Archive | August, 2016

Pediatrics study: TV Ratings System Downplays Sex, Violence, Smoking

30 Aug

Some one told moi a story about a woman who wanted to introduce her 12 year old son to culture. The way she set about the introduction was to buy tickets for the entire Ring by Wagner. Perhaps, her son thoroughly enjoyed the Ring. More likely, he probably developed a hatred for opera. About the time that school starts around the beginning of September, many arts organizations begin their season. It is good to introduce your child to all types of artistic endeavors, but one should chose wisely by looking for cues as to what the child’s interests are and having an awareness of content. Barbara J. Wilson, Ph.D. wrote the thoughtful article, What’s Wrong with the Ratings? http://www.medialit.org/reading-room/whats-wrong-ratings

Education News reported in Report: TV Ratings System Downplays Sex, Violence, Smoking:

A new study recently published in the journal Pediatrics suggests that the TV rating system currently in place in the United States is inaccurate and does not always reflect the true amount of violence, smoking, and drinking occurring in television shows.

The study found TV Parental Guidelines ratings to be ineffective in three out of the four behaviors studied.  In addition, at least one risk factor was noted in every show, including shows for children as young as seven.

In all, researchers looked at 17 TV shows for instances of violence, sexual behavior, alcohol use, and smoking.  Findings suggest shows that held a rating of TV-Y7, intended for children age seven or older, had similar levels of violence as shows rated TV-MA, meant for mature audiences only.

“From prior research, we know that youth between 8 and 18 years consume, on average, 7.5 hours a day of media content,” said Joy Gabrielli, lead author of the study and a clinical child psychologist at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth.

Gabrielli added that young children and teens watch shows on televisions as well as on additional forms of digital media, such as telephones and tablets.

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 mandated the creation of a TV rating system and a hardware, or V-chip, that would allow parents to block any questionable content.  As a result, the TV Parental Guidelines were created in addition to a monitoring board to ensure accuracy, uniformity, and consistency of the guidelines, reports Susan Scutti for CNN.

Violence was found in 70% of all episodes looked at for at least 2.3 seconds per episode minute.  Meanwhile alcohol was seen in 58% of episodes for 2.3 seconds per minute, sexual behavior in 53% of shows for 0.26 seconds per minute, and smoking in 31% of shows for 0.54 seconds per minute.

Shows rated TV-Y7 were found to show significantly less substance abuse.  However, other rating categories did not discriminate substance use as well, which was seen as much in shows rated TV-14 as they were in shows rated TV-MA.

TV ratings were found to be the most effective for sexual behavior and gory violence.

http://www.educationnews.org/technology/report-tv-ratings-system-downplays-sex-violence-smoking/

See, TV rating system not accurate, little help to parents, study says     http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/22/health/tv-ratings-not-accurate-parents/

Citation:

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Pediatrics

August 2016

Industry Television Ratings for Violence, Sex, and Substance Use

Joy Gabrielli, Aminata Traore, Mike Stoolmiller, Elaina Bergamini, James D. Sargent

Download PDF

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To examine whether the industry-run television (TV) Parental Guidelines discriminate on violence, sexual behavior, alcohol use, and smoking in TV shows, to assess their usefulness for parents.

METHODS: Seventeen TV shows (323 episodes and 9214 episode minutes) across several TV show rating categories (TVY7, TVPG, TV14, and TVMA) were evaluated. We content-coded the episodes, recording seconds of each risk behavior, and we rated the salience of violence in each one. Multilevel models were used to test for associations between TV rating categories and prevalence of risk behaviors across and within episodes or salience of violence.

RESULTS: Every show had at least 1 risk behavior. Violence was pervasive, occurring in 70% of episodes overall and for 2.3 seconds per episode minute. Alcohol was also common (58% of shows, 2.3 seconds per minute), followed by sex (53% of episodes, 0.26 seconds per minute), and smoking (31% of shows, 0.54 seconds per minute). TV Parental Guidelines did not discriminate prevalence estimates of TV episode violence. Although TV-Y7 shows had significantly less substance use, other categories were poor at discriminating substance use, which was as common in TV-14 as TV-MA shows. Sex and gory violence were the only behaviors demonstrating a graded increase in prevalence and salience for older-child rating categories.

CONCLUSIONS: TV Parental Guidelines ratings were ineffective in discriminating shows for 3 out of 4 behaviors studied. Even in shows rated for children as young as 7 years, violence was prevalent, prominent, and salient. TV ratings were most effective for identification of sexual behavior and gory violence.

What’s Known on This Subject:

A voluntary, industry-run TV Parental Guidelines rating system has existed for 20 years to help parents decide which shows are appropriate for children; yet the usefulness of TV ratings in discriminating shows on risk-behavior depiction remains unclear.

What This Study Adds:

Violence was prevalent across all shows, regardless of rating, so parents could not rely on TV Parental Guidelines to screen for this behavior. Only TV-7 consistently predicted lower levels of sex, alcohol, or tobacco, compared with TV-PG, TV-14, and TV-MA.

Almost 20 years have passed since Congress approved the Telecommunications Act of 1996. In Section 551 (“Parental Choice in Television Programming”), Congress noted: (1) “television influences children’s perceptions of values and behavior common and acceptable in society,” (2) “television shows expose children to many depictions of violence,” (3) “children so exposed are prone to see violence as acceptable and have greater tendency for aggressive behavior,” (4) “casual treatment of sexual material on television erodes parental ability to develop responsible attitudes and behavior in their children,” (5) “parents express grave concern over violent and sexual programming,” and (6) “there is compelling governmental interest in empowering parents to limit these negative influences.”1 Congress instructed the telecommunications industry to develop a television (TV) ratings system and TV manufacturers to integrate hardware (the V-chip) to allow parents to block objectionable content

The TV industry responded that year with the TV Parental Guidelines, structured around a similar self-regulatory system previously developed for motion pictures. Shows are rated by the companies that produce them and classified into rating categories based on content and appropriateness for different age groups. The industry established a TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board to “ensure accuracy, uniformity, and consistency of the guidelines.”2 The rating categories were integrated into programming to allow parents to see the rating for each show and to block by rating (or channel) using V-chip technology.

