Your Teen

Study: Freshman 15 Weight Gain Is Real

A new study shows that nearly one in four freshmen gain at least five percent of their body weight during their first semester.A new study shows there is some truth behind what has long been considered an urban legend about the infamous freshman 15. The study, published in Nutrition Journal, shows that nearly one in four freshmen gain at least five percent of their body weight, an average of about 10 pounds, during their first semester.

“Almost one quarter of students gained a significant amount of weight during their first semester of college,” say researchers Heidi J. Wengreen and Cara Moncur of the department of nutrition and food sciences at Utah State University in Logan. “This study provides further evidence that the transition to college life is a critical period of risk for weight gain, and college freshmen are an important target population for obesity prevention strategies.” Other studies have documented the phenomenon of the freshman 15 weight gain but researchers say few have examined the changes in behaviors that occur as students transition from high school to college that may contribute to unhealthy weight gain. The study followed 159 students enrolled at a mid-sized university in the fall of 2005. Each student’s weight was measured at the beginning and end of the fall semester, and the participants also filled out a survey about their diet, physical activity, and other health-related habits during the last six months of high school and during the first semester at college. Researchers found the average amount of weight gained during the study was modest, at about 3.3 pounds. But 23 percent of college freshmen gained at least five percent of their body weight and none lost that amount. There was no significant difference in the amount of weight gained by women and men in the study. Those who gained at least five percent of their body weight reported less physical activity during their first semester at college than in high school and were more likely to eat breakfast and slept more than those who didn’t gain as much. Previous studies have shown teens and adults who skip breakfast are more likely to gain weight, and researchers say they were surprised to find that eating breakfast regularly was linked to greater weight gain in the first three months of college. They say it may reflect more frequent meals at all-you-can-eat dining facilities at college, and more research is needed to clarify this finding. “In general, our findings are consistent with the findings of others who report the transition from high school to college promotes changes in behavior and environment that may support weight gain,” they conclude.

Your Teen

Teens: Smoking Less, Texting While Driving More

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Teenagers are particularly vulnerable to emotional highs and lows and it typically shows in their behavior. Mixed in with lots of good days and excellent choices are temptations and decisions that put them at high risk for dangerous and sometimes deadly outcomes. It’s all part of the adolescent stage of life.

The good news is that a recent survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows teenagers are smoking cigarettes, using drugs, fighting and drinking alcohol less.

They’re also more likely to wear their seatbelts and helmets when they are supposed to.

On the flip side, more teens are obese and not getting enough sleep.

However, the most troubling new data shows that more than 40% of teenagers who drive cars admit to having texted or emailed while driving recently.

"We're encouraged to see that high school students are making better choices in some areas, like smoking, fighting, and alcohol use," said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD.

However, other areas are concerning, he said, including the amount of time students spend glued to a screen instead of being active and a relatively new worry -- texting or emailing while driving.

Two in five of the 64% of students who reported driving in the 30 days before the survey also said they had been texting or emailing while behind the wheel, according to Stephanie Zaza, MD, director of the agency's Division of Adolescent and School Health.

"This puts them and other drivers at risk," she said.

On the whole though, there’s been really good progress made in teenager’s safety and health.

“I think it's really encouraging that we're seeing the lowest cigarette smoking rate ever,” Frieden told NBC News.

While smoking is the single biggest preventable cause of death in the United States — it causes heart disease, cancer and lung disease — teenagers face a more immediate risk. The single biggest killer of teens is motor vehicle crashes, causing 23% of deaths among 10 to 24-year-olds, CDC says.

Frieden believes that there’s a reason teens are buckling up more, whether they are behind the wheel or riding as a passenger.

“These positive trends didn't just happen. They're the result of hard work in communities all over the country — doing things like protecting kids from secondhand smoke, passing laws that are graduated driving laws so that kids don't drink and drive,” he said.

