Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A conversation I just had with Nicky

I looked up to find a very naked Nicky handing me the diaper he had just taken off himself. This is a few minutes after me trying to convince him to bring me a new diaper after he had brought it to my attention that his diaper was wet.

"Hey, naked baby, please bring me a diaper. You can't walk around the living room naked. Bring me a diaper!" I said.

Nicky's reply? "No." And then he walked off.

He is still naked. Guess I'll have to go get a diaper myself and do a little bit of persuading:)

Corporal Punishment of Children

Spare the Rod
Why you shouldn't hit your kids.

By Alan E. Kazdin

Posted Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2008, at 7:09 AM ET

The typical parent, when whacking a misbehaving child, doesn't pause to wonder: "What does science have to say about the efficacy of corporal punishment?" If they are thinking anything at all, it's: "Here comes justice!" And while the typical parent may not know or care, the science on corporal punishment of kids is pretty clear. Despite the rise of the timeout and other nonphysical forms of punishment, most American parents hit, pinch, shake, or otherwise lay violent hands on their youngsters: 63 percent of parents physically discipline their 1- to 2-year-olds, and 85 percent of adolescents have been physically punished by their parents. Parents cite children's aggression and failure to comply with a request as the most common reasons for hitting them.

The science also shows that corporal punishment is like smoking: It's a rare human being who can refrain from stepping up from a mild, relatively harmless dose to an excessive and harmful one. Three cigarettes a month won't hurt you much, and a little smack on the behind once a month won't harm your child. But who smokes three cigarettes a month? To call corporal punishment addictive would be imprecise, but there's a strong natural tendency to escalate the frequency and severity of punishment. More than one-third of all parents who start out with relatively mild punishments end up crossing the line drawn by the state to define child abuse: hitting with an object, harsh and cruel hitting, and so on. Children, endowed with wonderful flexibility and ability to learn, typically adapt to punishment faster than parents can escalate it, which helps encourage a little hitting to lead to a lot of hitting. And, like frequent smoking, frequent corporal punishment has serious, well-proven bad effects.

The negative effects on children include increased aggression and noncompliance—the very misbehaviors that most often inspire parents to hit in the first place—as well as poor academic achievement, poor quality of parent-child relationships, and increased risk of a mental-health problem (depression or anxiety, for instance). High levels of corporal punishment are also associated with problems that crop up later in life, including diminished ability to control one's impulses and poor physical-health outcomes (cancer, heart disease, chronic respiratory disease). Plus, there's the effect of increasing parents' aggression, and don't forget the consistent finding that physical punishment is a weak strategy for permanently changing behavior.

But parents keep on hitting. Why? The key is corporal punishment's temporary effectiveness in stopping a behavior. It does work—for a moment, anyway. The direct experience of that momentary pause in misbehavior has a powerful effect, conditioning the parent to hit again next time to achieve that jolt of fleeting success and blinding the parent to the long-term failure of hitting to improve behavior. The research consistently shows that the unwanted behavior will return at the same rate as before. But parents believe that corporal punishment works, and they are further encouraged in that belief by feeling that they have a right and even a duty to punish as harshly as necessary.

Part of the problem is that most of us pay, at best, selective attention to science—and scientists, for their part, have not done a good job of publicizing what they know about corporal punishment. Studies of parents have demonstrated that if they are predisposed not to see a problem in the way they rear their children, then they tend to dismiss any scientific finding suggesting that this presumed nonproblem is, in fact, a problem. In other words, if parents believe that hitting is an effective way to control children's behavior, and especially if that conviction is backed up by a strong moral, religious, or other cultural rationale for corporal punishment, they will confidently throw out any scientific findings that don't comport with their sense of their own experience.

The catch is that we frequently misperceive our own experience. Studies of parents' perceptions of child rearing, in particular, show that memory is an extremely unreliable guide in judging the efficacy of punishment. Those who believe in corporal punishment tend to remember that hitting a child worked: She talked back to me, I slapped her face, she shut her mouth. But they tend to forget that, after the brief pause brought on by having her face slapped, the child talked back again, and the talking back grew nastier and more frequent over time as the slaps grew harder.