In the ensuing 20 years, research confirms the prescience of Congress’ expressed concerns. Studies have identified relations between viewing media violence and aggression in children.3,4 Prospective studies have strengthened the notion that viewing sexual content on TV affects risky sexual behavior among adolescents and increases the risk of teen pregnancy.5,6 Moreover, studies have documented a robust relation between seeing depictions of smoking and drinking in movies and youth substance use.710 Subsequently, concerns about media effects on youth behavior appear even more justified by the science, and research suggests that parental guidelines should include behaviors beyond sex and violence, such as alcohol and tobacco use.11

As stated in their own documentation, the TV industry recognized that the usefulness of the TV Parental Guidelines for informing parents would be based in part on their “accuracy, uniformity and consistency.”2 In a literature search on “TV Parental Guidelines” we were able to identify studies that either examined, through content coding, the presence of various risk behaviors1214 or how parents perceive and use the ratings system,1517 but were surprised to find limited tests of its accuracy, uniformity, or consistency across risk behaviors. The present research is a first attempt to quantify violence, sex, and alcohol and tobacco use in a sample of TV programs according to the TV Parental Guideline rating category.

Methods

We selected TV shows across 4 rating categories (ie, TV-Y7, TV-PG, TV-14, and TV-MA) as defined by the TV Parental Guidelines.2 TV-Y7 is defined as being “directed to older children” (age 7 years and above). TV-PG is defined as “parental guidance suggested” and may “contain material that parents may find unsuitable for younger children.” TV-14 is denoted as “parents strongly cautioned,” as it is a program that “contains material that many parents would find unsuitable for children under 14 years of age.” TV-MA is listed as “mature audience only,” because it is a program “specifically designed to be viewed by adults and therefore may be unsuitable for children under 17.” Seven shows were purposively chosen because they were popular with youth (identified through the Nielsen list of shows most popular with youth aged 12–17 years), and 10 other shows were purposively chosen given the high likelihood of the presence of risk behaviors with the intent to maximize statistical power to find TV rating effects, if they existed. The 17 shows (154 hours across 323 episodes) with descriptions of air times, ratings, and episodes are provided in Table 1.

TABLE 1

Listing of TV Program Sample

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2016/08/18/peds.2016-0487

Here is the Pediatrics statement on media:

Media and Children

Media is everywhere. TV, Internet, computer and video games all vie for our children’s attention. Information on this page can help parents understand the impact media has in our children’s lives, while offering tips on managing time spent with various media. The AAP has recommendations for parents and pediatricians.

Today’s children are spending an average of seven hours a day on entertainment media, including televisions, computers, phones and other electronic devices. To help kids make wise media choices, parents should monitor their media diet. Parents can make use of established ratings systems for shows, movies and games to avoid inappropriate content, such as violence, explicit sexual content or glorified tobacco and alcohol use.

Studies have shown that excessive media use can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity. In addition, the Internet and cell phones can provide platforms for illicit and risky behaviors.

By limiting screen time and offering educational media and non-electronic formats such as books, newspapers and board games, and watching television with their children, parents can help guide their children’s media experience. Putting questionable content into context and teaching kids about advertising contributes to their media literacy.

The AAP recommends that parents establish “screen-free” zones at home by making sure there are no televisions, computers or video games in children’s bedrooms, and by turning off the TV during dinner. Children and teens should engage with entertainment media for no more than one or two hours per day, and that should be high-quality content. It is important for kids to spend time on outdoor play, reading, hobbies, and using their imaginations in free play.

Television and other entertainment media should be avoided for infants and children under age 2. A child’s brain develops rapidly during these first years, and young children learn best by interacting with people, not screens.

Additional Resources

https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/Pages/Media-and-Children.aspx?rf=32524&nfstatus=401&nftoken=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000&nfstatusdescription=ERROR%3a+No+local+token

Here is the press release from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

TV Ratings on Sex, Violence and Substance Abuse Offer Little Help to Parents

8/22/2016

Research shows there is a relationship between young people seeing sexual content on television and the risk of teen pregnancy, seeing violence and teen aggression, and seeing depictions of smoking and drinking and youth substance use, which is why the US Congress asked the entertainment industry to develop a TV Parental Guidelines rating system over 20 years ago. However, a study conducted by researchers at the C. Everett Koop Institute at Dartmouth and published in the September 2016 Pediatrics (published online Aug. 22), “Industry Television Ratings for Violence, Sex and Substance Use,” shows these industry ratings were ineffective in warning parents about content that might not be appropriate for children to view. Researchers compared 323 episodes of 17 television shows for sex, violence, smoking and drinking, and found that only sex and gore were demonstrably more prevalent in mature rated shows. All other risk behaviors were pervasive across most rating categories, especially interpersonal violence (occurring in 70 percent of episodes) and alcohol use (in 58 percent of shows), but also smoking (31 percent). Study authors concluded that in this sample of shows, the ratings system did little to help parents discriminate and limit exposure to these behaviors. More research is needed across more television shows to monitor and improve the TV Parental Guidelines.
###
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 66,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.

https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/TV-Ratings-on-Sex-Violence-and-Substance-Abuse-Offer-Little-Help-to-Parents.aspx?nfstatus=401&nftoken=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000&nfstatusdescription=ERROR:+No+local+token

What Questions Should a Parent Ask a Venue About Content?

Does a particular venue have a ratings system for content?

