Can mobile apps make it easier to manage health and fitness?

Whether you're a first-time parent or you're an experienced one, looking out for children's health and wellness is a serious concern. For many adults, managing physical activity has become easier in recent years, with the use of mobile applications targeting health and fitness.

Many of these devices use mobile sensing tools to enhance the ways in which people are able to benefit from them. According to research firm ON World, there could be up to 1.4 billion mobile sensing health and fitness app downloads by 2017 across the globe, Fierce Mobile Health reported. 

"Advances in low power wireless communications, MEMS and multi-sensor arrays have resulted in viable body area network applications for clinical patient monitoring, assisted care, at-home chronic disease management and general wellness," said Mareca Hatler, ON World's research director. "At the same time, there has been enormous growth for mobile sensing apps for smartphones and tablets."

The survey by ON World also demonstrated that nearly 48 percent of individuals who own smart watches would likely use them for health and fitness-related management purposes.

Apps make prescriptions easier to gain
In addition to making it easier for individuals to manage their health and that of their children, mobile apps are also transforming the ways in which people are able to get prescriptions.

In a recent survey including 2,000 participants, researchers with Digitas Health learned that, although 66 percent of individuals would pick up prescriptions from doctors, 90 percent would prefer to receive them through a mobile app.

"We were expecting this to be a little more recent and, looking at heavy smartphone use, we were assuming users would have only recently been diagnosed, or working with a patient," Geoff McCleary, Digitas Health's group director of mobile innovations, told PM LIve. "But we found that we're looking at people that have had a condition for some time and are still doing research and seeking to get additional information."

According to researchers, individuals using mobile apps for prescriptions are of different ages, yet women seem to use them more often than men.

For parents, mobile apps for prescriptions could be an effective way to manage chronic pediatric medical conditions and also determine whether a medication is the right one for children. CNN reported that popular mobiles apps include ZocDoc, which let users book doctor's appointments through the service, and HealthTap, which gives users the chance to submit questions and learn more about overall wellness.

Mobile apps cannot replace the influence that pharmacists have, especially those that provide individualized counseling, but apps can make the selection and balance of new medications more seamless than before. 

Is taste the key to improving medicinal compliance in children?

From stubborn coughs to sore throats, health problems that impact children on a frequent basis can be frustrating for parents to cope with, especially if kids throw temper tantrums at the sight of liquid medicines meant to treat the conditions because they taste a little funny.

According to a new review published in the online version of Clinical Therapeutics, many kids may be rejecting medicine because they have an aversion to its taste, which may be too bitter or acidic for youngsters.

"The problems associated with pediatric drug formulations are enormous and can hinder optimal therapeutic outcomes," said lead author Julie Mennella, Ph.D., a developmental psychobiologist at the Monell​ Chemical Senses Center of Florida State University. "Both the complexity of bitter taste and the unique sensory world of children contribute to this critical issue."

According to the team of researchers led by Mennella, improving medicinal compliance among children may boil down to the simple matter of taste. Boosting drug adherence for kids can occur if parents try to keep this in mind as they discuss with doctors and pharmacists the different options available for treatment.

The full review includes a detailed analysis of the impact that bitter tastes have on children from a biological point of view, and it also explores the various taste responses that they may have to different medicines.

Organizations like the Pediatric Formulation Initiative were developed recently to address the unique needs that children have when it comes to medicines and ways in which pharmaceutical companies can address them through changes in pediatric formulations.

Making medicine taste better
When it comes to children's health and wellness, how can you as a parent try and overcome these challenges? While it may not seem like there is anything that you can do when it comes to making medicine taste better, the fact is, you do have several options.

Many parents decide to explore the benefits of custom flavoring for medicines. Children love having the opportunity to select a flavor that is pleasant for them, and it can also make the bitter taste of medicine go down more easily.

To learn more about custom flavoring, parents should speak with pharmacists about the different options that are available at their local pharmacies. Not all areas have custom flavoring available to consumers, but by reaching out and learning more, individuals can get a better sense of where to find it in local markets. 

