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Your Teen

Teens Support Age 21 to Buy Tobacco Products

2:00

You might be surprised to learn that a majority of teens and pre-teens support raising the minimum age someone can buy tobacco products to 21 years old, according to new research.

The study was conducted to learn more about youth opinions (ages 11 to 18) on laws that would limit the sale of tobacco to individuals age 21 years or older, specifically, the Tobacco 21 initiative.

Tobacco 21 is a program started by the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation that promotes increasing the minimum age for tobacco purchases.

The new study included more than 17,000 teens and preteens from 185 U.S. schools. Researchers found that younger adolescents were more likely to support the initiative and girls were more likely to support raising the minimum age than boys.

"Current studies have focused on the attitudes of adults, and little is known about how youth nationwide perceive the Tobacco 21 initiative as well as the correlations between these attitudes and smoking behaviors," said study author Hongying Dai. She's an associate professor in the Health Services and Outcomes Research Department at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo.

The reasons for increasing the age to 21 are largely scientific. Kids are at the greatest risk of becoming smokers, and smokers almost always begin experimenting with cigarettes and other tobacco products before age 18, the researchers said.

"The adolescent brain is still developing, and using tobacco at that age can actually change and alter brain development," explained Bill Blatt. He's the national director of tobacco programs for the American Lung Association.

"You end up with more brain receptors that are looking for nicotine, and the brain structure changes. That's why you become addicted for a lifetime," Blatt said.

Researchers found that about 71 percent of teens that didn't smoke cigarettes or e-cigarettes supported raising the purchase age. But not surprisingly, teens currently using tobacco products or e-cigarettes were not as keen on raising the age limit. Only 17 percent of teens that smoked cigarettes supported Tobacco 21 initiatives. For current e-cigarette users, the number was 31 percent.

In recent years, there has been a continued decline in teen smoking, but for a while alternative tobacco products such as e-cigarette gained in popularity. That trend seems to be lessening as well.

"A lot of people perceive e-cigarettes as being less harmful than regular cigarettes, and some people think they aren't harmful at all," said Blatt. "But we don't have the evidence to support that."

Tobacco 21 would also increase the age on the purchase of e-cigarettes.

Tobacco 21 is beginning to have an impact on laws in a couple of states and at least 215 cities, according to their website.

"This is good evidence for state legislators to understand that there is broad support, even among teens for Tobacco 21 policies," Blatt said. "It's a bit tough when you have a patchwork of policies where you can't buy cigarettes if you are 19 in this county, but you can in the next county. It's much better if you have to be 21 in all counties."

The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.

Story source: Gia Miller, http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2017/06/19/Teens-pre-teens-support-increasing-smoking-age-to-21/7301497887031/

 

Your Teen

Fewer Teens Having Sex, More Using Contraception

2:00

With the abundance of sexualized media directed at teens today, you might get the impression that they are constantly on the prowl to “hook up.” That’s not the case according to a new government study.

"The myth is that every kid in high school is having sex, and it's not true," noted Dr. Cora Breuner, a professor of pediatrics at Seattle Children's Hospital, who reviewed the findings. "It's less than half, and it's been less than half for more than 10 years," she said.

Sexual intercourse among teens has declined again after rates stabilized between 2002-2010, according to the National Center for Health Statistics report on teen sexual activity and contraceptive use released recently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

While the numbers aren’t exactly low enough to ease many parents’ minds, they are better than in previous years.

The study found that 42 percent of girls and 44 percent of boys - aged 15 to 19 - reported having sex at least once. That’s a huge decline from the peak of 1988 when 57 percent of teens between the ages of 15 and 19 reported having had sex.

And Breuner said that finding is nothing new. Going back to 2002, fewer than half of older teens told researchers that they are sexually active, federal data show.

Researchers also found that a higher percentage of teens having sex are involved in a relationship that is ongoing.

Three out of four girls participating in the study, said they were "going steady" with their first sexual partner, and a little more than half of the boys said the same. By comparison, only 2 percent of girls and 7 percent of boys said they lost their virginity to someone they just met.

"There's this myth that kids hook up quite a bit and have sex with someone they literally just met," Breuner said. "This dispels that myth, that our teenagers are having sex with people they don't know."

The statistics come from in-person interviews conducted with more than 4,000 teenagers across the United States between 2011 and 2015. Participation was voluntary and required parental permission, but responses were anonymous.

Today’s teens are more aware of and better educated about the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases such HIV and AIDS. Back in 1988, 51 percent of girls and 60 percent of boys between 15 and 19 said they were sexually active, but those numbers dropped to today's levels after word spread of a sexually transmitted disease that could kill, Breuner said.

Teens are also more concerned about the long-term consequences of pregnancy. Nine out of ten participants in the study said they use some form of birth control. Contraception is widely available now; particularly condoms and teens have better access to all forms of birth control than in decades before.  

At the same time, parents have become more at ease with talking about sex and making sure their teens engage in smart sex, Breuner added.

"Parents honestly to their credit were much more willing to talk about this with their teenagers and were more proactive in making sure they had access to contraceptives," she said.

The study was published in the June edition of the CDC’s National Health Statistics Report.

Story sources: Dennis Thompson, http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2017/06/22/Study-Most-US-teenagers-arent-having-sex/4041498137424/

Shamard Charles, M.D., http://www.nbcnews.com/health/kids-health/waiting-right-one-teens-having-sex-later-cdc-finds-n775236

 

 

Your Teen

Alcohol-Branded Clothing & Accessories Linked to Youth Alcohol Use

2:00

The T-shirts, handbags, backpacks, hats, jackets and sunglasses we wear and carry all say a little something about who we think we are or would like to be. Clothing with slogans and photos, accessories with name –brands or specific designs help express, at least a small way, how we connect with others and want others to connect with us.

