Archive for category Raising Healthy Kids

Teens With Too Many Facebook Friends More Likely To Experience Stress and Depression

You would think that having a big social circle will lead to a better emotional disposition, but a recent study revealed that having many friends on Facebook might lead to the opposite.

facebook effect on teenagersA team of researchers from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Montreal in Canada followed 88 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17, looking into their Facebook use and number of friends. The teens were also tested for levels of cortisol, a hormone that the human body releases as a natural response to stress.

Results showed that teenagers with more than 300 friends on the social networking site exhibited higher levels of cortisol than those with fewer Facebook connections. Study lead author Prof. Sonia Lupien said that this will definitely impact those with many more Facebook friends. “We can therefore imagine that those who have 1,000 or 2,000 friends on Facebook may be subjected to even greater stress,” Lupien said in a news release.

Although the researchers explained that having many Facebook friends wasn’t the sole reason behind the increased cortisol level, the social media site was contributory to about 8 percent of the effect.

In terms of depression, Lupien implied that the increase in cortisol levels may lead to depressive tendencies in the future. “Adolescents who present high stress hormone levels do not become depressed immediately; it can occur later on… Some studies have shown that it may take 11 years before the onset of severe depression in children who consistently had high cortisol levels,” Lupien added.

The study was published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, and may be used as a jumping board for further studies on other age groups. “Developmental analysis could also reveal whether virtual stress is indeed ‘getting over the screen and under the skin’ to modulate neurobiological processes related to adaptation,” the study lead author expressed.

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Level of Stress Hormones Surge in Young Adults After One Can of Energy Drink

A single can of energy drink may look innocent, but a recent study revealed that it can significantly increase the level of stress hormones and blood pressure in young adults.

energy drink effect on young adultsStudy lead author Dr. Anna Svatikova, who works as cardiologist at a Minnesota Mayo Clinic, discovered that after drinking 16 ounces of the “Rockstar Punched” energy drink, there was a 74 percent boost in the level of the hormone norepinephrine, which is responsible for the fight-or-flight action in people. The drink also caused a significant spike in blood pressure. “The worry is that if these responses are seen in healthy young people, perhaps the effects of energy drinks may be more pronounced in people who already have high blood pressure,” Svatikova said in a news release.

The study followed 25 individuals between age 26 and 31 who weren’t diagnosed with heart ailments. The participants were asked to drink either Rockstar Punched or a fake energy drink in two separate days. Results showed that the branded drink caused the norepinephrine level to shoot up more than twice than the people who drank the fake variant.

Svatikova attributes this alarmingly huge impact to Rockstar Punched’s contents, which include “caffeine, taurine, guarana, ginseng and milk thistle extract.”

The study poses as a warning to the general public. “For the consumers, they should use caution when consuming energy drinks, because these drinks may increase their risk of sudden heart problems, even among young people,” the study author added.

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Alarming Percentage of Young Adults Use E-Cigarettes, Says CDC

More than one in every five adults between 18 and 24 years old have tried using electronic cigarettes, according to a recent report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The findings were presented as part of the agency’s National Health Interview Survey in 2014, and reported in this news article.

teen e-cigarette useThe survey was conducted on close to 37,000 adults, who were asked if they have tried using e-cigarettes at least once in their lifetime, and if they are currently using the smoking device. Results revealed that about 13 percent of U.S. adults have tried e-cigarettes, while 4 percent have admitted to be using them at the present.

What troubles the agency, though, is the disparity in the usage per age group. While the members of the older generation (i.e. at least 65 years old) have tried the device at least once, the figure for young adults aged 18 to 24 was at 22 percent. In terms of current use, more than 5 percent of young adults admit to use electronic cigs now, significantly higher than the one percent of elders.

Despite the conduct of the survey on an annual basis, this marks the first time that questions on e-cigarette use were asked. “This was the first year that the NCHS has even asked these questions. So we can only speculate as to why, as we watch to see how the trends unfold over time,” said study co-author Charlotte Schoenborn, who also works at the CDC’s U.S. National Center for Health Statistics.

