Tag Archives: environment

University of Strathclyde study: Obese children get lower grades

13 Mar

The media presents an unrealistic image of perfection for women and girls. What they don’t disclose is for many of the “super” models their only job and requirement is the maintenance of their appearance. Their income depends on looks and what they are not able to enhance with plastic surgery and personal trainers, then that cellulite can be photoshopped or airbrushed away. That is the reality. Kid’s Health has some good information about Body Image http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_mind/body_image/body_image.html

Huffington Post reported in the article, Children Diet To Keep Off Pounds And Ward Off Bullying, Survey Says:

A recent survey of 1,500 of children between ages 7 and 18 revealed that young teens diet and worry about their weight.
About 44 percent of children between the ages of 11 and 13 say they’ve been bullied because of their weight, and more than 40 percent of kids younger than 10 admitted they were concerned about packing on the pounds, with nearly one-fourth reporting having been on a diet in the last year, according to the Press Association….
Last year, 13-year-old Nicolette Taylor resorted to plastic surgery to escape harassment and name-calling, particularly on social networking sites such as Facebook.
“All my friends could see [my nose], all my new friends, and I didn’t want them saying things,” Taylor told Nightline about her decision to get a nose job. “Gossip goes around, and it really hurts.”
Other teens have felt suicide was their only way to escape daily scrutiny about their appearance or sexuality.
Although adolescents get picked on for a variety of reasons, weight is the top reason children are bullied at school, Yahoo! Shine reports.
And according to Rebecca Puhl, Director of Research at the Rudd Center for Food Policy at Yale University, a new ad campaign in Georgia is only “perpetua[ting] negative stereotypes.”
The ads, which aim to curb childhood obesity rates, feature photos of overweight children accompanied by text, such as “WARNING: It’s hard to be a little girl if you’re not.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/05/children-diet-bullying_n_1186422.html?ref=email_share

It is situations like this which cause unhealthy eating habits and disorders like anorexia and bulimia.

Linda Poon of NPR reported in the story, Obesity Linked To Lower Grades Among Teen Girls:

Since the 1990s, the U.K has seen childhood obesity rates grow at an alarming rate, says John Reilly, specialist in the prevention of childhood obesity at the University of Strathclyde, and the study’s lead author. Today, nearly a quarter of children in U.K. are obese by the time they reach 12. Increasingly, researchers in both the U.S. and the U.K. have been interested in how obesity might affect students’ academic achievement, but Reilly says few studies have examined the same students over several years, or been able tease out obesity’s effects from the influence of social factors, such as socioeconomic status.
The current study analyzed data from nearly 6,000 adolescent students in the U.K., comparing their body mass index from ages 11 to 16 with how well they performed in standardized tests during those years. About 71 percent of the students surveyed were of a “healthy weight” at the start, the researchers said, and about 15 percent were obese. The academic exams, which tested the students’ English, math and science abilities, were given three times — at ages 11, 13 and 16. After adjusting for factors like socioeconomic status, IQ and menstruation cycles, the researchers found that, on average, girls who were obese at age 11 performed worse at age 11, 13 and 16 than girls deemed to have a healthy weight. Being obese at 11, the scientists found, was enough “to lower average attainment to a grade D instead of a grade C,” by age 16…. Though the study followed British teens, Reilly says the findings are likely also applicable to students in the United States, where the proportion of children between the ages 12 and 19 who are obese grew from 5 percent in 1980 to nearly 21 percent by 2012.
“The similarities between the environment, the culture, [and] school systems between the U.S. and the U.K. are more similar than may be obvious,” Reilly says….

See also, Obesity associated with lower academic attainment in teenage girls, says new study http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140311100604.htm


Journal Reference:
1.J N Booth, P D Tomporowski, J M E Boyle, A R Ness, C Joinson, S D Leary, J J Reilly. Obesity impairs academic attainment in adolescence: findings from ALSPAC, a UK cohort. International Journal of Obesity, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/ijo.2014.40

Here is the news release from the Universities of Strathclyde, Dundee, Georgia and Bristol

