Snoring can affect young children’s behavior. A study published in the journal Pediatrics divided 249 children in 3 groups at ages 2 and 3. “Non-snorers” snored less than once a week, “transient snorers” snored more than twice a week at age 2 or 3 and “persistent snorers” snored more than twice a week at both age 2 and 3. At age three 35% of the persistent snorers were at risk for behavior problems including hyperactivity, depression and inattention. Sleep-related breathing disorders that disrupt children’s sleep also affect their learning and development. A child’s snore is literally a “wake-up call”.
Cartoon stickers affect children’s food choices. In a study published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, cookies and apples were offered to 208 children ages 8-11 at suburban and rural schools every lunch for a week. When the snacks weren’t marked, 91% of the children chose a cookie and 24% chose an apple. When Elmo stickers were put on the apples, 37% of the children chose apples. Because manufacturers often put cartoon stickers on cookie and candy packaging, perhaps schools should use similar stickers on fruits and vegetables. At home perhaps parents should use similar "sticktoitiveness" on fruits and vegetables too.
About 17% of American high school students drink, smoke or use dugs at school. That’s according to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse’s 2012 survey of 1,000 children ages 12-17. Teens whose parents are laid back about drugs or tobacco are significantly likelier to smoke or drink. Teens left alone overnight are also significantly likelier to use alcohol, marijuana and tobacco. However, teens who attend religious services on a regular basis are less likely to use illegal substances or tobacco. Parents need to stay involved in their children’s lives – not as friends - but as “lifeguards”.
However, the biggest health problem for American children is inactivity. That’s the finding of the 2012 University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll. Not enough exercise is considered children’s biggest problem by 39% of adults. Childhood obesity was the second biggest problem (38%) followed by tobacco use (34%), drug abuse (33%) and bullying (29%). In 2011 childhood obesity was considered the biggest problem and “not enough opportunities for physical activities” didn’t make the top 10. This change is attributed to recent public health messages. If parents want to communicate with their children, maybe they should use public messages.