The 2009 documentary "Tapped" looks at megacompanies that repackage municipal water and sell it to you in gussied-up plastic bottles for a huge profit, when you could filter your tap water and get a just as healthy (or healthier) beverage for almost nothing.
Clearly Americans still haven't figured this out: Each one of you drank about 39 gallons of bottled water last year, using and throwing out 50 billion plastic water bottles in the process!
That's why we praised the New York City school system for its "water with lunch" campaign that brought large water dispensers (not bottled water) into some public schools: We knew that it would mean kids would consume fewer calorie-laden beverages, drink more water (so important for a healthy metabolism) and eliminate plastic bottles. Win, win, win.
Well, the data on the test run is in. Researchers from the University of Illinois have done a cost-benefit analysis of that campaign and found:
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▪ Expanding the program to public and private schools nationwide can prevent more than 500,000 youngsters from becoming overweight or obese and trim down medical costs associated with kids' weight-related problems.
▪ Making water with lunch available to every K-12 student today would cost only about $18 per pupil. And the net benefit to society? $13 billion over those students' lifetime.
So talk to your local school board and PTA about installing fresh water dispensers in all cafeterias; and stop serving sugar-added beverages of any kind at home. Concerned about water quality? Use an easy-to-install, on-tap water filter.
Recent headlines have suggested that daydreaming is a sign of brilliance. True, as a young man, Einstein was accused of daydreaming, and according to a recent study published in Neuropsychologia, "mind wandering positively correlated with fluid intelligence and creativity." But really, how many daydreamers are Einsteins, Mozarts or even one of The Monkees? So let's back up a few steps and figure out "Oh, what can it mean?"
The study points out that if your child can't seem to keep his or her mind on something for an extended period of time, it may not stem from an attention deficit problem and in "certain instances ... mind wandering may not be inherently harmful."
That's why it's important to have a trained professional make an evaluation.
▪ It's possible that daydreaming is a sign your child isn't getting the stimulation he or she needs to stay involved in learning. Discovering what level of instruction in school will engage a child can transform his or her future. The National Association for Gifted Children can guide you toward testing at www.nagc.org.
▪ Evaluation may reveal that your child has ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), and that's also info you want. Left undiagnosed and untreated, ADHD can cause intellectual, social and emotional problems that persist for a lifetime. Find an evaluation professional through Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder at www.chadd.org.
So stop monkeying around and discover if your daydreamer is the next Einstein, just bored or has ADHD. Finding out and treating the situation appropriately will make you say "I'm a Believer."
Sticking with old friends
In a memorable scene from "I Love Lucy," Lucy and Ethel go onstage to perform a song about friendship, only to notice that they're wearing the same dress, even though each had promised to buy a different one. "It's friendship, friendship, just the perfect blendship," they croon as they begin to rip flowers and ribbons from one another's ensembles in a far-from-friendly display.
While like that duo, you may not always see eye-to-eye with your best friend, evidence shows that it's good to keep your pals around, especially as you get older. The latest discovery comes from Northwestern University's study of SuperAgers — people over 80 whose memory is as good as someone 20 to 30 years younger. Seems the clear-thinking cadre are more likely to have satisfying, high-quality relationships than their peers who are cognitively average.
Add this to research showing that people who are more socially engaged are at a lower risk of heart disease, and you have good reasons to keep in touch with your buddies.
If you're shy or a bit of an introvert, don't worry about it. A few special people you trust and can rely on is all that's needed to get the benefits of social support and affection. And if you could use some more folks in your life, get back in touch with an old friend, or join a community like a gym, a book or bridge club or a walking group. It's never too late to make new friends.
Sounding off about hearing loss
Many in ancient China believed that ear shape was a powerful way to predict one's future. Long ears were a sign of nobility; thicker ears meant more wealth; and long earlobes signified longevity. Liu Bei, founder of the Eastern Han dynasty, was said to have ears reaching to his shoulders.
These days we can't say how wealthy you'll be based on your ear thickness, but we can predict what will happen to you if your hearing is compromised.
Nearly 40 million adults in the U.S. have less-than-optimal hearing, and 28.8 million of them could benefit from using hearing aids. Unfortunately, fewer than 30 percent have ever used them.
If you're part of that crowd, you are risking both your quality of life and your brain function.
▪ A study in the Journal of Personality found that unaddressed hearing loss triggers personality changes: You may become more withdrawn and less outgoing. Research shows that a shrinking social base undermines both longevity and happiness.
▪ A six-year study out of Johns Hopkins found that participants (ages 75-84) with hearing loss had a measurable cognitive decline that was 32 to 41 percent faster than folks without hearing loss.
So if you're cranking up the volume on the TV, asking folks to repeat what they say or just dropping out of conversations you cannot hear, get your hearing tested. It'll improve your health, happiness and cognition. If you need help affording hearing aids, check the Hearing Loss Association of America (www.hearingloss.org). Tip: Less-expensive hearing aids through your smartphone are on the horizon.
Mehmet Oz is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen is chief wellness officer and chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic.