Although 63 percent of Americans polled said they were against a tax on junk food, some health experts are arguing that adding a tax to foods with high sugar content would improve health, reduce healthcare costs and generate revenue. Here is a look at some of our findings.
Archive for the ‘children's health’ Category
Many kids have physically healthy bodies; many kids have healthy body images.
Unfortunately, there might be a growing number of young people who have only one or the other—or neither. Some kids are taking drastic measures to fix their perceived faults, while others have taken to the Internet to prove that a healthy body and a healthy body image are not connected by default.
Here’s the debate: How do we teach our kids to balance the need to have a healthy body with the need to feel comfortable in their own skin?
Like a Surgeon
The aspects of an unhealthy body image can include more than being overweight.
According to research published in 2004, “Adolescent patients are seeking plastic surgery to correct deformities or perceived deformities in increasing numbers.” These are problems that include breast augmentations, rhinoplasty, and other non-life-threatening perceived deformities.
The study by the Department of Surgery at the University of California at San Francisco goes on to say that these elective surgeries “can have a positive influence on a mature, well-motivated teenager, while surgery on a psychologically unstable adolescent can be damaging to the patient.”
The website plasticsurgery.org cites some statistics from the Society of Plastic Surgeons:
- “According to ASPS statistics, 35,000 rhinoplasty procedures were performed on patients age 13-19 in 2010.”
- “More than 8,500 breast augmentations were performed on 18-19 year olds in 2010.”
- “Surgical correction of protruding ears… made up 11 percent of all cosmetic surgical procedures performed on this age group in 2010, with more than 8,700 procedures.”
For a young person with a body image disorder to feel so trapped in their body that they take this permanent route to alter their looks says a lot about the culture we provide for them. Since the early 90s, we have grappled with the impact advertising and media outlets have on our kids. From billboards in New York’s Times Square to modeling competitions on cable TV that award tall, lithe, blemish-free women with lucrative contracts, young boys and girls are both learning that it’s normal to be perfect.
So how do we fight back against such a ubiquitous barrage of perfect body imagery?
Weight Just a Minute
But weight—generally seen as the main cause of a poor body image—is perhaps more problematic than premature rhinoplasty procedures. Anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders are common in the age group that includes teens and adolescents. These eating disorders are the result of poor body image, regardless of actual body health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 17% of children and adolescents are physically obese. That’s a huge number.
With the combination of a sedentary lifestyle and the absence of healthy nutritional choices, children and adults alike become more prone to life threatening medical maladies like heart disease and diabetes.
It’s important for children to stay healthy enough to ward off these serious diseases, while at the same time understanding that a perfect body is a vacant pursuit.
Here’s how to measure a child’s body mass index (BMI). This calculator is helpful in determining if your child has a healthy weight for his or her height (obviously, this isn’t an objective tool. Other factors are at play here that can’t be accounted for, such as the ratio of muscle to fat).
It’s an easy way to find out if your child has a completely normal body type. Once you’ve established that, you can determine how their self-image correlates.
Still, how do we fight back against powerful images of perfect bodies and help our kids feel comfortable in their own skin?
A Body Image is Worth a Thousand Words
If your kid is struggling with body image problems, regardless of whether he or she has a healthy body or not, the best thing you can do is talk with them. Help them understand that the media’s portrayal of the “perfect body” only accounts for about 5 percent of the population, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.
This article on womenshealth.gov gives fantastic pointers about how to help promote healthy body images within our kids, including this key piece of advice: “Parents are role models and should try to follow the healthy eating and physical activity patterns that you would like your children to follow—for your health and theirs.”
You are the best example there is for your kids. How you promote a healthy body image and a healthy body for yourself is paramount to your children doing the same in their own lives.
What if the image your child sees when he or she looks in the mirror is yours?
Latest news for the 2012 PEP Grants:
There will be no new PEP competition this year. Instead, the program will make new awards by funding down the slate of 2011 applicants. Therefore, no new or revised applications for PEP grants will be accepted in 2012. Applicants that did not win in 2011 may have the opportunity to receive an award in 2012, depending on the score from last year’s competition. Awards will be announced by 9/30/2012.
This information was received via email from the PEP Program Manager, Carlette Huntley.
