Study: Binge-Drinking Students Happier Than Peers
Time for another? Binge-drinking college students are happier than their non-bingeing peers, according to new research presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in Denver. That's likely because binge drinking is tied with status on campuses, and students who do so are typically more content with their social lives. "I would guess it has to do with feeling like you belong and whether or not you're doing what a 'real' college student does," study author Carolyn Hsu, a sociologist at Colgate University in New York, told LiveScience. "One thing that was a recurrent comment were students who said, 'Everyone drinks here; I don't want to get drunk, but I feel like I don't belong here if I don't.' Then the next person would write, 'I don't really want to drink, but this is what everyone else does.' And the next person would write, 'You know, I don't mind drinking a little, but I don't want to get smashed, but everyone does that." Experts caution that students shouldn't take the findings as license to drink care-free. Earlier research has found that binge drinking is tied to problems like poor academic performance, violence, risky sexual behaviors, and alcoholism.
Back-to-School Germs to Avoid
New knowledge? Sure—and new germs. Send the kids back to school, and wait for the bugs they'll inevitably bring home. "Prevention can be a little difficult, but it's the same as your mother taught you: Keep your hands away from your face and wash your hands," says pediatrician Gordon Schutze, who serves on the American Academy of Pediatrics' committee on infectious diseases.
All it takes is one kid to cough or sneeze in the classroom, and suddenly his peers are sick too, because they inhaled the infected respiratory droplets. Or a kid with diarrhea forgets to wash his hands after using the bathroom and proceeds to infect everything he touches. That's why proper hand washing is so important, says Albert Martinez, a pediatrician based in San Diego, Calif., who describes it as "the best prevention strategy." (Teach kids to use soap and water, and scrub vigorously for 20 seconds—the time it takes to sing the "Happy Birthday" song two times.) Arm your child with alcohol-based hand sanitizer to keep in his desk, too. It's smart to use before eating lunch, and after using a shared computer mouse, pencil sharpener, water fountain, or other communal object. And though kids sometimes like to sample each other's lunches, remind yours not to share water bottles, food, or other personal items.
Beware: These common back-to-school contagions may be coming home with the homework:
1. Hand, foot, and mouth disease. The viral infection causes mouth ulcers and tiny blisters on the hands and feet. "There's been an increase lately," Martinez says. Although it's moderately contagious, it's usually not serious. There's no specific treatment, but practicing good hygiene—such as frequent and thorough hand washing—can keep your little one safe. [Read more: Back-to-School Germs to Avoid]
The Diet Mentality Paradox: Why Dieting Can Make You Fat
If you were to stop 10 random people on the street and ask, "What should a person do if he wants to lose weight?" chances are that most would respond, "Go on a diet." This is our cultural solution to our national obesity problem. And it's making us fat, writes U.S. News blogger Melinda Johnson.
A recent study published in the Journal of Obesity demonstrated that normal-weight teenagers were more likely to be overweight 10 years later if they thought of themselves as overweight to begin with. This is not a new observation. Earlier studies, such as one published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, identified the same problem: Kids who feel fat are more likely to be fat years later.
Please pause a moment to soak this in: If you think you're fat, you're likely to make yourself fat. But why?
There are several theories; one, for example, blames stress hormones. When we're under any kind of stress, our body releases certain hormones to help us quickly deal with the situation—whether it's running out of a burning building or fighting off an attacker. However, these hormones can wreak havoc on all kinds of normal body functions, especially if we're under constant stress (such as feeling fat and struggling with body image). They disrupt sleep, alter our metabolism, and even signal to our body to lay down belly fat. [Read more: The Diet Mentality Paradox: Why Dieting Can Make You Fat]
Angela Haupt is a health reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow her on Twitter or reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.