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expert-perspectives

Preventing childhood obesity while promoting a positive body image

Photo: Omar Gurnah/CC 2.0/https://flic.kr/p/8eqfcy

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month—a new observance that started five years ago, but is in keeping with mounting public awareness about the problem of childhood obesity. While parents are hit with messages to prevent obesity, they often get conflicting advice. So what can parents do to prevent obesity without instilling an unhealthy obsession with weight?

Researchers at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health recommend parents start by modifying the home environment to make it easier to engage in healthier eating and activity and by modeling healthy eating and physical activity behaviors, a positive body image, and avoidance of weight talk. Their advice is based on research gathered through Project EAT, one of the largest and most comprehensive studies to examine weight-related issues in teenagers led by Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Ph.D. Neumark-Sztainer used the findings from Project EAT to provide parents strategies in the book, I’m, Like, So Fat! Helping Your Teen Make Healthy choices about Eating and Exercise in a Weight-Obsessed World.

Health Talk spoke with Colleen Flattum, M.S., R.D., senior program manager with Project EAT.

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expert-perspectives

The Minnesota State Fair: Where food, fun and exercise (yes, exercise) collide!

Photo: yuan2003/cc 2.0/https://flic.kr/p/6XphxL

The Minnesota State Fair is off and running, bringing with it the symbolic end to summer and the beginning of fall and the school year. The Minnesota State Fair is best known for its shows, rides, livestock and other animals, family fun and of course – the food!

From corn dogs, cheese curds, cookies and basically anything you could possibly imagine deep-fried and/or on a stick, the Minnesota State Fair has something for everyone to enjoy.

Now, at Health Talk, we won’t try to lecture you as to what foods you should and should not eat at the State Fair because we know, honestly, that it wouldn’t be realistic. The old adage, “everything in moderation” still applies, but we can offer you some small and simple ways you can still splurge a little on your culinary favorites AND get some exercise while you’re at it.

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expert-perspectives

Could sports mouthguards improve athletic performance?

Photo: CC, Jim Larrison, https://flic.kr/p/doZRkG

Want to throw a football more accurately? Wear a mouthguard.

Emerging evidence shows these gummy, plastic-like appliances are linked to a host of benefits, like better reaction time, less lactic acid buildup, enhanced power outputimproved breathing and superior marksmanship.

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expert-perspectives

Back to school: Getting kids back on a normal sleep schedule

Editor’s note: This post was developed by Michael Howell, M.D., a University of Minnesota neurologist and sleep expert.

It’s that time of year again. From preschoolers to the one-year-to-go high school seniors, students across Minnesota need to adjust their schedules after a summer of flexible sleep times.

This is particularly challenging for teenagers whose body clocks are naturally inclined to run later and due to the long summer days of late sunlight exposure.  This combination creates a delay in a child’s circadian rhythm leading to anxious nights of being unable to sleep followed by impaired, groggy mornings.

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expert-perspectives

Breastfeeding at Work: Challenges and Opportunities for Minnesota’s Mothers

Photo: ECohen/CC 2.0/https://flic.kr/p/22suSL

Editor’s note: This post was developed by Alexis Russell, M.P.H., a 2015 graduate of the Public Health Administration and Policy Program, Division of Health Policy and Management, University of Minnesota School of Public Health and Katy Kozhimannil, Ph.D., M.P.A., associate professor, Division of Health Policy and Management, University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

August is National Breastfeeding Month. It’s also the “Back-to-school” time of year, when students and teachers prepare for the upcoming school year. It’s a time of great excitement, but, it’s also a particularly challenging time for teachers who also happen to be mothers who are breastfeeding.

In 2011, fewer than 1 in 4 Minnesota infants were breastfed to the recommended length of time. Employed mothers are one subgroup of women that struggle to meet recommendations for breastfeeding, due in part to barriers they experience as part of their day-to-day schedules and obligations at work.

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expert-perspectives

Expert perspective: What we know about psoriasis

Photo: andpong, CC, https://flic.kr/p/3DDoPm

Psoriasis is a common autoimmune disease that affects 7.5 million Americans, yet little is spoken about the skin condition. It is commonly confused with eczema, which is a severe form of dry, sensitive skin.

The disease, most commonly appearing at ages 20-30 and 50-60, is a chronic condition that causes scaly and irritated skin. Normal cells grow every four weeks and flake off, but with psoriasis, cells grow every few days, causing the skin cells to build on top of eachother.

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