On the texting front, older teen drivers may do it more often. CDC found that 58% of high school seniors admitted to texting while driving.

Another positive statistic is that fewer teens are having sex. Unfortunately this good news is tempered with a down side. Teen sex is decreasing but so is condom use.

Just over a third of teenagers are currently sexually active.

Teens should use condoms even if they are also using other contraception, Frieden said. Pregnancy is a big worry, but STDs are even more likely, and Frieden fears "there may be a sense that, well, there's treatment for HIV so it's not such a terrible problem.”

There may be treatments for HIV but there’s no cure. People must take pills every single day for life and the virus can develop resistance to those medications.

The other long-term risks to health are poor diet and a lack of exercise. Teens are trying, but not reaching targets there, the survey indicates.

Results of this survey show that teens are making progress in some important safety and health related areas and, like most of us, need work in others. The fact that fewer teens are smoking is very good news. The increase in texting while driving is very troubling but not surprising considering that adults are doing the same thing.

Many of the safety and health issues teens are experiencing are not much different from what adults are doing and that’s where parents and guardians can make a big difference. Kids are much more likely to control their own behavior better when they see their parents doing the same.

Sources: Maggie Fox, http://www.nbcnews.com/health/kids-health/teen-smoking-sex-hit-new-lows-texting-fat-are-new-n129541

Your Teen

What Really Improves a Child’s Math Skills?

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Ask people to raise their hand if they like math and you most likely won’t see a lot of hands in the air. When asked why math isn’t particularly popular, many will answer that they just never have been very good at it. A new study suggests that for kids who are not mathematically inclined, studying harder and being strongly motivated to improve can be the key to making better grades.

While genetics may play a role in math comprehension, motivation and study habits can play a more important role during the all important high school years according to the study.  “It’s not how smart we are; it’s how motivated we are and how effectively we study that determines growth in math achievement over time,” says Kou Murayama, a post-doctoral psychology researcher at University of California  Los Angeles and lead author of the study published in the journal Child Development.

Murayama and his colleagues studied math achievement among roughly 3,500 public school students living in the German state of Bavariain. Students were followed from 5th grade through 10th grade and were given annual standard math tests in each grade. They were also given IQ tests and questioned about their attitude towards mathematics.

Researchers wanted to know if the kids believed that better math skills were achievable through hard work and if they were interested in math for its own sake. They also wanted to know if their approach to math included incorporating mathematical concepts into their every day life, or if they relied more on memorization to pass tests.

The psychologists said they were surprised that a higher IQ did not predict “new” learning ability. Intelligence measured by the IQ test did not indicate how likely students were to understand new concepts or to add new skills. Children with high IQs did have higher test scores but how much new material the kids learned throughout the years the study was conducted, was not related to how high their IQ registered.

“Students with high IQ have high math achievement and students with low IQ have low math achievement,” Murayama says. “But IQ does not predict any growth in math achievement. It determines the starting point.

The greatest number of children who showed improvement in math skills during the study were the ones who agreed or strongly agreed with statements such as, “When doing math, the harder I try, the better I perform,” or “I invest a lot of effort in math, because I am interested in the subject.” These included students who were not high achievers when they started. And at the other end of the spectrum, kids who were motivated purely by the desire to get good grades saw no greater improvement over the average.

Kids who said they tried incorporating connections between mathematical ideas typically improved faster than those who used memorization techniques.

While not entirely surprising — it makes sense that more motivated students would do better and that those who put in more effort to learn would see better results — the findings provide reassuring confirmation that academic success is not governed by a student’s cognitive abilities alone. Instead, students who want to learn math and who work at it may find they make faster gains and learn better than students who are bright but less motivated. That’s encouraging not just for students, but for schools as well, says Murayama.

How well the German school results apply to other nations is not known. Murayama is intrigued enough to investigate different instructional styles that teachers and parents may use to inspire kids to learn. While certain intelligence traits seem to be based in genetics and therefore hard to change, previous research suggests that motivation is not innate, but largely learned. Even, it seems, when it comes to math.

