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Month: June 2019

Importance of Health and Media Literacy

Posted on June 12, 2019 in Uncategorized

Although research suggests that children’s eating habits are formed even before they enter the classroom – children as young as two may already have dietary preferences based on their parents’ food choices – health education can play a vital role in helping establish lifelong healthy patterns early.

Research shows that health education has a positive impact on health behaviors as well as academic achievement, and that the most effective means of improving health literacy is ensuring that health education is included in curriculum at all levels of education.

U.S. schools educate 54 million students daily, and can provide not only an outlet to promote healthy behaviors for children and adolescents, but a place for them to engage in these behaviors, including eating healthy and participating in physical activity.

The U.S. is in great need of an improvement in health literacy. In a 2007 UNICEF study, our country ranked last out of 21 industrialized countries in overall child health and safety. Approximately one in five of our high school students are smokers, 80 percent of students do not eat the recommended five servings of vegetables and fruits per day, and more than 830,000 adolescents become pregnant each year. Approximately two thirds of the American population is estimated to be overweight or obese.

Furthermore, our understandings of health and health-related behaviors are often highly influenced by the media and media images – which can lead to inaccurate assumptions and negative health behaviors and attitudes.

The importance of media literacy as applies to health education

Self-esteem patterns also develop in early childhood, although they fluctuate as kids gain new experiences and perceptions. Because media messages can influence unhealthy behaviors, especially in adolescents, a comprehensive health education program must include not only health knowledge, but media literacy as it relates to psychological and physical health behaviors as well.

“To a large degree, our images of how to be comes from the media. They are [a] crucial shaper of the young lives we are striving to direct,” writes resource teacher Neil Andersen, editor of Mediacy, the Association for Media Literacy newsletter.

Media awareness, Andersen explains, can help teach students techniques to counter marketing programs that prey on their insecurities to promote negative behavior, can explode stereotypes and misconceptions, can facilitate positive attitudes and can help students learn how to absorb and question media-conveyed information.

Because our perceptions of ourselves and others develop early, and because we live in such a media-inundated world, it is important that we address the conflicts inherent in media values versus our own values with our children and adolescents first, in a factual, positive, and coherent way.

A comprehensive (age-appropriate) health program would therefore teach about these various issues at different stages of development. Pre-adolescence and adolescence are especially pertinent stages in an individual’s growth for discovering themselves and their place in the world, and it is during this vital time that media literacy is absolutely key to an influential and positive health program. Issues must be addressed that affect positive health behavior and attitudes, especially in teen girls, including:

• Digital manipulation of the body in advertisement – Almost all of what we see in media has been altered or digitally manipulated to some extent.

• Objectification of the body in media – Since the 1960s, sexualized images of men in the media have increased 55 percent, while sexualized images of women increased 89 percent, according to a University of Buffalo study. There are also 10 times more hypersexualized images of women than men and 11 times more non-sexualized images of men than of women.

• Average women versus models – Models today are 23 percent skinnier than the average woman, versus 9 percent skinnier in the 80s.

We live in a pop-culture that not only promotes a hyper-skinny-is-best attitude, but also discourages average or healthy body ideals and individuals from feeling good about simply pursuing healthy dietary choices – they feel they must resort instead to drastic (and quick) weight loss measures that put unhealthy stress on the body.

For example, a study released in 2006 by the University of Minnesota showed that 20 percent of females had used diet pills by the time they were 20 years old. The researchers also found that 62.7 percent of teenage females used “unhealthy weight control behaviors,” including the use of diet pills, laxatives, vomiting or skipping meals. The rates for teenage boys were half that of girls.

“These numbers are startling, and they tell us we need to do a better job of helping our daughters feel better about themselves and avoid unhealthy weight control behaviors,” concluded Professor Dianne Neumark-Sztainer. Over the five-year period that the study was conducted, moreover, researchers found that high school-aged females’ use of diet pills nearly doubled from 7.5 percent to 14.2 percent.

What teaching health and media literacy can do

When a colleague asked Doctor Caren Cooper, a Research Associate at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, what the opposite of media was, she paused only briefly before answering, “Reality, of course.”

“We each need logic tools to realize that all media is a representation of reality – if we don’t bring this realization into our consciousness, we are apt to forget and let our own reality become distorted: fostering a culture of over-consumption, eating disorders, sexual violence, and climate change deniers,” she explained.

Teaching health education comprehensively in today’s rapidly changing world is important for fostering skills that students will carry with them for the rest of their lives, including:

• Developing positive body affirmations – Accepting their bodies, accepting other’s bodies, and showing respect for one another. A good exercise would be to have them write down good things about each other – without the words beautiful, or descriptions of size, as well as what they love about themselves – both physical and character traits.

• Understanding the importance of eating right – And that it’s not about “dieting.” Perhaps the biggest misconception is that as long as a person loses weight, it doesn’t matter what they eat. But it does, and being thin and being healthy are not the same thing. What you eat affects which diseases you may develop, regardless of your size, and diets that may help you lose weight (especially quickly) can be very harmful to your health over time.

