A century ago, Americans were among the tallest people in the world — and each generation could expect to be taller than its predecessor. These days, we're coming up short. Or more precisely, shorter. The average stature of an 18-year-old American male has declined over the past 20 years; American women stopped getting taller, on average, back in 1988, according to a published study in the journal eLife.
Today, the typical American man is 5 feet 9 inches, the typical woman 5 feet 4 inches, which puts us below most European countries and Australia in terms of height gain.
There's a serious public health component to the news. Being taller is associated with better health and higher earnings so a slow-down in physical stature might be saying something worrisome about our overall fitness.
Over the years, the scientific debate over the merits of regularly eating breakfast versus losing weight has whipsawed back and forth, but one thing seemed constant: Children should eat breakfast in the morning to boost their cognitive skills. A bright kid is a full kid.
Or not. A study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that breakfast consumption did not have any appreciable effect on keeping kids' minds sharp. Researchers gave a series of cognitive tests to children, ages 8 to 10, who had either had breakfast or not eaten all morning. There wasn't any different in performance.
Chew on that with your morning oatmeal.
Body of Knowledge
Feet have 500,000 sweat glands and can produce more than a pint of sweat a day.
Get me That, Stat!
Children under the age of 15 visit the emergency room for traumatic brain injury more often than any other age group, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The most common cause of brain injury are falls, followed by accidental blow to the head from another person or object, like what might happen in some sports.
Life in Big Macs
One hour of working as a masseuse burns 272 calories (based on a 150-pound person) or the equivalent of 0.4 Big Macs with cheese.
Bagging: Manual respiration for a patient having trouble breathing by using a handheld squeeze bag attached to a facemask
Phobia of the week
Batonophobia: fear of plants
Never Say Diet
The Major League Eating record for sour pickles is 5 pounds, 11.2 ounces in 6 minutes, held by Patrick Bertoletti. Warning: Most of these records are held by professional eaters; the rest by people who really should find something better to do.
Practice safe eating. Always use condiments.
"Neurotic means he is not as sensible as I am, and psychotic means he's even worse than my brother-in-law."
—American psychiatrist Karl Menninger (1893-1990)
This week in 2004, Swiss-American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross died at age 78. Ross was an authority on the psychology of dying, best known for her idea that the terminally ill typically go through five attitudinal stages as they move toward death: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and, finally, acceptance.
Q: Which of these cheeses should a woman avoid during pregnancy?
A: c) feta. Soft cheeses like feta, Camembert, brie, blue and Mexican-style tend to be made from raw or unpasteurized milk, which can carry germs like bacteria that cause listeriosis. Pregnant women are 13 times more likely to contract listeriosis, which can be harmful, even life-threatening, to woman and baby.
"Since the day of my birth, my death began its walk. It is walking towards me, without hurrying."
French poet, artist and filmmaker Jean Cocteau (1889-1963)
To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.