Middle School Dating, Kitchen Gardens, Milk in College – PediaCast 247

Join Dr Mike in the PediaCast Studio for another edition of News Parents can Use. This week we cover misuse of ADHD medications, middle school dating, the benefits of kitchen gardens, physical activity goals, and drinking milk in college.


  • Misuse of ADHD Medications

  • Middle School Dating

  • Kitchen Gardens

  • Physical Activity Goal: 60 Minutes

  • Drinking Milk in College



Announcer: This is PediaCast.


Welcome to PediaCast, a pediatric podcast for parents. And now, direct from the campus of Nationwide Children's, here is your host, Dr. Mike!

Dr. Mike: Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to PediaCast, a pediatric podcast for moms and dads. This is Dr. Mike, coming to you from the campus of Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. This is Episode 247 for April 3rd, 2013. We're calling this one Middle School Dating, Kitchen Gardens and Milk in College.

I'd like to welcome everyone to the program. Those of you out there who are long-time listeners of PediaCast know that we got things started in Ohio back in 2006. Then we moved production to Florida for a few years and in 2011, we brought the show back up to Columbus in Nationwide Children's Hospital.


And one of the benefits of moving the show back up North was really the incredible resource of this hospital, which is one of the largest and most comprehensive pediatric facilities on planet Earth. And that we've used that resource to a great extent. We've had more pediatric specialists as guests, talking about the topics you've requested and answering the questions you have really than any other audio program out there.

Now admittedly, these topics and answers are generic. We can't practice medicine in a form of a podcast and we can't answer specific questions about your specific kid. But today, that changes. Well, sort of. We're about to add a brand new layer of service for you and that is the opportunity to connect directly with one of our specialists regarding your specific child. Now it's not on the show, it's private between you and our doctors.


But what we are offering is this, an exclusive way for PediaCast listeners to connect with a pediatric specialist. Truly unheard of in the world of medicine. Do I have your interest? Would you like a direct connection to getting a referral or an easy way to ask for a second opinion? If this sounds intriguing, stay tuned, I'll have all the details for you at the end of the program.

Speaking of Florida, my family went back to Florida last month to visit my mother. She lives in the central portion of the state, around the vicinity of the villages. That's why we're away for a couple of weeks last month. And to be honest, wow, you know, I love Nationwide Children's Hospital. But March weather-wise, it's just excruciatingly painful here in the Buckeye State. And I'm really hoping that April is going to be better. The Groundhog predicted an early spring. Yeah, right. That's the last time I'm listening to him. This winter has just dragged on and on and on.


So we went to Florida last month, and of course, it was mid-70s and sunny, typical for a March in the Sunshine State. And when we flew back, we had to descend through what seem like a mile of thick clouds before the ground appeared. And I'm suddenly remembering why we left Ohio in the first place. Now I know, just give it a month, give it a month, it's going to be sunny and it'll be 60s to 70s here and we'll all be outside and loving life. But right now, it's just miserable.

Alright, enough of my belly aching. What are we going to talk about today? We do have some interesting items on the agenda for you. The misuse of ADHD medications. We had a big, big show on ADHD last week and we're going to talk, just kind of extend that a little bit into the misuse of ADHD medicine. Some kids, as it turns out, are asking for Ritalin but only at test time. Parents are agreeing, doctors are prescribing and in my mind, it amounts to academic doping. We'll talk about it, coming up.


Middle school dating. A recent study links it to some very bad things. So we're going to explain. Kitchen gardens. How do you get your children to try some new foods. It's a program that started on Australia. I have some great ideas and we'll share those so you may be able to plug it in to your own home and use them in your family.

Then we're going to switch gears and talk about physical activity goals. The U.S. government says kids need 60 minutes of physical activity each day, but they're not getting it. So we're going to reveal some tips for improving the amount of physical activity your kids get.

And then finally, drinking milk in college. It's not just for toddlers. The USDA recommends college-aged kids get three cups of milk each day. And we'll tell you why and we'll also clue you in on the risk of non-compliance. When I say college-aged kids, I guess I'm showing my age when I call college-aged folks' kids. I told you we'll have more college stories now that I'm paying tuition for my kids or college-aged young adult.


