Hyderabad: A WHO list of "7 biggest brain-damaging habits" is going viral on social media. The seven habits include, "Missing breakfast", "Sleeping late", "High sugar consumption", "More sleeping specially at morning", "Eating a meal while watching TV or computer", "Wearing cap/scarf or socks while sleeping" and "Habit of blocking/stopping urine".
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NewsMeter received a request to fact-check the claim on WhatsApp.
The claim is false.
NewsMeter noticed that that the claim is filled with typographical and grammatical errors. It reads, "Dont Just ReadForward to whom you careAs I care for U". Therefore, it is unlikely that WHO would issue a public information message with so many errors.
We also found that a similar claim was doing the rounds in 2017.
Further, the list does not appear on WHO website which features a wide range of content related to brain health. Nor could it be found in any of the organization's Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook pages.
Charity Warigon, the head of communications, WHO Nigeria, told an international Fact Check Hub that "it doesn't sound WHO at all" (sic).
We found no evidence directly linking the seven habits listed in the viral post to brain damage. Sleeping too little or too much can impact cognitive performance, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults get about seven hours of sleep per 24 hours.
Studies have found that excessive sugar consumption can reduce brain volume and negatively impact memory later in life, Forbes reported. Blocking urine can cause urinary tract infections and kidney stones, among other things, according to Medical News Today. Distracted eating can lead to weight gain, per Harvard Health Publishing.
Studies have shown that sleeping with socks on leads to faster relaxation and hence, quicker sleep. People in colder climates prefer wearing socks while sleeping to keep their body temperature normal. It is not recommended in tropical climates like that of India.
WHO also recommends reducing sugar intake by 5%. "We have solid evidence that keeping intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake reduces the risk of overweight, obesity and tooth decay," said Dr. Francesco Branca, director of WHO's department of nutrition for health and development, in a report from 2015.
Hence, the list of seven biggest brain-damaging habits being attributed to WHO is fake.