Monday, May 25, 2015

Trick Eye and the Brain

Recently I received several questions about Trompe l’oeil, so I decided to revisit that topic. Easy to do because it’s a favorite of mine. I enjoy almost anything about the brain and this is about the brain. The question is: does your eye really see what is actually there? Although you are certain it does, maybe not. Trompe l'œil is an art technique that uses realistic imagery to create optical illusions that the objects or landscapes depicted are three dimensional. Many of them actually exist on a flat surface, however. (You may have seen this in some sidewalk murals.) Dating from before the Baroque period, murals from Greek and Roman times were known to exist in places such as Pompeii, where a typical trompe l'œil mural might depict a window, door, or hallway, intended to suggest a much larger room. There is an old Greek story that purports a contest between two renowned painters: Zeuxis (born around 464 BC) and Parrhasius, a rival artist. Zeuxis produced a still life painting so convincing that birds flew down to peck at the painted grapes. Parrhasius asked Zeuxis to judge one of his (Parhasius’) paintings that was behind a pair of tattered curtains in his study. Parrhasius asked Zeuxis to pull back the curtains, but when Zeuxis tried, he could not, because the curtains were Parrhasius’s painting. Of course, that made Parrhasius the winner. More tomorrow.

African Proverbs

The other day I stumbled across proverbs and wise sayings reported to be from several different countries. Some are funny, some sad. All are thought-provoking in their own way. It’s interesting, also, the way a similar idea surfaces in different cultures, often using a slightly different metaphor. Since “A” comes first in the alphabet, we’ll start with African Proverbs. I have thoroughly enjoyed every trip to Africa, especially getting to experience Victoria Falls—something that was on my bucket list since I was a little girl.

·         If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you’ve never spent the night with a mosquito
·         A family is like a forest: when you are outside it is dense; when you are inside you see that each tree has its place

·         A happy man marries the one he loves; a happier man loves the one he marries

Friday, May 22, 2015

Child Obesity and TV, 5

Add watching more than 1 hour of TV per day to decreased physical work and play outdoors (compared to half a century ago) and to increased intake of fast foods and sodas and it’s no wonder that the entire world is in the grip of an obesity epidemic. So what can adults do? Shut off the TV except for up to 1 hour of healthy programming. Increase indoor and outdoor physical activity. Since no link was found between use of a computer and unhealthy body weights, encourage appropriate computer usage. There are many brain-stimulating games available on iPads and computers. Play games with the children. It’ll be good for your brain, too. And get serious about role-modeling healthy eating and portion control and staying active. Remember, kids tend to copy what they see you do. And, yes, do dump sodas and sugars and chips…

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Child Obesity and TV, 4

Bottom line? Watching even 1 hour of television per day increases a child’s risk for obesity. The study author Mark D. DeBoer, M.D., M.Sc., M.C.R., associate professor of pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, University of Virginia, reportedly said, “Given overwhelming evidence connecting the amount of time TV viewing and unhealthy weight, pediatricians and parents should attempt to restrict childhood TV viewing.” He also commented that although the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended limiting children and teens to less than two hours of TV screen time each day, in light of the study results, 2 hours may be too much. I found it of great interest that the study analysis identified no link between computer use and unhealthy body weights. [I am interested in reasons for this finding. Is it because computer use doesn’t advertise foods and beverages as much as does TV or because much of watching TV involves primarily ‘passive’ mental imaging or …..?] Part 4 tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Child Obesity and TV, 3

Results of the study evaluating a link between childhood obesity and watching television were presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS).Key findings included:

  • Kindergarten and first grade children who watched as little as 1 hour of TV every day were 50%-60% more likely to be overweight and 58% to 73% more likely to be obese when compared to those children who watched less than1 hour.

  • Children who watched 1 or more hours of TV daily were 39% more likely to become overweight and 86% more likely to become obese between kindergarten and first grade

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Child Obesity and TV, 2

To evaluate a link between childhood obesity and television viewing, researchers reviewed data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey of 11,113 children attending kindergarten in 2011 to 2012. The analysis included the number of hours each child watched TV, how often he or she used computers, and the height and weight of the child. Twelve months later, researchers again evaluated 10,853 of the children. Again, parents were asked about time spent in front of the television and computer use. On average, researchers found that U.S. kindergartners watched an average of 3.3 hours of TV a day. Both kindergartners and first-graders who watched 1-2 hours or more than 2 hours of TV daily had significantly higher body mass indexes than those who watched less than 30 minutes or 30-60 minutes a day, even after adjusting for socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity and computer use. Part 3 tomorrow.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Child Obesity and TV

The second study I found fascinating involved an analysis of the relationship between watching TV and weight status in kindergarten and first-grade children. In the past, studies have shown that watching a lot of TV increases a child’s risk for being overweight. The studies had not evaluated a specific link between the amount of time spent watching TV and obesity among kindergarten children. You probably already know that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children watch less than 2 hours of TV on a daily basis. However, guidelines most conducive to a healthy weight status in children were not identified. Therefore, researchers decided to do a study that might help to set a benchmark—if a clear link was identified. (Oops. Time to get up for 2 minutes of fast walking on my treadmill!) More tomorrow.