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School health & wellness news roundup: Week of Mar. 16, 2015

March 20, 2015

From this week’s news:

  • Decline in heart health can start in childhood
    Medical News Today: Your heart health, which is optimal for most of us at birth, can decline substantially with unhealthy childhood behaviors, according to research in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. Findings indicate that, in general, children start with pretty good blood pressure, but if they have a horrible diet, it will drive a worsening body mass index and cholesterol levels.
  • Salty snacks tied to higher blood pressure in youths
    Fox News:
    The U.S. recommends children eat less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day, but U.S. children ages six to 18 average about 3,300 mg per day, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Eating two or more salty snacks per day was tied to an increased risk of having one of the highest blood pressure readings in the study, compared to eating no more than one salty snack per day.
  • Recess: An Essential Part of the School Day
    Health Day: Recess is an essential part of children’s school days that can help set students up for success once they head back to the classroom. Yet, many schools are cutting back on recess or not offering quality recess time. This may have unintended negative consequences, a new study from Stanford University researchers found. “Recess isn’t normally considered part of school climate, and often is shortchanged in tight fiscal times, but our research shows that [recess] can be a critical contributor to positive school climate in low-income elementary schools,” said study co-author Milbrey McLaughlin.

School health & wellness news roundup: Week of Mar. 9, 2015

March 13, 2015

From the week’s news:

  • More K-12 Teachers Finding Benefits in Standing Desks
    Education News:
    Justin Sauer of Delisle Elementary School filled his classroom with standing desks, and now he is now seeing positive results in the students’ ability to pay attention and be engaged with their learning. According to CBC news, parents have reported benefits, too. Three different families have made a point to tell Sauer that their children are sleeping more soundly now that they are expending more energy during the day with standing desks.
  • Minority children may benefit most from school-day exercise
    Medical News Today: Racial/ethnic minority children may benefit the most from school-based opportunities for moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), researchers suggest. In researcher observations, less than 40 percent of PE class time was spent in MVPA, highlighting the need for PE classes to be held more than once or twice each week. Researcher also state that school policies should promote daily PE to help children achieve the recommended 60 minutes per day of MVPA.
  • Parents Want Good Eating and Exercise in After-School Programs, Says Survey
    Ed Week Time and Learning Blog: “We’ve known for a long time that after-school, before-school, and summer programs keep kids safe, inspire them to learn, and help working parents,” said Jodi Grant, the executive director of the Afterschool Alliance. A new report makes it clear that they also do a tremendous amount to help keep kids healthy, now and for the future. Among low-income families with a child in an after-school program, 67% said that was a factor in deciding where to send their children.
  • Agriculture Department Expands School Food Training, Mentoring Program
    Ed Week Rules for Engagement Blog: The U.S. Department of Agriculture will expand a school nutrition training and mentoring pilot it launched this year into a nationwide program. The Team Up for School Nutrition Success Initiative provides “tailored technical assistance” and peer-to-peer mentoring to schools as they continue to implement heightened nutrition standards that were created as part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.
  • Why Some Schools Serve Local Food and Others Can’t (Or Won’t)
    NPR Blog: The biggest barriers to going local lie in the details: contract requirements, paperwork and a difference in the scale of need at the school and production on the farm. Schools worry that local products won’t be available and that demanding them will create headaches down the road. The annual farm-to-school census still needs tweaks, like asking whether schools serving local food use corporate distributors or local food hubs. However, for schools, it is getting a lot easier to get locally sourced products.
  • When Combating the Bully, Our Hands Aren’t Tied
    The Huffington Post: As a society, we have to not only work to eradicate bullying, but also to prepare children for it. And the sad truth is, the behavior kids face today is at a new high, or low, depending how you measure it. Thanks to the Internet, cyber bullying is a whole new outlet for kids to attack the weakest members of the social herd outside the classroom. So how can we, as adults, combat this critical issue? Here are a few steps we can take.

School health & wellness news roundup: Week of Mar. 2, 2015

March 6, 2015

From this week’s news:

