Could Divorce be Contributing to Childhood Obesity?

Kids face a variety of challenges when their parents divorce, and one those challenges could be gaining WEIGHT.

HealthDay is reporting on new research done in Norway that found that boys are especially prone to excess weight following a divorce.

In a study of 3,000 third-graders, doctors found that boys whose parents had divorced were 63% more likely to be overweight or obese, compared to boys whose parents stayed married.

Lead researcher Dr. Anna Biehl says “Knowing which factors are associated with childhood overweight and obesity is crucial, and is the first step toward being able to prevent it.”

Dr. Biehl and her team caution that they simply found an association between divorce and weight gain, but they can’t say divorce is the cause. They also didn’t account for how long parents had been divorced or lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise.

There are a variety of reasons why kids from divorced families might gain weight, including less supervision at home and family stress

Sara Rivero Conil, a child psychologist at Miami Children’s Hospital points out that divorced families sometimes turn to unhealthy coping behaviors, including emotional eating and decreased activity.

Also, single parents might feel too pressed for time to cook nutritious meals.  Dr. Conil says “Some may resort to unhealthy foods because they are quicker to prepare.  Or a parent who has the kids on a weekend may want to indulge them.”

She encourages parents to keep to a normal routine after a divorce and to maintain a healthy environment, including diet and exercise.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

A Healthy Baby Rolls Around in the Dirt?

Do want a healthy baby?  Get him to roll around in the dirt.

For decades, parents have tried to protect infants from bacteria, but it turns out that may actually be counterproductive.

Linda Carroll from NBC News is reporting on a surprising new study that exposure to household bacteria, cat dander, and even rodent allergens — may help protect infants against future allergies and wheezing.

Interestingly, contact with bacteria and dander after the age of 1 was not protective — it actually increased the risk.

The new findings may help explain earlier studies that seem to suggest that kids growing up in a super clean environment are more likely to develop allergies.

The so-called “hygiene hypothesis” was developed after researchers noticed that farm kids were less likely to have allergies.  It was believed that dirty environments might actually be protective.

The new study found that the protective effect of early exposure to allergens was amplified if the home also contained a wide variety of bacteria.

Dr. Robert Wood at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center  says “It was the opposite of what we expected.”  But he adds, “We’re not promoting bringing rodents and cockroaches into the home, but this data does suggest that being too clean may not be good.”

By the way, the new findings appear to contradict advice experts have been giving to parents on the topic of pets and newborns.

Dr. Wood says “Twenty years ago we used to tell parents to get the cats and dogs out of the house.  This shows that the younger the child is when you get a pet, the better.”

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Why Reading to Young Kids is so Important

If you have young children at home, are you reading to them on a regular basis?  If not, it’s time to start!

Last week the nation’s largest pediatricians’ group said parents should read aloud to their children every day starting in infancy, to help with their language development and their future academic success.

CBS News reports that the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement in which they reminded parents that the first three years of life are a “critical time in child development.  The AAP points out that during those years, children are building language, literacy, and social and emotional skills that will last a lifetime.

The Academy urged pediatricians to spread the message to parents of young children and to provide books to needy families.

They told their members to encourage parents to read to their kids, starting at a very young age, as that “can enhance parent-child relationships and prepare young minds to learn language and early literacy skills.”

To help promote reading, the doctors’ group is teaming up with the Clinton Foundation’s Too Small to Fail program, children’s book publisher Scholastics, and a group called Reach out and Read. That nonprofit group works with doctors and hospitals to distribute books and encourage early reading.

By the way, if you’re a dad, make sure you’re not leaving the reading to mom.  Research shows that boys who are read to by their fathers scored significantly higher in reading achievement.

Also, if a dad enjoys reading and reads for fun, it’s likely his kids will do the same, and score higher on achievement tests when they enter elementary school.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.


Coping With Shyness

Dear Dr. Bill,


My son will be 4 at the end of December.  For as long as I can remember, he has been afraid of walking into a room of people.  He used to cry when we took him to the church nursery, but now he’s doing better at it as long as he can control the steps we go through before he “allows” me to leave.  He also has problems at his daycare center —if we get there too late and any group projects have started, he stands out in the hallway and won’t go in.  My son doesn’t mind playing with kids once he feels comfortable but it’s getting up to that point that I’m concerned about.  What do you suggest?




Dear Lauren,


Shyness can be a social handicap for kids and it can be frustrating for parents to deal with.  It’s important to understand that some kids are born with a genetic predisposition to be less outgoing than others.


Shy children can tend to be more anxious and less willing to tackle things that may be new or less familiar.  Unfortunately, parents can sometimes compound the problem by reinforcing the avoidant behavior either by giving into it, or by criticizing the child’s shyness and harming their self-esteem.


It’s possible that you’ve been reinforcing your son’s fear of groups and new situations by giving in to his demands.  You mentioned that you have to go through several “steps” before he will “allow” you to leave.


