Posts Tagged ‘ healthy eating ’

Should Parents Be Fined for Their Obese Kids?

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

Obese boy on scaleIf you have an obese child, imagine getting fined — for up to $800!

This is what lawmakers are working on in Puerto Rico, where over 28 percent of kids are obese (versus 18 percent in the U.S.), reports The Guardian.

A new bill has been proposed that will allow teachers to notify school counselors about obese children. The counselors will then work with the children’s parents to identify the cause of obesity and then implement a healthy eating/weight loss plan.

Over the course of six months, counselors will monitor the family and gauge improvement. If there are no significant signs of improvement, parents will need to pay a fine between $500 and $800.

Now, even a charity in Britain has jumped into the conversation, and advocating that the same bill be proposed to fine British parents. According to Newsweek, over 33 percent of the kids in Britain are obese before they leave primary school.

The Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) defines obesity as excess body fat, which can lead to an increased risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, and certain cancers.

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

How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids
How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids
How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids

Image: Obese boy on scale via Shutterstock

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Why Recess HELPS Kids Eat Fruits and Veggies

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

School lunch trayIn 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.

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

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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Study: Lifestyle Factors May Not Affect Sperm Shape, Size

Monday, June 30th, 2014

Many men who are facing “male factor infertility” because their sperm’s size and shape is not of a high enough quality to fertilize a woman’s egg and help her become pregnant turn to lifestyle changes like losing weight or quitting smoking or drinking alcohol.  But a new study published in the journal Human Reproduction has found that those lifestyle adjustments–while a good idea for men who want to be healthier and lower their risk of other health conditions–aren’t likely to help solve their sperm quality issues.

Other factors, including smoking marijuana, were found to lower sperm quality, as was collecting samples during the hot summer months.  And the size and shape of sperm–known as “morphology”–was better among men who had abstained from sexual activity for a few days before collection.  Reuters has more:

The researchers found that men were about twice as likely to have abnormal sperm if the sample was collected during the summer. They were also more likely to have abnormal sperm if they were young and smoked marijuana.

Although most other medical and lifestyle factors, such as cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption, didn’t seem to be linked to sperm morphology, Smith said he still would advise his patients to be as healthy as possible.

“Marijuana is certainly a potential worrisome risk factor for hurting sperm quality,” he said. “I’d tell my patients to stop smoking marijuana. I wouldn’t say to my patient to go out and do whatever you want because it won’t make a difference. To me, that would be overstating those results.”

The researchers also caution that the men included in the study may not be representative of all couples with fertility problems.

Smith said a better study would be to focus on whether the couples went on to conceive a child.

Trying to Conceive: 5 Ways to Get Pregnant Faster
Trying to Conceive: 5 Ways to Get Pregnant Faster
Trying to Conceive: 5 Ways to Get Pregnant Faster

Image: Man eating a salad, via Shutterstock

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CDC: Teen Smoking, Sex Down, Texting Biggest New Danger

Friday, June 13th, 2014

Fewer American teenagers are having sex or smoking cigarettes, according to new figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but public messaging efforts on the dangers of texting while driving and healthy eating remain largely ineffective in curbing dangerous behaviors.  More from NBC News:

The latest federal look at teenage behavior is reassuring and suggests that some safety messages are getting through to American youth.

On the downside, kids are fatter than ever before and just a third are eating anywhere near as many fruits and vegetables as they need to stay healthy. And less than a third are getting enough sleep.

And a very troubling new statistic shows that more than 40 percent of teenagers who drive cars admit to having texted or emailed while driving recently.

But on the whole, it’s a snapshot of progress. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which organizes the every-other-year survey, was especially pleased about the drop in smoking.

“I think it’s really encouraging that we’re seeing the lowest cigarette smoking rate ever,” CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden told NBC News.

“We’ve actually reached the goal that the nation set for ourselves for 2020 early. So that’s one of the most positive trends that we see here — down to 15.7 percent — less than one out of six kids in our high schools is smoking. That’s great news.”

Image: Texting while driving, via Shutterstock

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Toddlers’ Brand Recognition Higher Among Unhealthy Foods

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Young kids start recognizing foods according to brand names between ages 3 and 4, a new Irish study has found–and their brand recognition is higher among unhealthy foods.  Reuters has more:

Food-brand knowledge predicts what kids will ask for later, said lead author Mimi Tatlow-Golden of the School of Psychology at University College Dublin.

The study included 172 children in Ireland, ages three to five years old, a quarter of whom were from Northern Ireland, where marketing regulations differ from the rest of the country.

Just over half of the kids attended school in a disadvantaged community, according to local government and education department data.

Parents filled out questionnaires about family demographics, eating habits and children’s TV viewing alone and with others.

Researchers surveyed the kids at school one at a time, showing them nine food brand logos and product images, four belonging to healthy foods and five to less healthy foods, all of which are widely advertised in Ireland.

The researchers first asked kids if they knew the brand name of a food based on the logo, then if they knew what kind of food it was, then if they could match the brand logo to a picture of the correct food product.

Kids’ scores on the brand questions rose for all types of foods between ages three and five, the authors report in the journal Appetite. On average, kids could name about a third of the brands, name the product type of half the brands and correctly match the images of almost two-thirds of the brands.

At all ages, kids were better at recognizing the less healthy foods. Their knowledge of unhealthy foods was most strongly predicted by how much unhealthy food their parents ate, and was not predicted by TV time or their mother’s education level, the researchers found.

“We definitely couldn’t conclude that marketing doesn’t work, we just need to look beyond TV,” Sandra Jones, director of the Center for Health Initiatives at the University of Wollongong in Australia, told Reuters Health.

Some of the healthy brands in the study, like Frube flavored yogurt in a tube and Cheestring string cheese, only refer to one specific food product, whereas the unhealthy brands, which included Cadbury’s, McDonalds and Coca-Cola, produce a wide range of products, she noted. This could have skewed the results, said Jones, who was not involved in the research.

Image: Boy eating candy, via Shutterstock

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