14 Experienced New York City Marathoners Share Their Best Tips for First-Timers

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’ll be at the starting line of the TCS New York City Marathon on Sunday, November 4. Or maybe you hope to be one day!

I called New York City home for six years, and eventually left after my love-hate with the city turned more into a strong dislike for all things urban. That said, my experience running this marathon in 2015 was the moment I fell back in love with New York. The opportunity to cover ground in every single borough and be constantly surrounded by a roar—whether crowds cheering or the foot strikes of runners nearby—turned New York City into something magical that day. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.

With this year’s race just days away, I reached out to a handful of other New York City Marathon veterans to collect their best pieces of advice. From resting on pool floaties beforehand to navigating the more challenging parts of the course, here are the best tips from athletes who know the New York City Marathon experience by heart, lung, and foot.

1. Throw away any expectations and just get out there.

“I know a lot of people get intimidated by NYC Marathon being a notoriously difficult course, but I think that makes it a great first marathon if you have no idea what to compare it to. I always say my first marathon (New York in 2009) was my easiest because I didn’t know what to expect and nothing hurt until it was over.”
Carla Benton, a three-time NYC Marathon finisher (2009, 2013, and 2015), book copy editor, and former Brooklynite now based in Chicago

My thoughts: I’ll vouch for that! Familiarize yourself with the course, but don’t dissect it to the nth degree. Your adrenaline, training, and poise will carry you through the difficult sections—the crowd cheering you on will help, too.

2. Wait at the Staten Island ferry for as long as possible.

“The runners’ village at the start line is overrated. Wait in that Staten Island ferry terminal as long as possible until race officials make you get on the bus. That way you can take advantage of the heat, being indoors, being able to sit down, and indoor plumbing while you still have it.”
Maria Reinstein, a two-time New York City marathoner, NYC-based film critic, and celebrity journalist who loves to run (slowly) in her spare time

My thoughts: Unless you’re a pro runner who gets your own tent, I pretty much agree. However, I took a bus to Staten Island from Prospect Heights in Brooklyn, so didn’t have the opportunity to wait at the ferry terminal. Make sure you figure out how you’re getting to Staten Island, and perhaps just give yourself enough time (but not too much!) to get near the start before it’s time to take off.

3. Stay off your feet as much as you can the day before.

“The day before the marathon I always stay off my feet, sit on my butt, and plan out the places I’m going to eat after the marathon. This is also very helpful for all the people who are coming to watch you because you will have a meeting place post-finish line! And hopefully, it involves pizza and a drink. I highly recommend going to the Kips Bay AMC Movie theater the day before the marathon, too. They have recliner seats!”
Jocelyn Bonneau, a three-time NYC marathon finisher, and apparel designer based in New York

My thoughts: Wise words. Staying off your feet the day before is a great idea. Maybe treat yourself to taking a cab or Lyft, and hydrate while you’re at the movies!

4. Bring a pool float to the start.

“I saw a group sitting on pool toys the first year I ran NYC and now I always bring one for myself. You sit around for 2-3 hours before starting, and having something squishy to prop up against a tree and sit on is a game changer. But you can only get them on Amazon this time of year so you have to think ahead. This is what I bought last year.”
Kelly Roberts, a three-time New York City marathoner, Brooklyn based storyteller, and creator of the #SportsBraSquad

My thoughts: All I can say is I would sign up for the New York City Marathon again only to be able to do this. And P.S.: Kelly will be running this year, so look out for her and her lime green inflatable!

5. Wear an extra layer that you can throw in the donation bins once you start.

“The weather in New York will always be a little bit unpredictable, but it will most likely be on the cool side. Head to an inexpensive clothing store (like Kmart or a drug store) and buy something warm like a coat and gloves that you can wear and throw in a donation box before the gun goes off. There will be plenty right next to your corral!”
Laura Schwecherl, one-time New York finisher, marketing consultant, and writer based in Denver, Colorado

Yes, this is me! I wanted to include a bit of my own advice, too—especially since I’m someone who gets anxious about being cold at the starting line of races. I also have to include this advice from Jocelyn, who says she typically gets an XL kids snowsuit at Kmart. In her words: “They are pretty cheap and they look super cool!” You can also just wear something warm that you’ve been meaning to donate.

6. Follow the instructions from New York Road Runners.

“Follow the arrival directions sent to you by NYRR. They are spot on, and since they have done this before, they’ve got your arrival time and corral times figured out. This prevents you from standing around too long at the start. Oh, and at the end, hug Peter Ciaccia, if you can. Celebrate his last NYC Marathon with him. [Writer’s note: He’s the TCS New York City Marathon race director and is retiring this year.] He is a gem of a human.”
Mirna Valerio, one-time NYC Marathon finisher (10-time marathoner), ultra runner, writer, and speaker based in New York

My thoughts: NYRR does a fantastic job making this race a success year after year. They know their stuff, so take their advice seriously. There are amazing volunteers the day of, too, so use them as a resource and remember to thank them!

7. Start slow so your body can warm up.

“Start the race slow. Give your body time to warm up. This, unfortunately, wasn’t something I did in 2015. I started way too fast and while I set a good pace for the first 16 miles, I really struggled with the last 10. I finished in a lot of pain and needed to take some time to recover.”
Dom Goodrum, one-time NYC Marathon finisher and director of product at Let’s Do This in London

My thoughts: Read this one again and again…and again. My first mile when I ran New York was a minute faster than it should have been (oops). And I ended up running out of gas by mile 20. It’s hard but so important to start conservatively on this course!

8. Save as much energy as you can for the second half.

“It’s easy to run fast out the gate and get fired up in Williamsburg, but when you’re in the Bronx and the crowds die down, you’ll be happy having aimed to run the first 13.1 slower and save some energy.”
Kevin Carpenter, a 4-hour NYC Marathon finisher and consultant based in New York

My thoughts: Kevin brings up a great point here. While the crowds in New York are amazing, there are a few sections where the amount of people does die down. After mile 20 (usually when you start getting really tired) you’re in the Bronx; the crowds up there don’t compare to the wall of cheerers lining up along First Avenue in Manhattan. Be prepared to save some gas for when you’re up in the Bronx and don’t have as much energy to pull from the sidelines.

