Your Teen

4 Dangerous Teen Trends Parents Should Know

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When kids get together they not only share the latest gossip or fashions, but also dangerous trends.

Children in middle school and high school are sharing videos of kids their age doing incredibly perilous activities and many times, their parents don’t have a clue.

Today, parents need to know what kinds of influences their kids are being inundated with. The types of trends that are gaining in popularity aren’t necessarily the ones that your child will easily divulge.

As the school year reconnects students and introduces new peers into the mix, pre-teens and teens-in search of recognition-are either doing or considering doing some seriously stupid things.

We know that kids in this age group act out impulsively with little thought given to consequences. There’s a scientific reason for this type of behavior.

Brain scans reveal that the frontal lobes, used in making critical and objective decisions, do not mature until about age 25.

Since the brain is still developing, choices teens make can be strongly influenced by peer pressure, a need to stand out among others and intense emotional feelings. A pre-teen or adolescent’s decision making may become overwhelmed by their immature circuitry.

While you may think your child would never do something truly dangerous, he or she may surprise you.

Here are four popular trends that parents need to be aware of:

The Fire Challenge: This one is particularly dangerous. Teens are taking the “fire challenge.” They are dousing themselves in flammable liquids, lighting it and — in theory —extinguishing it before being seriously injured, while recording the act and then sharing the video on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Yes, our kids are recording themselves being engulfed in flames, flailing and screaming in pain. 

There are thousands of the videos circulating and injuries have included severe burns and hospitalization. Officials around the country, along with the American Burn Association, are asking parents to warn their child about the game.

Many parents just can’t believe their child would actually do something like this, but even “good” kids are taking the challenge. Be sure and talk to your child about these types of videos and persuade them not to share or promote them with friends.

Synthetic Pot or Spice: Also called “Scooby snacks,” “K2,” or any of half a dozen other names, teens might consider this an “alternative” to pot, but it’s dangerously more potent. These “synthetic cannabinoids” consist of dozens of chemicals manufactured in China, Eastern Europe and American labs.

The drug looks like potpourri or lawn clippings. The pieces have been sprayed or soaked with a solution of designer chemicals.

 Because of the popularity of these drugs, there has been an explosion of ER visits related to Spice or K2 over the past few years. There’s been a reported death in California of a 19 year –old that took one after he took just one hit of Spice. So if you hear your kids talking about it, know that despite the name, the only thing that is being cooked here is your teen’s brain.  

Dirty Sprite: Although this may sound like a soda that’s got dirt on it- it’s much more insidious than that. When you hear a reference to “Dirty Sprite,”. Kids are talking about the latest teen party drink. It’s also called “Drank” or “”Lean.” It’s a combination of Sprite, candy (usually Jolly Ranchers) and prescription drugs or codeine cough syrup.

There are YouTube videos of teens creating the concoction, and even sweatshirts with the recipe printed on it.

Experts warn that Dirty Sprite can be addictive and tell parents that it’s best to keep prescription meds locked up, as well as discarding ones that have expired. If you think that it won’t help to talk to your kids about prescription drug abuse, you’re wrong. Children who learn a lot about the risks of drugs are up to 50 percent less likely to use them, according to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.

Texting and Walking or Driving:  Every year a new batch of teens is behind the wheel, especially once school begins.  Never stop reminding your teen of the dangers of texting and driving. They may roll their eyes or give you the typical “I get it mom (dad)” response, but repeated warnings stick in the mind. A recent study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health found that among teens, 25 percent reported responding to a text message at least once every time they drive, and 20 percent admitted to holding multi-message conversations.

Since videos are one way that other dangerous trends are spread, you can share more valuable videos by showing your teen stories that show the outcomes of teens’ texting and driving. They act as a third-party negotiator that makes the point clearly.

But perhaps the best type of parental influence is to just be a good role model. Sadly, adults are the biggest offenders of texting and driving. The “Do as I say, not as I do” attitude never brings about the desired results.

It's not just driving, either. Pedestrian injuries among 16 to 19-year olds have been increasing and the death rate among older teens is at least twice that of younger kids, according to SafeKids.com. It's unclear how many of those are because of mobile devices, but it's worth reminding your teen, "eyes up while walking." 