So lots coming your way which is a part for the course here in PediaCast. Don't forget, if you have a topic idea or you'd like a question answered on the program, it's easy to get in touch. Just head over to pediacast.org and click on the Contact link.

Also want to remind you, the information presented in the program is for general educational purposes only. We do not diagnose medical conditions or formulate treatment plans for specific individuals on the show. If you have a concern about your child's health, be sure to call your doctor and arrange face-to-face interview and hands-on physical examination.

Also your use of this audio program is subject to the PediaCast Terms of Use agreement which you can find at pediacast.org. Alright, we're going to take a quick break and we'll be back with News Parents Can Use right after this.



Alright, we are back. First up in our News Parents Can Use and this story, as I mentioned, is an extension of last week's program. You'll recall we covered the nuts and bolts of ADHD back in Episode 246 with Dr. Rebecca Baum. There's one item we didn't cover, the use of ADHD medications as a neuro-enhancer. Now what does that mean?

Well, I'm glad you asked. There is a growing trend of teenagers and their parents requesting prescriptions for ADHD medications even though the child does not meet the diagnostic criteria for the disorder. Why? Because this medications sharpen the child's ability to focus. Kids are calling these study drugs. And a teen use them prior to examination to improve studying, memory and test-taking skills.


Unfortunately, this trend does not stop with the family asking. Many physicians are giving in to the request and providing prescriptions for ADHD medications even though the child does not have true ADHD. This accusation comes from the American Academy of Neurology in a physician statement recently published in the journal neurology. The Academy scrutinized all available research on the effects of ADHD medications. They also held ethical debates prior to making a strong recommendation against this practice.

Dr. William Graf, author of the statement and Neurologist with the Yale University said, "Doctors caring for children and teens have a professional obligation to always protect the best interest of the child, to protect vulnerable populations and prevent the misuse of medication. The practice of prescribing ADHD medications as neuro-enhancements for healthy students is not justifiable."


The physician statement cites dozens of ethical, legal, social and developmental reasons why ADHD medicines should not be abused in this manner by otherwise healthy kids. Some of these reasons include the risk of medication side effects, adverse reactions and possible dependency. Also the long-term safety of neuro-enhancing drugs in healthy children has not been studied and quite simply, using ADHD drugs in this manner is not in a child's best interest.

Dr. Graf says the physician should talk to the child about the request as it may reflect other medical, social or psychological motivation such as anxiety, depression or insomnia. There are alternatives to neuro-enhancements available, including maintaining good sleep, nutrition, study habits and exercise regimens.

If you'd like to see the physician statement in its entirety so you can see all of those dozens of reasons for yourself, I'll put a link to it in the Show Notes for Episode 247 over at pediacast.org. So in my mind, this is sort of like athletes abusing anabolic steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs.


I mean, kids are doing this really are the geek or nerd equivalent of dopers, right? Now I get it from the students perspective. They want to perform well for acceptance, grades, scholarships down the road and we know teenagers are notorious for making bad decisions. So I'm not surprised from a teenage perspective, but what does surprise me is the parents being on board with this and what surprises me even more is doctors jumping on the bandwagon and actually writing the prescriptions.

Remember, these are controlled substances and I think your state pharmacy and medical boards, not to mention the DEA, would frown on this behavior. So moms and dads and doctors, just say no. Do it for the kids. And docs, think about your medical license.

One more point, if teens can get ADHD medications from their doctor, what about buying them from kids who do have ADHD? So parents, it really is in your ballpark. It's up to you to make sure your kids are not selling or buying drugs illegally.


Students who date in middle school have significantly worse study skills, are four times more likely to drop out of school and as twice as likely to use alcohol, tobacco and marijuana compared to middle school kids who don't date. That's according to researchers at the University of Georgia and recently reported in Journal of Research on Adolescence.

Dr. Pamela Orpinas, the study's author and head of the Department of Health Promotion and Behavior in the College of Public Health at the University of Georgia, says, "Romantic relationships are a hallmark of adolescence, but very few studies have examined how adolescence differ in the development of these relationships."

Researchers followed 624 students who attended one of six school districts in Northeast Georgia. They studied these students over a seven-year period from sixth grade until the end of high school. Each student completed a yearly survey which gathered information on dating behaviors and their use of drugs and alcohol.


