Pediatric Prescription Overload
Our children are becoming addicted to drugs - the legal kind. Pediatric prescription rates are skyrocketing and medical doctors increasingly turn to an ever-expanding medicine chest to treat childhood conditions - many of which have little data to support prescription use in the pediatric population and/or have been treated effectively without drugs for years.
In December 2010, The Wall Street Journal reported the latest findings by Medco Health Solutions Inc., which determined that roughly one in four children and 30 percent of adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 are taking a medication for a chronic condition in the United States. Nearly 7 percent of children are taking two or more such drugs, according to the company's research for 2009.
It appears that the growing childhood obesity problem in the United States could be partially to blame for these alarming statistics. For instance, drugs used to lower cholesterol are taken by 10-19-year-olds at a rate 50 percent higher than a decade ago. The concern with this trend is that these drugs are associated with weight gain and an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes; meaning that the cure for high cholesterol could actually exacerbate the problem.
The Medco report also indicated that medication use for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is on the rise, with 13.2 percent of the prescription drug benefit dollars spent in this area. However, the greatest concern could be the spike in use of atypical antipsychotics. Traditionally used to treat schizophrenia, these drugs recently have been prescribed to children for a variety of psychiatric disorders.
Medco also noted in its report that since the FDA issued a suicide warning in 2004 for certain antidepressants, there has been a 23 percent drop in children taking these pharmaceuticals. However, the FDA has expanded to pediatric patients the indications for many new atypical antipsychotic medications, including Abilify, Zyprexa and Seroquel, which has the listed side effects of "signs of diabetes" and "large or rapid weight gain."
The National Center for Health Statistics reports that the percentage of Americans taking at least one prescription drug each month increased from 44 percent to 48 percent from 1999 to 2008. The percentage taking two or more increased from 25 percent in 1999 to 31 percent in 2008. In that same time period, the percentage of Americans who took five or more prescription drugs per month increased from 6 percent to 11 percent. Is it any wonder that in the United States alone, almost $300 billion is spent each year on pharmaceuticals?
The best way to ensure that your child doesn't become part of the pediatric prescription craze is to ask your doctor about drug-free treatment options whenever they reach for their prescribing pad. It's also essential to inquire about the safety record and research supporting the drug's use for children specifically. If you don't get the answers you deserve to hear, get more information before filling that prescription.
Getting in Shape: Keep It Simple!
Complex does not mean better. You are about to discover simple exercise strategies that can be done easily, quickly and with great results, even if you are a beginner. So, what should you be doing? Good question. Let's get into some simple fitness tips and strategies to help you reach your goals.
- Get Off the Machines. Free weights require more muscle activation for stabilization and control of movements, which means you burn more calories with every exercise. Muscles require energy to contract; the more energy you use with a movement, the more calories you burn and the leaner you get – assuming you don't overdo training and maintain good form.
- Keep Yourself Hydrated. Did you know that being dehydrated makes you fatter? Why? Because muscle glycogen (sugar energy created from ingested carbohydrates)is stored along with water. For every gram of glycogen in the muscle, there should be three of water. Dehydration forces glucose to remain in the bloodstream instead of muscle until it reaches the liver for overflow storage. When the liver is full, the glycogen (sugar) has no place to go but your fat cells. Not good!
- Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan. How can you hit a target you can't even see? You must set your goals and then document your progress via a journal, computer or cell phone application. This is the only verifiable way you can determine what does and does not work over time. Write down everything, from what you eat to when you eat, training programs, how you felt during and after workouts, etc. Take pictures of yourself as you progress to attach the visible senses to your goal.
- Focus on the Core. For most people, your workout is motivated (at least to some degree) by the drive to improve your appearance. A prime target related to that goal invariably involves the elusive abdominals. Most people target the midsection with crunches or sit-ups. Although these are good examples of isolation exercises for the abdominals, you should also integrate alternative exercises that develop strength within all muscle groups of the core. This will provide you with the best foundation to push through the tough workouts in pursuit of your best body.
Despite our willingness to blame ourselves, our genetics or our hectic schedules, when fitness or weight-loss failure arises, it's often the result of flawed information destroying achievement potential. It's misinformation swallowing up the fitness hopes of someone with good intentions. Most of the mistakes we make when trying to get in shape involve actions (or a lack of action) that neglect the importance of the critical relationship between eating like an athlete, exercising aerobically in moderation, and challenging muscle. All three elements are crucial if the goal is a long-term positive physical change.
Once you learn to apply these strategies in a manner that fits comfortably into your life, you'll find the payoff for the time you invest in exercise to be significant and extremely rewarding. When you implement these strategies, fitness failure will no longer be an option! Talk to your doctor for more information.
Distracted Eating = Overeating
With few exceptions, distractions are rarely healthy, whether it's being distracted by screaming kids while driving, distracted by mindless e-mail in the middle of your busy work day, or distracted by a loud noise just as you're about to clean your sharpest knife. Being distracted while eating is also a big no-no, says recent research; in fact, it can lead to an all-too-common habit: overeating.
As reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people distracted during eating tend to feel less full after eating and also have more difficulty recalling exactly what they've eaten. The study assessed how playing solitaire on the computer during a fixed lunch, eaten at a fixed rate, affected food intake and memory of what had been eaten (courtesy of a taste test 30 minutes later). Participants not assigned to the study group ate the same lunch at the same rate, but without the distraction of the computer game.
The study authors' conclusion says it all: "These findings provide further evidence that distraction during one meal has the capacity to influence subsequent eating. They may also help to explain the well-documented association between sedentary screen-time activities and overweight."
Eating without distractions isn't only a good way to avoid overeating; it's also beneficial for your overall health and wellness – whether it's eating away from your desk at lunch, giving yourself a much-needed break from the daily grind; or sitting down at the dinner table for a family meal instead of gluing yourself to the couch and watching TV. Your doctor can tell you more about the dangers of distracted eating (and overeating in general) and help outline a sensible nutritional plan for you and your family.
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