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Global Youth Health Issues


Gen Y may be the first generation not to live longer than their parents, because of too much sitting in front of screens and eating junk food. An estimated 22 million children under five are estimated to be overweight worldwide, yet the obesity epidemic is coupled with lack of food for the poor and about 25% of kids under age 5 are underweight.[i] Bill Gates reports 9 million kids die each year.[ii]


For fun, I scream, read, kiss, write, laugh, eat, walk around, and smoke cigarettes. Rachel, 17, f, Scotland


The increase of young people taking drugs [bothers me]. Trust, 18, m, Zambia


In Chapter 5 we’ll discuss: Addiction, Brain Health, Disease, Drugs, Energy, Food, Longevity, Obesity, Sexuality, Sleep, Sports Performance, and Violence. Students realize they can be addicted to behaviors, such as video gaming, as well as substances like drugs.




I am the average American teenager, wasting away in front of my computer. I hate being a statistic, but I just can’t help myself. If I’m not at the computer, I’m probably reading. I love books, especially the classics and science fiction. Verena, 14, f, California

Up to 90% of American kids play video games and as many as 15% of them—more than 5 million kids—may be addicted.2 Of China’s 18.3 million teen Internet users, more than 2 million are addicts. “Good kids who impress their parents and teachers” are the most vulnerable to the affliction, the China Daily said, citing a study by the Communist Youth League.[iii] Addiction to the internet and video games is recognized as a public health problem in China, especially for teenagers. In the US the first center to treat the addiction opened in 2009 in Fall City, Washington. Therapists are concerned that the Net gets in the way of real relationships and can reduce attention span and the ability to be quiet and centered. Resources are available online.[iv]



[It bothers me] when I’m sober. Mike, 15, m, California

Fewer than 15% of European young people report being drunk on two or more occasions, but in the Netherlands the figure rises to over a quarter and almost one third in the UK.[v]


For fun I go to parties, drink, smoke, dance, and Internet: msn messenger, myspace, sitdairy. Taryn, 15, f, Australia


I am really bothered by the addictions people have to their gadgets, including cell phones, ipods, and computers. Of course I am one of these people, but I always wonder if people would have more meaningful interactions with each other if they weren’t constantly “tuning out.” I also feel like because of people’s strong ties to technology, more people are desensitized to horrors on the news, objectification of women in advertisements, and things like that.

Becky, 17, f, California

I agree with Becky because as more and more people interact through cell phones and internet, the weaker they get in their social life. Now kids cannot read the signs of facial expressions and body language compared to older people, since the new generation interacts mostly through media and less through direct and face-to-face means. Moreover, so much violence is shown on television that people are less sensitive to blood and killing and are more prone to be violent themselves. Shehroz, 17, m, Pakistan


My little sister looks very very thin and her bones are revealing more than ever. My friends have been telling me this for a while and I sometimes thought she was doing drugs but now I have seen her eat and I think she has an eating disorder. She is obsessed with portion control and won’t eat anything she used to.

How can I help her without worrying about her? I have noticed I worry when I’m around her, so I take deep breaths and try to kindly offer healthy food and role modeling. Anyway, it’s one of my new guilt issues and fears.

Jacqueline, 20, f, California

She does sound anorexic. Your mom should insist on getting her to a counselor who specializes in eating disorders. She may have to go to a treatment center. Eating disorders have long-term health consequences, including death. Your sister must get professional help now. You can’t solve her problem except to encourage your mother to take action. Guilt doesn’t do anyone any good; focus on the intention of a healthy outcome.

For someone who is bulimic, as for any addictive bad habit, identify the trigger that sends you to the bathroom to purge. Change all the behaviors around the trigger and the associated habits; when you feel the desire to vomit, go for a walk outside the house or put on music and dance. Put a calming picture on your bathroom door that reminds you to take care of your body and walk away. Reward yourself with something fun everyday you treat your body well. Acupressure tapping (www.emofree.com) can help to relieve the underlying tension and frustration. Counseling will help get at the underlying reasons for the desire to purge and figure out healthier ways to be in control of your life.


I’m a compulsive thief, I think because I was raised in foster care and group homes, then was on my own when I turned 18. Any hope for breaking this habit that gets me into trouble? I’m writing from a prison cell and don’t want to come back to this cage. Mark, 19, m, California

People are addicted, not just to drugs and alcohol, but to gambling, sex, food, shopping, stealing, work, or computer games. If you’re addicted you lose control, are preoccupied with getting more, obsessed, compulsive, and dependent. Robert Sarmiento, Ph.D. says it’s what you do with an urge that counts, rather than the urge itself. He has these suggestions: Separate yourself from the compulsion by thinking of the habit as “it” or give it a name, analyze its strength on a 1-10 scale, or think of the urge as a thought going in one ear and out the other. Focus on something else by doing something active or imaging a relaxing beautiful place in nature. Visualize feeling good about not giving in to “it,” and think about how you’ve resisted other urges like when you wanted to yell at someone and didn’t.[vi]

To change any habit, be aware of your reaction, just observe when it surfaces. Praise yourself for noticing, thinking about it, taking time for deep breaths before acting in your habitual way. Keep a journal where you document the triggers that evoke the old habit, so that you’ll be especially mindful when a trigger occurs. If I tell you, “Do not eat candy,” you’ll want to do it, so avoid telling yourself “don’t.” Focus on what to DO. Also avoid judging yourself. Stick to positive programming such as “I honor my body by eating healthy food when I’m hungry.” Think about ways you can positively fulfill the need which generated the habit; for example, coping with stress by taking a walk, and using positive self-talk (the conversation you have internally about how you’re doing), instead of ingesting something unhealthy.

Identify the triggers for the craving, such as after dinner or when bored, and substitute new rituals, such as a walk or calling a friend. I’d dialogue with the inner child and ask her what she really wants when she thinks she wants to smoke, for example. If the craving wins for a while, really focus on your addiction, not doing or thinking about anything else than the cigarette or eating, etc. Notice when it stops being gratifying and stop there. Use positive reinforcement and praise yourself when you stick to good behaviors. Most addicts need a support group to stay on task, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Weight Watchers, or the local Lung Association to find out about their groups for smokers.

The child sub-personality is the addict, who is running the show from the unconscious mind. When the child demands unhealthy action, call on your wise self to treat it as you would any child. Distract it with a fun activity or exercise. Gratify it with something enjoyable and healthy to keep the mouth busy. Tell it firmly and simply, “NO, that’s bad for me and I’m not going to do it anymore. What would you like to do instead?” It doesn’t work to simply say no because then the child really gets determined to get its way, so give the inner child a substitute like a parent gives a child a toy and takes away a dangerous tool. Use positive reinforcement and praise your inner child when it sticks to good behaviors.

To change habits with Neuro Linguist Programming techniques—interrupt or scramble your patterns. See the problem as a movie, watch it, then turn it into a cartoon, run it backwards, and change it into black and white. Create new habits with deep breathing, exercise, etc. Imagine healthy behaviors, rehearsing them in your mind. Rehearse a future trigger and imagine using new ways of coping using your visual, auditory, and kinesthetic senses as you visualize the healthy behavior. Plan something enjoyable every day to reward yourself.

Pick one or two important goals at the most. Find a buddy to remind you, praise you, reinforce good behavior and you do the same for your partner. Post reminder notes with positive present time statement like “I exercise every day.” Schedule your goal on your calendar such as regular time to jog or for meditation/prayer.

Shehroz adds, “To do all this, a person needs strong will power and determination. Most people fail because they don’t have a strong will. Positive reinforcement and ‘token economy’ is a good way.” Token economy involves rewarding desired actions with chips, points, or other markers that can be exchanged for a treat such as a fun outing.


Brain Development and Health

Why can’t you see the mind or heart? ?, 8, m, Japan

You can see the brain and heart (including instruments that measure their waves that radiate around ten feet from the body in the case of the heart) on scans or during an operation, but you wisely imply there is more than the physical, which is true. The Institute of HeartMath has done many interesting experiments on the heart, which you can read about at their website (heartmath.org).


What bugs me the most is having to put up with everything changing, I mean I get settled into something I like, a comfortable relationship or just a good mood and then it all changes. Christina, 15, f, California


Why our brains can hold so many knowledge? “George,” 16, m, China


My crazy, ass-backward emotions–I want to somehow rein them in without taking the passion out of my life. Julie, 18, f, Texas

Most of the brain (95%) is formed by age five, but the prefrontal cortex behind the forehead grows again before puberty. Its function is to be the CEO of the brain, planning, organizing, reasoning, and controlling impulses. Some teens tend to be risk takers because their CEO isn’t fully formed, starting smoking, drinking and other addictions. Around age 11, the brain starts reorganizing in the prefrontal cortex, the area behind the forehead associated  with problem-solving, planning, and regulation of emotion, and governs impulse control and social behavior. Not many other animals have a cortex, but dolphins do. Pruning of nerve cells happens after puberty to make the network more efficient. Throughout the teen years the brain prunes out neuronal connections it’s not using, so it’s not wise to spend this time mainly watching TV and playing videogames.

The adolescent brain has a greater ability to do abstract thinking in terms of understanding patterns and categories and concepts like fairness, but teens may tend to think in terms of black or white, right or wrong. Their needs come first, so they may not think of other people’s needs at the same time. In early- and mid-adolescence, the brain undergoes growth and pruning. The prefrontal cortex develops better connections with other parts of the brain, including areas associated with emotion and impulses. “The brain regions linked to attention, emotional intelligence, impulse control, and goal-directed behavior change between age 12 and 24, so teens may appear to be disorganized, have poor impulse control, and have difficulty making long-term plans.”[vii] P. 100

Intense emotions triggered by hormones at puberty makes teens easily aroused, seeking emotional intensity from risk-taking and excitement. The hormonal changes also bring increased sensitivity to alcohol and other drugs and changes in mood hormones. The human brain doesn’t reach full maturity until at least the mid-20s with continued adding and pruning of neurons.[viii] Adolescence is associated with increased rates of accidents, depression, alcohol and substance use, violence, reckless behaviors and erratic behavior. In a computer simulation of risky driving—running yellow lights, when tested in a group of friends adolescents increased risky decisions. Steinberg et. al. Animal studies show similar increase in looking for new activities among adolescences. Spear, 2000 Adolescent rats show more interest in strange objects than adults and start spending more time with peers, exploring their surroundings.[ix] The adolescent rats’ brains are also more susceptible to brain damage from alcohol and nicotine.

Joel Rothfeld, MD, Ph.D., explained in a lecture that the brain contracts muscles or activates glands to drip. Early childhood is critical as a major burst of new synaptic connections occur in the prefrontal cortex during second half of the first year, corresponding to peak of bonding to the child’s family. Children develop their brains through creative play, not as “efficient machines” as corporate culture would like.

The brain is the most complex matter Dr. Rothfeld knows of, made of billions of neurons that can be four feet long. It weighs about three pounds and is 78% water, 10% fat, 8% protein, and 4% other. It communicates with electrical charges (created by sodium and potassium) to other neurons like a battery, to about 10,000 other neurons at one time and up to 900 times a second, and then to bundled nerve cells and motor cells along the spinal cord. Einstein had more connections and gial cells than most people. Messages from the sensory cells travel up to the cortex, transformed into electrical signals the brain can read. For example, cells in the eye absorb light and start an electrical signal to the brain, where visual areas of the brain interpret them. The brain is very plastic, changing, and is kept healthy with aerobic exercise and learning new information. Mental stimulation increases synaptic connections. In Alzheimer’s disease, placs and tangles kill nerve cells due to inflammation caused by waste proteins. Medications can slow the rate of decline.

