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School health & wellness news roundup: Week of Sept. 7, 2015

September 11, 2015

From this week’s news:

  • One-Third of U.S. Kids with ADHD Diagnosed before Age 6: Report
    Health Day: Almost a third of U.S. children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder were diagnosed before the age of 6, even though there aren’t many valid tests to support diagnosis in children that young, a new federal government report shows.
  • USPSTF Recommends Depression Screening for Teens
    Physicians Briefing:
    The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening for major depressive disorder in adolescents, but evidence is inadequate to assess screening tools for younger children.
  • Class Divide: Are More Affluent Kids Opting Out Of School Lunch?
    NPR Blog:
    There’s a lot of evidence that the meals school cafeterias are serving have gotten healthier since new federal nutrition standards were rolled out. But some school districts say there’s an unintended consequence of the reform: fewer students are buying lunch. In other words, healthier school lunches are reaching more needy kids — but more kids who could afford to pay full price seem to be brown-bagging it instead.

School health & wellness news roundup: Week of Aug. 31, 2015

September 4, 2015

From this week’s news:

  • 3 tips to boost student health and improve learning
    Education Dive: The ways that student health impact students’ ability to learn in class begin small. But according to a new report from a state-run research organization, those small struggles add up. And in low-income communities, they can create real barriers to student learning. For officials looking to begin addressing the links between wellness and academic performance, the report from Education Commission of the States has three key tips.
  • School breakfast programs now serving 13.5 million kids
    Washington Examiner: The U.S. Department of Agriculture boasted that an average of 13.5 million students around the country were using its School Breakfast Program each day in 2014, and that more than 10 million of those students were getting a free breakfast under the program.
  • How Soda Affects Kids’ Cholesterol Levels
    The Times: The research is mounting that sugar-sweetened beverages are linked with health problems in adults, including type-2 diabetes, heart conditions and obesity. In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, children consuming more sugared drinks had higher levels of triglycerides, which are linked to a higher risk of heart disease. Further, children who drank one serving less on average showed higher levels of HDL, the good cholesterol that can protect against heart problems.
  • Back-to-School Special: The Importance of Adolescent Sleep
    Child Trends: Research shows that the average adolescent needs eight-and-a-half to nine-and-a-half hours of sleep each night. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Sleep Foundation report that less than a third of high school students get eight hours per night on school nights. Chronic sleepiness in teens interferes with gaining important developmental skills such as decision-making, judgment, and impulse and behavior control. Studies show linkages between decreased sleep and lower academic achievement in middle and high school students.
  • Light From Smartphones, Tablets May Lower Sleep Hormone in Kids
    Health Day: New research published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism offers a compelling reason for parents to ban smartphones, tablets and laptops in their children’s bedrooms at night: The bright light of these devices may lower levels of melatonin, a hormone that prompts sleep. The effect was most pronounced for kids just entering puberty, with nighttime melatonin levels suppressed by up to 37 percent in some cases.

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.
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