What is the model for the ratings system? Is it like film ratings or ESRB?

How descriptive is the rating system, does it give examples of the type of language or situation which might be problematic?

Where is the rating for each production listed? Is it in the descriptive brochure? Is this information on the web site? Are box office personnel familiar with the ratings?

If a family has concerns about a particular production, how should concerns be addressed to the venue if the family finds the production does not match the rating description?

Families have different viewpoints about what is appropriate content for their child or children. Some families seek out a variety of experiences for their children while others are more restrained in what they feel is appropriate. All families need to ask questions about content to find what is appropriate for their child and their value system.

Where Information Leads to Hope ©     Dr. Wilda.com

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Princeton University study: A tale of a racist robot and AI from the web

26 Aug

Jenna Goudreau of Business Insider wrote in 13 surprising ways your name affects your success:

If your name is easy to pronounce, people will favor you more….

In a New York University study, researchers found that people with easier-to-pronounce names often have higher-status positions at work. One of the psychologists, Adam Alter, explains to Wired, “When we can process a piece of information more easily, when it’s easier to comprehend, we come to like it more.” In a further study, Alter also found that companies with simpler names and ticker symbols tended to perform better in the stock market.

If your name is common, you are more likely to be hired….

In a Marquette University study, the researchers found evidence to suggest that names that were viewed as the least unique were more likable. People with common names were more likely to be hired, and those with rare names were least likely to be hired. That means that the Jameses, Marys, Johns, and Patricias of the world are in luck.

Uncommon names are associated with juvenile delinquency….

A 2009 study at Shippensburg University suggested that there’s a strong relationship between the popularity of one’s first name and juvenile criminal behavior. Researchers found that, regardless of race, young people with unpopular names were more likely to engage in criminal activity. The findings obviously don’t show that the unusual names caused the behavior, but merely show a link between the two things. And the researchers have some theories about their findings. “Adolescents with unpopular names may be more prone to crime because they are treated differently by their peers, making it more difficult for them to form relationships,” they write in a statement from the journal’s publisher. “Juveniles with unpopular names may also act out because they … dislike their names.”

If you have a white-sounding name, you’re more likely to get hired….

In one study cited by The Atlantic, white-sounding names like Emily Walsh and Greg Baker got nearly 50% more callbacks than candidates with black-sounding names like Lakisha Washington and Jamal Jones. Researchers determined that having a white-sounding name is worth as much as eight years of work experience.

If your last name is closer to the beginning of the alphabet, you could get into a better school….

For a study published in the Economics of Education Review, researchers studied the relationship between the position in the alphabet of more than 90,000 Czech students’ last names and their admission chances at competitive schools. They found that even though students with last names that were low in the alphabet tended to get higher test scores overall, among the students who applied to universities and were on the margins of getting admitted or not, those with last names that were close to the top of the alphabet were more likely to be admitted.

If your last name is closer to the end of the alphabet, you’re more likely to be an impulse spender…

According to one study, people with last names such as Yardley or Zabar may be more susceptible to promotional strategies like limited-time offers. The authors speculate that spending your childhood at the end of the roll call may make you want to jump on offers before you miss the chance.

Using your middle initial makes people think you’re smarter and more competent….

According to research published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, using a middle initial increases people’s perceptions of your intellectual capacity and performance. In one study, students were asked to rate an essay with one of four styles of author names. Not only did the authors with a middle initial receive top marks, but the one with the most initials, David F.P.R. Clark, received the best reviews.

You are more likely to work in a company that matches your initials….

Since we identify with our names, we prefer things that are similar to them. In a Ghent University study, researchers found that people are more likely to work for companies matching their own initials. For example, Brian Ingborg might work for Business Insider. The rarer the initials, the more likely people were to work for companies with names similar to their own.

If your name sounds noble, you are more likely to work in a high-ranking position….

In a European study, researchers studied German names and ranks within companies. Those with last names such as Kaiser (“emperor”) or König (“king”) were in more managerial positions than those with last names that referred to common occupations, such as Koch (“cook”) or Bauer (“farmer”). This could be the result of associative reasoning, a psychological theory describing a type of thinking in which people automatically link emotions and previous knowledge with similar words or phrases.

If you are a boy with a girl’s name, you could be more likely to be suspended from school….

For his 2005 study, University of Florida economics professor David Figlio studied a large Florida school district from 1996 to 2000 and found that boys with names most commonly given to girls misbehaved more in middle school and were more likely to disrupt their peers. He also found that their behavioral problems were linked with increased disciplinary problems and lower test scores.

If you are a woman with a gender-neutral name, you may be more likely to succeed in certain fields….

According to The Atlantic, in male-dominated fields such as engineering and law, women with gender-neutral names may be more successful. One study found that women with “masculine names” like Leslie, Jan, or Cameron tended to be more successful in legal careers.

Men with shorter first names are overrepresented in the c-suite.

In 2011, LinkedIn analyzed more than 100 million user profiles to find out which names are most associated with the CEO position. The most common names for men were short, often one-syllable names like Bob, Jack, and Bruce. A name specialist speculates that men in power may use nicknames to offer a sense of friendliness and openness.

Women at the top are more likely to use their full names….

In the same study, LinkedIn researchers found that the most common names of female CEOs include Deborah, Cynthia, and Carolyn. Unlike the men, women may use their full names in an attempt to project professionalism and gravitas, according to the report. …

http://www.businessinsider.com/how-your-name-affects-your-success-2015-8

A Michigan State University study finds that the names of Black males affect their life expectancy.  https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160326105659.htm

Mojtaba Arvin wrote in the Machine Learning article, The robot that became racist: AI that learnt from the web finds white-sounding names ‘pleasant’ and …

Humans look to the power of machine learning to make better and more effective decisions.

However, it seems that some algorithms are learning more than just how to recognize patterns – they are being taught how to be as biased as the humans they learn from.

