Empty Calories Taste Good but Have No Nutrients

Empty calories are calories that don’t give us the nutrients we need. Here is what MyPlate.gov. a division of the Dept. of Agriculture, has to say about foods that taste good, but contain empty calories.

picture of sweet treats that have empty caloriesMany of the foods and beverages Americans eat and drink contain empty calories. These are calories that come from solid fats and/or added sugars. Solid fats and added sugars add calories to the food but few or no nutrients. For this reason, the calories from solid fats and added sugars in a food are often called empty calories. Learning more about solid fats and added sugars can help you make better food and drink choices.

Solid fats are fats that are solid at room temperature, like butter, beef fat, and shortening. Some solid fats are found naturally in foods. They can also be added when foods are processed by food companies or when they are prepared. Added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added when foods or beverages are processed or prepared.
Solid fats and added sugars can make a food or beverage more appealing, but they also can add a lot of calories. The foods and beverages that provide the most empty calories for Americans are:

  • Cakes, cookies, pastries, and donuts (contain both solid fat and added sugars)
  • Sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks, and fruit drinks (contain added sugars)
  • Cheese (contains solid fat)
  • Pizza (contains solid fat)
  • Ice cream (contains both solid fat and added sugars)
  • Sausages, hot dogs, bacon, and ribs (contain solid fat)

These foods and beverages are the major sources of empty calories, but many can be found in forms with less or no solid fat or added sugars. For example, low-fat cheese and low-fat hot dogs can be purchased. You can choose water, milk, or sugar-free soda instead of drinks with sugar. Check that the calories in these products are less than in the regular product.

In some foods, like most candies and sodas, all the calories are empty calories. These foods are often called “empty calorie foods.” However, empty calories from solid fats and added sugars can also be found in some other foods that contain important nutrients. Some examples of foods that provide nutrients, shown in forms with and without empty calories are:

Food with some empty calories Food with few or no empty calories
Sweetened applesauce (contains added sugars) Unsweetened applesauce
Regular ground beef (75% lean) (contains solid fats) Extra lean ground beef (96% or more lean)
Fried chicken (contains solid fats from frying and skin) Baked chicken breast without skin
Sugar-sweetened cereals (contain added sugars) Unsweetened cereals
Whole milk (contains solid fats) Fat-free milk

Making better choices, like unsweetened applesauce or extra lean ground beef, can help keep your intake of added sugars and solid fats low.

A small amount of empty calories is okay, but most people eat far more than is healthy.

It is important to limit empty calories to the amount that fits your calorie and nutrient needs. You can lower your intake by eating and drinking foods and beverages containing empty calories less often or by decreasing the amount you eat or drink.

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Keeping Your Child Safe From Heat Stroke, Exhaustion and Cramps

heat

It is still hot in many parts of the U.S., and heat illness is a health concern, especially for children.

The following press release speaks to protecting your child from heat induced illnesses.

Source Newsroom: Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

Doctors at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center want parents and guardians to know how they can keep their kids safe during the hot weather.

Dr. Eric Kirkendall, Hospital Medicine, Cincinnati Children’s, explains that there are three major illnesses that heat can trigger. “Heat stroke, heat exhaustion and heat cramps are reactions caused by exposure to high temperatures combined with high humidity. The most serious of these is heat stroke.”

Heat stroke symptoms include hot flushed skin, high fevers (over 104° F), and altered mental states such as confusion. It can be accompanied by seizures. It is a life-threatening emergency, and needs to be treated promptly.

Heat exhaustion is less severe, but is still dangerous and requires medical attention. Symptoms include pale skin; profuse sweating; nausea, dizziness, fainting, or weakness.

Heat cramps are most common in the abdomen and legs, especially the calf or thigh muscles. Tightness or hand spasms can also occur, but none of these symptoms are accompanied by a fever.

Dr. Kirkendall advises that parents and caregivers should limit outdoor play time when it is extremely hot outside to early morning or late afternoon. “Keep children well hydrated with water, and take frequent breaks to allow them to come inside and cool off.”

Treating Heat Stroke

• Call 911 immediately.
• Cool the child off as rapidly as possible while waiting for Emergency Medical Services to arrive. Move the child to a cool shady place or an air-conditioned room; sponge the entire body surface with cool water (as tolerated without causing shivering); and fan the child to increase evaporation.
• Keep the feet elevated to counteract shock.
• If the child is awake, give him as much cold water to drink as he can tolerate.
• Fever medicines are of no value for heat stroke.