Professor Penelope Khun, Ph.D., is a brain researcher. At another lecture I heard, she made these suggestions for keeping your brain active. It’s a sensation and novelty-seeking organ, scanning for information and change. It prunes unused connections, so use your brain by learning something challenging and rewarding, or changing your routine, such as going home by a different route, or using your non-dominant hand for a while. Kids who aren’t stimulated with new and rich environments will always lag behind. When the brain is active, it stimulates the release of BDMF growth factor that develops new growth in the neurons. Omega 3 oils help increase BDMF, as does exercise, fasting every other day, meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy, and reducing stress. For short-term memory problems, practice memorizing things. After age 50, the brain loses spines along the dendrites, up to 40% of them.

Dr. Khun said it’s a myth that we only use 10% of the brain, as it’s on or off. We’re born with three times as many brain cells as we need because some don’t receive BDMF and die. The 100 billion neurons look like trees with many types and sizes; some axons can be three feet long. They are electrochemical and structural, with most mental illnesses being chemical problems. In schizophrenia the neurons can’t maintain appropriate connections. Anti-depression drugs increase the growth factors. Low levels of serotonin do not cause depression. Autism involves errors in pruning too much of the long axons, with too much connectivity on the short ones. Addictions are difficult to treat because the connections are hard-wired. The drug ecstasy is especially bad for pruning too many connections. The concluding message is use your brain or loose it.



Around 25,000 children die every day from preventable causes like diarrhea and measles due to lack of health care in their countries, according to Caryl Stern of UNICEF.  Malaria is the biggest cause of death for the world’s children: Every 30 seconds a child dies from malaria, over one million children each year. Death could be prevented with a $10 mosquito net. Global health leaders created a Global Malaria Action Plan in 2008 with the goal of getting rid of the disease in seven years. The World Bank, the Gates foundation, and the United Nations Foundation, and others pledged more than a billion dollars to the plan.[x]


Where has AIDS come from? Angela, 12, f, Zambia

What bothers me is the issue of HIV/AIDS. I abstain from sex and am honest in my dealings. ?, f, teen, Kenya

HIV/AIDS is killing many of us. Amos, teen, m, Sudan

Can you advise us anything about AIDS? Elly, 16, m, Tanzania

Young people (ages 15-24) comprise half of the new HIV infections, 2.5 million a year, with females especially at risk. In most of the world, young people are reaching puberty at earlier ages and marrying later than in the past, so premarital sexual relations are increasing.[xi] Sub-Saharan Africa is worst hit by HIV/AIDS infection and deaths. Almost two-thirds of the victims are women. Globally, over 25 million have died due to AIDS and about 40 million people are living with the virus—nearly half are women. Teens and young adults make up about half of the new HIV infections. India has one of the largest HIV-positive populations in the world. 30,000 babies are born HIV positive every year in India and nearly two million are AIDS orphans. Globally, In developing countries, only about 7% of people with HIV/AIDS receive treatment receive antiretroviral medication.[xii] Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, estimates it will cost $13 billion a year for AIDS medication.[xiii] He pledged $500 million to assist in providing them.

More than 2 million children are infected with HIV/AIDS. One new case of AIDS occurs every 15 seconds. An estimated 40.3 million people have HIV/AIDS around the globe, twice the number from a decade ago. In South Africa, the country with the highest rate of the disease, every day 1,000 people die of AIDS. UNAIDS estimated that 1.4 million South African children were orphaned by AIDS in 2007. It doesn’t help that the president, Jacob Zuma, said in court in 2009 that after having sex with an HIV positive woman, he took a shower because this “would minimize the risk of contracting the disease [HIV].”[xiv] A shower does not prevent contacting HIV or any other STD.

Global spending on AIDS was $8.3 billion in 2006, but only one in seven receive antiretroviral medication.[xv] Over 15 million orphans had parents who died of AIDS. Two-thirds of the kids with AIDS get medication funded by Bill Clinton’s Global Initiative Foundation, which also provides training for youth and encourages community activism.

UNFPA gives us a prevention model: Senegal has a national sexual education curriculum, developed by the Senegalese government and UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund. The courses in sexual and reproductive health, or Education in Family Life as they are officially called, have become as integrated into the typical school year as mathematics. Every Senegalese public school student must take them, beginning in primary school and continuing through to the final levels of high school.

“This is a Muslim country, and Islam forbids sex before marriage,” explains Dr. Cheikh Ba, the head of UNFPA’s office in Kolda. “So we focus on abstinence, but with the understanding that people are also human, that some make mistakes, and that we need to look after the health of those that do.”

The Government’s actions to prevent the spread of helped maintain Senegal’s very low infection rate: less than 1% of the population is HIV-positive. Extracurricular Education in Family Life clubs are student-run and voluntary. Members meet after school or during free periods to discuss issues ranging from female genital mutilation/cutting to HIV to early pregnancy. The informational movies are popular with students.[xvi]


My diabetes, the responsibility, the food [bothers me]. Max, 11, m, UK living in Belize


My father got a terrible disease, but we have no money to afford his medical fee. If I don’t find a job, I cannot support my family. Chengwei, 16, m, rural China


When will the medicine for cancer be found? Tatiana, 16, f, Ukraine

We all have cancer cells in our body, so it’s best to focus on prevention, starting now. Cancer is caused by changes in cell DNA. As we age, the cell replication can make mistakes or a genetic problem can cause the mutation–not the cause of most cancers. Chronic inflammation and free radicals is associated with cancer as it interferes with cancer-protective genes. Mostly the malfunction is caused by toxins in our environment including electromagnetic and radioactive contamination like cell phones and computers, food (high sugar and fat, omega-6s, processed, irradiated, MSG, pesticides, antibiotics), smoking, household products, plastic bottles and other phthalates), etc. Toxins deplete respiratory enzymes so cells can’t utilize oxygen, says Dr. Stephen Sinatra. Viruses are also problems, as in Hepatitis B nd C and its association with liver cancer or HPV and cervical cancer. These toxins silence protective genes. To prevent cancer we need to reduce pollutants and strengthen the immune system. Also, cancer cells feed on simple sugars so it makes sense we shouldn’t eat sweets—read labels to see how many products contain corn syrup. Certain foods, herbs, and enzymes kill cancer cells.

Suzanne Somers interviewed doctors who are having success in beating cancer and gives specifics in her book Knockout.[xvii] What’s clear from reading the book is that pharmaceutical companies control research, the US Federal Drug Administration, and medical school curriculum. They’re interested in medicine that can be patented and sold at a high price. Chemo and radiation make the medical establishment rich ($200 billion a year) so there’s not just apathy but organized opposition to treating with vitamins, herbs, etc.

Doctors mainly use radiation and chemotherapy to attack the out-of-control cancer cells. Researchers are working on ways to target the cancer without attacking the whole immune system and on ways to cut off the blood supply to a tumor. Tanya Harter Pierce discusses alternative remedies in How to Outsmart Your Cancer. To avoid cancer don’t eat white sugar and flour as they fuel cancer growth and inflammation,[xviii] avoid alcohol, and eat omega-3 as in fish and walnuts, berries, green tea, and pomegranate juice. The goal is to strengthen the immune system, reduce inflammation, and reduce the growth of cancer blood vessels. Herbs and spices that fight free radicals include clove, oregano, cinnamon, sage, peppermint, thyme, rosemary, coriander, basil, ginger, garlic, and pepper. (Free radicals are “electronically unstable atoms or molecules capable of stripping electrons from any other molecules they meet in an effort to achieve stability. In their wake they create even more unstable molecules that then attack their neighbors in domino-like chain reactions.”[xix] They may be involved in cancer and the aging process). See the Longevity section below.

Eating junk food and being obese contribute to the increased rates of cancer. A report from the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2007 indicated that cancer would become the leading cause of death worldwide by 2010, beating out heart disease. Dr. Andrew Weil researches alternative remedies (The National Institutes of Health created an Office of Alternative Medicine in 1992, later called National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.[xx]) Weil  reports, “Research suggests that about one-third of cancer deaths in the U.S. are related to poor diet–another third are due to cigarette smoking.”[xxi] He recommends eating lots of fresh vegetables and fruits. Don’t cook veggies in a microwave and eat them soon after purchase or grow them yourself—they can be grown in pots.

A note about cell phones: an Israeli study (researcher Rony Seger, et. al) exposed human cell cultures to much less radiation than given off by cell phones, which resulted in the formation of free radicals, which activated an enzyme linked to cancer. Get a hands-free headset, keep the phone away from your body when not in use, and limit talk time.[xxii]


I have chronic pain in my lower back/wrist/knee. How much of illness has to do with your attitude? Marta, 29, f, California

When a patient believes a placebo will relieve pain, the body releases endorphins that do reduce pain.[xxiii] Parkinson’s patients given fake surgery or fake drug treatments produced dopamine they might have received in a real intervention. Pain can be blocked by doing something else to involve the placebo effect (doctors often see similar effects with patients using sugar pills called a placebo or prescription drugs when neither knows which of the two they’re taking). We automatically apply the principle of distraction when we rub a bump on the head. Other possibilities for pain reduction are acupuncture, acupressure tapping (emofree.com), deep tissue massage, and understanding the psychological influences. You might want to check out acupuncturist Michael Turk’s book Pain’s Healing Secret showing acupressure points.

From what I’ve observed, every physical problem has both a physical and an emotional component (see Candace Pert, The Molecules of Emotion for the physiology of how emotions effect the body through the cell receptors on the outside of cells.) Stress, like an argument, lowers the immune system and slows wound healing. A study tracked nearly 100,000 women over eight years and found optimists had a 16% lower risk of having heart attacks.[xxiv] A Mayo Clinic study that looked at more than 800 patients over 30 years found that pessimists had a 19% higher risk of early death than optimists. An optimist will take action to correct a health problem while a pessimist might helplessly view it as unchangeable.

Here’s Sheheroz’ story about an illness solely based on belief: Some of my father’s patients [in Pakistran] are convinced they are really sick and will die but in reality nothing is wrong with them. For example, my father received a patient who said he has an insect flying in his stomach and it is annoying him. He said that while riding his bike, a flying insect flew in his mouth and down his throat and he can feel it in his stomach. My father tried to explain him that the insect would have died but he was stubborn and wanted my father to do an endoscopy. My father asked his assistant to bring an insect from outside in a small paper bag. My father performed the endoscopy and while taking out the pipe from the patient’s throat, he pretended as if he also took out the insect and threw it in the paper bag. When all was done, the patient was completely relaxed and his words were: “Doctor, see I told you there was a live insect in my stomach and you did not believe me and now I feel perfectly fine. Now I can’t feel anything in my stomach and am fine.”

To use the power of your brain, try positive visualizations. Imagine a grounding pipe in the middle of the pain and see it sucking pain out and down into the earth to recycle. Use a Neuro Linguistic Programming technique: Ask yourself what’s the shape, size, color, odor, and sound of the pain. Then change each of those senses, so that a yellow green screechy square becomes a blue circle with classical music and the fragrance of your favorite flower.

Every illness has a physical and emotional component. When you feel afraid, angry, or tense, act on it by exercising, taking a walk, speaking up about injustice, or some other corrective action. Don’t stuff your feelings. Osteopath and author Dr. John Upledger dialogues with problematic body parts and also instructs them on healthy processes with visualization. It’s helpful to touch your thymus and praise the immune system, telling it to attack foreign invaders and not healthy organs and joints. John Diamond, MD, recommends tapping the thymus near the heart each day and praising the immune system Studies show love and gratitude are especially powerful emotions, so evoke them when you talk to your immune system.

Andrew Weil, MD, in a Sounds True CD, suggests that sound is an under-utilized healing aid since everything vibrates and is singing in its own way. The earth has its own pulse frequency, called the Shulman resonance. He reports that sound therapy has aided autistic kids to be more connected and stroke patients to have better recovery, and it can reduce chronic pain. The body is 70% water, which is receptive to sound waves. He mentioned Dr. Emoto’s photographs of frozen water crystals comparing the effect of classical and heavy metal music, and positive and negative emotions shown in the crystal formations. Ancient peoples have used Tibetan copper bowls, flutes, and didgeridoos in their rituals, which has an effect on slowing brain waves to produce more relaxation. Dr. Andrew Weil likes to combine music, relaxing sounds of nature, and chanting with deep breathing.