Researchers found that a widely used AI characterizes black-sounding names as ‘unpleasant’, which they believe is a result of our own human prejudice hidden in the data it learns from on the World Wide Web.

Researchers found that a widely used AI characterizes black-sounding names as ‘unpleasant’, which they believe is a result of our own human prejudice hidden in the data it learns from on the World Wide Web

Machine learning has been adopted to make a range of decisions, from approving loans to determining what kind of health insurance, reports Jordan Pearson with Motherboard.

A recent example was reported by Pro Publica in May, when an algorithm used by officials in Florida automatically rated a more seasoned white criminal as being a lower risk of committing a future crime, than a black offender with only misdemeanors on her record.

Now, researchers at Princeton University have reproduced a stockpile of documented human prejudices in an algorithm using text pulled from the internet.

HOW A ROBOT BECAME RACIST

Princeton University conducted a word associate task with the popular algorithm GloVe, an unsupervised AI that uses online text to understand human language.

The team gave the AI words like ‘flowers’ and ‘insects’ to pair with other words  that the researchers defined as being ‘pleasant’ or ‘unpleasant’ like ‘family’ or ‘crash’ – which it did successfully.

Then algorithm was given a list of white-sounding names, like Emily and Matt, and black-sounding ones, such as Ebony and Jamal’, which it was prompted to do the same word association.

The AI linked the white-sounding names with ‘pleasant’ and black-sounding names as ‘unpleasant’.

Princeton’s results do not just prove datasets are polluted with prejudices and assumptions, but the algorithms currently being used for researchers are reproducing human’s worst values – racism and assumption…                                                                                                                 https://www.artificialintelligenceonline.com/19050/the-robot-that-became-racist-ai-that-learnt-from-the-web-finds-white-sounding-names-pleasant-and/

See, The robot that became racist: AI that learnt from the web finds white-sounding names ‘pleasant’ and black-sounding names ‘unpleasant’     http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3760795/The-robot-racist-AI-learnt-web-finds-white-sounding-names-pleasant-black-sounding-names-unpleasant.html

Here is a portion of the draft:

Semantics derived automatically from language

corpora necessarily contain human biases

Aylin Caliskan-Islam1 , Joanna J. Bryson 1,2 , and Arvind Narayanan1

1Princeton University

2 University of Bath

Address correspondence to aylinc@princeton.edu, bryson@conjugateprior.org, arvindn@cs.princeton.edu.

+

Draft date August 25, 2016.

ABSTRACT

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are in a period of astounding growth. However, there are concerns that these technologies may be used, either with or without intention, to perpetuate the prejudice and unfairness that unfortunately characterizes many human institutions. Here we show for the first time that human-like semantic biases result from the application of standard machine learning to ordinary language—the same sort of language humans are exposed to every day. We replicate a spectrum of standard human biases as exposed by the Implicit Association Test and other well-known

psychological studies. We replicate these using a widely used, purely statistical machine-learning model—namely, the GloVe word embedding—trained on a corpus of text from the Web. Our results indicate that language itself contains recoverable and accurate imprints of our historic biases, whether these are morally neutral as towards insects or flowers, problematic as towards race or gender, or even simply veridical, reflecting the status quo for the distribution of gender with respect to careers or first

names. These regularities are captured by machine learning along with the rest of semantics. In addition to our empirical findings concerning language, we also contribute new methods for evaluating bias in text, the Word Embedding Association Test (WEAT) and the Word Embedding Factual Association Test (WEFAT). Our results have implications not only for AI and machine learning, but also for the fields of psychology, sociology, and human ethics, since they raise the possibility that mere exposure to everyday language can account for the biases we replicate here…..

http://randomwalker.info/publications/language-bias.pdf

See, Top 20 ‘Whitest’ and ‘Blackest’ Names      http://abcnews.go.com/2020/top-20-whitest-blackest-names/story?id=2470131

Moi wrote in Black people MUST develop a culture of success: Michigan State revokes a football scholarship because of raunchy rap video.

The question must be asked, who is responsible for MY or YOUR life choices? Let’s get real, certain Asian cultures kick the collective butts of the rest of Americans. Why? It’s not rocket science. These cultures embrace success traits of hard work, respect for education, strong families, and a reverence for success and successful people. Contrast the culture of success with the norms of hip-hop and rap oppositional culture. See, Hip-hop’s Dangerous Values
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1107107/posts and Hip-Hop and rap represent destructive life choices: How low can this genre sink? https://drwilda.com/2013/05/01/hip-hop-and-rap-represent-destructive-life-choices-how-low-can-this-genre-sink/

Resources:

Culture of Success
http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/culture-success

How Do Asian Students Get to the Top of the Class?
http://www.greatschools.org/parenting/teaching-values/481-parenting-students-to-the-top.gs

Related:

Is there a model minority?
https://drwilda.com/2012/06/23/is-there-a-model-minority/

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Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

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University of Chicago study: Infants develop early understanding of social nature of food

23 Aug

Patti Neighmond reported in the NPR story, It Takes More Than A Produce Aisle To Refresh A Food Desert:

“The next part of the intervention is to create demand,” he says, “so the community wants to come to the store and buy healthy fruits and vegetables and go home and prepare those foods in a healthy way, without lots of fat, salt or sugar.”
Ortega directs a UCLA project that converts corner stores into hubs of healthy fare in low-income neighborhoods of East Los Angeles. He and colleagues work with community leaders and local high school students to help create that demand for nutritious food. Posters and signs promoting fresh fruits and vegetables hang in corner stores, such as the Euclid Market in Boyle Heights, and at bus stops. There are nutrition education classes in local schools, and cooking classes in the stores themselves….
The jury’s still out on whether these conversions of corner stores are actually changing people’s diets and health. The evidence is still being collected.
http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/02/10/273046077/takes-more-than-a-produce-aisle-to-refresh-a-food-desert

In other words, much of the obesity problem is due to personal life style choices and the question is whether government can or should regulate those choices. The issue is helping folk to want to make healthier food choices even on a food stamp budget. See, Cheap Eats: Cookbook Shows How To Eat Well On A Food Stamp Budget http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/08/01/337141837/cheap-eats-cookbook-shows-how-to-eat-well-on-a-food-stamp-budget    A University of Buffalo study reports that what a baby eats depends on the social class of the mother.

