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5 Top Green Parent Posts: Hershey & Child Labor, ADHD & Diet, Increased Sedentary Behavior Before Adolescence, Russian Baby Swinger, Evil Disney Princesses

1.  Natural Papa: Hershey’s Chocolate Changes Children’s Lives (but not the way you might think)

Hershey is the favorite chocolate brand in the U.S., with 42.5% of the market, but much of the cocoa used to produce their chocolate may very well have been produced with forced labor, human trafficking, and abusive child labor.

According to their website, Milton Hershey loved children, so he founded the Milton Hershey Schoolfor orphaned boys, donating his personal fortune to a trust for this purpose.

“Unable to have children of their own, the couple developed a profound and deeply felt concern for the well-being of all children, especially those less fortunate.”

The school operates under the umbrella of the Hershey Trust Company, which is the largest shareholder of Hershey, making the school the largest beneficiary of the Hershey Company.

It’s too bad that they can’t see the hypocrisy of funding a school for “those less fortunate” using profits which come from child laborslave labor, and horrible working conditions in the cocoa growing regions of West Africa.

2.  Mothering: ADHD & Diet: How Food Affects Mood

In the early 1970s, Dr. Benjamin Feingold, then chief emeritus of the Department of Allergy at the Kaiser Foundation Hospital and Permanente Medical Group in San Francisco, reported a link between diet and several physical and allergic conditions. Thirty to 50 percent of Feingold’s hyperactive patients said they benefited from diets free of artificial colorings and flavorings, and certain natural chemicals (salicylates, found in apricots, berries, tomatoes, and other foods).

Although many parents eagerly embraced the Feingold diet, others–such as the processed-food industry, many child-behavior experts, and some pediatricians–were more skeptical. Perhaps, they reasoned, the families were doing other things in addition to dietary modification, or maybe they were simply reacting to wishful thinking. With time, however, researchers began testing aspects of Feingold’s claim. Over the following decades, almost two dozen additional controlled trials followed, mostly focusing on food dyes. In some cases, children were put on a diet that lacked many food additives and subsequently “challenged” with dyes. In other cases, the behavior of children was monitored after they were switched to a diet free of certain foods that might cause a reaction (dyes, wheat, egg, chocolate, and others) and then challenged with those foods. Most–but not all–of those studies found that some–but not all–children were affected by diet, some slightly, others dramatically.

3. Pediatrics: Longitudinal Study of Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior in Children

RESULTS Mean daily volume of physical activity declined by 83 cpm (interquartile range [IQR]: –189 to 31) over 2 years; the percentage of daily time spent in MVPA was low at baseline and declined by 0.3% (IQR: –1.4 to 0.9). The percentage of daily time in sedentary behavior was high at baseline and increased from 78.0% to 81.1% of the day (change 3.1% [IQR: –0.3 to 6.0]). The decline in MVPA and increase in sedentary behavior were significantly greater in girls and in those with higher BMI z scores at baseline. Physical activity and sedentary behavior showed moderate tracking over the 2-year period.

CONCLUSIONS We report here new evidence of low and declining levels of physical activity and MVPA and increasing sedentary behavior before adolescence.

4.  SF Gate: The Mommy Files:  Russian woman who swings babies is for real

When a five-minute video of a Russian woman swinging a baby around by its ankles and arms first started circulating around the Web, people were convinced that it was a hoax.

Gawker ran a story with the headline, “This Baby-Swinging Yoga Video Can’t Be Real, Right?”

YouTube pulled the video deeming it “shocking and disgusting.”

If you watch the video (below), you’ll understand why. It’s rather unsettling to watch this woman, who looks as if she’d fit right in at Yoga Tree, turn a baby upside by its ankles and then flip it up over her head.

It turns out this hard-bodied, 50-year-old woman is for real–and babies are a lot stronger than you ever imagined. Lena Fokina runs a yoga business in Dahab, Egypt, and Nathan Thornburgh, a daddy blogger and contributing writer for Time magazine, tracked her down and interviewed her. Here’s an excerpt of what Thornburgh has up on his DadWagon blog:

The first thing everybody here thought when they saw your baby-swinging video was “Holy s-!” Then they thought, is it real or fake? So: Is it real? If so, who is the baby? The child was born in the Black Sea region. Her name is Platona, and she was two weeks old when we took that video. We have a lot of children like her here. They are early readers, singers, talkers, swimmers. You haven’t seen anything like it anywhere!! And there’s swimming with dolphins, scuba diving with them. Come to Dahab!

5.  Mother Jones: Are Disney Princesses Evil?

Where do Disney princesses fall on a 1-to-10 scale of harm to a girl’s identity? How about Bratz, pink mania, Facebook? “All of this stuff seems 1, but might be 10, and you don’t really know,” says author and New York Times Magazine essayist Peggy Orenstein as we chat about her new book. “It’s not any one thing. It’s the whole onslaught.” Cinderella Ate My Daughter is a highly entertaining (and disconcerting) romp…

MJ: Are we sending this message that kids needn’t use their imaginations?

PO: My biggest surprise as a parent, or one of them, was how much of my job is about protecting my child’s childhood. And when I think about what that means, in addition to her not wearing makeup when she’s three years old, it’s about imagination and making sure that her imagination isn’t colonized by these proscribed scripts. I’m personally concerned with the script for girls. And for boys, too, but that’s not what I write about. I don’t mind that Daisy plays a little bit of princess now and again, or did when she was littler; that’s fine. But if she’s walking around doing the Cinderella story, and not even the Cinderella story, but the version which is all about getting the most stuff, then that’s a problem. And there is evidence on violence, kids are acting out a proscribed script over and over and over—homogeneously across the country in their play—after they’ve been exposed to these TV shows or Internet stuff or robotic toys or whatever. I find that disheartening, and I’m sure it must contribute to this drop in creativity scores we’re seeing…

MJ: Okay, so let me have you rate the following on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the most insidious for girls’ development (1 is Mother Theresa, 10 is Dick Cheney): Disney Princesses.

PO: I’ll tell you what is insidious about the Disney Princess, besides the fact that if you look into their merchandise, the 26,000 items, you’re always finding books that are about “my perfect wedding.” It’s what it puts girls on the path for. And that it poses as something that protects girls, or staves off premature sexualization, when I think it primes them for it. I don’t know where to put that on the continuum exactly. I guess eight?

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