DISTURBING report finds that 20 million American schoolchildren have been prescribed antidepressants

Image: DISTURBING report finds that 20 million American schoolchildren have been prescribed antidepressants

In many ways the world is a far more complex, difficult place to live in now than it was 20 or 30 years ago. Social media places children under increasing pressure – and at an ever decreasing age – to look perfect, have limitless “friends” and lead apparently perfect lives. Many parents work longer hours than in previous decades, leaving them with little time and energy to spend with their kids. And children are under immense pressure to perform academically and on the sports field.

In previous years, kids could generally be found playing outside with their friends or chatting to them on the phone, but modern society leaves children isolated from one another, spending more time with virtual “friends” than real-life ones. Many spend most of their time online, hardly ever venturing outside.

This toxic mix of external pressures and isolation can leave children, particularly those struggling through adolescence, feeling depressed and confused. The solution for many parents and healthcare professionals is to simply prescribe them antidepressant medications like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). This “solution” is so widely favored, in fact, that a disturbing report by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights found that around 20 million American schoolchildren have been prescribed these dangerous drugs.

Antidepressant use in children rises sharply in seven years

Antidepressant medications are, in fact, not recommended for children under the age of 18, but you would never know that if you were to judge by the way doctors hand out prescriptions for these drugs like candy.

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According to the Daily Mail, a study recently published in the European Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, which studied antidepressant use in children under the age of 18 in five western countries, found that there was an alarming increase in the number of prescriptions for these drugs between 2005 and 2012.

In Denmark, prescriptions for children increased by 60 percent; prescription numbers soared more than 54 percent in the United Kingdom; in Germany, they rose by 49 percent; the United States saw a 26 percent increase; and there was a 17 percent increase in antidepressant prescriptions for children in the Netherlands during that period.

This is shocking because a 2016 study published in the respected British Medical Journal, which evaluated the mental health of 18,500 children prescribed antidepressant medications, found that not only are the benefits of these drugs “below what is clinically relevant” (i.e. they don’t work), but children taking them are twice as likely to exhibit suicidal or aggressive behaviors than children who do not.

The study also found that the drug manufacturers are not only aware of this fact but that they actively try to hide the risks by labeling suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts as “worsening of depression” or “emotional liability” rather than admitting that they are side effects of the medication.

“Despite what you’ve been led to believe, antidepressants have repeatedly been shown in long-term scientific studies to worsen the course of mental illness — to say nothing of the risks of liver damage, bleeding, weight gain, sexual dysfunction, and reduced cognitive function they entail,” warned holistic women’s health psychiatrist, Dr. Kelly Brogan, writing for Green Med Info. “The dirtiest little secret of all is the fact that antidepressants are among the most difficult drugs to taper from, more so than alcohol and opiates.

“While you might call it ‘going through withdrawal,’ we medical professionals have been instructed to call it ‘discontinuation syndrome,’ which can be characterized by fiercely debilitating physical and psychological reactions. Moreover, antidepressants have a well-established history of causing violent side effects, including suicide and homicide. In fact, five of the top 10 most violence-inducing drugs have been found to be antidepressants.”

This doesn’t mean that our children need to be left to struggle through depression and isolation without any help, however. Experts recommend family, individual and other therapies, lifestyle changes including exercise and dietary changes, and spending more time outdoors with family and friends as healthy, side-effect-free ways to help kids cope.

Learn more about the dangers of antidepressant drugs at Psychiatry.news.

Sources include:





How Your Stress Affects Your Kids

A bad day at work. Money worries. A fight with your partner. Even bad traffic when you’re running late. Life is full of big and small stresses. You may think your kids are too young or not mature enough to know that something is going on. But often, the opposite is true.

“Kids can be especially sensitive to their parents’ moods,” says Stephanie Smith, a licensed clinical psychologist in Erie, CO.  “It doesn’t mean we, as parents, shouldn’t show our emotions — but it does mean that we should be mindful of how we manage them.”

Your kids won’t always see you calm and happy. Stress, sadness, frustration, and other negative emotions are a normal part of life, and it’s good for children to know that, Smith says. But what’s most important is for parents to model how to find healthy ways to deal with stressful times.