These are only four of the most dangerous trends this year. Kids are often too afraid to say no to their peers. As parents, it’s our job to teach them how and to report what they are seeing and hearing from other teens.

Research, open communication and reminders are essential to helping your child understand that these are not the sort of activities that will bring a brighter, happier or healthier future.

Source: Kavita Varma-White, http://www.today.com/parents/fire-challenge-spice-4-things-parents-should-get-clue-about-2D80183586

Your Teen

Teens Giving Birth Reaches Historic Low

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U.S. teens giving birth has reached historic lows. New evidence from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today points to the ongoing and significant drop in the U.S. teen birth rate over the past 2o-plus years.

The CDC attributes the drop to fewer teens having sex and more frequent use of contraception. While the overall rate dropped significantly, some states did better than others in the reduction of teenagers giving birth.

Rates are consistently highest across the southern and southwestern United States and lowest in the Northeast.

The 10 highest states were Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

The 10 lowest states were Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin.

The teen birth rate has declined across all racial groups since 1991, but the steepest declines have been recorded among Asian-Pacific Islanders (API) (64 percent) and non-Hispanic blacks (63 percent). API teens currently have the lowest birth rate overall (9.7 per 1,000), while Hispanic teens have the highest rate among the racial groups (46.3 percent). Still, the rate for Hispanic teens has fallen the fastest since 2007 (39 percent).

The good news for America is somewhat tempered by the fact that our teen birth rate still ranks among some of the highest for developed countries. While countries like Denmark, Switzerland and Japan recorded teen birth rates under 5 per 1,000, the United States finds itself among seven of 31 countries highlighted by the CDC with rates exceeding 20 births per 1,000 teens.

Even though we lag behind many other developed countries, we’re still making progress and progress is good for our teens’ health and our economy.

The CDC says the progress made since 1991 has amounted to 4 million fewer teen births. Citing research from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, the CDC says this also saved taxpayers an estimated $12 billion alone in 2010 from costs associated with government-funded health care, child welfare and higher incarceration rates for the children of teen moms. And having fewer babies born to teen mothers, the CDC points out, is good for other reasons. Teen motherhood comes with a higher health risk for the baby, educational limits for the mother and limited resources, since about 90 percent of teen births are to unmarried mothers. And babies born to teen mothers are more likely to eventually become teen mothers themselves.

Some states, like Colorado, have seen dramatic reductions in teen births by re-thinking their approach. Between 2007 and 2012, Colorado saw the highest percentage drop in birth rates among teens 15 to 19 in the country, according to the CDC report. During that time, its teen birth rates dropped 39 percent compared to 29 percent nationwide. Abortion rates in the state among teens fell 35 percent between 2009 and 2012 and are falling nationally, as well.

What did Colorado do differently? They invested wisely in their young women and teen’s public health education and pregnancy prevention options.

State public health officials are crediting a sustained, focused effort to offer low-income women free or low-cost long-acting reversible contraception, that is, intrauterine devices or implants. The Colorado Family Planning Initiative, supported by a $23 million anonymous donation, provided more than 30,000 IUDs or implants to women served by the state’s 68 family-planning clinics. The state’s analysis suggests the initiative was responsible for three-quarters of the decline in the state’s teen birth rates. The state also saw a 50 percent drop in repeat pregnancies among teens.

Public health officials there and elsewhere long have argued the use of long-acting reversible contraception can dramatically reduce the number of unintended pregnancies -- which make up a majority of teen pregnancies. Colorado’s initiative built upon a somewhat similar effort in St. Louis, Mo., which educated about 7,500 sexually active women on various forms of contraception and then offered to pay for that contraception over the next three years.

Seventy percent of women in the Missouri study chose an IUD or implant. The conclusion: those who chose short-term methods such as the pill or the patch were 20 times more likely to have an unintended pregnancy than those who used an IUD or an implant.

Whether teens are delaying having sex or they are becoming savvier about using contraception, for their health and future prospects- it’s good to see that our young teenage girls are having fewer babies.