Can workplace stress rub off on your children’s health and wellness?

A tough day at work can spell trouble for parents in more ways than one, impacting not only their physical energies, but also their children’s health and wellness, according to findings released by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Researchers sought to uncover the link between workplace stress, health and confidence and family life, as well as the role that supervisors can play in impacting the wellness of employees.

In addition to revealing that work is one of the leading stressors in an individual’s life, the report – which was presented in Los Angeles at a recent annual conference – demonstrated that high levels of job stress can throw the balance of work and home out of sync and leave adults more likely to experience depression and anxiety as opposed to those who are not stressed at work, HealthDay News reported.

“In the research literature there’s correlational evidence that when parents are more stressed, kids are more stressed,” said Leslie Hammer, a professor of psychology at Portland State University in Oregon, and director of the Center for Work – Family Stress, Safety and Health. “Kids experience that stress, and it comes out in terms of health compliance, it comes out in terms of behavioral difficulties.”

Signs that a parent may be stressed out include sleeplessness, lack of attention, short-temperedness, making poor food choices and not working out. For children, it can be easy to pick up on these types of changes in mood, and they may make kids more likely to act out or feel frustrated.

Improving stress
If you’re a busy parent and you’re trying to better balance the demands of work and family, you may want to consider a few of these tips.

For starters, you should consider if the job is worth the stress it could be putting on your home life. If a job is pushing you to your limits but you don’t think it’s worthwhile, don’t be afraid to start looking around for another position.

Kids may start to duplicate a parent’s behavior, so restlessness, lack of sleep and bad eating habits could show that your children are affected by your stress.This in turn could leave kids more vulnerable to colds, the flu and other chronic pediatric conditions that can impact health and wellness.

If your loved ones are feeling the strain, why not plan a family outing to a park, museum or local amusement park? These can be easygoing ways to reconnect with children and a partner without breaking the bank, and they can be helpful for overcoming stress.

Could your TV habits be rubbing off on your kids?

If you want your son or daughter to ease up on the amount of time he or she spends glued to the television, you may want to turn off the tube yourself more often.

Findings to be published in the August print edition of the journal Pediatrics revealed that children’s TV viewing habits are impacted heavily by the amount of time parents spend watching TV.

“The best predictor of children’s TV time is their parents’ TV time,” said study author Amy Bleakley, a policy research scientist at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center in Philadelphia. “If Mom and Dad automatically turn on the TV when they have free time, it’s likely that their kids will learn to do the same.”

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, kids under the age of 2 should not be allowed to watch any TV, while children over 2 shouldn’t watch more than two hours of TV daily.

Excessive TV viewing could mean that children are leading mostly sedentary lives, which in turn could contribute to weight gain and obesity.

According to a recent study published in BioMed Central Journal, the number of hours that a child spends in front of the tube could directly correlate to a growth in his or her waistline over time, My Kids Health reported.

Promoting children’s health and wellness
Watching too much TV may not seem like a problem for children, but it may make youngsters more susceptible over time to a range of other health issues, including obesity.

A child who doesn’t have proper nutrition or who is overweight could also be more likely to be impacted by colds, the flu or a chronic pediatric condition related to having a weakened immune system.

Parents who are eager to promote children’s health and wellness should consider reducing the amount of viewing time that youngsters have each week for TV – by limiting the hours a child spends in front of the tube, parents may have an easier time encouraging him or her to get out and exercise.

For those who are sick, parents may struggle with ways to get children to take medicines. One major stumbling block when it comes to getting kids to follow through with necessary treatments is taste – many may resist taking liquid medicine because of how it tastes, which is why making medicine taste better is crucial.

To help with this, parents should speak with their local pharmacists about custom medicine flavoring. Having the option to pick out a favorite flavor for liquid drugs can help children feel more excited about not just taking medicine, but feeling better in the process!

Kids should be the ones to talk to allergists about asthma

Maintaining children’s health and wellness is a major concern for parents and healthcare providers alike, and when kids are struggling with chronic pediatric medical conditions like asthma, it can make this an ongoing issue.

