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School health & wellness news roundup: Week of July 27, 2015

July 31, 2015

From this week’s news:

  • Study: School lunches now healthier at racially diverse schools
    The Hill: First Lady Michelle Obama’s prized healthy school lunch standards have given students at smaller and racially diverse schools access to healthier lunches, a new study from a heath and health care advocacy group found.
  • Social Networks and Environment Impact Childhood Obesity
    Psych Central: Researchers are learning that effective strategies to reduce childhood obesity must go beyond strong nutritional policies in schools and a reduction in TV or screen time. In fact, a new study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity suggests encouraging more social interaction for children and expanding their number of friendships may limit screen time.
  • Study links social media use to teen mental health issues
    Kvue ABC: According to a new study in the Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking Journal, teens who used social networking sites for more than two hours a day reported a poor self-rating of mental health, high levels of psychological distress, suicidal thoughts, and unmet need for mental health support.

School health & wellness news roundup: Week of July 20, 2015

July 24, 2015

From this week’s news:

  • ‘Kids Count’ Report Paints Mixed Picture of Child Well-Being Nationwide
    Ed Week Early Years Blog: Children have seen improvement on measures of health and education nationally over the past five years, but indicators in economic well-being and “family and community” are still lagging, according to the annual Kids Count Data Book, released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
  • Teens’ overall substance use declining, but marijuana use rising
    Science Daily: Marijuana use in teenagers is on the rise, while cigarette and alcohol use are stable or declining, according to health statistics published in the Journal of Adolescent Health. In particular, black teens are using more marijuana than in recent decades.
  • Working Brain Science into Parents’ Daily Routine
    Ed Week Early Years Blog: A new initiative from the Bezos Family Foundation seeks to make early learning part of everyday life for parents. The main idea behind the initiative, which is called Vroom, is to get information to parents about specific things they can do with their young children to prepare them for school. The foundation worked with developmental scientists to develop 750 activities parents can do with their children from infancy to age 5 and loaded them into a smartphone app.
  • Standing desks at schools: The solution to the childhood obesity epidemic?
    The Washington Post: The interest in getting standing desks in schools has its roots in the growing obesity epidemic in the United States and other wealthy countries. The idea is to get school children — who can spend an incredible 65 to 70% of their waking hours sitting — moving more during the day. The latest study on the subject, published in the Journal of Public Health, looked at classrooms using standing desks in Britain and Australia. In both cases, they found that the amount of sitting time dropped dramatically, even outside of the school day.

“School health & wellness news roundup: Week of July 13, 2015

July 17, 2015

From this week’s news:

  • Mental Health Problems in Childhood Linked to Adult Woes
    Health Day:
    Poor mental health in childhood may lower the chances of success in adulthood, a new study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry suggests. Duke University researchers found that children with mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and/or behavioral problems were six times more likely than those with no psychiatric problems to have difficulties in adulthood.
  • Few School Districts Have Anti-Bullying Policies Protecting LGBT Students
    The Huffington Post:
    Nearly 30% of school districts have no official anti-bullying policy, according to a new report by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network. Of the 70% of school districts that do have anti-bullying policies, fewer than half explicitly outline protections for students who get bullied because of their sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation. Only about 14% of districts have protections based on gender identity or expression.
  • Mindfulness for Children?
    Child Trends: We are learning at an incredible pace how poverty affects the brain and how interrupted brain development may be the reason why poor children fall so far behind their wealthier peers. Two recent reviews indicate that mindfulness interventions are associated with reductions in behavior problems and psychological symptoms such as anxiety and depression in youth. (Read more about the emerging evidence on mindfulness here, here, and here.)
  • If you want your children to succeed, teach them to share in kindergarten
    The Washington Post:
    Kindergartners who share, cooperate and are helpful are more likely to have a college degree and a job 20 years later than children who lack those social skills, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health.
  • Many Eligible Children Don’t Participate in School Nutrition Programs
    Carsey School of Public Policy: Children living in households with incomes below 185% of the federal income poverty guidelines (below $44,097 for a family of four in 2013) are eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals at school. Overall, 63.5% of income-eligible households with school-age children participate in the National School Lunch Program, and 52.0% participate in the School Breakfast Program.
  • Obesity season? Kids’ health habits take summer break
    CBS News:
    When school’s out, kids are more likely to engage in obesity-related behaviors such as watching more television, consuming more sugar and eating fewer vegetables, and their exercise levels barely budge, according to a study from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health published online in the Journal of School Health.

School health & wellness news roundup: Week of July 6, 2015

July 10, 2015

From this week’s news:

  • Student Fights, Fear of Harm at School Have Declined, Newest Federal Data Show
    Ed Week Rules for Engagement Blog: Fewer high school students reported being in physical fights on school grounds, fewer teens reported victimization at school, and fewer students reported carrying weapons at school, according to various federal data sources included in the annual Indicators of School Crime and Safety report, produced by the National Center for Education Statistics and the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
  • Many Overweight or Obese Teens Don’t See the Problem
    US News & World Report: Many overweight and obese teens don’t believe they have a weight problem, a new study published in in the International Journal of Obesity finds. Seventy-three percent of teens 13 and 15 years of age had a weight within the normal range, 20 percent were overweight and 7 percent were obese. However, about 40 percent of those who were overweight or obese said they were about the right weight, and 0.4 percent  said they were too light.
  • Kids’ brain responses to food depend on their body composition
    Science Daily: Research using brain imaging technology has revealed a brain response pattern in children that might represent a step along the path to childhood obesity. The study, conducted by a graduate student in Penn State University’s Department of Nutritional Sciences, scanned children’s brain activity while they viewed pictures of high- and low-calorie foods, and found that both lean body mass and body fat are linked to how kids’ brains respond to food.