So what's the case for not hitting? It can be argued from the science: Physical discipline doesn't work over the long run, it has bad side effects, and mild punishment often becomes more severe over time. Opponents of corporal punishment also advance moral and legal arguments. If you hit another adult you can be arrested and sued, after all, so shouldn't our smallest, weakest citizens have a right to equal or even more-than-equal protection under the law? In this country, if you do the same thing to your dog that you do to your child, you're more likely to get in trouble for mistreating the dog.

The combination of scientific and moral/legal arguments has been effective in debates about discipline in public schools. Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia have banned corporal punishment in the schools. But so far, we have shown ourselves unwilling to extend that debate beyond the schools and into the ideologically sacred circle of the family. Where the argument against corporal punishment in the schools has prevailed, in fact, it has often cited parents' individual right to punish their own children as they, and not educators acting for the state, see fit. The situation is different in other countries. You may not be surprised to hear that 91 countries have banned corporal punishment in the schools, but you may be surprised to hear that 23 countries have banned corporal punishment everywhere within their borders, including in the home.

I know what you're thinking: Are there really 23 Scandinavian countries? Sweden was, indeed, the first to pass a comprehensive ban, but the list also includes Hungary, Bulgaria, Spain, Israel, Portugal, Greece, Uruguay, Chile, Venezuela, and New Zealand. According to advocates of the ban, another 20 or so countries are committed to full prohibition and/or are debating prohibitionist bills in parliament. The Council of Europe was the first intergovernmental body to launch a campaign for universal prohibition across its 47 member countries.

Practically nobody in America knows or cares that the United Nations has set a target date of 2009 for a universal prohibition of violence against children that would include a ban on corporal punishment in the home. Americans no doubt have many reasons—some of them quite good—to ignore or laugh off instructions from the United Nations on how to raise their kids. And it's naive to think that comprehensive bans are comprehensively effective. Kids still get hit in every country on earth. But especially because such bans are usually promoted with large public campaigns of education and opinion-shaping (similar to successful efforts in this country to change attitudes toward littering and smoking), they do have measurable good effects. So far, the results suggest that after the ban is passed, parents hit less and are less favorably inclined toward physical discipline, and the country is not overwhelmed by a wave of brattiness and delinquency. The opposite, in fact. If anything, the results tell us that there's less deviant child behavior.

There could conceivably be good reasons for Americans to decide, after careful consideration, that our commitment to the privacy and individual rights of parents is too strong to allow for an enforceable comprehensive ban on corporal punishment. But we don't seem to be ready to join much of the rest of the world in even having a serious discussion about such a ban. In the overheated climate of nondebate encouraged by those who would have us believe that we are embroiled in an ongoing high-stakes culture war, we mostly just declaim our fixed opinions at one another.

One result of this standoff is that the United States, despite being one of the primary authors of the U.N.'s Convention on the Rights of Children, which specifies that governments must take appropriate measures to protect children from "all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation," is one of only two nations that have not ratified it. The other is Somalia; 192 nations have ratified it. According to my colleague Liz Gershoff of the University of Michigan, a leading expert on corporal punishment of children, the main arguments that have so far prevented us from ratifying it include the ones you would expect—it would undermine American parents' authority as well as U.S. sovereignty—plus a couple of others that you might not have expected: It would not allow 17-year-olds to enlist in the armed forces, and (although the Supreme Court's decision in Roper v. Simmons has made this one moot, at least for now) it would not allow executions of people who committed capital crimes when they were under 18.

We have so far limited our national debate on corporal punishment by focusing it on the schools and conducting it at the local and state level. We have shied away from even theoretically questioning the primacy of rights that parents exercise in the home, where most of the hitting takes place. Whatever one's position on corporal punishment, we ought to be able to at least discuss it with each other like grownups.

Alan E. Kazdin is John M. Musser professor of jpsychology and child psychiatry at Yale University and director of Yale's Parenting Center and Child Conduct Clinic. He is also president of the American Psychological Association and author, most recently, of The Kazdin Method for Parenting the Defiant Child.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

BS in advertising

Ugh, I am so frustrated. The corn industry is running the 2 commercials below (and others) on TV to try to convince people that there is nothing wrong with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). People must be finally catching on because they are trying to do damage control. Too bad its a bunch of lies. For those of you who don't know, HFCS is a highly processed sweetner added to everything (really, its in almost all of our processed and baked foods here in the US but not the rest of the world). It is used in place of sugar or another sweetner because it is super cheap. Why? Can you say "corn subsidies?" So one of the reasons we all are getting fat and having insulin problems is because our tax dollars are supporting this junk. Anyway, I've included a funny spoof video and a rebuttal video and article below the dang commercial that explains HFCS and its problems and gives more detail so please read on...