Information for PEP Grant Applicants/Winners:
- New: Resource Guide for PEP Applicants/Winners Click Here
- SPARK alignment with national & state standards Click Here
- PECAT Reports for SPARK K-8 PE Click Here
- HECAT Reports for our Health & Nutrition Partners (Healthy Lifestyle Choices and Healthy Kids Challenge) Click Here
- Denver Public Schools PEP Grant success story Click Here
- SPARK Assessment Tools Click Here
Child obesity is a modern-day epidemic. The last 30 years have been especially devastating as the percentage of obese children skyrocketed to more than double what it was in the 80s. Thousands of non-profits, communities, schools, and political leaders have taken notice and started working to reverse the damage; but it is no easy feat—America’s lifestyle has changed, and we must get to the root of the problem to change it all.
Statistics: Child obesity has been closely measured since the early 1980s and the data shows us just how serious the problem is. The rate of obesity in children ages 6-11 increased from 6.5 to 19.6 percent between the years 1980 and 2008. In just 28 years, obesity nearly tripled in all age groups under 18 years old. Between 16 to 33 percent of adolescents are now obese, meaning in certain parts of the United States one in three kids is obese. Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado all have a child and adolescent obesity rate of fewer than 10% while Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Delaware have a rate of over 20 percent. This data is from 2005-2007, but the numbers have moved in the wrong direction since then.
Risks and Affects: Obese kids are at risk for numerous health problems and diseases. Obesity-related medical problems include type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and disability. Diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States. With between 100,000-400,000 obesity-related deaths per year and an estimated healthcare expenditure of $117 billion, obesity has surpassed health-care costs related to smoking and drinking. High cholesterol, high blood pressure, joint problems, sleep apnea, and psychological/social problems are just the beginning of what an obese child can expect to deal with.
The causes and solutions to such a widespread epidemic are complex and run deeper than we’re able to cover in a brief blog post. However, we’ve described some of the main factors below to help you get a sense of the main issues surrounding this crisis.
Causes for obesity are vast, and often many different factors and special circumstances contribute. Below are just a few factors that can cause obesity:
- Family Habits: Children are ten times more likely to be obese if both parents are obese. It isn’t always the family habits causing the children to be obese, but they can have a direct impact on the problem.
- Food Choices: Fast food, vending machines, and the cheap snacks from the store are what kids have grown accustomed to and eat on a daily basis. Easy access to unhealthy food makes it easy for parents to feed their kids for cheap and also let the kids have what they want, but that doesn’t make it a healthy choice.
- TV & Video Games: Studies have shown a direct correlation between the amount of TV watched and levels of obesity. The most obese adolescents are the ones who spent the most time in front of the television. Children today spend on average 25 percent of their day watching TV, playing video games, or spending time on the computer. For each additional hour a kid watches TV, they will probably consume 167 extra calories.
- Fast Food: The American stereotype of eating too much fast food is backed up by several studies. Americans spent $6 billion on fast food in 1970 and $142 billion in 2006. Fast food is always easier and often cheaper than cooking healthy meals at home, which is why many American families eat out multiple times per week, sometimes every day.
- Calorie Count: The poor food choices in combination with too much TV and video games have result in kids taking in more calories than they are burning every single day. That is the basic foundation of weight gain and must be reversed in order to keep our kids healthy.
Solutions for childhood obesity are also varied and are dependent on many different factors. Here are a few ideas for kick-starting a healthier lifestyle:
- Physical Activity: Physical activity must increase to an hour per day just so kids can burn off the extra calories. Physical education programs at school have the potential to influence a kid’s perspective on exercise and sports, and families can enroll their children in after school sports. Even just taking the kids down to the park to toss a Frisbee will make an impact. Make moving fun, and your kids will learn to choose an active over sedentary lifestyle.
- Healthier Choices: If you happen to be eating fast food, choose a healthier item on the menu with less calories, sugar, and simple carbohydrates. At home, ramp up the amount of vegetables and teach your kids to make their own healthy food choices. If the kids feel like they have a say in the decision, they will enjoy the cooking experience and be motivated to eat healthily. Schools must take out the junk food and replace it with healthy snacks and lunches to help in the fight against obesity.