Imagine a small gold sun or bubble in your hand. Keep your own energy out of the bubble and send it to the person you’d like to give a blessing to, including yourself. You can put your hand over the sore place, and pat it and talk to it like you would a puppy or kitten, “Good tummy, calm tummy.” Imagine a time-release Band-Aid over a sore place, with the instruction to release healing energy for a day. Also try drawing 8s with your fingers over a sore spot to help make it feel better.



Illegal Drugs

I would ask the wise person if it is possible to solve the problem of drugs among young people and how to do that. Yaroslav, 13, m, Uzbekistan


Why does everyone like to smoke marijuana? Gilbert, 14, m, Lanai, Hawaii


I do drugs because it’s fun. You shouldn’t judge someone for doing drugs; we have one life to live, so you should live it up. It’s your life. Dan, 15, m, Minnesota


People who abuse drugs and alcohol bother me. There are so many such people in my community. Perman, 16, m, Turkmenistan


I would change adults’ style of thinking that life is about enjoyment only, to do whatever you want rather its good or bad. They think that taking drugs, smoking, dancing in the clubs, etc., is more important than the breath they take.

Azba, 16, f, Pakistan


If your friends ask you to take drugs or bad things what will be your response? Dhankula, 17, f, Nepal


Some steps taken by our government  in Bhutan for the betterment of youth are:

*Created awareness about substance abuse and its effects like gang fight etc,

*Organized many coaching camps during the breaks so that the youths will not misuse their time.

*Launched Youth Police Partnership to improve relationship and cooperation between the police and the youth to solve youth problems. Goma, 17, f, Bhutan


Today more children take drugs and smoke. Some don’t know the meaning of family and home. But there are still things that haven’t changed for years: We three [sisters] are not indifferent to people’s tears. Like them, I know what’s moral, love and hope, Like them, I don’t exactly know where next to go. Anastasia, 17, f, Russia http://www.iearn.org.au/kindred/highkb/sdb/indexfla.htm


Nowadays many adults fall into drug abuse. Wishg, 19, f, Nepal

Nepali Indira Ghale explains, “Most of the youth in the Nepal are addicts of the drug nowadays because of the frustration of the situation, lots of unemployment and misunderstanding in the family, which is huge problem. They afford it because most of the parents have been to England for the British army. They send money to the children.  There is local hysis, which they can find very cheap. Also the young people use very local drug, which is found very easily with in the village.


The increase of young people taking drugs [bothers me]. Trust, 18, m, Zambia


I would like to stop doing drugs and start focusing on the things I love to do.

Ed, 18, m, Lanai, Hawaii


We’re a small school and on educational basis, we’re well prepared; however, the students aren’t all that great. A lot of the younger students are involved with drugs and alcohol and it’s very very disturbing.

Ser, 18, f, Pennsylvania


Mumbai is a city that’ s very cosmopolitan, almost everything is accepted here so long as you are part of the crowd that accepts it. Let’s face it, Indian culture is not exactly the way it used to be, there are so many more variations. if you are amongst people who share the same views as you, girls smoking is accepted. Popular teen hangouts have the aura of ‘anything goes’ because it’s more of an urban area and you will find girls and women smoking and not being self- conscious. But in other areas, if a woman lights a cig, than they are followed up by horrified and disgusted glances by other people. Sad, but women in this continent are still held back, though barriers are breaking. I think today we youths are so globalized that we can bring change to any level and to any extent in however rigid system we are. Cecza, ?, f, India http://clubjam.ning.com/forum/topics/what-is-the-image-of-


I’ve made very poor choices recently that involve substances and sex, that I regret, and I’m so overwhelmed with all the emotions that are coming up that I feel disabled. I feel like a terrible person for the things I done. I feel like I’m so much better and smarter and wiser than this. I’m so ashamed. Then I have moments of thoughts that this all happens for whatever reason and the lessons may not come right at the moment but they will. I want to work through this one quickly and gently, and become stronger, rather than what I have done in the past with painful experiences–I’ve shoved them deep down from being so afraid of them. Jane, 20, f, Hawaii

This is a time to become more aware of the unconscious attitudes and beliefs that lead to self-sabotage. Please really pay attention to and write about the feelings that led you to make unwise decisions. Think of the most shameful one, and write about the circumstances, the feelings and thoughts. What do the sub-personalities say; such as, “I deserve to be humiliated and punished because___?” Write down your first thoughts and feelings, without censoring. Let’s counter confusion with simplicity with two firm rules of conduct: no drugs and no sex without the foundation of mutual love and respect.


Drugs rewire the brain, so drug addiction is a disease of the brain. Drugs alter neurotransmitters such as dopamine in the brain. Abuse of prescription drugs is a teen problem, for 2.3 million teens. In 2007 fewer US teens reported illegal drug use and more are turning to prescription drugs such as OxyContin, a powerful narcotic drug, or to over-the-counter cough and cold medications used to get high. Among 10th-graders, 28% reported illegal drug use, down from 39% in 1997.[xxv]. About 2.3 million US teens abuse prescription drugs, according to with the rate of abuse increasing 212%.[xxvi]

Over two million teens are abusing prescription drugs in “pharming” or “pill parties” where they exchange drugs they’ve taken from home, bought on the streets or from the Internet. They use pain relievers, antidepressants, stimulants and steroids and risk getting addicted and side effects. Adderall, Ritalin, OxyContin, Vicodin and Xanax are the fourth most abused substance in the US, behind alcohol, marijuana and tobacco. The stimulants like Adderall and Concerta can cause risks for heart attacks and stroke.[xxvii] (Listen to the Bee Gees’ classic song “Stayin’ Alive” because has a beat that’s almost exactly 100 beats per minute needed if you need to do CPR (push hard on the chest and let the chest recoil in between beats).

Part of the problem is the increased number of television ads for legal drugs; a study found that one-third of medical procedures are unnecessary, often fueled by patients asking doctors for drugs they see advertised on TV.[xxviii] For example, Dr. Aldebra Schroll told me she’s concerned about young women with normal weight who ask her for weight loss pills. She continues, “The Michael Jackson fiasco [a healthy man, he died of a drug overdose given by his doctor to help him sleep] is a good example of why saying no is an important part of medical care. I think medicine has become too customer oriented where patients want to order drugs as if they are another commodity. As I tell my staff, “We’re not selling ice cream here.”

Nearly 5% of US teen boys and 2% of girls have tried steroids to increase muscle strength.[xxix] In a 2004 survey, 29% of 10th-graders and 42% of seniors reported that steroids were easy to obtain. Steroid abuse can lead to major mood swings, lack of energy, loss of appetite, acne, halt growth, and eventually cause liver problems and heart disease, as well as rapid gains in muscle size and strength. Withdrawal can cause depression and suicide.[xxx]

Building Blocks for Kids is a Richmond, California initiative that helps combat alcohol and drug use among teens, including parent-student training and after-school activities. Agencies work together including the YMCA, Youth Service Bureau, and Opportunity West.[xxxi]


Legal Drugs

Aaron White, a neuroscientist at Duke University, reports, “The adolescent brain is in a state of constant flux, and we know that when the brain is developing like that, alcohol does nasty things to it,” as does smoking.[xxxii] The earlier the teen started smoking, the worse their memory performance since nicotine is a neurotoxin. It kills cells in brain areas critical for learning and memory. Binge drinking by teens of four to five drinks reduces by about 10% the ability of boys to concentrate and girls’ spatial ability (as needed in math).[xxxiii] Dings in the white matter of the brain indicate poorer quality of cell communication in binge drinkers (photos available on npr.org). They also have abnormal functioning in the hippocampus, important for memory. Teen drinkers did more poorly on learning verbal material.

More than 40% of the US population is taking at least one prescription drug, plus one person in six takes three or more. The drug companies have great influence on health care. (PloS Medicine is a journal that doesn’t accept drug company advertising). Almost 11 million prescriptions for antidepressants were written for children ages 1 to 17 in the US in 2002 (2.7 million for those for children between 1 and 11). Over 4 million children diagnosed with ADHD were treated with stimulants like Ritalin (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in kids; they have trouble sitting still, paying attention, and controlling their impulses). By 2004, one in nine 11-year-old boys were taking the drug Ritalin for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Syed notes, “Drugs are not used for purposes like hyperactivity or depression for kids in Pakistan.”

In the US, anti-psychotic prescriptions for children ages 2 to 18 increased five times from 1995 to 2002 to about 2.5 million, without enough research on the side effects in children. (The mental illness of psychosis interferes with reality and can include seeing things that are not there and unreasonable fear or fantasies). Marketing by drug companies is probably a cause of the increase in legal drug use.

The drugs are given in the US to treat: hyperactivity and attention deficit disorder (29%), depression and bipolar (23.5%), non-psychiatric (13.8%), schizophrenia and psychosis (13.5%), anxiety and other psychiatric conditions (7.7%), autism, mental retardation, and developmental disorder (7.5%), and Tourette Syndrome (5%).[xxxiv] Generation Rx is a documentary on psychiatric drugs by Kevin Miller. It reports on children who committed suicide while on Prozac.

Cuba is a model for health care in developing nations. It has over 40,000 doctors who serve their neighborhoods, on call 24-hours-a-day. They only earn $25 a month. They teach preventative health and use “green medicine,” alternatives to drugs, stimulated by the US blockade of Cuba, which makes some prescription drugs hard to get.



Cigarettes poison the environment of children, and so does pollution. Marie-Pierre, 11, Quebec.


For fun, I drink, smoke, make fun of people and run amuck.

Rockstar, 14, m, Nevada


The smoke from cigarettes isn’t only bad for smoker but also for the people who are near him. Diana, 14, f, Uzbekistan


I’d do away with the smoking ban in cafes, because now you only smell sweat and that is disgusting. I want less ground rules (laws). Larissa, 15, f, Netherlands


Thing that bothers me in my daily life is smoke. I don’t like smoke. If I am at my house and someone is smoking, I will go away from her/him but right now EVERYWHERE we can find smoke, including in crowded place that we can’t go away to avoid smoke. Findy, 16, f, Indonesia


I want adults not to compare their children with other children who are better than us and stop the smoking thing. Mila, 16, f, Indonesia


A study of 14,000 US high school students in 2007 reported that 20% had recently smoked a cigarette and used marijuana. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death, and poor diet and physical inactivity is not far behind in America.[xxxv] In China, every day 40-50,000 teens light up a cigarette for the first time; 63% of adult men smoke. One-third of all the cigarettes in the world are smoked by Chinese people and each year 800,000 of them dies from tobacco-related illnesses. WHO said in 2005 of all the children in China, around 50 million will die early because of tobacco-use. Tobacco use is up 13% in developing nations, fueled by gifts of free cigarettes and branded clothes to youth, and sponsorship of youth festivals, billboards equating smoking with success. In Africa, tobacco companies like Philip Morris and British American Tobacco sponsor concerts and give away free cigarettes. Very young children are smoking. Many are unaware that tobacco causes diseases and that nearly 10,000 deaths occur per day due to tobacco. A program to quit smoking uses Emotional Freedom Technique acupressure tapping and other tips are available.[xxxvi]

Author David Wolfe suggests that, “Cigarettes become addicting because, due to stress (psychological) and poor nutrition (lack of vitamins and amino acids) vitamin B3 becomes deficient. Vitamin B3 or niacin is very closely related to niacinamide, nicotinamide, and nicotine. Nicotine from tobacco has the ability to “substitute” for Vitamin B3 in our metabolism. When we get Vitamin B3 back into our diet, this helps alleviate the desire for tobacco. (Eatingforbeauty.com)

Ask yourself if there is any “secondary gain” from the bad habit that needs to be changed, such as using smoking to take a break or be with friends. Also use behavior modification, rewarding good behavior (doing something enjoyable and healthy) and discouraging bad habits (as by wearing a rubber band around your wrist and snapping it when you feel the urge to smoke).

