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Booster Shots

Kids and TV

July 27, 1998|MARTIN MILLER

You'd think that the more a kid watches the tube, the less likely it would be that he'd injure himself since he's inside most of the day. He might strain his eyes, he might get fat, but do himself physical harm by staring at TV? Apparently, looking bug-eyed at the TV for hours on end can be dangerous to your child's health, according to a study published in the July issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. For unknown reasons, the more kids watch TV, the more likely it is that they will sustain physical injuries when they begin playing. Said one researcher: "We believe that the depiction of a distorted reality on the television screen, which the child perceives as being real, may be of some help in explaining our findings."

Athletes and Sports Drinks

This may be hard to believe, but sometimes advertisers may give you the wrong impression. When it comes to sports drinks, they really don't supply an extra athletic edge, quench your thirst any faster or replace electrolytes lost during exercise any quicker than water, according to an article in the August issue of Men's Fitness magazine. The article also lists other foods that are overrated in terms of their health benefit. Among them are olive oil (it's still high in fat, watch out); coffee (it's a stimulant, but it also may cause weak bones); and liquid meal replacements (they're a good energy boost but don't provide enough calories for a full meal).

Kids and Lozenges

Zinc lozenges may help adults get over a cold faster than they would otherwise, but kids and even teens don't benefit at all. A recent study of 249 students in grades one through 12 in Cleveland found that zinc lozenges were ineffective at lessening cold symptoms, according to researchers at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio. By contrast, adults in a similar study experienced a 42% decrease in the duration of their cold symptoms when they took the zinc lozenges. The common cold is one of the most frequently occurring illnesses in the world. American adults have two to four colds year, while kids and teens have about six to eight, respectively, according to the study.

Teens and Suicide

Myth or reality?: Most suicides take place around the holidays. That's false. The rate remains constant throughout the year, according to the August issue of Jump magazine. The article says teen suicides are on the rise and that about 20,000 American teens 15 to 19 attempt suicide every year. The article exposes other falsehoods such as that the number of suicides skyrocketed when singer Kurt Cobain killed himself, and that suicide victims always leave notes (only about a quarter do). If you know someone has a suicide plan and a weapon--guns, pills, poison, whatever--the article urges you to get help for that person immediately.

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