Aetna Latest Healthy Living News Latest Healthy Living News from Aetna en Aetna Latest Healthy Living News Latest Healthy Living News from Aetna TYPO3 - get.content.right Thu, 26 Feb 2015 00:00:00 -0500 Doctors Give Tips on Healthy Eating at School A little sugar and fat is OK in kids' diets if it can encourage them to consume nutritious foods,...                    What Is the Doctor's Reaction? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) wants the food that kids eat at school to be healthy. That seems remarkably obvious. Surely everyone should be able to agree on this and make happen. But it turns out that it's not necessarily obvious -- and not easy to make happen. That's why the AAP has published a policy statement about the food and snacks youth eat at school. Kids eat three different kinds of food at school:
  • The meals that the school gets through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)  (breakfast, lunch and after-school snacks)
  • Other food and drinks that the school sells, such as slices of pizza, baked goods or items in vending machines
  • Food and drinks that kids bring into school, or that are sold for fundraising or at school events.
There are rules about the first two, which is helpful. Schools do have to serve healthy meals.  Rules also spell out what other foods can be sold. But these rules don't guarantee that all the food will be healthy. Some schools have even asked for waivers from the rules. One reason is that healthy foods cost more (and the money that schools get from the USDA hasn't kept pace with higher costs). Some schools also say that kids don't like the healthier foods. That's where problems with the third kind of food come in. Many children don't bring healthy lunches or snacks.  And many schools sell candy and other unhealthy foods for fundraisers and at school events. With this policy statement, the AAP wants us all to think about all of the foods kids eat during the school day.  Many children eat a large amount of their day's food at school. So we want to do everything we can to educate people about healthy foods and make sure that kids are eating them. One way schools can educate people is to lead by example. Banning cupcakes from school parties is controversial. But when schools do this -- or when they simply encourage healthy foods or non-food items for celebrations -- they are setting an example. And I hope that this encourages healthy eating habits. What Changes Can I Make Now? There are many things that all of us, especially parents, can do:
  • Support schools and the USDA in serving healthy foods at school
  • Send healthy foods to school, including:
    • Fruits and vegetables
    • Water instead of juice or soda
    • Lean meats
  • Limit the junk food and candy sent to school
  • Celebrate birthdays at school with healthier foods (such as fruits) or small gifts for classmates (such as pencils or stickers) instead of cupcakes and other sweets
  • Be thoughtful about what is sold as a fundraiser (maybe books instead of candy bars) and at school events (for example, water instead of soda)
What Can I Expect Looking to the Future? We have an epidemic of obesity in the United States.  We need to fight it in every way and in every place we can -- including schools. That may mean making choices that are unpopular, but are in the best interest of our children.]]>
Mon, 23 Feb 2015 00:00:00 -0500
U.S. Teens Losing More Sleep Over Time Over the last 20 years, U.S. teens have been getting less sleep, a new study finds. Between... th, 10th and 12th grades. Each year, they asked the students how often they got 7 or more hours of sleep, as well as how often they got less sleep than they needed. Among 15-year-olds, 72% reported getting 7 or more hours of sleep a night in 1991. By 2012, the number dropped to 63%. The number of teens who reported sleeping 7 or more hours a night dropped dramatically between the ages of 13 and 18 years. About two-thirds of 13-year-olds sleep at least 7 hours a night. Only about one-third of 18-year-olds get at least 7 hours of sleep. Compared with boys, girls are less likely to regularly get 7 or more hours of sleep. Teens with less-educated parents came up short on sleep. And, black and Hispanic teens were less likely than others to get enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 9 hours a night for teens. The journal Pediatrics published the study online. HealthDay News wrote about it February 16. What is the Doctor's Reaction? We all need sleep. It is important for helping our body and brain work well. It is especially important for teenagers. They need the right amount of sleep to grow into adulthood. Many teens are too busy to get the sleep they need, though. They go to school, do after-school activities, play sports, do homework, hang out with friends, work, and use the Internet and social media. To make time, teens often stay up later than they should. The journal Pediatrics just published a new study on sleep trends in U.S. teenagers. Researchers analyzed data from an annual national survey of students in 8th, 10th and 12th grades between 1991 and 2012. This included more than 270,000 teens born between the years 1973 and 2000. The teenagers were asked:
  • How often do you get 7 or more hours of sleep each night?