Roberto A. Ferdman of the Washington Post wrote in the article, The stark difference between what poor babies and rich babies eat:

The difference between what the rich and poor eat in America begins long before a baby can walk, or even crawl.
A team of researchers at the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences found considerable differences in the solid foods babies from different socioeconomic classes were being fed. Specifically, diets high in sugar and fat were found to be associated with less educated mothers and poorer households, while diets that more closely followed infant feeding guidelines were linked to higher education and bigger bank accounts.
“We found that differences in dietary habits start very early,” said Xiaozhong Wen, the study’s lead author.
The researchers used data from the Infant Feeding Practices study, an in depth look at baby eating habits, which tracked the diets of more than 1,500 infants up until age one, and documented which of 18 different food types—including breast milk, formula, cow’s milk, other milk (like soy milk), other dairy foods (like yogurt), other soy foods (like tofu), 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice, and sweet drinks, among others – their mothers fed them. Wen’s team at the University at Buffalo focused on what the infants ate over the course of a week at both 6- and 12-months old.
In many cases, infants were fed foods that would surprise even the least stringent of mothers. Candy, ice cream, soda, and french fries, for instance, were among the foods some of the babies were being fed. Researchers divided the 18 different food types into four distinct categories, two of which were ideal for infant consumption—”formula” and “infant guideline solids”—two of which were not—”high/sugar/fat/protein” and “high/regular cereal.” It became clear which babies tended to be fed appropriately, and which did not….
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/11/04/the-stark-difference-between-what-poor-babies-and-rich-babies-eat/

For a really good discussion of the effects of poverty on children, read the American Psychological Association (APA), Effects of Poverty, Hunger, and Homelessness on Children and Youth                                                                                                                     http://www.apa.org/pi/families/poverty.aspx

Science Daily reported in Infants develop early understanding of social nature of food:

Infants develop expectations about what people prefer to eat, providing early evidence of the social nature through which humans understand food, according to a new study conducted at the University of Chicago.

The study, published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found infants expect people to share food preferences unless they belong to different social groups. Their understanding changes when it comes to disgust toward a food, with infants expecting such reactions to transcend the boundaries of social groups.

“Even before infants appear to make smart choices about what substances to ingest, they form nuanced expectations that food preferences are fundamentally linked to social groups and social identity,” said Zoe Liberman, a University of California, Santa Barbara assistant professor who completed the research while a UChicago doctoral student.

In past studies researchers found infants could watch what other people ate in order to learn whether a food was edible. The new study looks beyond learning objective properties about foods to examine the expectations infants hold around who will agree or disagree on food preferences.

The study has important implications for policymakers working on public health, particularly obesity. The findings underscore the need to look beyond just teaching children which foods are healthy when combating obesity to focus on the social nature of decisions surrounding what to eat.

“For humans, food choice is a deeply social and cultural affair. These new findings show that infants are tuning into critical information for understanding the social world, as well as for reasoning about food,” said Amanda L. Woodward, the William S. Gray Professor of Psychology at the University of Chicago.

Additional authors of the study were Kathleen R. Sullivan, social science analyst at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and Katherine Kinzler, associate professor at Cornell University….                                                                                                                                           https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160822140701.htm

Citation:

Infants develop early understanding of social nature of food

Study finds preferences follow social groups and language; disgust seen as universal

Date:        August 22, 2016

Source:     University of Chicago

Summary:

A new study finds infants develop expectations about what people prefer to eat, providing early evidence of the social nature through which humans understand food.

Journal Reference:

  1. Zoe Liberman, Amanda L. Woodward, Kathleen R. Sullivan, Katherine D. Kinzler. Early emerging system for reasoning about the social nature of food. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2016; 201605456 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1605456113

Here is the press release from the University of Chicago:

Infants develop early understanding of social nature of food

Study finds preferences follow social groups and language; disgust seen as universal

By Mark Peters

August 22, 2016

Press Inquiries

Infants develop expectations about what people prefer to eat, providing early evidence of the social nature through which humans understand food, according to a new study conducted at the University of Chicago.

The study, published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found infants expect people to share food preferences unless they belong to different social groups. Their understanding changes when it comes to disgust toward a food, with infants expecting such reactions to transcend the boundaries of social groups.

“Even before infants appear to make smart choices about what substances to ingest, they form nuanced expectations that food preferences are fundamentally linked to social groups and social identity,” said Zoe Liberman, a University of California, Santa Barbara assistant professor who completed the research while a UChicago doctoral student.

In past studies researchers found infants could watch what other people ate in order to learn whether a food was edible. The new study looks beyond learning objective properties about foods to examine the expectations infants hold around who will agree or disagree on food preferences.

The study has important implications for policymakers working on public health, particularly obesity. The findings underscore the need to look beyond just teaching children which foods are healthy when combating obesity to focus on the social nature of decisions surrounding what to eat.

“For humans, food choice is a deeply social and cultural affair. These new findings show that infants are tuning into critical information for understanding the social world, as well as for reasoning about food,” said Amanda L. Woodward, the William S. Gray Professor of Psychology at the University of Chicago.

Additional authors of the study were Kathleen R. Sullivan, social science analyst at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and Katherine Kinzler, associate professor at Cornell University.