Instead of saying to yourself, “don’t smoke,” give yourself a substitute, such as sucking on a piece of a straw to gratify the oral need to suck and feel air going down your throat or eating celery and carrot sticks. Syed notes, “I have seen people chew on things like cardamom to avoid cigarettes, but more people smoke in Pakistan than in the US.”  Instead of turning to your addiction as a pacifier when you’re anxious, replace it with a new coping technique. Instead of smoking after dinner, take a walk. When you feel the addictive craving, take a deep breath from the diaphragm. While changing to a new healthy habit, avoid tempting situations such as friends who smoke. To quit smoking, write about why you want to be smoke free, set a quit day, identify your triggers such as stress or friends who smoke, and reward yourself.

Success rate is higher for those who join a support group. Support groups usually pair you up with a partner you can call when you feel yourself slipping back into the addiction and are worth checking out to learn their tools for getting healthy. It helps to have a buddy to report to about your progress.



I know I am a potential alcoholic, sometimes I do abuse when it’s convenient for me, and I had a chance, I would probably be having sex every single day. I know that might sound horrible coming form the mouth of a 15-year-old girl, but it’s the truth, and it hurts me to even think about it. Snoogie, 15, f, Arizona hbofamily.com/about_hbofamily/ Middle School Confessions


I really dislike how much pressure there is from people and the media to “get cranked” on the weekends to have fun. Just be yourself and have fun.

Devon, 16, f, British Columbia


I want to seek therapy because I don’t let myself be happy. I’ve hurt people that way; that hurts me too. This country (and maybe the rest of the world, I’m not sure) has become so selfish and they don’t take the time to sit down and see what they have in front of them. I fell off the wagon and I hate myself for it. I’ve also learned that you can’t please anyone unless you please yourself. Unfortunately, some people take that to extreme and become self-centered. I don’t like that. Felicia, 16, f, Wisconsin

The point is two steps forward, one backward, and to think one day at a time. Sometimes sensitive people drink to protect themselves from the pain around them. Try this visualization: imagine a beautiful bubble around you, surrounded by roses that catch other people’s energy. When they get filled up, imagine blowing them up and creating new ones. Try it and see what happens.

Fun to me consists of clubbing, art, shows (bands), alcohol consumption, Hollywood, driving, going to the beach and creating laughs for everyone else. Piggytron, 18, f, California


For fun: drinking, trying to find a girlfriend,, and watching the moon. Basheer, 19, m, Saudi Arabia

“Partying,” meaning getting drunk, seems to be considered a sign of adulthood, but it’s irrational. It’s toxic for the body, leads to hazardous driving, risky sexual inhibitions, and acting foolish. You can walk around at a party with a cup of water if you want to look like the others. For those hooked on alcohol, Alcoholics Anonymous and other support groups is effective treatment. Join a support group for teens to learn how to stay sober and find healthy ways of having fun.

Shehroz tells us, “Alcoholic consumption is really low in middle-eastern countries because of Islam. In my time as an exchange student in USA I saw many underage teenagers getting alcohol by one means or the other. Even in existing laws, they could easily break it. Alcohol advertisement makes it more TEMPTING for teenagers to try it and get addicted. For example, beer advertisements make it look like so refreshing and cooling that one feels like trying it. Some take it as a sign of entering ADULTHOOD.”


More Energy

I wish that adults could be faster running and walking. I wish I had more energy. Nathan, 9, m, California


I have too many extracurricular lessons and get tired.  Kazuto, 10, m, Japan


I’m always loosing stuff, being clumsy, and I sometimes can’t talk straight. My family acts like I’m stupid because of it. Allie, 14, f, California

Stress can get us unbalanced, so we become clumsy and can’t think clearly. It’s called    becoming homolateral, when the body is connected up and down rather than crossing. A healthy body is bilateral, where the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body. Author Donna Eden (author of Energy Medicine) writes, “to change homolateral patterning, a simple and pleasurable technique, is to turn on music you like and move your hips rhythmically. You will find that they sway quite naturally in a figure 8, which helps the crossover pattern.” Just moving your eyes in figure 8s can help get balanced.

You can muscle test (MT) to see if you are homolateral. (For how to MT see http://www.holistichealthtools.com/muscle.html.) Look at a picture of an “X”-MT should be strong. Then look at a picture of two parallel lines-MT should be weak. If the results are opposite, they are homolateral. Ms. Eden suggests doing 12 repetitions of lateral crawl, where you touch right elbow to right knee and left elbow to left knee, then switch to about 24 cross-crawls where your right elbow touches your left knee, and your left elbow touches your right knee. You can see her website or Energy Medicine book to learn how to do other balancing exercises.[xxxvii]


It bugs me that I have no energy. Rose, 17, f, California

I get very sleepy during major examinations and tests or during the days when I have a lot of homework. And a friend of mine told me: “Whenever I try to stay on task and finish all my work, I get sleepy within five minutes of doing that work. What is wrong with me? In other words: I AM LAZY and I KEEP GETTING MORE AND MORE LAZY. At night I get sufficient sleep but still I am sleepy the whole day.” Why? Shehroz, 17, m, Pakistan

When we need to do something mentally challenging, we think of distractions like “I need to clean my room,” or call someone. Sleep is another way out. It helps to know the inner child is going to try these distracting tricks so we don’t fall in the trap, but also give the inner child a reward by taking a break every hour and taking a walk or stretching. But if your friend feels this way daily, he should see his doctor and read about chronic fatigue syndrome.


Sometime I feel so tired, maybe it just because there are so many works to complete. Zheng, 20, m, China

Fatigue can be a symptom of a physical problem. Low blood sugar or low thyroid function can decrease energy. Check thyroid hormone levels, as hypothyroidism causes fatigue, as well as intolerance to the cold. Anemia and eye strain can also contribute to tiredness. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) may have multiple causes including viruses, herpes, candida albicans yeast, and parasites. Its symptoms include severe fatigue for six months or longer, tender lymph nodes, muscle pain, joint pain without swelling, sore throat, and headaches. Fibromyalgia has similar symptoms of fatigue and pain, plus stomach discomfort.

Fatigue is a common problem and people turn to caffeine and sugar to get going, but these drugs drain energy over the long run. Exercise daily to keep your endorphins happy and oxygenate your body. We know daily exercise, adequate sleep, healthy natural foods, meditation or prayer or other quiet time, positive thinking and social support maintain health and vitality.  Eat unprocessed fresh food that your great-grandparents would recognize. Avoid white foods like white flour, sugar and rice, and other refined foods you might crave, as remember we often want what we’re allergic to. Use spelt flour instead of wheat and stevia or rice syrup instead of sugar in baking and you’ll have more energy. Eat apples, bananas, cabbage, citrus, and okra as they contain pectin to remove toxins and metals. Gary Null’s book Power Foods lists these as top on his list (Dr. Weil would add wild salmon): Almonds, oranges, bananas, blueberries, onions, garlic, ginger, legumes like black beans, carrots, peppers, shiitake mushrooms, tomatoes, leafy greens, soy, and whole grains.

The main causes of fatigue I see are procrastination, self-criticism, trying to do too much, eating junk food, and not enough fun and exercise. When we put something off, we feel overwhelmed and powerless. If we do a little bit each day, we feel empowered, which strengthens the immune system, while fear drains it into defense. Make a commitment to praise yourself and others, at least as much as you criticize or judge. If you didn’t do something well, make a point to learn from that effort rather than blaming.

Procrastination robs us of lots of energy, so make a list of your responsibilities and prioritize them. Do a little each day on a big task, say a half hour of work, then reward yourself with a break, such as a walk or stretching. For items low on your list, give up expectation that you should do it, delegate it to someone else, or trade someone to do it for you. Schedule in time for fun and nurturance on your calendar so it doesn’t get pushed aside by more pressing demands. You must recharge your batteries or you won’t have zest to do your schoolwork and nurture others.

Prioritize, thinking about what’s really important. Keep your values to the forefront, such as the belief that people are more important than things or a neat desk. Time for a bubble bath, reading for pleasure, exercise, and other activities that make you happy need to be scheduled on the calendar. Look at yourself as a well and fill it with what renews your vitality. If the well runs dry, it can’t offer water to thirsty people. Ask yourself what you’ll remember at the end of your life, what you value.

The main energy robbers include trauma, grievances, physical pain, living with a low-energy person, critical self-talk, negative beliefs, repressed feelings, and criticism, according to Tucson therapists Masci, Barker, and Beck.[xxxviii] Draw what’s depleting your energy to contact your unconscious mind; don’t think, just ask what’s making you tired and then draw the colors and patterns. Draw arrows pointing to a particular body part, person or situation. Draw in a healing color.


Physical Ways To Increase Your Energy

*Get enough sleep and try to rise and shine at about the same hours (www.circadian.com).

*Spend sometime in the sun and use full-spectrum light bulbs.

*Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. You’re Not Sick, You’re Thirsty by Dr. Batmanghelidj explains how this leads to chronic diseases.

*Eat protein such as spirulina algae, fish, or poultry. When digested, protein releases tyrosine, an amino acid that increased alertness, while complex carbohydrates (whole grains, root vegetable, squash, etc.) are calming and stimulate serotonin. Eat protein earlier in the day rather than before bedtime for restful sleep.

*Get a physical checkup including your thyroid hormones.

*Be positive, as optimists have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

*Relax and avoid chronic stress, which damages the adrenal glands. Ask if a current upset will matter in three months.

*Rest when you’re tired instead of being a martyr and pushing yourself to do too much for the sake of others.

*Regularly do deep breathing exercises; breathe in on the count of six, hold six, and blow out six. Tai chi exercises help generate and move qi/energy. Blow out any fatigue, as if blowing out a candle, and breathe in an energizing color. Disease doesn’t thrive in oxygenated areas, so breathe from your diaphragm to increase oxygen intake, not your upper chest.

*Traditional Chinese medicine suggests ginseng and Angelica (also called Dong Quai) to strengthen adrenal glands.

*Avoid stimulants such as coffee, soft drinks, and chocolate.

*Eat healthy food such as the Mediterranean or Japanese diets.

*Supplement with the antioxidant Coenzyme Q10. It acts as a natural energy “spark,” explains Dr. Susan Lark, who adds that pregnant and lactating mothers should not use it. She also recommends the herb Rhodiola Rosea to support energy level, mood, and concentration. Dr. Lark also supplements with calcium, magnesium, potassium and zinc, and vitamins B, E and C.

*Avoid toxins in mercury, aluminum, lead, and drinking and shower water. *Remove dental fillings with mercury and make sure vaccinations don’t contain mercury called Thimerosal.

*Exercise daily.



I will make food prices to go down and I will give free education to children who are willing to go to school. I will build clinics, and I will help the poor.

Mercy, 14, f, Liberia


Why isn’t everyone in this world eating? Evan, 14, m, Quebec

One-third of the children under five–nearly 200 million children–in developing countries are stunted.[xxxix] This means they don’t get enough nutrients to develop their intelligence and grow properly; they are shorter and less intelligent than kids with a good diet. Half of the children in Afghanistan and Pakistan children are stunted, 62% of the kids in North Korea, and 2% in the US. The only agency working on this terrible problem globally is the United Nations’ World Food Program and of course it can only feed a small percent of the hungry children. We’ll need 70% more food as the world’s population is projected to reach 9 billion by 2050, states the Food and Agriculture Organization.[xl] In 2009, almost 200 countries agreed to increase aid to farmers in poor countries but rejected a UN request to commit $44 billion a year to develop agriculture. “Our job is not just to feed the hungry, but to empower the hungry to feed themselves,” said UN head Ban Ki-Moon. Even in wealthy USA, about 49 million people struggled to have enough food in 2008, according to the US Department of Agriculture.


