Friday, November 03, 2006

3035 Teenagers and high risk behavior

Although we were all shaking our heads around here when an Ohio State freshman was killed trying to exit an elevator in which 24 young bodies were packed (a 6' x 7' space), we sort of knew what was going through their heads when each followed the other on the way to that young man's death. Kids that age don't seem to understand consequences, and that's what Sharon Begley was writing about in her Health column today in the WSJ. She says there is new evidence that teens underestimate risk--of STDs, pregnancy, drunk driving, etc. She wrote:

"Young people are especially bad at resisting risk when they are with their peers and when they make decisions on the spur of the moment--the emotional brain hijacks the logical one, so knowing the numberical risk of driving drunk won't stop them. That information is suppressed." So apparently is the knowledge about weight loads in elevators, even though it's posted in every elevator I've ever been on. So apparently is experience, since many of these kids had probably been in that same elevator when it balked between floors with fewer passengers.

I was reading her article and watching the people coming in to Panera's (bakery, deli specializing in fresh and creative meals) for the Friday Follies--that's where someone from the office buys a huge shopping bag full of goodies to take in to work--brownies, huge bagels (about 450 calories) with packets of cream cheese, sweet rolls, bear claws, etc. I'm guessing 90% of the people I saw in line were overweight, and about 10% were grossly obese. All were adults.

If education, experience, pain, poor health, medical warnings, peer pressure and controlled impulsivity mean anything, Ms. Begely, why are adults not using these in making day-to-day food decisions?

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