Health Buzz: Circumcision Benefits Outweigh Risks

College fitness: 5 tips for staying in shape; are restaurant calorie counts effective?

By + More

Circumcision Benefits Trump Risks, Pediatricians Say

For the first time in more than a decade, the American Academy of Pediatrics is modifying its stance on circumcision. Research shows that the health benefits of circumcising baby boys outweigh the risks, but the "benefits are not great enough to recommend routine circumcision," the group said in a new policy statement. The decision should be left up to each individual family. And those who choose circumcision, as most U.S. parents do, should be reimbursed by insurance, the AAP said. In its updated policy, the AAP highlights the medical benefits of circumcision, such as a protective effect against human papilloma virus, HIV, genital herpes, and syphilis, as well as a reduced risk of penile and prostate cancers. The risks are limited to bleeding or mild infection. However, the procedure does cause pain. "I couldn't consciously do that to my child," Meredith Lovell-Thayer, a 27-year-old apprentice midwife from Frostburg, Md., told The Baltimore Sun.

  • Circumcision: The Flap Over Foreskin Continues
  • Teaching Your Kids About Sex: Do's and Don'ts
  • College Fitness: 5 Tips for Staying in Shape 

    Many college freshmen are flocking to campuses this month, in cars packed with dorm accessories—and perhaps tearful parents. After students say goodbye to their families and hello to their new roommates, the enormous lifestyle changes of college life will start setting in: Tougher classes. All-nighters. Shared rooms. Parties. Because of these newfound freedoms, distractions, and a slowing metabolism, it's common for students to become unhealthy and perhaps gain weight. Some may know it as the dreaded Freshman 15, others as the Freshman 25. 

    "In high school, [students] may have played sports or taken P.E. classes, so they had activity built into their lives," says Dixie Stanforth, fitness expert and lecturer in the University of Texas—Austin's kinesiology and health education department. Now, she says, students have many more decisions that they're allowed to make on their own. "Nobody's telling them to study; Nobody's telling them to exercise and eat right," notes Stanforth. "[Before college], they didn't get to choose Wendy's for lunch." 

    By exercising regularly and eating healthfully, both freshmen and older college students can stay fit. Here are some tips:

    1. Make a plan. Stanforth suggests students map out a specific fitness schedule at the beginning of the semester. "If all I do is think, 'Oh, I really should exercise,' [then] I'm not going to exercise," she says. "It's just not going to happen." [Read more: College Fitness: 5 Tips for Staying in Shape

    • Don't Get Sick at the Gym: 7 Ways to Prevent Infection
    • Most and Least Obese U.S. States
    • Restaurant Calorie Counts: Will They Change the Way You Order? 

      I remember taking a trip to visit relatives in California, and going out to breakfast at a popular chain restaurant, writes U.S. News blogger Melinda Johnson. I was in the mood for pancakes. But when I opened my menu, I was hit smack between the eyes—by the calorie count listed next to my breakfast of choice. 

      Being a registered dietitian, you'd think I wouldn't be shocked by the amount of calories in an order of blueberry pancakes. But I wasn't wearing my work hat when I sat down to breakfast, and something about that high number in black and white made me cringe. I'm not a calorie-counter to begin with, and I have no problem indulging in my favorite treats now and then. Still, seeing that number did make me reconsider breakfast. All of the sudden, my "splurge" seemed more extravagant, and less worth it. I changed my mind about what to order, and decided on something a bit more sensible. In short, the restaurant labeling did the job it was meant to do—it swayed the behavior of a consumer toward a healthier choice. 

      Now that restaurant nutrition labeling is more commonplace (thanks to federal guidelines), a few research studies have set out to examine whether or not it's making a difference. The results so far have been unimpressive: Some studies have shown a modest change in some consumers' food purchases, and others have shown no change at all. One alarming report even showed that some people on a tight budget were purposefully choosing the highest-calorie item when calories were on the menu, so they could get more "bang for the buck." [Read more: Restaurant Calorie Counts: Will They Change the Way You Order?