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Can Facebook Help Screen For Underage Drinkers - HER Week In Health

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In this edition of EmpowHER's "HER Week in Health" for the week of October 7, 2011, Bailey Mosier talks about a study that shows how Facebook may serve as an additional screening source for underage drinkers, discuss how peer mentors may be able to help curb childhood obesity, and finally explore a study that says that adults who describe their health as poor may have a greater risk for developing dementia.

Hi, I’m Bailey Mosier. This is your EmpowHER HER Week in Health.

U.S. health officials estimate half of all college students drink alcohol and in this week’s edition, we’ll learn how Facebook may serve as an additional screening source for underage drinkers. We’ll also learn that peer mentors may help curb childhood obesity and adults who self-rate their health as poor may increase their risk for developing dementia.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin found verbal and visual cues on college students' Facebook profiles can highlight their alcohol consumption and point out who's most at risk for abuse.

More than 1,700 college students die every year in alcohol-related incidents and researchers found 58 percent of underage college kids whose profiles raised problem drinking concerns were, in fact, at risk for having such a problem.

Additionally, 38 percent of those whose profiles referenced alcohol in what was thought to be a "harmless" manner were also found to be at risk for alcohol issues.

These Facebook postings may serve as an additional way for friends and family to spot drinking problems, and from there, take necessary actions to address the problem.

Obesity among adolescents has more than tripled over the past 40 years, and recent estimates find that over 18 percent of teens in the U.S. are obese.

According to a study published in Childhood Obesity, education and mentoring targeting obesity and delivered in high schools by peers has been shown to have a significant impact on teen diet and physical activity.

A new program called HealthCorps was developed and implemented in five intervention schools to educate students about physical fitness and nutrition, and encourages them to lead a healthier lifestyle.

Half of the students became more active and a quarter of girls reduced soda consumption significantly. Researchers say that peer mentoring can help with childhood obesity, but this study shows it’s not the only solution.

A recent study found that people who rate their health as poor or fair appear to be significantly more likely to develop dementia later in life.

In a study published in the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology Researchers examined 8,169 people age 65 years or older and found the risk of dementia was 70 percent higher in people who rated their health as poor and 34 percent higher in people who rated their health as fair compared to those who rated their health as good.

Previous research tells us that having a large social network and social activities are associated with a decreased risk of dementia and thus, the researchers believe it's possible that rating one's health as poor might be associated with behaviors that limit social interaction and in turn accelerate the dementia process.

That wraps up your EmpowHER HER Week in Health. Join me here, every Friday, as we recap the latest in women’s health.

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