In conducting the study, researchers used a method based on the duration infants look to determine their expectations: Infants tend to look longer at events they find relatively more surprising.

For example, monolingual infants in the study consistently looked longer when actors who spoke the same language disagreed on their food choice. The same was true when actors who spoke different languages agreed on their food choice. The reactions suggest monolingual infants expected food preferences to be consistent within a single linguistic group, but not necessarily the same across groups.

Responses were different for infants raised in bilingual environments. Bilingual infants in the study expected food preferences to be consistent even across linguistic groups, suggesting diverse social experiences may make children more flexible in determining which people like the same foods.

When it came to disgust for a food, infants looked longer when actors disagreed over a food being disgusting, even when the actors came from different social groups. The finding suggests infants might be vigilant toward potentially dangerous foods, and expect all people to avoid foods that are disgusting, regardless of their social group.                                                                                                                    https://news.uchicago.edu/article/2016/08/22/infants-develop-early-understanding-social-nature-food

The issue of childhood obesity is complicated and there are probably many factors. If a child’s family does not model healthy eating habits, it probably will be difficult to change the food preferences of the child.

Our goal as a society should be:

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©

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Virginia Tech study: Government-Funded School Meals May Increase Obesity Risk

21 Aug

The “Weight of the Nation” conference focused on the public health aspects of obesity. Obesity is an important issue for schools because many children are obese and aside from health risks, these children are often targets for bullying. In Childhood obesity: Recess is being cut in low-income schools moi said:

The goal of this society should be to raise healthy and happy children who will grow into concerned and involved adults who care about their fellow citizens and environment. In order to accomplish this goal, all children must receive a good basic education and in order to achieve that goal, children must arrive at school, ready to learn. There is an epidemic of childhood obesity and obesity is often prevalent among poor children. The American Heart Association has some great information about Physical Activity and Children                                                            http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/Physical-Activity-and-Children_UCM_304053_Article.jsp#.TummU1bfW-c

Education News reported in Government-Funded School Meals May Increase Obesity Risk:

A Virginia Tech researcher has found that government-funded meals in schools are causing financially struggling youth to be at greater risk of becoming overweight.

The free-lunch programs may actually be one of the causes of the nationwide obesity epidemic. Wen You, an associate professor of agricultural and applied economics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said:

“While well-intentioned, these government funded school meal programs that are aimed at making kids healthy are in fact making participating students more at risk of being overweight. This study identifies the hardest battles in crafting policy to alleviate children in low-income populations being overweight.”

The study was published in the journal Health Economics.

Professor You discovered that kids who were more apt to be overweight were from families that qualified for and engaged in the school breakfast and lunch programs, with no breaks from the program throughout their elementary and intermediate academic years. These are the kids who eat one-third or one-half of their daily diets at their schools.

“We found that the longer children were in the programs, the higher their risk of being overweight. We also saw the most negative effect of the government-funded school meal programs in the South, the Northeast, and rural areas of the country. The question now is what to do in order to not just fill bellies, but make sure those children consume healthy and nutritious food — or at least not contribute to the obesity epidemic.”

Additionally, the study found that kids in the South experienced the most notable impact on their weight in the fifth grade, and in the Northeast, the largest impact came in the eighth grade….       http://www.educationnews.org/k-12-schools/government-funded-school-meals-may-increase-obesity-risk/

See, Students in government-funded school meal programs at higher risk of being overweight        https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160811085627.htm

Citation:

Students in government-funded school meal programs at higher risk of being overweight

Date:             August 11, 2016

Source:         Virginia Tech

Summary:

Government-funded school meals are putting financially vulnerable children at risk of being overweight, a researcher has found. As many of the millions of kids who eat government-funded breakfasts or lunches head back to school this fall, most of them will participate in meal programs that may be part of the cause of the nation-wide obesity epidemic. Students from low-income families and those who live in the Northeast, South, and rural America are most susceptible to the problem, suggests a new report.

Journal Reference:

  1. Kristen Capogrossi, Wen You. The Influence of School Nutrition Programs on the Weight of Low-Income Children: A Treatment Effect Analysis. Health Economics, 2016; DOI: 10.1002/hec.3378

Here is the press release from Virginia Tech:

Students participating in government-funded school meal programs at higher risk of being overweight, Virginia Tech researcher finds

August 11, 2016

Agricultural and applied economics Associate Professor Wen You discovered that vulnerable populations being fed government-funded school meals were at a higher risk of being overweight.

Government-funded school meals are putting financially vulnerable children at risk of being overweight, a Virginia Tech researcher has found.

As millions of kids who eat government-funded breakfasts or lunches head back to school this fall, most of them will participate in meal programs that may be part of the cause of the nationwide obesity epidemic.

Students from low-income families and those who live in the Northeast, South, and rural America are most susceptible to the problem.

“While well-intentioned, these government funded school meal programs that are aimed at making kids healthy are in fact making participating students more at risk of being overweight,” said Wen You, associate professor of agricultural and applied economics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “This study identifies the hardest battles in crafting policy to alleviate children in low-income populations being overweight.”

You’s findings were recently published in the journal Health Economics.

You found that those children who were most likely to be overweight came from families who participate in both the school breakfast and lunch programs consistently throughout their elementary and intermediate school years. These children consume one-third to one-half of their daily meals at school. The study examined data collected from 1998 to 2007.

“We found that the longer children were in the programs, the higher their risk of being overweight. We also saw the most negative effect of the government-funded school meal programs in the South, the Northeast, and rural areas of the country,” You said. “The question now is what to do in order to not just fill bellies, but make sure those children consume healthy and nutritious food — or at least not contribute to the obesity epidemic.”

The study also found in the South the most significant impact on child weight was in the fifth grade, and in the Northeast, in the eighth grade.