Kids Catch Your Stress

Stress that builds up without relief can start to affect how you interact with your children and how they feel.

You might snap at your kids or spend less time with them. Ongoing stress, such as financial worries, can wipe out the patience and energy it takes to be a nurturing, engaged parent. Even when you’re with your kids, you might not be paying attention to them.

“You might not be able to set aside those worries to focus on playing a game, cooking together, or going outside, kicking a ball, or playing with the dog. These are the things that kids respond to and look forward to,” says clinical psychologist Paul J. Donahue, PhD.

Stress also makes it easier to create unhealthy family habits, like eating fast food because you don’t have the energy to cook. Researchers have found that children of parents who feel stressed — because of health problems, financial strain, or other concerns — eat fast food more often, exercise less, and are more likely to be obese.

When you do try to wind down, you might be tempted to choose unhealthy ways to feel better, like bingeing on ice cream or zoning out in front of the TV. Kids learn how to handle stress by watching their parents. When you lean on food, screens, or other bad habits, you’re communicating to your child that those are the best ways to relax.

Talk It Out, Have a Plan

Of course you can’t banish stress from your life. So how can you keep it from affecting your kids? Experts say the best thing to do is to be honest with them about how you’re feeling and talk about a healthy strategy you’re going to use to feel better.

Think about your approach to stress relief, and plan ahead for some healthy strategies to use when the pressure’s on. Instead of burying your head in your smartphone, try some exercise to burn off the day’s frustration. Rather than staying up late with the TV on, calm your mind with a good book so you can get sleepy and get to bed on time.

Your kids will notice the positive ways you’re choosing to ease stress. You can even ask for their help.

Smith says you can try something like: “I’m feeling irritable today because I had a tough day at work.  Would you like to go on a bike ride with me after dinner? That always helps me feel better.” It’s also OK to let your kids know you need some alone time to read your book or go for a run because that relaxes you.

If you’re dealing with a long-term stressful situation, have brief, age-appropriate conversations with your kids about what’s going on. Reassure them about what you’re doing to make the situation better.

That shows your child that “people can go through hard times and be OK,” says Jamie Howard, PhD, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute.

It’s Time to Tell Your Kids It Doesn’t Matter Where They Go To College

When my daughter Jora was in high school, she went to a talk I gave on the adolescent brain, during which I pointed out that high school grades don’t predict success very well. On the way home she said, “Great talk, Dad, but I bet you don’t really believe that bit about grades.” I assured her that I did. To prove it, I offered to pay her $100 if she got a ‘C’ on her next report card — in any subject.

We’ve all heard the familiar anxiety-inducing nostrums: That a screw-up in high school will follow you for the rest of your life. That if you don’t get into Harvard or Yale, you’ll never reach the c-suite. That the path to success is narrow and you’d better not take one false step. I have come to think of this unfounded belief system as what we psychologists call a “shared delusion.”

So why don’t we tell our kids the truth about success? We could start with the fact that only a third of adults hold degrees from four-year colleges. Or that you’ll do equally well in terms of income, job satisfaction and life satisfaction whether you go to an elite private college or a less-selective state university. Or that there are there are many occupations through which Americans make a living, many of which do not require a college degree.

I am not against being a good student, and there are clear advantages to doing well in school. But you don’t need to be a top student or go to a highly selective college to have a successful and fulfilling life. The path to success is not nearly so narrow as we think. We’ve all heard the stories of the college dropout who went on to found a wildly successful company. I myself was a C+ student in high school who flunked out of graduate school. At one point I went for 20 weeks without turning in a single assignment. (I often tell the underachievers I see in my practice: “Top that!”) Long story short, I managed to do pretty well in life, and I credit my failure in graduate school with leading me to a career more in line with my skill set.

The problem with the stories we’re telling our kids is that they foster fear and competition. This false paradigm affects high-achieving kids, for whom a rigid view of the path to success creates unnecessary anxiety, and low-achieving kids, many of whom conclude at a young age that they will never be successful, and adopt a “why try at all?” attitude. Many of these young people engage in one of the most debilitating forms of self-talk, telling themselves either, “I have to, but I can’t,” or “I have to, but I hate it.”

Why do we encourage our children to embrace this delusional view of what it takes to be successful?

