Study Shows That Teens Lose Sleep After Change To Daylight Saving Time

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This article is courtesy of PRWeb and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, please share your comments below…..

SleepingWomanA new study shows that high school students lose sleep on school nights following the change to daylight saving time that occurs in March. The loss of sleep during the school week was associated with a decline in vigilance and cognitive function, which raises safety concerns for teen drivers.

Results show that the average objectively measured sleep duration on the weeknights after the spring time change declined to 7 hours, 19 minutes, which reflects a mean loss of 32 minutes per night compared with the school week prior to the implementation of daylight saving time. Average cumulative sleep loss on weeknights following the time change was 2 hours, 42 minutes. During school days after the time change, students also displayed increased sleepiness and a decline in psychomotor vigilance, including longer reaction times and increased lapses of attention.

“For many years now, sleep researchers have been concerned about sleep deprivation in adolescents,” said principal investigator Dr. Ana Krieger, medical director of the Weill Cornell Center for Sleep Medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and associate professor of clinical medicine, of medicine in clinical neurology, and of clinical genetic medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City. “This study unveils a potential additional factor that may further restrict their sleep in the early spring.”

Study results are published in the August issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

According to the authors, this is the first study to quantify the detrimental effects of daylight saving time implementation using objective measurements of sleep duration and vigilance in students attending high school.

The study group comprised 35 high school students with a mean age of 16.5 years. Nightly sleep duration was measured at home by actigraphy during the weeks prior to and after the change to daylight saving time. Participants also completed a sleep diary to report subjective sleep measures. Measurements of daytime sleepiness and vigilance were collected using the Karolinska Sleepiness Scale (KSS) and the Psychomotor Vigilance Test (PVT).

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that adolescents get a little more than nine hours of nightly sleep for optimal health and daytime alertness during the critical transition from childhood to adulthood.

“Getting adequate sleep is key for many facets of an adolescent’s development,” said Dr. Nathaniel F. Watson, president of the AASM. “This study raises significant concern about the consequences of impeding their already hectic sleep schedules with Daylight Saving Time every spring.”

To request a copy of the study, “Adverse Effects of Daylight Saving Time on Adolescents’
Sleep and Vigilance,” or to arrange an interview with the study author or an AASM spokesperson, please contact Communications Coordinator Lynn Celmer at 630-737-9700, ext. 9364, or lcelmer(at)aasmnet(dot)org.

The monthly, peer-reviewed Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine is the official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, a professional membership society that improves sleep health and promotes high quality patient centered care through advocacy, education, strategic research, and practice standards ( The AASM encourages patients to talk to their doctor about sleep problems or visit for a searchable directory of AASM-accredited sleep centers.

New Study: Severe Obesity Linked To Poor Kidney Function In Teens

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ObesityAlmost 18% of severely obese adolescents show signs of abnormal kidney function, according to new research presented here today at the National Kidney Foundation’s 2014 Spring Clinical Meetings.

The presence of too much albumin–a type of protein–in the urine, known medically as albuminuria or proteinuria, is an early sign of kidney damage. Doctors also use a test called glomerular filtration rate (GFR) to estimate how quickly filtered fluid flows through the kidneys. A GFR of 90 or over indicates normal kidney function, while GFR less than 90 indicate a progressive loss of kidney function. A GFR that’s too high, which is common among obese children and adults, indicates hyperfiltration, meaning the kidneys are working extra hard. Having hyperfiltration for a long period of time can lead to leakage of protein into the urine.

Among 242 adolescents enrolled in the Teen-Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery study , 17 percent had protein in their urine, 3 percent had abnormally low GFR (less than 60), and 7 percent had abnormally high GFR (more than 150), Dr. Nianzhou Xiao of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and colleagues found.

Teens with a higher body mass index, as well as those with less sensitivity to the blood-sugar-regulating hormone insulin, were more likely to have abnormally low GFR. Females were more likely than males to have protein in their urine.

“This study represents the first attempt to characterize kidney function status in a large cohort of severely obese adolescents,” Dr. Xiao said. “We plan to continue following them up after bariatric surgery procedures. It will be very important to see whether their kidney function improves after surgical weight loss.”