Sources: Jason Millman, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/08/20/the-uneven-and-historic-decline-in-teen-births/

Tina Griego, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/storyline/wp/2014/08/20/the-simple-policy-that-led-americas-biggest-drop-in-teen-pregnancies/

Your Teen

Growing Use of E-Cigarettes Among Teens

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A new study says that e-cigarette use among teens is accelerating at a rapid pace, particularly in Hawaii. Nearly one-third of the high school students that took part in the study said they had tried e-cigarettes.

An e-cigarette is a device that turns nicotine, flavorings and other chemicals into an inhalable vapor. Many e-cigarettes are designed to resemble tobacco cigarettes, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Researchers surveyed more than 1,900 teens in Hawaii. The average age was between 14 and 15 years old. The teens were in ninth and 10th grades, and from both public and private schools, according to the study. The survey assessed e-cigarette and cigarette use, alcohol and marijuana use, and psychosocial risk factors for substance use.

Twelve percent of the students reported using both e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes. Seventeen percent had used only e-cigarettes and three percent used cigarettes only.

Study author Thomas Wills, interim director of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at University of Hawaii Cancer Center, said his team was surprised by the research results in several ways.

"We had thought that persons who used e-cigarettes would look pretty much like smokers on the psychosocial variables we measured, like sensation seeking, impulsivity and peer smoking" he said. "It turned out that the students who only used e-cigarettes had a lower risk profile than smokers and dual users -- persons who use both cigarettes and e-cigarettes."

Electronic cigarettes hit the American market around 2006- 2007, after taking hold in China and Europe. According to the FDA’s website, it does not currently regulate these products, but has proposed extending its authority to cover additional products that meet the definition of a tobacco product under the proposed rule: Tobacco Products Deemed To Be Subject to the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act (Deeming).

Forty-one states have laws forbidding the sale of e-cigarettes to minors and many cities in states that do not forbid the sale, have regulated the sales through ordinances.

E-cigarettes have helped many adults quit smoking tobacco cigarettes or cut-down on their use. What is stirring concern over the increase in use among teens is the worry that these products are creating a new generation of teens addicted to nicotine and possible health risks. Nicotine is an extremely difficult drug to quit.

"Kids will try any psychoactive device that seems interesting," said Dr. Norman Edelman, senior consultant for scientific affairs at the American Lung Association. "But the American Lung Association is very concerned about that because we think one of the major deleterious effects of e-cigarettes is hooking a whole generation of kids on this very addictive substance that is nicotine."

He noted that e-cigarettes are only one of many available "nicotine delivery devices," which also include items resembling pens or USB drives that release puffs of nicotine vapor.

Recent studies suggest that the overall use of e-cigarettes by teens in the mainland is lower than the results from the Hawaii study, but adolescent use continues to grow in popularity. 

The big question is, what are the long-term health risks of e-cigarettes and other nicotine vapor products? Since there is not any current government oversight on how these products are made, it’s difficult to know what other chemicals are being used in their production.

"Parents have to make it clear to kids that these things are not necessarily safe," Edelman said, "and to live a full and complete life, it would be good if they were drug-free."

Results of the study were published online on Dec. 15 in the journal Pediatrics.

Source: Maureen Salamon, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/adolescents-and-teen-health-news-719/growing-use-of-e-cigarettes-among-teenagers-694585.html

Your Teen

Do Expensive Football Helmets Prevent Concussions?

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These days, parents, student athletes and coaches are much more aware of the long-term medical problems that concussions can cause. Fortunately, many efforts are being made to protect kids from head injuries.

Sports equipment companies have jumped on the bandwagon and have improved the protection their helmets and pads offer. However, some of these newer products, like football helmets, are quite expensive. Parents want to know if these more expensive football helmets actually offer more protection. According to a new study, just because a  helmet may be heavier and more expensive, it will not lower a player’s risk of concussion.

Why is that? It could be because a helmet doesn’t keep the brain from moving around in the skull. It may offer better protection against a skull fracture, but that doesn’t necessarily correlate with concussion.

