Obese states: The highest and lowest rates of obesity, by state

March, 6, 2013, Huffington Post

The obesity rate in the United States is, on a whole, staying steady, according to a new Gallup-Healthways report.

The report shows that the obesity rate was 26.2 percent in 2012, which is about the same as the 26.1 percent rate in 2011.

State obesity rates have also largely remained unchanged, with only three states experiencing an increase in obesity — New Jersey, North Carolina, and Georgia — and one state actually experiencing a decrease in obesity — Delaware. Continue reading

Exercise may help protect children from stress

March 8, 2013, The New York Times

By Jan Hoffman

Physically active children generally report happier moods and fewer symptoms of depression than children who are less active. Now researchers may have found a reason: By one measure, exercise seems to help children cope with stress.

Finnish researchers had 258 8-year-old boys and girls wear accelerometers on their wrists for at least four days that registered the quality and quantity of their physical activity. Their parents used cotton swabs to take saliva samples at various times throughout a single day, which the researchers used to assess levels of cortisol, a hormone typically induced by physical or mental stress. Continue reading

School design guidelines to help promote healthy eating published in CDC journal

A newly available pilot tool made possible through an innovative collaboration between architects, schools, and scientists is part of a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to improve school environments for children’s health by engaging new partners.

The Healthy Eating Design Guidelines for School Architecture provides practitioners in architecture and public health and school system decision makers with a practical set of spatially organized and theory-based strategies for making school environments more conducive to learning about and practicing healthy eating behaviors. Continue reading

HHS releases follow-up report on increasing physical activity among U.S. youth

HHS releases follow-up report on increasing physical activity among U.S. youth

On March 8, 2013, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a five-year follow-up report to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Midcourse Report: Strategies to Increase Physical Activity Among Youth provides recommendations for increasing physical activity levels of American youth across five key settings:  Schools, Preschool and Childcare, Community, Home, and Healthcare. Continue reading

New report rates food and beverage companies on their nutrition-related policies and practices

A new report released today from the Access to Nutrition Index (ATNI) rates food and beverage manufacturers on their nutrition-related policies, practices, and performance.

The report, Access to Nutrition Index Global Index 2013, seeks to stimulate greater action by the private sector to improve nutrition at a global level. The ATNI Global index rates 25 of the world’s largest food and beverage manufacturers on their nutrition-related commitments, performance and disclosure, with the aim of encouraging them to increase access to nutritious and affordable food and beverage products, as well as to responsibly exercise their influence on consumer choice and behavior.

The ATNI Methodology assesses companies against international guidelines, norms, and accepted good practices, except when such guidance was not found. In such instances, the assessment is based on guidance from a panel of experts on nutrition and the food and beverage industry in addition to recommendations drawn from stakeholder consultations. Continue reading

Video highlights school design enhancements through use of guidelines

The Healthy Eating Design Guidelines for School Architecture, the result of an innovative collaboration between public health researchers and school architects, offers a practical set of strategies for creating and sustaining school food environments that ultimately decrease and prevent childhood obesity.

This video documents the story of Buckingham Elementary School in Dillwyn, Va., a school that did renovations using the design guidelines in order to improve its ability to adopt a healthy nutrition curriculum and promote healthy eating.

Watch the video below.

Heart healthy habits in childhood may prevent future disease

March 4, 2013, HealthDay

Teaching children heart healthy habits now can help protect them from heart disease when they’re adults, an expert says.

“The process of atherosclerosis, which is the hardening of the arteries and is known to cause heart attacks, strokes, and sudden death, has been shown to begin in early childhood,” Dr. Zachary Stone, a primary-care doctor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said in a university news release. “It’s important to concentrate on healthy lifestyles in children to prevent adult cardiovascular disease.”

The three heart health areas to watch in children are diet, physical activity levels, and exposure to secondhand smoke. Continue reading

When kids exercise more, their grades might rise too

Feb. 28, 2013, HealthDay

One key to better grades in the classroom may lie in the gym or on the playground, a new study finds.

The research, to be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Pediatrics, found that elementary and middle school students who don’t get enough exercise are more likely to fail math and reading tests.

Although the study didn’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship, the findings may be especially important in light of the fact that some school districts in the United States have cut physical education classes in order to devote more time to the “3 Rs” (reading, writing, and arithmetic), the researchers said. Continue reading

In many families, exercise is by appointment only

Feb. 27, 2013, NPR [Shots Blog]

By Jane Greenhalgh and Patti Neighmond

Most families know that their kids need to exercise. In a poll that NPR recently conducted with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, practically all of the parents surveyed said it’s important for their kids to exercise. But about one-third of them said that can be difficult.

Take Yvonne Condes of Los Angeles: It falls on her, like many parents across the country, to make sure her kids get enough exercise every day. Federal health officials recommend at least one hour of daily exercise for children and teens. But many public schools have reduced or completely cut physical education classes because of budget constraints. Continue reading

Even a few extra pounds may harm lung function in black, Hispanic kids

Feb. 22, 2013, HealthDay

Even a small amount of extra weight can have a negative effect on the lung function of Hispanic and black children, according to a new study.

However, this is not the case for white children, the researchers noted. As a result, they suggested that differences in the distribution of body fat could help explain the greater prevalence of asthma in these minority groups. The study authors said their findings could help doctors identify and treat children with airway obstruction. Continue reading