Food ads and the childhood obesity epidemic
The biggest story of the week is the news that Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, is expecting a baby. Still in her first trimester, the poor woman has such severe morning sickness that she required hospitalization. We hope the remainder of her nine months goes a lot more smoothly!
In other news:
Food ads add to obesity epidemic
Kids' television shows are lousy with ads for food -- a lot of it high-calorie, high-fat, high-sugar junk food. And a new study has found that children who are already overweight are more susceptible to those ads. Researchers used MRIs to monitor how various children's brains responded to seeing food advertisements. They found that in obese youngsters, the areas of the brain associated with reward lit up more when they viewed the food-related ads, while the areas associated with self-control were more activated in healthy weight kids. Consider this yet another good reason to limit the amount of time your kids --whether overweight or not -- spend in front of the TV.
Get along with your siblings ... or else
Sibling rivalry is a big issue for families -- and at its worst it can lead to seriously negative consequences for kids, including delinquent behaviors and even substance abuse. A new program developed by researchers at Penn State helps teach kids and parents approaches to help foster better sibling relationships now and, consequently, better wellbeing down the road. They taught brothers and sisters how to communicate more effectively, work together to solve problems and how to act as a team instead of as competitors. The researchers report that the siblings who took part exhibited more self-control and self-confidence, had fewer signs of depression and did better in school.
Activity needs to be IRL
Video exercise just isn't the same as the real thing, a new study says. While active video games like Wii do help kids be slightly less sedentary, they don't lead to enough of an increase in average, daily physical activity levels. Sure, these games are an improvement over simply sitting on the couch or in front of the computer, but kids -- like the rest of us -- also need to get bursts of more vigorous exercise. Encourage your kids to join a sports team, ride their bikes and opt for physical outdoor play instead of the sedentary indoor variety as much as possible.
Sex won't speed you toward labor
Anyone nearing their due date has no doubt heard all of the so-called natural ways to get you to the delivery room sooner -- including eating spicy food, exercising and, of course, having sex. But a new study put that last theory to the test and found that while sex late in pregnancy is perfectly safe, it's not going to entice the baby to arrive any faster. The 1,100 women in the study were between 35 and 38 weeks pregnant. About half were advised to have sex frequently to expedite labor while the other half were told it was safe to have sex, but wouldn't necessarily induce labor. The result: Both groups made it an average of 39 weeks and just over 20 percent of each group required induction.
Exercise, not diet, the key to lower body fat
You know your kids need both exercise and a healthy diet to keep their risk of obesity down. And according to a new study, the exercise part of the equation is even more important. Researchers looked at over 700 girls and boys ages 8, 10 and 12 and found that the heavier kids did not necessarily consume more calories, but they just weren't as active as the others. So keep serving healthy meals, and make sure everyone also gets plenty of exercise.
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