I’ve asked various school administrators why they don’t just tell kids the truth about college — that where you go makes very little difference later in life.

They’ll shrug and say, “Even if we did, no one would believe it.” One confided to me, “We would get angry calls and letters from parents who believe that, if their children understood the truth, they would not work hard in school and would have second-class lives.”

Many adults worry that if their kids knew that grades in school aren’t highly predictive of success in life, they’d lose their motivation to apply themselves and aim high. In fact, the opposite is true. In my 32 years of working with kids as a psychologist, I’ve seen that simply telling kids the truth — giving them an accurate model of reality, including the advantages of being a good student — increases their flexibility and drive. It motivates kids with high aspirations to shift their emphasis from achieving for its own sake to educating themselves so that they can make an important contribution. An accurate model of reality also encourages less-motivated students to think more broadly about their options and energizes them to pursue education and self-development even if they aren’t top achievers.

Children are much more energized when they envision a future that is in line with their own values than when they dutifully do whatever they believe they have to do to live up to their parents’ or teachers’ or college admissions boards’ expectations. We don’t inspire our kids through fear. We inspire them by helping them to focus on getting better at something, rather than being the best, and by encouraging them to immerse themselves in something they love.

So if you want your kids to succeed in life, don’t perpetuate a fear-based understanding of success. Start with the assumption that your children want their lives to work. Then tell them the truth: That we become successful by working hard at something that engages us, and by pulling ourselves up when we stumble.

One of the Busiest ER Doctors in the US Talks About This Year’s Deadly Flu, Kids

This year’s flu is the worst on record in at least a decade; 53 children have died amid the national flu epidemic, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

One of the busiest emergency rooms in the U.S. at St. Joseph’s Healthcare System in Paterson, New Jersey, has seen a huge surge of patients coming in with the flu. The chairman of emergency medicine, Dr. Mark Rosenberg, said the hospital has seen that kids are especially hard hit.

“We had to put two beds in each room just to be able to handle the sheer volume of pediatric patients,” he told ABC News.

Rosenberg spoke with ABC News’ Linsey Davis about what has been happening and what to expect in coming weeks of the flu season, which could be longer than usual.

How does this flu season differ from those in the past?

“This year, the big difference is the flu vaccine,” Rosenberg said. “We’re seeing more people come in who had the flu vaccine who now have the flu.”

It seems that many doctors’ offices and hospitals are overloaded with flu patients this particular season. What do you attribute that to?

“This year, so many people who have the flu are trying to see their primary care physician but those primary care offices are completely filled and overwhelmed,” Rosenberg said. “So when a patient calls up and says ‘Can I have an appointment?’ they say go to the emergency department. A large number of patients we see are actually trying to see their primary care doctors, but instead they come to the emergency department because we have unlimited access capability for anybody who has the flu or has an illness.”

Is this year’s flu more severe because of the number of people getting it or because the strain is more severe?

“The strain seems to be more virulent, it seems to come on more quickly than we’ve seen in prior years and those who are very young or very old seem to get sicker from that,” Rosenberg said, “particularly those who have … other serious or chronic illnesses.”

Is there any danger of running out of flu tests or Tamiflu?

“We use swabs and we have not had a problem having enough swab to do the testing,” Rosenberg said.

“We don’t give out a lot of Tamiflu because you don’t need Tamiflu to get better from the flu,” he said. “Only those who are seriously ill with a chronic condition, those who are pregnant, or those very young may benefit from Tamiflu.”

There are a lot of people sharing hospital rooms, is this unusual?

“Yes, so in pediatrics in particular, we had to put two beds in each room just to be able to handle the sheer volume of pediatric patients coming in,” Rosenberg said. “We have a 20 percent increase in pediatric patients and geriatric patients coming in because of the flu.”

The CDC says it’s possible that A-flu season could last til May. Will this last for several more weeks?

“At least,” Rosenberg said. “We typically see when spring weather comes in we have a couple more weeks of flu that will remain until it really dissipates. I always like to say the flu starts at Thanksgiving and ends at Easter. This year it may last a couple more weeks.”

What are some recommendations for both people who have not been sick with the flu and those who are sick, but worried about going to the doctor?