  • How often do you get less sleep than you should?
Researchers found that:
  • Teens do not sleep as much when they get older.
  • How many hours a teen sleeps has decreased at all ages over time.
In addition, some groups were less likely than others to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night. This was based on gender, race, family income and living environment.
  • Girls were less likely than boys.
  • Black and Hispanic teens were less likely than white teens
  • Lower income teens were less likely than higher income teens
  • Teens living in cities were less likely than non-city teens
On the other hand, racial and ethnic minorities and lower-income teens were more likely to report thinking that they get enough sleep. These groups actually reported sleeping fewer hours overall. The researchers think that compared with white and higher-income teens, these teens are not as aware of how much sleep they need. The researchers are worried about these trends over the past two decades. Why? Because the "7 hours of sleep" per night mentioned in the study is actually 2 hours less than what is routinely recommended for teens. Teens who do not get enough sleep are at a higher risk for:
  • Learning difficulties
  • Drug or alcohol troubles
  • Mental health problems
  • Weight gain
What Changes Can I Make Now? The National Sleep Foundation recommends that all teens get at least 9 hours of sleep a night. Tell your teen that the right amount of sleep will:
  • Give her more energy
  • Help her brain store all of the information she learned during the day
  • Help her body fight off infection, so she is less likely to get sick
Your teen may feel that she can make up for lost sleep by sleeping later on the weekends. This is NOT true. Your teen should try to get the right amount of sleep each and every night. Make sure your teen is getting the most (and best quality) sleep possible. Have her follow these steps:
  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Do this during the school week and on weekends. This will make it easier to fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning.
  • Do not nap during the day.
  • Find a comfortable sleeping place.
  • Set a sleep routine.
  • Avoid exciting or energizing things around bedtime. Relax as much as possible for about an hour before going to bed. Try listening to music or reading. Do not study right up until bedtime.
  • Exercise every day, but not right before going to bed.
  • Avoid drinks or foods with caffeine (such as coffee, soda and chocolate).
  • Do not pull "all-nighters" to study for a test.
  • Do not watch violent TV shows or movies before going to bed.
What Can I Expect Looking to the Future? Better education and more research will better inform public health efforts to reverse these decreasing sleep trends during the adolescent years. You can expect the doctor to talk with your teen (and you) about the importance of sleep. Together you and the doctor can discuss ways to promote better sleeping habits. There must be more education about the 9-hour recommendation of the National Sleep Foundation. Minority groups and lower income families need to know what is the right amount of sleep needed each night. They seem to be less aware of how much sleep is really needed. More research also is needed to understand why teens have been getting less sleep over the past 20 years. It might have to do with:
  • Obesity rates going up
  • More use of the Internet and social media
  • Increasing demands of school and extracurricular activities
Tue, 17 Feb 2015 14:02:00 -0500
Toddler Foods Found High in Salt, Sugar Many foods for toddlers contain high amounts of salt or added sugars, a new study shows....                    What Is the Doctor's Reaction? Eating healthy is key for being healthy. Make sure your children start eating a healthy diet early in life. Among other things, this means eating foods that are low in sodium and have no added sugars. This can lower the risk of childhood obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. A new study looked at just how much sodium (mostly salt) and sugar are in foods for infants and toddlers. The journal Pediatrics just released the study online. Researchers checked information from a national database of more than 1,000 foods sold in stores across the United States. The foods included infant and toddler dinners, snacks, fruits, vegetables, dry cereals, juices and desserts. Products were grouped based on the type of food, serving size and intended age or stage of development. Here's what the researchers found:
  • Most foods only for infants were low in sodium, low in total sugars and did not have added sugar. Of all the foods for infants, vegetables, dinners, plain fruit and dry cereals had an OK amount of salt and sugar.