Americans are mostly used to eating fast food. But in Pakistan we eat full meals and eat it together with all the family members mostly every time, while Americans are so busy that sometime they forget to eat or they stop by a drive-through and grab a sandwich. I believe this was my biggest shock [as an exchange student in the US]. Besides that, I was also shocked to see how teenagers behave with their parents. Most of them are not respectful and I was not happy about it. Hassan, 17, m, Pakistan

Shehroz adds, “Hassan is telling the complete truth. Maybe that is the reason why Pakistani exchange students gain a lot of weight while in USA. Plus, American food contains a lot of cheese and fat, while in Pakistan, the meals are pretty high in fiber which is really good.


The junk food industry tries to brainwash kids through media ads to eat high fat, high corn syrup, and salty foods. One out of every 5 calories in the US diet is soda. The main sweetener is fructose corn syrup. An average American child eats about 22 teaspoons of sugar (88 grams) a day, often from fast foods and sodas high in sucrose and corn syrup. In The Packard Pediatric Weight Control Program kids sign contracts to reduce the number of unhealthy red-light foods they eat. Kids learn to tell the difference between red light foods like hamburgers that are not OK, yellow light foods like meat which can be eaten a little bit, and green light for vegetables and water that should be eaten a lot. Kids scoop out spoons of Crisco fat to see that hamburgers have about six to eight spoons of fat or measure a 12-ounch tube of sugar to see how much sugar is in one can of soda.

Use foods as tonics. Gary Null’s book Power Foods lists these as top on his list (Dr. Weil would add wild salmon): Almonds, oranges, bananas, blueberries, onions, garlic, ginger, legume like black beans, carrots, peppers, shiitake mushrooms, tomatoes, leafy greens, soy, and whole grains. He uses spelt flour in his recipes. The super foods identified by nutritionist Phyllis Balch in Prescription for Dietary Wellness, are garlic, mushrooms, yogurt, sprouts (you can grow them yourself in a jar), and soy foods. I also recommend her husband’s book Prescription for Natural Cures, by James Balch, MD, and Mark Stengler, ND. It includes information on healing food, herbs, homeopathy, acupressure, flower remedies, etc.

I start out each day with a quick and nutrient-packed blender drink: I use multi-grain drink as a base with banana, apple, and carrot, adding chlorophyll, acidophilus, aloe vera, lecithin, nutritional yeast, Hawthorne herb, bee pollen, kelp, cayenne pepper, cardamom, green vegetable powder (barley grass is the most complete, according to James Balch, MD), and ground flaxseed. Avoid wheat, sugar, and other refined foods you crave, as we often want what we’re allergic to. = Eat apples, bananas, cabbage, citrus, and okra that contain pectin to remove toxins and metals. Food can also be used for beauty aids.[xli]

Food can be used to deal with pimples. Pure water is necessary to make ice to put on clean inflamed skin. Honey and yogurt are good for skin, also a paste of almond meal as a cleansing mask. Avoid scrubbing the skin too hard and overdrying it. [xlii] Hot showers tend to activate the glands so watch out for that too.

Students complain about the quality of school food. I’ve heard two main excuses: Kids won’t eat fresh fruits and vegetables and high fat processed spaghetti, pizza and hamburgers are less expensive, but there is no excuse for jeopardizing the health of future adults. If you want to become an activist for organic fresh food at school, check out the Berkeley School Lunch Initiative inspired by chef Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard program. Here are some websites to start you out.[xliii]

Progressive programs for school health are being developed by NBA basketball star Shaquille O’Neal’s Big Challenge and film director Steven Spielberg’s Starbright Foundation that makes instructional videos on teen health. In Philadelphia and Los Angeles elementary schools are developing healthy food programs, encouraging exercise at recess, and are teaching parents and kids about good nutrition. Texas passed laws requiring more physical education, less junk food in schools, and parent education about nutrition.

Our food system causes as much as one-third of the world’s human-made greenhouse gas emissions, including one-fifth of emissions from livestock production. A UN panel says we need to cut emissions by 50 to 85% by 2050. What can we do? Eat fresh whole foods without packaging and processing, cut back on meat from feedlots, and buy locally at farmers’ markets.[xliv]

It’s sad that both malnutrition and obesity are problems for the world’s children. The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that in 2008, 40 million more people were added to the rolls of the world’s hungry.[xlv] Every minute we lose 10 children due to hunger and malnutrition; that’s six million preschool kids who die every year because they don’t have the basics. Malnutrition contributes to more than half of the nearly 10 million deaths each year among children under age five, according to UNICEF. When you’re weakened by hunger it’s easy to die from diseases that industrialized nations consider minor such as diarrhea. (Earth Institute Columbia University)

Infant diarrhea is the worst child killer of all time–10, 000 children die from it daily. It can be cured with pennies worth of salt, sugar, and clean water. In 2006, close to 9.7 million children died before their fifth birthday, mostly from preventable causes such as malnutrition, unclean water, malaria, and childhood diseases like measles that could be prevented with vaccines. Every 15 seconds, a child dies because of lack of clean water and sanitation.[xlvi] Each year 2.2 million children die because they are not immunized and 270 million don’t have access to health care.

I recommend the DVD The Future of Food, about such a basic part of life.[xlvii] It begins with the so-called Green Revolution, based on the use of pesticides, fertilizer and herbicide, that evolved into the GMO (genetically modified organism) biotech Revolution in the 1990s. Toxins such as PCBs, dioxin, and DDT were said to be safe, as in ads stating,” DDT is good for me.” Monsanto company created “Roundup (RU) ready plants” that don’t die when sprayed with weed killer chemicals. Corn was genetically engineered to be a bacterial poison. To insert the altered genes, scientists used ecoli bacteria that were RU resistant and also inserted viruses to enter the plant’s DNA.

Monsanto’s goal is to patent its seeds that can’t be saved from the plant for reuse the next growing season, so farmers will have to buy new GMO seeds every year. The US Patent Office said live things couldn’t be patented, but the Supreme Court overturned this decision. Monsanto is buying up seed companies and owns about 11,000 patents. It even sues farmers who have Monsanto corn plants blown on their fields by the wind, etc. A Canadian farmer took his case all the way to the Supreme Court and lost. Monsanto also created GMO Roundup Ready cotton and soybeans, used in infant formula. The DVD ends by telling us that six large companies will control the world’s food production in the future. In 2009, Monsanto tried to get the US. House of Representatives to pass bill HR 875 to prevent organic farming “make sure there is no danger to the public food supply,” so farmers would have to buy their chemicals.



Why do humans age? Setchan, 9, m, Japan


How long can a human being live? Gabriela, 10, f, Columbia


What’s the oldest age a human can live? Yukarin, 10, f, Japan


What would we have to do to keep human life go on much longer?

KJ, 11, m, Belgium


When is the hardest time in life? Sung Mo, 12, m, Korea

When you’re aware that you’ve lost control of your life, like when someone gets really sick or injured or old and dependent on someone to care for him or her. I asked a group of adults to identify the most powerful transformational experiences in their lives. They replied, the birth of a child, death of a loved one, divorce, and hearing the Dhalai Lama speak (www.dalailama.com). So, hard times can make us grow.


Worldwide, women live for an average of 65 years and men live for 61 years. Your life span depends where you live, if you’re male or female, rich or poor. If you’re Japanese, you can expect to live to be 81. If you live in the US, to 78. But, if you live in Africa, your life expectancy is only to your 30s, such as 38 in Sierra Leone. AIDS has reduced life expectancy in 34 countries, most in Africa. Youth may be the first generation not to live longer than their parents because of obesity and lack of exercise. About 8.8. million children die every year before their fifth birthday; 40% of them live in India, Nigeria and Congo, according to UNICEF data in 2009.

A 2008 University of Cambridge study found four keys to living longer (14 years on average than people who didn’t follow these keys): don’t smoke, don’t drink too much alcohol, eat lots of fruit and vegetables, and exercise regularly (researcher Kay-Tee Khaw, etc.). Half the deaths in the US are caused by behaviors such as smoking, alcohol abuse, and lack of exercise, according to the Centers for Disease Control. “How To Be 16 Years Healthier” cited in Dr. Weil’s free newsletter (drweil.com) reports the “secret” is vigorous exercise. A study of Americans age 100 plus found that our genes were influential, as was avoiding smoking, obesity, inactivity, diabetes and high blood pressure. The 2008 study by Boston University researchers was based on 500 women and 200 men who reached age 100. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) evaluates the leading causes of death and found about half of US deaths are due to smoking, lack of exercise, and alcohol abuse.

Some scientists believe that our human genetic system is designed to let us live to be about 120 years old. Dr. Mark Liponis advises to eat a Mediterranean diet which is low in meat and processed foods, keep learning, drink tea, stay slim, be happily married, and have a spiritual belief. Dr. Joseph Mercola believes the key to longevity is to keep insulin levels and blood sugar low by avoiding sugars. Excess insulin stores calories from the carbohydrates in the form of fat (which is why so many are overweight), and the excess insulin also suppresses essential hormones and your immune system, leading to premature aging.[xlviii]

Aging is linked with bad free radical byproducts of oxidation, glycation that alters proteins (sugars kind of caramelize in the body), and chronic inflammation that is linked to many diseases.[xlix]

Antioxidant foods to fight free radicals include: blueberries, cranberries (also prevent cavities) sesame seeds, green tea, red grapes, uma plums, olive oil, tomatoes, broccoli (fights cancer tumors along with shitake and rishi mushrooms), chlorophyll, turmeric and sea vegetables; avoid sugar. Also, resveratrol—an antioxidant–slows down the aging process in mice.

Blood sugar regulation: fiber foods, cinnamon, fenugreek seeds, green tea, and chromium.

Lessen inflammation: Fish: wild salmon, sablefish, mackerel, herring, sardines. Vegetables: onions, garlic, chives, leeks, greens (spinach, chard, collards, broccoli, kale), tomatoes, bell peppers, green beans, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, beans, nuts, and seeds.  Fruit: berries (especially blueberries, raspberries and Hawthorne). Spices: ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, clove. Herbs: rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley, cilantro, fennel, mint, dill, tarragon, and turmeric.



For fun: eat all the chocolate I can see. Maximilian, 8, m, Singapore


Zero body, zero size figure is the new craze among girls. They think it’s sexy to be thin. They may be right but it is highly harmful for health. A normal body of normal size and weight is enough to look good and sexy. Shehroz, 17, m, Pakistan


People commented on my Internet diary and asked me how to get an eating disorder, as if it were the new diet craze. If I could change something about myself, I would be a beautiful person instead of the fat monstrosity that I am today.

Kitty, 18, f, North Carolina.


I try to heat healthy, organic food, but no matter how hard I try, I still gain weight. OK, actually I realize as I write this, its really about self-control. I need more self-discipline. Llisa, 18, f, British Columbia


I would be as skinny as could be. Iveey, 18, f, California

With “globesity” the world is getting fatter. Fat is one of the causes of metabolic syndrome associate with a large waist, high blood pressure, high levels of blood fats called triglycerides, low levels of good cholesterol and insulin resistance, that leads to many diseases. It’s as big a threat as global warming says Australian professor Paul Zimmet, who reports there are more overweight people than undernourished.[l] He believes obesity will overwhelm every medical system in the world.