“The most important thing is get the flu vaccine, even if it’s not as effective as years prior,” Rosenberg said. “What we do know is if you take the flu vaccine, your symptoms and the flu duration will be less. So that’s the most important thing.”

“Make sure you’re washing your hands frequently,” he added. “You can use Purell, or some of the other alcohol-based cleansing agents — keep a bottle in your pocketbook or purse so you can wash your hands frequently — and stay away from people who have the flu. And if you are sick, stay in so you are not contaminating other people.”

Study Shows Kids are Born Creative Geniuses But the Education System Destroys Imagination

Dr. George Land and Beth Jarman were commissioned by NASA to help the space agency identify and develop creative talent. The two were tasked to research school children in an attempt to identify creative individuals from which the agency could pick to help with their many products. In a recent TED talk, Land described his team’s surprising findings on the education system which are nothing short of shocking.

It seems American schoolchildren lose their ability to think creatively over time. As students enter their educational journey, they retain most of their abilities to think creatively. In other words, children are born with creative genius. Employing a longitudinal study model, Land and Jarman studied 1,600 children at ages 5, 10, and 15.

Surprisingly, Land said they discovered if given a problem with which they had to come up with an imaginative, and innovative solution, 98 percent of 5-year-olds tested at the “genius” level. Simply put, their answers to how the problem should be solved were brilliant.

Upon entry into the school system, those numbers started to drop dramatically. When the team returned to test those same subjects at age 10, the percentage of genius-level imaginative and innovative thinkers fell to an unthinkable 30 percent. The indicators led the researchers to believe the current educational system is to blame. Not only did 68 percent of those students lose their ability to think with imagination and innovation, the thought that only 30 percent could still do is unfathomable.

The downward spiral continued to be demonstrated at age 15. When the researchers returned, the percentage of genius-level students had dropped to an abysmal 12 percent. Gasps could be heard all around the room as the audience attempted to process how such a brilliant group of students could sink so low in their imaginations and ability to solve problems with innovation.

Land blames the Industrial Revolution and its burgeoning factories for the demise of creativity. During that era, Land said the natural approach to teaching and learning led educators to develop “factories for human beings, too, called ‘schools’ so we could manufacture people that could work well in the factories.”

From a qualitative perspective, teachers point to governmental intrusion into the dumbing down of the nation’s school children. Starting with the development of the Department of Education, the federal government’s handprint is all over some of the worst decisions regarding public policy and education.

From the Clinton Administration’s mandated federal testing guidelines, to Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act, to the disastrous Obama Administration’s Common Core Curriculum, teachers everywhere have complained they’re not teaching any longer. They’re simply instructing students to achieve the minimum educational requirements necessary for them to pass a standardized exam.

Predictably, during those administration’s attempts to force a model of education upon the nation, the homeschool movement has flourished. Parents were forced to come to the conclusion their local public school was failing to provide an education sufficient for their children to be able to attend college.

As a result, Land’s team was not surprised to find only 2 percent of adults (Age 31) still retain their ability to think imaginatively, with creativity and innovation. He said:

Look, folks, if we’re going to enter the future with hope, that’s not going to do it. We have to do something about it.

Land says people can actually get back to thinking creatively with imagination if they will get rid of stinking thinking. He urges listeners to get rid of three aspects of education: judgment, criticism, and censorship.

When students come up with a brilliant idea they’re met with constant criticism, therefore they become conditioned to think like the masses, instead of coming up with an accepted alternative solution.

“Find the 5-year-old,” in yourself, Land implores. He says it has “never gone away” and can be accessed at any moment. Land said “So, The Great Designer said, ‘I’m gonna put that mechanism in so they exercise it every day in case they ever need an idea.’ You’ve got that capability, absolutely!”

But Land says we only exercise that genius part of our brains when we’re dreaming. So dream big! Dream often. And don’t let naysayers rain on your imagination.

Using brain scan imaging, Land demonstrated how the brain is practically useless when it’s afraid. In contrast, the human brain is exceedingly active when it’s imagining.

Without specifically criticizing the educational system, Land addressed the major problem with teaching students to get the “right answer.” He says, instead, students should imagine many possibilities to achieve innovation and problem-solving.

According to Land, in order for industry to survive, it must be continually innovating, and adapting to change, expecting the landscapes to evolve, and evolve with it. Instead of becoming fixated on one right solution, come up with 30-40 imaginative ones to become innovative.