The study comes on the heels of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which raises the school meals’ nutrition quality standards and the Community Eligibility Provision  that allows schools in high-poverty areas to provide free meals to all students. The new legislation took effect in 2014-2015 school year.

“It’s potentially troubling since even the nutritional targets of previous standards were not being met satisfactorily prior to this new legislation, and now there are potentially millions more kids who could be affected by accessing free school meals,” said You, who did not have data to assess the impact of the newly adopted pieces of legislation in her study.

You and her colleague Kristen Capogrossi, a former doctoral student at Virginia Tech and now an economist at RTI International, examined both long-term and short-term school meal programs participation effects and the specific short-term participation effect of those students whose families may have experienced intermittent poverty and switched participation status along the way.

They found that long-term participation posed the largest risk of being overweight. The study utilized a nationally representative longitudinal data of 21, 260 students who were followed from kindergarten to eighth grade and controlled for the self-selection and income effects to examine school meal programs’ influence on the change in students’ body mass index.

The study utilized statistical methods to match students who were eligible and chose not to participate in the school meal programs with students who chose to participate to ensure comparability. The team also examined a subgroup of students who changed their program participation status along the way and confirmed the short-term risk of being overweight imposed by the school lunch program.

The study reveals the need for improving the school meal programs’ effectiveness at promoting better nutrition among school-age children. Although the research is limited at looking at the school meal programs as a whole, it uncovers the need to go beyond merely raising nutrition standards to comprehensively designing how the programs can enable schools to provide not just healthy food that meets standards, but also healthy food that will be acceptable and appetizing to children.

“Policymakers need to consider all the aspects of school meal programs – from availability and affordability to nutritional content and tastiness. It is important to have extra policy support that will allow funding for programs, such as chef-to-school and farm-to-school, as well as culinary training for cafeteria staff so kids actually enjoy eating what is ultimately prepared for them,” said You. “This study also helps to identify the regions that are most in need and calls for targeted policy design,” she said.

The study was funded in part by the Research Innovation and Development Grants in Economics Center for Targeted Studies and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Written by Amy Loeffler

Editor’s note: This story was updated on Aug. 12 to include the years that the data was collected.

Contact:

540-231-5417                                                                                                                                            https://vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2016/08/080916-wenyou.html

Physically fit children are not only healthier, but are better able to perform in school.

Related:

Louisiana study: Fit children score higher on standardized tests
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/louisiana-study-fit-children-score-higher-on-standardized-tests/

School dinner programs: Trying to reduce the number of hungry children
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/28/school-dinner-programs-trying-to-reduce-the-number-of-hungry-children/

Children, body image, bullying, and eating disorders
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/09/children-body-image-bullying-and-eating-disorders/

The Healthy Schools Coalition fights for school-based efforts to combat obesity
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/05/12/the-healthy-schools-coalition-fights-for-school-based-efforts-to-combat-obesity/

Seattle Research Institute study about outside play
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/tag/childrens-physical-activity/

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Dr. Wilda Reviews ©
http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

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Journal of Pediatrics: Study of brain activity shows that food commercials influence children’s food choices

14 Aug

Moi wrote in Should there be advertising in schools?

Joanna Lin of California Watch has written an interesting article which was posted at Huffington Post. In the article, Corporate Sponsorship In Schools Can Harm Students, Experts Say, Lin describes how cash strapped districts are using ad dollars to make up budget shortfalls.

For schools facing shrinking budgets, a branded scoreboard on the football field or advertisement on a school bus can bring some much-needed cash. But such corporate sponsorships also could undermine students’ critical thinking skills, education policy experts warn.

While commercialism in schools can directly harm students — marketing sodas and candy undermines nutrition curriculums, for instance — it also might discourage students from thinking critically about the brands, messages or topics sponsored in their schools, according to a report released by the National Education Policy Center.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/09/corporate-sponsorship-in-_n_1084072.html?ref=email_share

The issue is whether children in a “captive” environment have the maturity and critical thinking skills to evaluate the information contained in the ads. Advertising is about creating a desire for the product, pushing a lifestyle which might make an individual more prone to purchase products to create that lifestyle, and promoting an image which might make an individual more prone to purchase products in pursuit of that image. Many girls and women have unrealistic body image expectations which can lead to eating disorders in the pursuit of a “super model” image. What the glossy magazines don’t tell young women is the dysfunctional lives of many “super models” which may involve both eating disorders and substance abuse. The magazines don’t point out that many “glamor girls” are air-brushed or photo-shopped and that they spend hours on professional make-up and professional hair-styling in addition to having a personal trainer and stylist. In other words, when presented with any advertising, people must make a determination what to believe.                                                                                      https://drwilda.com/tag/advertising-and-children/

Science Daily reported in Study of brain activity shows that food commercials influence children’s food choices:

Food advertising is a multi-billion dollar industry, with approximately $1.8 billion annually aimed at children and adolescents, who view between 1,000 and 2,000 ads per year. Some studies have shown that there is a relationship between receptivity to food commercials and the amount and type of food consumed. In a new study scheduled for publication in The Journal of Pediatrics, researchers studied the brain activity of children after watching food commercials and found that the commercials influence children’s food choices and brain activity.

Twenty-three children, 8-14 years old, rated 60 food items on how healthy or tasty they were. Dr. Amanda Bruce and researchers from the University of Kansas Medical Center and University of Missouri-Kansas City then studied the children’s brain activity while watching food and non-food commercials and undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). According to Dr. Bruce, “For brain analyses, our primary focus was on the brain region most active during reward valuation, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex.” During the brain scan, children were asked whether they wanted to eat the food items that were shown immediately after the commercials.