9. Be extra careful about pacing on the first bridge.

“As you’re wondering what to expect within this life-changing experience, I would tell you to watch out for the first 2 miles, also known as the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. The bridge, spanning almost 14,000 feet across, also stands almost 700 feet high! This bridge will be the toughest you face throughout the course. As your adrenaline is running and your heart is pumping, remember to pace yourself throughout this lengthy and steep bridge as you have quite a trek throughout the rest of the race! Another notable bridge is the Queensboro at mile 15. Remember: Trust your training, pace yourself, keep pushing forward, and smile through the pain. Welcome to NYC!”
Jenna Fesemyer, youngest athlete in the pro wheelchair women’s field and full-time undergraduate student at the University of Illinois, looking to finish her second NYC Marathon this year

My thoughts: This advice came up time and time again, so it’s worth mentioning repeatedly. Pacing yourself for the first 2 miles is key. You still have 24 miles remaining once they’re over! Also, soak in your surroundings when you’re on each bridge. The sights are pretty magnificent.

10. Take advantage of the quiet stretches to check in on yourself.

“The race itself is lively, exciting, energetic, and fun! So first and foremost I would tell a first-timer to simply ENJOY the experience of the crowds and everything in between on race day. The difficulty might start around the Queensboro bridge as there are no crowds to cheer you on. Use that quiet time to do a self-check-in and keep your head in the game but also anticipate the roar of cheers when you come off the bridge. The rest of the race ( Mile 16+) is rolling hills, so take each mile one at a time. Let the energy of the crowd carry you home. Look out for the cheer zones at Mile 10 and Mile 21, with music and confetti and all the high fives you can manage!”
Danni McNeilly, two-time NYC Marathon finisher and administrative professional based in Brooklyn, New York

My thoughts: Queensboro is definitely tough and is indeed very quiet. To stay present, try to listen to everyone’s footsteps or use it as an opportunity to encourage someone running next to you.

11. Make sure you have a fueling strategy.

“I consider NYC to be one of the most challenging courses on the [marathon] circuit. Athletes have to empty their energy tank repeatedly, from the first climb up the Verrazano, through the Queensboro Bridge, and finally through Central Park (and all the climbs connecting those points). This makes a strategic refueling plan all the more important, ensuring optimal hydration and replenishing glycogen stores. Ideally, each athlete races with a personalized refueling strategy developed by a sports nutritionist that addresses their specific needs. But, understandably, that’s not reasonable for everyone, in which case doing a little research on general guidelines is time well spent.”
—Adam Bleakney, eight-time NYC Marathon finisher and head coach of the University of Illinois Wheelchair Track team

My thoughts: I couldn’t agree more. Every runner should have his or her own fueling plan that mirrors long runs and hard workouts. While there are plenty of aid stations on the course, not all of them have food, so make sure you carry the food you are used to eating and don’t solely rely on the fluid tables!

12. Don’t forget to actually take a look around you.

“There are emotional support dogs in the pens before the marathon [specifically for runners to pet]. I grabbed a bagel and some coffee and went to pet a dog, which helped relieve some pre-race nerves. Also, keep an eye out not just for race supporters but other runners. I was blown away by how many Achilles International teams there were with blind/differently abled runners. Don’t miss all of your amazing fellow marathoners!”
Aisha Washington, one-time NYC Marathon finisher and news marketer based in New York

My thoughts: This one is worth writing down. The New York City Marathon is a chance to celebrate everything around you. Also, make sure to look at the signs! People have some pretty witty sayings that have made me laugh out loud when I needed it most.

13. Be mindful about how much energy you’re using.

“Stay focused on the finish line in your mind; you’re gonna need every ounce of effort to get there so be mindful of how much energy you’re leaving out there on the course. Cheering, chit-chat, hugs, and high fives are often tremendously motivating but in some sense, they’re a drain on the finite reserves you have stored for the race. Use your energy wisely—with intention!”
Knox Robinson, 10-time NYC Marathon finisher, writer, founding coach of Nike+ Run Club, and captain of Black Roses NYC crew

My thoughts: This logic is really helpful. The end of this course is pretty difficult, so make sure to soak it all in while dialing into your body, paying close attention to how it’s feeling and what it needs.

14. Have a meeting place set up post-race.

“If you have people meeting you after the race, make sure that you pick a place far enough away from the course, but close enough that it’s easy for you to get to. I made the mistake of not having that location in place and wound up having some frustrating, tired phone calls with my family as my phone was dying and I was trying to get out of the crowd with weak legs!”
Courtney Spiller, a one-time NYC Marathon finisher, writer, and actor from New York

My thoughts: I wish someone had given me this advice. The finish line of the marathon can be quite chaotic, and you might find yourself walking more than you’d like just to get your drop bag and figure out how to exit the park. I remember walking for nearly 30 minutes to find my family since we never decided on an exact place to meet. Don’t be shy about leaving the finish area altogether, too. Once you’ve soaked it all in, the 1, A, C, and D subway lines are near the finish, which can take you straight to your brunch reservations.

At the end of the day, remember to be kind to yourself, especially when things get challenging.

Not to pick favorites, but one of most encouraging pieces of advice, which is fitting for all marathons, also comes from Robinson. He reminds us that in the moments when things get tough, we have to remember to love ourselves. “When the marathon gets hard—and it does get hard—it helps to remember that you are loved. The people who loved you before you set out on this whole crazy journey are still gonna love you when it’s over. You’re YOU and that’s enough—that’s all you need to be in the marathon…and in life.”

So go out there and remember that. You’re a rockstar for even making it to the starting line, and I can guarantee that no matter what happens on Sunday, you’ll cross the finish line feeling exhilarated—and yeah, probably pretty exhausted. It’ll be worth it, I promise.

Lena Dunham Says She’s 6 Months Sober After Years of ‘Misusing’ Her Anti-Anxiety Medication

Lena Dunham revealed recently that she’s been sober for six months after treating a substance abuse problem that began in a doctor’s office.

In Monday’s episode of Dax Shepard’s podcast Armchair Expert, Dunham said she had been misusing the anti-anxiety medication she was prescribed for anxiety, panic attacks, and PTSD.

“I’ve been sober for six months,” she told Shepard. “My particular passion was Klonopin,” which is a type of benzodiazepine (also called benzos). “If I look back, there were a solid three years where I was, to put it lightly, misusing benzos, even though it was all quote unquote doctor prescribed,” she said.

Dunham says that over the years, she started increasingly turning to the medication to manage the anxiety that would otherwise make it difficult to keep up her daily obligations.

