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Hoodies bad for your health


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"Hoodies" may be depriving Kiwi youngsters of the sunlight they need to build their bones and stay energised.


A doctor who works at Child, Youth and Family Services' youth justice centre at Wiri, Dr Glenn Twentyman, said yesterday that every young person he had tested at the centre had deficient vitamin D, which helps the body absorb vital minerals into the bones.


"It's the hoodies and the hats and the downward glance of the teenagers, shading your face all the time," he said.


"A lot of these kids stay away from sunshine. They don't hang out at the beach or in the bush. Some are into drugs and alcohol and a lot of it is indoor activity and night-time activity. They sleep during the day. They are wearing those hoods and literally they don't get out in the sun."


His comments add to mounting evidence of increasing vitamin D deficiency in Australasia, partly caused by "covering up" to avoid skin cancer. Ozone depletion has exposed the region to higher ultra-violet radiation, giving New Zealand the world's highest rate of skin cancer.


A four-year study led by Dr Cameron Grant at Auckland's Starship hospital found that 10 per cent of Auckland infants did not have enough vitamin D.


Dr Grant said yesterday that Dr Twentyman's hoodie theory was not unreasonable.


"We know that vitamin D deficiency is a health issue in New Zealand. We know that people who are at risk of vitamin D deficiency are for example groups who keep themselves clothed and keep themselves indoors for religious reasons ... so his idea is not an unreasonable one."


A study of pregnant women in a multicultural Wellington suburb this year found that 87 per cent were deficient in the vitamin.


Last month Waikato paediatrician John Goldsmith said he was seeing increasing cases of rickets, a disease caused by vitamin D deficiency which can cause bone deformities.


Dr Twentyman, who also works at the Holistic Medical Centre in Pt Chevalier and runs a High St men's clinic, said vitamin D deficiency was very common among depressed people and the elderly, such as those kept indoors in rest homes all day.


Holistic Medical Centre director Rebecca Jones said all patients who came in tired, not sleeping well or depressed were tested for vitamin D, and all but two of those tested this winter had below the level of 100 nanomoles per litre of body fluid believed necessary for good physical and mental health.


Between 30 and 40 per cent had below 50 nmol/L, the cutoff point recommended by the World Health Organisation and used in the Wellington study. Dr Twentyman said all the youths tested at the Wiri youth justice centre had under 100 nmol/L, and most had under 50. Yet the deficiency was "cheap and easy to cure" with vitamin D tablets.


As well as vitamin D, he prescribes magnesium tablets for anxiety and anger, other pills to boost serotonin for depression, vitamin B and iron tablets to help youngsters through drug withdrawal, and omega-3 fish oil for those with attention deficit and other learning and behavioural problems.


Vitamin D is also found in fatty fish, liver, eggs, full fat milk and butter, but most people get 90 per cent of the vitamin from sunlight.


How much sun?


Auckland Regional Public Health Service advice:


To get enough vitamin D, adults with light skin need to expose their hands, face and arms, or arms and legs, to the sun for about 10-15 minutes, 2-3 times a week.


Adults with dark skin need 20-30 minutes' exposure 2-3 times a week.


Children with light skin: 5-10 minutes, 2-3 times a week.


Children with dark skin: 10-15 minutes, 2-3 times a week.


Note: The Cancer Society advises against exposing skin between 11am and 4pm in summer.


Tales about covering up


Tangaroa College student Vincent Wesche, 16, says he wears his black hoodie to avoid developing a bald patch.


"Carlos Spencer is starting to lose his hair from the sun," he says. "I don't want to lose my hair."


His mate Joe Sefo, 18, wears his hoodie "to keep me safe from the sun".


"I sweat a lot without my hoodie. I usually wear white on a sunny day. But I wear it on cold days too," he says.


Lorenzo Wilson, a 16-year-old attending the Crosspower Ministries' alternative education course in Otara, wore a T-shirt over his head yesterday to protect his neck from the sun.


Junior Isi, 18, wore a head scarf, but said he only wore it at work at Kiwi Kitchens to protect his hair from the machinery.


Only a young woman in Otahuhu, who gave her name as Piper and her age as 22, came anywhere near the stereotype that hoodies were trying to hide something. In white hood and dark sunglasses, she was unfazed by Dr Glenn Twentyman's view that she might be missing out on vitamin D.


"I'm carefree about things like that," she said. "I wheel and deal in the underworld. I don't like the light too much. I like the nightlife. When it comes to daylight ... a lot of people stare. As long as my eyes are covered and I've got a hoodie on, I feel I've got space."


ahhhhhh what will we do!!

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yeah, i read this this morning..


pretty stupid if you ask me.


If you say that hoodies are bad for your health, then you also have to say that computer programming is bad for your health, working evenings is bad for your health, beanies and hats are bad for your health... etc..


its just dumb.. they shouldnt be focusing on hoodies.. they should be saying:


Not getting enough sun is bad for your health....

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has anyone forgotten that they are actually PRACTICAL?


The UK has a big problem with them currently.


Hell, every DJ/producer in the world must have this problem. How many do you know that sleeps in the day and gets out at night.


Best thing is that they tell us to keep out of the sun in summer cause you will get burnt, but you cant wear thick clothing to protect you from the sun now.


Im wearing a hoodie, but im in fucking Denmark and its COLD AS FUCK!!! Wear warm clothing or be an icicle. (ok its not snowing but its cold ok)

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