• Understanding the importance of exercise – People who eat right but don’t exercise, for example, may technically be at a healthy weight, but their fitness level doesn’t match. This means that they may carry too much visceral (internal) fat and not enough muscle.

“Given the growing concern about obesity, it is important to let young people know that dieting and disordered eating behaviors can be counterproductive to weight management,” said researcher Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, a professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota. “Young people concerned about their weight should be provided support for healthful eating and physical activity behaviors that can be implemented on a long-term basis, and should be steered away from the use of unhealthy weight control practices.”

We must also teach them:

• How to reduce stress by engaging in activities and other outlets.

• The importance of sleep.

• The importance of vitamins.

• The importance of not always being “plugged in” – The natural environment has great health benefits, and too much technology may even be hazardous to our health.

“We’re surrounded by media images for such a large portion of our daily lives, it’s almost impossible to escape from it,” explained IFN representative Collete during an interview with EduCoup. “We get the majority of our information today through media, be it music, TV, the internet, advertising or magazines, so it really is incredibly important for us as a society to think about the messages we receive from the media critically.”

Decoding the overload of overbearing messages, then, is pertinent to the health of our minds and bodies, and teaching these skills early will help kids to practice and maintain life-lengthening and positive behaviors for the rest of their lives.

Health Education – The Key to a Healthy Life

Posted on June 8, 2019 in Uncategorized

Have you ever wondered why in spite of all your efforts you cannot stay absolutely fit and healthy, the way you have always dreamt to be? The answer is simple, due to our lack of knowledge about health and the human anatomy system. The more knowledge and understanding of the human anatomy we will have the easier it would be for us to remain healthy and fit.

According to a recent study, a vast majority of the American population are health illiterate. They either do not have enough health information or they are unable to interpret the available health information to control their health and maintain optimum fitness. It also showed, lack of information to be the most important factor contributing towards the majority deaths. Moreover, it was also determined that our illness are primarily a result of stress, food, environment, attitude, emotions or beliefs that triggers certain unhealthy behavior. So, to stay fit we need to refrain from such unhealthy behaviors and that can be distinguished only when there is enough information for us to differentiate between a healthy and harmful behavior. From this, the easiest and most important conclusion that we can arrive at is that we need more information about our health and the human anatomy.

Now, the second question is, do we really try to get enough health information? Today when the entire world is connected through the information highway on the internet it is really difficult to find a good reason for this lack of knowledge. Today more than 60% of the American adult population has access to the internet which is full of websites that would educate anyone about the details of health and human anatomy. There are even sites that provide you with anatomy animation that is both interesting and easier to understand the functioning of the human anatomy system. When medical students can use resources like this why don’t we spend some time looking at these things? Animations of cardiovascular system or the animated display of how our eye works would definitely help anyone to have a better understanding of the systems and accordingly modify their behavior to remain fit and healthy.

A basic idea of cardiac physiology can be highly effective in understanding the detail of the simultaneous pressure characteristics in the heart (left atrium and left ventricle) and the blood flow through the different blood vessels during a cardiac cycle. In this rising trend of cardiac failures and increasing heart problems a basic understanding of the cardiovascular system can definitely be a major help to maintain a healthy body.

We must understand staying healthy is not difficult, all it requires is a bit of understanding of the human anatomy, how the different systems within our body work and some information on how we can make them work even better. We should make it a point to cultivate healthy habits that would help us to obtain the maximum level of fitness.

Health Education Plan

Posted on June 6, 2019 in Uncategorized

You need to put your health first yet so many of us will leave our health at the bottom of the priority list, leaving it unattended until it gets to late and we fall into ill health.

We seem to take health for granted and that makes us feel invincible up to the point that our health fails and then we look at our health. This attitude is clearly wrong and it is up to you to take preventative action with your health and this will not only make you feel better and more energetic, you will also have your body literally thanking you and add years to your life.

The western culture, in particular the US and the UK are getting fatter and becoming overweight and obese. As a result of this more people are trying to slim down and lose some weight but the problem here is a lot of people are not trying to lose weight for the right reasons. Losing weight should be because you want to do it for yourself and not for any other reason such as your boyfriend / husband wants you to lose weight. The motivation needs to come from within for you to successfully lose and keep off the weight. How many times do people lose several pounds in weight only to put it back on within a few months.

It really is important that you “love yourself” before you decide to embark on losing the weight. Irrespective of your size now you must have the self belief and confidence in yourself that you not only look and feel good now but you are going to look and feel great after you start your new lifestyle choice, yes lifestyle choice and not a diet. It is so important that you incorporate your healthy living lifestyle into a way of life rather then having the mentality of doing a diet otherwise you are unfortunately more likely to fail. 

Good luck in your lifestyle change and well done to making the decision to change.

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