Teachers also thought out yearly surveys, measuring each students study efforts including doing work for extra credit, being well-organized, finishing homework, working hard and reading assigned chapters. In addition, researchers noted each student's endpoint with the school district, whether that be graduation or dropping out.

Dr. Orpinas reports, "In our study, we found a four distinct trajectories. Some students never or hardly ever reported dating from middle school to high school and these students had consistently the best study skills according to their teachers. Other students dated infrequently in middle school, but increased the frequency of dating at high school. researchers also saw a large number of students who reported dating nearly every year since the sixth grade. As it turns out, these early daters made up the largest group in the study, representing 38% of all students. Researchers report that at all points in time, teachers rated the students who reported the lowest frequency of dating as having the best study skills and the students with the highest dating as having the worst study skills."


Dr. Orpinas says, "A likely explanation with a poor educational performance of early daters is that these adolescence start dating early as part of an overall pattern of high-risk behaviors. These high-risk behaviors include the use of alcohol and drugs which the early daters were twice as likely to use." Dr. Orpinas points out dating a classmate may have the same emotional complications of dating a co-worker. When the couple splits, they have to continue to see each other in class and perhaps witness the ex-partner dating someone else. It's reasonable to think the scenario could be linked to depression and divert attention from studying.

She says, "More dating researches needed to distinguish between healthy dating as a normal developmental process and problem dating as part of an unhealthy behavioral syndrome." In conclusion, the author stated dating should not be considered a right of passage in middle school.

So there you have it and I primarily speaking to the fathers out there. More evidence to support our decision that daughters should not be dating until they're what? 18? 21? Something like that, until they're married.


Oh, alright. Now to move on to some nutrition news. Kids are more likely to try new foods including fruits and vegetables if they are involved with the fruit from the ground up, literally. Researchers from University of Melbourne and Deakin University report this finding in a recent issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. The investigators recruited 764 children in grades three through six and enrolled them in the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program. So what's that?

That's a really cool program, in my opinion, but it's in Australia. The program is embedded into the school curriculum and includes during the school day, 45 minutes per week in a garden class with a gardening expert, and 90 minutes per week in a kitchen class with a cooking expert. During these sessions, the experts teach the children concepts and skills related to environmentally sustainable gardening. And the skills needed to prepare and cook three- or four-course meals based on available fresh produce from the garden.


This is prepared over the course of the program and include hand-made pastries, bread, pastas, salads, curries and desserts. Dr. Liza Gibbs, a professor at the University of Melbourne and principal investigator of the project, says, "One of the major themes that emerged from the study was children eating and appreciating new foods. The program introduced children to new ingredients and tastes and within a short time, almost all children were prepared to at least try a new dish." Teachers at several schools also reported they saw a noticeable improvement in the nutritional quality of the food children were bringing to school for snacks and lunches since the program was introduced.

Dr. Petra Staiger, a professor at Deakin University and co-investigator of the study, said, "Data and class observations also suggest that the social environment of the class increased each child's willingness to try new foods. This included sitting down together to share and enjoy the meal they had prepared with the encouragement to taste, but no pressure to eat.


Researchers says school gardens aren't new, but the study emphasize another dimension of the equation taking the food grown in the garden and learning how to prepare it. That, they say, is a true farm-to-fork program.

Okay, as I said before, in my opinion, this is a really cool thing. Why did the kids down under get all the fun? Someone needs to step up to the play and develop this sort of thing in America. If you like to check out the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation for yourself, I'll put a link in the Show Notes for Episode 247 over at pediacast.org.

Despite overwhelming evidence about the benefits of physical activity for children, most American kids are not meeting the federal recommendation of 60 minutes of physical activity each day. But help is on the way in a form of a new study from the researchers at the University of Tennessee and recently published in The American Journal of Preventive Medicine.


The research team, led by Dr. David Bassett, has identified specific activities that can help children achieved the recommended daily physical activity goal. Dr. Bassett says, "Schools and communities at large, can play a major role in helping youngsters stay active and be healthy." The team's recommendation include a variety of approaches which include reinstatement of mandatory daily physical education in schools and changes in playground design.

Dr. Bassett points out this information can help legislatures, school officials and other policy makers make well-informed decisions that can enhanced physical activity in youth. To come up with the recommendations, researchers looked at more than 85 past research projects that assess physical activity in children. These included studies which examined walking and biking to school, physical education time and activities, access to parks, the use of accelerometers, pedometers and heart-rate monitors and good old-fashioned observation of activity throughout the day.