News Releases
main content
Obesity associated with lower academic attainment in teenage girls, says new study
Obesity in adolescent girls is associated with lower academic attainment levels throughout their teenage years, a new study has shown.
The research conducted by the Universities of Strathclyde, Dundee, Georgia and Bristol is the most comprehensive study yet carried out into the association between obesity and academic attainment in adolescence. The results are published in the International Journal of Obesity.
The results showed that girls who were obese, as measured by BMI (body mass index) at age 11 had lower academic attainment at 11, 13 and 16 years when compared to those of a healthy weight. The study took into account possible mediating factors but found that these did not affect the overall results.
Attainment in the core subjects of English, Maths and Science for obese girls was lower by an amount equivalent to a D instead of a C, which was the average in the sample.
Associations between obesity and academic attainment were less clear in boys.
University of Strathclyde Professor of Physical Activity and Public Health Science, John Reilly – the Principal Investigator of the study – said: “Further work is needed to understand why obesity is negatively related to academic attainment, but it is clear that teenagers, parents, and policymakers in education and public health should be aware of the lifelong educational and economic impact of obesity.”
Dr Josie Booth, of the School of Psychology at the University of Dundee, said: “There is a clear pattern which shows that girls who are in the obese range are performing more poorly than their counterparts in the healthy weight range throughout their teenage years.”
The study examined data from almost 6000 children from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), including academic attainment assessed by national tests at 11, 13 and 16 years and weight status. 71.4% were healthy weight (1935 male, 2325 female), 13.3% overweight (372 male, 420 female) and 15.3% obese (448 male, 466 female).
The researchers took into account potentially distorting factors such as socio-economic deprivation, mental health, IQ and age of menarche (onset of the menstrual cycle) but found these did not change the relationship between obesity and academic attainment.
This study was funded through a BUPA Foundation grant to the University of Strathclyde. ALSPAC receives core support from the Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust and the University of Bristol.
11 March 2014
Web MD has some excellent information about Anorexia
Anorexia nervosa, commonly referred to simply as anorexia, is one type of eating disorder. More importantly, it is also a psychological disorder. Anorexia is a condition that goes beyond concern about obesity or out-of-control dieting. A person with anorexia often initially begins dieting to lose weight. Over time, the weight loss becomes a sign of mastery and control. The drive to become thinner is actually secondary to concerns about control and/or fears relating to one’s body. The individual continues the ongoing cycle of restrictive eating, often accompanied by other behaviors such as excessive exercising or the overuse of diet pills to induce loss of appetite, and/or diuretics, laxatives, or enemas in order to reduce body weight, often to a point close to starvation in order to feel a sense of control over his or her body. This cycle becomes an obsession and, in this way, is similar to an addiction.
Who is at risk for anorexia nervosa?
Approximately 95% of those affected by anorexia are female, most often teenage girls, but males can develop the disorder as well. While anorexia typically begins to manifest itself during early adolescence, it is also seen in young children and adults. In the U.S. and other countries with high economic status, it is estimated that about one out of every 100 adolescent girls has the disorder. Caucasians are more often affected than people of other racial backgrounds, and anorexia is more common in middle and upper socioeconomic groups. According to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), other statistics about this disorder include the fact that an estimated 0.5%-3.7% of women will suffer from this disorder at some point in their lives. About 0.3% of men are thought to develop anorexia in their lifetimes
Many experts consider people for whom thinness is especially desirable, or a professional requirement (such as athletes, models, dancers, and actors), to be at risk for eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa. Health-care professionals are usually encouraged to present the facts about the dangers of anorexia through education of their patients and of the general public as a means of preventing this and other eating disorders.
What causes anorexia nervosa?
At this time, no definite cause of anorexia nervosa has been determined. However, research within the medical and psychological fields continues to explore possible causes.
Studies suggest that a genetic (inherited) component may play a more significant role in determining a person’s susceptibility to anorexia than was previously thought. Researchers are currently attempting to identify the particular gene or genes that might affect a person’s tendency to develop this disorder, and preliminary studies suggest that a gene located at chromosome 1p seems to be involved in determining a person’s susceptibility to anorexia nervosa.
Other evidence had pinpointed a dysfunction in the part of the brain, the hypothalamus (which regulates certain metabolic processes), as contributing to the development of anorexia. Other studies have suggested that imbalances in neurotransmitter (brain chemicals involved in signaling and regulatory processes) levels in the brain may occur in people suffering from anorexia. http://www.onhealth.com/anorexia_nervosa/article.htm

Beautiful people come in all colors, shapes, and sizes. The key is to be healthy and to live a healthy lifestyle


Helping Girls With Body Image http://www.webmd.com/beauty/style/helping-girls-with-body-image

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A welcoming learning space is important

7 Oct

Moi wrote in Helping at-risk children start a home library: Justin Minkel, who teaches 2nd and 3rd grade at Jones Elementary in northwest Arkansas. He is the 2007 Arkansas Teacher of the Year, a 2011 National Board-certified teacher, and a member of the Teacher Leaders Network reports in the Education Week article, The Home Library Effect: Transforming At-Risk Readers about his library project.