However, a recent study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology discovered that there may be a more effective way to help kids who are affected by asthma.

Researchers suggested that instead of having parents do all of the talking, children should speak to allergists directly about their symptoms and how the condition – which is characterized by wheezing and difficulty breathing – affects their daily lives.

“Our research shows that physicians should ask parents and children about the effects asthma is having on the child’s daily life,” said study lead author Margaret Burks, M.D., of the pediatrics department of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

An estimated 80 children took part in the study, along with their parents. After working with the kids, all of whom were asthmatic, researchers learned that there are a few essential topics that they should bring up when speaking with a medical professional.

Children should speak with their allergists if they find that asthma has interfered with their abilities to play sports, or if symptoms get worse outside of the house, as this can be a sign that pollen, mold or another allergen is what is behind frequent asthma attacks.

If a youngster feels isolated or melancholy as a result of asthma, this can be important to bring up with a healthcare provider, as well as whether he or she has missed school due to episodes.

The impact of asthma on kids
According to the American Lung Association, an estimated 7.1 million children under the age of 18 are impacted by asthma, and factors that could trigger an episode include respiratory colds, the flu, excitement or stressful stimuli, indoor or outdoor pollutants, and a range of other elements.

In addition, the ALA reported that asthma is the third-leading cause of hospitalization among children under 15, which highlights how pervasive and problematic this condition can be.

For parents who do find a course of treatment for asthma for children, pharmacy automation can make it easy to maintain medication adherence and boost kids’ overall health.

Reaching out to a pharmacist in the area and discussing other ways of improving compliance with treatments can help parents do their best to ensure that children stay well, even when they have to cope with a long-term condition like asthma.

How to manage a child’s gluten-free diet at a barbecue

During the summer months, parents may find themselves frequently piling the kids into the family car and headed to the homes of friends and relatives for a festive cookout.

While these get-togethers can be an excellent time for grown-ups and little ones alike, it’s important that adults take the time to consider the types of foods that children will be consuming at these shindigs. For parents of kids affected by celiac disease, these barbecue menus can be especially important to consider during the summer.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that results in an intolerance to gluten – a class of proteins present in wheat, rye, barley and other grains, according to the Nemours Foundation.

Children and adults with celiac disease, or a sensitivity to gluten, may suffer from a range of symptoms, including rashes, bloating, diarrhea, weight loss or abdominal pain that could affect everyday life in a major way.

Staying safe at cookouts
During a barbecue or mixed party setting, there may be a smattering of meals of all different varieties. It also may not be uncommon to find plates of hot dogs, cheeseburgers, cookies and cupcakes scattered across patio tables. However, these dishes may not be gluten-free, and as a result could irritate children’s sensitive systems.

“When going to a cookout, parents with a child who is gluten-free because of celiac disease or a wheat allergy need to make sure that cross-contamination has been avoided and that they read labels carefully,” said Mary Kay Sharrett, M.S., R.D., from the Celiac Disease Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, in a hospital news release.

According to experts, one great way that parents can overcome risks to children is to bring gluten-free foods to events, including fruit or meat that has been grilled without seasoning. Avoiding cross-contamination can also be crucial to preventing flare-ups of the condition.

“Closely watch the condiments,” Sharrett added. “Read the labels, and if squeeze bottles aren’t being used, try to be first in line to avoid contamination from knives that have touched bread containing gluten.”

Children’s health and wellness is a major concern for parents, which underscores the importance of planning and preparedness, especially if children grapple with chronic pediatric conditions like celiac disease.

While celiac disease impacts one in 133 people, those impacted by it need to follow a diet that is highly specialized and specific. If you suspect your child has celiac disease and you want to manage it better, you should consider reaching out to a healthcare provider today.


Active video games may help kids enjoy better health

Children enjoy playing video games because they can experience what it might be like to go on interactive adventures, but in many cases playing video games can rob kids of the physical activity they need to stay healthy.

