Archive for category Raising Healthy Kids

School Policies Against Competitive Food Choices Decrease Risk of Childhood Obesity

Vending machines and other competitive food and beverage products have been regulated by several school districts in the U.S. as part of the nationwide drive against childhood obesity. Now, a recent study confirms that the policies seem to be working.

school cafeteria lunch foodA research team led by Emma V. Sanchez-Vaznaugh of San Francisco State University assessed the impact of competitive food and beverage policies in schools across the state of California on the rate of obesity in students. More than 2.7 million students enrolled in close to 5,400 public elementary schools between 2001 and 2010 were evaluated as part of the research, according to a news item.

Results showed that student obesity rates before the implementation of the food policies were at a steady increase, from 43.5 percent in 2001 to 46.6 percent by 2005. However, after implementing competitive food policies in the schools starting in 2006, the numbers plateaued.

One peculiar finding was the significant difference in obesity rates for varying socio-economic situations. Low-income communities registered 52.8 percent obesity rate, which was higher that the 36.2 percent figure in high-income areas. “These findings suggest that [competitive food and beverage] policies may be crucial interventions to prevent child obesity, but the degree of their effectiveness is also likely to depend on influences of socioeconomic resources and other contextual factors within school neighborhoods,” said the authors.

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Suicide Risk Decreased By Successful Anxiety Treatment At Young Age

Early and successful intervention to treat anxiety in children and adolescents may decrease the likelihood of considering suicide during adulthood, according to a study conducted by researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

NervousStudy lead author Courtney Benjamin Wolk, who works as the school’s Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research, expressed the importance of treating anxiety at a young age. “”This study underscores the importance of the identification and evidence-based treatment of youth anxiety,” Wolk said in a news release.

The study involved following up the condition of 66 patients who were identified during their childhood to be diagnosed with anxiety (generalized, separation, or social). Forty of the patients were able to successfully complete cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). After 7 to 19 years from the completion of the therapy, the remaining 26 patients who did not respond to CBT intervention were revealed to have thought about committing suicide within a year before the follow-up.”This study suggests the importance of ongoing monitoring of anxious youth who are not successfully treated for later suicidal ideation,” said study co-author Rinad Beidas, assistant professor of the research center.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

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Study: Children Unintentionally Take Wrong Medication

Errors are inevitable, but what will you do if the error involves giving your child the wrong medicine?

child wrong medicationA study from the Nationwide Children’s Hospital revealed that while parents and caregivers have the best of intentions, about 63,000 children below six years old have received the wrong medication from 2002 to 2012.

Dr. Huiyun Xiang, who works at the hospital’s Center for Pediatric Trauma Research, said that the figures in their study are still conservative. “The numbers we report still underestimate the true magnitude of these incidents since these are just cases reported to national poison centers,” said Xiang in a news release.

According to the study released via the online journal Pediatrics, the medication error happen in areas where children usually stay: the school, a friend’s house, or the child’s own home. Many of the reported cases involved unintentional ingestion of painkillers, acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Meanwhile, the error usually happens because the child receives the drug multiple times as a result of the caregiver’s error or memory failure. Other reasons include following an incorrect dosage or giving the child a wrong medicine for the ailment.

In addition, Xiang said that younger kids prove to be the most vulnerable in these cases. “We found that younger children are more apt to experience error than older children, with children under age one accounting for 25 percent of incidents,” Xiang added.

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Teenage Moms Less Depressed and Drug-Dependent Through In-Home Sessions

Teenage pregnancy is a very difficult issue for the young moms, and it’s easy for them to succumb to depression and drug use. The good news is that with early and persistent intervention, the pregnant teen’s likelihood to be depressed and drug-dependent becomes lower.

pregnant teens interventionA study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health revealed that pregnant teenagers who are exposed to in-home educational sessions are less likely to fall into behavioral issues, use illegal drugs, or become depressed. According to a news release, the study involved more than 300 American Indian pregnant teenagers who were assigned to either of two treatments: the standard care that includes medical checkups and childcare, or the same care but with an additional program of in-house sessions under the Family Spirit intervention. The study ran until the children reached age 3.

The teenage moms who underwent the Family Spirit program were found to have better dispositions than those who received standard care. In addition, their children were also observed to have better future behavioral patterns.

Dr. Allison Barlow, who is the lead author of the study and works at the school’s Center for American Indian Health, shared that the default mode of treatment for teenage pregnancy cases is inclined towards medical techniques, but the study proved that proper intervention works just as well, if not better. “Now the burden is in multi-generational behavioral health problems, the substance abuse, depression and domestic violence that are transferred from parents to children. This intervention can help us break that cycle of despair,” Barlow said.

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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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