Report: California teens drinking more sugary drinks

Oct. 18, 2013, HealthDay

Although younger children in California are drinking less soda and other sugary beverages, teens in the state are actually drinking more, according to a report released Oct. 17.

The research from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the California Center for Public Health Advocacy (CCPHA) involved more than 40,000 households and revealed an 8 percent surge in sugary drink consumption among young people age 12 to 17. Particularly large increases were seen among black, Latino, and Asian teens.

“California has made real progress in reducing the consumption of sugary beverages among young children,” Dr. Susan Babey, of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, said in a center news release. “But teens are in trouble. Soda or sports drinks should be an occasional treat, not a daily habit. If this trend isn’t reversed there may be costly consequences for teens, their families, and the health care system in the form of increased obesity and diabetes.” Continue reading

Healthy food rarely convenient for urban minorities

Oct. 16, 2013, Medical Xpress

By Valerie Debenedette

Despite the prevalence of corner and convenience stores in urban neighborhoods, many residents have to travel farther to find supermarkets that offer a wide variety of healthful food choices, finds a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The study also found that supermarkets in lower income areas and with more people on public assistance had significantly less variety and offered fewer healthier foods.

A 30-block area of west and southwest Philadelphia was selected for study by the researchers. Residents were 75 percent black, 15 percent white, 6 percent Asian, and 1 percent Hispanic, with 28 percent of households living in poverty, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. Continue reading

NIH webinar: Strengths and weaknesses of experimental and quasi-experimental designs

The National Institutes of Health Office of Disease Prevention (OPD) is hosting a webinar tomorrow for their Medicine: Mind the Gap seminar featuring Dr. William R. Shadish, distinguished professor and founding faculty of the University of California, Merced. Dr. Shadish will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of experimental and quasi-experimental designs.

Recent years have seen important advances in the design and analysis of both randomized experiments and quasi-experiments. In particular, research has focused on empirical tests of the conditions under which nonrandomized experiments can approximate answers from a randomized experiment. Such efforts have a long history in fields such as medicine, psychology, and economics. Recent work is prompted by evidence-based practice and theoretical advances such as Rubin’s causal model. Continue reading

Improving school lunch by design

Oct. 16, 2013, The New York Times

By Courtney E. Martin

What if the secret to getting kids to eat healthier is to stop focusing on food?

In spring 2013, the San Francisco Unified School District (S.F.U.S.D.) began a five-month collaboration with the design firm IDEO to re-imagine the school food system. This effort might not sound unique. Childhood obesity has become a hot topic, in large part thanks to the first lady’s Let’s Move! campaign, and projects by high-profile chefs like Jamie Oliver and Alice Waters have aimed at getting fresh, healthy foods in schools.

In this case, however, the adults aren’t as concerned with what students are eating as they are with how they are eating.

“When adults dine, we don’t just think about the food,” explained Orla O’Keeffe, the executive director of policy and operations. “The food is important, but so is what’s going on around it: the ambience, the service, the company. Why would we assume kids are any different?” Continue reading

Exercise ‘boosts academic performance’ of teenagers

Oct. 22, 2013, BBC News

Intensive exercise improves the academic performance of teenagers, according to new research.

The study of about 5,000 children found links between exercise and exam success in English, math, and science.

It found an increase in performance for every extra 17 minutes boys exercised, and 12 minutes for girls.

The study by the universities of Strathclyde and Dundee in Scotland found physical activity particularly benefited girls’ performance at science.

The authors said this could be a chance finding or reflect gender differences in the impact of physical activity on the brain.

Children who carried out regular exercise, not only did better academically at age 11 but also at age 13 and in their exams at age 16, the study suggested. Continue reading