In It For Health

Where health and psychology intersect

Posts Tagged ‘overweight’

Child-Obesity ads gone wild

Posted by Dr. Susan on May 6, 2011

There is a furor about Georgia’s child-obesity campaign which portrays overweight kids, with seriously depressed facial expressions, talking about how bleak their present life is and how bad their future will be, unless they lose weight.

Now, I’m all for shock-value if it gets the job done, but this ad is a problem. To begin, it give ammunition to other kids who bully, or are considering bullying an overweight child. From a kid’s perspective: “If you’re talking about all the negatives that you experience, then why can’t I?” It’s not a taboo subject anymore.

Next, the parents and educators who are not already working on helping overweight children won’t really be impacted by this–they know that this is what the kids look like already–it’s live in front of them! What they really need to see is overweight adults in the ads talking about what it was like to be an overweight kid and still be overweight–and then remind the viewer of the ads to take responsibility for helping the kids.

Using vulnerable kids–those in the ads and the those who will inadvertently become associated with the ads–creates an unfair playing field. The adults need to take responsibility for the problem and of course, the solution.

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The FDA is finally wising up about serving sizes!

Posted by Dr. Susan on February 9, 2010

It’s taken a long time, but maybe, just maybe, the FDA is realizing what I’ve said for years-many food companies are basically con artists when it comes to reporting serving sizes accurately and in a way that truly represents the product. This article explains it: half a muffin is a serving size; six potato chips…really!? They count on consumers looking at the calories and not paying attention to the serving size, and unfortunately, in many cases that’s exactly what happens.

This is not to say that the consumer is without responsibility–we should be more educated and less willing to be duped. But less face it, if we were more disciplined, we wouldn’t be one of the most overweight nations in the world.

Regardless, accurate, realistic packaging should be mandatory! A whole muffin, an entire bottle of juice, a bowl of chips or ice-cream–THIS is a serving size and should be labeled as such, with the calories reflected right on the package. Perhaps when we see what we’re actually eating, not what we wish we were, or would like to pretend we are, we’d stop being one of the most overweight countries on the planet!

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Turn the TV off…seriously, you might die!

Posted by Dr. Susan on January 11, 2010

This study finds that for every hour a day you watch TV, you increase your risk of dying–from any cause–by 11%. For dying from cardiovascular disease, the increased risk was 18%. The study goes on to say that when they compared people who watched less than two hours of TV a day to those who watched more than four, the four-hour watchers had an 80% greater chance of dying from cardiovascular disease.

OK, that’s scary! But the issue is not about TV exactly…it’s about NOT moving your body! The more TV you watch, the more likely you are to be sedentary, the more likely you are to NOT be healthy. You get it, right. So…turn off the TV and take a walk….or some day someone may find you kicked-off in front of the TV, having breathed your last breath. Wouldn’t that be ironic!

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Even teens who THINK they’re overweight are at risk for suicide!

Posted by Dr. Susan on May 19, 2009

A huge study,  published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, finds that both BOYS and GIRLS who either are, or think they are overweight, are more likely to attempt suicide. This tells us two things:

1. We need to develop better social, school and peer supports for overweight kids and teens as well as those who have poor body images and don’t need to lose weight.

2. We need to become more effective at helping those kids who need to lose weight do so.

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Stay Healthy after losing your job

Posted by Dr. Susan on May 5, 2009

Losing your job might be the toughest experience you’ve ever had and you’re likely to want to climb into bed, eat junk food and watch TV! But, this won’t help you find another job. In fact, staying healthy will not only keep your body looking and feeling good–it will help you at interviews, by keeping your mind sharper too. Check out this article for some easy, inexpensive, practical tips to keep yourself from getting into a big slump!

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A recession maybe, but not when it comes to cheap sweets!

