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Keeping everyone healthy inside and out of the empty nest

Nov. 14, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

The premise of the sitcom "Empty Nest" was that it's hard to keep the nest empty; Dr. Harry Weston wished his grown kids would just leave already! And although 13 percent of young adults now move back in with their folks, when kids first depart, having them out on their own presents challenges -- and opportunities!

The challenges? Making sure they understand the importance of accepting responsibility for their own health. Almost a third of kids report binge drinking (nine or more drinks per day), which can lead to alcohol poisoning, addiction and risky sexual behavior. STDs are rampant on campuses; there are 18 million cases a year among kids 15 to 24. (Condoms and immunizations can avoid these.) College kids average six hours of sleep a night and often get much less; this can trigger poor grades, depression and car accidents. But with your advice and support, your child can become an independent adult, making smart life choices -- really!

The opportunities? Instead of experiencing the empty nest syndrome, many parents use newfound alone-time to improve their marriage and their health. Working out with a partner makes it easier to exercise regularly (we like walking 10,000 steps a day). Try cooking together, and eliminating the five food felons from your pantry (added sugars and sugar syrups, trans fats, most saturated fats and any grain that's not 100 percent whole). And then there's sex. With more freedom comes more time with your honey. Now you can look forward to losing weight, lowering bad cholesterol and having more fun!

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Medical Officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For more information go to www.RealAge.com.

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