Sustainability for kids

Three interesting kid-related studies all appeared in the news recently.

An article in the Hindustan Times writes up a study from Australia that found an association between high levels of outdoor activity and low rates of short-sightedness (i.e., myopia) in children, “irrespective of how much near work, such as reading, the children did.” I think they said the flip-side was true, too: too much indoor time, more myopia.

An article in the Guardian describes a major study by Play England, part of the UK National Children’s Bureau, arguing that children aren’t playing outside and taking enough risks:

‘Risk-taking increases the resilience of children,’ said one [play provider]. ‘It helps them make judgments,’ said another. Some of those interviewed blamed the ‘cotton wool’ culture for the fact that today’s children were playing it too safe, while others pointed to a lack of equipment or too much concrete in place of grass.

The Times (UK) examines new research into “How your behaviour can change your children’s DNA.” The science of epigenetics suggests that the recent surge in diseases such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease is partly linked to the lifestyles of past generations, and quotes one scientist as saying, “The evidence is increasingly that environmental factors like diet or stress can affect organisms in ways that are transmitted to offspring without any changes to DNA.”

In other words, increased age and unhealthy living tarnishes your DNA, whether you’re a man or a woman. Also, y’know, another quiet little reason not to pollute the hell out of the world.