Even 3 Minutes of Walking Helps Kids’ Health: Study

The start of school often means kids spend way less time being active. After all, they spend hours sitting in a classroom—and then need to buckle down and finish their homework in their free time.

If you’re concerned that your kid isn’t getting enough exercise during recess or at after school activities, researchers may have found a simple solution.

A small new study, published online in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, found that interrupting long periods of sitting with moderate-intensity walking can benefit children.

Researchers examined 28 healthy children (aged 7 and 11) who were at a normal weight, and found that devoting just three minutes to walking every half hour when sitting for a total of three hours resulted in lower blood sugar and insulin level when compared to a different day when the children were sedentary for the entire three hours.

“While we know getting 30 minutes or more of moderate intensity exercise each day improves children’s health and metabolism, small behavioral changes like taking short walking breaks can also yield some benefits,” said the study’s senior author, Jack A. Yanovski, M.D., in a press release.

Researchers also added that the additional activity did not appear to increase the children’s appetites.

Of course, this was a very small study, and in order to draw more concrete results, further research would need to be done with a larger sample size. But it’s encouraging news at a time when fitting in time to exercise can be a struggle—and an easy thing our kids could do throughout the school day or when doing homework.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

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How to Make the Most of Playtime
How to Make the Most of Playtime

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School Lunches are Healthier Now—But Are Kids Eating Them?

Girl holding lunch traySince 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been implementing changes and new rules to the National School Lunch Program, which feeds approximately 31 million kids each school day. In hopes of getting kids to eat healthier, the USDA currently requires that children receive one fruit or one vegetable with each school meal. But as it turns out, this rule isn’t actually increasing the amount of fruits and veggies schoolchildren consume.

Related: Digging into the New School Lunch Rules

A new study, published online in the journal of Public Health Reports, examined nearly 1,500 photographs taken of lunch trays both before and after the execution of the USDA program. The photos were taken at two elementary schools located in the Northeast region.

It was found that although children put more fruits and vegetables on their trays, they didn’t actually eat them. About 35 percent of the healthy foods were thrown in the garbage, according to the study.

Researchers concluded that the fruit/vegetable requirement didn’t correspond with consumption, and, instead, suggest that current guidelines be enhanced to get kids to make more healthful choices.

“There are some really promising strategies targeting school settings such as farm-to-school programs and school gardens that can help to encourage fruit and vegetable consumption in addition to what the cafeteria is providing,” said study author Sarah Amin in a press release.

Other suggestions include serving dips (like peanut butter with a banana or hummus with carrots) and combining healthy foods with slightly less nutritious foods.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

Lunch Monitor: What Are Kids Throwing Away?
Lunch Monitor: What Are Kids Throwing Away?
Lunch Monitor: What Are Kids Throwing Away?

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A New Study Says Daycare Doesn’t Make Kids Aggressive

Kids at daycareIf you’re worried that your little tyke is picking up some bullying behavior from daycare, relax: A recent study has found that the amount of time kids spend in daycare has little effect on aggressive behavior.

The study, published in Psychological Science, interviewed parents of 939 Norwegian children, aged 6 months to 4 years, who attended non-parental child care. Each child’s aggression (tendency to hit, push, and bite) was reported by their teacher.

It was found that as the length of time a child remained daycare increased, the impact on aggression actually decreased.

Related: Daycare Dilemmas

At age 2, there was some evidence of small effects of early, extensive, and continuous care on aggression, lead author Eric Dearing said in a press release. “Yet, by age 4 — when these children had been in child care for 2 additional years — there were no measurable effects of child care in any of our statistical models,” he said. “This is the opposite of what one would expect if continuous care was risky for young children.”

That’s welcome news for working parents. “From a public perspective, our findings are important because they should help ease parents’ fears about the potential harms of early non-parental child care,” Dearing said.

Related: The Rising Costs of Child Care: What You Need to Know

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

Working Moms: Best Tips
Working Moms: Best Tips
Working Moms: Best Tips

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Ack! Head Lice is Even Harder to Treat Now

Itchy liceBack-to-school season is among us, which means it’s also time to fight off the increased threat of head lice. Annually, approximately 6 to 12 million cases are reported among U.S. children 3 to 11 years old, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Now, new scientific evidence reveals that parents might have even more reason to dread these pesky bugs. Researchers found that lice in at least 25 states have evolved and now show resistance to widely-used over-the-counter treatments. The findings were reported at the National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.

Of the 109 populations tested, 104 contained high levels of gene mutations, which have been linked to the resistance of certain synthetic chemicals, called pyrethroids. The active ingredient in most over-the-counter lice treatments (permethrin) is a part of the pyrethroids family.

States where lice showed the most resistance included California, Texas, Florida, and Maine. Just one state—Michigan—had samples of lice that were still mostly susceptible to insecticide.

But don’t freak out just yet! Resistant-lice can still be controlled through the usage of different chemicals, which are often available only by prescription, said Kyong Yoon, Ph.D. in a press release.

Read More on Lice:


Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

How to Identify and Treat Lice
How to Identify and Treat Lice
How to Identify and Treat Lice

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Do You Really Know How Stressed Your Kids Are?

As a parent, you’ve most likely experienced stress more than a few times—but are you able to tell if and when your own child is stressed? A national survey conducted by WebMD says: probably not.

The survey examined the responses of 432 parents with children between 5 and 13 years old.

Parents were asked to rate their own stress level on a scale from 1 to 10, as well as their children’s. Approximately 1 in 5 parents reported maximum stress (10 out of 10), and 57 percent rated their stress as 7 out of 10 or higher. However, more than half (60 percent) predicted their children’s stress at 4 or lower.

Almost three-quarters (72 percent) of children displayed negative behaviors linked to stress, including increased crying, arguing, and anxiety. Many children also suffered physical symptoms: headaches, stomach aches, nightmares, and decreased appetite.

“Younger children don’t talk about being ‘stressed’ in those terms,” said Sandra Hassink, M.D., president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “So parents might not be hearing their children articulate that they’re under stress, but I wonder if some of it might be coming out in physical and behavioral issues.”

The survey also found that many parents equate their children’s stress to school and homework (53 percent) and friends (51 percent); however, a key contributor to childhood stress is their home environment. In other words: Family stress directly influences children’s stress.

Stress levels continue to increase as kids get older, according to the survey—making it even more important for parents to recognize whether or not their kid is feeling stressed.

Related: Do You Really Know How Happy Your Child Is?

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

The Lasting Impact of the Early Childhood Years
The Lasting Impact of the Early Childhood Years
The Lasting Impact of the Early Childhood Years

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