AMSA's 2015 Annual Convention
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February 26 - March 1, 2015 

Side Effects

The New Physician October 2014 Volume 63, Number 5


The real harm from action movies may be to your own body. Food psychology researchers at Cornell studied snacking during television viewing by measuring the amount study participants ate while watching 20 minute segments of either an action film or the interview program “Charlie Rose.” The researchers, who published their findings as a research letter in the Journal of the American Medical Association: Internal Medicine, found that subjects who watched the action movie segment ate nearly twice as many snacks as those watching the talk show. Even subjects shown a segment of the action movie with the sound muted ate 36 percent more snacks than the “Charlie Rose” viewers. The authors used a clip from the 2005 film “The Island” to represent action movies. Since the movie is set in a dystopian future, it’s always possible that the segment simply triggered some kind of hoarding response in viewers. Or the “Charlie Rose” viewers ate half as much because they lost consciousness exactly halfway through the segment. 


Please tell me this isn’t the real ending to The Runaway Bunny. Researchers in Munich presented findings last month showing that early exposure to animal fur—especially sleeping on fur—reduced the risk of later asthma in children. The research used data from a cohort of 2,441 children, 55 percent of whom had slept on animal skin in the first three months of life—wait, 55 percent of German children sleep on animal skin in the first three months of life? Was it leftover hide from drowned oxen in “The Oregon Trail: Wiesbaden Edition”? Anyway, the chance of having asthma by age 6 was 79 percent lower in the children who’d slept on animal skin as infants than in those who hadn’t. But before there’s a movement to popularize wolf skin crib sheets, we really need to weigh it against the treatment cost for the inevitable nightmares. 


Trading one form of torture for another, researchers publishing in the Journal of the American Medical Association: Pediatrics found that regular family dinners reduced the negative effects of cyberbullying in teens. The McGill University researchers surveyed more than 20,000 Wisconsin adolescents on their exposure to bullying and their exposure to family dinners. The dinners, according to the authors, may help ease distress from cyberbullying by providing an opportunity for teens to talk with parents. Of course, they also provide the parents an opportunity to pry more deeply into their kids’ lives, likely leading to a resurgence of the more traditional teen angst brought about by excessive parental oversight.