According to a recent study published in BMJ Open, there may be a great way for parents to overcome this: investing in video games that are more active!

Researchers at Curtin University, in Perth, Western Australia, revealed that more physically engaging games can boost children’s level of exercise. Overall, kids in developed countries may spend as much as 90 minutes every day playing video games, HealthDay News reported.

After following 56 children between the ages of 10 to 12 over the course of eight weeks, researchers learned that slight increases in physical activity that active video games can yield may help kids stave off the harmful effects of inactivity. This is especially essential as more youngsters incorporate computers and smartphones into their days.

“While our study focused on the home setting, school offers another opportunity for more active technologies such as sit-stand desks or active-input electronic media as part of lessons,” said the study’s authors. “Therefore small changes across a variety of these platforms could result in a more substantial clinical impact.”

Making kids more active
Are your little ones turning into couch potatoes right before your very eyes? This can be a disheartening thing to witness and can leave you feeling frustrated that you haven’t done more as a parent to instill your children with a love of exercise.

But thankfully there are many ways that you can get kids animated about working up a sweat either indoors or in the great outdoors – all you need to do is get started!

The Nemours Foundation recommends getting kids excited about doing aerobic activities like bicycling, basketball, swimming, soccer, tennis and jogging. Any of these feats can help children build muscle endurance, strength and increased flexibility.

Among the additional benefits of exercise include reduced risk of obesity and a range of chronic pediatric medical conditions that may be caused by high blood pressure or cholesterol levels.

For youngsters who may be affected by a cold or flu that keeps them from exercising, parents should consider speaking to a local pharmacist about the benefits of custom flavoring for liquid medicines.

Similar to exercise, which can help kids take command of their overall wellness, custom flavoring can be a beneficial way for youngsters to feel more enthusiastic about getting better and can help medicine taste better.

Can parents make kids more excited about eating vegetables?

Getting kids to eat all their vegetables is a struggle as old as time itself for some parents, and while some little ones may have a natural proclivity for that leafy green stuff, for most youngsters the mere thought of nibbling on a carrot or piece of broccoli is enough to trigger one mean temper tantrum.

Despite all the bellyaching that kids are sure to give over eating vegetables, most parents understand why it’s essential that children have a few servings throughout the day. And according to a recent study published in Psychological Science, the journal of the Association for Psychological Science, it may be possible to transform children’s reactions to eating veggies after all.

Researchers at Stanford University discovered that a conceptual approach to boosting nutrition, complete with talking to kids about why it is important that they eat a variety of vegetables, may resonate with youngsters on a deeper level.

“Children have natural curiosity – they want to understand why and how things work,” said the researchers. “Of course we need to simplify materials for young children, but oversimplification robs children of the opportunity to learn and advance their thinking.”

To boost children’s veggie consumption, educational materials like nutrition books that focus on themes like digestion, the importance of diversity in food consumption and the role of nutrients for biological functions can help give kids new insight into why vegetables are so integral to daily diet.

Improving children’s health
For parents, encouraging kids to practice healthier habits can be difficult, and with everything from eating vegetables to taking medicine during cold or flu season, parents can often encounter more than a little reluctance.

When it comes to vegetables, kids may thumb their noses, but parents can overcome this with a few key tips. CNN recommends that parents consider establishing a “no thank you bite” rule, wherein children are only allowed to push a serving of veggies away if they’ve taken at least one bite from their plates.

Other suggestions include having a vegetable-themed night with children where the only dishes are comprised entirely of nutritious leafy greens and other vitamin-rich veggies. In addition, letting kids pick out veggies themselves in the supermarket can help them better appreciate which ones that they eat, and the aromas and brilliant shades of many popular vegetables can be a great way for youngsters to get animated about devouring everything on their plates.

This same logic – letting kids take the reins on what they can have – is why custom flavoring for medicine can be such an exciting option to extend to children. For liquid medicines, picking out a unique and tasty flavor can help kids get more excited about making medicine taste better for colds, the flu and other health issues that may emerge.

