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PERSONAL HEALTH : HEALTH WATCH : Mom's Stomach-Cramp Warnings Are All Wet

July 06, 1993

Can't you just hear your mother's voice screeching over the crash of the waves: "DON'T SWIM RIGHT AFTER EATING BECAUSE YOU'LL GET A CRAMP AND DROWN!"

But in this, the New Age of The Athlete, when marathoners are running and gulping water and carbs, does it really matter how long you wait after a meal before going for a swim?

"It depends upon what your expectations are, on how far you want to swim and if it is a competition, a workout or a swim for recreation," says Jacqueline Berning, a registered dietitian who counsels the U.S. Swim.

If you plan to just bob around in the water, there's no need to wait. But stay away from long-distance swimming because a full tummy makes you tire faster, says David Costill, director of the Human Performance Laboratory at Ball State University.

But, he adds, it's an old mothers' tale that you'll get stomach cramps. "There's never been any evidence to support that old argument."

Is the E for Erroneous?

Vitamin E, the rising star in the vitamins-in-lotions world, is making the rounds--and the claims of working wonders on skin.

But over at the Food and Drug Administration, officials are puzzling over what claims should rightfully be made by manufacturers of lotions containing the Big E.

"There's really nothing to proscribe or limit what claims the cosmetic companies can make at this point," says John Bailey, director of the FDA's Division of Colors and Cosmetics. "We're certainly aware of the proliferation . . . and claims being made. Our sense is you really cannot equate the topical application of antioxidants and any sort of systemic oral ingestion."

He says the FDA's scientific staff is gathering the latest studies on vitamins, free radicals (unstable oxygen molecules) and aging to see if the effects of these lotions are "totally impossible or possible or something in between."

Time for Youth Movement

See Johnny. See Johnny run. See Johnny fall because he's running improperly or poop out because he's not in shape.

According to the American Physical Therapy Assn.'s Section on Pediatrics, more than half of the children now participating in organized athletics cannot pass basic fitness tests. So APTA has designed a 13-page activity booklet for kids, grades 1-4, to encourage fitness through illustrations, games and puzzles.

For a free copy, write your name clearly on a 3-by-5-inch card and send it to "Fit Kids," P.O. Box 37257, Washington, D.C. 20013.

This weekly health roundup, compiled from staff and wire-service reports, appears in View on Tuesdays.

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