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Raising Resilient Kids

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Raising children is full of uncertainty. We all want to make sure our children are prepared to thrive as adults, but how do we know what the future will look like? Cultivating resiliency builds the skills children need to navigate a changing world. This month, the Westfield Public School released a video presentation of their Director of Counseling, Maureen Mazzarese offering tips to parents on how to avoid unnecessary anxiety or stress in school age children. This video resource covers skills to manage emotions, become aware of strengths and assets, problem solve, be resourceful and reach out to others, and develop a sense of personal agency. View the video here. 



Tags:  Children  January 2017  Resiliency 

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Sedentary Lifestyle May Impair Academic Performance in Boys

Posted By NWI, Monday, December 5, 2016

A study from Finland has shown that boys ages 6-8 who lead a sedentary lifestyle have lower academic performance than their active counterparts.


The longitudinal study, performed by the University of Easter Finland jointly with the Univerity of Jyväskylä and the University of Cambridge, measured the activity levels of the 6-8 year old boys objectively via heart rate and activity monitors and used standardized tests in reading and arithmetic to measure the boys’ cognitive abilities.


The boys who showed more moderate or high activity levels did markedly better on the academic tests than those who showed little to no activity, inferring that a sedentary lifestyle may have significant detrimental effects on boys’ academic development.


The study showed little correlation between activity and academics for girls of the same age.


To read the study from the University of Eastern Finland, click here.

Tags:  Academics  Boys  Brain Health  children  Children's Health  Exercise 

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Poor Scores for U.S. Childrens’ Heart Health

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A new report from the American Heart Association’s (AHA) journal Circulation gave astonishingly poor scores for the cardiovascular health of the vast majority of American children.


The AHA used seven factors to evaluate childrens’ heart health: no tobacco use, healthy body weight, one hour of exercise daily, healthy diet, good blood pressure, and healthy blood glucose levels.


Roughly 91% of the children in the study failed the AHA’s requirements as they pertain to diet, finding that most children are eating enough calories, but they come from simple carbohydrates like sugared drinks.


In a similar vein, only 10% of boys and 5% of girls in the 16-19 year old age bracket met the daily exercise goal of 60 minutes per day.


Perhaps unsurprisingly, these two factors combine for a failing grade in the body weight category for many children. IN the 12-19 year old groups, the obesity rate is between 19 and 27 percent.


These factors all create a picture of a whole generation of people who are destined for a lifetime of heart disease without proper intervention. The AHA has set a goal to reduce cardiovascular disease and increase health by 20% by the year 2020.


Tags:  Children  Children's Health  Heart Disease  Kids Health  Pediatric Health 

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Witnessing Violence Harms Children’s Mental Health

Posted By NWI, Monday, April 4, 2016

With the constant flow of media surrounding us all, it’s difficult to prevent our children from being exposed to images of violence, but ongoing research is finding that children who see violent acts either via media or first-hand have more problems with anxiety and decision-making.


According to the research of Dr. Daniel J. Flannery, 12% of kids who have either been victims of violence in school or have witnessed violence in school have anxiety levels that may necessitate intervention.


Children who witness violence are also more likely to grow up with the idea that violence is an acceptable way to solve problems – perhaps without consequence – and are more likely to propagate violence against others. Adolescents who have witnessed violence have elevated levels of anger and depression, and are more likely to display suicidal tendencies.


To read Flannery’s initial findings in childrens’ mental health, click here.

Tags:  anxiety  children  depression  mental health  violence 

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Boys Encouraged to Be More Active Than Girls

Posted By NWI, Monday, April 4, 2016

An Australian study at University of Canberra published in the journal PLOS One found that boys are objectively more physically fit than girls to a degree that indicates external influences over attitudes in fitness are at play.


The study found that, of the 550 Australian 8-and 12-year-old boys and girls, the girls were 19% less physically active than the boys, resulting in 18% lower cardio-respiratory fitness, 44% lower eye-hand coordination, higher percentages of body fat, and 9% lower feelings of competence in physical education.


The authors of the study attribute these differences to the amount of support each gender receives at home and in school to be physically active. The studies authors posit that, although other factors could influence the amount of physical activity girls get, promotion of physical activity to girls at home and in school to match the level of support received by boys could go far to reduce the gap between genders.