- Education and Participation: Health education at school, home, and in the community will teach the kids to make their own healthy decisions. School PE programs should focus on fun activities that everyone participates in. The community can promote healthy events and get the kids involved, the parents can teach the kids to cook, and kids can learn about the risks and benefits of a healthy versus poor diet. Safe parks to play in, safe bike trails, and community events like a trash clean-up get everyone on their feet and enjoying the great outdoors.
Teaching your kids the benefits of living a healthy and active lifestyle is extremely important for both their current and future health. But, as any parent knows, it can sometimes be quite a challenge. Forcing kids to participate in activities they don’t enjoy can cause them to rebel and despise the exact principals you are trying to teach them. Instead, focus on planning fun physical activities that the kids will love doing for even many hours per day. There are hundreds of fun options that will get kids interested in physical activity and exercise; you just have to get motivated to join them in the process.
1. Tag Games: Classic games that kids get into often have some sort of tag component. From basic freeze tag, sardines, to the basic hide and go seek. Just freeze tag will get your kids running more in one game than they normally would all week long. The more people you get involved the better, so invite the entire neighborhood.
2. Organizing games with friends: Even if your kids play organized sports, it is still fun for them to have a pickup game with all of their family and friends. Call up your family friends and organize a weekly football, baseball, or soccer game where all ages can get their daily activity plus more. You will realize how good of a workout it is once your pickup games have lasted 2-3 hours and you are exhausted.
3. Geocaching (Hiking): Hiking is a great way for the family to get outdoors and exercise. When you go on a hike, you don’t even realize how much of a workout it is until you are back at home later in the day and your entire body is sore. To make it more fun for kids, buy a GPS and join a geocaching club that hides small caches for people to find. Sometimes the hike can take an hour and sometimes it may take six; there are fun geocaching hikes for all ages and athletic abilities.
4. Water Sports: If you live near the beach or a lake, that could be one of the most exciting ways for your kids to stay fit while doing something they love. It could be surfing, body boarding, swimming, skim boarding, inner tubing, or just playing around with their friends on the beach. There are plenty of opportunities to get in shape at the beach.
5. Bike Riding: An obvious choice that is often overlooked is just to grab the bikes and head out on a nice ride as an entire family. Set some goals such as a distance, time, or destination to make it new and exciting every time.
6. Play Frisbee: People forget how much fun playing Frisbee is and the physical benefits from tossing around a disc. You can get a game of ultimate Frisbee going, head to a disc golf course, or just throw it around amongst the family. Either way, you are guaranteed to get some exercise.
7. Wide Games: There are many versions of wide games that usually involve a treasure hunt, seizure of a treasure, or land conquering games. Kids can create their own unique version or stick with classics like cops and robbers. Games like these that they can play in the community will get everyone involved and always be a lot of fun while simultaneously providing some exercise.
8. Indoor Active Toys: Just because winter has ruined the great outdoors for your family doesn’t mean you don’t still need to be physically active every day. Pick up some things like hula hoops, jump ropes, twister, mini trampoline, or Dance Dance Revolution. Even some modern video games are created to get the entire family active indoors.
9. Racing: The most basic human instinct is still a ton of fun for kids. You can run, bike ride, roller blade, skateboard, or whatever it is that is most fun for the people involved. The goal is simple, get from the starting line to the finish line before everyone else. Make some prizes for the winners and get kids racing against each other for fun. They won’t even realize you are tricking them into running on a daily basis.
Early childhood education focuses on children’s development during ages three to five. While this developmental period should ideally focus equally on mental and physical development, in recent decades an emphasis has been placed on mental development, creating a concurrent de-emphasis on physical development. However, the two actually go hand-in-hand and should not be considered two separate entities during early childhood development and education.
Integrating physical activity into young children’s lives is essential for creating a foundation of movement and activity that they will carry with them throughout the rest of their lives. Physically active children learn habits in early childhood that greatly increase their chances of remaining physically active through their young adult and teenage years and into adulthood.
Benefits of Movement-Based Learning
There are many reasons that promoting structured physical activity in children will benefit them throughout childhood and into adulthood. These reasons range far beyond physical development, to social, emotional, and mental development. Young children are naturally active and will move, run, kick, throw, and play on their own in nearly any environment. However, children today are faced with a variety of challenges that reduce their natural aptitude toward movement and physical activity, including:
- Entering daycare at a young age, where they may or may not place an emphasis on movement and physical activity.
