Parental Stress Linked To Child Obesity

PHILADELPHIA (UPI) — Stressed-out parents are more likely to have obese children, U.S. researchers suggest.

“Stress in parents may be an important risk factor for child obesity and related behaviors,” Dr. Elizabeth Prout-Parks, a nutrition specialist at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who was the study leader, said in a statement. “The severity and number of stressors are important.”

Among the parental stressors associated with childhood obesity were poor physical and mental health, financial strain and leading a single-parent household, Prout-Parks added.

The researchers analyzed self-reported data from 2,119 parents and caregivers who participated in telephone surveys in the 2006 Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey/Community Health Database.

The households contained children ages 3-17, among whom 25 percent were obese. Among the variables included were parental stressors, parent-perceived stress, age, race, health quality and gender of children, adult levels of education, body mass index, gender, sleep quality.

The study, scheduled to be published in the November issue of the journal Pediatrics, found of the measured stressors, single-parent households had the strongest relationship with child obesity, while financial stress had the strongest relationship for a child not being physically active.

Neither parent stressors nor parent-perceived stress was associated with decreased fruit and vegetable consumption by their children, but there was an association between parent-perceived stress and more frequent fast-food consumption by children.

Women May Add 10 Years By Quitting Smoking

OXFORD, England (UPI) — Smoking costs women at least 10 years of life on average, but quitting at about age 30 may gain back those years, researchers in Britain said.

“Both in Britain in the United States, women born around 1940 were the first generation in which many smoked substantial numbers of cigarettes throughout adult life,” Richard Peto of the University of Oxford said in a statement. “Hence, only in the 21st century could we observe directly the full effects of prolonged smoking, and of prolonged cessation, on premature mortality among women.”

Two-thirds of all deaths of smokers in their 50s, 60s, and 70s are often due to smoking-related diseases, including lung cancer, chronic lung disease, heart disease and stroke.

However, the study, published in The Lancet, found women who stopped smoking at about age 30 reduced their risk of premature death to due to cigarettes by 97 percent.

The Million Women Study recruited 1.3 million women in Britain ages 50 to 65 from 1996 to 2001. Participants completed a questionnaire about their lifestyle, medical and social factors and then took another survey three years later.

At the start of the study, 20 percent of the study participants were smokers, 28 percent were ex-smokers and 52 percent had never smoked.

The researchers found women who were still smokers when surveyed three years later were nearly three times as likely as non-smokers to die over the next nine years.

Advice: Text, Don’t Call, In Hurricane

NEW YORK (UPI) — U.S. wireless carriers, preparing for the impact of Hurricane Sandy Monday, urged customers to text rather than call to reduce network congestion.

“Limit non-emergency calls to save battery power and free up wireless networks for emergency workers and operations, and send brief text messages instead,” Verizon Wireless said in a hurricane preparedness statement reported by NBC News.

“When the network gets busy, texts have a higher chance of getting through the first time and can be more efficient,” the statement said.

Wireless carriers also suggested users keep their phones, and accessories like chargers and spare batteries, in sealed plastic bags to avoid water damage.

If cell service goes down in users’ areas but their home WiFi network remains on, they should switch their phones to WiFi, carriers said.

All carriers have been setting up portable cell sites and mobile emergency generators in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast that can replace cell towers that could be damaged in the storm, NBC reported.

Old English Sheepdog Breed ‘Vulnerable’

LONDON (UPI) — The Old English Sheepdog breed has been put on a “vulnerable” breed watch list because of declining puppy registrations, Britain’s Kennel Club says.

The sheepdogs have been affected by the increasing popularity of small, so-called “handbag dogs” such as Chihuahuas and pugs, Kennel Club officials said.

There have been just 316 sheepdog puppy registrations so far this year, and a breed is considered “vulnerable” if registrations drop below 300.

In comparison, there were were 2,669 Chihuahuas and 5,496 Pugs registered.

The decline in the Old English sheepdog is partly due to lifestyle changes, said Bill Lambert, manager of the Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme.

“It needs a lot of grooming and exercise and so is not suitable for the fast paced urban lifestyles of many people,” he told the BBC.

“But it is also a lot to do with fashion. Despite the fact that Old English sheepdogs have good temperaments and can make fantastic family pets, their popularity is being eclipsed by more fashionable foreign breeds that can be much harder to train and care for.”

The sheepdog is one of a number of native breeds that are experiencing declines, including the field spaniel and the sky terrier, the Kennel Club said.

Hurricane Sandy Inspires Online Humor

NEW YORK, (UPI) —  Hurricane Sandy, headed for the east coast of the United States, sparked online humor in the form of Twitter posts and images featuring other famous Sandys.

The storm sparked the creation of several Hurricane Sandy-related Twitter accounts — some serious, some humorous — as well as several joking images superimposing the faces of “SpongeBob Squarepants” squirrel Sandy and Olivia Newton-John’s character of the same name in “Grease,” the New York Post reported Monday.

“Hopelessly devoted to ruining Halloween,” reads the caption on one image, which put Newton-John’s face on the hurricane for a joke on the song “Hopelessly Devoted to You” from “Grease.”