She felt like she was required to show up for things she “didn’t feel equipped” for. “But I know I need to do it, and when I take a Klonopin, I can do it,” she explained.

Klonopin made Dunham “feel like the person I was supposed to be,” she continued. “It was like suddenly I felt like the part of me that I knew was there was freed up to do her thing.” Her doctor’s (or doctors’) willingness to prescribe the medication enabled Dunham to keep her worsening habit going, she says. “I didn’t have any trouble getting a doctor to tell me, ‘No you have serious anxiety issues, you should be taking this. This is how you should be existing.'”

After being diagnosed with an additional mental health condition and undergoing stressful medical ordeals to treat her endometriosis (including a total hysterectomy earlier this year), Dunham’s anxiety only grew. “I was diagnosed with pretty serious PTSD. I have a few sexual traumas in my past and then I had all these surgeries and then I had my hysterectomy after a period of really extreme pain,” she told Shepard.

Eventually, she began experiencing symptoms of anxiety, including panic attacks, much more frequently. And as her anxiety ramped up, so did her prescribed dosage and the severity of her Klonopin misuse. “It stopped being, ‘I take one when I fly,’ to ‘I take one when I’m awake,'” she said.

Benzodiazepines are a class of sedatives that are the most commonly prescribed anti-anxiety medications in the U.S.—and they can definitely be habit-forming.

“They help people relax, and they’re good for immediately relieving anxiety,” as well as anxiety-related insomnia, Steven Siegel, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair of psychiatry and the behavioral sciences at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, tells SELF.

Clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium), and alprazolam (Xanax) are all benzodiazepines and induce their calming or sedating effect by increasing the levels of a neurotransmitter called GABA, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). They may be prescribed as a first-line treatment for generalized anxiety disorder and a second-line treatment for panic disorder and social anxiety disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Side effects may include drowsiness, lightheadedness, headache, irritability, constipation, and nausea. And when mixed with other drugs, particularly opioids or alcohol, the sedative effects can be dangerous and even life-threatening.

But they’re really meant to be taken on a short-term or occasional basis. “They were designed to be taken as needed [or] used for days or weeks—not months, and definitely not years,” Timothy Brennan, M.D., director of the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai West and Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospitals and director of the Fellowship in Addiction Medicine Program at the Icahn School of Medicine Mount Sinai, tells SELF.

When used this way, they can be an extremely effective component of an anxiety treatment plan, Dr. Siegel says. For instance, he says, a psychiatrist might give a patient suffering from severe PTSD-related panic attacks a prescription for 10 pills a month to be taken as needed. Or they might prescribe a few days’ worth to somebody who just had a death in the family and is experiencing severe insomnia, or to a person with a severe fear of flying.

The risk for misuse and abuse emerges when people start to use these drugs regularly for a long period of time.

Even though experts know these drugs should only be used in the short term, “people are staying on them for months or even years,” Dr. Brennan says. People may become accustomed to immediately mitigating any feelings and symptoms of anxiety with a pill, he explains. And for somebody suffering from severe anxiety or panic attacks, the attraction of rapidly and reliably alleviating these symptoms is obvious. “It’s understandable someone would want immediate relief,” Dr. Brennan says. “If you take something that works in 15 minutes, like a benzo, you can imagine how challenging it [would be] for somebody to decide that a different drug like an SSRI”— which can take weeks or months to be noticeably effective—”might be better.”

In addition to this psychological reliance, people can develop a tolerance to and chemical dependence on benzodiazepines. That means that your brain becomes accustomed to having the drug in your system and you gradually require more and more to experience the same effects, Dr. Siegel explains. “If you’re using them a lot and often, then you develop a brain chemistry where you cannot function without them,” he says. “And when the substance wears off, you undergo a very recognizable withdrawal syndrome,” Dr. Brennan adds. That might include symptoms like anxiety, insomnia, restlessness, agitation, and, most dangerously, seizures, he explains.

Treatment for benzodiazepine addiction involves gradually tapering off of the drug—and creating a treatment plan to more effectively manage the underlying anxiety issue.

“If you pull the drug away rapidly, you are instantly out of balance in a very dangerous way,” Dr. Siegel says. In order to avoid those intense withdrawal symptoms, it’s crucial to quit benzos under the supervision of a psychiatrist who can help you taper down the dosage very slowly over a span of weeks or months, he adds. A psychiatrist can also help you “cross-taper,” Dr. Brennan says, meaning they will slowly introduce a new drug, like an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which are commonly used to treat depression and anxiety disorders), while decreasing the dose of the benzo. And a therapist can help you developing coping skills to use to manage anxiety in the short term as well as over time.

It’s also important to have supervision because long-term use of benzodiazepines use can actually increase a patient’s baseline level of anxiety, sometimes referred to as “rebound” anxiety. “[The drugs] reset the barometer, so to speak, such that people’s anxiety somewhat worsens over the long term,” Dr. Brennan says.

That makes treating the underlying anxiety with tools other than benzos all the more important. That might include different forms of therapy, different medications, or a combination of the two. Developing a benzo dependence can be a sign that the rest of a person’s treatment plan is not working well enough, Dr. Brennan explains. “Many patients who abuse benzos do it because they feel their anxiety is not controlled.”

The bottom line is that, if you feel your anxiety is still overwhelming even under the current set of tools you have to manage it, talk to your doctor, therapist, or psychiatrist—you have plenty of other options.

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Potential flaw in our assumptions about unknown opinions of others

In our decisions about whether to invest in a certain company, buy tickets to a movie or vote for a political candidate, we are often influenced by what others think. But how exactly do we figure out what others think?

In reality, most people make assumptions about general opinions from a fairly limited number of sources. To better understand this process of predicting opinions, researchers studied how participants responded to two different scenarios. In one scenario, participants viewed a scene in which four people at a restaurant all tried a new brand of bottled water. While waiting for their food, two people got up to wash their hands. The remaining two had a conversation about whether they liked the bottled water or not. The participants themselves were also told they had tried the water before and had either liked or disliked it.

In this scenario, the researchers discovered a pattern in participants’ predictions about the unknown opinions: They assumed the people not present in the conversation — who went to wash their hands — would agree with the majority opinion among the speakers. If the two speakers liked the water, they assumed those not present would like it as well regardless of the participants’ own opinion about the water.

In the second scenario, all four people stayed at the table and had a conversation about the bottled water, but rather than getting up from the table, the two people with unknown opinions remained and were silent in the conversation. The study respondents again were assigned a personal opinion of the new bottled water.