A study of more than 1,300 players on football teams at 36 Wisconsin high schools found that players wearing older helmets received just as much protection from concussion as players with flashy new models, said study author Timothy McGuine, senior scientist and research coordinator for the University of Wisconsin Health Sports Medicine Center in Madison.

"The helmet technology is advanced as it can be. They've done a wonderful job. We don't have skull fractures in football," he said. "But I don't know how much padding can be put in to prevent the brain from sloshing around inside the cranium."

This research, to be presented Saturday at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine's annual meeting in Chicago, comes at a time when some sports equipment manufacturers are marketing expensive football helmets amid claims that they offer better protection against concussion than earlier models, McGuine said.

"They're all being touted as the next best thing to prevent sports injuries, and it really puts the squeeze on athletic directors and coaches," he said. "Some companies are going right to the parents and saying, 'We know it's too expensive for the school to pay for it, so you should pay for this helmet to protect your child.'"

Here’s how the study worked. Licensed athletic trainers at each of the high schools taking part in the study, kept thorough records during the 2012 football season. All safety equipment used by the athletes was noted. Data was also recorded on the numbers of games and practices each player participated in and the number of sports-related concussions.

The players wore helmets manufactured by Riddell, Schutt and Xenith.

Out of 1,332 players tracked, 115 sustained a concussion during the season, McGuine reported.

Researchers found no difference in the rate of concussion by either the type of helmet worn or the helmet's age.

"We found the actual incidence of concussion was not more for players wearing the newest helmets versus wearing helmets 3, 4 or 5 years old," McGuine said. "We also looked at [concussion] severity by helmet model. No difference there, either."

Another interesting fact also popped up during the study. Players who wore a specialized or custom-fitted mouth guard actually had a higher risk of suffering a concussion than players who wore the generic mouth-guard provided by the school.

The American Medical Society of Sports Medicine released a position statement in January that said hard sports helmets can prevent impact injuries such as lacerations or fractures but have not been shown to reduce the incidence or severity of concussions, said Dr. Anne-Felicia Ambrose, medical director of the traumatic brain injury unit in the department of rehabilitation medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.

"In terms of equipment, there really isn't that much more we can do," Ambrose said. "Where we have a lot of potential for reducing concussion is the way the game is played."

Some experts believe that changing how games are played is more likely to prevent concussions than equipment.

For example, limiting contact between players outside of competition is one means of reducing concussions, she said. "A lot more concussions occur during practice, when coaches cannot have their eyes on everyone on the field," Ambrose said. "The chance of impact is increased."

McGuine agreed. "I don't see any reason for kids to have full tackle on practice days," he said.

Since football players are going to be wearing helmets for other safety reasons, McGuine suggests that coaches and trainers make sure that each player’s helmet is properly fitted and checked weekly.

How many high school football players receive a concussion every year during play or practice? McGuine says about 40,000. That’s a lot of concussions.

Parents want to make sure that their child is as safe as can reasonably be expected, so they are more vulnerable to high-pressure sales pitches that tout the safety of certain products. According to this study, more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean safer, especially where concussions are concerned. 

The research presented at the meetings mentioned above, are typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

Source: Dennis Thompson, http://consumer.healthday.com

Your Teen

Helping Others May Help Teens Beat Depression

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Want to help your teen avoid the powerful pull of adolescent depression? Start early by introducing him or her to the gift of giving.

 A new study says that teens who like to help others may be less likely to develop depression.

The study included 15- and 16-year-olds that were given three types of tasks: give money to others, keep the money for themselves or take financial risks with the hope of earning a reward.

The teens were checked for symptoms of depression at the start of the study and a year later.

To see if there was a possible link between pleasure, altruistic behavior and depression, researchers monitored activity levels in the area of the brain called the ventral striatum. This part of the brain controls feelings of pleasure linked to rewards. 

Previous studies have looked at ventral striatum activity and teen behavior associated with risk-taking. But this time, scientists wanted to see if doing for others offered it’s own kind of unique reward.

What if the pleasure center was rewarded with simply helping others through difficult times? Could that kind of activity offer a somewhat equal sense of satisfaction? If so, it might save a lot of young lives and prevent serious injuries that can last a lifetime.