- Increased use of technology as a form of sedentary activity, leaving less time for movement-based activities.
- Classrooms that focus on mental activity rather than physical activity, starting as early as pre-school, in order to prepare students to meet curriculum requirements and standardized test score levels later in their education.
- Single-parent homes or parents who both work outside the home, leaving them little time to devote to regular daily activity and movement with their kids.
If your children attend daycare or pre-school, try to choose a school with an early childhood education program that integrates movement and physical activity with cognitive learning and places an emphasis on learning and exploration through movement.
There are a vast number of benefits for children who experience increased movement and physical activity in early childhood. In addition to creating healthy habits and fostering a lifelong commitment to physical activity, children whose early childhood education is based in movement enjoy the following benefits in both early childhood and for the rest of their lives:
- Better social and motor skill development
- Increased school readiness skills
- Building developing muscles, bones, and joints faster
- Reducing fat and lowering blood pressure
- Reducing depression and anxiety
- Increased learning capacity
- Developing healthier social, cognitive, and emotional skills
- Building strength, self-confidence, concentration, and coordination from an early age
Further, active children have fewer chronic health problems, are sick less frequently, miss less school, and have a significantly reduced risk for a number of childhood and adult diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, depression, and mental illness.
Adopting a Movement-Based Curriculum
Since cognitive learning and physical activity go hand-in-hand and reinforce one another in early childhood development, it is essential for daycares and preschools to adopt a curriculum that emphasizes both and uses movement to promote and teach cognitive development. Since young children don’t like to sit still for long periods and respond better to activities that change frequently, early childhood education can really benefit and use time more efficiently from using a movement-based program to teach cognitive skills.
Children have many opportunities to learn through movement. One area that young children respond particularly well to is using music and rhythm to teach other developmental skills. Listening to the different rhythms of music and asking children to respond to what they hear through movement can integrate music education, physical education, and cognitive development into a single lesson plan. Allowing the children to create the music themselves can take this activity one step further.
If programs such as these are started early in life, older children will respond better to similar, more advanced lesson plans. Schools suffering from a lack of time for music, PE, and recess in their overall curriculum could possibly benefit the most from combining these so-called “elective” classes and integrating movement into the lessons of the traditional classroom.
Movement-based learning programs require proper preparation and staff training, particularly since physical activity has become de-emphasized in formal training programs. Educators need to focus equally on four components: curriculum, hands-on training, equipment, and follow-up support. Continuing education in movement-based early childhood education is essential for the adults responsible for teaching and instilling these lifelong principles in children.
Childhood obesity is a major concern in the United States. Over the past few decades there has been a dramatic increase in the number of children suffering from obesity. Kids are staying indoors more with limited physical activity and increased caloric consumption, resulting in a nationwide epidemic of obesity in our children. There are hundreds of organizations, large and small, fighting to stem this trend and help get our kids’ health back in check. But a business or non-profit can’t do it alone. Parents and kids must both be willing to change their habits to create a healthier lifestyle.
Causes of Childhood Obesity
There are many causes for childhood obesity, and sometimes a complex combination of circumstances work together to put our children at risk. One thing we know for sure is that reduced physical activity in school is a component and a risk factor for childhood obesity. Studies have shown that throughout our nation, less than one third of school-aged children (age 6-17) engage in physical activity – that is, activity that makes them sweat and increase breathing and heart rate for at least 20 minutes. And that’s just the minimum recommended amount of physical activity. There is no surprise here that childhood obesity has become a frightening epidemic in our country.
Risks of Child Obesity
- High Cholesterol and Blood Pressure: High levels of “bad” cholesterol called LDL and also high blood pressure are common in obese children.
- Bone and Joint Problems: There have been numerous cases of obese children experiencing a slipped growth plate in their hip bone.
- Sleep Apnea: Obstruction of the child’s airway is common and can result in many other day-to-day problems like poor school performance and nighttime bedwetting on top of the primary risk where the individual stops breathing in their sleep.