The obesity epidemic in developed countries happened fast, in one generation. Now China worries about its chubby kids. One in five four-year-olds are overweight in the US. More than 9 million US children over five are overweight, leading to an increase in diabetes and low self-esteem. The average child sees up to 40,000 ads a year selling junk food. Their health problems will cost their country an estimated $11 billion in the future.[li] Over 17% or nine million children over age six in the US are obese, as are around one-third of American adults which leads to heart disease, cancers, and joint diseases. This rate has increased four times since the 1960s. At least one in five US teens has abnormal cholesterol levels—much more true of obese kids, increasing the risk of heart disease.[lii]

About 30% of school children are overweight (a broader category than obesity), as kids get less exercise and restaurants are serving bigger sizes. Shehroz tells us, “One of my shocks in USA were the serving sizes and free refills as well as free French fries at many places.” Most young children get exercise, but by age 15 fewer than 3% get over two hours of exercise most days. Boys are more active than girls at every age, according to a 2008 study headed by Dr. Philip Nader. Some schools have large exercise balls to sit on instead of chairs and substitute healthy food for junk food.

Kids are spending more time watching TV, playing video games, and using the Internet. About one-third of high school students watch more than three hours a day, including about 63% of black students, 43% of Latino students, and 27% of whites.[liii] A lot of TV viewing is associated with more aggressive behavior and weight gain. The average child sees up to 40,000 hits of advertising every year, and the ads are not selling health. Every one-hour TV program you sit through increases the chances of premature death caused from Disuse Syndrome, raising your odds for dying from heart attack or stroke by 18%, from cancer by 9%, and from other health problems by 11%.[liv]

Many US schools have cut physical education programs: Illinois is the only state that requires PE for grades K-12. As many as 40% of elementary schools don’t set aside time for play and exercise.[lv] A study of California teens reported that 25% don’t exercise enough.[lvi] A junior at Berkeley High explained, “Teenagers don’t have time to exercise. It’s like the last thing on your mind.” “I like to play indoors better ‘cause that’s where all the electric outlets are,“ said a fifth-grader. Exercise and healthy natural foods keep us at a healthy weight, but many city kids don’t exercise. We need more programs The Sierra Club’s Inner City Outings program brings inner-city youth to the wilderness.[lvii]

Shehroz adds, Parents should take the responsibility of controlling their kid’s diet and making sure they get enough exercise. In my childhood, I was really fat and I remember my grandfather not letting me eat fatty foods. He would make me run to a nearby shop to get him something from there and when I would return he would say that I brought the wrong thing and would make me run again. Later in life I realized that he wanted me to just run and get some outdoor exercise. Furthermore, he would get me involved in activities that required physical exertion. Now I am slim and no one can believe that I was once so fat and chubby. Parents play a very vital role in all this. They are responsible if their child gets obese.

Treating overweight kids in hospitals costs over $127 million a year. Ross Brownson estimates that today’s obese kids will cost the US around $11 billion in the future.[lviii] Being overweight can also be depressing and lower self-esteem. Obesity can lead to later health problems: diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and breast cancer. These illnesses cost a lot to treat, $147 billion in 2008 in the US.[lix] Doctors say you’re as old as your arteries. Fat children as young as 10 have the rigid arteries of 45-year-olds, with cholesterol deposits and an enlarged chamber of the heart—the left atrium.[lx]

Overweight children are much more likely to develop heart disease, even if there were just a little chubby as kids. Four million have above-normal blood pressure, 27 million have high cholesterol and more than a third don’t exercise. . As the childhood obesity rate doubled in the last ten years, it caused a 10 times increase in childhood diabetes. We’ve also seen an increase in Type 2 diabetes, which used to be called adult-onset diabetes. Even in the 1970s type 2 diabetes was rare, but now it’s so common that one-third of the children born in the year 2000 are expected to develop diabetes in their lifetime and it’s now one of the most common childhood diseases.

Dr. Ludwig’s Ending the Food Fight: Guide Your Child to a Healthy Weight in a Fast Food/Fake Food World (2007) reports on what he learned from the 5,000 children who have participated in his Optimal Weight for Life (OWL) Program.[lxi] When Dr. Ludwig taught the children visiting him at his clinic to eat low-glycemic foods, they experienced weight loss even without limiting the number of calories they ate. Food that increase blood sugar and weight include bread, pasta, candy, soda, and other refined foods with white flour and sugar. Dr. Ludwig teaches children to choose “real foods” instead of “fake foods.” A simple way to explain this is by pointing out the nutritional differences between an apple and something that comes from a vending machine.

Diets don’t work, as most people regain their weight. I asked a Dietetic Professor how to lose weight.[lxii]

In a nut-shell, people need to learn how to take the focus off of weight and put the focus on improving fitness and start eating a variety of enjoyable foods and accept their body however it turns out. An individual can be healthy regardless of their size. The media tells us how we’re supposed to look. We have to tell the media that beauty can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Dieters, obsessed with their weight, often label food as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ which sends them into a vicious guilt-repent cycle. This leads to yo-yo dieting which causes both physiologic and psychologic damage. Food is meant to be enjoyed, not the bad guy! I encourage people to read Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works.

If you’re overweight, avoid judging yourself. Stick to positive programming such as “I honor my body by eating healthy food when I’m hungry.” Think about ways you can positively fulfill the need which generated the habit; for example, coping with stress by taking a walk, using positive self-talk, and asking “Will this be important two months from now?”

Ask yourself what need overeating satisfies-feeling protected, feeling gratified, coping with anxiety, etc. Think about a healthy way to satisfy the need and reassure your unconscious mind it’s safe to change. Set a goal such as loosing a few pounds a month and reward yourself when you achieve your goal. Imagine that you have a hungry hole in your heart that can’t be filled with food, no matter how much you eat. You can do a visualization like wearing a beautiful heart necklace that radiates beams of love into your heart. The unconscious mind doesn’t distinguish between reality and belief, as evidenced in the very different health issues for multiple personalities in Disassociate Identity Disorder.

Don’t have fattening unhealthy foods in your house. Fill your stomach with vegetables and fruits. Don’t eat out of a container. Put small portions on your plate and stop eating when you’re full or it doesn’t taste good anymore. Shehroz reports, “A fat friend told me that he has started dieting–when it is fifteen to twenty minutes left to lunch time, he would eat a carrot at that time. So when the lunch is served, he doesn’t feel so hungry and eats very little.” Eat your big meal early, not close to bedtime. Most addictive behaviors need a support group with a buddy to strengthen your resolve to be healthy. For more resources, see this endnote.[lxiii]

As the gap between the rich and poor increases, there are more obese people in the world than hungry people, reports author Raj Patel. Developed countries struggle with obesity and developing nations with food shortages. World poverty is worse than any time in history, as for every well-fed baby in the north, five die of malnutrition in the south. Since the early 1970s, the numbers of malnourished children have risen by more than 75% to 33 million today. “Nothing is more degrading than hunger, especially when man-made,” stated UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in 2008.

In developing countries poor people spend over half of their money on food. For the 160 million people who survive on less than 50 cents a day, increases in food costs is a disaster. Food prices jumped 39% from 2007 to 2008, reported the International Monetary Fund. At least 100 million people in 22 countries are threatened by the global food crisis. Food prices are rising because of increasing fuel costs, more demand for fuel from India and China, biofeul production using corn for cars rather than for food, droughts, and–especially in Africa—scarcity of fertilizers, irrigation, and transportation to get food to markets. In Pakistan, Sheroz tells us, “Last year there was a shortage of wheat in my country and due to that, prices of flour rose sky high. Later, a lot of factories were found hiding the flour so that they could sell it on high prices. Wheat is the staple diet of the people. The same thing happened this year with sugar.”



I know of girls aged nine and ten who have gotten pregnant. It’s very common. It’s very hard to take care of a child at that age. I think they don’t know about the facts of life. They don’t want to get married, just to have sex. In Buzios, most kids wait until 17 or 18, but in Rio it’s often younger. I haven’t heard of rape in Buzios. Some kids do get abortions. Eva, 11, f, Brazil


I would educate them on family planning to avoid unemployment, overcrowding and scarcity of resources. ?, f, teen, Kenya


Why are sexy girls so sexy? D-Dogg, 14, m, Hawaii

Different historical periods and different countries are conditioned to have different views of what’s attractive—thin or full-figured. Media shapes what you think is sexy now, as well as your personal history and preference, and what the girl feels about you.


Why do females have to hold a baby for 9 months, have our period, and give birth and go through a lot of changes? Courtney, 14, f, Lanai

Girls start to menstruate at age 12—the median age in developed countries. Factors that lead to earlier menstruation are being overweight, chemical exposure, and living in a family without the father present. Having a period and female hormones is one of the reasons women live longer than men in developed nations, as they protect against heart diseases. Giving birth is the most exciting thing I’ve done in my life and I’ve traveled from Tibet to Tahiti and talked to million of people on national television shows. A German psychoanalyst named Karen Horney believed that men have “womb envy” because they can’t give birth.

About half of women in developing countries give birth without access to appropriate care and a skilled attendant. Every year, more than half a million women die and many more suffer complications from childbirth. When complications arise, as they do in approximately 15% of all births, there is no one available to treat the woman, leading to disabling injuries like fistula (the woman leaks urine or feces leading to much discrimination),[lxiv] and even death. Most of these young women are in developing countries, about 2-3 million worldwide. An estimated 30,000 to 130,000 new cases of fistula occur every year in Africa.[lxv] P. 97 You can give money to help fund operations to repair the damage so young women can return to normal life at fistualafoundation.org. See the film “A Walk to Beautiful” about five Ethiopian young women with fistula.

. Around 122 million women want birth control but can’t get it.[lxvi] P. 134 The best population control is educating women and reducing child mortality. About one in five pregnancies end in abortion. About 42 million abortions were performed in 2005, with 35 million in the developing world. About half of all abortions are unsafe, and most of them take place in poor countries. Nicaragua is one of 35 countries that ban all abortions, even to save the life of the mother. Little progress has been made in helping women survive pregnancy and birth.[lxvii]

An extensive report is available online about global adolescent girls’ health.[lxviii]


I believe that if woman do not want to become pregnant, they should take the necessary steps to prevent a pregnancy (birth control, used properly). Besides, if the woman finds herself unwillingly pregnant by an accident or even rape, she can always choose to give her child a chance at life with a family who would love to have her, by choosing to have her child adopted. In short, I believe that a fetus is a human, not an unwanted growth like a tumor, as some would say. The fetus is meant to develop into a human, capable of great and horrible things, but a tumor will always remain a tumor. Kristen, 14, f, Florida


[What bothers me is:] School. Emotions. Boys. When you care about a certain boy who only wants to get in your pants. And [how there’s] not enough time in a day. Taryn, 15, f, Australia


When is the proper age to have sex? Patrick, 15, m, Quebec

A study of sexual behavior in 59 nations found multiple sexual partners were more commonly reported in industrialized nations. Despite stereotypes, singles in Africa were less sexually active. The pattern globally is people first have sex in their late teens—from 15 to 19 years old, a little younger for girls. In regards to numbers of sexual partners, there is greater equality between women and men in industrial counties.[lxix]

Having sex because of peer pressure and everyone else says they are makes for a shallow and unsatisfying sexual experience. Casual “hook-ups” are dangerous in terms of sexually transmitted diseases. Western media and marketing use sexy young models to sell goods. Take a look at girls’ and women’s magazines: The message is to be sexually attractive at a very young age. Don’t be hurried by the media into being sexually active. The right time is when you have a well-established loving relationship based on friendship and mutual respect as well as sexual attraction, and when it fits with your moral values. Some religions believe that sex should occur only in the committed and socially recognized bond of marriage. However, the average age for marriage in industrial nations is mid-20s or older, so that’s a long time to wait.[lxx] Some sex educators like Dr. Ruth suggest the partners help each other achieve orgasms without penis penetration of the vagina and the resulting risks of pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.[lxxi]


I would like to thank HBO for airing MIDDLE SCHOOL CONFESSIONS. It was an eye opening experience for me. I am now very comfortable with my sexual orientation. I am bisexual and I know that I am not alone. CeeCee B. 15, f, Pennsylvania http://www.hbofamily.com/about_hbofamily/ Middle School Confessions


Why is it that girls are insisted to be virgin unlike the boys? ?, f, 16, Kenya

It’s unfair, but it’s because boys don’t get pregnant.