Melinda started 2nd grade with everything against her. She lives in poverty, her mom is not literate in English or Spanish, and she was severely abused at the age of 6. At the beginning of the year, she owned only one book.
Despite these barriers, Melinda made extraordinary academic progress. She moved from a kindergarten level (a four on the Developmental Reading Assessment) to a 4th grade level (a 40) in the two years she was in my class. Her demeanor changed: She began smiling and laughing more often, and she became a confident scholar.
Part of the reason for Melinda’s growth is elusive—that combination of resiliency, strength, and utter grit that awes those of us lucky enough to teach these remarkable children. But another reason for her success is simple—instead of one book at home, Melinda now has a home library of 40 books.
The Project
We called our classroom adventure “The 1,000 Books Project.” Each of the 25 children in my class received 40 books over the course of 2nd and 3rd grade, for a total of 1,000 new books in their homes.
The project was simple to launch. Scholastic donated 20 books per child, and I purchased the other 20 through a combination of my own funds, support from individuals and local organizations, and bonus points. The kids received three types of books each month: copies of class read-alouds, guided reading books, and individual choices selected from Scholastic’s website.
Working with family members, each child chose a space to become a home library, ranging from a cardboard box decorated with stickers to a wooden bookcase. Through class discussions and our class blog, the students talked about everything from how they organized their libraries to their favorite reading buddy at home.
The total cost for each student’s home library was less than $50 each year, a small investment to move a struggling reader from frustration to confidence.
Growing Readers
These 25 students made more progress in their reading than I have experienced with any other class. By the end of the project’s second year, they had exceeded the district expectation for growth by an average of nine levels on the DRA and five points on the computerized Measures of Academic Progress reading test. And they made this growth despite formidable obstacles to academic success—20 of the 25 are English language learners, and all but one live in poverty.

Given the moderate expense of Minkel’s project, the academic gains are important for his children. https://drwilda.com/2012/06/13/helping-at-risk-children-start-a-home-library/

Kevin D. Washburn posted at Smart Blog on Education, Looking around: Creating a learning environment (even without a teacher):
I’ve spent years refining my teaching based on neurocognitive research, but I’ve given the environments in which I teach far less study and attention. My visit to a Montessori school reminded me that an optimal learning environment promotes exploring, thinking, and creating — whether the teacher is in the room or not.

