Natural Breakthrough May Put Brakes on Childhood Allergies

Studies have shown that there’s no more distressing sound to humans than a baby crying — and I believe it. As a parent, there’s nothing worse than watching our children suffer, particularly when they’re young and unable to communicate what’s ailing them.

But if an exciting new study out of Australia is correct, Continue reading

Getting a Grip on Childhood Obesity

American adults are overweight and obese, which is a huge problem for our healthcare system, tax dollars, productivity and quality of life. But the fact that our kids are increasingly obese means we may be dooming the next generation to an unhappy lifetime of chronic disease. We have to take action now to halt the juvenile obesity epidemic, or the consequences will be tragic.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “Obesity now affects 17 percent of all children and adolescents in the United States — triple the rate from just one generation ago.” That 17 percent equates to 12.5 million obese children, ages 2 to 19.

In its 2011 “Children’s Food Environment State Indicator Report,” the CDC blames a good part of this problem on the serving and advertising of “sugar drinks and less healthy foods on school campuses.” Ads sell junk foods to kids, while parents feed their children what they ask for instead of providing balanced meals. Added to that, kids are eating supersized portions of foods containing too much sugar and fat.

If we consider the alarming numbers of inner-city children with weight problems, it’s obvious that kids don’t get enough exercise and don’t have access to safe places to play. Even for those interested in outdoor activity, finding a safe place or even getting to one is an issue. In its “State Indicator Report on Physical Activity,  Continue reading

Personality Set for Life By 1st Grade

Our personalities stay pretty much the same throughout our lives, from our early childhood years to after we’re over the hill, according to a new study.

The results show personality traits observed in children as young as first graders are a strong predictor of adult behavior.

“We remain recognizably the same person,” said study author Christopher Nave, a doctoral candidate at the University of California, Riverside. “This speaks to the importance of understanding personality because it does follow us wherever we go across time and contexts.”

The study will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

Using data from a 1960s study of approximately 2,400 ethnically diverse schoolchildren (grades 1 – 6) in Hawaii, researchers compared teacher personality ratings of the students with videotaped interviews of 144 of those individuals 40 years later.

They examined four personality attributes – talkativeness (called verbal fluency), adaptability (cope well with new situations), impulsiveness and self-minimizing behavior (essentially being humble to the point of minimizing one’s importance).

Among the findings:

Talkative youngsters tended to show interest in intellectual matters, speak fluently, try to control situations, and exhibit a high degree of intelligence as adults. Children who rated low in verbal fluency were observed as adults to seek advice, give up when faced with obstacles, and exhibit an awkward interpersonal style.

Children rated as highly adaptable tended, as middle-age adults, to behave cheerfully, speak fluently and show interest in intellectual matters. Those who rated low in adaptability as children were observed as adults to say negative things about themselves, seek advice and exhibit an awkward interpersonal style.

Students rated as impulsive were inclined to speak loudly, display a wide range of interests and be talkative as adults. Less impulsive kids tended to be fearful or timid, kept others at a distance and expressed insecurity as adults.

Children characterized as self-minimizing were likely to express guilt, seek reassurance, say negative things about themselves and express insecurity as adults. Those who were ranked low on a self-minimizing scale tended to speak loudly, show interest in intellectual matters and exhibit condescending behavior as adults.

Changing personality

Previous research has suggested that while our personalities can change, it’s not an easy undertaking.

Personality is “a part of us, a part of our biology,” Nave said. “Life events still influence our behaviors, yet we must acknowledge the power of personality in understanding future behavior as well.”

Future research will “help us understand how personality is related to behavior as well as examine the extent to which we may be able to change our personality,” Nave said.