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The Week
The Week

The Week Unwrapped: Marriage, Iron Man energy and medical laughter

Why is China offering marriage ‘rewards’? Can a metal disc improve sporting ability? And is laughter really the best medicine?

Olly Mann and The Week delve behind the headlines and debate what really matters from the past seven days. With Julia Macfarlane, Abdulwahab Tahhan and Suchandrika Chakrabarti.

You can subscribe to The Week Unwrapped wherever you get your podcasts:

In this week’s episode, we discuss:

Chinese marriage incentives

The county of Changshan in eastern China is offering an incentive of 1,000 yuan, or just over £100, to women aged under 25 who get married. The “reward” is intended to promote “age-appropriate marriage and childbearing”, according to the local government – and fits into a pattern of Chinese attempts to raise its fertility rate. Will this relatively small incentive make any difference, and if not how else might China deal with falling birth rates?

Nanotech energy

When Novak Djokovic steps on court at the US Open next week, he’s likely to be wearing a small metal disc strapped to his chest. According to the Italian company that makes it, the Taopatch uses nanotechnology to convert heat from the body into performance-enhancing light. Not everyone is convinced… but Djokovic himself insists that he benefits from wearing it. So how should sporting authorities react to these and other devices intended to give athletes an edge over their rivals.

Laughter as medicine

A new scientific study has lent weight to the idea that laughter is the best medicine – or at least a good health supplement. Researchers found that a course of laughter therapy had a positive effect on patients with coronary artery disease, increasing oxygen flow around their bodies and reducing inflammation. How reliable is the evidence for this claim – and what can we learn from it?

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