Posted by Dr. Susan on March 26, 2009

Since the crash of the market, there’s been an uptick in purchases of inexpensive candy and cheap chocolates! This great NY Times article, explains that even as we wallow in the demise of life as we knew it, we continue to soothe ourselves with instant gratification!

Despite the fact that we know eating too much junk food is not good for our health,  we still associate sweets with helping ourselves feel better and we’re suckers (no pun intended!) for the feeling that we had when we were innocent kids at the corner candy shop and all was right with the world.

So as we get fatter (again!) while we lose all our money, yet another corporate entity–the candy makers–are raking in the bucks. Let’s not let that happen!!! A little good-quality chocolate once in a while is great for stress reduction (it increases your feel-good neurotransmitters), but please don’t sacrifice your health for a quick sugar fix all the time!

Instead, when you’re feeling a little down, take a walk, talk to a friend, write in a journal, ask your kid to tell you some funny knock-knock jokes. All of these will lift your spirits just as well…maybe better…than candy, and without the negative side effects.

Also, when you’re stressed, don’t jump to other negative habits. Smoking, drinking, drugs–you know the drill. Over-eating is on that list too.

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No TV in you teen’s bedroom!

Posted by Dr. Susan on April 7, 2008

This new study, not surprisingly, links TV in teens’ bedrooms to being overweight and the American Academy of Pediatrics is urging parents to remove TV’s from their kids’ rooms. Previous studies have shown similar links between TV and chubbiness for younger kids, so these findings are a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned. But have you tried to take a TV out of a teenager’s bedroom…sound like a peaceful interchange to you??!! I don’t think so!!!

So, the most important information we can gain from this study is that a parent should not put a TV in their child’s room in the first place. It is virtually impossible to remove a TV from a teen’s room, without causing enormous stress in your relationship with him or her. But although not pain free, it is easier to say NO to the TV in the first place and stick to it!

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Take the TV out of your child’s bedroom

Posted by Dr. Susan on March 7, 2008

I’ve been encouraging parents for years to keep the TV out of their kid’s room but it sure is nice to have the NY Times agree with me. For one thing, when your child has a TV in their room, you don’t even know how much they’re watching and trust me, you’re underestimating–and by a lot!! Also, you don’t know what they’re watching. Then there’s the issue of the ‘closed door, we never see you except for meals’ problem. Well, you created it–they have the TV, probably the computer too, so what do you expect. Children with TV’s in their room are more likely to be overweight. They’re also more likely to do more poorely in school. NO, it’s not the only cause of these problems–but it is something you can control and since there are so many negative factors in the world that you can’t control, this is one that you should!

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depression is dangerous!

Posted by Dr. Susan on March 5, 2008

A new study shows that depressed and anxious people are more likely to be obese, and to smoke and drink heavily. I hope they didn’t spend a lot of money on this study because I, and any good clinician could have told them this years ago! What particularly infuriates me about this research is that it declares that given this data we should now pay attention to depression and anxiety in a whole new light. You mean before this did these researchers really think that those treating depressed people weren’t helping them with related issues like emotional eating, alcoholism and other addictions. Research like this is a waste of time and money in my opinion and perhaps these scientists need to get into the real world for at least a short while.

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Eat breakfast!

Posted by Dr. Susan on March 3, 2008

A new study finds that teens who eat breakfast, tend to weigh less, exercise more, have a healthier diet, and are healthier overall. Interesting. There has actually been lots of research and clincal confirmation over the years that supports the theory that breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. First, when you don’t eat breakfast, you’re starving by later in the day and tend to binge on high carb foods. Next, you also have an energy slump and are less likely to be active or to be able to focus well. Of course there are many who disagree with this theory–teens and others. They say they’re not hungry first thing in the morning. Okay, I can see that, but then take a bar or some fruit for mid morning whe you do get hungry–just don’t skip the meal all together.

I strongly recommend that parents make sure that younger kids eat breakfast, even if it’s just something small. The message you want to give your kids…and your own body…is that there is always time for self-nurturing

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