Dramatic Example of How the Food Industry Lies to You About Corn is run by The Corn Refiners Association, which recently launched a major advertising and public relations campaign to the tune of $20-30 million, designed to rehabilitate the reputation of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). You might have even seen a few of their commercials on TV recently.

This site is nothing but an extension of their deceptive advertising that claims the product is no worse for you than sugar. One of their ads, which shows two women talking, reads:

“My hairdresser says that sugar is healthier than high fructose corn syrup.”

“Wow! You get your hair done by a doctor?”

Not surprisingly, the Corn Refiners Association is running these ads in response to the increasing public perception of the dangers of HFCS. But this “perception” was not instigated by chatty hairdressers with nothing to do but spread their own personal opinions to a captive audience. No. Scientists have linked HFCS to the rampant epidemics of obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome in the U.S., and medical researchers have pinpointed various other health dangers associated with the consumption of HFCS compared to regular sugar (which I’ll review below).

The Corn Refiners Association has been trying to counter the seriously bad PR generated by damaging research findings since 2004, but finally realized it could no longer afford to rely on simple grass-roots marketing tactics such as sweet talking nutritionists and doctors.

THAT’S a sign that truthful grass-roots consumer information, such as the information found in this newsletter, is spreading and reaching a much wider audience! Now we just have to maintain the counter-pressure to ensure that people are not deceived AGAIN.

Hopefully we can get the word out about what these ads are really about: money.

Declining Consumption Has Turned Industry Sour… and Desperate

Since the 1970s, the consumption of HFCS in the United States has skyrocketed. Consumption of beverages containing fructose alone rose 135 percent between 1977 and 2001. That is until about 2003.

According to the Corn Refiners Association statistics, the per capita consumption in the United States actually went down from more than 45 pounds per year in 1999 to just over 42 pounds annually 2005. The USDA estimates per capita consumption at about 40 pounds per year as of 2007.

That’s a really good sign for the health of the community, but a bad one for the financial health of the companies that sell HFCS. Hence the multi-million dollar media campaign. In June a nearly $5 billion merger of Corn Products International and Bunge Ltd. signaled that corn manufacturers mean business. Revenues are expected to increase 29 percent in 2008 to reach $4 billion.

High Fructose Corn Syrup is the Number One Source of Calories in U.S. Diet

Although the trend is declining, an average intake of 40 pounds of HFCS per person, per year, is still far too much, if you want to obtain or maintain optimal health that is.

In case you forgot, or never knew in the first place, the number one source of calories in the U.S. is high fructose corn syrup. Let me restate that so you can more fully appreciate the impact of this fact. Dietary fat has 250 percent more calories than sugar, but even with this major disadvantage, the food that most people get MOST of their calories from is HFCS, primarily in the form of soft drinks.

The good news about this shocking fact is that stopping the pernicious habit of drinking sodas is one of the easiest things you can do. You can radically improve your health just by cutting out soda.

I am HIGHLY confident that the health improvement would be FAR more profound than if you quit smoking, because elevated insulin levels are the foundation of nearly every chronic disease, including:

* Cancer
* Heart disease
* Diabetes
* Premature aging
* Arthritis
* Osteoporosis

And that’s just naming a few.

But in addition to being an exorbitant source of excess calories for the average American, there are a number of other things fails to tell you the truth about, as it relates to high fructose corn syrup.

High Fructose Corn Syrup Does NOT Metabolize in the Same Way as Sugar

HFCS is a highly processed product that contains similar amounts of unbound fructose and glucose. Sucrose, on the other hand, is a larger sugar molecule that is metabolized into glucose and fructose in your intestine.

Part of what makes HFCS such an unhealthy product is that it is metabolized to fat in your body far more rapidly than any other sugar, and, because most fructose is consumed in liquid form, its negative metabolic effects are significantly magnified.