[For fun I enjoy] Having sex, drinking, smoking, and smoking marijuana. I had sex in school and didn’t get caught. Why is my special someone a meany and a dummy? Zempan, 17, m, Lanai, Hawaii


What really happens in puberty? How can teens prevent pimples? If I lift weights, will it keep me from growing tall? Shehroz, 17, m, Pakistan

How tall we grow depends on our genes and the nutrition we get as children. Acne is also partly genetic and is triggered by hormonal changes, which cause the skin to make more sebum oil, which can clog pores and get infected with P. bacteria.[lxxii] For healthy skin: eat a healthy diet with vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, drink lots of water (if your urine is dark yellow you need to drink more water), and get plenty of sleep. Avoid sugary food, which stimulate hormones, as well as trans fat and milk (because of the hormones in cow’s milk or check on the package to see if the mild is hormone-free), and sodas and diet drinks. Exercise increases the blood flow to help clear skin and helps cope with stress that increases sebum secretion. For skin care, my doctor recommends, “A gentle daily cleanser. Avoid scrubbing the skin too hard and over drying it. Hot showers tend to activate the glands so watch out for that too. I asked a demotologist and he recommended exfoliating the skin (removing dead skin) with a cleanser that includes salicylic acid and an antibacterial. Here’s a website for boys about puberty.[lxxiii]


Why isn’t there a cure for certain for certain STDS? Monique, 17, f, California

There are 12 million sexually active teens in the US. Each year a quarter of them get a sexually transmitted disease (STD). In the US, the Centers for Disease Control estimated in 2008 that 25% of teenage girls have an STD. Half of the new HIV/AIDS cases occur in teens. The most common infections are in this order: human papilloma virus (HPV), Chlamydia, trichomoniasis and herpes. Other STDS are gonorrhea, syphilis, and hepatitis B. Herpes, AIDS, and genital warts, all caused by viruses, have no cure. Some teens think that oral sex is safe—not “real sex,” but most of the STDs can be transmitted orally, including AIDS, herpes, syphilis, and gonorrhea. Doctors in the US are told to watch out cancers in the throat and rectal area because of oral sex and HPV. Sometimes warning signs indicate something is wrong, but many don’t show up early on. Symptoms include discharge, itching or irritation, sores, blisters, rashes, warts or lumps, and pain on urinating or with intercourse. See the endnote for the best websites about sexual health for teens.[lxxiv]


I feel that our generation is quite open about sex and virginity comparatively. I know my male classmates don’t care about virginity. Girls I know, if think they find the right person, they wouldn’t care that much. But some insist to keep their virginity until they find the one, which includes me. About premarital sex, I read an article “Love, Caution” in China Daily, which talks about premarital sex among young Chinese people. Here is some data:

Percentage of people who had premarital sex, by age group.

18~21            15%

21~24           39%

24~27         58.7%

Although people are trending to be more open, there are still people who hold a traditional view of premarital sex. They somehow regard sex as an item after marriage.  Some think virginity is holy, should save it for the people that they love. I am one of those people. But not necessarily after marriage, for me sex has nothing to do with marriage, if I find the person. Yuan, 19, m, China


As a Muslim, Shehroz’s view is, “Sex should be linked as an important component and final level of a serious relationship and life-long commitment and not some fun activity because then it destroys the morals of a human.”



I can’t sleep when I need to. Like if something’s going to happen the next day, so I need sleep. Especially on Sunday night. So I often go to school on Mondays with 2 or 3 hours of sleep.

I am a huge band geek. I mean beyond huge. It’s all I ever do really. But most people would be bored with a book about a band geek…so I guess it’s OK to tone that down a bit. I am pretty much a loner by nature. I have friends, but I’m not really comfortable around people. I’m happiest by myself minus people. I like fire. And my parents and I get along pretty well. I get all As without ever studying. I’m actually really smart. I just took the SATs in 8th grade and got 1790/2400. I used to cut myself. But I don’t anymore. I’m a goody-goody. I never do anything wrong (besides try to date a senior, but that was totally harmless and I got caught) I never go anywhere. I love to read. I write in my sit diary obsessively because I have a strange need to write down my thought and other brain vomit. My dad’s really funny. And likes good music. And that’s all I can think of. I’m pretty borin! Rachel, 14, f, Pennsylvania


When you start to worry, write down your to-do list. Before you go to sleep, imagine a chalkboard. Write down what’s on your mind and erase them one by one until the board stays clear of worries. (You can also use this technique with a negative belief, like “I can’t pass this test.”) If you’re buzzing with anxiety or thoughts, arch them off to the corners of the room as if releasing electricity down lightning rods.

Think about the most relaxing place you can imagine, perhaps a warm tropical paradise. Imagine taking the worry tape out of your tape recorder and substitute a wonderful fantasy tape, like being in lovely, green Ireland. To go to sleep, use the old trick of counting sheep or your in and out breaths, repeating a word like peace or serenity. It may help to listen to soothing classical music before bedtime and the herb Valerian helps some people sleep. A sesame oil foot rub also help us to relax. When you get in bed, keep your awareness behind your eyes and count your inhalations and exhalations from your belly to do deep slow breathing and you’ll nod right off. Shehroz reads a boring book and goes right off to dreamland.

Also check to make sure your bed is in the proper position in terms of Feng Shui (not in line with the door) and the earth’s energy lines. (Feng Shui is the “Chinese art of arranging buildings, objects, and space in the environment in order to achieve energy, harmony, and balance.” It uses concepts of balancing yin and yang and proper energy flow.) It also helps to have a regular sleep schedule, avoid bright lights or stimulating TV about two hours before bedtime

Some view sleep as dead time, but in fact it’s very productive time when the body and mind are renewed, although about 70 million Americans generally don’t get enough sleep. Many scientists, like Thomas Edison, tell stories of waking up with the solution to a puzzling problem. A German study at the University of Luebeck discovered that problem solving and new ideas occur during deep sleep that usually takes place in the first four hours of sleep. The unconscious mind works out solutions to emotional issues as well. It’s wise to clean out any irritations of the day before bedtime in order to be able to use sleep time to generate new ideas. Shehroz adds, “I often write small stories in my diary and many times I am inspired by a dream I had.”


Sports Performance

What’s the easiest way to get fit? Keenan, 13, m, Australia

Exercise daily, make it a routine like brushing your teeth. Take a physical education class at school. If you watch TV, also lift weights, use an exercise/resistance band available on the Internet, do situps, and other exercises.[lxxv] If possible, ride your bike for transportation.


I’m on a track team for my school. I’ve never won a meet although I’ve beaten every one of the other guys in other events. Suggestions? Tom, 17, m, California


I think someone who stands out as an athlete is someone who commits every aspect of his or her life to that specific sport. For example, when I run cross-country, I adjust my eating habits (big, healthy breakfast is KEY, healthy snacks throughout the day to maintain energy), liquid consumption (no carbonated drinks and 2+ gallons of water per day), amount of sleep I get (8 hours+), and focus on winning.  This year, I adjusted these things in addition to practicing hard and ended up making it to the state meet.

One thing that I see truly dedicated athletes do is focus on winning; practice should be taken seriously, like a race or game would be. If I want to beat a certain teammate, I practice beating them by keeping up with them and beating them at every practice. Too many young athletes screw around at practice and just “complete the workout” rather than going above and beyond by pushing themselves.  The truly talented athletes are the ones who are dedicated to practice and winning.

Perhaps a good piece of advice for people who are not the most naturally gifted athletes is to focus on self-improvement. For example, if a person running cross-country is running 20:00 5ks, work on getting down to 19:30. Setting unrealistic goals of 14:45 would be ridiculous. If a person sets an achievable goal, they will reach it, but also learn what it takes to improve. These skills will help them improve even further. It’s much like weight loss; if a person says they are going to lose 100 pounds, then having a candy bar here or there would seem alright because they know it will take a long time to get to their goal, but if a person says they want to lose 5 pounds, they will adjust their lifestyle to lose the weight.  Once that person has lost it, they know how to lose weight and can lose more if they wish. Cory, 17, m, California


Instead of thinking of winning as putting yourself above the others and being conceited, think of it as being an example to others of how to be successful. You can complement the other runners on their performance. Also, visualizations help focus your bodymind. Imagine a pulley connecting you to the finish line, pulling you faster, effortlessly. Athletes like golf champion Tiger Woods spend a lot of time mentally rehearsing their movements. Think about where you plateau in terms of your fastest time, and then use energy psychology to raise the limit (for Emotional Freedom Technique, see emofree.com).

Instead of watching and judging yourself, put all your attention on the ball. Think of owning it as yours, loving it as if it were your child. Connect invisible lines from the ball to where you want it to go and command it to go there. You can also increase concentration by imagining zooming in a camera, focusing on the ball. Martin reports, “I felt a greater concentration for the soccer game and the ball since I made an effort to use roses to encapsulate me and the ball during games.” You can imagine beautiful flowers surrounding you, protecting and energizing you.

Ashley, a softball player, came to me because she was anxious about batting after a wrist injury. She recovered, but her anxiety remained. We used acupressure tapping to dispel the anxiety. She focused on owning the ball, and was delighted about her batting the next day. Imagine the goal for your sports performance, moving it a step up, and observe if any tension or doubt occurs; if so, tap on acupressure points while focusing on that tension.

Tyrone, a basketball player, was anxious about being guarded while dribbling the ball. He told me his older brother used to slap him on the face when he was a boy. We used EFT tapping on that experience to clear it out and decided on visualization techniques. He now imagines flames around him as he moves down the court to keep guards away from his face, as well as the lines connecting the ball to where he wants it to go.

Before a performance, use kinesiology exercises, explained in the Increase Energy section above, to balance the right and left brain and the different sides of the body. Breathe deeply, rub your ears, tap and thump acupressure points and your thymus, and cross-crawl, touching opposite elbow to opposite knee. Make an amusement scrapbook with your favorite cartoons, photos, and jokes; view funny videos to use humor to relax. “My friend always watches funny videos on youtube before every sports meet or any major examination,” Shehroz adds.

Drew wanted to improve his running performance. Before a run, he does the bilateral polarity balancing exercises and then stretches, picturing the muscle he is stretching. He reports, “I listen to my body to find the areas that need more attention. As I run, I concentrate on taking breaths from deep in my abdomen and exhaling completely. The difference in my performance is amazing, as I can run for a longer time at a constant, steady pace.”



The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Something that bothers me just about every day: violence. It’s in wars, streets, and everyday regular places, where people live in fear regularly.

Ryan, 12, m, Belize


I have to deal with people fighting and stealing around me.

Quenny, 12, m, Columbia


I like to read, go to the market downtown, shop at health food stores, and exercise. I would probably do more things, but my mother doesn’t like to drive me many places. I don’t feel safe walking/biking/skating anywhere by myself.

Kristen, 15, f, Florida

People feel that a girl is meant to be used—either as a doormat, a maid, a birth-giving machine or as a source of physical pleasure. Something CONCRETE seriously needs to be done to change the current scenario because now a girl does not feel safe even in her own house, let alone the streets. ?, 16, f, India

www.unicef.org/voy Voices of Youth, March 5, 2006


I like hanging out with my friends and walking around uptown, doing insane things. I’ve gotten rides home from complete male strangers; I’ve streaked across a park in broad daylight. I love doing out-of-the-normal stuff. I write poetry to express my feelings, and have had a few professionally published. I love to sleep and dream about the future, about things that will never happen, wondering what if? Amy Marie, 16, f, Illinois

Read the section about the brain and teen risk taking! There are better ways to find excitement.