“Severe obesity is increasing and now affects 4-6% of U.S. children and adolescents. If untreated, obesity during adolescence is associated with a higher prevalence of chronic kidney disease and other serious conditions in adulthood, making obesity a huge public health burden. Pediatricians should counsel obese children and their family proactively about the health concerns linked to obesity and the importance of weight loss for patients who are obese,” said Beth Piraino, MD, President of the National Kidney Foundation.

obeseboyvectorbelly“This study indicates that kidney dysfunction is present in childhood obesity along with such complications as high blood pressure or diabetes,” continued Piraino. “Lifestyle changes such as increased physical activity and healthy eating are critical to improving the overall health of the American population and need to start with our youth. The National Kidney Foundation has developed a number of educational initiatives to promote healthy lifestyle and protect the kidneys.”

The National Kidney Foundation is the leading organization in the U.S. dedicated to the awareness, prevention and treatment of kidney disease for hundreds of thousands of healthcare professionals, millions of patients and their families, and tens of millions of Americans at risk. For more information, visit

– Submitted by Ellie Schlam of The National Kidney Foundation

How To Improve Your Control Over Troubled Teens

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By Katrin Deres

teensAdolescence is considered to be a time of both discovery and disorientation. An average child goes through a lot of physiological and psychological changes as he journeys through teenage years. Oftentimes adolescents go through serious problems owing to certain internal or external pressures, which may take the form of poverty, parental issues, failed relationships, bullying, child abuse, pornography addiction, teenage pregnancies or drugs. Parents are mostly unable to appreciate the mental anguish their child might be going through. This is mostly because after entering teenage, children hardly share any of their personal issues with their parents, fearing possible consequences or their parents’ inability to understand their situation.

All kids, teenagers especially, deserve a certain level of privacy, and parents need to appreciate this when dealing with their children’s problems. Many a time children seek independence, while parents demand obedience, which can lead to serious consequences including verbal abuse and even violence. This is a difficult and emotionally traumatizing situation for both of them, especially the parents since they find themselves responsible for their shortcomings in raising their children.

Finding the cause

Instead of fretting over it and not doing something about it, try to find out the reason for this abnormal behavior of your child. Take him/her out for a walk or to a restaurant and try to bring up the subject. Be frank with your kids. Is he/she tense about academics, being bullied at school, having a fight with his/her best friend, mourning over a lost crush, keeping bad companies, etc? Do not be alarmed by your child’s response if it is in the affirmative or if he/she simply refuses to accept that something is amiss. As parents you need to be extra patient and forbearing.

You need to be there for your kids when they are going through troubling times, and do your best to help them find a way out. Teenage is a time when kids start to feel like grown-ups and in some instances might go out of the way to prove that they are. By reprimanding them for not taking care of their own affairs, you will only be provoking them into such immature behavior.
How to deal with it

girlapple• Try to counsel your children yourself, by taking the help of a relative whom your kids trust, or by referring to a specialist. You may also try to approach your child’s friends and ask them about whatever issue he/she is going through.

• Let your children know you love them and their happiness is more important to you than anything else. Make them realize you are only trying to help them out.

• Try to look for some healthy pastimes for your child, like going to a library, joining a sports club or gym, doing some social work etc.

• Praise them for their achievements, be it academic success or helping with household chores. Let them feel appreciated and not give them the chance to complain about their deeds going uncredited.

• To keep an eye on your child in order to ensure he/she is not taking part in suspicious activities, keeping bad companies or associating with potentially dangerous people, install some spyware like mSpy on his/her cell phone and keep track of his call logs, text messages, internet usage, and where he/she likes to hang out. If you sense anything noteworthy that is out of the ordinary, try to talk to your child by approaching the subject indirectly, without revealing the presence of your spy software (that could lead to more trouble). Having your child voice his own concerns to you is the best way to deal with it, instead of having a direct confrontation.

– Katrin has two years experience in blogging. Writes mainly about mobile spy software such as mSpy and cell phone security features. She has been contributor to many magazines and blogs.

Teens And Their Parents Money

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By Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC

teens‘Tis the Holiday Season, the beginning of the New Year and a new beginning for some is right around the corner. Budget discussions in Congress, as well as in the common home, seems to be the topic most likely to stimulate some thought as people everywhere gather during this festive season and look forward to what financially might be ahead for them next year.