Treating Heat Exhaustion

• Put the child in a cool place. Have him lie down with the feet elevated.
• Undress the child (except for underwear) so the body surface can give off heat.
• Sponge the entire body surface continuously with cool water without causing shivering. Fan the child to increase heat loss from evaporation.
• Give the child as much cool, not cold water to drink as is tolerable until he feels better.
• Move the child to a shaded area.
• For persistent or severe symptoms, take the child to be seen by a physician.

Avoiding Cramps

• Monitor the child’s physical activity and make sure that he does not overly exert himself.
• Make sure the child drinks plenty of water and rehydrates often.
• Encourage frequent breaks from physical activity so the child can cool down and gently stretch his muscles.

About Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center ranks third in the nation among all Honor Roll hospitals in U.S.News and World Report’s 2014 Best Children’s Hospitals. It is also ranked in the top 10 for all 10 pediatric specialties. Cincinnati Children’s, a non-profit organization, is one of the top three recipients of pediatric research grants from the National Institutes of Health, and a research and teaching affiliate of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. The medical center is internationally recognized for improving child health and transforming delivery of care through fully integrated, globally recognized research, education and innovation. Additional information can be found at www.cincinnatichildrens.org. Connect on the Cincinnati Children’s blog, via Facebook and on Twitter.

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Digital Eye Strain is Often the Result of Over Exposure to Digital Devices

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), parents severely underestimate the time eyetheir children spend on digital devices. What follows is a press release issued by AOA that speaks to the need to monitor your child’s use of digital devices and suggests the guidelines to help prevent or reduce eye and vision problems associated with digital eye strain.

AOA Survey Report on Digital Eye Strain

ST. LOUIS — An AOA survey reports that 83 percent of children between the ages of 10 and 17 estimate they use an electronic device for three or more hours each day. However, a separate AOA survey of parents revealed that only 40 percent of parents believe their children use an electronic device for that same amount of time. Eye doctors are concerned that this significant disparity may indicate that parents are more likely to overlook warning signs and symptoms associated with vision problems due to technology use, such as digital eye strain.

Symptoms of Digital Eye Strain

Eighty percent of children surveyed report experiencing burning, itchy or tired eyes after using electronic devices for long periods of time. These are all symptoms of digital eye strain, a temporary vision condition caused by prolonged use of technology. Additional symptoms may include headaches, fatigue, loss of focus, blurred vision, double vision or head and neck pain.

Optometrists are also growing increasingly concerned about the kinds of light everyday electronic devices give off – high-energy, short-wavelength blue and violet light – and how those rays might affect and even age the eyes. Today’s smartphones, tablets, LED monitors and even flat screen TVs all give off light in this range, as do cool-light compact fluorescent bulbs. Early research shows that overexposure to blue light could contribute to eye strain and discomfort and may lead to serious conditions such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which can cause blindness.

Protecting Your Eyes Against Digital Eye Strain

When it comes to protecting eyes and vision from digital eye strain, taking frequent visual breaks is important. Children should make sure they practice the 20-20-20 rule: when using technology or doing near work, take a 20-second break, every 20 minutes and view something 20 feet away. According to the survey, nearly one-third (32 percent) of children go a full hour using technology before they take a visual break instead of every 20 minutes as recommended.

Additionally, children who normally do not require the use of eyeglasses may benefit from glasses prescribed specifically for intermediate distance for computer use. And children who already wear glasses may find their current prescription does not provide optimal vision for viewing a computer screen. An eye doctor can provide recommendations for each individual patient.

AOA Recommendations

The AOA recommends every child have an eye exam by an optometrist soon after 6 months of age and before age 3. Children now have the benefit of yearly comprehensive eye exams thanks to the Pediatric Essential Health Benefit in the Affordable Care Act, through age 18.

“Parents should know that vision screenings miss too many children who should be referred to an optometrist for an eye examination to correct vision,” added Dr. Roberts. “Eye exams performed by an eye doctor are the only way to diagnose eye and vision diseases and disorders in children. Undiagnosed vision problems can impair learning and can cause vision loss and other issues that significantly impact a child’s quality of life.”

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How Safe are Playground Sandboxes and Amusement Park Rides?

 How Safe is the Playground Sandbox?

It is that time of year…time to visit the playground with all of its climbing opportunities. Young children always gravitate to  the sandbox, but how safe is a box full of sand? What is in the box besides the sand?

chidren playing in public sandbox

Recently, microbiologists from NSF International (NSF) swabbed 26 different public places testing for the highest level of general bacteria to determine how safe these areas are for public use.

NSF’s team of microbiologists found that the location that harbored the highest level of bacteria and is the least safe place is a playground sandbox.

