Motherhood in Western Europe

Insights from Western European Mothers

The changing face of motherhood — Western Europe

The accompanying reports combine a review of existing literature with an analysis of original quantitative data derived from a poll of 9,582 mothers from 12 countries in Western Europe, making it one of the largest studies of this kind ever conducted

Child Obesity and Health

An analysis of the latest available data from the Health Survey for England (HSE)

Child Obesity and Health — download the full report in pdf format

In this ‘National Childhood Obesity Week’, the SIRC report, Children, obesity and heath: Recent trends, holds up a true mirror, accurately reflecting the trend towards slimmer, healthier children. more

The Future of Freemasonry

An examination of the role of Freemasonry in the 21st century


This report is, as far as we know, an account of the first ever study that has been commissioned by Freemasons from a non-Masonic body. None of the SIRC members involved in the project are Freemasons, a fact that evoked surprise and welcome in equal measure from the Lodge members we met. more

The Changing Face of Motherhood

Insights from three generations of mothers


The report seeks to answer some specific questions about the changing face of motherhood and determine the extent to which modern ‘solutions’ to motherhood are more or less beneficial than the solutions of the past. more

Sperm and salt

Sperm count fall blamed on salt is the headline on the BBC's web site and elsewhere. They report a study conducted in Michigan which found that rats starved of iodine grew larger testicles and had increased sperm production. (See also 'Salty secrets of shrunken testicles' in the New Scientist.) They claim that the alleged fall in sperm rates in the US in the 1960s is due to the introduction of iodine in salt there in 1924. Before you are tempted, however, to forego that bag of salted nuts with your beer in the pub, read on.

There are two things wrong with this study. Firstly, as the report's author James Crissman himself acknowledges, iodine is important for the development of the thyroid. If your intake is too low, mental development is impaired. That is precisely why it is added to salt in the first place.

Secondly, who says sperm counts are declining? The day before the salt alarm was raised, a Reuters report claimed that "the overall quality of semen in the US male population is the same today as it was 50 years ago." The study's author Dr. Rebecca Sokol, of the University of Southern California , said "… everything in our study indicates that … the average man's sperm count is not changing." Richard Sharpe of the Medical Research Council's reproductive biology unit also emphasises that sperm count data are very variable and that it would be unwise to assume that iodine, and therefore, salt, had any impact.

So – maybe that iodine-rich nibble with your favourite tipple is not going to wreck your manhood at all. And everybody knows that women love brainy men.