- Psychological Problems: Probably the most severe risk of obesity in kids is their emotional and psychological health. Kids will develop poor self-esteem and accept the fact that they will be obese their entire lives, making it extremely difficult for them to change their lifestyle in later years.
- Type 2 Diabetes: What used to be only of concern in adults and very rare in children is not a major concern for obese kids.
Child Obesity Statistics
- Prevalence of Obesity: Among children ages 6-11, there was a 6.5% rate of obesity in 1980 which increased to 18.6% by 2008. Ages 12-19 increased from 5% to 18.1% in the same time period.
- Cardiovascular Disease: 70% of obese children from 5-17 years have at least one symptom and risk factor of cardiovascular disease like high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
- Low-Income Obesity: 1 of 7 low income children in preschool is obese.
- 13 million children and adolescents in the U.S. are obese.
- Obese adolescents are 80% more likely to end up as obese adults.
- Healthcare expenses directly related to childhood obesity are $14 billion every year.
One Solution to the Epidemic: Quality PE in Schools
The problem of childhood obesity is urgent – changes need to be made immediately. Children need positive influences from the adults around them to make better choices. And who better to provide that than a physical education teacher? In general, children attend about 5 or 6 hours of school, 5 days per week. Physical education classes might take up about an hour per day. Imagine the good that could be done for children if that time was optimized with fun, challenging, and healthy activity.
Implementing quality PE in children’s school schedule would be a great first step to turning this epidemic around. PE classes should be used to really teach children about how important a healthy lifestyle is. We can reverse the stigma about PE classes being boring, awkward, and repetitive by breathing new life into old games and activities. Children can learn that challenging themselves and staying healthy are great for self-esteem and making new friends. Teachers should be passionate about their purpose, and lead by positive example.
When students are able to connect with teachers and create a respectful relationship, they are highly more likely to engage in activities and try their hardest. With energetic and fun teachers, a challenging and exciting curriculum, and education about the crucial importance of physical activity and healthy eating, children will take fitness seriously. We will improve the PE in our schools, and let our children reap the benefits.
Created by the Affordable Care Act, Community Transformation Grants (CTGs) are aimed at helping communities implement projects proven to reduce chronic diseases – such as diabetes and heart disease. Over $100M is available for the current year, and local/state health departments are a perfect fit for this opportunity!
Letter of Intent: June 6, 2011
Application: July 15, 2011
- Support evidence and practice-based community and clinical prevention and wellness strategies that will lead to specific, measurable health outcomes to reduce chronic disease rates.
- To create healthier communities by
- Building capacity to implement broad evidence and practice-based policy, environmental, programmatic and infrastructure changes in large counties, and in states, tribes and territories, including in rural and frontier areas
- Supporting implementation of such interventions in five strategic areas (“Strategic Directions”) aligning with “Healthy People 2020” focus areas and achieving demonstrated progress in the following five performance measures outlined in the Affordable Care Act: 1) changes in weight 2) changes in proper nutrition 3) changes in physical activity 4) changes in tobacco use prevalence 5) changes in emotional well being and overall mental health
- Local governmental agencies, state governmental agencies, Health Departments, ministries of health, and other governmental agencies
- Federally recognized American Indian Tribes and Alaska Native Villages; Tribal organizations; Urban Indian Health Programs; Tribal and intertribal consortia
- State nonprofit organizations
- Local nonprofit organizations
Before You Apply:
SPARK can help you meet the requirements outlined in the CTGs application!
SPARK offers evidence-based Physical Education, Physical Activity and Coordinated School Health programs targeting pre-K through 12th grade students in and out of school, and our programs have been proven to WORK and LAST.
Click Here to download a detailed document that will explain how you can use SPARK to align with the goals of the CTG. This document includes information that shows:
- Alignment to the Strategic Directions and Strategies within the CTGs application
- Alignment to CDC’s long-term measures for addressing physical activity and nutrition
- Why you should partner with SPARK for your CTGS submission
- How SPARK deliverables align with CDC prevention outcomes
- Which SPARK Evaluation & Assessment options might be used to support your submission
Contact Kymm Ballard, Ed.D at SPARK. She’ll ask you a few questions, learn about your current programs, and listen to your vision for creating a healthier community. Together, we’ll create a program that will WORK and LAST.