  • CBT for Kids’ Anxiety Can Have Lasting Benefits
    Psych Central: In a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, researchers found that patients who did not respond to cognitive-behavioral therapy for anxiety in childhood had more chronic and enduring patterns of suicidal ideation at seven to 19 years after treatment. These findings suggest the importance of ongoing monitoring of anxious youth who are not successfully treated for later suicidal ideation.
  • Stress May Undermine Heart Benefits of Exercise
    Health Day: The inability to cope well with stress contributes to the risk of heart disease, researcher Scott Montgomery, a professor of epidemiology at Orebro University, found. Montgomery said what he found “striking” was that physical fitness did not protect teens with poor stress-coping skills from developing heart disease later in life. For these people, both exercise and developing strategies to reduce stress might be needed to prevent more heart problems.
  • Kids May Be More Likely to Exercise When Friends Do
    Health Day: Much of the focus on increasing physical activity involves engaging the family and encouraging the patient to be more active, but new research suggests that encouragement may not be sufficient. Children and teens that did physical activities with a friend were far less likely to cite barriers for not exercising, while family participation or encouragement did not have this effect.
  • Playtime Isn’t Just for Preschoolers—Teenagers Need It, Too
    TIME: One of the casualties of current education reform efforts has been the erosion of play, creativity, and joy from teenagers’ classrooms and lives. Researchers have documented a rise in mental health problems among young people that has paralleled a decline in children’s opportunities to play. And while play has gotten deserved press in recent months in the early childhood years, adolescents, too, need time to play, and they need time to play in school.
  • More Children Eat Fruit in School, Study Shows
    The New York Times: Changes made to government-subsidized meals by the Obama administration to get schoolchildren to eat more fruits are having their intended effect. The study, by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut, found that from the time the changes went into effect in 2012 through last year, the percentage of students choosing fruit on a cafeteria line increased to 66 percent from 54 percent.
  • Why More Schools Are Letting Their Students Sleep in
    Huffington Post Education: Adolescents have been steadily logging fewer hours of sleep over the last 20 years, according to a recent study. Surveys from the early 1990s found that 52% of 15-year-olds and 36% of 18- year-olds got at least seven hours of shut-eye a night. For teens in 2011 to 2012, those numbers dropped to 43 and 33%, respectively. The American Academy of Pediatrics made a landmark policy statement in 2014 recommending later school start times, and several districts across the country are finding success doing just that.
  • Study: One in five teen girls victim of dating violence
    USA Today: Twenty-one percent of high school girls have been physically or sexually assaulted by someone they dated. Ten percent of high school boys also report having been physically or sexually assaulted by a dating partner, according to a study led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published in JAMA Pediatrics.

School health & wellness news roundup: Week of Feb. 23, 2015

February 27, 2015

From this week’s news:

  • Tackling Eating Disorders with School-Based Initiatives
    US News & World Report: Experts across the country report seeing eating disorders diagnosed earlier in life, with children as young as 10 years old seeking treatment. Other youngsters are struggling with disordered eating, which refers to harmful habits that can lead to a diagnosed eating disorder. Here are three school-based initiatives identified by the Rudd Center study and eating disorder experts that could help prevent and identify eating disorders.
  • Benefits of Social-Emotional Programs Far Outweigh Their Costs, Study Finds
    Ed Week Rules for Engagement Blog: For every dollar schools spend on six common social-emotional learning programs, those interventions return an average $11 worth of benefits. That’s the finding of “The Economic Value of Social and Emotional Learning,” a study released by the Center for Benefit-Cost Studies of Education at Columbia University’s Teachers College.
  • Preventing Suicide with A ‘Contagion Of Strength’
    NPR Ed Blog: An emphasis on strengths is what Sources of Strength, an evidence-based suicide prevention program, is all about: promoting positive behaviors in teens. The curriculum is rooted in eight “strengths” – factors that research has shown are protective against suicide risk.
  • LGBT Teens Who Come Out Early Have Less Depression as Young Adults
    Psych Central: Findings published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry showed that virtually all respondents experienced victimization and bullying in high school because of their LGBT identity. However, those who were open about their orientation in high school reported higher self-esteem and life satisfaction as young adults than those who did not disclose, or who tried to hide it. Those who came out at school also reported lower levels of depression as young adults.
  • Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools celebrates 4,000th donation
    The Packer: Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools provides salad bar equipment and training to U.S. school districts enrolled in the national school lunch program. A 2014 survey of food service directors from schools receiving salad bars revealed that 57% of schools saw an increase in student participation in the school lunch program after implementing salad bars, according to the release.