Although everyone is concerned with the national debt and their own finances, in a recent poll, teens reported feeling very optimistic about theirs. It appears the reason they are so happy-go-lucky about their finances is because they are expecting mom and dad to take care of them until they are twenty-seven years old. What a change this is compared to twenty years ago when most kids couldn’t wait to leave home and get out from under mom and dad’s watchful eye.

The president of Junior Achievement USA, in a recent statement, said that teens expect to live with their parents longer because many of them are unsure about their ability to budget or use credit cards. Interesting too was the finding that 33% of the teens surveyed in the Junior Achievement USA said they do not use a budget, and even worse, 42% of that group were not interested in learning to budget. Although the majority of the kids polled thought students were borrowing too much to pay for college, only 9% of them were currently saving for college. One third of them hadn’t even talked to their parents about higher education.

schoolbusSchools do not have time to teach kids about saving money, budgeting, or opening a savings account or any of the other issues related to finances. This has to come from parents because parents are still the number one influence on how their children save money, budget and pay for expenses. College costs and debt has reached an astronomically high number, and the average kids finish college now with at least a $20,000 debt. No age is too young to begin teaching your child the importance of money and saving. It all begins with a piggy bank, and expands with savings accounts, bonds and other types of investments.

Below are some suggestions of ways to help your child understand the value of a dollar, so they will be more realistic about their future and their money instead of depending on yours.

1. Begin when they are a baby. Saving money for college or higher education should begin with the first day of your child’s life.

2. Kids learn best when chores are rewarded with money, and teaching them that some of that money should go into savings. Parents who talk to their kids about saving some money raise kids who automatically have money saved.

3. No chores, no allowance. An allowance is sort of like paying someone for vacation or existing. Who does that in the real world? Why would you teach your child that lesson?

4. Set an example: You cannot have everything you want. Explain to your child that you have to earn enough to buy things you want.

5. Many parents parent with guilt instead of discipline when teaching their children about money. If you give your child what they want, you are telling them that you don’t think they can earn it. Confidence is built when we work toward a goal or desire and our hard work pays off.

collegekids6. Teach your children to price shop and also look for bargains. This can be taught by clipping coupons and checking prices from one store to another. It also helps your child re-evaluate how much they want something. Sometimes this alone will deter them from spending money on a frill they didn’t really want or need.

College debt is a huge problem in our country. Kids take out huge loans yet are never really prepared for what to expect in regards to their financial debt after college. Living within your means and teaching your children to do the same is part of parenting.

Lessons taught young correlate highly with adults who understand the importance of saving and budgeting. Your kids don’t need the “stuff” money can buy half as much as they need the time you give teaching them about how long it takes to save for that “stuff.”

– Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, is a licensed psychotherapist and co-author with Janine J. Sherman, of Start Talking: A Girl’s Guide for You and Your Mom About Health, Sex or Whatever. Read more about the book at and more about Rapini at

7 Ways To Stay Motivated When Starting A New Workout Routine With Your Teens

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By Kenny Meyers

teensBecause nearly 16 percent of kids and teens in the U.S. are overweight, it is more important now than ever for parents and kids to develop a healthy living regimen and a strategy to remain motivated to exercise. Staying active can prevent a teen’s chances of developing Type 2 diabetes or from developing cardiovascular problems. If you develop a regimen with your kids, they’re more likely to maintain good habits into their adulthood. Here are some suggestions to keep in mind when you’re looking for ways to stay motivated:

1. Explain the Importance of Health to Your Teens

Kids — like everyone else — aren’t just motivated by force; they need to know why they need to do something. If exercising doesn’t seem worthwhile, parents cannot motivate their teens to exercise simply by telling them to do so. They need to tell them why exercise is beneficial to their bodies.

Working out can help you and your teens look good and feel good, two important things to every young person’s self-esteem. Exercise can also potentially reduce acne, another great way to encourage your teens to go for that run or enroll in strength training.

