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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.

School health & wellness news roundup: Week of June 8, 2015

June 12, 2015

From this week’s news:

  • More Districts Opting out of National School Lunch Program
    Education News: A number of school districts across the country are choosing to opt out of the federally funded meal program in an effort to put a stop to the cost of food waste that has resulted from First Lady Michelle Obama’s National School Lunch Program. Across the country, 1.2 million students have dropped out of the program since it was implemented in 2012. The students who are still receiving lunch from the program continue throw out their food, causing food waste totaling $1 billion.
  • Early-Childhood Social-Skills Program Boosted by $20 Million Donation
    Ed Week Early Years Blog: The Sanford Harmony program expanded its focus beyond gender to promoting understanding and tolerance among children of different racial and ethnic groups, and among children with disabilities and their typically developing peers. Now the program is expanding nationwide, thanks to a $20 million anonymous donation to San Diego-based National University. Sanford Harmony has programs for pre-K through 6th graders, and will be free to use.
  • More than one in four U.S. kids exposed to weapon violence
    Reuters Health: More than one in four U.S. children are exposed to weapon violence before their eighteenth birthday, either as victims or witnesses, a large study suggests. About one in 33 kids are directly assaulted during incidents involving guns or knives, researchers report in the journal Pediatrics. Much of the violence involved objects such as sticks, rocks, bottles, but about 3 percent of children reported exposure to guns and knives.
  • The Rise of the ‘Gaming for Good’ Movement
    Newsweek: The prospect of using video games to mold the psyche has been gathering momentum for some time. The nonprofit Games for Change, founded in 2004, has been funding promising socially conscious games for years. Meanwhile, several prominent social-impact titles have recently made their debuts. For example MindLight, developed by the Netherlands’ GainPlay Studio, has been praised for its immersive experience that helps kids overcome fears and anxieties. 
  • How Screen Time Might Affect Teenage Bones
    Daily Rx:
    A new study from Norway found that increased time spent on screen-based activities may be tied to decreased bone density in teen boys. There was no link found between screen time and loss of bone density in girls during the initial study and the follow-up.
  • U.S. Kids Not Drinking Enough Water Each Day
    Health Day:
     Many American children and teens aren’t consuming enough liquids, especially water, and that lack of hydration could affect their physical and mental health, a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health suggests. The findings “highlight a potential health issue that has not been given a whole lot of attention in the past,” study author Erica Kenney from the Harvard School of Public Health reports.

School health & wellness news roundup: Week of June 1, 2015

June 5, 2015

From this week’s news:

  • Study: Nearly third of teens changed health habits based on online search
    The Washington Post: In the first national study in more than a decade to look at how adolescents use digital tools for health information, nearly one-third of teenagers said they used online data to improve behavior — such as cutting back on drinking soda, using exercise to combat depression and trying healthier recipes — according to a study by researchers at Northwestern University.
  • Tougher Alcohol Laws for Adults May Also Lower Teen Drinking
    Health Day: New research suggests that as a state’s alcohol laws get tougher, teen drinking rates drop — even if the laws are targeting adults and not teens. After considering other factors that may influence teen drinking, the researchers found that for every 10 additional percentage points in a state’s overall score of stronger alcohol-related laws, teens had 8 percent lower odds of drinking and 7 percent lower odds of binge drinking.
  • Frequently bullied kids ‘twice as likely’ to be depressed at 18
    Medical News Today: A study of just under 4,000 teenagers in the UK has found that bullying during adolescence is associated with a higher risk of depression in young adulthood. In the group of teenagers who had reported no victimization, just over 5% went on to have depression. A greater burden of the mental ill health was seen among the teenagers who had reported being bullied at 13 years of age between one and three times in a 6-month period – 7.1% had depression at 18.
  • Childhood trauma gets under the skin
    Science Daily:
    Long-term changes in immune function caused by childhood trauma could explain increased vulnerability to a range of health problems in later life, according to a new study published in Molecular Psychiatry. Researchers found heightened inflammation across three blood biomarkers in adults who had been victims of childhood trauma. High levels of inflammation can lead to serious and potentially life-threatening conditions such as type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease as well as the onset of psychiatric disorders.

School health & wellness news roundup: Week of May 25, 2015

May 29, 2015

From this week’s news:

  • How Schools Can Help Nurture Students’ Mental Health
    Mind Shift: Emotional problems are linked to poverty, according to an American Academy of Pediatrics study, and 20 percent of children live in poverty. What’s the proper role for schools in attending to children’s mental health? Some educators and mental health experts have pushed schools to get more involved in preventing emotional and behavior problems and spotting those kids who need help, so that they can be steered toward professionals who can help them. Mental health problems often reveal themselves early in life, and the sooner they’re treated, the thinking goes, the better the outcomes.
  • Access to mental health care for teens improving, but less for communities with disparities
    Science Daily:
    Teens in the U.S. have more availability of mental health care than they did two years ago, but access is not equal in all communities, new research suggests. A five year study gauged opportunities for children and teens at the local level in communities across the U.S. surveying over 2,000 adults across the U.S. who work and/or volunteer on behalf of children and teens.
  • Survey: School Violence Down, But Security Increasing
    Education News:
    US public schools have expanded security measures by adding safety drills and parent notifications, reports a government survey. The report from the 2013-2014 school year was implemented by the National Center for Education Statistics. It found that 88% of public schools had created a written plan explaining how to respond to an active shooter and 7 out of 10 had drills in place to practice the plan. Approximately three-quarters of schools were using security cameras, and 43% said security personnel were in place at least once a week.
  • Active children become healthier teens and less prone to obesity: study
    The Sydney Morning Herald:
    Children who engage in daily physical exercise reap the health benefits as early as their teens, according to a study that will bolster calls for a national response to obesity. The study of 4600 children found those who were more active in late childhood had a lower body weight and lower risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes by their mid-teens.

School health & wellness news roundup: Week of May 18, 2015

May 22, 2015

From this week’s news:

  • More U.S. Kids Getting Mental Health Treatment
    Health Day: The number of U.S. children and teens being treated for mental health issues has risen by about 50 percent in the past 20 years — with most of those kids having relatively mild symptoms, a new study published in New England Journal of Medicine finds.
  • A new poll shows gaps in children’s behavioral health treatment
    Michigan Radio: A new poll shows parents are hesitant to talk to doctors about their children’s behavioral challenges. Nearly half of parents believed that behavioral issues were not medical problems. Another 40% of parents say they would rather handle it themselves. Roughly 30% say they would rather speak to someone other than a doctor. The poll found more than 60% of parents will talk to their children’s doctor if the child appears unusually sad for more than a month.
  • School Bullying, Cyberbullying Continue to Drop
    US News & World Report: The percentage of students who reported being bullied or cyberbullied reached a record low in 2013, but female students are still victimized at higher rates. The department released the results of the latest School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey, which showed that in 2013, the percentage of students ages 12-18 who reported being bullied dropped to 21.5% from 27.8% in 2011, and a high of 31.7% in 2007. The percentage of students who reported being cyberbullied also fell to 6.9% in 2013, down from 9% in 2011.
  • Mindfulness Training in Health Education Can Reduce Student Stress
    Education News: Research shows that mindfulness training for students could help in the reduction of stress levels by teaching them a variety of ways to handle difficulty and stress. A number of studies have been performed, showing how mindfulness can help students physically, psychologically, and emotionally, in addition to improving their academic performance.
  • Obesity disparity grew among U.S. kindergarteners
    Reuters: Obesity rates among children entering kindergarten in the U.S. have increased since 1998 – except among those from the wealthiest families, according to new research. The findings, published in JAMA Pediatrics, add to evidence that suggests not all young people are benefiting from a leveling out of obesity rates as reported last year by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • Preschoolers Need More Opportunities for Active Play, Study Concludes
    Ed Week Schooled in Sports Blog: Preschool-aged children at child-care centers need far more opportunities for physical activity, suggests a study published in the journal Pediatrics. In total, only 12 percent of the activities in an average day at child-care centers were considered active play opportunities. Outdoor free play was the most common active-play opportunity. On average, children logged 33 minutes outdoors on a daily basis—far lower than the 60 minutes scheduled at each. Beyond that, 26% of the average day was devoted to naptime.

School health & wellness news roundup: Week of May 11, 2015

May 15, 2015

From this week’s news:

  • Study Links Sleep Troubles to Children’s Mental Health
    Health Day:
    There is a link between sleep and young children’s mental health, a new study published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics suggests. Researchers looked at sleep patterns and the mental health of 1,000 children. They found that those with sleep disorders at age 4 were at increased risk for mental health problems — such as anxiety and depression — at age 6. They also discovered that children with mental health problems at age 4 were at increased risk for sleep disorders at age 6.
  • CDC: 1 in 10 Children Diagnosed With ADHD
    Health Day:
    One in 10 children and teens has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That number has remained relatively steady since 2007, according to government estimates. Among all age groups combined, 9.5 percent of children and teens had ever been diagnosed with ADHD. Only 3 percent of 4- and 5-year-olds had been diagnosed with ADHD, the report found, but that number jumped to 9.5 percent for children ages 6 to 11.
  • Growing interest: School-grown vegetables increase salad selection
    Science Daily:
    If kids grow vegetables, they’re more likely to eat them. A new Cornell study published in Acta Paediatrica shows that when garden grown vegetables were slipped into school salads, kids were over four times as likely to take a salad.
  • Childhood obesity influenced by how kids are fed, not just what they eat
    Science Daily:
    As the childhood obesity epidemic increases, researchers are discovering that the way caregivers feed their kids may be just as important as what they give them to eat. It’s estimated that by 2020, 16 million kids under the age of 5 will be obese. Currently, most public health initiatives are focused on promoting healthy eating and physical activity to reverse the trend. However, the origins of childhood obesity may be as much about psychology as biology.
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