Source: http://healthland.time.com/2012/12/26/motivation-not-iq-matters-most-for-learning-new-math-skills/#ixzz2GJ0rEdaP

Your Teen

Drug Abuse Among Teens On The Rise

1.30 to read

Teens are not saying no when it comes to smoking marijuana and dropping ecstasy. During the last 3 years, there's been a spike in taking these drugs as well as a more relaxed view of alcohol use among the teen population. Teens are not saying "no" when it comes to smoking marijuana and dropping ecstasy. During the last 3 years, there's been a spike in taking these drugs as well as a more relaxed view of alcohol use among the teen population according to a new report by Partnership at Drugfree.org.

The results are particularly disturbing when you look at the statistics that were gathered. - 7 out of 10 teens interviewed reported having friends who drank at least once a week. - 6 out of 10 teens who reported alcohol use said they had their first full drink – not counting sips, or tasting – at age 15. Among the teens that tried alcohol just once, the average age was 14. - 32% said they drank to “to forget their troubles, ” while 24% said they drank to “deal with problems at home.” - Almost half, 45%, reported they didn’t see a “great risk” in drinking heavily on a daily basis. - Only 31% said they strongly disapproved of their peers, and other teens, getting drunk. The study found that between 2008 and 2010 teens that said they had used marijuana in the past year climbed  4% - up 39 percent from 32 percent. During the same time period teen use of the drug ecstasy in the past year, increased from 6% to 10%. The report, sponsored by the MetLife Foundation, was based on a survey of around 2,500 high school students. 'These findings should serve as a call to action for parents,' said Dennis White, President and CEO of MetLife Foundation. “'We encourage parents and caregivers to pay attention to the warning signs of teen drinking and other drug use, in order to intervene early and effectively. If you suspect a problem, do not wait to get help for a child who is struggling with substance abuse or addiction.' Some experts believe the rise in teen-age drug use, and the relaxed views on alcohol, may be related to the normalization of drugs and alcohol on radio and television, in magazines and advertising, along with other social media outlets. Budget cuts for treatment centers, and new struggles faced by families hit by the recession may also have contributed. "The net impact of all that puts an even heavier burden on parents who really need to play an active roll in preventing this behavior and knowing how to get help for a kid when they are abusing any of these substances," Sean Clarkin, director of strategy for the Partnership at Drugfree.org, told Reuters in a phone interview. Although Marijuana and ecstasy use has risen among teens, a 2010 study from the University of Michigan Monitoring the Future, said alcohol use among 8th, 10th and 12th grade students had decreased, falling 1.6 percentage points to 26.8 percent between 2008 and 2010. One resource for more information on teen drug and alcohol abuse is Kidshealth.org. They provide a comprehensive list of drugs that includes the symptoms, addictiveness, effects and dangers.

Your Teen

Obese Children More Likely to Have Allergies

Children who are obese are 26 percent more likely to have some kind of allergy, especially to food a new study finds. Researchers from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) said it is not clear from the study of obesity causes the allergies, but it suggests controlling obesity in young people may be important for lowering rates of childhood asthma and allergies.

"We found a positive association between obesity and allergies," said lead researcher Dr. Darryl Zeldin. The study appears in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. "The signal for allergies seemed to be coming mostly from food allergies. The rate of having a food allergy was 59 percent higher for obese children," said another researcher. The team looked at data on 4,000 children aged two to 19 that included information about allergies and asthma. They looked at several factors including total antibody levels to indoor, outdoor and food allergens, body weight and responses to a questionnaire about diagnoses of hay fever, eczema and allergies. For the study, children who had a body mass index (BMI) that was in the top 95 percent of children of their age were considered obese. The researchers found antibodies for specific allergens were higher among children who were obese or overweight. "While the results from this study are interesting, they do not prove obesity causes allergies. More research is needed to further investigate this potential link," Dr. Zeldin said.

