Ann Lukits, reporter for the Wall Street Journal, shared that sitting still and listening to the teacher can be a challenge for young children, especially after a long vacation. Scheduling a physical-education class before the morning bell could improve their focus, suggests a small study in Preventive Medicine Reports.
Researchers found that children spent more time following instructions and working quietly at their desk—so-called on-task behaviors—on days they participated in a school-run physical-activity program before the start of morning classes. On days they didn’t exercise, the children were more likely to interrupt, make noise and stare into space, known as off-task behaviors.
Gym classes are traditionally held during school hours but many schools have reduced the time allotted for physical activity in favor of academic subjects, the researchers said. Before-school programs may improve students’ in-class behavior and readiness to learn without taking time away from academics, the study suggested.
Previous studies have shown that bouts of high-intensity physical activity can enhance students’ cognition, especially executive function, which involves processes that make it possible to stay focused, the researchers noted. Read more
The “Let’s MOve” Campaign shared that in recent years, obesity rates for preschool-aged children have declined slightly but still remain much too high. Children who are overweight or obese as preschoolers are five times more likely to become obese adults than normal weight children.
- Approximately 23 percent of children aged two to five years are overweight or obese.
- Obesity rates for young children doubled in about a 20 year period of time (1980s – 2000s).
- One out of eight low-income, preschool-aged children is obese.
- Some children are at higher risk for obesity: American Indian and Alaska Native (20.7%) and Hispanic (17.9%) children aged two to four years have the highest rates of obesity.
The “Let’s Move” Campaign shared that children who are overweight or obese can be undernourished at the same time if the foods and beverages they consume are not very nutritious in terms of vitamins and minerals. Nutrition deficiencies impair brain development and cognitive functioning, including learning. Energy needed for optimal child growth and development is impacted by diet.
Obesity increases the likelihood of certain diseases and health problems, such as:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
- High blood cholesterol
- Gynecological problems
- Liver and gallbladder disease
Obese children also face more social and psychological problems, such as discrimination and poor self-esteem, which can continue into adulthood.
Children who are not physically active, regardless of their weight status, have more behavioral and disciplinary problems, shorter attention spans in class and do not perform as well in school compared to active children.
Cultivating a few simple habits can help make the year a healthier one, said Dr. Julie Miaczynski, family medicine physician at Edward Medical Group in the Edward Healthcare Center in Plainfield.
“As kids go back to school, because of the nature of the environment, the close proximity to each other, we see a spike in colds, flu, that type of thing,” she said. “We remind people of really good hand-washing habits.”
Frequent washing won’t prevent all microbial threats from causing illness. Inevitably, hands will come into contact with some nasty germs.
“Try to avoid touching the face. That’s really important,” she said.
When students come home from school each day, they potentially and unwittingly bring germs with them. Miaczynski recommends families take steps to stop the spread of germs before they infect family members.
“Around the house, wipe down knobs and handles,” she said. Stepped-up routine cleaning can help prevent colds and flu germs from getting a foothold in the household.”
A new school year has begun and school physicals are well under way! As a clinician, you will see many overweight children over the next few weeks and we hope you remember to tell them there is a place where they can get help –
ProActive Kids is a health education program offered FREE to children ages 8-14 who are considered obese or overweight and their families.
Click here for more information on the complete program.
There is a ProActive Kids program in your community where you can refer your patients. We will help them learn how to live a healthier lifestyle!
TO REFER A CHILD OR FAMILY Please refer patients, students or parents to the ProActive Kids website at www.proactivekids.org or ask them to call 630-681-1558.
LOCATIONS FOR FALL 2015 (Sept 21 – Nov 13)
ProActive Kids locations are made possible by the following generous funding sources.
Addison, IL — At Club Fitness at Addison Park District, Funded by Edward-Elmhurst Healthcare
Downers Grove, IL — At Good Samaritan Health and Wellness Center, Funded by Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital
Oak Lawn, IL — At Oak Lawn Ice Arena – Oak Lawn Park District, Funded by Advocate Children’s Hospital Oak Lawn
Park Ridge/Niles, IL — At Gemini Junior High School, Funded by Advocate Children’s Hospital Park Ridge
Woodridge, IL — At Edward Health and Fitness Center, Funded by Edward-Elmhurst Healthcare
As a doctor, nurse, dietitian, trainer or other industry professional, you will see many overweight children this summer, and we hope you will remember to tell them about ProActive Kids 8 Week Program. Click here for more information on the complete program.
We are reaching out to you to let you know there is a ProActive Kids program in your community where you can refer your patients or clients.
TO REFER A CHILD OR FAMILY
Families struggling with weight issues and obesity typically don’t have the advanced degrees it takes to understand the chemical complexities of food and nutrition, but suburban hospitals might have a solution.
Programs that teach the principles of healthy eating to a combined audience of overweight kids and their parents are available through hospitals such as Alexian Brothers andAdvocate Good Samaritan, and participants say they’re taking the mystery out of developing a healthy lifestyle.
Health professionals say bringing children and parents together for lessons on weight loss and exercise helps families change in unison.
“If you isolate the kids, the family doesn’t get the same kind of information and it’s not reinforced,” said Marcy Traxler, who has run the Fit Kids program at St. Alexius Medical Center in Hoffman Estates for the past five years.