Here are a few questions I’m now asking myself:
Are there objects within the learning space that capture interest while fully engaging learners in exploring critical concepts?
Every classroom should have books (see Question 2), but sometimes the mind learns better in more physically active ways. Remember the Rubik’s Cube craze, launched by a toy designed “to help explain three-dimensional geometry”?1 Children and adults — possibly one-fifth of the world’s population in the mid-1980‘s — spent hours a day handling and thinking about how to solve the colorful and confounding puzzle. Every twist prompted a new challenge or success as young minds worked to solidify all six of the cube’s sides. The relationships between the sides of a cube had never before captured such attention and thought.
In Montessori classrooms, the materials were often less complex in construction than the Rubik’s Cube, but they proved equally engaging and thought-provoking. They were simple enough to use but still intriguing in the ideas they helped children explore. Many simultaneously occupied hand and mind.
Are there ample materials to spark individual exploration, learning and mind-enriching entertainment?
I’m old enough now that students from my first years of teaching — fourth-graders — are adults. Several have found me via social media and a few have met me for lunch when I’ve been nearby. Almost every one of them remembers one thing about my classroom: books! I was inspired by a college professor whose office looked like a great children’s library, and I set out to give my classroom the same feel. The longest wall in the classroom held its windows and my book collection. In those pages, students discovered the inhabitants — and food — of Redwall, met children who sneaked gold past Nazi soldiers via sleds, and were shocked by the literal and metaphorical wolves of Willoughby Chase. The environment was rich with potential, and many students who came into fourth grade thinking they didn’t like to read went into fifth grade possessing a rich background in children’s literature. While I did what I could to stoke such interest, it was the presence of the books in the classroom that made the difference. They allowed students to wander, to wonder, and to discover worlds on their own.
Is there a sufficient variety of materials to allow students to process material in self-selected ways?
Technology is great. It connects us to resources, and even experts, around the world. It’s incredibly mobile, available and almost intuitive to use, and yet … sometimes human energy rather than battery power fosters better learning.
I recently taught a course focused on merging what we know about learning from neurocognitive research with the potential represented by wise use of educational technology. In one activity, the participants follow a sequence of actions to construct new understandings of a recent historic event and the background of one individual who played a significant role in it. Throughout the activity, the participants are free, invited and encouraged to use any technological tools they’d like, for any purpose, and at any time. After all, the purpose of the course is to get teachers comfortable in using technology more widely in their classrooms. Throughout the search for related information, phones, tablets and laptops are the center of activity. The same is true when the participants reach the point of producing evidence of their learning. However, in between these activities, the tool-of-choice shifts. During processing, the overtly thinking-centric steps in the sequence, most participants turn away from their screens and make a beeline for more “traditional” tools. Paper, pencils, chart paper, markers, crayons, sticky notes, index cards — these are tools most still reach for when thinking is the target activity. This proves true regardless of age. Young teachers, the early twenty-somethings, and experienced teachers, the beyond-twenty-somethings, prefer a utensil other than a phone in their hands when they need to sort out new knowledge and examine it for patterns. Eventually, the sorted facts and discovered patterns get presented to others via technology, but when cognition is the thing, other tools prevail.
This is NOT to say that no one uses technology to sort information. In fact, a few do — or at least they start that way. I’ve witnessed several young teachers begin with a phone or tablet in their hands only to abandon it when they realize the “traditional” tools promote greater efficiency and flexibility, and possibly improved thinking.
Sure, technology has a place in the classroom these days. But when choosing materials to have on-hand within the learning environment, remember that sometimes the mind prefers to process ideas with a pencil (or crayon, or marker) in-hand.
In “Unthink,” artist and writer Erik Wahl reminds readers that in childhood we were free to sculpt our “days into works of art…filled with joy, enthusiasm, and fulfillment.” He explains that we operated that way because we needed to be “mass collectors of information,” because we were “cross-training for the many scenarios life would eventually toss at us in rapid succession.” For such training, we needed environments that were “rich, vibrant, and imagination-fostering.”2
Our classrooms should be environments that equip and enable such cross-training.
Look around. What is in your learning environment now?
What should be there?

Scientists are studying what makes a good learning environment.

Looking around: Creating a learning environment (even without a teacher) describes a good learning environment in Learning Environments:

A well organised environment is:
•Vibrant and flexible
•Responsive to children and their changing needs, interests and abilities
•One that invites experiences, interactions, risk taking, discovery, connections to nature, conversations, play and collaboration
•One that has a sense of place and purpose for resources, materials and experiences
•Consistent and predictable
•Well resourced and well maintained
•Interesting and engaging (absorbs children in complex, deep learning experiences rather than shallow or superficial experiences)
•Contains open-ended, complex materials that can be used in many ways and can be used again and again without becoming boring
•Contains a balance of experiences/types of experiences.

Click to access Environment-makeover-campbell-street-workshop-240312.pdf

The University of Illinois Extension has some good advice for helping children with study habits. In Study Habits and Homework he University of Illinois recommends:

Parents can certainly play a major role in providing the encouragement, environment, and materials necessary for successful studying to take place.
Some general things adults can do, include:

•Establish a routine for meals, bedtime and study/homework
•Provide books, supplies, and a special place for studying
•Encourage the child to “ready” himself for studying (refocus attention and relax)
•Offer to study with the child periodically (call out spelling words or do flash cards)
An established study routine is very important, especially for younger school age children. If a child knows, for example, that he is expected to do homework immediately after supper prior to watching television, he will be better able to adjust and ready himself than if he is allowed to do homework any time he pleases.
Connected to the idea of a study routine is the concept of a homework chart….
All children need their own place at home to do homework. The space does not need to
Remember, learning styles differ from child to child, so the study place should allow for these differences. Parents can take a walk through the house with their child to find that special corner that is just right. http://urbanext.illinois.edu/succeed/habits.cfm

This is fairly traditional advice, but experiment to find out what works for your child. The goal is to develop a love of learning.