Your Teen

Energy Drinks

Just about every store you go into these days has a shelf of energy drinks, many of them marketed towards our teenage children. “Many are marketed as energy drinks but should be called stimulant drinks” says pediatrician Dr. Sue Hubbard. Many of these drinks contain large amounts of caffeine.”

Dr. Hubbard warns that too much caffeine in a teenager’s system can cause anxiety, rapid heartbeat, insomnia, nervousness and upset stomachs. “It can also mess up a child’s sleep cycle, which is not good” she says. Dr. Hubbard recommends that parents read the labels of the drinks their children are consuming. She also recommends that if you need to hydrate your child during sports or other physical activity, give them water or a true sports drink, like Gatorade, and not energy drinks.

Your Teen

How Much Do Distractions Impact Novice Teen Drivers?

1.45 to read

A new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, confirms what common sense tells us we know anyway. Newly licensed teen drivers are more likely to have a crash or near miss when they are distracted by phones, eating or other objects in the car than more experienced drivers.

But that isn’t to say that adults who get distracted while driving are safe behind the wheel.

The researchers found experienced adults were more than twice as likely to crash or have a near miss when dialing a cell phone as when they did not dial and drive, but did not have an increased risk while engaging in other tasks secondary to driving. The study also points out that 10 percent of all U.S. drivers take their eyes off the road because they are doing something other than focusing on driving such as eating, texting, dialing a phone number, talking to another passenger, changing the radio station or searching for an object in the car.

Study co-author Bruce Simons-Morton of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development said the risks of distracted driving were greatest for newly licensed teen drivers, who were substantially more likely than adults to be involved in a crash or near miss while texting or engaging in tasks secondary to driving.

Novice teen drivers were

  • Eight times more likely to crash or have a near miss when dialing.
  • Seven to eight times more likely when reaching for a phone or other object.
  • Almost four times more likely when texting, and three times more likely when eating.

According to the study, talking on a cell phone did not actually increase the risk for a crash or accident among adults or teenage drivers. But, because you’ve got to reach for the phone to answer or dial a number – the risks increased greatly – during that time period.

The authors concluded that their results provide support for licensing programs that restrict electronic device use, particularly among novice drivers. They also stressed the need for education about the danger of distracted driving.

The bottom line is that when you or your teen are driving – pay attention to the road and other drivers. Your chances of getting safely to your destination increase substantially.

Source: http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2014/01/01/US-drivers-take-eyes-off-the-road-10-percent-of-the-time/UPI-23811388634974/#ixzz2pI410fHJ

Your Teen

Hand Sanitizer Hangover?

1.45 to read

From the “Really?” file, another way for kids to get high and sick has emerged. This one is not a national trend … yet. And because it requires drinking something that you might normally spread on your hands after going into a public restroom, maybe it won’t catch on.

But, forewarned is forearmed. And with the Internet able to spread “challenges” at the speed of light it’s probably a good idea that parents are aware of this one.

Some teens are drinking hand-sanitizer to get high. Not surprisingly they are ending up in the emergency room incredibly drunk and sick.

Recently, six teens from the Los Angeles area were hospitalized with alcohol poisoning after downing the germ killing agent.  

The Los Angeles Times reported some of the teenagers used salt to separate the alcohol from the sanitizer using instructions found online. If a liquid hand sanitizer contains 62 percent ethyl alcohol, that means a "drink" can be as high as 120 proof, whereas a shot of hard liquor such as whiskey or vodka is typically 80 proof.

"All it takes is just a few swallows and you have a drunk teenager," Dr. Cyrus Rangan, director of the toxicology bureau for the county public health department and a medical toxicology consultant for Children's Hospital Los Angeles, told the Los Angeles Times. "There is no question that it is dangerous."

