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Health briefs: Study: Nearly all adolescents have eating, activity or weight-related issues

Study: Nearly all adolescents have eating, activity or weight-related issues

A new study from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health found that nearly all young people have struggles with eating, activity and weight as they move from adolescence to adulthood.

"Only 2 percent of females and just 7 percent of males surveyed never had an eating, activity or weight-related problem," said lead author and professor Dianne Neumark-Sztainer. "This means that practically everyone is affected at some point by one of these concerning issues that are harmful to their health and that could also affect the health of their future families."

The study was recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Neumark-Sztainer made the finding after reviewing data from 1,455 participants in her long-running Project EAT, the largest and most comprehensive longitudinal body of research examining predictors of eating- and weight-related problems in young people. The data came from four surveys that participants filled out every five years beginning in 1998 that inquired about their health, including the topics of this particular study: diet, physical activity, weight control habits, body satisfaction and weight status.

Key findings included:

• 78 percent of females in the first survey had at least one eating, activity or weight-related problem and 82 percent had similar markers in the fourth survey given 15 years later.

• 60 percent of males had at least one problem in the first survey, which grew to 69 percent in the fourth survey.

• The most prevalent issue for both genders was unhealthy weight-control behaviors.

• Two-thirds of girls and one-third of boys always had one of these problems during their development to adulthood.

• A significant proportion of young people had three or more problems at one time.

"In general, we did not see a decrease in problems over time," Neumark-Sztainer said. "People often think some of these problems are part of being an adolescent, but we see that they persist into later life."

Neumark-Sztainer found that when multiple problems are present, health professionals will need to take a different approach to solving them. For example, obesity may have to be addressed along with body dissatisfaction and unhealthy weight-control behaviors.

The study shows that helping young people develop healthy eating, activity, and body-satisfaction levels, and heal from whatever problems exist in these areas, requires comprehensive interventions that begin before kids enter adolescence and should continue through young adulthood.

"As a society, we need to accept that people come in different shapes and sizes, and we need to provide more opportunities for people to make healthy food choices and to be physically active," Neumark-Sztainer said.

She said she plans to continue following the Project EAT group to examine how eating and activity patterns in adolescence influence adult health outcomes and parenting practices. She also wants to explore how to best work with high-risk populations, such as people living in chronic stress due to factors such as poverty, racism and weight discrimination.

Project EAT research is funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Tobacco-free policies on the rise across colleges, universities

More than twice as many U.S. college and university campuses were smoke free or tobacco free in 2017 as in 2012, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation, published June 21 in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

As of November 2017, at least 2,082 U.S. college and university campuses were smoke free (completely prohibited smoking) or tobacco free (completely prohibited both smokeless tobacco use and combustible tobacco product smoking) in all indoor and outdoor areas, up from 774 campuses in 2012.

In 2017, among the 2,082 campuses with smoke-free policies, 84 percent were tobacco-free. By comparison, of the 774 smoke-free college and university campuses in 2012, 73 percent were tobacco-free, using data from ANRF's College Campus Tobacco Policy Database.

"Colleges and universities are ideal places to promote healthy behaviors that can continue for a lifetime, including being tobacco free," said Corinne Graffunder, director of CDC's Office on Smoking and Health. "Tobacco-free campus policies could help reduce tobacco use and provide people with a healthier environment to live, work and learn."

Cigarette smoking causes an estimated 480,000 deaths each year in the U.S., including more than 41,000 deaths from secondhand smoke exposure among nonsmoking adults. For more on quitting smoking and preventing young people from using tobacco products, visit https://betobaccofree.hhs.gov.

Warning issued about synthetic cannabinoids

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services is warning people about the dangers of synthetic cannabinoids, often called fake weed, K2, and spice as people continue to be hospitalized with severe bleeding after using these products which have contained rat poison. Wisconsin has seen a total of 15 cases since March of this year, seven confirmed and eight probable.

"These dangerous products are still in the community and we urge people not to use K2, spice, or any synthetic cannabinoid," State Health Officer Karen McKeown said in a news release.

Synthetic cannabinoids are not one drug. Hundreds of different synthetic cannabinoid chemicals are manufactured and sprayed on dried plant material or sold as liquids to be inhaled in tobacco products like e-cigarettes or other vaping devices. New versions with unknown health risks are available each year. These products are found across the U.S. in convenience stores, gas stations, drug paraphernalia shops, novelty stores and online.

Officials advise calling 911 or going to the emergency department if you or someone you know has a serious reaction to synthetic cannabinoids.

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