School health & wellness news roundup: Week of June 29, 2015

July 3, 2015

From this week’s news:

  • Estimates of childhood, youth exposure to violence, crime and abuse
    Medical News Today: More than a third of children and teens 17 and younger experienced a physical assault in the last year, primarily at the hands of siblings and peers, according to an article published online by JAMA Pediatrics. See related article: Reuters “Nearly four of 10 U.S. kids exposed to violence.”
  • Kids from High-Conflict Homes More Vigilant toward Emotional Cues
    Psych Central: Children of parents who argue frequently tend to be more watchful of other people’s emotional states and also appear to process emotions differently than children from low-conflict homes, according to a new study published in the Journal of Family Psychology.
  • Antipsychotics Too Often Prescribed for Aggression in Children
    NPR Health Shots: Powerful antipsychotic medications are being used to treat children and teenagers with ADHD, aggression and behavior problems, a study published in JAMA Psychiatry found, even though safer treatments are available and should be used first.
  • Benefits of Sports to a Child’s Mind and Heart All Part of the Game
    NPR Health Shots: The majority of parents in NPR’s recent poll on the role of sports and health in America seem to agree. Parents think that the organized way you participate in sports — the leadership and fellowship — is actually preparing people not only for the next game but for much broader roles in life. Andy Driska, a Michigan State University researcher with the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports, says parents are right when they cite life skills — like discipline, commitment and physical confidence — that can develop naturally when kids play sports.
  • Extracurricular Sports May Give Kids’ Academics a Boost
    HealthDay: Extracurricular sports may help children develop the discipline they need to succeed in the classroom, a new study published in in the American Journal of Health Promotion suggests. After taking other factors into consideration, such as the kids’ level of physical fitness, thinking abilities, mother’s education and family communication at home, the researchers found children involved in sports when they were in kindergarten were likely to be involved in team sports at 10 and also had higher self-control scores by fourth-grade.

School health & wellness news roundup: Week of June 22, 2015

June 26, 2015

From this week’s news:

  • Lack of Mental Healthcare for Children Reaches ‘Crisis’ Level
    Healthline News: There is a cavernous gap between the number of children struggling with mental health conditions and the number who actually get help. That’s one of the conclusions of the Children’s Health Report released recently by the Child Mind Institute. The report states that nearly 50 percent of youth in the United States will have had a diagnosable mental illness at some point during childhood. Of those diagnosed, 22 percent will have a serious impairment.
  • Analysis finds 23% of children are victims of cyberbullying
    Medical News Today: Published in JAMA Pediatrics, a review of 36 social media studies finds that 23% is the median percentage of children and adolescents who reported being the victims of online bullying. The review also confirms a consistent relationship between cyberbullying and depression.
  • Teaching meditation to kids in Chicago swiftly reduced crime and dropout rates
    Quartz Blog: In a working paper published by the US National Bureau of Economic Research this month, researchers found that a simple, cost-effective after-school program for Chicago high-schoolers, called Becoming a Man (BAM) by the organization Youth Guidance,  focused on slowing down their decision-making process significantly lowered crime and dropout rates for participants and boosted school attendance.
  • Data Shows US Kids Inadequately Hydrated
    Education News:
    Data shows that a broad cross-section of kids ages 6 to 19 are not drinking any water as part of their daily fluid intake. In fact, a majority of children and teens are not drinking enough fluids in general and are walking around in a mildly dehydrated state, says a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health.
  • When school’s out, millions of kids go hungry
    CNN Money: A record 21.7 million American kids get free or reduced-price lunch during at school. But when summer vacation starts, the vast majority of them go without this essential, federally funded benefit. Fewer than 4 million kids, or just 18% of those in the school lunch program, are fed through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s summer food program. While that’s a record number for the 40-year-old initiative, many advocates and government officials say more needs to be done.
  • Parents Smoking In Front Of Toddlers Put Their Kids at Higher Risk of Obesity
    Tech Times: Researchers from the University of Montreal and its affiliate CHU Sainte Justine Research Centre were able to establish links between childhood obesity and exposure to smoking during the early years through their parents. Study lead Professor Linda Pagani said, however, that the effects they reported may be an underestimation because participating parents may have under-reported how much they smoked, out of embarrassment. The study was published in the Oxford University Press journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research.
  • Unhealthy Teens Face College and Job Obstacles
    Live Science: Being in poor health as a teenager can have a long-term influence on someone’s educational and job opportunities in adulthood, a new review published in Pediatrics suggests. Researchers found that teens with either mental health or chronic physical health conditions were less likely to graduate high school or finish college, and were more likely to be unemployed or have lower-income jobs as adults compared with healthy teens.

School health & wellness news roundup: Week of June 15, 2015

June 19, 2015

From this week’s news:

  • Life stress negatively affects poor children’s cognitive development
    United Press International: Low-income children exposed to unstable family environments or insensitive caregiving at age of 2 are at increased risk of cognitive delays by age 4, a new study published in the journal Child Development found. While the specific biological or environmental reasons for this are not known, differences in cortisol levels in children in the study at age 2 predicted their cortisol levels as well as cognitive delays at 4.
  • Reading, Writing, Required Silence: How Meditation Is Changing Schools and Students
    The Huffington Post: In the last seven years Quiet Time, a school-based meditation program, has expanded, and now appears in 18 schools across the country. Through twice-a-day meditation, practitioners believe everyone can access an intensely deep rest that allows the body to repair itself and release deeply rooted stress and tension that sleep never gets rid of. Because the Quiet Time program is relatively new, data on its impact on kids is limited, but early studies point to better grades, fewer suspensions and reports of better mental health among student meditators.
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