Adults should not beat their juniors. Azharul, 17, m, Bangladesh


We’ve created a culture of violence since commercial TV became available in 1946, maintains Professor Michael Nagler.[lxxvi] Kids are bombarded with violent images from television, video games, and rap music. Violence results from wars, crime, racism and sexism. Children experience violence in too many ways, in wars, as child soldiers and youth-headed militia groups (as in Nigeria’s Niger delta region where the foreign oil companies operate), as immigrants to foreign countries, in school bullying and exclusion, as the victims of murder, suicide from untreated depression, AIDS and rape (some believe that having sex with a virgin will cure AIDS), street children who commonly use drugs like glue sniffing and crack, and I would include kids who die from lack of food and medical care.[lxxvii]

Each year an estimated 2 million girls undergo some form of genital mutilation where parts of their labia or clitoris are removed. (The clitoris is the female organ with similar nerve endings to the penis.) Female genital cutting is practiced in 28 African countries and parts of the Middle East and Asia. An estimated 135 girls and women have suffered from cutting, according to CARE.[lxxviii] In China and India millions of baby girls are killed or abandoned. “Honor killings” by other family members murder thousands of women in Middle Eastern and South Asian countries who are judged to have violated sexual norms. Middle Eastern girls who engage in premarital sex and can afford it may have an operation to replace the hymen, a membrane in the vagina. In the Middle East sexual honor leads to violence–including rape as a way to punish a girl’s family by dishonoring them and honor killings–over 5,000 a year, estimates the UN Population Fund.[lxxix] Honor killings happen in the US too. An Iraqi immigrant in Arizona ran over his daughter with his car because he felt she’d become too Westernized (October 20, 2009)

Domestic violence is too common. In the US, at least 5 million children are either victims of or see physical abuse, domestic violence by their parents, or violence in their neighborhoods. They also frequently see violence on TV. Violence against women by their husbands or partners ranges from a low of 15% in Japan, to up to a quarter in the European Union and the US, to a high of 71% in rural Ethiopia, according to interviews with nearly 25,000 women in 10 countries by the World Health Organization in 2006. An estimated two to four million American women are abused by their partners, as are about five percent of men. These injuries are more frequent than those caused by auto accidents, rapes and muggings combined. Almost one-third of female murder victims were killed by their lovers or husbands. In the US a victim of domestic violence can call a national hotline (1-800-799-SAFE). The victim should leave the perpetrator, as it’s unrealistic to expect him or her to change.

For self-defense, women shouldn’t wear high heels so they can run. Keep keys in your hand with the keys sticking out of your fist. If attacked, hit your knee into his groin, use your head to butt the attacker, stomp on his foot, hit under the nose or chin, use your knees and elbows, and your voice–YELL. Don’t accept drinks without seeing them poured to avoid drugs that make you unconscious.[lxxx]

Model programs to reduce violence are found globally. The Guy-to-Guy Project by Instituto Promundo in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, organizes young men who live in poor areas to do outreach to other guys with a play about reducing violence against women, provide educational materials, etc. A similar group in Mumbai, India, called Men Against Violence and Abuse teaches young men through street plays, essay and poster competitions, wall newspapers, radio plays, and discussion groups.

Scientists know the interconnection of mind and body, as with the power of the placebo effect. When a patient gets a sugar pill, but believes it’s medicine, it’s effective around 40% of the time. In the next chapter we’ll delve into mental health issues.


http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_31921.html ch, 2006, Ambulatory Pediatrics journal)

2TheAmerican Psychiatric Association council 2007 report

[iv] Virtual-Addiction.com; NeAddiction.com; netaddictionrecovery.com.

[v] Child Poverty in Perspective: An overview of Child Well-Being in Rich Countries.” February 14, 2007. http://www.unicef-irc.org/datasets/data_sets_int.html http://www.unicef-irc.org/datasets/data_sets_int.html

[vii] Don Tapscott. Grown Up Digital. McGrawHill, 2009, p. 100

[viii] MIT Young Adult Development Project  http://hrweb.mit.edu/worklife/youngadult/index.html

[ix] Matt Crenson, “Brain Changes, Not Hormones, Explain Many Adolescent Behaviors,” December 31, 2000  http://www.s-t.com/daily/12-00/12-31-00/e05li27.htm

[xi] www.unfpa.org/swp/2004/english/ch9/page8.htm

[xiii] Editorial, “A new Target in the AIDS War,” San Francisco Chronicle, August 20, 2006, p. E6.

[xvi] http://youth.developmentgateway.org/Content-item-view.10976+M5a79bd4590d.0.html

Youthaidscoaltion.org Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS

Dance4Life uses dance to educate youth about HIV/AIDS in secondary schools in over 10 countries.

[xvii] Suzanne Somers. Knockout: Interviews with Doctors who are Curing Cancer and How to Prevent Getting It in the First Place. Crown, 2009.  www.suzannesomers.com www.lef.org The Life Extension Magazine is available online. This is Somers’ favorite source of info.

[xviii] Dr. Andrew Weil explains, Normally, inflammation occurs in response to injury and attack by germs. It is marked by local heat, redness, swelling, and pain, and is the body’s way of getting more nourishment and more immune activity to an area that needs them. But inflammation isn’t always helpful. It also has destructive potential. We see this when the immune system mistakenly attacks normal tissues in such autoimmune diseases as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus. And we now know that inflammation also plays a causative role in heart disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, as well as other age-related disorders, including cancer.

The anti-inflammatory diet gives you a healthy balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Most people consume an excess of omega-6 fatty acids from which the body synthesizes hormones that promote inflammation. These fats are found in oil-rich seeds and the oils extracted from them, which are used in almost all snack foods and fast foods. Omega-3 fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect and are found in oily fish, walnuts, flax, hemp, and to a smaller degree in soy and canola oils and sea vegetables. In addition to correcting the balance between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, the anti-inflammatory diet eliminates consumption of margarine, vegetable shortening and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils–all of which promote inflammation.

Carbohydrate foods also influence the inflammatory process. In the body, chemical reactions between the sugars and protein produce pro-inflammatory compounds called AGEs (advanced glycation end products). You can moderate this process by keeping blood sugar low and stable. That means eating less bread, white potatoes, crackers, chips and other snack foods, pastries, and sweetened drinks, less refined and processed foods, and by avoiding fast foods and products made with high fructose corn syrup. Instead, eat more whole grains, beans, sweet potatoes, winter squashes and other vegetables and temperate fruits such as berries, cherries, apples, and pears instead of tropical fruits such as bananas, pineapple, mango and papaya. http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/id/QAA359518

[xx] Nccam.nih.gov

[xxi] /www.drweil.com/drw/u/id/ART00667  For more about food: http://www.foodincmovie.com/hungry-for-change-cafeteria.php

[xxiii] Robert Moss, “Thoughts Can Heal Your Body, Parade, March 9, 2008, p. 6. Center for spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota, Integrative Medicine program at the M.S. Anderson Cancer Center

[xxiv] Lead researcher Dr. Hilary Tindle, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The Mayo Clinic study report was in 2000.

[xxv] monitoringthefuture.org

[xxvi] A report by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University

[xxvii] Resource: Should I Medicate My Child, Lawrence Diller, MD, 2002.

[xxx] taylorhooton.org steroid education. Steroidabuse.org

Who.int/child-adolescent-health:  The World Health Organization provides information on health issues faced by youth

Sadd.org: Students Against Destructive Decisions information about drinking and drugs.

[xxxiii] Susan Tapert of the University of California, San Diego http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122765890

[xxxiv] March, 2006, Ambulatory Pediatrics Journal

[xxxv] Mokdad AH, et al. Actual causes of death in the United States, 2000. JAMA Mar 10; 291:1238-45

[xxxix] Joel Brinkley, “Stunted Outlook on Neglect of Kids,” San Francisco Chronicle, August 30, 2009, P. E8. /www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats

[xli] Eating for Beauty. David Wolfe.    Eatingforbeauty.com

Read about Ayurvedic Beauty Care using foods like oil and yogurt, as in Beauty Secrets of India by Monisha Bharadwaj.

[xliii] Rethinking school lunch: ecoliteracy.org/programs/rsl.html

Growing food at school: ediblesschoolyard.org/howto.html

Farm to school program: farmtoschool.org (as in Marin County, California)

Healthy Vending Machines: stonyfield.com/menuforchange

“Two Angry Moms” is a film about improving school food. Their website has many resources. http://www.angrymoms.org/inner/resources.html

[xlvi] water.org is working on providing clean water (co-founded by actor Matt Damon)

[xlix] Andrew Weil, MD, www. drweil.com and Healthy Aging

Norman Shealy, MD, Ph.D. Life Beyond 100, Penguin. and http://www.normshealy.net.

[li] Ross Brownson, St. Louis University School of Public Health, 1 of 19 authors of a report “Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance,” 2005. www.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309091969

[lii] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, published in 2010, CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report based on 3, 125 teens.

[liii] 2007 survey of about 14,000 students by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

[liv] A mortality follow-up (over 6.6 years) on the original 11,000 study participants by Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia, 2010. www.technewsworld.com/story/69108.html

[lv] Actionforhealthykids.org offers resources to increase PE in schools.

[lvi] 2003 California Health Interview Survey

[lvii] Sierraclub.org/youth

[lviii] sciencenewsforkids.org/articles/20041027/Feature1.asp

[lix] “Obesity Crushing Weight on Health Care,” San Francisco Chronicle, August 16, 2009, p. A10.

[lx] Dr. Geetha Raghuveer, Children’s Hospital in Kansas City, 2008 study

[lxii] Dawn Clifford, PhD, RD, Assistant Professor and Dietetic Program Director

Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences, California State University, January 27, 2010 email.

[lxiii] Americanheart.org/healthierkids or clintonfoundation.org


Live It! A program to help sixth-graders to exercise and heat healthy foods.  Kids are encouraged to take at least 10,000 steps a day. Liveitprogram.com




[lxiv] www.fistulafoundation.org. See the film “A Walk to Beautiful,” (2007) about village women in Ethiopia who receive an operation so they can return to normal life. It shows the young women in their villages and in the hospital, a glimpse into village life.

[lxv] Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. Alfred a. Knopf, 2009

[lxvi] Ibid

[lxvii] Study by the Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization, published in the Lancet medical journal in 2007. http://www.gatesfoundation.org/topics/Pages/maternal-newborn-child-health.aspx#

[lxviii] “Start with a Girl: A New Agenda for Global Health” recommends eliminating marriage for girls under age 18, HIV prevention for girls, and completion of high school, etc. http://www.cgdev.org/content/publications/detail/1422899/

[lxix] Study by Professor Kaye Wellings and other professors. “Sexual behaviour in context: a global perspective.“ Lancet, 2006; 368(9548):1706-28

[lxx] /www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/childrenandteenagers.html

[lxxi] Dr. Ruth Talks to Kids: Where You Came From, How Your Body Changes, and What Sex Is All About by Ruth K. Westheimer. Toni Weschler. Cycle Savvy: The Smart Teen’s Guide to the Mysteries of Her Body, 2006.

[lxxii] Myra Eby. Clear Skin. Active Interest Media, 2009.

[lxxiv] Go Ask Alice, a question-and-answer service maintained by Columbia University; the Center for Young Women’s Health; TeensHealth, a part of KidsHealth.org; and Teen Wire, an educational site for teens maintained by Planned Parenthood. Sophia Yen, MD also recommends the book Our Bodies, Ourselves (by The Boston Women’s Health Book Collective) to her teen patients. Myths about birth control, sexually transmitted diseases and Pap exams are not dispelled even on several sites reviewed by doctors, the research from Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and the Stanford University School of Medicine study found.

[lxxvi] “A Conversation with Michael Nagler” by Russell Schoch. http://www.quaker.org/chestnuthill/nagler.htm

[lxxvii] Ed. C. Daiute, Z. Beykont, C. Higson-Smith, and L Nucci. International Perspectives on Youth Conflict and Development. Oxford University Press, 2006.

[lxxix] Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, op.cit, p. 182.

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