gay teens face bias in school, legal systems
Gay, lesbian and bisexual teens in the United States are far more likely to be harshly punished by schools and courts than their straight peers, even though they are less likely to engage in serious misdeeds, according to a study published Monday in the medical journal Pediatrics. The findings were based on a national sample of more than 15,000 middle and high school students. Several high-profile bullying and suicide cases across the country have highlighted the harassment of these adolescents by their peers; the new data suggest they also suffer a hidden bias when judged by school and legal authorities. Kathryn Himmelstein, the study's lead author, initiated the research while an undergraduate student at Yale University. Researchers found lesbian, gay and bisexual youths were only slightly more likely to report minor and moderate nonviolent misbehavior, but less likely to engage in serious crimes and violence than their straight peers. Gay teens also were more likely to have been expelled from school.
Florida slips in U.S. health ranking
More Florida children are living in poverty, residents continue to get fatter, and more of us don't have health insurance — three reasons why Florida has dropped from 35 to 37 in this year's America's Health Rankings. The report has been compiled by United Health Foundation, a nonprofit arm of UnitedHealthcare insurance, for the past 20 years. Vermont tops the list as the healthiest state; Mississippi is at the bottom. On the plus side, the survey found that Floridians are smoking less, there have been improvements in cancer and cardiovascular disease control, violent crime has declined, and children are immunized at high rates. For more details, go to www.americashealthrankings.org.
Crash diet before holidays bad idea
Need another reason to take the steady approach to weight management? Consider this: Yo-yo dieting may make you more vulnerable to packing on the pounds, according to a study in the Journal of Neuroscience. Under stressful situations, mice on calorie-restricted diets had escalated amounts of the stress hormone corticosterone, and exhibited symptoms of depression. There was a transformation in the DNA of the mice as well — genes that control eating and stress had changed, and those changes remained after the mice ate enough to go back to their normal, higher weights. While stressed, dieting mice ate more fatty foods than mice that had not dieted. "These results suggest that dieting not only increases stress, making successful dieting more difficult, but that it may actually 'reprogram' how the brain responds to future stress and emotional drives for food," study co-author Tracy Bale of the University of Pennsylvania said in a news release.
Times staff, wires