Jack Burns is an educator, journalist, investigative reporter, and advocate of natural medicine.

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The Best Headphones for Kids That Won’t Damage Their Ears

In this age of electronics and personal earbud entertainment, noise-induced hearing loss is an ongoing issue, and of particular concern with children, who may not be aware of the noisy dangers lurking in their ears. To that end, USA Today has offered some ideas for volume-limiting headphones you can buy for your kids that can help preserve their hearing.

Aside from the fact that noise-induced hearing loss is permanent, there are other safety concerns about electronic devices that you need to be aware of, for both your children and yourself. For example, heavy cell phone use without the aid of speaker phone or a well-shielded wired headset is a cancer risk in the making.

If it were my choice, I would not let a child use a cell phone at all, as children are far more vulnerable to cell phone radiation than adults. Even with adults, studies show that those who use their cell phones the most are twice as likely to develop lethal brain cancer (glioma) compared to those whose exposure is minimal.

So, while you’re shopping for a safe headset, be sure it uses a combination of shielded wire and air-tube. These operate like a stethoscope, transmitting the sound to your head as an actual sound wave; although there are wires that still must be shielded, there is no wire that goes all the way up to your head.

Also avoid carrying your cell phone on your body, and do not sleep with it under your pillow or near your head. Placing a cell phone in your bra or in a shirt pocket over your heart is also asking for trouble, as the most dangerous place to be, in terms of radiation exposure, is within about six inches of the emitting antenna.


Even Small Bursts of Exercise Can Make Kids Healthier

Exercise is one of the pillars of good health. Your body was designed to move throughout the day and in many different directions. With well over 200 joints, your body can balance on a horse, run along the beach, sit at a desk or stand at a concert.

Story at-a-glance

Kids Exercise

  • Risks and challenges of childhood obesity are rising, fueled in part by poor food choices, sleep deprivation and poor exercise habits
  • A recent study demonstrates children experience benefits even from small bursts of exercise, three times weekly
  • School children benefit from improved reading and math test scores when exercise is incorporated into their daily activities

This is an amazing display of balance and power with hardly any discernable effort. Unfortunately, while digital technology has improved efficiency in many aspects of your life, it has also encouraged less movement and more sitting.

Many Americans sit between seven and 15 hours each day.1 Excessive sittingincreases your risk of metabolic disease, cardiovascular disease and the secondary effects of each, such as type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Adults and children are facing these same challenges. The rising number of children suffering from obesity increases health risks and costs as the children grow to adulthood. In 2012, more than one-third of all children and adolescents were either obese or overweight.2

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), this number more than tripled from 1971 to 2011,3 leading to a staggering number of adults who are now at higher risk of multiple health concerns ranging from obesity to degenerative arthritis.

Contributing factors to declining health include poor food choices, lack of quality sleep and insufficient exercise.

Recent Study Reveals Even Small Changes Can Make a Difference

Getting kids to exercise has become difficult over the past 20 years. What used to be common daily activity for children with their friends has turned into a chore. The effects of this difference in daily activities is showing up in the growing number of children suffering from obesity.

However, a recent study shows that children may benefit from very short periods of high intensity physical exercise.4 Researchers called the high-intensity interval training (HIIT) a more kid-friendly Fun Fast Activity Blast (FFAB).

The study evaluated 101 adolescents, measuring triglyceride levels, waist circumference, non-fasting blood glucose, c-reactive proteins, resting blood pressure, 20-meter shuttle run test and carotid artery intima media thickness.5 Researchers split the participants into two separate groups.

The control group continued their normal activities, while the experimental group participated in three 20-minute high intensity exercise sessions per week for 10 weeks, involving an exercise of their choice from basketball, dance, boxing and soccer drills.6

The results demonstrated benefits in both lower triglyceride levels and reduced waist circumference measurements. Researchers also found an unexpected advantage in the experimental group. These students increased the amount of physical activity by 16 minutes each day over the control group.7

The increased activity during non-exercise hours suggested to researchers that increasing structured exercise may carry over to increased activity during unmonitored hours.