2. Incorporate Exercise Into Your Daily Life

When you set aside designated times during the day for physical activity, your teens can get their minds prepared to exercise and be ready. Parents can also get other neighborhood kids involved to keep everyone motivated and prepared. This buddy system is more effective than just trying to tough it out on your own. Don’t treat the workout like some foreign or dangerous thing. Make it a normal part of your day, and soon enough it’ll feel natural.

3. Develop a Regimen of Fun Exercises

If exercising is fun, teens are more likely to engage. Think outside the box and look for ways to stay health and active that are also challenging and interesting. Try getting your teens involved in bike riding or karate classes. Walking the dog or going to a water park will also help younger teens exercise. Most families do not recognize how much exercise they can get just by going on regular outings and walking during the day. Walking around amusement parks, zoos, or nature centers can help you forget that you’re exercising while you’re viewing the sites. You could even hike at a local park. Something like ballroom dancing or softball would also be a good way to get the body moving.

4. Enroll Your Teens in Organized Sports

Organized sports are an excellent way to help teens get active without being bored. Anything will do, so talk with your teen about his interests and see what sport appeals to him. Volleyball, basketball, baseball, or football may be fun enough to motivate him to exercise without seeming like a chore. Plus there’s the added benefit of teamwork and camaraderie.

exerciseball5. Reward Teens for Exercising

Obviously, you’d want the reward to be tied to the workout or at least generally healthy — it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to congratulate your teen on her first 5K with a cake — but there are plenty of options available to help you entice your teen to sticking to the workout. For instance, maybe she’s been eyeing a new set of running shoes, or an iPod for exercising, or taking a trip with friends. Keep the reward positive and goal-oriented.

6. Add Some Variety to Your Schedule

To keep the exercises from getting boring, try to alternate your schedule. For instance, on Monday, take your teens to baseball or softball practice. On Wednesday, take them to ballroom dancing classes. On Friday, take them to martial arts classes. If the weather cooperates or you have an indoor pool, you can try to go swimming on the weekend. Variety will keep the kids going.

7. Get Them Out of the House

It’s easier than ever these days for teens to stay inside and glued to screens all day and all night. One way to get them on their feet and back into an active lifestyle is to limit the amount of time your teen can use his computer or tablet. You can also set up basic physical chores in and around the house, or help him find a job. This will give him not only some pocket money, but the opportunity to get out, stay active, and meet new people.

If you want to remain motivated with your new workout routine, it just takes a little planning. With the right motivation, your kids will remain active and healthy throughout their lives. Communicate with your teens and help them develop good habits early. You’ll be pleased with the results.

– Submitted by Jessica Clark, representing

Many U.S. Teens Have Poor Health Habits

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vectorboysleepFrom Your Health Journal…..”A very good article from via HealthDay that I wanted to promote called Many U.S. Teens Have Poor Health Habits written by Steven Reinberg. A new study suggests that more than 80 percent of U.S. teens eat unhealthy diets and many are sedentary, which raises the odds they’ll develop heart disease in adulthood. Now, before you say, DUH, please understand studies like this are important to help support the fight against childhood obesity. One in three children are considered overweight in the United States, while one in seven are considered obese. Obesity related illnesses are also on the rise, including weak joints, asthma, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Most children are born in a state of ideal cardiovascular health, but the poor lifestyles many U.S. children exhibit are leading to a loss of this important asset earlier and earlier in life. It is very important that healthy lifestyles start at an early age, as the carry over into adulthood. Please visit the web site (link provided below) to read the complete article.”

From the article…..

More than 80 percent of U.S. teens eat unhealthy diets and many are sedentary, which raises the odds they’ll develop heart disease in adulthood, a new study suggests.

Researchers analyzed data on more than 4,600 teenagers, aged 12 to 19, and assessed their health behaviors based on criteria set by the American Heart Association. The poor health habits they uncovered translate into obesity and overweight, which in turn raise risk factors for high blood pressure and other predictors of cardiovascular trouble, the study authors noted.

“Most children are born in a state of ideal cardiovascular health, [but] the poor lifestyles many U.S. children exhibit are leading to a loss of this important asset earlier and earlier in life,” said lead investigator Christina Shay, an assistant professor of biostatistics and epidemiology in the College of Public Health at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City.