Tags:  Children  Health  Physical Activity  Wellness 

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Suicide Rate Among Black Children Rises

Posted By NWI, Monday, June 1, 2015

The suicide rate among black children under 12 years old rose significantly between 1993 and 2013 while the suicide rate among children of other races stayed constant or decreased, according to a 20-year study published in May by JAMA Pediatrics.

This statistic was initially hidden by the fact that the average suicide rate among children across the course of the study was stable, changing only from 1.18 to 1.09 suicides per million (SPM) children. However, the suicide rate among white children dropped from 1.14 to 0.77  SPM, whereas the rate increased among black children from 1.36 to 2.54 SPM, nearly doubling over the time period measured. This marks the first time that suicide rates among blacks has surpassed suicide rates of whites in any given age group in a scientific study.

This alarming data, according to the authors of the study, highlights “a potential race disparity that warrants attention.” The author suggests further studies to identify the risks and issues facing these children that lead them to suicide, and ultimately identify effective ways to improve suicide prevention.

To read the study, visit the JAMA Pediatrics website.

Tags:  Child safety  Children  Health  Multi-Cultural  Public safety  Suicide  Suicide prevention  Wellness 

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The Asthma Epidemic: Inner city vs. income, race, and ethnic origin

Posted By NWI, Monday, February 2, 2015
Updated: Thursday, January 22, 2015

What increases an individual's risk of asthma? If you have ever lived in a city and experienced a “Red Alert” smog day, you might be tempted to say the city itself is the major contributing factor to the asthma epidemic. However, new research (January 2015) from Johns Hopkins University challenges this long-held belief.

The results of the new study of more than 23,000 U.S. children reveals that income, race, and ethnic origin may play far more substantial roles in asthma risk than a child’s physical surroundings.

The study’s researchers looked at asthma rates in cities and the areas outside of cities. No differences in asthma risk between children living in urban areas and their suburban and rural counterparts was found.

What the research did show was a stark and uneven distribution of asthma. Specifically, the researchers found a correlation between poverty, individuals of African American or Puerto Rican dissent, and childhood asthma risk.

More than 50 years ago, recount the researchers, the idea that certain aspects of urban living fuled asthma cases was formed. Those factors included pollution, cockroach and other pest allergens, higher rates of premature births, and exposure to indoor smoke. While those risk factors continue to be valid, they may no longer be as substantial as race and poverty level.

Due to increasing poverty levels outside of cities and the movement of racial and ethnic minorities out of cities, the old theory that a high risk of asthma was tied exclusively to city living is being challenged.

The researchers describe their findings as baseline and caution that additional research should be done in the areas of whether a child living in the city is more likely to have asthma than a child living in the suburbs or in the country.

Additional findings included that a child living in a family below the national poverty threshold was more likely to be diagnosed with asthma and have an asthma attack that required emergency treatment than the children of families with higher incomes. Of note, the researchers say, was the finding that family poverty had a stronger influence on asthma risk than overall neighborhood poverty.

African-American children and those of Puerto Rican descent had disproportionately higher asthma rates, at 17 and 20 percent respectively, compared with their white (10 percent), other Hispanic (9 percent) and Asian (8 percent) counterparts. The study was not designed to uncover the “why” behind these findings, but the researchers noted that both African Americans and Puerto Ricans have a well-known risk for developing asthma, partly due to biologic and genetic differences.

Journal Reference:
Keet, C.A et al. Neighborhood poverty, urban residence, race/ethnicity, and asthma: Rethinking the inner-city asthma epidemic. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 2015; DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2014.11.022

Tags:  Asthma  Children  February 2015  Multi-Cultural  Physical  Social 

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The Company We Keep: How Good Health Near Us Means Good Health for Us!

Posted By NWI, Monday, January 5, 2015
Updated: Monday, December 22, 2014

A December 2014 Tufts University and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) collaborative study found that school-based obesity interventions had unintended yet beneficial consequences. The students' parents also saw a small decrease in their Body Mass Indexes (BMIs).

The study was part of an analysis of the two-year long Shape Up Somerville: Eat Smart Play Hard™ intervention program (out of Somerville, Massachusetts) and was published in the American Journal of Public Health. Parents were engaged with the Shape Up Sommerville lessons and helped to decide what their children ate and how active they were at home. The program targeted first- through third-graders.