From politics to religion to music and movies – we’re not likely to wear something that we philosophically disagree with. That’s pretty much true in all age groups.

So, what does it mean when teens proudly wear clothing and carry products with alcohol-brands up front and center?

According to a large review of different studies on the topic, teens that own caps, shirts, and other merchandise displaying alcohol logos are more likely to drink.

Australian researchers reviewed results from 13 studies looking at alcohol-branded merchandise and teen alcohol use. The research included more than 26,000 kids and teens, mostly from the United States.

Four studies looked specifically at young people who hadn't started drinking alcohol. Those who owned alcohol-branded merchandise were more likely to start drinking a year later, the researchers said.

While the study doesn’t prove causation (teens will drink if they own alcohol-branded items), it does show an association between the two activities.

"It is possible that owning the merchandise makes young people more likely to drink, or that young people who drink are more likely to want to own the merchandise, or a combination of these effects," explained study leader Sandra Jones. She's director of the Centre for Health and Social Research at Australian Catholic University in Melbourne.

Dr. Victor Strasburger, lead author of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Children, Adolescents, and Advertising policy statement, said, "The studies showed that this ownership contributes to onset of drinking, not the amount of drinking.”

“But we know that when teenagers begin drinking, they tend to binge drink, not use good judgment, and drive when drunk or intoxicated," he added.

Because of the study’s findings, Jones believes that promotional alcohol-branded products encourage drinking among adolescents.

"As they transition through adolescence, young people are developing their sense of identity," she said.

"The things that they wear, carry, and consume help to create and convey their desired identity. There is increasing evidence that brands facilitate this by allowing the young person to take on and project the desirable characteristics that are associated with that brand. These characteristics and brands then become a part of their sense of self, as well as the way that others see them," Jones said.

In addition to hats, caps and T-shirts, other examples of alcohol-related products include accessories, such as bags, backpacks, belts, lighters, sunglasses, wallets and key rings. Other promotional items include drinking glasses, utensils, cooler bags, bottle openers and coffee cups, the researchers said.

Depending on the study, ownership of such items ranged from 11 percent to 59 percent of the young participants. Ownership was higher among older children and males, the researchers said.

Most of the studies didn't find any gender differences. But two studies did find that the association between branded merchandise and drinking issues was actually stronger for girls.

Jones noted that company policies and regulations could help prevent the availability of such products for teens. She recommended restricting the sale of alcohol promotional products where the sale of alcohol is allowed, that alcohol-branded clothing not be made in children’s sizes and toys and gimmicks that appeal to children be discontinued.

Jones also noted that it’s not only up to businesses and government to regulate the availability of these products to kids, but parents as well.

"Many of these items are given away for free at promotional events or as gifts with purchase, and parents may hand them on to their children -- or allow others to do so -- without processing the fact that they are providing their child with extended exposure to an advertisement for an alcohol brand," she said.

Strasburger said the media are often irresponsible when it comes to alcohol. "They depict alcohol use as normative behavior, or a solution for complex problems, or show being drunk as funny," he said. "We spend something like $5 million on alcohol advertising every year, then we wonder why so many teenagers drink. It's not rocket science."

The findings were publised online in the April 1st edition of the journal Pediatrics. 

Story source: Don Rauf, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/kids-and-alcohol-health-news-11/booze-branded-merchandise-may-spur-teen-drinking-709478.html

 

 

 

Your Teen

Good Family Relationships Helps Teens Avoid Obesity

1:30

Two of the most valuable resources a teen can have are a stable family and a good relationship with their parents. Adolescents that have these two important components in their lives are more likely to develop healthy habits that may protect them from obesity, according to new study.

"A high level of family dysfunction may interfere with the development of healthful behaviors due to the families' limited ability to develop routines related to eating, sleep or activity behaviors, which can lead to excess weight gain," said the study's lead author, Jess Haines, of the University of Guelph in Ontario.

For the study, the researchers reviewed information on about 3,700 daughters and 2,600 sons, aged 14 to 24, in the United States.

About 80 percent reported having close and stable families. The findings showed that 60 percent of daughters and 50 percent of sons said they had a good relationship with their parents.

Researchers also found that teens with good family relationships are more likely to be more active and get enough sleep. Two factors, in addition to a healthy diet, that contributes to reasonable weight control.

The daughters in these families ate less fast food, and were less likely to be overweight or obese, the researchers discovered.

They also noted that fathers play an important role in helping their sons develop better choices that allow them to maintain a healthy weight.

"Much of the research examining the influence of parents has typically examined only the mother's influence or has combined information across parents," Haines said in a university news release.

"Our results underscore the importance of examining the influence fathers have on their children, and to develop strategies to help fathers support the development of healthy behaviors among their children," she said.

"It appears the father-son parent relationship has a stronger influence on sons than the mother-daughter relationship has on young women," said Haines.

As kids grow into adolescents, a tug of war between independence and parental control often develops. Research has shown that ongoing positive family relationships offer protective influences for teens against a range of risky behaviors. Sometimes it may feel like as our teens mature, family influence begins to wane - but that’s not the reality. This study points out how important a stable home life and good relationships are in helping teens develop a lifetime of healthy habits.

The study was published recently in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.

Story source: Mary Elizabeth Dallas, https://consumer.healthday.com/public-health-information-30/family-health-news-749/parents-play-key-role-in-teens-health-712354.html

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DR SUE'S DAILY DOSE

New report says not enough babies are getting much needed tummy time!

DR SUE'S DAILY DOSE

New report says not enough babies are getting much needed tummy time!

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