Saturday, November 07, 2009

The myopia epidemic among children (in addition to CEOs)

New Scientist ( issue 2733. Nov 6, 2009) reports on another lifestyle threat to children's health:

[R]ates of short-sightedness, or myopia, were rising to epidemic proportions around the world. Today, in some of the worst-affected countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, around 80 per cent of young adults are myopic, compared to only 25 per cent a few decades back.

Rates are lower in western countries - between 30 and 50 per cent - but myopia seems to be rising steadily here too. What could be causing this mysterious epidemic?

"Our findings suggest that being outdoors, rather than sport per se, may be the crucial factor," says Rose. The theory has since been backed up by a study of 1249 teenagers in Singapore, led by Seang-Mei Saw at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore (British Journal of Ophthalmology, vol 93, p 997).

On average the children in Sydney spent nearly 14 hours per week outside, and only 3 per cent developed myopia. In contrast, the children in Singapore spent just 3 hours outside, and 30 per cent developed myopia. Once again, close work had a minimal influence; the Australian children actually spent more time reading and in front of their computers than the Singaporeans (Archives of Ophthalmolology, vol 126, p 527).

It appears that peripheral vision is the first thing to go when children spent most of their time indoors.

Stop reading this. Go out and play!

tags: problem, solution, health, niche construction

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