The researchers now found that rather than assuming that the people with unknown opinions agreed with the majority opinion, the respondents in this scenario predicted that the silent people agreed with their own opinion. This happened even when the participants’ own opinion was outnumbered in the group. If both speakers in the conversation liked the water but the study respondent didn’t personally like the water, the respondent assumed that the silent people did not like the water as well.

There are multiple reasons people may be silent — to avoid repeating a majority opinion, for example, or to avoid potential conflict caused by offering a differing opinion.

The new research showed that people generally assume others are silent for the same reasons they would have remained silent in the same situation. The study authors called this a mirror effect. This could explain their overall finding — that people generally assume silent members of a group would agree with their own personal beliefs.

“Even though the opinions in both study scenarios were equally unknown, people drew markedly different inferences about how those with unknown opinions felt about the topic based on whether they were actively silent or simply absent from the conversation,” says lead author Kimberlee Weaver Livnat, PhD, a marketing professor at the University of Haifa in Israel.

The findings have implications for leaders who are trying to make decisions based on group opinions. Leaders should be aware that they may interpret silence as agreement with their own viewpoint, but this may not be accurate, Weaver Livnat says. Similarly, quiet members of a group should be aware that their silence may not be accurately interpreted.

The results also have implications for how people draw conclusions about controversial topics. People are often strongly influenced by the opinions of others, and this is especially true when they are faced with complicated questions, says Weaver Livnat. These questions may include: How concerning is the risk of a pandemic? Is increased automation a wonderful step for progress or a step toward a scary future? Is cryptocurrency a savvy investment opportunity or a waste of money?

“Our answers to these types of questions depend in part on how we think others think about them,” Weaver Livnat says. “But we need to examine how we decide what others think.”

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How to Make Sauerkraut

I know that sauerkraut can be an acquired taste for some, but I’ve loved that stinky, fermented cabbage since the first time I laid eyes on it, way back in elementary school (seriously). Though its smell might have put me off at first, its briny, funky flavor immediately won me over. While other kids were eating Fruit by the Foot, I was knocking back jars of the stuff like there was no tomorrow, and this was all before I even knew it was healthy, so you know I wasn’t faking it.

Needless to say, I was definitely a weird kid, but I was also clearly onto something. Sauerkraut is full of probiotics, which some research has shown can help improve gut health. Even if probiotics are all hype, sauerkraut is still worth eating because it’s basically just cabbage, which means it’s packed with vitamins B and C. Plus, it’s easier to digest than raw cabbage, because fermentation breaks down its naturally occurring sugars. And if that weren’t enough, it’s also freakin’ delicious.

As a lifelong lover of sauerkraut, I figured it was high time for me to try to start making my own. I thought it would be difficult, seeing as it’s fermented and all, but it’s actually incredibly simple—so simple, you only need two ingredients and a few common household items to do it. Before I gave it a shot for the first time, I asked Jennifer Berg, clinical associate professor at NYU Steinhardt School of Culture and director of graduate food studies, all about what to do and what not to do, plus some of the science behind what makes sauerkraut special. Here’s everything she told me, plus what I learned from making it myself.

Before we get to the step by step, this is how the process works.

Audrey Bruno

Berg says that preparing sauerkraut employs fermentation, not pickling. Pickling is a process that relies on salt and vinegar to preserve fruits and vegetables. Fermentation is different because it instead uses salt, time, and lactobacillus (the bacteria that’s naturally present on the surface of most produce) to break down and preserve the cabbage. Basically, the lactobacillus is pre-digesting the sugar in the cabbage for you. The breakdown produces lactic acid, which naturally preserves and prevents the growth of harmful bacteria in the cabbage. It also gives sauerkraut its famous sour flavor and makes it easier for you to digest.

To get started, gather your supplies and make sure everything is super clean.

All you need to start making homemade sauerkraut is cabbage, salt, a large jar, a tea towel, and some rocks or pebbles (this sounds weird, but it’ll make sense in a bit, I promise).

To give your healthy bacteria the best shot of succeeding, you’ll want to make sure all of your tools are super clean before you get started, says Berg. She recommends running all your tools through the dishwasher beforehand, but I simply washed my tools by hand with hot water and dish soap and I didn’t have any problems. With all that being said, she says it’s important to note that making sauerkraut is extremely safe, because the lactic acid and salt create an environment that makes it nearly impossible for harmful bacteria to grow in. Even if you wind up with a little mold on the top of your kraut, you can simply remove it and enjoy the kraut below, which will be safe to eat because it will have been preserved in the lactic acid.

Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage and hold onto them, then slice the rest of the cabbage into thin ribbons and massage it with salt.

Audrey Bruno

Be sure to hold onto those exterior cabbage leaves, because you’re going to need them for the next step. Then, massage your cabbage for about five to 10 minutes with coarse salt. It’s a bit of an arm workout, so be prepared. You’ll know the cabbage is ready when it looks more like coleslaw than cabbage. You should end up with a decent amount of liquid and the leaves should have become slightly translucent. You can also add spices (caraway is one that’s commonly used), but I decided to keep mine plain this first time around.

Audrey Bruno

Pack the cabbage into a large jar and press it down with a weight to keep it submerged in liquid.

Audrey Bruno

After you’ve massaged your cabbage, transfer it to a large jar (along with any liquids), pack it down tightly with your fist, and cover the cabbage with a leftover cabbage leaf. The secret to making sauerkraut is that you have to keep it submerged under its liquid for it to properly ferment. Shredded bits of kraut have a tendency to float to the top, and covering them with a cabbage leaf will prevent that from happening.

To really ensure the cabbage stays submerged in its liquid, set a few clean rocks, pebbles, or marbles on top to keep it pressed down. You can also use a fermentation weight (like this one here), but if you don’t feel like buying special equipment, regular old rocks will work just fine. I used whatever I was able to find in my apartment and didn’t have any problems.

Audrey Bruno

Cover the jar with a clean cloth and a lid, leave it in a cool, dark spot, and check on it periodically for the next 24 hours to make sure it’s still submerged in liquid.

Audrey Bruno

If you notice the cabbage rising above the liquid, gently press the weight down until it’s submerged again. At the end of the 24 hours, if the cabbage has not completely fallen beneath the liquid, mix up a bit of salt water and use it to top off your jar.

Let it sit in that cool, dark spot for three days to two weeks.

