present in a sample of semen would be very welcome, particularly if it could be carried out by someone without specific training and in any location," he said. However, he added that the smartphone device could not replicate all the tests carried out in a specialist lab and did not analyse morphology - sperm size and shape. "For a small number of men whose sperm are badly made, and have poor morphology, it would be important to get this diagnosed correctly," he said. "So any man who struggles with infertility for a significant length of time, say more than 12 months, should consider getting their test repeated in a specialist laboratory, regardless of what the phone app might have concluded." The team behind the device are planning to perform additional testing and will file for approval from the FDA, the US regulator. a guide to eating slowly Gavin Haynes Chew your deep-dish filled-crust pizza slowly. Slurp your thickshake with care. Do not pour cooking oil down your neck to act as a slide for your next Cinnabon. Eat slowly. Get thin. This is the promise underlined by researchers at Japan's Kyushu University, who pored over the data of 60,000 Japanese health insurance claimants. Slow eaters were 42% less likely to be overweight or obese than fast eaters. Even normalspeed eaters had a 29% lower risk of being overweight. "It's all to do with the signal to the brain," explains performance nutritionist Elly Rees. "Studies show that it takes up to 20 minutes for us to register that we're full. So people who overeat tend to eat too quickly." That 20-minute gap can be vast. If people eat more slowly they "find that they're actually full," Rees says. While many of us might think that we have evolved to guzzle food as fast as we can, there are a range of ways to break the habit. Many nutritionists recommend putting down your utensils between bites. Others suggest drinking a glass of water before a meal - "a lot of hunger is mistaken thirst", Rees suggests. Talking works, too. The best advice for most of us is simply not to eat in front of screens. Simply looking at our food helps the brain feel full. Chewing is the point at which scientific advice and "not looking weird" clash. Many dietitians suggest that hard foods - meats and vegetables - should be chewed 20 to 30 times. Others have it pegged at the curiously precise 32. Finally, while chewing hard, replacing your utensils, and mindfully venerating what's on your fork go some of the way, it's also a good idea to eat foods that are tricky to swallow. A 2011 study suggested that pistachio eaters who ate unshelled nuts consumed 41% less than those who ate shelled ones, but felt just as full. Basically, eat anything Go slow, studies show that it takes up to 20 minutes for us to register that we're full. Photograph: Granger Wootz with a shell or an exoskeleton, or anything that is still clawing at you as you gnaw it down.