In It For Health

Where health and psychology intersect

Archive for May, 2008

Are we finally starting to get the message about obesity?

Posted by Dr. Susan on May 28, 2008

a newly released CDC study cautiously finds that the rate of childhood obesity in the U.S. seems to have leveled off. It hasn’t dropped, the researchers note, just stabilized. And they don’t know yet whether this is a temporary blip or a real cause for hope. Let’s say it like it is–the rate of overweight and obesity is still 58 percent. This tells us that we need to keep working at it. Perhaps things really are changing. I hope so. Perhaps the government just wants us to think things are improving so that they can rationalize the huge amounts of money they have been spending on fairly inconsequential changes that they have made to try and move Americans towards becoming healthier. Let’s see the government make really significant changes. I bet if all the money spent on the war had been spent on making Americans healthier, we’d all have lifetime memberships to health clubs.

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Why waste money on sex ed for teens!

Posted by Dr. Susan on May 21, 2008

The results of a new survey uncover some interesting info–teens who have oral sex are far more likely to also be having REAL sex!! So much for the theory that kids are doing ‘everything but’ and staying ‘technical virgins. The truth is that without proper sex ed, teens are being exposed, not only to the chance of getting pregnant, but to scary sexually transmitted diseases that they will have for the rest of their lives. The Bush administration and its followers need to get their heads out of the sand, shake the dirt out of their ears and eyes and pay attention to what is going on. Kids are having sex. Real sex, oral sex, anal sex. And they need protection so that they don’t have to suffer life-long consequences from mistakes that they may make as teenagers.

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who’s in charge up in the sky?

Posted by Dr. Susan on May 14, 2008

By now just about everyone has heard about the JetBlue passenger who is suing the airline because the pilot forced him to spend three hours in the bathroom because apparantly a flight attendant found her jump-seat a little too uncomfortable and wanted his seat. You just can’t make this stuff up and I hope he gets every penny he’s suing for.

But what I don’t hear anyone talking about, and what worries me even more than the emotional damage for which this passenger is partially suing is what the psychological state of an airline pilot who who would direct such an action. Someone with such impaired judgment, with an obvious inability to make a rational and good decision should NOT be piloting a plane. It seems very unlikely that in a crisis he would make a decision in the best interest of the passengers I certainly wouldn’t want him in charge of my life! Would you? It makes me wonder what JetBlue–perhaps the entire airline industry–does to ensure the mental stability of its pilots. Up there they’re in charge. This incident demonstrates that having a mentally unstable person in charge can be dangerous. This time only one person was negatively impacted. Next time, who knows–it could be deadly. So do pilots take psychological tests? Does someone make sure that they’re stable, clear thinking, emotionally healthy people. Their job is unlike any other. In most other situations if someone isn’t happy with how they’re being treated they can just walk away. Not so when you’re flying. Along with a pilot’s physical health, their emotional health should be paramount. Is it? I wonder!

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A twist on teens who smoke

Posted by Dr. Susan on May 12, 2008

I just read this study which gives parents yet another headache to worry about–but an important one, worthy of concern and particularly worthy of discussing with your teenager. It finds that there is an increase in college students who smoke hookahs–you know water pipes–Alice in Wonderland style–for some people, perhaps otherwise known as water bongs. The tobacco passes through flavored water. Hookah bars are cropping up all over major (and even smaller) cities, further adding a ‘coolness’ factor to the activity, not to mention somehow making it seem okay. But the truth–that most teens (and many adults) don’t realize–is that hookah smoking is NO SAFER than smoking tobacco in any other form. It’s just as harmful to your body despite seeming more natural and  somehow ‘filtered’.

Another important bit of info–lots of high school kids are also taking up hookah smoking–in fact, I’d say the many start in high school and continue in college. So, while the article discussed here talks about interventions with college students, I’m much more concerned about parents finding out how their high schoolers are spending their weekends. I know many who hang out at hookah bars, getting hooked on tobacco. Schools should be including it in drug ed. programs and parents should be talking about it at the family dinner table along with all the cigarettes, alcohol and drugs.

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Divorcing the War

Posted by Dr. Susan on May 8, 2008

It should not be surprising to learn from this article that when President Bush extended deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan last year from 12 months to 15, it strained young families, particularly marriages, even more than they were already. In fact, the divorce rate has risen since then amongst families with deployed members. And it’s not simply because they’re away. No. More importantly to understand, it’s because they come home from being in the war zone for so long with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which causes thema whole host of emotional and physical problems, making it very difficult not only to function in a marriage, but in society as well, including working, and making friends. They may also be depressed, anxious, angry and not sure that being home is even what they want. For the spouse, who’d been excited to have them home this is a rude awakening. No-one was prepared for this. There is little support for these families despite the military doing it’s best during war time. Divorce may follow. No-one talks about this side of the war, do they? The long-term impact on an entire generation of young American families. We should be talking about it before going to the voting booths in November.

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