Audrey Bruno

Check on your sauerkraut every couple days to pop it open and release the gas build-up from fermentation. You can also taste the kraut throughout the process and pack it up whenever it suits your taste, even if that’s only three days in. Keep in mind, white cabbage tends to ferment faster than red cabbage, so you may not need much time at all if that’s what you’re using. Once it’s ready, transfer it to the fridge to halt the fermentation process, and that’s it! So far I’ve found that my homemade stuff is crunchier, zestier, and fresher than what I’d usually get at the store. Enjoy it on hot dogs, or, if you’re like me, straight from the jar.

How to feed a cat: Consensus statement to the veterinary community

The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) today released the AAFP Consensus Statement, “Feline Feeding Programs: Addressing Behavioral Needs to Improve Feline Health and Wellbeing” and accompanying client brochure to the veterinary community. The Consensus Statement, published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, explores the medical, social, and emotional problems that can result from the manner in which most cats are currently fed. This statement focuses on “how to feed” because an often-overlooked aspect of feline health is how cats are fed.

This Consensus Statement identifies normal feeding behaviors in cats. It provides strategies to allow these normal feline feeding behaviors, such as hunting and foraging, and eating frequent small meals in a solitary fashion, to occur in the home environment — even in a multi-pet home. Allowing cats to exhibit these normal feeding behaviors regularly, can help alleviate or prevent stress-related issues such as cystitis, and/or obesity-related problems such as inactivity and overeating. Reducing stress with appropriate feeding programs can also help anxious cats, who in an attempt to avoid other pets in the household, may not access the food frequently enough and lose weight.

“Currently, most pet cats are fed in one location ad libitum, or receive one or two large and usually quite palatable meals daily. In addition, many indoor cats have little environmental stimulation, and eating can become an activity in and of itself,” says the Consensus Statement’s chair, Tammy Sadek, DVM, DABVP (Feline). “This current type of feeding process does not address the behavioral needs of cats. Appropriate feeding programs need to be customized for each household, and should incorporate the needs of all cats for play, predation, and a location to eat and drink where they feel safe.”

The Consensus Statement and accompanying client brochure offer useful strategies for cat caregivers to understand feeding preferences and provide the proper environment for feeding that makes cats happier and helps them avoid overfeeding or underfeeding. The Consensus Statement also highlights the importance of feeding programs, which should be designed to consider whether they are indoor-only or have outdoor access, live in multi-pet households, or are aged or debilitated. These feeding programs in many cases include offering frequent small meals using appropriate puzzle feeders, forage feeding (putting food in different locations), multiple food and water stations, and in some instances, automatic feeders. Veterinary professionals and clients need to work together to develop and implement a safe, effective feeding program that optimizes each cat’s physical and emotional health and wellbeing.

Cat caregivers concerned with their cat’s weight and health, have multiple cats in the home, or are concerned with overfeeding/underfeeding, are encouraged to seek guidance from their veterinarian. Additionally, appropriate nutrition and feeding programs should be discussed during the cat’s routine check-up.

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Pedestrian fatalities increase on Halloween, particularly among children

Children are more likely to be fatally struck by a vehicle on Halloween than on other nights of the year, according to new research led by the University of British Columbia.

The study, published today in JAMA Pediatrics, found a 43-per-cent increase in the risk of pedestrian death on Halloween compared to control days one week earlier and one week later. For children between four and eight years of age, the risk of pedestrian fatality was 10 times higher on Halloween than on control days.

“Collecting ‘trick-or-treat’ candy from neighbours has been a Halloween tradition among children for over a century, and adult Halloween parties have become increasingly popular in bars and on campuses across North America,” said lead researcher Dr. John Staples, clinical assistant professor in the UBC faculty of medicine and scientist at UBC’s Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences. “We wondered if the combination of dark costumes, excitement and alcohol made the streets more dangerous for pedestrians. Our findings suggest that it does.”

Dr. Staples and his co-investigators examined 42 years of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data on all fatal traffic crashes in the United States between 1975 and 2016. The researchers compared the number of pedestrian fatalities between 5 p.m. and midnight on Halloween with the number during the same hours on control days one week earlier and one week later.

The investigators found that the average Halloween resulted in four additional pedestrian deaths. The increase in risk occurred throughout the U.S. and almost all additional fatalities were children or young adults. The most dangerous time was between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Candace Yip, study co-investigator and UBC undergraduate student in the faculty of science, said the findings suggest a need to improve pedestrian safety throughout the year.

“Our findings suggest there are opportunities to improve pedestrian safety on Halloween, but they also highlight ways that traffic safety might be improved on the other 364 days of the year,” said Yip. “Residential traffic calming, vehicle speed control, and incorporating reflective patches into outerwear might improve pedestrian safety year-round.”

Although pedestrian fatalities have improved in recent decades across North America, traffic collisions result in the deaths of more than 4,500 pedestrians in the U.S. annually, said University of Toronto professor and study co-author Dr. Donald Redelmeier.

“A dead pedestrian cannot be brought back to life,” said Redelmeier. “Yet almost all these deaths can be avoided by a small change in behaviour.”

The researchers recommend that neighbourhoods consider making their area car-free on Halloween. They hope to remind the public not to drive after consuming alcohol, cannabis, or other drugs. They also urge drivers to slow down in residential neighbourhoods, suggest parents talk to children about street-crossing safety, and recommend that younger children are supervised while trick-or-treating.

The research was supported by Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, and the Canada Research Chair in Medical Decision Science. Dr. Staples is a scientist at the Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences (CHÉOS), a joint research centre of UBC and the Providence Health Care Research Institute. He is also an Associate Member at the Centre for Clinical Epidemiology & Evaluation (C2E2).

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Materials provided by University of British Columbia. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Fermented dairy products may protect against heart attack, study suggests

Men who eat plenty of fermented dairy products have a smaller risk of incident coronary heart disease than men who eat less of these products, according to a new study from the University of Eastern Finland. A very high consumption of non-fermented dairy products, on the other hand, was associated with an increased risk of incident coronary heart disease. The findings were published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Earlier studies have shown that fermented dairy products have more positive effects on blood lipid profiles and on the risk of heart disease than other dairy products. Examples of fermented dairy products include cheese, yoghurt, quark, kefir and sour milk. However, research into the topic remains scarce.

The Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study ongoing at the University of Eastern Finland explored the associations of fermented and non-fermented dairy products with the risk of incident coronary heart disease. Approximately 2,000 men participated in the study. Their dietary habits were assessed at the beginning of the study in 1984-1989, and they were followed up for an average of 20 years. During this follow-up, 472 men experienced an incident coronary heart disease event.

