Raising Healthy Kids

Virginia School District Wants Teenagers To Sleep More, Proposes Late School Time Start

If your kids are studying in a Fairfax County high school, they’re probably going to love what the superintendent wants to propose.

high school start time alarm clock teenagers more sleepKaren Garza, superintendent of the high schools in Fairfax County, presented a proposal to delay the start of school time so as to give students more time to sleep. The proposed start time is 8:00 in the morning or later. Although this does not sound like a significant amount of time — high school classes usually start at 7:30 A.M. — this gives teenagers enrolled in the Fairfax County schools an extra 30 minutes of sleep.

The proposed change was made in partnership with the Children’s National Medical Center, which hopes that the time change will afford teenagers with more sleep time to improve mental health and academic capacity. Should the proposal be approved, Fairfax County will be one of 73 school districts that start high school classes later than 8:00 A.M., according to a news release.

Cost implications, however, may hinder the proposal. The change in the schools’ start time would require additional school buses, which may amount to $5 million among other miscellaneous expenses. The need for new buses stems from the fact that these transport vehicles serve multiple schools at the same schedule.

The Fairfax County School Board is set to decide on the matter by October, for possible implementation by the next school year.

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August Pegged As “Kids Eat Right” Month

If you are having a hard time letting your children get the right nutrition, this month is the best way to start doing so.

children eating together with familyAugust has been assigned as “Kids Eat Right” month, a campaign to highlight the importance of nutrition education as a way to teach children how to live active and healthy lives. This program is being spearheaded by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The initiative targets the following objectives, as posted in the Kids Eat Right website:

  • Educate children, families, communities and policy makers on the importance of high-quality, nutritional foods in childhood obesity prevention efforts.
  • Advocate on behalf of a quality nutrition approach to promote growth and development.
  • Demonstrate the food and nutrition expertise of registered dietitians through educational programming and advocacy.

The campaign revolves around the concept of healthy eating habits for children by shopping the right kinds of food, cooking for optimum nutrition, and eating together with family. The latter has become a widespread campaign not only for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics but also for other family-centered organizations. In fact, one of the most famous initiatives named The Family Dinner Project emphasizes the advantages of eating together as a family unit.

For more information about Kids Eat Right month, check out the campaign’s press release.

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Excessive Social Media Use Linked To Higher Risk for Substance Abuse

Spending too much time in front of the computer or TV screen may lead to a greater chance for kids to become dependent on drugs and other illicit substances.

teens using social mediaPartnership for a Drug Free Iowa, a group of experts who devise strategies to combat drug use in teens, said that youngsters are susceptible to substance abuse if they spend much of their time playing video games, logging in social media sites, or other non-social activities. The Partnership’s president Peter Komendowski said that “social media can be a very antisocial experience when it reduces actual time spent in activities with friends and family members.”

As a result of spending much time on antisocial activities, teenagers may be tempted to go down the spiral of depression and insecurity. “Excess social media and ‘screen time’ can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression, setting the stage for substance abuse and other high-risk behaviors,” Komendowski said in a news release.

Furthermore, the Partnership revealed that an average teenager spends about 55 hours on social media and video games on a weekly basis, with the figure increasing during summer vacation. The group is advocating more parental intervention for teens engaged in excessive antisocial behavior.

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Study: Same-Sex Couples Produce Healthier Kids

Skeptical about raising kids within the LGBT community? A recent study found out that kids raised by same-sex couples eventually lead grow up healthier and better adjusted in society that children growing in traditional heterosexual couples.

kids raised by same-sex couplesLead study author Simon Crouch of the University of Melbourne said that their study suggests that the social stereotype against gays and lesbians may not affect the children too much. “It’s often suggested that children with same-sex parents have poorer outcomes because they’re missing a parent of a particular sex… But research my colleagues and I published in the journal BMC Public Health shows this isn’t the case,” Crouch said in a news item.

The study involved a survey of families to report the health of their children. The results revealed that kids raised by same-sex couples were six percent better in terms of health than those living in traditional family settings.

Crouch attributes this to the dynamics happening in same-sex couples. “It is liberating for parents to take on roles that suit their skills rather than defaulting to gender stereotypes, where mum is the primary care giver and dad the primary breadwinner,” he said.

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U.S. Kids Exposed To Vitamin Overdose?

While vitamin supplements may help in your child’s development, too much of a good thing is always bad.

cerealThe Environmental Working Group (EWG) released a report that details the possible overdose of children in the U.S. over vitamins and minerals. Food products fortified with so-called essential nutrients may bring too much artifical nutrition to kids.

According to the report as cited in a news release, the two most popular fortified food products are snack bars and breakfast cereals, which were found to contain nutrients over and beyond the daily requirement of an average American child. “Fortified breakfast cereals are the number one source of added vitamin A, zinc and niacin in children’s diets,” the report stated.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has set a maximum limit for vitamin and mineral content that is safe for children. The report by EWG stated that kids 8 years old and below may be at risk of exceeding the safe limit, even if they eat just one serving.

The report named 23 breakfast cereal products and 27 snack bars that exceed the IOM threshold. Some of the products come from famous brands like General Mills, Kellogg’s, Stop & Shop, and Safeway.

The EWG recommends regular consumers of these products to be aware and educated about the dangers of excess nutrition, particularly Vitamin A.

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Divorce or Alcohol Abuse of Parents Linked To More Suicide Attempts in Children

Based on a recent study on individuals whose parents are engaged in alcohol abuse, 85 percent are most likely to commit suicide than those who grew up in families that do not overuse alcohol. Meanwhile, another study reveals that suicide attempts for those individuals whose parents were separated increased by 14 percent.

child depressionSurprisingly the number of suicide attempts for children whose parents are divorced and involved in alcohol abuse did not increase.

According to Dr. Dana Alonzo, study lead author from Columbia University, they found out that those people whose parents were alcoholic or divorced are keener to commit suicide than those individuals who belong to good families.

Based on the study of 43,093 individuals aged 18 years old and above, a total of 13,753 participants disclosed that they are experiencing acute depression and 1,073 of them even tried to commit suicide. According to a news release, researchers also found out that of those who attempted suicide 25 percent belongs to broken families, while 46 percent are siblings of one or both parents who are alcoholic.

In the case of those who experienced both drunkenness and divorce, expert says the reason why there is lesser suicide attempts might be due to low exposure of hostility inside their home as both parents have divorced “or” it could be that the children with an alcoholic parent already accepted the fact that their parents will soon split up due to conflict and alcoholism.

Participants of this research were assessed based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM) wherein they were asked to answer criteria for their depression.

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