You’ll need to start placing limits on this behavior, even though your son may cry, protest, or even tantrum.  Your goal should be to simply take him into the nursery or daycare center, say goodbye, and leave.


Enlist the help of the nursery worker or daycare supervisor to make the transition easier.  Your son isn’t going to like this new plan, and chances are he will raise a huge fuss.  But don’t give in to your his protests.  If you do, you’ll be rewarding him for his acting out, and he’ll only amp up the volume next time.


Thanks for writing Lauren.


I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Good News Story: Grace’s Plane Ride

After a business man interacted with Grace during their flight, her mother wrote him an open letter. Listen to find out why that interaction was so meaningful to Grace and her mom.

Teen Girls Are Cutting & Legalized Marijuana

Teen girls are cutting themselves in record numbers—and sometimes they are doing it with their friends!

A new study out of New Zealand found that nearly 22% of 13- to 16-year old girls surveyed admitted to cutting.

Dr. Shelly James at Massey University says although the number was shocking, that’s not really what caught her attention.

She says the common perception is that cutters are isolated, unpopular outcasts.  But in reality, the cutters were just as likely to be among the most popular kids in school.

Her study also found that many girls had actually self-harmed in front of other people—or actually that girls had engaged in cutting together.

Dr. James says “Approximately 23% of self-harming kids had harmed in front of other people, and nearly 12% had actually harmed in conjunction with another person, so they had harmed together….that was staggering to me.”

In other news, according to the Pew Research Center’s latest poll, 52% of Americans now believe marijuana should be legal. It marks the first time a majority of those polled have been pro-pot.

Also, fewer and fewer Americans believe that smoking marijuana is a moral issue.

Today, just 32% believe it’s morally wrong, compared with 50% just seven years ago.

So what does the bible say about using marijuana?  Well, although it doesn’t specifically address it, it does command us to show self-control (Titus 1:8) and to “have a clear mind in every situation” (2 Timothy 4:5).

If you’re a parent and would like to get some solid facts on marijuana and your kids, go to

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Good News Story: Football Team Rallies Around Waterboy

Watch this inspiring story of a 5th grade football team who rallies around their waterboy who was bullied.


Lisa’s Home School: Best Dog for a Busy Family

Looking to get a family dog this year. Listen to Lisa’s Home School to find out which is the best breed for busy families.


ADHD & Girls

New research shows that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is diagnosed in more than ten percent of children.

Now, you’ve heard the stories of hyperactive boys getting into trouble, but the most recent statistics suggest ADHD is an equal opportunity problem. Nearly as many girls suffer from the condition, but many aren’t diagnosed.

Researchers believe boys are diagnosed more because of their higher profile physical symptoms. Girls tend to struggle with forgetfulness, being easily distracted, losing or misplacing things, or display aggression passively.

If you are the parent of a young girl and have any concerns, talk to her doctor. If your daughter has undiagnosed ADHD, your attention to the matter will put her on a path to a healthier, happier life.

You can read additional blogs by Dr. Larimore on this topic here. Just scroll down the home page to find and click on the article in which you’re interested. In addition, you can see Dr. Walt’s twice-daily devotional, Morning Glory, Evening Grace, here. Last, but not least, limited numbers of autographed copies of Dr. Walt’s books are available here.

Listen to today’s audio here.

How To Cope With an Embarrassing Incident

Dear Dr. Bill,

Our 9-year-old, who had always been very independent, became sick while eating out at a restaurant three months ago. Since that time, she has been extremely resistant to things that never bothered her before. She doesn’t want to eat out, she asks for notes to get out of gym class, and she doesn’t want to venture from home.  What do you suggest?


Dear Terry,

From your description, it sounds like the “restaurant incident” was quite traumatic for your daughter.  If she already leans toward self-consciousness, she now may be fearful of suffering another embarrassing moment in public.  It’s likely she’s trying avoid any situation where she could possibly be scrutinized or subject to embarrassment.

Right now needs an extra measure of your patience, love and encouragement.  Spend some time processing what actually happened in the restaurant.  Encourage your daughter to talk about the emotions she felt.  Was she scared, embarrassed, or feel out-of-control?

Be careful not to “correct” or minimize her emotions by telling her “you shouldn’t feel that way.”  Instead, empathize with her feelings of fear or embarrassment.  This may help her to better understand and emotionally process the experience.

Also, don’t reinforce her avoidant behavior by giving in to her requests to stay away from all social situations.  If you continually allow her to “escape” you will only compound the problem.

Be caring but firm, and insist that she return to her previous schedule and the activities that you know she enjoys.  If she needs a little “hand holding” at first, that’s okay, but eventually insist that she demonstrate the independence she displayed before she became ill in the restaurant.

If the behavior persists, consult with a child psychologist or family therapist.

Thanks for writing, Terry.  I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.