Sandboxes are actually an ideal setting for bacteria. Not only are they exposed to wildlife, such as cats and raccoons, but they can also hold on to the bacteria that is left from human contact, such as saliva, food items, and other bacteria from human hands.

Before you consider allowing your child to play in a public sandbox, you need to know that the sandbox is to be raked and sifter daily to remove debris. The sandbox also needs to be covered at night to prevent animals using it as a littler box.

NSF International is an independent, not-for-profit organization. Since 1944, NSF’s  main commitment continues to be making the world a safe place for consumers. To explore the NSF consumer website to learn more about NSF, its programs and services, go to www.nsf.org

How Safe Are Amusement Park Rides?

Government statistics demonstrated that fixed-site amusement rides constitute a safe, if not one of the safest forms of recreation available to the public. These statistics do not apply to portable rides that are set up in a community for a limited period of time.

picture of Amusement Park

On its website, The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) reports that their association worked together with the National Safety Council (NSC)  to establish a nationwide amusement ride injury reporting system for all facilities operating fixed-site amusement rides in the United States.  This system analyzes data from a statistically-valid sample to produce an annual amusement ride injury estimate for the overall fixed-site amusement ride sector in the U.S. Participation in this survey is mandatory for all IAAPA members operating fixed-site amusement rides in the U.S.

According to IAAPA, in 2009, approximately 280 million guests visited U.S. amusement facilities and safely enjoyed 1.7 billion rides. The most recent survey highlights that an estimated 1,086 ride related injuries occurred in 2009. Only 65 of the injuries in 2009 were reported as “serious,” meaning they required some form of overnight treatment at a hospital; this comprised roughly 6 percent of all ride injuries.

Information on the IAAPA site, from both government and independent data supports the fact that the number of patrons who experienced an incident while on a ride was miniscule – essentially one one-thousandth of one percent, or 0.00001.

Outside analysis of the NSC reporting data also found that the injury risk of fixed-site amusement rides (estimated at eight per million visitors) compares very favorably with those of other common recreational and sporting activities.  Using participation figures from the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA) and injury estimates from the CPSC database, fixed amusement ride injury risk was determined to be 10 to 100 times lower than for most common recreational and sporting activities including roller skating, basketball, football, soccer, fishing, and golf.

Examination of public documents and other relevant data consistently shows that only a small percentage of those mishaps that do occur are caused by factors subject to either ride operations, staff or mechanical error.

For more information, visit:

www.nsc.org

www.iaapa.org

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Stuttering

child stutteringAccording to the Stuttering Foundation  more than 68 million people worldwide stutter, which is about 1% of the population.

In the United States, that’s over 3 million Americans who stutter.  Four times as many males as females have a problem with stuttering.

Most people who saw The King’s Speech were touched by the life-long impact that stuttering had on King George the 6th of Britain.This movie continues to create a renewed public interest in the causes and latest treatments for stuttering.

The Stuttering Foundation describes stuttering as “A communication disorder in which the flow of speech is broken by repetitions (li-li-like this), prolongations (lllllike this), or abnormal stoppages (no sound) of sounds and syllables. There may also be unusual facial and body movements associated with the effort to speak. Stuttering is also referred to as stammering.”

Contrary to the commonly held belief that stuttering is caused by trauma, or emotional problems,  the Stuttering Foundation identifies four causes for stuttering. They are: genetics (approximately 60% of those who stutter have a family member who does also); child development (children with other speech and language problems or developmental delays are more likely to stutter); neurophysiology (recent neurological research has shown that people who stutter process speech and language slightly differently than those who do not stutter); and family dynamics (high expectations and fast-paced lifestyles can contribute to stuttering). Stuttering may occur when a combination of factors come together and may have different causes in different people. It is probable that what causes stuttering differs from what makes it continue or get worse.

About 5 percent of all children go through a period of stuttering that lasts six months or more. Three-quarters of whom will recover by late childhood, leaving about 1% with a long-term problem. The best prevention tool is early intervention.

We all know that stuttering can cause a child to become self-conscious about speaking. It can also make him or her the brunt of jokes and ridicule from insensitive children in school or when out playing.  It is best to seek ways to  help as soon as possible.    If the stuttering persists beyond three to six months or is particularly severe, it may be time to seek help from a speech-language pathologist who specializes in stuttering . (check out speech-language pathologists for listings by state or country.)

There are a variety of successful approaches for treating both children and adults (check out Why Speech Therapy? for some guidelines).

While there are no instant miracle cures for stuttering, a specialist in stuttering can help not only children but also teenagers, young adults, and even older adults improve their speech.

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