Although there were also improvements in blood pressure, total cholesterol and high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels, those changes were not statistically significant. According to the authors:8

“The role of elevated triglycerides and waist circumference in cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome development underlines the importance of our findings.

We also demonstrated that school-based low-volume high-intensity interval training can be delivered as intended, thus representing a novel and scalable means of improving aspects of adolescents’ cardiometabolic health.”

Finding Movement Your Children Enjoy

The goal of the researchers in this study was to find an approach to exercise that was sustainable, practical and engaging for students. Although the study intervention period was short, it demonstrated benefits to both health metrics and an increased amount of movement during daily activities.

Finding exercises your children enjoy may be one key to unlocking a desire to move throughout the day and enjoy the benefits that follow. Unfortunately, reduced time in physical education and recess time at school, combined with most school system’s reticence to using stand up desks, significantly adds to the problem.

There isn’t time to wait for your school system to change to impact the health of your children. Especially if your children are not getting copious amounts of physical activity at school, it’s important to encourage them to be active in the hours they aren’t in school and on weekends.

Competitive school team sports are just one way of increasing movement and exercise.

Consider joining your children after school for a quick 20-minute HIIT workout using an exercise tape, interval walking,9 biking, basketball, dance or any number of other activities. Children are more likely to do what you do and not what you say.

FFAB is a proven method of improving cardiovascular fitness. It’s also important to incorporate muscle strength training. You don’t need dumbbells, weights or a gym. Climbing ropes, rowing, pushups, tug-of-war and resistance bands all help to build muscle strength in a fun and engaging way.

Once done with your HIIT exercises with your children, spend a few minutes cooling down and stretching to reduce the potential for tight muscles. Flexibility is key to both strength and reducing the potential for injury. Just five minutes is all it takes. Consider yoga, martial arts or dance a couple times a week to increase flexibility and activity.

For more ideas on exercising without weights, check out these simple body weight exercises in the video below. A great way to get fitness in no matter where you are.

What’s Behind Junk Food and Junk Food Marketing

The usual feature of the Standard American Diet has been non-fiber, high-carb and processed foods. Manufacturers spend much time and money to find the “bliss point,” or the exact amount of sugar or salt that tempts your palate and increases your desire for their food.

In April 1999, a hallmark meeting of CEOs of 11 of the largest food companies in America took place behind closed doors. There was one topic on the agenda for this private meeting: the rising rate of obesity and how to deal with it. James Behnke, former senior vice president of technology and chief technical officer at Pillsbury, was among the group that had devised this plan to engage this group of powerful CEOs on the topic. He is quoted in The New York Times, saying:10

“We were very concerned, and rightfully so, that obesity was becoming a major issue. People were starting to talk about sugar taxes, and there was a lot of pressure on food companies.”

Junk Food Diet Rivals Tobacco’s Impact on Children’s Health

The first speaker was Michael Mudd, vice president of Kraft, who acknowledged the difficulty of the subject matter. He proceeded to share staggering statistics about the growing obesity problem, and then compared food products to cigarettes. Quoted in The New York Times, Mudd said:

“As a culture, we’ve become upset by the tobacco companies advertising to children, but we sit idly by while food companies do the very same thing. And we could make a claim that the toll taken on the public health by a poor diet rivals that taken by tobacco.”

Following this, Mudd proposed a plan to gain a deeper understanding of what triggered overeating, to scale back the use of salt, sugar and trans fats and use a code to guide marketing, especially advertising aimed at children. In response, Stephen Sanger, head of General Mills, said:11

“Don’t talk to me about nutrition. Talk to me about taste, and if this stuff tastes better, don’t run around trying to sell stuff that doesn’t taste good.”

Sanger said he would continue to push his people forward and urged his peers to do the same. Sanger stressed he would not change recipes that had made General Mills so successful. His comments effectively ended the meeting.

Parents Also Deceived by Marketing Ploys

While it is the responsibility of parents to monitor and guide their children’s food choices, it can be a real challenge when marketing deceives them as well. Junk food ads cleverly manipulate parents into making unhealthy choices for their kids12 while believing they’re doing the right thing. As noted by CNN:13

“It is a dual-pronged approach where food manufacturers are targeting kids to pester (their parents) for these products, and then manufacturers are marketing to parents to get them to think these products are healthy and not to feel guilty about buying them …”

The study found food companies use a dual approach to advertising, targeting both children’s channels and parent-directed advertising. In the former, the ads were likely to focus on humor, using animated characters or mascots. In the latter, advertisers emphasized the nutritional information and health benefits of their products.