“Dear Spongebob, please keep Sandy under control,” one Twitter user wrote. “She’s getting out of hand. Sincerely, Everyone.”

Man Willing To Pay $200,000 For A Penny

HOLLANDALE BEACH, Fla., (UPI) —  A Florida coin trader says he would pay $200,000 for a copper penny minted in 1943.

The 1943 copper penny is quite rare, as that year United States mints in Denver, Philadelphia and San Francisco struck nearly all 1 billion pennies in zinc-coated steel because of a copper shortage due to World War II, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported Saturday.

A few copper blanks were left in the hopper from 1942 and were struck into 1943 pennies. The exact number of copper 1943 pennies in the world varies — the U.S. Mint, which never entered the coppers in the official record, said there were 40 or more.

Michael O’Higgins, 57, of Hallandale Beach, has placed an ad in a local paper offering $200,000 to anyone for one of the pennies, which can be worth more than $2 million.

“A lot of the time it’s a wild goose chase,” he said.

O’Higgins said this is the first time he has bought an ad looking for the penny but he figured it’s worth a shot.

“Everyone should look in their change,” he said.

Restaurant Worker Foils Robbery With Soup

BRAIDWOOD, Ill., (UPI) —  An employee at an Illinois Subway restaurant stopped a robbery by throwing a pot of soup at an armed robber wearing a ghost mask, police said.

The attempted robbery happened at 6:45 p.m. Friday when an employee was leaving the restaurant and was forced back inside by the masked bandit, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

“He pushed her down to the floor and kept yelling to open the register,” said Braidwood Police Chief Rich Girot. “A male employee threw a pot of soup at the suspect and they scuffled until [the robber] ran out to a black compact car.”

Neither of the employees was injured, but the woman was “shaken up” and taken to a hospital for examination, Girot said.

Girot said police were reviewing footage from security cameras.

Man Gets Romney Logo Tattooed On Face

INDIANAPOLIS, (UPI) —  A 30-year-old Indiana man says an eBay user paid him $15,000 to have the Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign logo tattooed on his head.

Eric Hartsburg posted an eBay listing in August offering the side of his head as permanent ad space for whatever the winning bidder chose, ABC News reported.

The winning bidder — a Republican eBay user who preferred to remain anonymous — paid $15, 000 to have Hartsburg tattoo Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign “R” logo on his face. Hartsburg got the tattoo Tuesday.

Hartsburg said the eBay listing started as a joke.

“In the beginning it was done for gags and publicity, but now I see it as a way to encourage young people to vote.

“We have so many rights that we don’t utilize and young people need to exercise that right,” he said.

Hartsburg is auctioning off his forehead space now, with a minimum bid of $5,000. His only requirement for bidders is that it their ads not be racist or otherwise offensive.

Couple Hope To Get Kidnapped Pooch Back

NEW YORK, (UPI) —  A New York man says a woman kidnapped his dog when he left the pooch outside a Starbucks for a few minutes so he could buy his wife a cappuccino.

David Maidman said he left the 8-year-old labradoodle, Teddy, tied to a phone booth, something he has done many times, the New York Post reported.

I consider him like a son,” Maidman said.

“I’m 76. I’ve had dogs all my life — this one is the best. I spend more time with him than any human being, actually.”

Maidman and his wife, Nancy, posted 200 flyers around their Upper East Side neighborhood after the dog was taken Sept. 11. They have also posted a notice on Craigslist offering a reward.

A friend with connections finally convinced police to get involved this week, Nancy Maidman said.

Police were following up on a tip from a Food Emporium employee who said a “distraught” woman bought dog food the night the labradoodle was taken. They have found video surveillance footage of a young woman with what appears to be the missing pooch. The clip was released Friday.

States: Voters Report Intimidation Scams

WASHINGTON, (UPI) —  Election officials in U.S. swing states have reported getting complaints of phony phone calls, fraudulent letters and other voter intimidation efforts.

Florida’s State Department reported some voters were being targeted with fraudulent efforts meant to keep them home on Nov. 6, CBCNews.com reported.

Chris Cate, the department’s communications director, said between 50 and 100 Floridians in at least 28 counties recently got letters telling them questions had been raised about their citizenship and right to vote. The letters, printed on phony letterhead from Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent, told recipients to return voter eligibility forms within 15 days of receipt.

“A non-registered voter who casts a vote in the state of Florida may be subject to arrest, imprisonment, and/or other criminal sanctions,” the letter said.

Cate said the letters have shown up across the state, While Democrats and independent voters have gotten them, Cate said a “significant majority” of recipients are Republicans.

The FBI is working with Florida law enforcement to investigate the letters, CBCNews.com reported.

Cate also said a handful of voters have received calls during which they were told they could vote by phone, which is “not true whatsoever.”

Similar complaints were reported in Virginia, another battleground state. Earlier this month, state election officials said they received complaints from voters who said they’d gotten phone calls telling them they could vote by phone, CBCNews.com said.