Health Buzz: Spanking Linked to Later Mental Disorders

Children’s cereal: healthy start of junk food? Plus, at-home sunburn treatments


Study: Spanking Increases Chances of Later Mental Disorders

Kids who are disciplined by spanking, hitting, or pushing may be at increased risk of mental problems in adulthood. So suggests a new study published today in Pediatrics. Researchers analyzed data from a government survey of more than 35,000 adults in the United States, including questions about punishment as a child. They found that up to 7 percent of mental problems—from mood, anxiety, and personality disorders to drug and alcohol abuse—were linked to physical punishment. That doesn't include more severe forms of abuse and maltreatment, such as sexual abuse. About 20 percent of those who remembered being physically punished had been depressed, while 43 percent had abused alcohol. In comparison: 16 percent of people who weren't hit or slapped had been depressed, and 30 percent drank too much. "There is a significant link between the two," study author Tracie Afifi, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Manitoba in Canada, told USA Today. "Individuals who are physically punished have an increased likelihood of having mental health disorders."

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  • Children's Cereal: Healthy Start or Junk Food?

    Imagine you are 5 years old. In the supermarket cereal aisle. Towering above you are rows upon rows of cardboard boxes, brightly colored like construction paper, and emblazoned with your favorite mascots or silly characters that seem to hug you from their perch on the shelves. Sure, there are some understated choices—the simple yellow Cheerios box, offering up a bowl of mutely-colored rings. But remember, you're 5. You're more likely drawn to the rainbow of fun featured on the Fruity Pebbles package. Not only does this cereal come techicolored, but it's got Fred Flintstone on the box. You wish you could go barefoot and drive a car with your feet.... you tug at your mom and begin begging: "Please, please, please, can we get Fruity Pebbles?!!"

    Pebbles (the fruity and cocoa versions) was ranked the least nutritious cereal in a recent report by Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity that lambasted cereal companies for peddling their poorest choices to kids. 

    Yale decided to check up on the food industry's plan to police itself—the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative. Formed in 2006, the initiative called for promoting healthy foods and lifestyles to kids. Two years later, Yale studied the cereal market and reviewed the landscape last year. The first report found that companies were "doing zero marketing of their healthiest cereals," to kids, says Kelly Brownell, a Yale University professor of psychology who directs the Rudd Center. Today, "the number is still zero," and, furthermore, "they're doing aggressive marketing of their least healthy foods. [Read more: Children's Cereal: Healthy Start or Junk Food?]

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    • Try These At-Home Sunburn Treatments

      It's all fun in the sun—until someone gets burned. Looking and feeling like a lobster? Ouch. We've all been there: Half of American adults under 30 say they've had a sunburn at least once in the previous year, according to government data released in May. And just one blistering burn can double the risk of developing melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer. "It's not worth having such a bad sunburn after day one that you have to stay inside the rest of the weekend and watch everyone else having fun through the window," says dermatologist Jessica Krant, founder of the Art of Dermatology practice in New York.

      Prevention, of course, is easier than treatment. The smartest advice: Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., the hottest hours of the day. Wear thin clothing that covers your skin, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses. "Don't underestimate how quickly you can get burned," Krant says. Slather sunscreen on 15 to 30 minutes before heading into the sun, and make sure it's at least SPF 30 and marked with the phrase "broad spectrum," which indicates that it protects against the two types of ultraviolet rays capable of causing sunburn: UVA and UVB. [Read more: Try These At-Home Sunburn Treatments]