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Kids May Be Exposed To Illicit Drugs That Look Like Halloween Candy

As kids and parents prepare for Halloween, law enforcement authorities are warning the public about an imminent danger that might lure your children to ingest illicit drugs without their knowledge.

halloween candy illegal drugsAccording to a news article, a Florida police department recently shared a picture of a seemingly innocent-looking candy that is actually ecstasy in disguise. Manufacturers of this illegal drug have resorted to creating different variants to attract potential users, and shaping them like colorful candies is one such practice.

The police department in the Town of Menasha, Wisconsin is warning parents to be alert in checking what their children are eating. Community liaison officer Jason Weber confirmed that illegal drugs in the market may be misconstrued as regular candy by untrained eyes. However, he was quick to mention that the likelihood of candy-like drugs getting mixed with regular candy during trick or treat is very slim. In fact, the police department hasn’t had any cases of candy poisoning during Halloween for the past 25 years.

Weber advised parents to accompany their kids when they go trick or treat, and always check the candy before letting them eat it. You can always decide to throw the candy away if you suspect that it’s laced with illegal drugs.

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New Testing Method Helps To Determine Risk of Diabetes and Cardiovascular Diseases in Teenagers

The world’s leading diseases can be identified as early as adolescence, and that’s why a new study seeks to promote early intervention through its breakthrough testing method.

teen healthA team of researchers led by Dr. Mark DeBoer of the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital formulated a test on teenagers that can predict the likelihood of heart diseases and diabetes in the future. The test, described in two studies published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and Diabetologia, looks into a person’s metabolic syndrome status. This parameter pinpoints specific health factors that affect cardiovascular health.

The test was created in reference to blood pressure, body mass index, fasting triglyceride levels, fasting glucose levels, and good cholesterol levels in kids with an average age of 12.9 years. The scope of the study included children at the Cincinnati Clinic of the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute Lipids Research Clinic (LRC) from 1973 to 1976. Health monitoring was done on the children as they grew up to adulthood, through the Princeton Follow-up Study (1998-2003) and the Princeton Health Update (PHU) study (2010-2014). Average age of the study respondents was 38.4 years for the first follow-up study, and 49.6 years for the second study.

Based on study results as reported in a news item, the researchers discovered that the metabolic syndrome severity score showed high accuracy in determining the risk of diabetes and heart ailments. “We are hopeful that this score can be used to assess the baseline risk for adolescents regarding metabolic syndrome and their risk for future disease and use it as a motivator for individuals to try to change their risk so that they may have a healthier diet, engage in more physical activity or get medication to reduce their metabolic syndrome severity and their future risk for disease,” DeBoer said.

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Kids Exposed To Alcohol Ads On TV Even During Daytime

Sports events on television serve as perfect opportunities for alcohol companies to advertise their products, but a recent Australian study revealed that this increases the risk of exposure of children to alcohol.

children tv exposure to alcohol adsAccording to research from Monash University in Australia, free-to-air TV channels (AFL, Cricket, and NRL) aired about 60 percent of all alcohol-related ads in Australian sports channels. Worse, 47 percent of the advertisements were aired during the daytime, when kids can have free access.

Study lead author Dr. Sherilene Carr expressed the research team’s frustration over the inconsistency in regulating alcohol ads on free TV. “What was striking was the extent of children’s exposure because of the clause allowing alcohol advertising in daytime sport. It’s banned in every other TV genre because it’s known to be harmful to children, so why is sport exempt? It just doesn’t make sense,” Carr said in a news report.

The study looked into 2012 data on alcohol advertising in AFL, Cricket, and NFL, and cross-referenced it with information on TV audience viewership. Although daytime viewing exposed kids to a lot of alcohol ads, the timeslot of 8:30 to 9:30 PM proved to be the most intensive in term of alcohol ad exposure.

University associate professor Kerry O’Brien stressed the responsibility of TV networks on safeguarding children and teens from the hazards of alcohol abuse. “The alcohol industry’s job is to increase sales and consumption of alcohol, so they can’t be expected to protect young people’s health, but the AFL, NRL, and Cricket, could care more than they apparently do,” O’Brien expressed.

The study, funded by the Australian Research Council, Australian National Preventative Health Agency, and VicHealth, was published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Review.

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