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Take Your Child to (Tele)Work Day

Posted on by Dr. Francis Collins

In April, I took part in NIH’s Take Your Child to (Tele)Work Day, a virtual version of the popular annual workplace event. This year’s event allowed students, grades 1 through 12, to spend the day working from home with a parent while learning more about a career path in science and public service. The day also offers plenty of fun and games to relieve some of the COVID stress, and I took part in performing an improv skit chosen by the kids to demonstrate what’s called Laughter Yoga. Afterwards, as shown here with the kids looking on at the top of the screen, our Laughter Yoga coach Alexa Drubray (bottom left) took a minute to explain more about the practice and how it combines laughter exercises with yoga breathing in pursuit of better health and wellbeing. Sharon Milgram (top left) also joined the conversation with two thumbs up. Sharon is the director of NIH’s Office of Intramural Training and a co-organizer of this “Meet the Director” event for the kids. Susie Needham (bottom right), our ASL interpreter, signs for the kids.

Weighing in on Sugary Drinks

Posted on by Dr. Francis Collins

Drinking the occasional sugar-sweetened beverage, be it soda, an energy drink, sweetened water, or fruit punch, isn’t going to make you fat. But it’s now clear that many children and adults are at risk for gaining weight if they consume too much of these products.

An illustration showing that 10 spoonfuls of sugar can be found in a 12oz can of soda, 13 spoonfuls of sugar can be found in a 16oz cup of soda and 26 spoonfuls of sugar can be found in 32oz bottle of soda.

I want to share new research from three recent papers in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) because, together, they provide some of the most compelling evidence of the role of sugary drinks in childhood obesity, which affects nearly one-fifth of young people between the ages of 6 and 19.

In the first study [1], researchers randomly assigned 641 normal-weight school children between the ages of 4 and 12 to one of two groups. The first group received an 8 oz sugary drink each day; the second received the artificially sweetened version. After 18 months, it was clear that the kids consuming the sugary drink had gained about 2.25 pounds more weight, compared with the kids drinking the zero calorie drinks. They also packed on more fat.


Tackling Health Disparities: Childhood Asthma

Posted on by Dr. Francis Collins

Photo of a young girl using an asthma inhaler. Image used courtesy of NICHD.

One condition for which NIH researchers are working to reduce disparities is asthma, the most common chronic condition that keeps kids home from school.

Compared to white children, Puerto Rican youngsters are 2.4 times more likely to suffer from asthma, African Americans, 1.6 times; and American Indians/Alaska Natives, 1.3 times.

Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, NIH