School health & wellness news roundup: Week of Feb.16, 2015

February 20, 2015

From this week’s news:

  • Nearly Half Of Low-Income Kids Don’t Eat Breakfast. Here’s 1 Way to Fix That
    The Huffington Post: Of the 21 million kids who received free- or reduced-price lunch last year, only 11.2 million of them ate breakfast. Students often miss the scheduled breakfast period because of long commutes and the fact that already overextended parents can’t get their kids to school any earlier. To breakdown these preclusive barriers, some schools have introduced “grab and go” carts where students take a bagged meal from a stocked kiosk that’s parked in the hallway and eat the meal in the classroom.
  • 25 percent of children who are homeless need mental health services
    Science Daily: A pilot study finds that 25 percent of children who are homeless are in need of mental health services. The study, conducted by researchers at North Carolina State University and Community Action Targeting Children who are Homeless (CATCH), highlights the need for more screening and support for the millions of homeless children in the United States.
  • Creative methods help teens with depression
    The Boston Globe: Teens who suffer from depression struggle to talk openly about it, but now cellphone applications are providing a new tool to help them recognize and seek help for it, and theater is providing a stage for them to share their stories with others.
  • Can ‘Mindfulness’ Help Students Do Better in School?
    The Wall Street Journal: “Studies show that grade-school-aged children who learn mindfulness and meditation are more focused and resilient,” says Sarah McKay, an Oxford University-trained neuroscientist. “It helps settle them down and improves concentration, particularly if done before school or after lunch breaks.”
  • Sleep-Starved Kids: the Dangers of Catching Too Few Winks
    US News & World Report: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has deemed insufficient sleep a public health epidemic. The consequences of insufficient sleep can be just as damaging to children as to adults, setting the stage for little ones to pack on pounds, develop high blood pressure and pre-diabetes, and experience lower pain tolerance and immune system function. And the harmful effects don’t end there.
  • Short and fat the awful truth about what junk food is doing to our kids
    The World Obesity Federation has found many children are shorter than normal but weigh more than they should even in first world countries like England. The study published in The Lancet medical journal says poor diet and lack of exercise is to blame for the stunting.

School health & wellness news roundup: Week of Feb. 9, 2015

February 13, 2015

From this week’s news:

  • School recess offers benefits to student well-being, educator reports
    Phys Org:
    A high-quality recess program can help students feel more engaged, safer and positive about the school day, according to Stanford research. Researchers state that they saw how a positive recess experience can benefit classroom climate in low-income elementary schools through students‘ improved conflict-resolution skills and sense of teamwork.
  • ‘Nurture’ more important than ‘nature’ in childhood obesity says LSE research
    Medical News Today: Parents’ lifestyles, rather than their genes, are primarily responsible for their children being overweight according to research by the Center for Economic Performance. Researchers found that when both adoptive parents are overweight, the likelihood of an adopted child being overweight is up to 21 per cent higher than when the parents are not overweight.
  • Low family income predicts poor fitness, obesity risk
    Medical News Today:
    Children from low-income families tend to be less physically fit and at higher risk of obesity than children from higher-income families, a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health study finds. The association persists regardless of race or ethnicity.
  • Plant-based diet may lower obese children’s risk of heart disease
    Fox News:
    New research from Cleveland Clinic Children’s found that in four weeks, obese children eating a low-fat, plant-based vegan diet lowered their risk of heart disease more than those who ate a traditional heart-healthy diet.
  • Energy Drinks Can Hike Hyperactivity, Inattention in Preteens
    Psych Central: Preteens who consume heavily sweetened energy drinks are 66 percent more likely to be at risk for hyperactivity and inattention symptoms, according to a new study by the Yale School of Public Health. Experts suggest that children limit their intake of sweetened beverages and not consume energy drinks at all.

School health & wellness news roundup: Week of Feb. 2, 2015

February 6, 2015

From this week’s news:

  • A combination of early-life risk factors ‘could quadruple the risk of childhood obesity’
    Medical News Today: In the US, the rate of childhood obesity has more than doubled over the past 3 decades. But in a new study, researchers from the University of Southampton in the UK say they have identified a number of risk factors that, if modified early, could prevent childhood obesity.
  • Michelle Obama Announces Funding to Fight Childhood Obesity
    ABC News:
    Michelle Obama announced a $500 million donation funding the fight against childhood obesity. The initiative encourages educators and families to serve healthier food and to organize more exercise, while cutting back on snacking as well as portion size, avoiding things like sugary drinks and lobbying manufacturers to produce quality foods.
  • School Nutrition Association Blasts Federal Lunch Regs
    Education News: Congress is about to reauthorize First Lady Michelle Obama’s healthy school lunch program, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. At the same time, the School Nutrition Association is working to influence the rules for healthy school lunches and is asking Congress for funding to hire nutritionists to create appealing, child-friendly options for students.
  • Kids’ exercise guidelines need more focus on brain development
    Reuters: Most guidelines recommend that kids and teens get 60 minutes each day of moderate to vigorous exercise. An hour of aerobic exercise may promote aerobic fitness and muscle strength, but not necessarily motor skill development, socialization or having fun. A new program, Integrative Neuromuscular Training, challenges and stimulates the child’s mind and body and may make them more likely to play sports or stay fit through adolescence.
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