Wednesday, February 17, 2010

More evidence that there is a general syndrome of good (or bad) biological function

Mental fitness and physical fitness are linked again. The correlation is far from 100% but seems strong nonetheless. The other side of the report below is that high IQ people tend to be healthier and live longer

Babies who are unable to crawl at nine months face falling behind at school and struggle to get on with their classmates, a study has revealed. It found that an inability to reach milestones such as sitting upright or crawling is linked to learning and behaviour problems.

The researchers, who tracked 15,000 children over the first five years of their lives, said a simple screening test before a child reaches their first birthday could prove crucial in preventing youngsters falling behind.

The finding comes from the Millennium Cohort Study, which is looking at 18,818 babies born between 2000 and 2001. The study by the University of London, Institute of Education, has already shown children from poor families are a year behind their wealthier counterparts when they start school. Now it has revealed for the first time in the UK that developmental problems are directly linked to success at school, and can be identified at a young age.

Academics performed a series of simple tests on babies aged nine months to check both their gross and fine motor skills. Youngsters who struggled with tasks such as crawling had a significantly increased risk of falling behind at school when they were five

A motor skill is an action that involves muscles in your body. Gross motor skills are larger movements including crawling and running, while fine motor skills are smaller actions such as picking up an object between the thumb and finger. In tests of gross motor skills, 96 per cent were able to sit up without support, 92 per cent were able to crawl and 69 per cent could stand up if they were holding on to something. Only 4 per cent could take a few steps.

In the assessment of fine motor skills, 99 per cent of children were able to grab an object, 95 per cent could pass a toy from one hand to the other, and 89 per cent could pick up an object using their forefinger and thumb.

The researchers concluded developmental 'delays' affected about 10 per cent of children. Youngsters who struggled with the tasks had a significantly increased risk of falling behind at school when they were five. They were also more likely to demonstrate anti-social behaviour such as refusing to share.

Professor Ingrid Schoon, who led the study, said that all children develop at different rates and some who are struggling to sit or crawl may simply catch up. However, in other cases, the problems can point to a developmental delay that may need specialised help, she added. 'Each child is different,' she said. 'All children have their own developmental pace. If parents are concerned they should go to their GP or health visitor.'


Myths about sugar and water

The idea that sugar causes hyperactivity is a myth. “The research is very clear,” said Cathy Nonas, a dietician at New York’s North General Hospital. “Sugar does not make a child ‘hyperactive.’”

Many studies back her up. In one, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, some kids ate sugared foods while others got foods with artificial sweeteners. Their parents and the researchers didn’t know who was eating sugar and who wasn’t. The researchers monitored the kids for things like irritability and hyperactivity. They found no difference. “There is no such thing as a ’sugar high,’” Nonas said. “And there is no such thing, as ’sugar making you nuts.’ There just isn’t.”

I found that hard to believe. I’ve seen kids go crazy at parties. Isn’t that because the sugar kicks in? Nope. As one parent put it. “They are hyper because they are excited. Because they have freedom. Because there is 20 kids, crowding around each other.” In other words, because it’s a party.

The studies also say that if food has any effect, it could be the caffeine in chocolate and soda that’s giving you the buzz, not the sugar. Still, even older students swear sugar helps them in school.

But the opposite is likely to be true. Said Nonas: “We tell kids, if they want to do well on a test, not to eat sugar. Even though it increases your blood sugar, which is why I think there is some confusion — it drops it down, pretty quickly, so that you have this kind of ‘lull.’” As one man put it, “Once it’s over, you kind of, like, crash.” That’s right: Some research shows that instead of jacking you up, sugar may actually calm you down.

And the mantra of the health and beauty world, “eight by eight,” which means you should drink eight 8 oz. glasses of water every day? Lots of people believe it. Some schools require kids to carry bottled water around with them. But it’s another myth. Dr. Heinz Valtin, professor emeritus of the Dartmouth Medical School, spent his life studying the right balance of water in our bodies, so there’s no evidence that supports the “8 x 8″ idea. “I drink about five or six glasses per day — only one of them is water,” he said.

Much of the fluid we need comes from, of all things, food. “Even a slice of white bread is more than 30 percent water,” he said. “It’s lots of water, 80 to 90 percent in vegetables and fruits.”

Valtin acknowledges that drinking water is not a bad idea. “What’s wrong with the myth is that the recommendation is universal that every last one of us, including, as one article said, couch potatoes, must drink at least eight, 8-ounce glasses per day,” he said.

The Institute of Medicine’s food and nutrition board agrees with Valtin. It says drinking eight glasses of water is not necessary, because we get plenty of fluid from our food. When your body does need more fluid, it has a marvelous mechanism for telling you to drink up. It’s called “thirst.”


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Eight glasses of water per day. Lots of sweaty exercise and reduce your salt intake. Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. What would I know I am only a physiologist.