Can seasonal allergies strike in the summertime?

The summer months mean fun in the sun for parents and children alike, but if you’re the mom or dad of a little one affected by seasonal allergies, those good times may be put on hold while you figure out how to best treat your child’s health issues.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6.7 million children were impacted by hay fever in 2011, the most recent year statistics were released. About 11 percent of youngsters were also affected by respiratory allergies, which can make it difficult for kids to breathe easy.

“Contrary to popular belief, seasonal allergies don’t only strike in the spring and fall months,” said allergist Richard Weber, M.D., president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. “Allergies are also common in the summer and can even last year-round for some sufferers.”

According to the ACAAI, allergies in the summertime are often triggered by grass pollens and mold spores, and the latter frequently outnumber the former, meaning that it’s pretty easy for children who are sensitive to either mold or pollen to start feeling under the weather!

For some parents, it may also be tough to distinguish allergy symptoms from those of a cold or flu. If a child’s symptoms last more than two weeks, it’s likely allergies that are the cause. However, if his or her health issues progress over a few days from a mild cough to a severe one or a sneezy, runny nose, a summer cold may be what’s giving your child problems.

Making medicine time better
Building a meaningful relationship with your pharmacist is one important way to help your child through a tough allergy season. Your community pharmacist is always available and is a great resource for questions you may have regarding your son or daughters allergies and any medications he or she is taking. If your child struggles with the taste of liquid allergy medicines, talking to your local pharmacist directly can help you learn new tips on how to make your son or daughter like the taste of medicine better.

Custom flavoring is one great option that can make treatment fun for kids and easier for parents overall. To learn more, talk to your pharmacist today!

Vitamin D deficiency linked to allergies and asthma for obese kids

Children and teenagers who are overweight or obese may be affected by asthma, allergies or other chronic conditions that can be tough to cope with. While there could be many causes behind severe cases of asthma or allergies, a recent study presented on June 18 at the Endocrine Society’s 95th Annual Meeting in San Francisco, Calif., suggests that vitamin D deficiency may be the reason why.

“The increased risk for asthma and allergies, and for more severe cases of allergic disease, in overweight and obese adolescents has not previously been understood,” said lead investigator Candace Percival, M.D., a pediatric endocrinology fellow at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. “However, past research has shown that vitamin D is important for a normal immune system and that vitamin D deficiency is common in obese individuals.”

The researchers recruited 86 participants for the study between the ages of 10 and 18. Of the youngsters involved, 54 were either overweight or obese as determined by their body mass index rating, while the remaining were within a healthy weight range.

Researchers measured the levels of leptin and adipokines, a type of hormone coming from fat cells, that were in the participants’ bodies. Then, they conducted tests to determine what effect vitamin D had – or failed to have – on these two hormones. Ultimately, they learned that adipokine levels for obese youngsters were strongly affected by vitamin D and allergies.

“This is the first study, to our knowledge, that ties together the relationship of vitamin D deficiency and increased allergy risk and severity in obese and overweight adolescents,” added Percival.

Some foods that are rich in vitamin D that kids are sure to love include fortified cereals, dairy products and eggs, which also offer vitamin B12. In addition, types of fish like salmon, tuna and herring can be a great source of vitamin D, but chances are the little ones won’t be as excited about those dishes as they would a big bowl of cereal!

Tips for giving medicine to children
Parents who have kids that struggle with allergies or other conditions like the cold, flu, or sore throat, understand the importance of giving youngsters medicine that will treat their symptoms. However, getting little ones to take liquid medicines can sometimes be a hassle, which is why something like custom flavoring can be a terrific option.

For kids, being able to personalize the taste of medicine with exciting choices can make the process of taking syrups more fun. Parents can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that children are not only getting better, but also enjoying the great taste of medicine along the way.

For an independent pharmacy, offering a flavoring option for popular children’s medicines can help enhance the pharmacy customer experience and brand loyalty. Both of these can be important elements to building better, more trusting relationships with clients and improving overall medicinal compliance.