The teens showed symptoms of slurred speech and a burning sensation in the stomach. Some of them were so drunk they had to be monitored in the emergency room.

Los Angeles emergency rooms had not reported any other cases before this sudden spurt of ER visits. The teens did not come in all together but as separate incidents. 

It’s not only Los Angeles that has seen this situation pop up in its emergency rooms. Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency medicine physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said he has taken care of some teens who had ingested hand sanitizers at school as a "dare," only to come to the ER drunk with dizziness, nausea and vomiting.

"They denied drinking any 'alcohol', had no smell of alcohol on their breath, but when their blood alcohol was quite elevated, they later admitted to drinking the hand sanitizer," Glatter told HealthPop.

Doctors told the L.A. Times that parents should purchase foam hand sanitizers since they're harder to extract alcohol from compared with gel-based products, and they should monitor hand sanitizer bottles around the house as if they are liquor or medicine bottles.

"Over the years, they have ingested all sorts of things," Helen Arbogast, injury prevention coordinator in the trauma program at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, told the Times. "Cough syrup had reached a very sexy point where young people were using it.... We want to be sure this doesn't take on the same trend."

Apparently there is no limit to what some teens will do to get a buzz on, hopefully this venture will end quickly. The yuck factor alone should help.

Source: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-57420106-10391704/drinking-hand-s...

Your Teen

Headlines: Another Teen Suicide

On September 6, 2007, the Centers for Disease and Prevention reported suicide rates in American adolescents (especially girls, 10 to 24 years old) increased 8%, the largest increase in 15 years.The sad and desperate story of a college student who killed himself after a roommate secretly videotaped him having sex, and streamed it live on the web has made headlines across the world.

18 year old, Tyler Clementi, was embarrassed and humiliated by the invasion of his privacy. He jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge. Unfortunately, Tyler is not the only teen who thinks suicide is the only way to end his suffering. On September 6, 2007, the Centers for Disease and Prevention reported suicide rates in American adolescents (especially girls, 10 to 24 years old) increased 8%, the largest increase in 15 years. Amazingly, suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15-to-24-year-olds, and the sixth leading cause of death for 5-to-14-year-olds. The current headlines demonstrate that it is more important than ever that parents are aware of the symptoms of depression and substance abuse.  Suicides increase substantially when the two are combined. What symptoms should I look for? - Change in eating and sleeping habits - Withdrawal from friends, family, and regular activities. - Violent, rebellious behavior, or running away - Drug and alcohol use. - Unusual neglect of personal appearance - Marked personality change - Persistent boredom, difficulty concentrating, or a decline in the quality of     schoolwork - Frequent complaints about physical symptoms, often related to emotions, such as stomachaches, headaches, fatigue, etc. - Loss of interest in pleasurable activities. - Not tolerating praise or rewards. A teenager who is planning to commit suicide may also: - Complain of being a bad person or feeling rotten inside. - Give verbal hints with statements such as: “I won't be a problem for you much longer,”    “ Nothing matters,” “It's no use, and I won't see you again.” - Put his or her affairs in order, for example, give away favorite possessions, clean his or her room, throw away important belongings, etc. - Become suddenly cheerful after a period of depression - Have signs of psychosis (hallucinations or bizarre thoughts.) What should you do if you notice these symptoms in your child? If a child or adolescent says, "I want to kill myself," or "I'm going to commit suicide,"  always take the statement seriously and immediately seek assistance from a qualified mental health professional. People often feel uncomfortable talking about death. However, asking the child or adolescent whether he or she is depressed or thinking about suicide can be helpful. Rather than putting thoughts in the child's head, such a question will provide assurance that somebody cares and will give the young person the chance to talk about problems. If one or more of these signs occurs, parents need to talk to their child about their concerns and seek professional help from a physician or a qualified mental health professional. With support from family and appropriate treatment, children and teenagers who are suicidal can heal and return to a healthier mental outlook.

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