|August 31, 2014||Posted by M. P. under Education, Federal Government, Health, Policy, Youth Development|
Over the summer I came across a couple of briefs from Bridging the Gap that I thought might be appropriate to post once the yellow buses started rolling again. One report summarizes research on the changes in the federal lunch program, the other discusses policies on recess.
Although an initial government study found the much debated new nutritional regulations resulted in a decrease in participation in the school lunch program, waste of food, price increases and menu planning challenges between 2010-11 and 2012-13, student opinion of lunches may not be as negative as previously thought. According to the brief, Student Reactions During the First Year of Updated School Lunch Nutrition Standards, data on administrator perception of student opinion of the new meals concluded that while middle and high school students did voice their displeasure about the new lunches (44 and 53 percent, respectively), by the end of the year they were liked “to at least some extent” by students (70 and 63 percent). Other findings,
- Among elementary schools, more students complained about the meals in the spring of 2014 than at the beginning of the school year (56 percent versus 64 percent), but 70 percent of those surveyed reported that students generally liked the new lunches.
- Rural schools reported more student complaints about school lunches than urban schools.
- Rural schools reported increases in waste (students throwing away food) more than urban schools.
While school lunches are one way to attempt to impact student health and wellness, there has not been as much policy activity around the inclusion of recess time for elementary-school-age students. Less than half of the school districts in the country have a recommended or required policy regarding daily recess, and just 13 states recommend or mandate recess as part of the daily schedule in elementary schools. The CDC/Bridging the Gap brief, Strategies for Supporting Recess in Elementary Schools, discusses evidence-based approaches for encouraging physical activity such as recess, including
- training and technical assistance from states to districts on student health and wellness,
- upgrades to or maintenance of existing playground and sports equipment, and
- daily recess as well as scheduled physical education class in elementary schools.
More information on the importance of recess in child development (including academic achievement) is available at the website for the US Play Coalition: A Partnership to promote the Value of Play throughout Life at the Clemson University School of Health, Education and Human Development, including the white paper A Research-based Case for Recess.
Terry-McElrath YM, Turner L, Colabianchi N, O’Malley PM, Chaloupka FJ, Johnston LD. Student Reactions during the First Year of Updated School Lunch Nutrition Standards— A BTG Research Brief. Ann Arbor, MI: Bridging the Gap Program, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan; 2014.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Bridging the Gap Research Program. Strategies For Supporting Quality Physical Education and Physical Activity in Schools.Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2014.
|August 7, 2014||Posted by M. P. under Education, News|
For many families, the month of August is all about shopping for and packing with their college-bound offspring, many of whom are living away from home for the first time. Parents and students are likely also discussing topics related to this exciting transition – living with roommates, choosing a major, time management, student-parent communication boundaries, and staying healthy. In all of this activity, the issue of personal financial management may be overlooked; or is assumed to be understood by the student, even though knowing what a budget is and living by one are two very different things. Some level of skill around money management is a critical aspect of living independently and should accompany every incoming freshman.
The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), the country’s largest financial counseling nonprofit organization, released a checklist that covers the basic knowledge a young person should have in order to develop good fiscal habits. Some highlights:
- Before they leave for college, plan and document a realistic monthly budget with your child. They should be responsible for tracking their own spending (there are apps for that!) as well as recording or monitoring all bank (including prepaid debit card) transactions.
- Explain the real-life impacts of accruing credit card debt, especially on top of any student loan debt, from paying interest on a monthly basis when charges are not paid off to a poor credit report following them long after graduation.
- Discuss the risk of identity theft and its fiscal implications, particularly related to information posted on social media, sharing passwords, and security issues with the use of public computers or unsecured Wi-Fi for financial transactions.
The Personal Finance 101 checklist and other resources are available at the NFCC’s website.
|July 30, 2014||Posted by M. P. under Children and Family, Drug and Alcohol, Research|
Early alcohol and drug prevention efforts and enhanced treatment options for youth may play a key role in reducing the likelihood of future substance abuse according to a new brief from SAMHSA. The report, Age of Substance Use Initiation among Treatment Admissions Aged 18-to-30, presents data that suggest the age of first drug use is associated with need for treatment later in life; specifically, persons reporting an earlier age of initiation were 1) more likely to be admitted to treatment and 2) abuse multiple substances. In 2011, nearly three-quarters of the 18-to-30 year olds admitted for substance abuse treatment began using when under the age of 17, 34 percent between the ages of 15-17, 30 percent between the ages of 12-14, and 10 percent at age 11 and under. Of those who began using substances at age 11 or younger, 78 percent reported abusing at least two substances at the time of intake.
Other interesting takeaways from the report:
- 63 percent of treatment admissions of people 18 to 30 years old were male, and males were more likely than females to start using substances at earlier ages
- Among those reporting first drug use at 11 or younger, marijuana and alcohol were the most commonly used substances
- Among those reporting first drug use at age 25 or over, heroin and prescription pain medication were the most commonly used substances
- Nearly 39 percent of the persons admitted to treatment whom first used a substance at age 11 or younger reported a co-occurring mental disorder – the highest rate of any of the age groups
As the age of first use of drugs or alcohol increases, the number of substances abused at time of admission to addiction treatment declines. The authors also note that adolescents can grow into habitual abuse of alcohol and drugs within three years of initiation. These data indicate the need for continuous but targeted preventative interventions with elementary-to-middle-school-age students. For example, the risk factors for young children are usually related to the family, whereas adolescents may experience ongoing pressure from peers who use illegal substances, so strategies to address these factors while building up protective factors will also vary.
Information on drug prevention programs and resource guides for parents and teachers are available at the SAMHSA website.
Report Citation: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (July 17, 2014).The TEDS Report: Age of Substance Use Initiation among Treatment Admissions Aged 18 to 30. Rockville, MD.
|July 11, 2014||Posted by M. P. under Elderly, Health, Policy, Research|
The number of senior citizens considered food insecure increased by 49 percent between 2007 and 2012 according to a study from The National Foundation to End Senior Hunger (NFESH). Using the Three Core Food Security Module to measure risk, study authors Dr. James P. Ziliak of the University of Kentucky and Dr. Craig G. Gundersen of the University of Illinois found that over 9 million American senior citizens were food insecure, and threat of hunger rates for all senior groups (ages 60 to 69, 70 to 79, and 80+) were higher in 2012 than 2007, even though the recession had ended. The majority of seniors facing threat of hunger due to food insecurity were white with incomes above the poverty line, but both African American and Hispanic seniors were at a higher risk of hunger than whites. Over one-third (35%) had at least one grandchild living with them.
The State of Senior Hunger in America 2012: An Annual Report also ranks states by senior hunger threat, with Arkansas (25.44), Louisiana (23.56), and Mississippi (22.67) having the highest rates in the nation. In 2012, Pennsylvania had a rate of 12.93, down approximately 15 percent from 2011. The NFESH has numerous reports on the threat and consequences of senior hunger at their website.
Food insecurity among seniors may be related to income, neighborhood safety and walkability, and individual physical and mental health, but regardless of the reasons why, the consequences are poor health and a deficit of needed nutrients. As the Baby Boomers age, it’s likely that we will hear more about senior hunger as a top public health issue.
Photo Credit: M. Puzzanchera (Own Work) (CC By-NC-ND 3.0)