Whereas the glucose in other sugars is used by your body, and is converted to blood glucose, fructose is a relatively unregulated source of fuel that your liver converts to fat and cholesterol.

There are over 35 years of hard empirical evidence that refined man-made fructose like high fructose corn syrup metabolizes to triglycerides and adipose tissue, not blood glucose. The downside of this is that fructose does not stimulate your insulin secretion, nor enhance leptin production. (Leptin is a hormone thought to be involved in appetite regulation.)

Because insulin and leptin act as key signals in regulating how much food you eat, as well as your body weight, this suggests that dietary fructose may contribute to increased food intake and weight gain.

Additionally, fructose is also known to significantly raise your triglycerides and LDL (bad cholesterol).

Triglycerides, the chemical form of fat found in foods and in your body, are not something you want in excess amounts. Intense research over the past 40 years has confirmed that elevated blood levels of triglycerides, known as hypertriglyceridemia, puts you at an increased risk of heart disease.

New Evidence That HFCS Contributes to Development of Diabetes

Recent research, reported at the 2007 national meeting of the American Chemical Society, found new evidence that soft drinks sweetened with HFCS may contribute to the development of diabetes because it contains high levels of reactive compounds that have been shown by others to trigger cell and tissue damage that cause diabetes.

Chemical tests among 11 different carbonated soft drinks containing HFCS were found to have ‘astonishingly high’ levels of reactive carbonyls. Reactive carbonyls are undesirable and highly-reactive compounds associated with “unbound” fructose and glucose molecules, and are believed to cause tissue damage.

By contrast, reactive carbonyls are not present in table sugar because its fructose and glucose components are “bound” and chemically stable.

Reactive carbonyls are elevated in the blood of individuals with diabetes and are linked to the health complications of diabetes. Based on the study data, the researchers estimate that a single can of soda contains about five times the concentration of reactive carbonyls than the concentration found in the blood of an adult person with diabetes.

Fructose Depletes Your Body of Enzymes, Vitamins or Minerals

Fructose also does not contain any enzymes, vitamins or minerals so it takes these micronutrients from your body while it assimilates itself for use.

Unbound fructose, found in large quantities in HFCS, can interfere with your heart's use of minerals such as magnesium, copper and chromium.

This does not mean you should avoid whole fruit, however, as it contains natural fructose together with the enzymes, vitamins and minerals needed for your body to assimilate the fructose. Eating small amounts of whole fruit also does not provide a tremendous amount of fructose, and is not likely to be a problem for most people unless diabetes or obesity is an issue.

Did You Know? -- Most HFCS is Made From Genetically Modified Corn

Adding insult to injury, HFCS is almost always made from genetically modified corn, which is fraught with its own well documented side effects and health concerns.

GMO corn will radically increase your risk of developing corn food allergies. The problem with corn allergies are that once you have a corn allergy from GMO corn you will have an allergy to even healthy organic corn products.

The Bottom Line

Sodas, of course, are not the only source of HFCS (though they represent one of the main ones). This dangerous sweetener is also in many processed foods and fruit juices, so to avoid it you need to focus your diet on whole foods and, if you do purchase packaged foods, become an avid label reader.

But if you want to drastically improve your health, the answer is plain and simple. To lose weight and reduce your risk of developing metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and heart disease, STOP drinking soda and processed fruit juices that are sweetened with about eight teaspoons of fructose per serving!

Switch to pure water as your beverage of choice and you will be well on your way to better health.

However, like most areas in life, when presented with two poisons, choose carefully.

Even though HFCS is clearly something you want to avoid, it is not as bad as artificial sweeteners, which damage your health even more rapidly than HFCS. (I spent several years researching artificial sweeteners for my book Sweet Deception, which goes into these issues in great detail).

So ideally, you’ll want to avoid ALL sodas, but if you have to choose between soda sweetened with HFCS (regular soda) or artificial sweeteners (diet soda), choose HFCS.

The best and safest sweetener (although illegal to use according to the FDA) would be the herb stevia. For a great recipe for homemade Italian Cream Soda using stevia, see this video and article by Luci Lock.

Now, go check you ingredients list on your food! Seriously, this stuff is everywhere and really hard to avoid, especially in baked goods like breads and buns. Weird, huh?