College Nation

Toddler TV habits harm health, study finds


Toddlers who spend more time lounging in front of the tube maintain less healthy diets, a Harvard University Medical School study announced March 1.

Each additional hour of television viewed by three-year-olds translated into 46 more calories consumed each day.

The study attributed toddlers’ weight gains to the consumption of fattier foods rather than lack of exercise. Many of the food items were high in calories, sugar and fats, including trans fats.

The researchers also linked increased TV viewing to a lower consumption of healthier foods, such as fruits and vegetables.

Sonia A. Miller, the Harvard student who led the study, said the fattier diets may have resulted from snacking while watching TV, or from the influence of commercials for unhealthy foods.

The study was based on questionnaires completed by 1,200 mothers about the television patterns of their 3-year-old children. The researchers controlled their data for certain socioeconomic factors and the body mass index of the parents.

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Miller cited the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which suggests that children over the age of 2 watch a maximum of two hours of TV daily.

Professor of Medicine Bruce Ryan Bistrian, who is also chief of clinical nutrition at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, noted the difficulty of isolating a specific cause for the obesity epidemic.

“Although (the study) would suggest very strongly that the children are eating more and eating the wrong kinds of foods, they’re also doing less,” Bistrian said. “You don’t know if these associations are causative. It could be that these children who are watching TV are already overweight.”

– Courtesy of the Harvard Crimson

California court upholds stem cell funding


The decision last week by a California appellate court to uphold Proposition 71, which grants $3 billion for stem cell research funding, could mean additional funding in the future for the University of California-Los Angeles Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Medicine, or ISCBM.

Proposition 71 was passed by 59 percent of California voters in 2004, allowing for the creation of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, or CIRM, and the sale of $3 billion in bonds for research funding.

The case was brought to the appellate court after a lower court ruled in favor of the proposition last year. Having been defeated in both the lower and appellate courts, opponents have said they will likely appeal to the California Supreme Court.

Opponents of the proposition, such as the California Family Bioethics Council and the National Tax Limitation Foundation, challenged the constitutionality of the proposition, alleging conflicts of interest among those overseeing the CIRM. They pointed out that officials from three university systems who are applying for grant money are members of the board that oversees the CIRM.

But the court found nothing in Proposition 71 to warrant its reversal.

“Proposition 71 suffers from no constitutional or other legal infirmity,” the court ruling stated.

Those in favor of Proposition 71 see stem cell research as full of possibility to offer cures for a number of medical conditions.

– Courtesy of The Daily Bruin

First-generation students expect barriers

Penn State

While most freshmen find adjustment to college life difficult, minorities – particularly Mexican-Americans – expect to face more obstacles than their Caucasian classmates, according to a recent study.

In the University of Oregon study, 436 Caucasian and Mexican-American students were asked about a list of 28 barriers they might face in college and how difficult it might be to overcome them.

The list included preparation, study skills, confidence in their own ability, relational support and motivation, said Ellen Hawley McWhirter, an associate professor who conducted the study.

Of the two groups, the 140 Mexican-Americans said they expected a more difficult time in college.

According to the Penn State Fact book, enrollment at University Park has risen 5.1 percent to 42,039 from 39,777 in 2005.

Hispanic enrollment rose 6 percent to 1,332 from 1,244 in 2005 with 88 more students, and minority enrollment rose 4 percent to 5,350 from 5,089 in 2005, according to the Fact Book.

Edwin Escalet, coordinator of multicultural recruitment, said he agrees that first-generation minority students think there are obstacles. He said their confidence can decrease because they do not have an example for college living.

However, most Latino first-generation students also face cultural pressure to help financially support their families instead of going to college, Escalet said. This occurs because families and parents still need to learn how they can contribute to their child’s college process, he said.

Escalet said he works with Penn State program CAMP, “a federally funded program designed to assist first-year college students from migrant and seasonal farm worker families pursue higher education.”

Audrey Kharem, director of Student Support Services Program, said she works with the government “to increase the retention and graduation rates of low-income, first-generation college students and students with disabilities and to foster an institutional climate supportive of the success.”

From her experience, she said she notices that it may take first-generation students a little longer to adjust to a college culture that is unfamiliar to them and their families, but “if they want it, they can make it, just like everyone else.”

– Courtsy of The Daily Collegian