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Would You Like A Bigger Butt With Those Fries?

Do you know that most adults should eat less than 2,000 calories a day? Sounds like a lot, until you consider that if you eat out, you can get your entire days worth in one meal. Here are some amazing facts (chosen at random):

  • At Burger King – a triple whopper with cheese has 1,230 calories – add medium fries (360) and medium chocolate shake (690) and you are up to 2,280 calories!
  • The Cheesecake Factory brings you beer battered fish & chips at 2,160 calories, add a piece of Adam’s Peanut Butter Fudge Ripple Cheesecake (1,326) for a total of 3,486 calories!
  • How about Chicken & Biscuits instead, with 68 grams of saturated fat? Yes, that is more than four days worth of saturated fat (for a 2,000 a day diet, <16 grams a day is suggested).

Right now you can usually request the nutritional information at chain restaurants and someone will point you to or produce a pamphlet, but the information is not apparent. The idea of having those nutritional facts printed clearly on menus is meeting some serious resistance from the restaurant industry. I wonder why?

Public health advocates however are pushing hard to get this information in front of consumers hoping that people will make healthier choices when faced with the facts! The Senate supported a federal labeling law last month as part of comprehensive health-care reform, but we shall see what happens when it all comes to a vote.

Until then, it would be good to know when ordering – and passing on these facts to our teens who are likely to be eating out.

This post, Would You Like A Bigger Butt With Those Fries?, was originally published on by Nancy Brown, Ph.D..

HIV Screening Should Be Offered As Part Of Routine Medical Care, Even For Teens

In 2006 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that 1.1 million people were living with HIV, 4.4% of whom were 13 to 24 years old, and 48% of those youth are unaware they are infected. Using the Youth Risk Behavioral Survey (YRBS) data from 2007, the CDC estimated that about 12.9% of high school students had been tested for HIV.

The good news is that the highest risk teens were the ones getting tested more often, but only 22% of the highest risk teens had been tested.

To decrease the number of undiagnosed HIV infections among adolescents and promote HIV prevention, the CDC recommends that healthcare providers offer HIV screening as part of routine medical care for all people ages 13 to 64. People at high risk should be tested every year, including:

  • Injection drug users;
  • Anyone who exchanges sex for money or drugs;
  • Sex partners of people with HIV;
  • Men who have sex with men;
  • Heterosexual people who have more than one partner since their most recent HIV test; and
  • Anyone who gets a sexually transmitted disease.

High schools can support that effort by including information about HIV testing in the health curricula. People familiar with the benefits and process of the testing and counseling are more likely to be tested.

For teens, I usually suggest they go to anonymous testing sites in their community to be testing, so that the test is not including in their medical record. The anonymity also gives them a little extra courage. The trick is that they cannot lose their test number for the two weeks they wait for results.

This post, HIV Screening Should Be Offered As Part Of Routine Medical Care, Even For Teens, was originally published on by Nancy Brown, Ph.D..

Teen Dating Does Not Mean They’re Having Sex

Just a friendly reminder to parents that dating does not equal sex. I cannot tell you how many teens have shared with me that the first lecture they got from their parents when they started dating was about sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and unwanted pregnancy. Their reactions were “what?”

When young teens start dating it is because they have found themselves twitterpated (which is apparently not a real word), and attracted to someone. Chances are good it is more of an emotional attraction than a sexual one, and one that will wax and wane, usually end with tears, but not kill them.

It is easy to understand why parents panic and worry about sexuality and the risks associated with that sexuality – we live in an extremely over-sexualized culture that can make us believe that everyone is having sex – which is not true. Please remember that only half of teens start being sexual before they are 18, but most fall in love at least once before leaving high school.

Dating is about learning how to be in a relationship, and you will be doing your children a great service if you talk with them about relationships, not sex. It is a good idea to make the difference really clear for them, and make your expectations very clear, too! If you expect your teen to not become sexual, tell them that, and why. Ask them to tell you what there limits and expectations about relationships and sex are. Here are some topic suggestions:

  • What do they think dating includes?
  • What does sexual pressure look and feel like?
  • How would your child resist sexual pressure?
  • How long do they think people should date before the topic of sex even comes up?
  • How will they know if someone is the “one?”
  • What would have to happen before they did think about sexual behavior?