The study participants were divided into groups on the basis of how much they ate different dairy products, and the researchers compared the groups with the highest and lowest consumption, while also taking various lifestyle and nutrition factors into consideration.

When the study participants were divided into four groups on the basis of their consumption of fermented dairy products with less than 3.5% fat, the risk of incident coronary heart disease was 26% lower in the highest consumption group compared to the lowest consumption group. Sour milk was the most commonly used low-fat fermented dairy product. The consumption of high-fat fermented dairy products, such as cheese, was not associated with the risk of incident coronary heart disease.

However, the researchers found that a very high consumption on non-fermented dairy products was associated with an increased risk of incident coronary heart disease. Milk was the most commonly used product in this category, and a very high consumption was defined as an average daily milk intake of 0.9 litres. Lower consumption levels were not associated with the risk.

“Here in Finland, people’s habits of consuming different dairy products have changed over the past decades. For instance, the consumption of milk and sour milk have declined, while many fermented dairy products, such as yoghurt, quark and cheeses, have gained in popularity,” Adjunct Professor Jyrki Virtanen from the University of Eastern Finland says.

The new study provides further evidence on the health benefits that fermented dairy products may have over non-fermented ones. All the mechanisms are not understood yet, but they may be linked to compounds forming during the fermentation process.

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Materials provided by University of Eastern Finland. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

How to Make Your Gym or Fitness Space More Inclusive and Welcoming for Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming People

It has taken me some time to openly affirm myself as a fat, black, non-binary fitness coach with chronic health conditions. Each one of my identities matters in a world hell-bent on eradicating those who dare to exist in bodies like mine. Today I’m proud to say that I am a writer, social justice advocate, and owner of Decolonizing Fitness, LLC, a platform that provides affirming and affordable fitness and wellness services and apparel in support of all bodies. I’m also a licensed physical therapist assistant and medical exercise coach with over 13 years of rehabilitative and functional training experience. I firmly believe fitness can be reclaimed and utilized as a healing tool to help our most marginalized folks reconnect with their bodies in ways that feel supportive and liberating to them.

My mission is to help make fitness and workout and movement spaces more affirming and accessible to all bodies.

Recognizing the link between gender justice and fitness in my practice has helped me do this, and allows me to be more mindful of the ways the world seeks to disconnect me, and others like me, who don’t fit the mainstream’s narrow ideal, from my body. I want others to explore their physical potential, thereby defining—and taking control of—their own bodies.

Transgender and non-binary folks, as much as anyone, deserve to realign with our bodies, to move freely in our bodies, and to love our bodies in ways that feel safe and comfortable to us.

I have embedded in my fitness practice a grassroots community-based healing justice framework. To me, healing justice means creating space in which we are able to liberate our ideas of health and healing from what we have been conditioned to believe through systematic oppression. It means having all the space we need to feel alive and free in our own bodies, and institutions (including gyms and fitness spaces) that reflect the wholeness of who we are and who we can become. The goal is to experience health and healing from our own autonomy, not from trying to achieve an ideal created by a mainstream that excludes and erases us.

While working in the fitness industry I’ve noticed the people most frequently centered (in media, gym staff, exercise-related pop culture, etc.) are cisgender, able-bodied people who are also thin, white, straight folks. It is difficult to find personal trainers and wellness coaches who are both willing and equipped to provide more inclusive and affirming spaces for people from marginalized communities.

I decided to do my part to change things a bit.

When working with my clients in more restorative ways, we are literally reclaiming fitness and utilizing it as a healing tool to help our most marginalized folks reconnect with their bodies in ways that feel affirming. I’m a witness daily to ways in which my clients fall in love with fitness simply because their whole unique selves are held and honored no matter how their body moves and shows up in the world.

As a fitness or movement instructor, or even just a gym-goer and fitness enthusiast, this is where YOU come in! We need fitness and movement instructors who are open in learning how to work with various populations and who take the necessary steps to make sure they provide their clients with optimal services to support their needs.

We need practitioners to provide safe and supportive environments where all clients feel cared for and respected.

For example, we need trainers to respect and honor pronouns, and educate themselves on how body and gender dysphoria can show up in each individual. We DON’T need folks projecting a limited, normative view of what bodies should look and move like. As trainers it is our duty to check our personal biases and be mindful of how they manifest when we’re serving diverse populations.

What follows are my tips and the things I do to create affirming and inclusive spaces as a fitness and movement practitioner. But please know that I don’t speak for every trans and queer person in this world. Think of these tips as some things to get you started. Please keep talking and listening to trans, queer, and non-binary people, including people with disabilities, chronic illnesses, and all different kinds of bodies to learn what we need to feel safe and affirmed in your gym, whether you’re a gym owner or a fitness instructor, or even a gym-goer looking to help your gym be a better place for everyone.

But before we get there, I want to say that although I’ve encountered lots of obstacles because of my identity as a non-binary transmasculine person of color (which primarily include anti-trans hatred), I want to name that it is a luxury for me to be heard when so many of my kindred are brutally erased, with their stories left untold. If I hadn’t made myself visible, built a fairly decent social media following, and done loads of work to educate and inspire people, would you care about this poor black non-binary trans person just because? Do most people or systems in our culture? Think about this scenario: You’re walking by homeless transfeminine person standing in front of the convenience store who is not “passing.” What is your first reaction? Are you filled with warm fuzzies or do you cringe? Examining our own responses to other people around us can help us understand where the work needs to happen.

The work I do is dedicated to my ancestors who continuously illuminate my path and my kindred who struggle in silence daily and those who’ve transitioned out of this world remaining unnamed. I will use my words to lift up the trans and queer folks who suffer in silence. I see you and I honor your struggle.

Finally, the tips!

1. Start using gender neutral terminology.

It is not always possible to know a person’s gender identity based on their name, appearance, or the sound of their voice. Of course we think gender has a “look” as we often assume and assign gender to folks without their consent. This is the case for all people, and not just trans and gender non-conforming people. When referring to new clients or folks you don’t know, you may accidentally use the wrong name or pronouns, which can alienate a potential client, as well as cause embarrassment, anger, or distress. One way to prevent this mistake is by addressing people—both in person and on the phone and in the third person—without using any terms that indicate a gender.