 “There’s this trend where from childhood to adolescence, morbidity and mortality rates increase 200 to 300 percent, and it’s almost entirely due to these preventable risk-taking behaviors,” study author Eva Telzer, a psychology professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said in a university news release.

“Depressive symptoms also tend to increase during this time,” she said.

The study showed that activity in the ventral striatum in response to different rewards predicted whether the subjects’ depressive symptoms would worsen or lessen over time.

“If they show higher levels of reward activation in the ventral striatum in the context of the risk-taking task, they show increases in depressive symptoms over time,” said Telzer.

“And if they show higher reward activation in the pro-social context, they show declines in depression.” she said.

Today’s society seems to run much faster and is more hectic than in previous generations. Families are spread out across the country and there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done. Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate what is important in the short time that we have here on earth and carve out a place for reaching out to those who may need an extra hand, a few dollars or a kind word during difficult times.

"This study suggests that if we can somehow redirect adolescents away from risk-taking or self-centered rewards and toward engaging in these more pro-social behaviors, then perhaps that can have a positive impact on their well-being over time," Telzer noted.

Teaching children how to volunteer when they are young and exposing them to other people’s circumstances and beliefs may open a space in their hearts that could help them keep things in perspective by the time they are teens and young adults.

Sources: Rick Nauert PhD, http://psychcentral.com/news/2014/04/25/pro-social-teens-less-likely-to-be-depressed/68969.html

Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/adolescents-and-teen-health-news-719/briefs-emb-4-24-teens-altruism-depression-pnas-u-illinois-release-batch-1158-687211.html

Your Teen

Underage Drinking Deaths Not Just Traffic Related

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Because of all the publicity, you might naturally think that most underage drinking deaths are related to driving while intoxicated. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) wants parents to know that the dangers of underage drinking are even greater off the roadways.

MADD analyzed 2010 data from the FBI, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on deaths related to underage alcohol use.

What they found may surprise you. The study showed that only 32 percent of underage drinkers died from traffic related deaths. 68 percent were from other causes. Researchers found that 30 percent died from homicides, 14 percent from suicide, 9 percent from alcohol poisoning and 15 percent from “other” causes.

"As parents, we are definitely aware of the dangers of drinking and driving," says MADD national President Jan Withers. "I think we're not as educated about all the dangers that drinking before age 21 can be related to. And they're very, very real."

Child health experts agree that talking with your child about alcohol use should begin before they are at the age where temptation and availability are present. That can range anywhere from pre-teen to college age. It’s never too late to have that discussion.

Sometimes parents mistakenly believe that if a child is introduced to alcohol drinking in the home that it’s much safer for them. They believe that their kids are in a controlled environment and not on the road afterwards. But as the analysis shows, being on the road isn’t the only concern parents should be thinking and talking about.  

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that one-quarter of people ages 12-20 (9.7 million children) reported drinking within the previous month. Among those who did not illegally buy booze themselves, 21.4 percent were supplied alcohol from parents, guardians or other adult family members.

Bill Windsor, Nationwide Insurance’s associate vice president of consumer safety said "Parents think, 'If they do it here, they won't do it somewhere else,' " he says. "But that's just not the case. It's important for parents to know that there is a significant danger here and it goes deeper than just taking away the car keys."

Studies and surveys have shown that kids who drink do worse in school, get pregnant at higher rates, are more likely to carry out or be the victim of physical or sexual assault, engage is high risk behaviors, and have a higher frequency of alcoholism later in life.

On MADD’s website blog, Debbie Taylor writes about her decision to ignore a bottle of rum her teen-age son, Casey, had hidden in the garage. She knew he drank occasionally with his friends, but “put it off as ordinary teenage stuff.” She had already talked to him about drinking and driving, telling him the risks were too great. He seemed to understand and take it to heart.

Four months after she found the rum, he died of alcohol poisoning. He had been hanging out and drinking with his friends.

