AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS DISCOURAGES SPORTS AND ENERGY DRINK USE FOR STUDENTS — As sports drinks take the place of sodas in school vending machines, a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) cautions that most teens who eat a balanced diet and drink enough water do not need sports and energy drinks. The recommendations in the journal Pediatrics distinguish between sports drinks, which are typically flavored beverages that contain carbohydrates, minerals and electrolytes, and energy drinks that contain stimulants, usually caffeine. The AAP discourages excessive intake of carbohydrate-containing beverages beyond what is needed to replenish the body during or after prolonged exercise, and mentions that excessive caloric intake can lead to a risk for overweight or obesity. The report also states that the caffeine in many energy drinks can pose risks to children and should also be avoided. Source: Pediatrics (6/16/11)

USDA UNVEILS NEW MYPLATE SYMBOL FOR HEALTHY EATING — Say goodbye to the food pyramid  and get acquainted with MyPlate.  First Lady Michelle Obama, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and Surgeon General Dr. Regina M. Benjamin unveiled the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) new MyPlate symbol, which was designed to remind the public about the basic components of a healthy diet. The MyPlate image looks similar to a placemat with a plate and drinking glass. The plate is split into sections labeled “Fruit,” “Vegetables,” “Grains,” and “Protein,” while the glass is labeled “Dairy.” It replaces the pyramid-style chart because the old design was criticized for being hard to understand and apply to a daily diet. The USDA also launched to provide more information and resources for healthy diets. Sources: New York Times (6/2/11), U.S. Department of Agriculture website

STUDY FINDS PHYSICALLY ACTIVE TEENS SMOKE LESS BUT DRINK MORE — study of high school seniors found  that while those who exercise frequently or play sports are less likely to smoke cigarettes and use illegal substances, they are more likely to drink alcohol. Researchers surveyed students from the graduating classes of 1986 through 2001, and follow-up surveys were given to participants until they were 25 or 26 year old. The participants were asked about their use of cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol, as well as their participation in exercise and team sports. Researchers concluded that although a causal relationship between physical activity and the use of addictive substances was not proven, the findings imply that physical activity may have a deterrent effect on illicit drug use. They also found that individuals involved in team sports drank more alcohol than exercisers and non-exercisers and became more frequent drinkers as they grew older. Sources: Addiction (6/24/11), Reuters (5/30/11)

ARE BULLIES SLEEP DEPRIVED? — Children who do not get as much nighttime sleep as their peers are more likely to be bullies, a recent study suggests. According to a report in the journal Sleep Medicine, elementary-age students who get less than 10 hours of sleep each night are more likely to show bullying behaviors. When researchers looked at the daily sleeping habits of elementary school children in Ypsilanti, Michigan who reportedly had conduct problems, they found a higher risk of sleep-disorder symptoms. The researchers concluded that  “sleepiness may impair emotional regulation necessary to control aggression.” Sources: United Press International (5/31/11),

STUDY FINDS GAY, LESBIAN, AND BISEXUAL TEENS MORE LIKELY TO ENGAGE IN RISKIER BEHAVIORS — According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study, gay, lesbian, and bisexual students are more likely to engage in risky behaviors than their heterosexual peers. Surveys of 156,000 high school students in five states and four city school systems from 2011-2009 asked questions related to risky behaviors, ranging from bicycle helmet use to drug use. Based on the findings, gay, lesbian and bisexual students reported engaging in riskier behavior in 50 to 90 percent of the risk categories examined. Source: Bangor Daily News (6/15/11), CDC “Sexual Identity, Sex of Sexual Contacts, and Health-Risk Behaviors Among Students in Grades 9–12 — Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance, Selected Sites, United States, 2001—2009 

IN SPITE OF LAW, CALIFORNIA TEENS AVOID PHYSICAL EDUCATION — More than a third of California teenagers avoid participating in physical education (PE) at school, according to a UCLA report. The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research found that despite California’s requirement for middle and high schools to provide 400 minutes of physical education every 10 days, 38 percent of students do not take PE. The study, based on data collected from the 2007 California Health Interview Survey, also found that more than 80 percent of teenagers did not meet federal recommendations for physical activity. Sources: California Watch (6/1/11), UCLA Center for Health Policy Research 

CHILDREN OF DIVORCED PARENTS SHOW WORSE MATH SCORES AND SOCIAL SKILLS, STUDY FINDS — In a study of 3,585 students, a University of Wisconsin researcher found that children of divorce performed poorly in math, social skills, and suffered from anxiety, stress, and low self-esteem. Looking at data for children from kindergarten to 5th grade, the effects of divorce occurred after the split began and the data did not find signs that students caught up with children in stable families. Source: (6/2/11)



LEADERSHIP FOR HEALTHY COMMUNITIES will host the 2011 Childhood Obesity Prevention Summit, September 8-9, in Washington, DC. The summit will focus on the significant social and economic benefits of preventing childhood obesity and the importance of making it a policy priority, particularly in challenging economic times. Workshops and plenary sessions will demonstrate how policymakers can champion “win-win” policies that support other policy areas, including economic development, job market expansion, and academic achievement while helping to improve children’s health. The summit will provide policymakers with tools and information, as well as opportunities to collaborate within and across sectors – public and private – to help reverse the childhood obesity epidemic by 2015. Go here for more information and to register.

CDC REPORT PROVIDES SNAPSHOT OF STATE POLICIES RELATED TO HEALTHY EATING — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 2011 Children’s Food Environment State Indicator Report provides a national and state-specific picture of behaviors, environments, and policies that impact childhood obesity through healthy eating. Data for behavioral indicators were compiled from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveys and the National Survey of Children’s Health. The Policy and Environmental Indicators also use data from national surveillance systems to look at the current food environment in three different settings: child care facilities, schools, and the community. The report provides a condensed table with state-specific information.

GREEN SCHOOL MAKEOVER CONTEST — Global Green will award one K-12 school in the country a $65,000 “green” makeover and another $65,000 in technical assistance to make it happen. The contest’s goal is to get schools thinking about ways to improve their student environments while simultaneously providing new learning opportunities. Green, in this case, can mean anything from building a school garden to improving indoor air quality. Every school is eligible. Follow this link for more information.