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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
    News.com:
    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.

School health & wellness news roundup: Week of Jan. 26, 2015.

January 30, 2015

From this week’s news:

  • New theoretical framework for future studies of resilience
    Science Daily:
    Stress, traumatic events, and difficult life situations play a significant role in the development of many mental illnesses, such as depression, anxiety, addiction. However, not everyone exposed to such circumstances develops a psychological disorder as a result. A new approach to studying resilience focuses on the appraisal of stressful or threatening situations by the brain.
  • Childhood Neglect May Affect Brain Development, Study Says
    HealthDay: Childhood neglect is associated with changes in the brain’s white matter, a small study shows. Findings have important implications for public health related to early prevention and intervention for children reared in conditions of severe neglect or adverse contexts more generally.
  • School-wide prevention program lowers teen suicide risk
    Reuters: Across schools with the Youth Aware of Mental Health program (11,000 students), 14 students attempted suicide over the course of the year, and 15 students reported having suicidal thoughts. In the no-intervention schools, there were 34 suicide attempts and 31 reports of suicidal thoughts. The universal prevention model used in this specific program is effective because it offers treatment before students show outward signs of risk, and it does not stigmatize anyone.
  • Teen ‘Pharming’ Is a Rising Concern
    Psych Central:
    A new review in the journal Contemporary Pediatrics suggests new initiatives are needed to address the rise of “pharming,” or recreational use and abuse of prescription drugs, among teenagers. Teens often believe the drugs are harmless with the abuse of prescription medications now the second-most commonly abused drug by adolescents (after marijuana).
  • Troubled Boys, Girls Have Sex Earlier, Study Finds
    HealthDay: Boys and girls who are unruly and aggressive from a young age were found to be more likely to start having sex before age 16, researchers reported in the journal Pediatrics. The study also found that boys who are socially anxious or withdrawn also tended to begin sex at a younger age. Such behavior problems in boys as young as 5 and in girls as young as 10, can be used to accurately predict early initiation of sex.
  • Fast Food Impedes Academic Performance, Study Suggests
    Education News: A new nationwide survey conducted by researchers at Ohio State University revealed that a child’s daily consumption of fast food hampers his or her academic performance. The study showed that students on a regular fast food diet had slower growth in math, reading, and science skills compared to their non-fast food eating counterparts.
  • Teenage misperception of weight may lead to adult obesity
    Medical News Today:
    A study due to be published Psychological Science, found that adolescents who had an inaccurate perception of themselves as being overweight had a 40% increased risk of obesity  in adulthood, compared with peers who had an accurate perception of their weight.

Report: Schools, Partners Must Do More to Address External Barriers to Academic Success

January 23, 2015

Today, WBUR’s education blog Learning Lab took a closer look at the Rennie Center’s “Condition of Education in the Commonwealth” report and policy recommendations. The story, “Report: Schools, Partners Must Do More to Address External Barriers to Academic Success,”  focuses on the impact out-of-school factors have on student achievement and features insight from City Connects’ executive director, Mary Walsh. Given the rise in the number of students living in poverty, the Rennie Center’s recommendation for a robust statewide student support program is particularly timely. From the article:

“[Attending to students’ out-of-school needs] has been a challenge for our educational system that has been emerging for the past two decades,” said Chad d’Entremont, executive director of the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy and co-author of the report. “In particular high-needs students, those in poverty, continue to struggle.”

For more information:

  • Read the article here, and see our previous post on the Rennie Center’s Condition of Education report here
  • Follow Learning Lab on Twitter @LearningLabMA

School health & wellness news roundup: Week of Jan. 19, 2015

January 23, 2015

From this week’s news:

  • Connection between childhood adversity, psychiatric disorders seen at cellular level
    Science Daily: In a new study published in Biological Psychiatry, researchers identify an association between biological changes on the cellular level and both childhood adversity and psychiatric disorders. These changes are important in the aging process and this new research provides evidence that psycho-social factors, specifically childhood adversity and psychiatric disorders, may also influence these cellular changes and could lead to accelerated aging.
  • Alcohol and drug problems a greater risk for adolescents who have insufficient and poor sleep
    Medical News Today: A new study has found that sleep difficulties and hours of sleep can predict a number of specific problems in adolescence, including binge drinking, driving under the influence of alcohol, and risky sexual behavior in a nationally representative sample.
  • Personal and peer drinking during adolescence and beyond influenced by genes and environment
    Medical News Today: A new study of how a person’s drinking is related to the alcohol use of their peers from early adolescence through to early adulthood has found that both genetic and environmental factors contribute to the correlation between one’s own drinking and peer drinking.
  • Difficult behavior in young children may point to later problems
    Science Daily: It’s normal for a very young child to have tantrums and be otherwise disruptive, but researchers have found that if such behavior is prolonged or especially intense, the child may have conduct disorder. Results are reported in The Journal of Pediatrics, where the research team recommends that children who exhibit these symptoms be referred to mental health professionals for evaluation and possible intervention.
  • Sleep Quantity + Sleep Quality = Better Math/Language Scores
    Psych Central: Researchers found that sleep quality and duration are linked to better performance in math and languages, subjects that are powerful predictors of later learning and academic success. Study findings have been published in the journal Sleep Medicine.
  • Letting kids move in class isn’t a break from learning. It IS learning.
    The Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog: Incorporating movement-based activities can help learners of all ages articulate and internalize new ideas, and this process invites adult participants to leave their comfort zone and reexamine their roles as both teachers and learners. They explore the relief that students feel at being invited to move, as well as the uncertainty and shyness that can arise when something new and unexpected is introduced.
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