  • Almost 3 out of 4 (72%) of toddler dinners had too much salt. Each of the toddler meals had more than 210 milligrams (mg) of salt per serving. That is not healthy for a toddler.
  • Most toddler foods also had added sugars. These are extra sugars put into the food. They are not naturally in the food. Common names for added sugars were fruit juice concentrate, sugar, cane syrup and malt.
Overall, it seems that many of the foods sold for infants and toddlers had too much salt or sugar. Most of them had the same amount of salt or sugar that you can find in foods for older children or adults.
  • Infant/toddler snacks had almost as much salt as plain salted potato chips for adults (450 mg).
  • Infant/toddler desserts contained twice as much sugar as vanilla ice cream.
The amount of salt and sugar found in infant and toddler foods is a big problem. Being exposed to salt and added sugars early in life can change:
  • What tastes children like
  • The amount of foods children eat
  • The health of children as adults
What Changes Can I Make Now? You can control the sodium and sugar in your infant or toddler's diet by being careful about the foods you buy. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends reading food labels and picking foods lower in sodium. To keep your child healthy, follow these tips:
  • Check servings and calories. Look at how many calories are in each serving and how many servings are in the package. The food label also tells you how much of each nutrient you get from a serving.
  • Reduce sodium (salt). Guidelines from the Institute of Medicine recommend less than 1,500 mg of sodium each day for children ages 1 to 3. That's the amount in about two-thirds of a teaspoon of salt. Limiting salt may lower the risk of high blood pressure. Most salt comes from processed foods.
  • Reduce sugar. Look for foods and drinks low in sugars. Read the label. Sugars can be listed as sucrose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, maple syrup or fructose.
  • Cut out soda and juice. This will reduce empty calories from added sugars. Remember that soda and other sugary drinks can increase the risk of obesity and tooth cavities.
  • Give your child water and milk. You cannot go wrong with plain water in children at least 1 year old. Milk has a lot of nutrients that your child needs to stay healthy. Whole milk is recommended to help brain growth in young children under 2. You can choose fat-free (skim) or low-fat (1%) milk products for children beginning at 2 years of age.
  • Remember the AAP recommends "5210 for Healthy Active Living":
    : Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
    2: Limit screen time (TV, video games, computer) to 2 hours or less per day.
    1: Get 1 hour or more of physical activity every day.
    0: Drink fewer sugar-sweetened drinks. Try water and low-fat milk instead.
  • Support a healthy lifestyle. Parents (and all adults) are role models for children. Your child will do as you do, and not as you say. Your child is much more likely to eat healthfully and exercise regularly if you do. Of course, you will be healthier, too!
What Can I Expect Looking to the Future? Expect the doctor to give more advice on a healthy diet at well-baby and well-child visits. A better diet and active lifestyle can help your children stay healthy. Families need more education about the risks of too much salt and sugar. Eating less salt and sugar as infants and toddlers can help set good habits for children. This can lead to better health later in life.]]>
Mon, 02 Feb 2015 00:00:00 -0500
Measles Cases Linked to Disneyland Rise to 78 At least 78 cases of measles have now been reported in an outbreak traced to Disneyland, public...                    What Is the Doctor's Reaction? An outbreak of measles in the United States has been linked to Disneyland in California.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 68 measles cases have already been identified in just the first few weeks of 2015. Measles is a very serious disease. It can cause:
  • Blindness
  • Brain infection (encephalitis)
  • Serious diarrhea
  • Ear infections
  • Lung infections (pneumonia)
Babies less than 12 months of age are at highest risk of having serious illness, needing care in the hospital, and even dying.  The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates there were about 122,000 deaths from measles worldwide in 2012. Very few cases of measles used to occur in the United States, thanks to the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. But things have changed during the last 10 to 15 years.
  • Not all children are getting the MMR vaccine. Others get it much later than recommended. This means they are not protected from measles when they should be.
  • Americans often travel all over the world. Others come here from lots of different countries. This puts more people at risk of being exposed to measles both here and abroad.