Childhood levels of cardiovascular disease risk factors strongly predict their threat in adulthood, Shay said. And the length of time young people live with elevated risk factors also has an impact on their heart health as adults, she added.

Based on the current findings, the United States may witness “increasing rates of heart attacks and strokes as the current generation of children reach adulthood compared to previous generations that had more favorable risk factors,” she said.

The students, who participated in one of two National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, are said to represent about 33 million teens nationwide. Their health behaviors were rated as poor, intermediate or ideal.

To read the full article…..Click here

Pre-diabetes In New Zealand

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diabetesglucoseFrom Your Health Journal…..”A fascinating article from The New Zealand Herald by Abby Gillies entitled Pre-diabetes numbers ‘alarming’ – about a new finding that suggests nearly one in five New Zealanders over the age of 15 have a blood disorder that precedes Type 2 diabetes. Over the past couple weeks, I have pointed out how the United States has been labeled the ‘fat capital’ of the world. Yes, I agree there is a problem here, but my contention, it is a worldwide epidemic. I have produced articles from over a dozen countries pointing to the fact there is a problem with obesity in other countries. Today’s article review shows a problem in New Zealand with obesity and type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is a disease where the body cannot control its blood sugar levels properly either because it doesn’t make enough insulin or because cells have become resistant to insulin. In most cases, type 2 diabetes is connected to obesity. Please visit the New Zealand Herald (link provided below) to view the complete article.”

From the article…..

University blood sampling shows grimmer future for those leaning towards disorder

Nearly one in five New Zealanders over the age of 15 have a blood disorder that precedes Type 2 diabetes, a finding described as “alarming” by experts.

The finding came from a University of Otago study involving blood sampling of 4721 Kiwis aged 15 years and older, which showed 19 per cent had glucose metabolism disorder. The pre-diabetes disorder typically leads to the disease.

Lead researcher Dr Kirsten Coppell from the university’s Edgar National Centre for Diabetes and Obesity Research said she was shocked at the high prevalence of pre-diabetes.

“These data, when compared with the first measurements taken in 1967, provide convincing evidence that the prevalence of diabetes in New Zealand has increased over time. This is consistent with observations worldwide.”

Diabetes New Zealand national president Chris Baty agreed.

“It probably confirms our worst fears that have been collectively held in the diabetes community. The incidence and the increase in New Zealand is completely and utterly alarming,” she said.

More than 200,000 Kiwis have diabetes, mostly Type 2, which is linked to obesity.

The blood samples came from the 2008/2009 NZ Adult Nutrition Survey, conducted by Otago University researchers for the Ministry of Health. The study also found that the prevalence of pre-diabetes and diabetes also continued to rise with age, increasing from almost 20 per cent of those aged 35-44 to more than 25 per cent for those aged 45-54 and almost 45 per cent for those aged 55-64 years.

Diabetes is most common among Pacific Islanders and Maori, who are three times as likely to get it as other New Zealanders. The prevalence is also higher among those who are obese.

To read the complete article…..Click here

Skin Care Tips for Teens

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By Debra Jaliman M.D.

femalewashingfaceIt’s very important to wash your face properly. Imagine how much oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells sit on the surface of your skin. In my book “Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist,” some of the initial rules cover face cleansing. Many of my readers have informed me that their skin improved just by changing the way they wash their face. The basics include never using your fingers when washing your face which most people unfortunately do because there’s bacteria under your fingernails. Another mistake people often make is that they use a washcloth. This would be fine if people changed the washcloth every time they washed their face. Most people don’t as it would require 14 washcloths a week. It’s best to use cotton pads or pre- moistened cleansing cloths. Additionally, I’m a big fan of sonic cleansing systems which use sonic vibrations to remove make-up, oil, bacteria and dirt. These can be purchased at the drugstore. There is an assortment of brands available at various price points.

The next decision you need to make is what type of a cleanser to use. If you have sensitive, delicate skin that tends to be dry then choose a mild cleanser that doesn’t sud. Ingredients to look for are glycerins and ceramides. If your skin is oily with a 4 o’clock shine and you tend to break out, look for a foaming cleanser which contains salicylic acid or glycolic acid.