She writes on her blog, “If only I had talked with Casey about the dangers of underage drinking and told him that I didn’t want him drinking at all until he was 21!  I had blinders on when it came to alcohol, youth, peer influences and the dangers that come with the independent, recklessness and perceived invincibility of youth.  I had the illusion that outside influences weren’t a big factor—what they saw on TV or in the movies, or how friends or family could influence his actions.   The myths we tell ourselves—“we did it when we were young and nothing bad happened” and “it’s normal, everyone does it”, “it’s a rite of passage” or “it’s harmless experimentation and how else are they going to learn,” are all false!  We need to change our thinking and the drinking culture that is so prevalent in our communities”.

All the thoughts a grieving parent would have after such a tragedy.

Follow Debbie’s advice and have that important conversation with your own child about alcohol. Not just about drinking and driving but all the dangers associated with drinking. Keep having it until they understand. Kids are most influenced by two factors - peers and parents. Use that power to inform and influence your child’s thinking and actions. That’s all you can do. The rest is up to them.

 Sources: Larry Copeland, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/04/17/underage-drinking-madd-alcohol/2070405/

http://www.madd.org/blog/

Your Teen

Helping Teens Cut Down on Sugary Drinks

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Want to help your teen shed his or her addiction to high-sugar drinks? A new study says that when adolescents are shown the calorie content, and how long they will have to vigorously exercise to burn off those calories, many teens decide to make a different choice as to what they drink.

The study was published in the American Journal of Public Health.

"Most consumers underestimate the number of calories in a can of soda, and they often do not realize that such calories can add up quickly," lead researcher Sara Bleich said in a press release about the study.

Researchers set up in a convenience store and used 3 methods to see if they could discourage teens from choosing drinks packed with sugar. In the first method they posted a sign that noted there are 250 calories in a typical bottle. The second sign noted that the bottle contains about 10% of an average teen’s daily-recommended calorie intake. The third sign told them that they would have to jog for about 50 minutes to burn off the calories.

The results were that all three methods discouraged teens from buying the sugary drinks by approximately 40%, but the third method had the biggest impact. When teens knew how much they would have to jog to burn off the calories, 50% chose water or diet soda instead of the high-sugar drinks.

The size of soda drinks has changed over the years. Most can drinks are 12 ounces, but bottled drinks are usually 20 ounces, with some being as large as 1 liter (34 oz.)

Super sized fountain drinks and “Gulp” drinks can be anywhere from 28 oz. to 55 oz. The 7-11 Double Gulp has 186 grams of sugar (almost a cup of sugar) and 744 calories! How does 3 hours of jogging to burn off those calories sound?  Liquid candy is what some public health officials have labeled these soft drinks.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) looked at teens and high sugar drinks. CSPI’s analyses of 13- to 18-year-olds found that five percent of male soft-drink drinkers down about five or more cans a day and five percent of female drinkers consume more than three cans a day. That’s 80 percent more than 20 years ago. And, because kids are drinking more sweetened beverages than milk, they are getting too little calcium for growing teeth and bones, reports the CSPI. That's especially important for growing girls, who are at highest risk of osteoporosis.

For kids without a weight problem, one sweetened beverage per day -- as part of a well-balanced diet -- is fine, says Sarah Krieger, RD, LD, MPH, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. "If children are maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, and are active, one soda is OK."

The American Beverage Association agrees. "No single food or beverage is a unique contributor to obesity," says Tracey Halliday, a spokeswoman for the association. "Obesity is a serious and complex problem that is best addressed by living a balanced lifestyle -- consuming a variety of foods and beverages in moderation and getting regular physical activity. Quite simply, all calories count, regardless of the source."

If your child has a tendency to gain weight, however, it's best to keep these beverages out of the house. "Keep it for parties, since for most young kids that's about once a week," says Krieger, who is also lead instructor for children's weight management classes at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Also, limit other sweet drinks -- including 100% fruit juice. "Yes it's healthy, but it can have as many calories as a soda. One serving a day is OK, but that's all," she says.

There have been a lot of articles on teens and obesity. Some say too many. But the reason there is so much attention paid to obesity and children is not because of how children look- but because of the damage obesity can cause to a young person’s health. One third of all kids between the ages of 2 (yes 2) and 19 are overweight or obese.  Young kids and teens are developing health problems that used to affect only adults, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and Type2 diabetes.

