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May 2019 Archives

FAQ: Questions About Measles

May 13, 2019

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Am I protected from measles? Do I need a booster vaccine? How effective is the measles vaccine? And more answers to common questions about measles and the vaccine used to prevent it.

FAQ: Questions About Measles

May 13, 2019

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Am I protected from measles? Do I need a booster vaccine? How effective is the measles vaccine? And more answers to common questions about measles and the vaccine used to prevent it.

To Grow Up Healthy, Children Need to Sit Less and Play More

May 7, 2019

From the World Health Organization:

Children under five must spend less time sitting watching screens, or restrained in prams and seats, get better quality sleep and have more time for active play if they are to grow up healthy, according to new guidelines issued by the World Health Organization (WHO).

"Achieving health for all means doing what is best for health right from the beginning of people's lives," says WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. "Early childhood is a period of rapid development and a time when family lifestyle patterns can be adapted to boost health gains."

The new guidelines on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep for children under 5 years of age were developed by a WHO panel of experts. They assessed the effects on young children of inadequate sleep, and time spent sitting watching screens or restrained in chairs and prams. They also reviewed evidence around the benefits of increased activity levels.

"Improving physical activity, reducing sedentary time and ensuring quality sleep in young children will improve their physical, mental health and wellbeing, and help prevent childhood obesity and associated diseases later in life," says Dr Fiona Bull, programme manager for surveillance and population-based prevention of noncommunicable diseases, at WHO.

Failure to meet current physical activity recommendations is responsible for more than 5 million deaths globally each year across all age groups. Currently, over 23% of adults and 80% of adolescents are not sufficiently physically active. If healthy physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep habits are established early in life, this helps shape habits through childhood, adolescence and into adulthood.

"What we really need to do is bring back play for children," says Dr Juana Willumsen, WHO focal point for childhood obesity and physical activity. "This is about making the shift from sedentary time to playtime, while protecting sleep. "

The pattern of overall 24-hour activity is key: replacing prolonged restrained or sedentary screen time with more active play, while making sure young children get enough good-quality sleep. Quality sedentary time spent in interactive non-screen-based activities with a caregiver, such as reading, storytelling, singing and puzzles, is very important for child development.

The important interactions between physical activity, sedentary behaviour and adequate sleep time, and their impact on physical and mental health and wellbeing, were recognized by the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity, which called for clear guidance on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep in young children.

Applying the recommendations in these guidelines during the first five years of life will contribute to children's motor and cognitive development and lifelong health.

To find out more, click here.

How to Help Your Daughter Have a Healthy Body Image

May 7, 2019

From The Child Mind Institute:

Girls coming of age in the 21st century have more opportunities than any of the generations that preceded them. But they also face an array of pressures that are unprecedented. Girls are expected to become corporate executives and brain surgeons and Supreme Court justices, but they're also expected to be beautiful and sexy -- more so than ever before.

Which is why raising healthy, happy daughters has become more challenging, not less.

As parents, we know that nurturing a positive body image is crucial to helping our daughters become healthy, well-rounded adults. But our society seems to be fixated, more than ever, on youth and beauty. And beauty is, more than ever, defined as small. Or, to be more precise, small-plus-hot -- so that even someone who's stunningly thin can feel insecure if she's not also well endowed where it counts.

I'm not so much talking about girls who develop eating disorders, which involve a seriously distorted body image. I'm talking about a much larger group of girls who feel they can't be happy and accepted because, while they may have straight A's in school or terrific talents, they don't think they have the bodies they're "supposed to" have. Unfortunately, what they feel they are "supposed to" have is an ideal they see in magazines and on television that isn't attainable by 90% of women.

Of course there are some girls who -- because they're genetically endowed or because they're starving themselves -- do achieve this super-thin-plus-super-sexy body. But for most of our daughters it's not a realistic or desirable goal.

Girls can come to see themselves as a collection of body parts--breasts, lips, legs, thighs, butt--which they judge harshly. And, of course, none of it relates to anything about who they are on the inside and what they do.

So what is a healthy body image, and how can we nurture one in our daughters?

What we want for them is part realism -- a reasonable vision of what's an attractive and healthy body. And it's part perspective -- a sense that what they look like is just one aspect, and not an overwhelmingly important one, of who they are and what they have to offer as people.

To put it simply: They need to feel okay about how they look, and not let their looks dominate their sense of self-worth.

How do we get there? It doesn't work to try to pretend the pressure to be model-thin and drop-dead gorgeous doesn't exist, or lecture them on how appearance has nothing to do with who they are. They'll just conclude that you're completely out of touch. So what to do?

To read more, click here.

Preparing for College Emotionally, Not Just Academically

May 7, 2019

From The Child Mind Institute:

Tuition isn't the only thing that's relentlessly on the rise on American college campuses. Multiple studies show a significant increase in college mental health problems in the last few years, and campus counseling services report being overwhelmed with students seeking help.

Why so much emotional distress, especially during the first year away from home? Everything from academic pressure to over-protective parenting to excessive engagement in social media has been blamed for the spike in anxiety and depression.

What's clear is that adolescents making the transition from high school to college need not only academic skills to ace the classwork, and time-management skills to stay afloat, but emotional problem-solving skills to handle the challenges. As parents, we can't shadow them in the freshman dorm, but we can help supply them, before they leave home, with a toolbox of skills and habits to use when they become stressed or overwhelmed.

"What we're seeing is a lot of kids are getting through middle school and high school doing okay, but they go off to college and it's too much," says Dr. Lindsey Giller, a clinical psychologist in the Mood Disorders Center at the Child Mind Institute. Some kids are just overwhelmed by organization and time management issues, increased academic pressure and managing their lives independently -- the emotional roller-coaster of a new social universe.

And if they're away from home, they don't have the support network they've been used to. This is especially true of kids who find themselves on a large campus where it's difficult to get to know their professors and harder to find their social niche.

"Often the result," says Dr. Lindsay Macchia, an associate psychologist in the Mood Disorders Center at the Child Mind Institute, "is what's called emotional dysregulation -- their mood is all over the charts. What we want to figure out is what skills are going to help them re-regulate and take better control over their mood, so it doesn't get in the way of their friendships, their academics, or typical day-to-day life."

For more, click here.

These Five Cuisines Are Easier on the Planet

May 6, 2019

From The New York Times:

Can I eat well without wrecking the planet? As a climate reporter and personal chef to a growing, ravenous child, I think about this question a lot. Is there a cuisine somewhere in the world that is healthy both for us and for the planet we live on? And if one exists, would we even want to eat it?

Turns out, there is no magic cuisine to save our species. There are, however, many ways to eat sustainably. They're built into many traditional cuisines around the world, and we can learn from them.

In any case, we don't have much choice. To avert the most severe effects of climate change, scientists say, we have to very quickly transform the way we eat. Food production accounts for somewhere between 21 and 26 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, depending on how you slice the data; food waste accounts for an additional 8 percent, considering that worldwide, we waste a third of the food we produce. Also, with climate change turbocharging droughts and storms, there are new risks to food security for the 800 million people worldwide who don't have enough to eat.

Eating well doesn't have to mean eating weirdly, or depriving ourselves, or even breaking the bank. Here are five simple ideas to guide you, whether you're eating out or cooking at home.

For more, click here.