Instead of asking, “How may I help you, sir?” you can simply ask, “How may I help you?” You can also avoid using Mr., Mrs., Miss, or Ms. by calling someone by their first name. It’s always best to greet groups using genderless terms such as: Friends, family, folks, guests, etc., instead of welcoming a group by saying “Hey ladies!” or similar.

One way to find out folks’ pronouns is start with yours first: “Hi I’m Keisha, my pronouns are she/her/hers. Nice to meet you.” This prompts folks to tell you theirs. Once you establish a culture of including pronouns with your name as part of an introduction, other staff and members will start to follow and then it will just be a best practice that’s followed in your space.

2. Create an environment of accountability.

Don’t be afraid to politely correct other folks in your space if they use the wrong names and pronouns, or if they make rude comments or even make off-color jokes about someone’s body, gender presentation, or anything else, including if it’s a joke or comment about a public figure or someone who’s not present. Creating an environment of accountability and respect requires everyone to work together, and it encourages an environment of safety. Part of creating that environment is being direct about letting your community know that certain kinds of comments and jokes are just not part of being in your space.

3. Speak with trans clients just as you speak with any client and avoid asking unnecessary questions.

Some people are curious about what it means to be transgender; some will want to ask questions. However, like everyone else, trans people want to keep their personal lives private. Trainers are there to provide a service, not to ask invasive questions or use the presence of a trans client as an opportunity to get their curiosities addressed. Before asking a trans person a personal question, first ask yourself: Is this question necessary for the service I am providing or am I asking it out of my own curiosity? If it is out of your own curiosity, it’s not appropriate to ask. Think instead about the following: What do I know? What do I need to know? How can I ask for the information I need to know in a sensitive way?

4. Be intentional when it comes to representation in your marketing material.

Make sure you are intentional in providing inclusive visual representation of folks with varying size, ability, gender, race, etc. in your marketing material. Seeing thoughtful and beautiful images of people who look like me in a space almost immediately makes me feel welcomed. And if you have sign-up forms, allow people to write in their gender, instead of having to check a box for male or female.

There are awesome websites like Representation Matters and Body Positive Fitness Alliance that sell amazing stock photos highlighting diverse bodies!

5. Be specific about the access that you are or are not providing.

Creating an inclusive space isn’t just about gender, it’s also about the multiple and intersecting ideas clients (and trainers, instructors, and staff) bring to the table. So, take stock of your space and what it provides for people who are not cisgender, who have disabilities, and generally who have needs that often are overlooked and not accommodated in most spaces. Is your gym wheelchair accessible with accessible bathrooms? Is it scent- and fragrance-free to accommodate folks who are sensitive to fragrances or chemicals? If not, at least let folks know in advance what type of space they are entering so that they may make the best decision for their bodies. Is your space properly equipped with easy-to-read signs and non-slip surfaces? Can anyone regardless of socioeconomic status utilize your space or afford your services? Do you offer sliding scale rates, scholarships, or free training for marginalized folks to participate? Make sure you are clear (with yourself, your staff, and your community of members) about what access you are providing and what you hope to provide but currently are not. As a minimum, provide gender-neutral bathrooms and locker room options. This can be done by simply changing the signs on the bathroom door to more neutral terminology.

6. Educate yourself (and don’t stop).

As you take stock of what you’re able to offer, ask yourself whether you’re consulting with individuals and organizations in your local trans, queer, racial justice, and disability communities about how you can provide better access to these populations. If not; reach out! A great place to start is finding the local LGBTQIA+ center in your area and learn about the local organizations and groups doing amazing work in your area. It’s important that you support local grassroots initiatives as much as you can, especially those led by queer and trans people of color. Oftentimes in the midst of “doing the work” major multinational LGBTQIA+ orgs can, at best, not be equipped to provide resources to individuals and communities on a local level, and, at worst, can be exploitative. So please do your research and truly learn about the communities you are seeking to support. If your city doesn’t have an LGBTQIA+ center, you can simply do a Facebook search for your area and begin to follow the groups and pages that pop up. Attend events that are open to allies and ask questions when appropriate, but most importantly sit back and listen. Also, please understand true allyship comes when you take the tools you acquired back to your community and put them to good use in educating your peers.

If you’d like to learn ways to provide more affirming and accessible spaces for folks while supporting a trans person of color in the process please considering purchasing this awesome manual that I wrote. It’s well worth the small investment and free updates for life are included with all of my training material. I’ve also taken the time to compile a database of LGBTQIA+ affirming fitness trainers and movement specialists in the United States and abroad so that folks may be able to plug in with practitioners who genuinely seek to provide compassionate services. My goal is to one day make this database an interactive search tool on my website. You can access the database here for free.

Ilya Parker is a non-binary trans masculine person of color currently living in Charlotte, NC. He’s also a writer, social justice advocate, and owner of Decolonizing Fitness, LLC. He is a licensed physical therapist assistant and medical exercise coach with over 13 years of rehabilitative and functional training experience. He firmly believes fitness can be reclaimed and utilized as a healing tool to help our most marginalized folks reconnect with their bodies in ways that feel supportive and liberating to them. His mission is to help make fitness more affirming and accessible to all bodies.

Generation Z stressed about issues in the news but least likely to vote

Headline issues, from immigration to sexual assault, are causing significant stress among members of Generation Z — those between ages 15 and 21 — with mass shootings topping the list of stressful current events, according to the American Psychological Association’s report Stress in America™: Generation Z released today.

Despite these concerns, Gen Z adults who are 18 to 21 years old are the generation least likely to vote in the 2018 midterm elections, the report found.

Specifically, 75 percent of Gen Z members said that mass shootings are a significant source of stress, according to the survey, which was conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of APA in July and August 2018 among 3,458 adults and 300 15- to17-year-olds.

Gen Z members are also more stressed than adults overall about other issues in the news, such as the separation and deportation of immigrant and migrant families (57 percent of Gen Z vs. 45 percent of all adults reported the issue is a significant source of stress) and sexual harassment and assault reports (53 percent vs. 39 percent). Despite this, just more than half of Gen Z adults, between ages 18 and 21, (54 percent) said they intend to vote in the U.S. midterm elections, compared with 70 percent of adults overall.

America’s youngest generation is also significantly more likely (27 percent) than other generations, including Millennials (15 percent) and Gen Xers (13 percent), to report their mental health as fair or poor, the survey found. They are also more likely (37 percent), along with Millennials (35 percent), to report they have received treatment or therapy from a mental health professional, compared with 26 percent of Gen Xers, 22 percent of baby boomers and 15 percent of older adults.