The parents, teachers, school food service and health care providers, and city departments and local media outlets participated in and promoted intervention initiatives: overhauling school lunch menus; introducing nutrition education curriculum in schools; attempting to increase energy expenditure through in-school and after-school physical activity programs; and working with area restaurants to offer healthier menu items.

Unlike the control group, every month, Somerville parents received a Shape Up Somerville newsletter with recipes, coupons for healthy foods, and articles. Readership was high. Many parents (about a third) also reported walking more during the intervention, and more than half self-reported choosing healthier snacks and healthier menu options when eating out during the intervention.

The study’s authors say the results confirm that creating an environment where healthier choices are easy choices will positively impact overall wellness. Many times, the authors continued, a community approach is needed to make the healthy choice the easy choice.


Journal Reference:

Edward Coffield, Allison J. Nihiser, Bettylou Sherry, Christina D. Economos.Shape Up Somerville: Change in Parent Body Mass Indexes During a Child-Targeted, Community-Based Environmental Change Intervention. American Journal of Public Health, 2014; e1 DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.302361


Tags:  Children  January 2015  Nutrition  Social  Weight Loss 

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Breakfast: Fueling a Child’s IQ

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Friday, March 1, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 28, 2013

Can breakfast consumption increase a child’s IQ? Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing discovered that children who regularly eat breakfast have increased IQ scores and decreased behavioral disorders.

After gathering data from 1,269 children in China, researchers found that children who do not eat breakfast have a 4.6 lower point IQ score than children who regularly consume breakfast. Not only does breakfast provide nutrition and energy to begin the day, but it also aids in brain development. Eating breakfast helps children receive proper nutrients, increase IQ, and is associated with a decrease in behavioral disorders. These factors are an indication of why breakfast is vital for future health and career success outcomes.

Children should be regularly eating breakfast to assist in physical and mental development. Proper breakfast consumption may be difficult during rushed mornings because of early school start times. If lack of time is an issue, try preparing breakfast the night before to ensure food is quickly available in the morning. Cooking a large batch and freezing the meal can also assist with mornings where making a meal is not a viable option.

As more parents are working longer hours, preparing healthful meals for children may seem difficult. For quick kid friendly recipes for busy parents, visit Parenting.

Article by Kelli Oligney, Associate Editor

University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. (February 12, 2013). Can Breakfast Make Kids Smarter? Science in Action. Retrieved on February 12, 2013, from http://www.nursing.upenn.edu/sia/Pages/Can-Breakfast-Make-Kids-Smarter.aspx

Tags:  Children  Intellectual  March 2013  Nutrition  Physical 

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Impacts of the Home Environment on Body Mass Index

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Friday, February 1, 2013

Researchers from Preventing Chronic Disease discovered that watching television in the bedroom, junk food consumption, and family physical activity levels can influence a child’s body mass index (BMI), a height to weight ratio that estimates body fat. The report was published in December 2012.

Children and adolescents ages 9 to 18 years old were studied to determine if certain practices in the home influenced their BMI. Home practices included the following: if a child had a television in their own bedroom, participated in physical activity, and consumed junk food. Television use was greater in children who had a bedroom television. Those same children also had a higher BMI than those without a bedroom television. Those with a television in bedroom also tended to purchase more unhealthy snacks at school and have a less active family. Children from active families participated more frequently in vigorous physical activity and had a lower BMI than those from less active homes. Those from inactive homes often had a BMI at or above the eighty-fifth percentile of BMIs—placing those children in the overweight category.

The home environment is influential in children’s lives and can help determine body weight, physical activity levels, and types of food consumed. When children’s television and junk food is limited, and their fruit and vegetable intake is higher, their BMI tends to be lower.

Parents play an important role. Parents should model healthy behaviors by being active and placing importance on a healthy lifestyle for children. Modeling healthy behaviors for children can benefit the whole family and be a powerful factor in increasing an individual’s present and future wellness.

Article by Kelli Oligney, Associate Editor

Reference: Masse, L., et. Al. (December 13, 2012). Association Between Self-Reported Household Practices and Body Mass Index of US Children and Adolescents, 2005. Preventing Chronic Disease. Retrieved on January 9, 2013, from http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2012/11_0149.htm

Tags:  Adolescents  BMI  Children  February 2013  Physical  Social 

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