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In this newsletter, we’d like to highlight three new studies – one that confirms conventional wisdom, one that runs counter to conventional wisdom, and one that is simply unconventional.

Confirming Conventional Wisdom
A new study by The National Institutes of Health, Yale, and the California Pacific Medical Center analyzed 173 studies completed in the past 30 years on how exposure to media sources impacts the physical health of children and teens.

The studies mostly focused on television, but many also included video games, computer and Internet use.

Confirming conventional wisdom, three quarters of these studies found that increased exposure to media sources was associated with negative health outcomes. Specifically, increased exposure to media was linked to:

  1. Obesity
  2. Smoking
  3. Earlier sexual activity
  4. Drug and alcohol use
  5. Poor school performance

One study cited in the report found that children who spent more than eight hours watching TV per week at age 3 were more likely to be obese at 7. And research shows that many U.S. children, even toddlers, watch far more.

Rebutting Conventional Wisdom
Many parents of overweight children and teens will visit an endocrinologist – a specialist in issues involving hormones and glands – seeking to identify a specific cause for their child’s weight problem. Often, a thyroid disorder is suspected.

Naturally, many parents would like think that their child’s weight problem is the result of a specific, identifiable issue, for which there is a discrete treatment.

However, a new study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism runs counter to conventional wisdom.

This new study shows that rather than the thyroid being the cause of the child’s weight problem, in many cases, the obesity itself is inducing alterations in thyroid function and structure. So while many overweight and obese kids do have thyroid issues, in many cases, this is a result of the weight – not the cause. In many cases, thyroid function returns to normal after weight loss.

So while conventional wisdom for many families is to consult an endocrinologist, in many cases trying to treat an overweight child’s thyroid issue is addressing the symptom, rather than the cause.

It’s likely you haven’t thought about the impact of the obesity epidemic on horse racing, but a new study demonstrates that we may have a shortage of jockeys in the not-too-distant future.

Specifically, the study found a worrying decline in the number of young people considering a career in horse racing. The two reasons for the decline were: (1) Fewer young people interested in performing the manual labor required in entry level positions; and (2) Body size.