Posts Tagged ‘ preschoolers ’

Could Your Kid’s Preschool Program Help Fight Childhood Obesity?

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

Childhood obesity is an issue in the U.S — the amount of children who are obese has tripled in recent years, and a quarter of preschool-aged kids are also overweight or obese. Although the White House has gotten involved in the fight against childhood obesity with Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign, along with many schools across the nation, a large percentage of children are actually overweight before they start kindergarten or first grade.

Thankfully, a study released in the journal Pediatrics says that the federally-funded Head Start preschool program can help in fighting against obesity, in addition to helping young children prepare for kindergarten. The study involved 43,700 Michigan preschool-age children, which included 19,000 kids enrolled in Head Start, which is free for 3- to 5-year-olds from families living in poverty. Before the study began, nearly one-third of the Head Start kids were considered obese or overweight, but they ended up with a healthier weight than the children who were not in the program.

“Even though children in the Head Start group began the observation period more obese, equally overweight, and more underweight than children in the comparison groups, at the end of the observation period the initially obese and overweight Head Start children were substantially less obese and overweight than the children in the comparison groups,” says the survey’s authors, which includes lead researcher Dr. Julie Lumeng.

A few reasons for the weight loss might be rooted in the holistic lessons that Head Start imparts to young kids at a crucial time, such as educating them on eating healthy foods and being more physically active, which contribute to making a child’s overall mental health better. All this can help decrease stress and TV time and increase sleep time. With Head Start steering children toward healthier habits and fostering structured routines, children are also more likely to make better choices in their lives.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

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: Preschool-aged children via Shutterstock

Add a Comment

The Lasting Effects of Preschool Depression

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

sad young girlIt’s sad enough to consider the fact that very young children can suffer from depression, but a new study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry shows that there’s even more reason to be concerned about the condition.

Researchers from Washington University in St. Louis found that “preschool onset depression, a developmentally adapted form of depression arising between ages 3 and 6 … emerged as a robust predictor of major depressive disorder in later childhood.”

The study followed nearly 250 kids, starting at ages 3–5 until ages 9–12, and discovered that “depressed preschoolers were 2.5 times more likely to suffer from the condition in elementary and middle school than kids who were not depressed at very young ages,” according to a statement released by the University.

As the Journal‘s study concluded:

Study findings provide evidence that this preschool depressive syndrome is a robust risk factor for developing full criteria for major depression in later childhood, over and above other established risk factors. The results suggest that attention to preschool depression and conduct disorder in addition to maternal history of depression and exposure to trauma may be important in identifying young children at highest risk for later major depression and applying early interventions.

That’s a depressing finding, to be sure, but there is some good news, according to child psychiatrist Joan L. Luby, MD, the director of the University’s Early Emotional Development Program, who said in the statement: “…if we can identify depression early, perhaps we have a window of opportunity to treat it more effectively and potentially change the trajectory of the illness so that it is less likely to be chronic and recurring.”

Image of a sad young girl: Shutterstock

Add a Comment