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to avoid falling into this trap is to realize that if there’s a commercial for it, you and your kids probably shouldn’t be eating it. Only processed foods are heavily marketed, and if you’re concerned about your child’s health and weight, then processed foods of all kinds, no matter what the ads promise, are the enemy. Your fridge and pantry need to be stocked with real food, meaning foods that are as close to their natural state as possible.

Better Food Choices and Quality Sleep Affect Exercise

Your health is a complex combination of external forces such as nutrition, sleep, exercise and exposure to toxins, and internal forces such as motivation, hormones, enzymes, vitamins and neurological connections. Your internal forces are affected by external forces acting on your body.

Essentially, this means you become what you do each day. The more you move, the easier it becomes to move, and vice versa. Children experience the same phenomena. Eating junk food, plastered in front of a computer screen and sleep deprived, it’s difficult to scrape together enough energy to get up and get moving.

With better food choices and sufficient sleep, you and your children may likely experience better health, more energy, greater motivation to move and exercise and a better mood. Sleep deprivation has been linked with poor cognitive performance, increased food consumption, depressed mood and short-term memory loss.14

Fernando Gómez-Pinilla, Ph.D., a University of California Los Angeles professor of neurosurgery and physiological science who has spent years studying the effects of food, exercise and sleep on the brain, was quoted in a press release from UCLA, saying:15

“Food is like a pharmaceutical compound that affects the brain. Diet, exercise and sleep have the potential to alter our brain health and mental function. This raises the exciting possibility that changes in diet are a viable strategy for enhancing cognitive abilities, protecting the brain from damage and counteracting the effects of aging.”

A combination of better food choices and quality sleep may help give you and your child more energy to exercise and enjoy the benefits to your good health. If you have trouble going to sleep or staying asleep, try the tips in my previous article titled, “Want a Good Night’s Sleep? Then Never Do These Things Before Bed.”

Benefits to Exercise Include Cognitive Improvements

In this video I talk about the benefits of HIIT, similar to the FFAB researchers used in the study for children. These exercises help both children and adults, making it easier for you to exercise right alongside your children. An extensive review of the literature proves what many parents have known for years. The more physically active your child is, the better they do in school.16 You may have also experienced this same effect of focus and clarity when you take a brisk afternoon walk.

There are several hypotheses of why this happens, but at this point, researchers have not identified the underlying process. Improved cognition may happen as a result of increased blood and oxygen flow to your brain, increased levels of norepinephrine and endorphins with a reduction of stress and an improvement of mood or an increase in growth factor that may help to create new nerve cells and support synaptic plasticity.

In a study performed in a Naperville school near Chicago, researchers demonstrated remarkable results in students who participated in physical activities before class each morning.17 The students also had access to exercise bikes and balls throughout the day. The results were resoundingly positive, with reading scores doubling and math scores up 20-fold. Exercise has even more benefits for your children, including:18

Reduced risk of diabetes and pre-diabetes Improved sleep Stronger bones and muscles
Reduced restlessness or hyperactivity; helps decrease symptoms of ADHD Improved immune system function Improved mood and reduced risk of depression
Improved weight management Increased energy levels Increased potential exercise habit continues into adulthood

Italian parents raising their kids on vegan diet may soon face up to 6 years in jail.

An Italian official is calling for new laws that would punish parents who put their children on vegan diets, or force “reckless and dangerous eating behavour” on them with a sentence of up to six years in prison, Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported.
© Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images for NYCWFF / AFP

The legislation would “stigmatize the reckless and dangerous eating behaviours imposed by parents… to the detriment of minors,” the outlet quoted Elvira Savino, a deputy of the center-right Forza Italia party, as saying.

Although the law would primarily target vegan diets in situations when parents force children under the age of 16 to forgo meat, eggs, dairy, and animal products, any diet “lacking in essential elements for growth” would also be subject to it.

In the introduction to the bill, Savino warned that the view of a vegan diet “resulting in significant health benefits” was becoming more widely accepted in Italy.

