Saturday, February 4, 2012

Dangers of The Choking Game

You might not have heard of it but chances are your kids have.  And it's a game that can be deadly.

It's called the “choking game” or sometimes just “the game” and is exactly like it sounds.  Someone chokes themselves to try and get a buzz.   That same “game” has lead to deaths.  But unfortunately, according to a new study, more students are doing it than we thought.

Researchers from the Sam Houston State University found that almost one out of every seven students surveyed had played this deadly game at one time or another.  On the average, most of them started when they were only 14. 

What essentially happens is someone will try and choke themselves with their hands, or have someone else do it.  That cuts off the blood supply to the brain and causes a very brief buzz.  That buzz comes from brain cells not getting the oxygen they need.  Unfortunately this also leads to fainting, seizures and convulsions and in some instances death.  Sometimes something wrapped around the neck or plastic bags over the head are used for the same reason. 

What this survey did show was that oftentimes the main reason for playing this game was simply curiosity.  Most had heard about it from their friends.  So talking to your kids about this game and it's dangers is one key to making sure they don't end up getting hurt because of it.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Teenage Girl Acne and Obesity

Most of us can think back to our teen years and remember that acne breakout right before a big event, like the prom or school photos.   And today's teens still have to work through this tough skin time period in their lives.  But for overweight or obese teen girls, acne might be an even tougher issue. 

Researchers recently questioned teenagers about their health and lifestyle habits.  They found a connection between acne and weight for girls, but surprisingly this same connection wasn't seen for boys.  These researchers found that girls who were overweight or obese also ended up reporting more overall problems with acne than those girls that were in the normal weight ranges. 

But what the researchers didn't know was what was causing this connection. It's possible that overweight and obese girls have more self image issues so simply end up paying closer attention to their skin issues as well.  But it's also possible that being overweight causes hormonal changes that can make acne worse.  Either way, getting weight under control, for teenage girls, and even boys for that matter, can go a long way towards improving their health.  And it might also help improve their skin at the same time.  

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Losing Weight and Restaurant Eating

If you're trying to lose weight, or, even more often, simply trying not to gain weight, then eating out can be tough.  That's mainly because of the big calorie laden portions restaurants serve. 

And what most of us don't realize is that our brains are trained to "clean" off our plates so more than likely whatever is put in front of us goes into our stomachs.  So cutting back on what's served to you can also cut down on your weight.    In other words, controlling your portions can also help control your weight. 

Some tips experts give include splitting a meal with someone else, that way you only get half of what's served.  In most restaurants, that half will be more than enough.  Also, instead of ordering an entree plate, consider ordering off of the a la carte side of the menu.  That way you'll only get the food items you want and not the things you eat just because they are there.   By using these simple tips researchers were able to get a group of middle aged women to lose 3 to 4 pounds over a six week period.  They simply did it by watching portion size, picking less fattening foods and putting down their forks before they felt stuffed.  Something all of us can do, especially when eating out.  

Friday, January 6, 2012

Exercise Your Way to an A

Exercise can help keep your kids fit.  But now it looks like it might also help keep them smart.   Turns out this is another example of the overall health benefits of exercise, especially as children and their brains are developing. 

A group of Dutch scientists combed through earlier research on children to see how exercise affected them.   They looked at over 12 thousand children from the United States, Canada and South Africa. 

These researchers found a huge connection between exercise and academic performance.   As a matter of fact, they found the more physically active children had higher test scores.   These scores were especially high in math, English and reading.  According to the authors of this study, part of the reason this might be happening is that exercise increases the blood and oxygen flow to the brain.  This helps increase the hormones that reduce stress and simultaneously allows the development of new cells in the brain which help with academics. 

So in addition to hitting the books, getting regular exercise this year might translate to a better report card.  

Helpful and Happy

Can random acts of kindness improve your own mood? 
You probably heard stories over this past holiday season about people's "good Samaritan" acts.  They donated time, money, and a helping hand.   Turns out, the act of doing something to help someone else may actually help you

Research is showing that giving to others can actually treat depression.   This type of treatment is very effective and usually comes at a low cost.  According to the researchers involved in a new study, although doing something positive for someone else might only seem like it makes you feel good for a short period, it can actually have a longer lasting effect.   In fact, the more often it's done the longer that positive effect hangs around. 

Plus, in a pay it forward kind of way, it can actually impact other parts of your life as well.  Helping others can lessen your depression which puts you in a better mood.  This can create a snowball effect where family or workmates recognize this better mood and compliment you on something, putting you in an even better mood.  This can accumulate over time to help increase your own self worth. 

So the secret here is to do something for someone else, and it doesn't even have to cost you anything.    Volunteer, thank the cashier at the store, help someone shovel snow, or even let someone take the parking spot you were eyeballing.   These simple acts can go a long way towards improving your own mood all year long.

In about the same degree as you are helpful, you will be happy. - Karl Reiland