The researchers found that, overall, the children’s decisions were driven by tastiness rather than healthfulness. However, taste was even more important to the children after watching food commercials compared with non-food commercials; faster decision times (i.e., how quickly the children decided whether they wanted to eat the food item shown) also were observed after watching food commercials. Additionally, the ventromedial prefrontal cortices of the children were significantly more active after watching food commercials….                                                     https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160812073647.htm

Citation:

Study of brain activity shows that food commercials influence children’s food choices

Date:        August 12, 2016

Source:    Elsevier Health Sciences

Summary:

Food advertising is a multi-billion dollar industry, with approximately $1.8 billion annually aimed at children and adolescents, who view 1,000-2,000 ads per year. Some studies have shown there is a relationship between receptivity to food commercials and amount and type of food consumed. In a new study, researchers studied the brain activity of children after watching food commercials and found that the commercials influence children’s food choices and brain activity.

Journal Reference:

  1. Amanda S. Bruce, Stephen W. Pruitt, Oh-Ryeong Ha, J. Bradley C. Cherry, Timothy R. Smith, Jared M. Bruce, Seung-Lark Lim. The Influence of Televised Food Commercials on Children’s Food Choices: Evidence from Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex Activations. The Journal of Pediatrics, 2016; DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2016.06.067

Here is the press release from Elsevier:

Research And Journals

Study of Brain Activity Shows that Food Commercials Influence Children’s Food Choices

Cincinnati, OH, August 12, 2016

Food advertising is a multi-billion dollar industry, with approximately $1.8 billion annually aimed at children and adolescents, who view between 1,000 and 2,000 ads per year. Some studies have shown that there is a relationship between receptivity to food commercials and the amount and type of food consumed.  In a new study scheduled for publication in The Journal of Pediatrics, researchers studied the brain activity of children after watching food commercials and found that the commercials influence children’s food choices and brain activity.

Twenty-three children, 8-14 years old, rated 60 food items on how healthy or tasty they were. Dr. Amanda Bruce and researchers from the University of Kansas Medical Center and University of Missouri-Kansas City then studied the children’s brain activity while watching food and non-food commercials and undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). According to Dr. Bruce, “For brain analyses, our primary focus was on the brain region most active during reward valuation, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex.” During the brain scan, children were asked whether they wanted to eat the food items that were shown immediately after the commercials.

The researchers found that, overall, the children’s decisions were driven by tastiness rather than healthfulness.  However, taste was even more important to the children after watching food commercials compared with non-food commercials; faster decision times (i.e., how quickly the children decided whether they wanted to eat the food item shown) also were observed after watching food commercials.  Additionally, the ventromedial prefrontal cortices of the children were significantly more active after watching food commercials.

Food marketing has been cited as a significant factor in food choices, overeating, and obesity in children and adolescents.  The results of this study show that watching food commercials may change the way children value taste, increasing the potential for children to make faster, more impulsive food choices.  Notes Dr. Bruce, “Food marketing may systematically alter the psychological and neurobiological mechanisms of children’s food decisions.”

Notes for editors
The article is “The Influence of Televised Food Commercials on Children’s Food Choices: Evidence from Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex Activations,” by Amanda S. Bruce, PhD, Stephen W. Pruitt, PhD, Oh-Ryeong Ha, PhD, Bradley C. Cherry, JD, Timothy R. Smith, MD, Jared M. Bruce, PhD, and Seung-Lark Lim, PhD (doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2016.06.067). It appears in The Journal of Pediatrics (2016), published by Elsevier.

Full text of the article is available to credentialed journalists upon request; contact Becky Lindeman at +1 513 636 7140 or journal.pediatrics@cchmc.org to obtain copies.

About The Journal of Pediatrics
The Journal of Pediatrics is a primary reference for the science and practice of pediatrics and its subspecialties. This authoritative resource of original, peer-reviewed articles oriented toward clinical practice helps physicians stay abreast of the latest and ever-changing developments in pediatric medicine. The Journal of Pediatrics is ranked 6th out of 120 pediatric medical journals (2015 Journal Citation Reports®, published by Thomson Reuters). www.jpeds.com

About Elsevier
Elsevier is a world-leading provider of information solutions that enhance the performance of science, health, and technology professionals, empowering them to make better decisions, deliver better care, and sometimes make groundbreaking discoveries that advance the boundaries of knowledge and human progress. Elsevier provides web-based, digital solutions — among them ScienceDirect, Scopus, Elsevier Research Intelligence and ClinicalKey— and publishes over 2,500 journals, including The Lancet and Cell, and more than 35,000 book titles, including a number of iconic reference works. Elsevier is part of RELX Group, a world-leading provider of information and analytics for professional and business customers across industries. www.elsevier.com

Media contact
Becky Lindeman
Journal of Pediatrics
+1 513 636 7140
journal.pediatrics@cchmc.org

Advertising, if it is allowed in schools, must be handled with great care. It is not just the ads, it is the values that the individual ad and the totality of all ads represent. It is imperative that schools look at their values before approving ads. For example, are the ads promoting healthy nutrition and eating habits? Are the ads promoting an unrealistic body image for adolescents? Are the ads promoting a purely materialistic lifestyle which encourages purchases of high priced clothing, electronics, or vehicles which are not in line with the income of most children? Are the ads in line with the school or district’s mission statement?

It is easy for children to get derailed because of peer pressure in an all too permissive society.

Our goal should be:

A Healthy Child In A Healthy Family Who Attends A Healthy School In A Healthy Neighborhood. ©

Resources:

NEA Today: Cash-Strapped Schools Open Their Doors to Advertising http://neatoday.org/2011/11/03/cash-strapped-schools-open-their-doors-to-advertising/

Yale Rudd Center for Food & Obesity

http://www.yaleruddcenter.org/what_we_do.aspx?id=154

Junk Food Ads Tips

http://www.commonsensemedia.org/advice-for-parents/junk-food-ads-tips

Media and Technology Resources for Educators
http://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators

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