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Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Prediciting Obesity not just about food

Brian Fung - Brian Fung is an associate editor at The Atlantic. He has written previously for Foreign Policy, The Washington Post, and Talking Points Memo.

Study: A Childhood Need for Immediate Gratification Predicts Adult Obesity

By Brian Fung
Share2 Aug 17 2012, 7:43 AM ET 21 Mastering self-control at an early age correlates with decreased obesity as an adult.
PROBLEM: In what has become known as "the marshmallow test" of delayed gratification, researchers in the 1960s developed a novel way to measure self-control among children. Having recruited preschoolers from a university daycare, scientists presented each child with one marshmallow. They were then told they could either eat the one they had or wait an unspecified amount of time and be rewarded with an additional marshmallow. Various follow-up studies on delayed gratification have been performed on the results since the project's conclusion. This particular study attempted to determine what correlation, if any, existed between the self-control of the children at age 4 and the rate of obesity among the now adult participants.
METHODOLOGY: Researchers sent surveys to 306 participants in the original gratification study in two follow-up mailings. Of those, 164 responded with a report about their own height and weight. The average age of all respondents was 39. More than 94 percent had graduated from college or held advanced degrees. Slightly more than half of respondents were women.
RESULTS: According to the self reports (which should naturally be treated with some skepticism), researchers detected a correlation between a child's level of self-control 30 years ago and lower body-mass index among the respondents today. Women generally reported a lower BMI than men, but how long the children were able to hold off gratification had an even stronger link to weight than did sex. For every minute that a child postponed gratification, the researchers noticed a 0.2-point decrease in BMI among the grown participants.
CONCLUSION: Those who were most able to resist instant gratification as children had the best likelihood of maintaining a healthy weight as adults, even 30 years separated from their experience.
IMPLICATION: The dietary choices we make as adults have an acute impact on our waistlines, but our propensity for delayed gratification appears to stem at least in part from our character as youths.
SOURCE: The full study, "Preschoolers' Delay of Gratification Predicts Their Body Mass 30 Years Later," is published in the journal Pediatrics.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Unneeded Toys

I am reposting this article from Exchange's a hot topic in our centres right now as we become more and more convinced that we need less "stuff" less plastic, pre-determined toys and more real items and fewer of them so that children use their own imaginations.  What do you think?

"The United States has 3.1 percent of the world’s children, but buys 40 percent of all toys sold worldwide.  Obviously, American kids can’t possibly extract all the play-value out of that many toys, most of which end up piled somewhere."

This was the insight of Carlo Rotella in his Boston Globe article, "Clear the clutter; get rid of unneeded toys." shared with by World Forum team member Jean Dugan.  Rotella continued...

"That got me thinking about how drastically a family could cut back on its toys.  So, an exercise: You’re marooned indefinitely on a desert island with your kids, who are under 12.  You can bring five toys.  There are trees to climb, waves to swim in, so there’s no need for specialized sports equipment — and nothing that requires electricity, since there won’t be any.  What to bring?  I consulted with my in-house experts, who are 9 and 11, and we came up with the following:

  1. A medium-size ball.  You can make up an infinite number of games to play with it, and it’s useful for all ages.
  2. A board game.  We considered Monopoly, which would assuage our homesickness for city life, and chess, which would provide a perpetually escalating challenge as the kids grew older.  But we chose The Settlers of Catan, a cousin of Monopoly that goes beyond real estate into agriculture, herding, mining, and town-building, and features more trading and negotiation.
  3. Legos.  Not one of those kits they sell now — the ones that come with assembly instructions for achieving a single preconceived outcome — but a freestyle assortment you can use to make whatever you want in the older spirit of the toy.
  4. Playing cards.  You can play all sorts of games with cards, but my daughters are partial to poker.
  5. A stuffed animal.  The girls insisted on bringing their number-one bears.  And the bears are versatile toys, providing comfort, sociability (they have their own personalities, which adds to the size of our island community), and opportunities for imaginative play....

"So, five toys for a desert island.  I don’t think that reducing to just these five would really cause much of a hardship.  And if it’s this easy to imagine cutting back on toys, why is it so hard in the real world?"