A great habit to get into now when you’re young is to apply sunscreen every day. I’m sure you’re not thinking of wrinkles at your young age but before you know it they will be there. You want to prevent broken blood vessels, brown spots, and discoloration from acne marks. The newest recommendation from the American Academy of Dermatology is to wear a broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen. If the sunscreen contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide then it’s blocking both UVA and UVB rays. Be sure to pick a sunscreen that agrees with your skin type. If you have oily skin, use a gel or powder sunscreen and make sure it’s noncomedogenic (non- pore clogging). If you have dry skin, choose a cream or lotion.

malewashingfaceIf you find that you’re breaking out, there are a lot of over-the –counter products which can be beneficial. There are toners and pads with salicylic acid which unclog pores. Be sure to look at your skin carefully. You may only be oily in the T-zone, therefore you may only need these products on that specific area not your entire face. If you find that you’re still breaking out, you may want to use a benzoyl peroxide product at night which will kill bacteria. Make certain to use white sheets and pillowcases as benzoyl peroxide will bleach colored ones. To prevent acne, use a wire when talking on your cell phone, clean all hats, helmets, and headbands so bacteria won’t cause any breakouts. Make sure all of the products you use, from your moisturizer to your cover-up, are noncomedogenic.

I hope these tips will improve and clear your complexion.

– Guest Author Dr. Debra Jaliman is known as one of the top dermatologists in the nation, is an expert in the field of cosmetic and medical dermatology. She is celebrated for the customized care she provides; patients will never get a “cookie cutter” approach, only the most cutting-edge advances in cosmetic dermatology.

Youth Smoking, Obesity May Lead To Early Death

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smokingFrom Your Health Journal…..”A very interesting article recently recently on the US News & World Report (via HealthDay) web site written by Denise Mann entitled Youth Smoking, Obesity May Lead To Early Death. Now, before many of you say…”duh – this is obvious”, please take the time to read the article. It is an important one not only for the parent to read, but to share with their children. Let’s face it, most young children feel like they are invincible, and why shouldn’t they – they usually are healthy and vibrant, with no body aches or pains. But, what they need to know is they should live healthy now for a healthier future. New government research suggests young adults and teens who smoke, are obese and have high blood sugar levels may be more likely to die before they reach their 55th birthday. As we know, childhood obesity is quickly climbing, as sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits are causing some alarm in children’s health, especially the many children with signs of heart disease already. Add smoking to this, and we have a serious problem. Please visit the US News & World Report web site (link provided below) to view the complete article. It is well written, informative, and may help a young child in your life.”

From the article…..

Young adults and teens who smoke, are obese and have high blood sugar levels may be more likely to die before they reach their 55th birthday, new government research suggests.

The findings are concerning when viewed in context of the rising rates of childhood obesity in the United States. Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years, according to the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. As a result, diseases and conditions previously only seen in adults are increasingly being diagnosed in children. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes.

“Given the numbers of youth who are obese, this is a concern,” said the study’s author, Dr. Sharon Saydah, a CDC senior scientist. “Any time somebody dies before age 55, it has an overall societal impact.”

The average life expectancy in the United States is 78.7, according to the CDC.

The report was published online Feb. 18 and will be in the March print issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Saydah and her colleagues analyzed data on close to 9,250 people who took part in the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Participants were aged 12 to 39 when the study was conducted. Of these, more than 15 percent were obese, and 30 percent were smokers. Overall, 298 of the participants died before they turned 55.

Those who smoked between the ages of 12 and 39 had an 86 percent greater risk of dying before 55, compared with those who did not, the data showed. Those who were obese when they were young had a 39 percent higher likelihood of dying before 55, compared with those not obese during these early years. In addition, the risk of dying before 55 tripled among those with high blood sugar levels between the ages of 12 to 39, the study showed. High blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, however, did not affect the risk of dying before age 55.

To read the complete article…..Click here

Alcohol And Teens: Parents Have The Opportunity To Influence

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By Eugene Shatz, MD

youngdrinkWhen it comes to teens, one thing is true: social pressure is powerful. We see how peers, the entertainment culture, and strategic marketing influence teens’ decisions on a myriad of subjects, including their decision to drink.

