Oct. 24, 2013,
The Baltimore Sun
By Allison Bond
Providing children with sports equipment, encouragement, and a safe environment boosts their activity level during the school day, according to a recent study from Australia.
Researchers found that simple steps such as making sure elementary school students have bats and balls to use during recess or asking students to stand up between classes boosted physical activity during recess by as much as 40 percent.
“We all know that physical activity is important, especially with the growing obesity epidemic,” Dr. Vandana Madhavan, a pediatrician at Massachusetts General Hospital who was not involved in the research, told Reuters Health. “This study looks at multiple ways to increase activity in the school setting.” Continue reading
Oct. 25, 2013,
If you want to eat healthier when dining out, research recommends surrounding yourself with friends who make healthy food choices. A University of Illinois study showed that when groups of people eat together at a restaurant at which they must state their food choice aloud, they tend to select items from the same menu categories.
“My conclusion from the research is that people want to be different, but not that different,” said U of I food economist Brenna Ellison. “We want to fit in with the people we’re dining with. It goes against the expectation that people will exhibit variety-seeking behavior; we don’t want to be that different from others.” Continue reading
Oct. 24, 2013,
Obesity is on the rise among children, and a particular genetic mutation might play a role for some kids, a new study suggests.
Researchers in Britain conducted genetic analyses of more than 2,100 severely obese youngsters. They found that those with mutations in the KSR2 gene had larger appetites and slower metabolism than those with a normal copy of the gene, according to the study published in the Oct. 24 issue of the journal Cell.
“Changes in diet and levels of physical activity underlie the recent increase in obesity; however, some people gain weight more easily than others,” study author Sadaf Farooqi, of the University of Cambridge, noted in a journal news release. “This variation between people is largely influenced by genetic factors. The discovery of a new obesity gene, KSR2, demonstrates that genes can contribute to obesity by reducing metabolic rate — how well the body burns calories.” Continue reading
Oct. 22, 2013,
The Washington Post
By Tim Carman
More than 40 percent of the U.S. public school districts that responded to a historic census said they were participating in a program that helps bring fresh, local produce to school cafeterias. The percentage of participating schools was even higher in Maryland, Virginia, and the District, where the program has taken deep root.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) first-ever census of school districts across the country revealed how popular the national Farm to School program has become in recent years: About 43 percent of U.S. school districts — or about 38,600 schools — bought local produce for their students during the 2011-2012 school year, investing more than $354 million in farms near their communities. Another 13 percent said they would be participating in the program “in the near future.” Continue reading
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), part of the Department of Health in the United Kingdom, recently issued new guidance on managing overweight and obesity in children through lifestyle weight management services.
The National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR) Envision members Tim Marsh and Martin Brown, in collaboration with additional researchers, helped inform this guidance by conducting economic modeling to determine the level at which these interventions would be cost effective and add to the quality of life and health of children. Continue reading
Oct. 18, 2013,
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
Oct. 16, 2013,
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
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
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
Oct. 22, 2013,
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