Helping your child or teen wean themselves off high-sugar drinks is a good start to improving their diet and health.

In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to require chain restaurants and retail food establishments - companies whose primary business is selling food - with 20 or more locations to post calorie counts on their menus. The rule would also require calorie counts on vending machines. The calorie information would have to be "displayed clearly and prominently" and be listed per item or per serving,

The goal is to help people realize how many calories they are consuming so they can make better food and drink choices. It’s a good start towards a healthier lifestyle.

Sources:

http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2011/12/15/teenagers-buy-fewer-sugary-drin...

http:// children.webmd.com/features/children-and-sweetened-drinks-whats-a-parent-to-do

Your Teen

Kids Injured, Dying From Dangerous Stunts

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Millions of people watch YouTube and other social media videos. There’s everything from music to medical procedures, comedy clips and cooking shows – you name it and there’s a video for it.

There are also videos showing teens and pre-teens choking each other and beating each other to a bloody pulp. These are videos that encourage dangerous and sometimes deadly games. It appears the more outrageous you can be, the bigger audience you’ll have.  Unfortunately a lot of kids end up in emergency rooms or worse, dead.

Last week a 15-year-old boy died while copying a YouTube video he and his friends had seen. While standing, he passed out, and fell forward crashing into an empty drinking glass. His collarbone broke the glass and a shard sliced through his interior and exterior jugular vein. He died shortly after arriving at the hospital. It’s called the choking game.

The asphyxiation-to- get-high videos are popular with young adults, teens and even preteens.

Other popular “games” include jumping off a moving vehicle, salt and ice, extreme fighting, the cinnamon challenge and hitting someone over the head with a folding chair.

Dr. Thomas Abramo, the chief of pediatric emergency medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said he sees all of it in his ER. Although teens have acted on risky behavior fads throughout his 30-year career, he said he's seeing trends catch on faster than ever before, and he thinks it's because of YouTube and social media.

"If you get one kid doing it, you tend to see more kids doing it," said Abramo, who said two of his patients have died playing the choking game. "The spread of the event is definitely faster."

One challenge that scares Abramo involves being hit on the head with a bench or a folding chair to "see if you can take it," he said. A lot of the time, they can't.

"Fractures, concussions, lacerations," Abramo said. "Just the things you would think would happen."

"Once you see some of these videos, you go, 'Oh my God,'" the doctor said. The "Darwin award" videos, which involve varying dangerous challenges, are the worst he's seen. "Survival of the stupidest. I can't believe it happens. It defies logic," Abramo said.

 YouTube says its guidelines prohibit videos that encourage dangerous behaviors, but they depend on viewers to flag objectionable posts before they are removed.

"We count on our users to flag content they believe violates the rules," a YouTube spokesman said. "We review flagged videos around the clock and remove all those that violate our policies."

That policy doesn’t seem to be working very well because there are plenty of these videos to watch.

Dr. Alan Hilfer, a child psychologist at Maimonides Medical Center, said he thinks the existing videos validate risky behavior for teens and give them a way to get notoriety if they post a video. He said he hears a lot about YouTube's amateur ultimate fighting videos, which show teen fights with are no rules -- just bare knuckles.

Videos of kids self-mutilating and encouraging eating disorders are also being posted on social media sites.

However, Dr. Carol Bernstein, a psychiatry professor at New York University's Langone Medical Center, said she doesn't think YouTube alone is to blame for teens engaging in challenges that could seriously injure them because many factors are involved. She said other environmental factors, physiology, and temperament contribute to a child's decision to emulate a video.

"Stress here should be on knowing our children, watching behaviors and having conversations with them," Bernstein said. "There's no substitute for parents and teachers who are engaging with their kids in general."

Many parents don’t know that their kids are acting out these videos until their child is injured. But not all parents are unaware.  A mother in St. Louis was arrested after posting a video of her young children beating each other.  You could hear her egging them on in the background. Fortunately she’s the exception rather than the rule.

