Tuesday, January 20th, 2015
In recent years, some schools have been reducing recess hours — or eliminating it altogether, even though the American Academy of Pediatrics has advocated for schools to keep schoolyard play. Despite support from the AAP, some elementary schools (like these 23 schools in Florida) are still cutting back on playtime in favor of study time…to meet Common Core standards.
But a new study, published in Preventative Medicine, reveals two great reasons for schools to keep recess: Kids who have recess before lunch are more likely to eat (and finish!) fruits and veggies — which means they’re less likely to waste food.
Researchers studied seven elementary schools (grades 1-6) in Orem, Utah and focused on kids who enrolled in the federally-funded school lunch program (which requires that kids eat either a fruit or veggie). Of the seven schools, three had recess before lunch and four had recess after lunch. Over a few days in the spring and fall of 2011, the researchers measured the serving amount of fruits and vegetables that students threw away in the trash. The scientists recorded a total of 22,939 observations. HealthDay reports:
In the schools that held recess before lunch, students’ consumption of fruits and vegetables rose 54 percent. There also was a 45 percent increase in the number of students who ate at least one serving of fruits and vegetables.
Meanwhile, students’ consumption of fruits and vegetables decreased at the schools that still held recess after lunch.
“[W]e found that if recess is held before lunch, students come to lunch with healthy appetites and less urgency and are more likely to finish their fruits and vegetables,” said David Just, a co-author of the study. On the flip side, when recess is held after lunch, kids are more like to rush through eating (and waste more food) in order to play.
And according to a 2013 Harvard University study, students throw away around $1.2 billion in food every year. This is an astounding number, especially given America’s hunger crisis.
There are also other benefits of keeping recess; other studies have shown that recess promotes physical activity, creative and imaginative play, a readiness to learn, better social skills, and less bullying. Even though one mom has her doubts about having recess before lunch, all the combined factors still make up a good list of reasons why schools should keep recess.
Sherry Huang is a Features Editor for Parents.com who covers baby-related content. She loves collecting children’s picture books and has an undeniable love for cookies of all kinds. Her spirit animal would be Beyoncé Pad Thai. Follow her on Twitter @sherendipitea
Image: School lunch tray via Shutterstock
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Child Health, New Research, Trends
Wednesday, July 16th, 2014
Consider it an old wives’ tale that kids turn their noses up at fruits and veggies. The Centers for Disease Control just released the results of a health survey, that shows that more than 75 percent of kids eat fruit daily, while a whopping 92 percent got at least one helping of veggies every day.
While those results are a sign that kids at least get some plant-based nutrients in their diet, the study didn’t assess how many servings of each kids received (children should get at least a cup of each per day, and a variety), and also didn’t differentiate highly between veggies. (Meaning that it’s likely that at least some of that veggie consumption came in the form of the kid favorite, French fries.)
The study also found that younger kids (between ages 2 and 5) often ate more fruit than teens (only 6 of 10 teens ate fruit, compared to 90 percent of preschoolers). The numbers were closer for veggies (is it the fry factor?): 93 percent of kids ages 2 to 11 ate veggies, while 90 percent of teens did.
While more study needs to be done to determine if kids are reaching their recommended daily intake of fruits and veggies, doctors recommend upping kids’ portions by making all snacks fruits and veggies, and including produce at every meal.
Tell us: How do you do at giving you and your child the recommended daily allowances of fruits and veggies? Find out if you’re feeding your toddler right with our quiz.
Image: girl with oranges by gorillaimages/Shutterstock.com
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Wednesday, May 28th, 2014
Kids who eat a Mediterranean-style diet are less likely to be overweight or obese, according to a new study. Children who closely followed a diet rich in fish, nuts, grains, vegetables, and fruits were 15 percent less likely to be overweight, regardless of their age, sex, wealth or country. More from HealthDay:
Researchers looked at the weight and eating habits of more than 9,000 children in eight countries: Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain, and Sweden. The youngsters’ weight and body fat were checked at the start of the study and again two years later.
Swedish children scored highest and those in Italy were second in terms of following a Mediterranean-style diet, while youngsters in Cyprus were least likely to follow the diet, according to Dr. Gianluca Tognon of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden and colleagues.
“The promotion of a Mediterranean dietary pattern is no longer a feature of Mediterranean countries,” the researchers said. “Considering its potential beneficial effects on obesity prevention, this dietary pattern should be part of [European Union] obesity prevention strategies and its promotion should be particularly intense in those countries where low levels of adherence are detected.”
The study was scheduled for presentation Tuesday at the European Congress on Obesity in Bulgaria. Until they’re published in a peer-reviewed medical journal, findings presented at meetings are usually considered preliminary.
Cook an easy one-pot meal tonight and shop kids’ feeding sets.
Image via Shutterstock.
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