If the possibility exists that they will be sexual, then, you can have the conversation about sex – but not if they tell you they will not be swayed and are not interested – you have to trust them.

Many teens are afraid of dating or choose not to date because a partner may expect sex, so they find a friend or pseudo partner to attend events with and protect them from having to resist sexual pressure – which is a great strategy, but keeps them from trying on relationships.

Oh the conversations that we might have … keep talking and make sure they know you are open to talking – even about things that make you squirm.

This post, Teen Dating Does Not Mean They’re Having Sex, was originally published on by Nancy Brown, Ph.D..

How Much Calcium Do Teen Girls Need?

I went to a great grand rounds the other day about osteoporosis and learned that all teenage girls should be taking about 1,500 mg of calcium with Vitamin D a day in addition to a multivitamin. Three glasses of milk provide about 1,200 mgs, but most teens are not drinking that much milk. Dark green vegetables are another good source of calcium. Exercise and weight-bearing activity is also important in the prevention of osteoporosis.

Calcium is a mineral that gives strength to your bones. Calcium is also necessary for many of your body’s functions, such as blood clotting and nerve and muscle function. During the teenage years (particularly ages 11-15), your bones are developing quickly and are storing calcium so that your skeleton will be strong later in life. Nearly half of all bone is formed during these years.

Women develop most of their bone strength before they are between 25 and 35. A
fter that, bone is broken down faster than it is created, leading to a small loss of bone mass every year. For women, bone loss accelerates during menopause, but slows again around age 60.

There are specific risk factors for osteoporosis that teens should know:

  • Being white;
  • Having irregular periods;
  • Doing little or no exercise;
  • Not getting enough calcium in your diet; Being below a normal weight;
  • Having a family history of osteoporosis;
  • Smoking; and
  • Drinking large amounts of alcohol.

Osteoporosis can be prevented, but teens need to start early.

This post, How Much Calcium Do Teen Girls Need?, was originally published on by Nancy Brown, Ph.D..

When Your Teen Starts Dating

After you get over the urge to run and hide, lock your teen in the bathroom, shave his or her head, and save yourself, take a deep breath and think about what is important here. You are likely panicked because you know that sooner or later someone will break your teens heart – and there is nothing you can do about it, or is there?

Talk to your teen and share what you are feeling as well as what you know. Being new to the world of love/lust/hormones, there are some really great conversations to be had now about balance, friendship, and healthy relationships! First, your teen may be overwhelmed with how wonderful it feels to be in love and you can help remind your teen about balance, and the importance of not losing themselves for love. Your teen needs to stay “true to self” instead of becoming an appendage to the new love. Encourage your teen to stay connected to friends, school, outside activities, family, and sports, while making room for the new love.

You might mention that if that becomes an issue, you can help by setting limits on the amount of hanging out at home, phone, text, and computer time, to help her learn to balance life and love/lust/hormones. This is not a threat – just a supportive way to help your teen transition in the world of love!

Together you can set the expectations that honor this new part of life, make your teen feel listened to and involved with the new contract – the new couple spends time with the family, grades stay up, activities continue, chores, whatever else her life includes must all continue – because your teen has to be a “person” first before a girlfriend or boyfriend. The We’re Talking web site has a great section called the abcs of healthy relationships, which will provide many reminders about knowing when a relationship is not healthy.

Along those same lines, it is important to talk about the importance of friendship – and how you want the first few months together to be spent with family – because early in relationships the goal is to learn to trust each other, find things that you have in common, and become parts of each others lives. Friendship is stronger in the long run than hormones – and if either member of the couple is motivated by anything else other than love – s/he will not make it through the “getting to know all about you” phase.

P.S. Remember that the greater the age difference, and the more time alone they share, the more likely teens will take new love to sexual realms, so be aware and good luck!

This post, When Your Teen Starts Dating, was originally published on by Nancy Brown, Ph.D..

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