Most parents are concerned about their kids doing drugs or drinking alcohol but they should add dangerous games to the list of topics to talk to their kids about.

"Adolescence is, developmentally, a time when young people experiment with cigarettes and other behaviors that aren't so smart for their health," says John Santelli, MD, MPH, president of the American Society of Adolescent Health and a Columbia University pediatrics professor. "Some of the consequences can be pretty tragic with these dangerous games."

Webmd.com provides a list of the “7 Dangerous Games Parents Must Know About” as well as tips for how parents can approach their kids about the subject.

Keep the lines of communication open and talk to your child about what videos he or she and their friends are watching. Ask them what they like about the videos to get a feel for what excites them.    

Experts suggest that you know what websites your kids are viewing and discuss stories that feature kids who have gotten hurt carrying out these types of games. Ask them what they think about this kind of behavior and listen carefully to what they say. Their answers may surprise you.

Make it a point to learn about these dangerous games. You can’t protect your child from everything that our high-tech society is throwing at them, but understanding what is going on in their teen and pre-teen world can help you be aware of what may be trying to influence them. That’s a start.

Sources: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/dangerous-stunts-youtube-hurting-killing-teens/story?id=17342485#.UGZxZbQuqcN

http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/dangerous-games-parents-must-know-about

Your Teen

Explosion in E-cigarettes Marketing to Minors

2.00 to read

It looks like e-cigarette manufacturers may have found the perfect market for their products - children under the age of 18.

According to the study published online today by the journal Pediatrics, between 2011 and 2013 exposure to e-cigarette TV ads increased by 256% among adolescents ages 12 to 17 and by 321% among young adults, ages 18 to 24.

Researchers reported that approximately 76% of the ads seen by each of the two age groups occurred while watching cable networks — most often AMC, Country Music Television, Comedy Central, WGN America, TV Land and VH1. They also appeared on broadcast network programs that were among the 100 highest rated youth programs for the 2012-2013 TV season, including The Bachelor, Big Brother and Survivor, the study finds.

One brand, blu eCigs, owned by tobacco company Lorillard, accounted for almost 82% of all nationally aired e-cigarette ads viewed by 12- to 17-year-olds.

E-cigarettes have been touted as a new way for smokers to get the nicotine they want without the cancer causing chemicals in traditional cigarettes. They’ve also been promoted as a method that smokers can use to cut back and eventually quit their habit by inhaling nicotine vapors instead of cigarette smoke.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) l has been considering new rules that would ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors.

The makers of e-cigarettes say they are not advertising their products to minors. 

In a statement, blu eCigs said it has "proactively set limitations on when and where" its product "can be marketed in an effort to minimize any potential exposure to minors." A part of the criteria used "is to screen all marketing opportunities to ensure that our TV ads only run with media targeting an adult audience of 85 percent or greater."

The study’s lead author says the data suggests otherwise.  "The tobacco industry and e-cigarette industry say that they are not advertising products to youth, but they are advertising products on a medium which is the broadest based medium in the country," says Jennifer Duke, lead author of the study and a public health researcher at RTI International in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

With a national television audience that includes 24 million viewers between the ages of 12 and 17, "as e-cigarette advertisements increase for adults they are by default also increasing exposure to youth," Duke says. "It's hard to argue that only adults are seeing these ads," she adds.

E-cigarettes have not been fully studied by the FDA, but a laboratory analysis of several samples conducted by the agency in late 2008 found trace amounts of carcinogens and toxic chemicals, such as diethylene glycol, an ingredient used in antifreeze.

Results of the new media study provide "the strongest evidence that there has been an absolute explosion of youth exposure to e-cigarette advertising on television," says Matthew Myers, president of the advocacy group Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

"It's particularly disturbing precisely because Congress removed cigarette advertising from television because of the unique impact TV advertising has on young people," Myers says. " When e-cigarette manufacturers say that they don't market to minors, it's Deja Vu all over again. This study demonstrates the importance of FDA moving rapidly and decisively to protect our nation's children."

Source: Michelle Healy, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/06/02/e-cigarettes-tv-ads-youth/9760425/

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