The measles virus spreads easily and quickly. Someone infected with measles has a fever, cough, runny nose and pink eye. Then comes the rash, which spreads head to toe. The virus can be in droplets or in the air after a cough or sneeze. It can live on surfaces for up to 2 hours. The CDC points out that you do not need to be close to where this outbreak started to be at risk for measles. Anyone who has come back from traveling here or abroad can be infected. The best way to prevent measles is to get the MMR vaccine. Of the people who got measles in California, 34 reported whether or not they had received the vaccine. About 82% had not been vaccinated. What Changes Can I Make Now? Get your child vaccinated with the MMR vaccine on time to offer the best protection. The MMR vaccine is very safe. It is more than 95% effective. Vaccination also will help stop the spread of measles, mumps and rubella in the community, especially to babies who are too young to get the shots.  The CDC, American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Family Physicians all recommend that children get 2 doses of MMR vaccine:
  • First dose at 12 to 15 months of age
  • Second dose at 4 to 6 years of age
Children who travel outside of the United States also should be up to date with their MMR vaccines.
  • Infants 6 to 11 months old need 1 dose of MMR vaccine before they leave the United States. This dose does not count toward the 2 recommended doses everyone needs.
  • Children 12 months and older should get 2 doses before traveling. The first dose is given on or after age 12 months. The second dose should be given at least 4 weeks later.
Vaccines have saved countless children from illness and death.
  • Vaccines work! The number of infections from vaccine-preventable diseases has gone down by more than 90%.
  • Vaccine-preventable diseases are still common in many parts of the world. Children who do not get vaccines could easily get one of these diseases while traveling or from a traveler to the United States.
  • Not following vaccine advice puts your child's health in danger.  The diseases that vaccines prevent can result in serious illness.
  • Vaccination means fewer days missed from work and school. Time lost from work to care for a child with a vaccine-preventable disease can be costly for the family.
  • Vaccination protects your family, friends and community. This is especially important for protecting those who cannot get the vaccines themselves (for example, if they are too young or have immune problems).
  • Vaccines are safe! Before a vaccine is approved and given to children, it is tested a lot. Serious side effects are very rare. The benefits far outweigh the risks.
It also is important not to skip or delay any recommended vaccines. This will leave your child not properly protected for longer periods of time. If a child misses one or more shots, it is not too late to get caught up. Make sure to ask your doctor any questions you may have about vaccines at your child's next checkup. You can also find reliable information about the measles and all vaccinations in the following sources:
  • CDC Measles Web Page
  • CDC Vaccine Information Statements
  • CDC for Parents: Vaccines for Your Children
  • AAP Childhood Immunization Support Program
What Can I Expect Looking to the Future? More families will make sure that their children get the MMR doses at recommended ages. I hope that families also will remember to vaccinate babies before they travel outside the Unites States.  This should lead to fewer cases of measles, mumps and rubella each year. Everyone must work harder to make sure that all children (and adults) are fully vaccinated. Otherwise, more outbreaks of serious diseases, like measles, will be reported in the future.]]>
Mon, 26 Jan 2015 14:22:00 -0500
Pizza Days Boost Kids' Calories, Fat, Salt Kids eat a lot of pizza. And on the days when they do, chances are they take in more calories, fat...                    What Is the Doctor's Reaction? If we want to improve the diet of our children, especially our teenagers, we need to get them to eat less pizza. That's the bottom line of a study just published in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Researchers looked at data from several years of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They wanted to find out how often children and teens ate pizza -- and how this affected their calorie intake and overall diet. They found that between 2003 and 2010, the amount of pizza kids eat fell. But the change was small. In fact, pizza is the second highest source of calories for children and teens. (The top item is desserts made with grains, things like cookies and cake.) Here are some other worrisome pizza facts:
  • About 20% of children and 23% percent of adolescents (ages 12 to 19) eat pizza on any given day.
  • On the days they eat pizza, it supplies about one-quarter of their total calories.
  • Eating pizza increases the intake of saturated fat and sodium, both of which are unhealthy.