Studies have shown that teens are more likely to drink the more they are exposed to alcohol use in movies and advertisements.

The good news is that parents also have influence on their teens. By example and through discussion, parents can establish a foundation of healthy attitudes and behavior related to alcohol. Below are real-life strategies for parents to use when modeling positive alcohol consumption and discussing alcohol with their teens.

Alcohol & Teens – What parents can do

• Set a good example: Do not drink to cope with problems. Do not invite your teen to drink with you or joke about drunkenness. Be the first to demonstrate to your teens that you don’t need alcohol to have fun.

• Talk about “cause and effect”: There are serious dangers and repercussions associated with drinking. Take a firm stand with your teen about alcohol. “Until you are of legal drinking age, our stance on alcohol is simple – do not drink.” Help them understand the risks to their health, safety and dreams for the future if they drink. A single episode of irresponsible drinking can change the trajectory of their life forever, or worse, it could take their life.

youngdrink• Discuss marketing efforts: With alcohol companies spending millions of dollars in promotions, it is hard to escape the messages encouraging teens to drink. Teens should be familiar with the methods companies use to try and influence consumer behavior. Discuss with your teen the marketing strategies alcohol companies employ to sell their product.

• Monitor your teen’s screen time: Aggressive campaigns marketing alcohol are on television, the internet, movies – you name it. Sports-related television programming and websites are particularly saturated with alcohol marketing. Be mindful of how much time your teen is spending in front of a screen and what they are viewing. Avoid programming that glamorizes alcohol and other drugs. Keep overall screen time to one to two hours per day.

• Consider cancelling magazine subscriptions: There are more beer and hard liquor ads in teen magazines than adults’ magazines. Consider cancelling subscriptions to magazines that run alcohol ads.

• Advocate: Write letters to advertisers who run inappropriate ads. Write to Congress asking for greater restrictions on alcohol advertising, such as restricting the use of cartoons or attractive women in alcohol promotions.

• Prepare your teen by role-playing: Give your teen the tools they need to get out of sticky situations where alcohol is a factor. Practice how they would avoid the temptation to drink, what they would say and how they could leave the situation.

Set clear “safe party” rules: It isn’t practical to think that your teen won’t ever encounter alcohol.

• Set clear “safe party” rules: It isn’t practical to think that your teen won’t ever encounter alcohol. Even if your teen chooses to abstain from alcohol, they still need to be smart about their surroundings and follow “safe party” rules to make sure their beverage isn’t tampered with or spiked.

– – Never leave your beverage cup unattended.

– – Don’t accept an open container drink from anyone who is not a close friend.

– – Be aware of the taste, texture and appearance of your drink.

– – Use the buddy system. If you suspect your friend has ingested alcohol or another controlled substance, get them out of the situation and ask that they do the same for you.

– – Call anytime. You are loved and cherished. You are wanted home safe, regardless of what you have consumed. Call your parents or the parents of a friend to pick you up and remove you from a dangerous situation.

With solid information and the love and guidance of parents, teens can be well-equipped to handle the pressures that come with adolescence and young adulthood. But, in order for a teen to be prepared, parents first need to be prepared with information to assist in the navigation.

– Eugene Shatz is a pediatrician specializing in adolescent medicine at Spectrum Health’s Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. Dr. Shatz and his staff provide comprehensive health services for adolescents. Adolescents – children over 12 years of age – are seen for routine medical problems, annual check-ups, sports physicals and/or counseling for such conditions as late-onset puberty, sexually transmitted diseases, birth control, and psychological issues.

Dr. Shatz is board certified in pediatrics and adolescent medicine. He is a fellow in the American Academy of Pediatrics and a member of the Society of Adolescent Medicine.

Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system in West Michigan offering a full continuum of care through the Spectrum Health Hospital Group, which is comprised of nine hospitals including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, a state of the art children’s hospital that opened in January 2011, and 140 service sites; the Spectrum Health Medical Group and West Michigan Heart, physician groups totaling more than 700 providers; and Priority Health, a health plan with 600,000 members. Spectrum Health is West Michigan’s largest employer with 19,000 employees. The organization provided $204 million in community benefit during its 2012 fiscal year.