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Exercise Lowers Depression in School Age Children

Increasing physical activity in grade school may reduce the incidence of depression.

Almost 800 children in Norway were assessed for moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) at ages 6, 8, and 10 years old. Researchers found those with higher levels of MVPA at 6 and 8 years old experienced fewer symptoms of depression 2 years later. Each hour of MVPA per day resulted in about 0.2 fewer depression symptoms, similar to the results obtained by psychosocial intervention programs.

PositiveTip: Encourage your schools to make certain each day includes time set aside for MVPA.

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Poor Kids More Likely to be Obese

Poor children are at higher risk of obesity.

A large British cohort study has found children living in poverty were two to three times more likely to be obese than the wealthiest. A poor diet, insufficient exercise, irregular bedtimes resulting in loss of sleep, the introduction of solid foods before 4 months old, and having a mother that smoked were all significant risk factors. Over time, obesity rates of the children increased in the families with the lowest incomes.

PositiveTip: Effective early interventions should be made available to children living in poverty.

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Lifelong Cancer Prevention

Parents who embrace a healthy lifestyle are positive role models for their kids.

You know healthy habits can reduce the risk of cancer and other health issues. Did you know the sooner those habits start, the greater the impact they will have? The American Institute for Cancer Research has many practical activities and tips to help you adopt a low-risk lifestyle for your home. Checkout this printable chart and place it on your refrigerator for frequent reminders.

PositiveTip: Remember, you need to be a positive role model for your children and grandchildren!

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Set Down That Salt Shaker

CDC reports one in 9 children (8-17 years) has high blood pressure.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says about 90% of U.S. school children consume too much sodium each day. It may come as a surprise that only 10 common foods contribute 40% of the sodium eaten by children. Check out the great resources and infographics to help your family be sodium wise. Remember, healthy eating starts in the home.

PositiveTip: Make healthy eating a "team sport" for the whole family so each member can benefit.

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Your Kids and the Internet

The average age of a U.S. child has a smart phone by age 11.5!

Did you know the average U.S. teen types over 150 texts each day? Texting consumes at least one hour of time normally used for sleep by that same teen! Are you looking for some practical tips on tech savvy parenting? Brian Housman shares realistically how parents can prevent the dangers 'out there' from waltzing in through the front door of their home! Listen to three podcasts or purchase his book.

PositiveTip: Make your home a safe, tech-savvy place for your kids.

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Keep Energy Drinks Away from Children

Energy drinks can be poisonous for young children.

Data suggests more than half of calls to U.S. poison control centers are about unintentional energy drink exposure by children younger than six. Steven Lipshultz, a pediatrician from Wayne State University made a case at the American Heart Association meetings this month to place explicit risk warnings on the packaging of these drinks. Many children suffer seizures and heart problems, and people of all ages with underlying health issues should avoid them.

PositiveTip: Stay safe, keep your kids safe and avoid energy drinks, period.

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Screentime at Bedtime Robs Kids of Sleep

Children that go to bed with an electronic device sleep 1 hour less on average.

The National Sleep Foundation's 2014 survey found that almost 72% of children go to bed with an electronic device. The light from these devices disrupts the natural sleep patterns, causing children to sleep 1 hour less on average. Insufficient sleep can adversely affect children's school performance, decision making and overall behavior.

PositiveTip: Parents should set limits and provide healthy alternatives for bedtime electronic use.

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Fruit and Veggies Report Card

Kid’s whole fruit consumption is up, but still misses recommended targets.

A recent report from the CDC shows mixed results for children’s nutritional health. On the positive side, consumption of fruit juice is down while whole fruits are up. However vegetable intake is unchanged and the average intake of fruits and veggies for children are still below the recommended 5 servings per day.

PositiveTip: Lunch is a key time to add several servings of fruit and veggie snacks for your child.

Press Release  CDC Report

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Fit Kids May Be Reading

Physically fit children's brains perform better in reading tests than less fit kids.

They're not sure why, but researchers have found that fit kids have stronger language skills. Researchers measured brain activity for aerobically fit and unfit children while reading both normal and jumbled sentences. The fit kids performed better on both sentences. While they can't prove fitness directly causes improved cognitive performance, it appears fit kids' brains may better allocate brain resources for reading.

PositiveTip: Keep your kids active, reading comprehension appears to be yet another benefit.

Press Release. Journal Article.

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Kids and Caffeine

Three-quarters of children drink caffeine each day in the U.S.

Kids and teens are consuming about the same amount of caffeine they were a decade ago. Analysis of NHANES data from 1999-2010 reveals the sources have changed dramatically. Soda accounted for 62% of caffeine in 1999, but now only 38%. However, caffeine from coffee jumped from 10% to 24%, and energy drinks now account for 6% of caffeine consumption. Energy drinks are a particular concern due to their high caffeine content.