When kids ate the pizza mattered. Youth who ate it for a snack, as opposed to a meal, had the biggest increase in their daily calories. And not all pizzas are the same. Restaurant pizza had the most calories. On the other hand, eating school pizza actually didn't have much of an effect on overall calories. What Changes Can I Make Now? If you are a parent (or someone who plans or prepares meals for a child or teen), it's worth paying attention to this study. Eating an unhealthy diet, especially one with too many calories, increases the risk of obesity. And that brings an array of health and social problems. Unhealthy eating also increases the risk of high blood pressure and diabetes. The biggest and best change we could make would be to discourage eating pizza as a snack. Lots of teenagers stop by a pizza place after school, for example, and buy a slice or two. This is easy and cheap, and it tastes good. But it is very unhealthy. We need to help youth make better snack choices, and make those choices easier. For example, we could pack snacks for them to take to school. We also could encourage schools to have healthy snacks available for purchase. We also need to discourage buying pizza for lunch, another common practice, especially if they are able to buy it off-campus. Again, helping them come up with other low-cost, convenient choices would make this easier. It would also be very helpful if restaurants tried to make their pizzas healthier, with less sodium and fat. Most likely, this will only happen if regulation makes it happen. Laws that require display of nutrition information at restaurants might also help! This doesn't mean that nobody should ever eat pizza again. It does mean, though, that we should eat it sparingly. We can also be thoughtful about the pizza we eat. Instead of ordering pizza, families can try making their own. Premade pizza crusts are widely available. We can use them to make healthy pizzas with less fat and more vegetables and lean meats. What Can I Expect Looking to the Future? Obesity has reached epidemic levels in the United States, harming our health and our economy.  So need to do everything possible to make sure that all of us, especially our children, have the healthiest diet possible. Studies like this one help us take a closer look at our diet. I hope we will make changes that help us all.]]>
Tue, 20 Jan 2015 13:23:00 -0500
Study: Vaccine Reduces Rotavirus Illness Young children whose doctors vaccinate most children against rotavirus are less likely to get sick...                    What Is the Doctor's Reaction? Vaccines work! Lots of parents do understand the value of vaccination. They want to be sure their children get all the vaccines they need. And they take steps to do it on time.   But many children still do not get them all. Every year children end up with severe illnesses from diseases that could have been prevented by vaccines. Sometimes they even die. One example is the rotavirus vaccine. Rotavirus causes vomiting and diarrhea, which can be severe. Only 2 out of 3 infants get the vaccine. How come more infants are not receiving it? Some suggested reasons include:
  • The tight schedule for first dose of vaccine (between 6 and 14 weeks of age)
  • Concerns about vaccine safety
  • Cost of the vaccine
  • Concern about how much health insurance will pay
More and more infants have received the rotavirus vaccine each year since it was first licensed in 2006. Fewer and fewer infants are being put into the hospital because of this infection. It seems to be working. But how well? A new study in the journal Pediatrics looked at this question. Researchers compared the rates of rotavirus vaccination and disease in infants from three groups of doctors' offices.
  • One group where almost all infants get rotavirus vaccine (high coverage)
  • Another group where hardly any infants get this vaccine (low coverage)
  • A third group where some infants do and some do not get it (medium coverage)
Researchers checked how much laboratory-confirmed rotavirus was seen in infants and toddlers from these three groups between 2009 and 2011. Rotavirus was found to cause vomiting and diarrhea in:
  • 10% of the high coverage group
  • 13% in the medium coverage group
  • 32% in the low coverage group
The more infants who got the vaccine, the less rotavirus disease was found. The researchers showed that this vaccine clearly does work. What Changes Can I Make Now? The Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend the rotavirus vaccine for all babies. It will protect them from this serious disease.It also will help stop the spread of rotavirus to others. The vomiting caused by rotavirus leads to water loss (dehydration). This can be very dangerous, especially to infants. Some need hospital care. Some even may die. But the vaccine is very good at preventing vomiting and diarrhea caused by rotavirus.
  • Almost all babies who get the vaccine will be protected from severe rotavirus diarrhea.
  • Most babies will not get rotavirus diarrhea at all.
  • The vaccine does not prevent diarrhea caused by other germs.