Kymm Ballard, Ed.D
Partnership Development Specialist
For children, it’s important to begin a regular routine of healthy exercise as early as possible to help them perform at their best. However, such activity is a means of improving more than just the body through building muscle strength and endurance. In fact, many studies are now showing that children who are physically active also perform better in the classroom.
Over the past decade, the positives of physical education are helping students and teachers to feel good about taking a break from the usual classroom environment and get moving. The original SPARK study is still the only NIH study to positively link physical education and academics and conclude that more time spent in physical education class did not result in a decrease in academic performance (SPARK study in Research Quarterly – Click Here).
Below is a short list of sources that have linked staying in shape with staying ahead in the classroom. And for more resources (articles/publications/webinars) on the link between physical activity and academic performance you can Click Here . (Image Source)
1. The National Association for Sport and Physical Education notes a 2001 California Department of Education study that correlates school performance with maintaining good physical condition. Student standardized achievement test scores were compared to the state required fitness test, known as the FitnessGram. Pupils being evaluated underwent the scrutiny of this test, as provided by the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research. Different traits such as aerobic capacity, body composition, flexibility and more were measured. Results of the study found a direct relationship between physical fitness and improved academic achievement, especially in the area of mathematics. Findings also suggested that family involvement in physical activity with children outside of school helps to reinforce and foster life-long fitness habits.
2. For standardized math and English tests, studies have shown that children achieve more when they are able to pass a number of fitness tests. This finding published in the School of Journal Health studied a group of students between the 2004 and 2005 school year. Pupils performed better in both reading and math when they were also involved in ongoing athletic activities, regardless of gender or ethnicity. The idea that physical exertion will detract from a student’s studies is quickly becoming null and void, thanks to indicators such as these. Corresponding results help secure the belief that fitness programs may actually serve to enhance academic performance.
3. A 2005 report by the California Department of Education cites evidence that healthy, fit children are more prone to attend school and perform better than their sedentary peers. In response, the department encourages schools to make physical education an essential goal. This report expresses concern over the obesity epidemic amongst children in the United States, as well as illnesses it can cause later in life, such as heart disease and diabetes, among others. Physical education allows students to improve their bone density and motor skills, as well as boosts self esteem through exercise. The report further calls for legislation to continue ongoing support of health programs and improved nutrition for students while on campus. Emphasis on making sure that physical education teachers have the ability to give students the highest quality experience available is provided. Textbooks are available to help outline the skills that students should be learning from such programs.
4. The American College of Sports Medicine noted a 2006 study that supports the relationship between increased activity in children and higher grades. Children who participated in hearty exercise for no less than 20 minutes, three or more days a week, exhibited higher grades. Those involved in less strenuous activities for 30 minutes over five days per week did not achieve the same improved grade results. Researchers advise the incorporation of strenuous physical activities into school programs and recommend teachers and parents assist students in balancing fitness programs alongside academic pursuits.
5. The California Journal of Health Promotion published findings in 2006 regarding explanations as to why physical education and academic achievement are associated. A study was cited by California State University researchers who compared differences between schools that made fitness a priority and those that did not. When standardized pupil test scores were analyzed, it was determined that the leading schools also had formal, structured physical education programs based on the State Board of Education guidelines. Conversely, the lowest academic performing schools did not even have gym teachers. The case for preserving physical education programs during school cutbacks is made, as well as the case for improving children’s health prospects in the future by remaining active.
6. A 2010 report in Science Daily cited a medical study presented at a conference for the American Heart Association that links physical fitness to better school performance. For students who remain fit throughout their schooling years, there is a better chance of increased academic achievement. Standardized tests for students over time show that the students who perform best do so when they remain fit across different grade levels. Students should receive at least an hour of physical activity per day, with curriculum appropriate for their age group. Research indicates that healthier, happier children become fit adults as a result.
With the dangers of sedentary lifestyles becoming more apparent, it’s no wonder that exercise is being championed for all school-age students. Multiple scientific studies prove that there is more to academic performance than just book learning. The amount of exercise pupils receive in school can create positive habits that serve to compliment academic achievement. Promoting physical health in childhood can only serve to benefit our youth with the outcome of healthier bodies accompanied by brighter minds.