Investigators converted the results of each study into a standard of measurement of energy expenditure. Then they average the results to estimate the number of minutes children should spend in specific, moderate and vigorous physical activities each day to meet the spirit of the guideline set forth by the federal government into 2008. To achieve that goal, investigators offer some suggestions.

Mandatory physical education on a daily basis could add 23 minutes of activity to each school day. Providing classroom physical activity breaks could add another 19 minutes. Walking or biking to school could add 16 minutes. Renovating parks to include more equipment and more opportunity for activity that could add 12 minutes. After-school physical activity programs could add another 10 minutes. Modifying school playground could add 6 minutes and standardizing physical education curriculum to increase active time and decrease inactive time that could add 6 more minutes than traditional physical education classes. And modifying recess to provide more play equipment that encourages physical activity that could add 5 more minutes than traditional recess.


So the take home here moms and dads and as a take home message for us adults as well. The take home message, in my mind, is every bit helps. The physical activity doesn't have to be a solid 60 minutes, but if we can sneak in a few extra minutes of activity here and there, our health will improve. If you'd like to see this report in its entirety with more details on how the team formulated their recommendations and how the recommendations can be translated into public policy and environmental changes, head over to the Show Notes for Episode 247 at pediacast.org and you'll find a link which will direct you to all the details.

Alright, finally in this week's News Parents Can Use edition of PediaCast, drinking milk in college. Okay, milk probably isn't the first beverage you think about when you hear the word college. But it should be, so say researchers at the University of Iowa. They're joint project with the Universidad Autonoma de San Luis Potosi, it's a university in Mexico and my Spanish is really bad.


They found that college-aged kids who don't consume at least three servings of dairy each day are three times more likely to develop metabolic syndrome than those who do. Okay, so what is metabolic syndrome? Let's start there. Metabolic syndrome occurs when a person has at least three of the following: abdominal obesity, high-blood pressure, high-blood sugar or elevated cholesterol or lipid levels. And those with metabolic syndrome have a greatly increased risk of developing heart disease and type II diabetes.

Dr. Margarita Teran-Garcia, a professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois, says, "75% of college students aren't getting the recommended amount of dairy and have an increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome, heart disease and type II diabetes."

So why does dairy prevent metabolic syndrome? Researchers say they aren't sure. They believe dairy products somehow guard against obesity and the health problems that accompany extra weight, but they aren't sure of the mechanism. Dr. Teran-Garcia says, it may be the calcium, it may be the proteins. Whatever the mechanism, evidence suggests that dairy products are effective in attaining and maintaining a healthy weight.


The study, which is part of the Up Amigos project, examined 339 Mexican college applicants. These students completed a food frequency questionnaire and were evaluated for the presence of metabolic syndrome and the presence of other metabolic syndrome risk factors such as sex, age, family history of cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes and decreased levels of physical activity.

The applicants are still being followed to learn how changes in their BMI, weight, eating habits and exercise habits change over time. Dr. Teran-Garcia says the research is important to Hispanics in the United States because while many of them have a genetic predisposition for very low HTL or good cholesterol, their diet and exercise habits are outweighing this genetic benefit with a resulting rise in obesity and health problems.


She says obesity is now a more serious public health problem in Mexico than it is in the United States. According to new data from a national Mexican survey, 72% of adults are overweight or obese in contrast to 66% of U.S. adults. A scientist began to see a relationship between lack of dairy and metabolic syndrome. Their first thought is one of substitution.

What were the kids drinking instead of milk that might lead to health problems? Were the students substituting high-calorie sugar-sweetened beverages like juice and soda for the milk. Turns out this was not the case. Sure, college kids were consuming these products, but milk drinkers were too, and in the same amounts. The difference really seem to be the milk.

Dr. Teran-Garcia stresses the importance of developing healthy food habits at an early age. She says, "We are concerned because persons in this age group don't visit the doctor often and they may not know they have problems with their weight, blood pressure, lipids or blood sugar." Adapting the USDA dairy recommendation of three servings per day as a young person is a low-cost approach to maintaining health and decreasing future disease risk.


