Tips to keep children healthy

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 July, 2014, 9:21am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 July, 2014, 9:21am

Thirst comes first

Don't wait for your children to tell you they're thirsty before giving them a drink, experts say. Instead, offer them water and other hydrating foods and drinks throughout the day, particularly in the summer when more liquids are needed to stay hydrated. By the time children are thirsty, they're already at least three per cent dehydrated, according to Holly Benjamin, associate professor of pediatrics and orthopaedic surgery at the University of Chicago.

Time spent outside is a positive influence

The World Health Organisation recommends that youths participate in a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day. In a study to be published in the Journal of Pediatrics, researchers confirm that time spent outdoors after school was positively associated with exercise. Lee Schaefer and Jonathan McGavock, at the University of Alberta, studied 306 youths (nine to 17 years of age).

The results showed that those who reported they did not spend time outdoors after school (17 per cent) achieved 21 fewer minutes of physical activity daily, with an additional 70 minutes per day of sedentary behaviour, compared with those who reported spending most of their after-school time outdoors (39 per cent). The latter group were three times more likely to meet guidelines for daily physical activity, and had higher cardiorespiratory fitness levels than those who did not spend time outdoors.


It's all about timing

Food affects the body's internal biological clock. Researchers reporting in Cell Reports note how adjusting the clock through dietary manipulation may help patients with various conditions and show that insulin may be involved in resetting the body clock.

The so-called circadian clock plays an important role in the timing of sleep, peak alertness and certain other physiological processes. "Chronic desynchronisation between physiological and environmental rhythms not only decreases physiological performance but also carries a significant risk of diverse disorders such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, sleep disorders, and cancer," says Dr Makoto Akashi, of Yamaguchi University in Japan.

Lose weight, gain years

That obesity can cut life short by causing strokes and other illnesses comes as no surprise, but a recent study quantifies the toll: the most extreme cases of obesity cut a person's lifespan more than cigarettes. The analysis, published in PLOS Medicine, is the largest-ever study of the effect of extreme obesity on mortality. It found that people who are extremely obese (an average height, carrying an extra 45kg) die 6.5 to 13.7 years earlier than peers with a normal weight.