Rotavirus vaccine is taken by mouth. It is not given as a shot. Two brands are available. One requires 2 doses for protection. The other requires 3 doses. There are no other major differences between these 2 vaccines. Your baby gets the doses at these ages:
  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months (if needed)
Infants must receive all recommended doses of this vaccine in their first 6 months of life. It can be given at the same time as other recommended vaccines. Some parents may not vaccinate their young infant because of concerns about the safety of this vaccine. Do not worry! This vaccine was carefully studied in large numbers of infants for years before it was licensed for routine use. Health officials continue to keep track of any side effects that occur each year. Most side effects are mild. Rotavirus vaccination has been linked with a slight increase in bowel blockage. This type of blockage naturally occurs in about 1 out of 3,000 infants. Another 1 in 20,000 to 1 in 100,000 infants develop such a blockage soon after receiving rotavirus vaccine. The benefits of the vaccine greatly outweigh this small risk. What Can I Expect Looking to the Future? Both families and doctors need to learn more about this vaccine, to be sure everyone knows how well it works. All infants also must get this vaccine at the right ages.   When all babies get all recommended doses, there should be less rotavirus spread around communities. Then we can expect fewer cases of serious rotavirus disease each year.]]>
Mon, 12 Jan 2015 00:00:00 -0500
Study: Kids with Bedroom Cellphone Sleep Less Cellphones and other "small screen" devices in the bedroom may be just as likely to...                    What Is the Doctor's Reaction? If your child has a cellphone or a device such as the iPod Touch, keep it out of the child's bedroom at night. That's the bottom line of a new study. It was just released in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. A group of researchers wondered whether "small screens" have the same effect as "big screens" (TV) when it comes to disturbing sleep. We've known for some time now that children who have TVs in their bedrooms get less sleep than those who don't. This is a problem because lack of sleep is linked to all sorts of problems. It increases the risk of obesity, mental health problems, school problems and risk-taking behavior in teens. Sleep plays a role in our immune system, too. And not getting enough sleep can put children at risk for high blood pressure and heart disease as adults. The researchers were concerned that small screens might actually disrupt sleep even more than big screens. They had a few reasons for this worry:
  • Youth interact with small screens. They don't just watch them passively as they do with TV.
  • Youth may want to interact with the screens more, since they are "portals" for talking with friends, watching videos and reading content.
  • They are held close to the face. Therefore, the light effect that can delay melatonin release and make it harder to fall asleep might be stronger with a small screen than with TV.
  • Small screens can make noises even when they aren’t actively being used, such as when there is a new text message.
To study small screens and sleep, the researchers looked at on questionnaires filled out by more than 2,000 fourth and seventh graders in some Massachusetts public schools. They asked about use of these devices, how long people slept and whether their sleep was disrupted. They also asked about use of TV and DVDs. Here is what the researchers found:
  • More than half of the youth slept with a small screen nearby. Broken down by grade, it was 65% of seventh graders and 46% of fourth graders.
  • Three-quarters of both groups had a TV in the bedroom.
  • Sleeping with a small screen nearby led to 20 minutes less sleep per weekday night.
  • Having a TV in the bedroom led to 18 minutes less sleep per weekday night.
  • Youth who slept with a small screen nearby were 39% more likely to feel that they didn't get enough rest or sleep than those without small screens in the bedroom. 
What Changes Can I Make Now? It can be hard to get children or teens to part with their cellphones at night, but that's exactly what they need to do.  Sleep is too important to physical and mental well-being to put at risk. Unless there are extraordinary circumstances, phones and iPods simply do not need to be nearby while youth sleep. Make sure they are charging elsewhere. While you are at it, get the TV out of the bedroom. There's no good reason for that, either. What Can I Expect Looking to the Future? Cellphone and smartphone use has become so widespread in such a short period of time that it is changing our lives. Most of the changes are good. But many, such as sleep deprivation, are not. We need more studies like these to help us understand the effects of technology on our daily lives and our health -- and help us find the best and safest ways to use our devices.]]>
Mon, 05 Jan 2015 14:14:00 -0500