“Current events are clearly stressful for everyone in the country, but young people are really feeling the impact of issues in the news, particularly those issues that may feel beyond their control,” said Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, APA’s chief executive officer. “At the same time, the high percentage of Gen Z reporting fair or poor mental health could be an indicator that they are more aware of and accepting of mental health issues. Their openness to mental health topics represents an opportunity to start discussions about managing their stress, no matter the cause.”

More than nine in 10 Gen Z adults (91 percent) said they have experienced at least one physical or emotional symptom because of stress, such as feeling depressed or sad (58 percent) or lacking interest, motivation or energy (55 percent). Only half of all Gen Zs feel like they do enough to manage their stress.

Money and work continued to top the list of significant stressors tracked annually by the Stress in America survey for adults overall. Nearly two-thirds of adults (64 percent) reported money and work each to be a stressor. A new question added this year asking about additional sources of stress revealed that for more than three in 10 Gen Zs, personal debt (33 percent) and housing instability (31 percent) were a significant source of stress, while nearly three in 10 (28 percent) cited hunger or getting enough to eat.

One notable finding was a potential increased tolerance for stress across all generations. The average perceived healthy level of stress increased significantly over the past year, from 3.7 in 2017 to 3.9 in 2018 (on a scale from 1 to 10, where “1” is “little or no stress” and “10” is “a great deal of stress”).

Americans Increasingly Stressed about the Future of the Nation

More than six in 10 Americans (62 percent) reported that the current political climate is a significant stressor, and more than two-thirds (69 percent) reported that the nation’s future causes them stress. This was a significant increase from those who said the same in 2017 (63 percent). Most Americans (61 percent) also disagreed that the country is on a path to being stronger than ever. Because of their concern for the state of the nation, nearly half of Americans (45 percent) said they feel more compelled to volunteer or support causes they value.

Another key finding was that nearly one-quarter (24 percent) of adults identified discrimination as a significant source of stress, the highest percentage since this was first included in the survey in 2015. In 2018, black adults (46 percent) and Hispanic adults (36 percent) reported discrimination as a significant source of stress, compared with 14 percent of white adults.

To read the full Stress in America report or to download graphics, visit http://www.stressinamerica.org.

For additional information on stress, lifestyle and behavior changes, visit http://www.apa.org/helpcenter.

Advertising in kids’ apps more prevalent than parents may realize

From games inspired by popular TV shows to digital play labeled as educational, children’s apps continue to explode on smartphones and tablets.

But parents may not realize that while their little ones are learning letters and numbers or enjoying virtual adventures, they’re also likely being targeted by advertisers.

Ninety-five percent of commonly downloaded apps marketed to or played by children ages 5 and under contain at least one type of advertising, according to a new study led by University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

Published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, the study reviewed 135 different apps — and it marks the first effort to examine the prevalence of advertising in children’s apps.

Researchers found play was frequently interrupted by pop-up video ads, persuasion by commercial characters to make in-app purchases to enhance the game experience and overt banner ads that could be distracting, misleading and not always age-appropriate.

“With young children now using mobile devices on an average of one hour a day, it’s important to understand how this type of commercial exposure may impact children’s health and well-being,” says senior author Jenny Radesky, M.D., a developmental behavioral expert and pediatrician at Mott.

Radesky notes that her team found high rates of mobile advertising through manipulative and disruptive methods — with exposure to ads even surpassing time spent playing the game in some cases.

“Our findings show that the early childhood app market is a wild west, with a lot of apps appearing more focused on making money than the child’s play experience,” she says. “This has important implications for advertising regulation, the ethics of child app design, as well as how parents discern which children’s apps are worth downloading.”

Ads target youngest players

Researchers detailed experiences with advertisements during gameplay of the most popular children’s apps.

Although 100 percent of surveyed free apps contained advertising content (compared to 88 percent of purchased apps), the ads occurred at similar rates in both types of apps categorized as educational.

Ad videos interrupting play were prevalent in more than a third of all analyzed apps and in more than half of free apps. In-app purchases were also present in a third of all apps, and in 41 percent of all free apps.

This discrepancy worries Radesky: “I’m concerned about digital disparities, as children from lower-income families are more likely to play free apps, which are packed with more distracting and persuasive ads.”

Some ads were particularly deceptive: Familiar commercial characters would appear on-screen to remind players that paying for certain in-app upgrades and purchases would give them access to more appealing options and make the game more fun.

Overt banner ads covering the sides or top and/or bottom of the screen during gameplay were also present in 17 percent of all apps and 27 percent of free apps. Some banners promoted adult-appropriate apps that required a user to watch the full promo before a box could be closed.

Authors note that prior research has found children ages 8 and younger can’t distinguish between media content and advertising — and that fewer regulations apply to advertising in apps than on television — which raises further ethical questions around the practice.

“Commercial influences may negatively impact children’s play and creativity,” Radesky says. “Digital-based advertising is more personalized, on-demand and embedded within interactive mobile devices, and children may think it’s just part of the game.”

Youths’ privacy at risk

Researchers also documented prompts within the apps to share information, most commonly asking players to share their progress or score on social media sites.

However, 17 of the apps reviewed requested phone permission, 11 asked for microphone permission, nine asked for camera permission and six requested location permission.

While some of the permissions were likely requested to allow certain functions during play, authors point out that collecting data on a child’s location is a potential violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. The law, managed by the Federal Trade Commission, was created to protect the privacy of children under 13.

TV advertising regulations also limit commercial breaks during viewing segments, but there are no regulations focused on digital advertising approaches for children.

There is also growing concern among pediatricians and other experts that low-quality content and distracting visual and sound effects in popular apps may not be designed appropriately for children to learn, says Marisa Meyer, the study’s lead author.

That prevalence also diminishes the educational quality of apps, she says.

“We know that time on mobile devices is displacing time children used to spend watching TV,” says Meyer, research assistant at the U-M Medical School. “Parents may view apps that are marketed as educational as harmless and even beneficial to their child’s learning and development.”

The findings, Meyer says, suggest the need for heightened scrutiny of apps in the educational category.

“We hope further research will help us better understand the consequences of digital media advertisement, which hasn’t caught up with the rapid growth of digital media products catered to children,” she says.

Child consumer advocacy groups, led by Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, plan to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission about the study’s findings.