The suggested base penalty for parents is one year, but it could be longer if the child is under three years old. In addition, if a child becomes ill due to the diet, the sentence could be lengthened to 2.5 – 4 years, and if the diet results in a child’s death, parents could be put behind bars for up to six years.

Savino emphasized that “inadequate” diets can leave children with deficits of iron, zinc, B12, omega-3, and other vitamins.

“There is no objection if the person making this choice is an informed adult. A problem arises when children are involved,” she said, La Repubblica reported.

However, the president of the Italian Society of Food Science responded to Savino, telling La Repubblica that a diet containing excessive sugar and fat could do much more harm than vegan diets.

Calls for the anti-Vegan law came after several high-profile cases of children suffering from severe malnutrition as a result of veganism emerged in Italy.

Last month, a one-year-old boy weighing 5 kilograms with blood calcium levels barely sufficient to survive was removed from his parents in Milan.

In June, a two-year-old toddler was hospitalized in Genoa and had to be treated for vitamin deficiency as the result of a vegan diet.


When you have a cut, it often bleeds. People can see the wound, and acknowledge that you are injured. Mental health is much different. It cannot be “seen” in the concrete way we are used to associating pain with.

But in its own way, mental health is very visible—it just takes knowing the signs. And while we may view physical and mental health a bit differently, one thing is for sure: Western medicine reaches for a bandage first and foremost, often in the form of antidepressants and other medications.

Anxiety disorders plague more than one in four adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18, and are typically treated with such forms of medicine as mentioned above. What if there was another way to help them live a relatively healthy childhood without first resorting to pills?

A team of researchers from the University of Cincinnati wanted to explore alternative treatment options that focus on solutions involving the mind, instead of pharmaceuticals.

Over the course of 12 weeks, the researchers examined nine participants between the ages of 9 and 16 who were all diagnosed with anxiety disorders. Each of them underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans while they practiced mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, and different forms of therapeutic techniques like meditation, yoga, and learning how to pay nonjudgmental attention to one’s life.

The study’s co-author, Sian Cotton, director of the UC’s Center for Integrative Health and Wellness, noted that the anxiety of their patients was dramatically reduced following treatment. Cotton also acknowledged that the more mindfulness the participants practiced, the less anxious they reported feeling.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, provides a breakthrough for holistic treatments for such mental health issues, as it shows how mindfulness therapies may provide a treatment for childhood anxiety disorders.

“These integrative approaches expand traditional treatments and offer new strategies for coping with psychological distress,” explains Cotton.

Mindfulness-based therapeutic interventions promote the use of meditative practices to increase present-moment awareness of conscious thoughts, feelings, and body sensations in an effort to manage negative experiences more effectively,” Cotton continues.

Many children with anxiety disorders typically have poor coping skills in the presence of stress. But 80 percent of children with diagnosed anxiety disorders and 60 percent of those diagnosed with depression do not get help. Mindfulness exercises may, indeed, be able to allow children a safe and effective way to cope, even preventing relapses of depression or anxiety.

It may also provide people reluctant to taking medications another option. “Increasingly, patients and families are asking for additional therapeutic options, in addition to traditional medication-based treatments, that have proven effectiveness for improved symptom reduction. Mindfulness-based therapies for mood disorders is one such example with promising evidence,” Cotton notes.

The 12-week experiment showed the study’s researchers that mindfulness therapy boosted neural activity in a part of the brain responsible for processing cognitive and emotion information called the cingulate. Furthermore, they found that the therapy worked to increase brain activity in the insula, which is the part of the brain that monitors how the body feels on a psychological level.

“This raises the possibility that treatment-related increases in brain activity during emotional processing may improve emotional processing in anxious youth who are at risk for developing bipolar disorder,” explains fellow co-author Dr. Jeffrey Strawn, a professor in UC’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, and the director of the Anxiety Disorders Research Program. “The path from understanding the effects of psychotherapy on brain activity to the identification of treatment response is a challenging one, and will require additional studies of emotional processing circuits.”

What To Practice?

As we saw in the study, practicing meditation, yoga, or learning to be aware of what happens in your life from a non judgmental point of view (shifting your consciousness) are effective means to reduce anxiety.