And in a few years, when our survey participants are parents, they'll be able to be a good role model for good nutrition for their children. By the way, the USDA recommends three cups of milk per day for everybody beginning at age 9. For kids 4 to 8 years of age, two and a half cups are recommended and for age 2 to 3, two cups are recommended.

Adult men and women, including all the moms and dads listening out there right now, the recommendation is for three cups of milk for us as well. Are you getting that? If not, you should. Fat-free or low-fat milk should be a part of your healthy eating habits and your weight loss plan. Yogurt, cheese, putting ice cream and calcium-fortified soy milk also count. For more information, check out the USDA's choosemyplate.gov site which has all the details on getting the right amount and the right types of dairy. And to make it easy for you to find out, I'll put a link in the Show Notes for Episode 247 over at pediacast.org.


Alright, that wraps up this week's News Parents Can Use. I'll be back with a final word, right after this.


Alright, my final word this week is aimed primarily at listeners in Central Ohio, so the hometown folks. Those of you who consider Nationwide Children's Hospital your local children's hospital of choice, but it's also for those of you who would consider travelling to Columbus for world-class pediatric care. Perhaps your local children's hospital doesn't offer specific service.


Maybe you've heard one of our specialist in the program and you'd like their opinion on your child's condition. Maybe that's what your after, a second opinion. Maybe you'd like to know what other options are available. Maybe you're frustrated and need some place to turn. As you know, we answer listener questions here in PediaCast, but we are providing general education, not medical advice for a specific kid. But if that's what you want, medical advice for a specific child, your child, I do have a new way for you to connect with the experts at Nationwide Children's Hospital in a remarkable way.

Now remember, I told you at the beginning of the year that we would have lots of exciting announcements coming your way. The first was the Ask Dr. Mike video segments over on the Nationwide Children's Hospital Facebook page. Well, here it is, our second big announcement and it's an exclusive way for you, the PediaCast listener, to connect directly with the specialist at Nationwide Children's Hospital.


You can ask about your child, your child's specific problem and our specialist will get back to you with real advice. We're unleashing a direct connection between parent and specialist.

So how does this work? Well, it's simple. You go to any of our Show Notes pages at pediacast.org starting with this episode, number 247 and you'll find a link that says, "Connect now with a pediatric specialist". Couldn't make it more plain. You click that link and you'll be taken to an exclusive form for PediaCast listeners. You let us know how we can help. You can ask a question. You can request an appointment. You can inquire about a second opinion. Anything goes really except for medical emergencies. Obviously, you want to call 911 or your primary care doctor for urgent questions and emergencies.

Then you go on how you want us to get back to you, emails, cell phone, home phone even by snail mail and anywhere in the world. It's our effort to be the most personal, most comprehensive, most caring pediatric facility on planet Earth.


Our motto is when your child needs a hospital, everything matters and making it easy to connect and get answers that matters to you and it matters to us. So give it a try and let me know how it works for you. The exclusive connect form for PediaCast listeners look forward in the Show Notes of this episode, number 247 and in our Show Notes moving forward. And that's my final word.

By the way, we have another huge announcement coming soon, which I am mega-excited about. It's the grand daddy of them all, so stick around for a show in the very near future and we'll share the news.

Alright, I want to thank everyone for participating in the program today by listening, by downloading and that connecting with us. Remember, if you have a question for us or a topic idea, it's easy to get in touch. Just head over to pediacast.org and click on the Contact link.

And then a little favor, iTunes reviews are helpful, if you've not done that before. Also links, mentions, shares, retweets, rePins, all those things on your web and blog and social media sites. We are on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest.


So be sure to share our stuff so others can find out about the program. We don't have a big marketing budget here. We just rely on word of mouth and you letting folks know about the program. Also be sure to tell your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and of course, your child's doctor. And we do have posters available under the Resources tab at pediacast.org.

So the next time you're in for your next sick office visit, which I hope is not for a very long time, or your next well check-up, which I hope you do regularly, just be sure to let your doctor know about PediaCast.

Alright. We are off then and until next time, this is Dr. Mike, saying stay safe, stay healthy and stay involved with your kids. So long, everybody!



Announcer: This program is a production of Nationwide Children's. Thanks for listening! We'll see you next time on PediaCast.

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