Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Parenting Research Unplugged


Brian Wansink, Mr. Mindless Eating, Inventor of 
Edible Stop Sign (Photo Credit: Robin Wishna)


Scientific evidence you (might) need to know:

Double-blind study shows antioxidant improves symptoms of autism (irritability, repetitive behavior). So found Standford researcher with a financial stake in a company that makes and sells the antioxidant.

Before you order some N-Acetylcysteine, read on.

Drug studies face higher rate of retraction for "scientific misconduct" than other biomed research.  Oh just the usual suspects like fraudulent or falsified data, unethical or suspicious conduct, plagiarism. In other words, a day in the life of Dr. Andrew Wakefield.

This pale, freckly mom hopes the next drug finding has not been doctored. 

Non-prescription pain pills might cut skin cancer risk.  Pass the Ibuprofen.

I wonder who funded that study? It be convenient to dole out a pill instead of slathering up the kiddies amidst complaints and tears.

Now for the portion of today's scientific inquiries most likely to induce fear and organic purchasing.

Children exposed to high levels of common pollutant show increase of chromosomal aberrations.  Yes the toxin in auto fumes, cigarette smoke, mothballs.  And yes, these chromosomal changes have been linked to cancer. 

Belly fat linked to toxin PCB.  Study finds adults with high levels of visceral fat also had high levels of PCBs in their blood. Researchers speculate PCBs create bad fat. I speculate PCBs crave the warmth and comfort of belly fat. You say tomato, I say moonsquirters (see below). 

As if you have to ask....yes, bad belly fat has been linked to diabetes, hypertension, metabolic syndrome and excessive use of Spanx.

Maybe those with an expanding waistline just need a few visual cues, say an edible stop sign for healthy snacking.

Students who got a stack of potato chips interspersed with red chips ate half as much.*  Before you start meticulously dying and stacking snack food in your spare time (after sneaking pureed veggies into dinner ) I have a much easier solution. Don't hand over the whole bag of chips.

Moon squirters, vibrant illustrations and other
delicacies from Lauren Child.(Image, Amazon)
True, the toddler with the saggy swim suit dragging the bag of Cheetos through the sand is adorable but I for one don't care to argue portion control with a tween. Have you seen the literature on eating disorders?

* Personal disclosure:
I thoroughly enjoyed researcher Brian Wansink's best-selling book Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think.

Check out MindlessEating.org. He's a gem, a scientist with a super entertaining and informative website.

Dear school cafeterias - where are the X-Ray Carrots?

Prof Wansink must be a Charlie and Lola fan.  He must know too about the moonsquirters (tomatos), green drops from Greenland (peas) and fluff clouds (mashed potato). 

Love those books.  Lauren Child makes my day over and over.    

A final note:

Before soccer/hockey/baseball/lacrosse/interpretative movement practice, you should consider skipping the sports drink for a banana. 

Study of athletes show bananas just as good if not more beneficial than sports drinks for endurance.  Two caveats. First, Dole sponsored the study. Second, there's the sheer amount of refreshment and sweat: a cup of carbohydrate drink or half a banana every 15 minutes during a 75-kilometer simulated road race lasting 2.5 to 3 hours.

I'm sure your child will understand and appreciate the importance of eating three bananas during the game this evening.

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