10 Characteristics Of A Highly Effective Learning Environment

Creating a good learning environment

Creating the Optimal Learning Environment

Creating a LEARNING-CENTERED Environment– http://www.dialogueonlearning.tc3.edu/model/environment/introduction-grp.htm


More research about the importance of reading

The slow reading movement

The importance of the skill of handwriting in the school curriculum

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

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Princeton University study: Poverty saps mental resources

1 Sep

Moi wrote in 3rd world America: The link between poverty and education:
Moi blogs about education issues so the reader could be perplexed sometimes because moi often writes about other things like nutrition, families, and personal responsibility issues. Why? The reader might ask? Children will have the most success in school if they are ready to learn. Ready to learn includes proper nutrition for a healthy body and the optimum situation for children is a healthy family. Many of society’s problems would be lessened if the goal was a healthy child in a healthy family. There is a lot of economic stress in the country now because of unemployment and underemployment. Children feel the stress of their parents and they worry about how stable their family and living situation is.
The best way to eliminate poverty is job creation, job growth, and job retention. The Asian Development Bank has the best concise synopsis of the link between Education and Poverty http://www.adb.org/documents/assessing-development-impact-breaking-cycle-poverty-through-education For a good article about education and poverty which has a good bibliography, go to Poverty and Education, Overview http://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/2330/Poverty-Education.html There will not be a good quality of life for most citizens without a strong education system. One of the major contributors to poverty in third world nations is limited access to education opportunities. Without continued sustained investment in education in this state, we are the next third world country.

Amina Khan wrote in the LA Times article, Poverty can sap brainpower, research shows:

Whether you’re a New Jersey mall rat or a farmer in India, being poor can sap your smarts. In fact, the mental energy required to make do with scarce resources taxes the brain so much that it can perpetuate the cycle of poverty, new research shows.
The findings, published in Friday’s edition of the journal Science, indicate that an urgent need — making rent, getting money for food — tugs at the attention so much that it can reduce the brainpower of anyone who experiences it, regardless of innate intelligence or personality. As a result, many social welfare programs set up to help the poor could backfire by adding more complexity to their lives.
“I think it’s a game changer,” said Kathleen Vohs, a behavioral scientist at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, who wasn’t involved with the study.
There’s a widespread tendency to assume that poor people don’t have money because they are lazy, unmotivated or just not that sharp, said study coauthor Sendhil Mullainathan, a behavioral economist at Harvard University.
“That’s a broad narrative that’s pretty common,” Mullainathan said. “Our intuition was quite different: It’s not that poor people are any different than rich people, but that being poor in itself has an effect.”
The problem is that it’s hard to devise experiments to test this, said Eric J. Johnson, a psychologist…..

Here is the press release from Princeton:

Poor concentration: Poverty reduces brainpower needed for navigating other areas of life
Posted August 29, 2013; 02:00 p.m.
by Morgan Kelly, Office of Communications
Poverty and all its related concerns require so much mental energy that the poor have less remaining brainpower to devote to other areas of life, according to research based at Princeton University. As a result, people of limited means are more likely to make mistakes and bad decisions that may be amplified by — and perpetuate — their financial woes.
Published in the journal Science, the study presents a unique perspective regarding the causes of persistent poverty. The researchers suggest that being poor may keep a person from concentrating on the very avenues that would lead them out of poverty. A person’s cognitive function is diminished by the constant and all-consuming effort of coping with the immediate effects of having little money, such as scrounging to pay bills and cut costs. Thusly, a person is left with fewer “mental resources” to focus on complicated, indirectly related matters such as education, job training and even managing their time.
In a series of experiments, the researchers found that pressing financial concerns had an immediate impact on the ability of low-income individuals to perform on common cognitive and logic tests. On average, a person preoccupied with money problems exhibited a drop in cognitive function similar to a 13-point dip in IQ, or the loss of an entire night’s sleep.
Research based at Princeton University found that poverty and all its related concerns require so much mental energy that the poor have less remaining brainpower to devote to other areas of life. Experiments showed that the impact of financial concerns on the cognitive function of low-income individuals was similar to a 13-point dip in IQ, or the loss of an entire night’s sleep. To gauge the influence of poverty in natural contexts, the researchers tested 464 sugarcane farmers in India who rely on the annual harvest for at least 60 percent of their income. Each farmer performed better on common fluid-intelligence and cognition tests post-harvest compared to pre-harvest.
But when their concerns were benign, low-income individuals performed competently, at a similar level to people who were well off, said corresponding author Jiaying Zhao, who conducted the study as a doctoral student in the lab of co-author Eldar Shafir, Princeton’s William Stewart Tod Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs. Zhao and Shafir worked with Anandi Mani, an associate professor of economics at the University of Warwick in Britain, and Sendhil Mullainathan, a Harvard University economics professor.
“These pressures create a salient concern in the mind and draw mental resources to the problem itself. That means we are unable to focus on other things in life that need our attention,” said Zhao, who is now an assistant professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia.
“Previous views of poverty have blamed poverty on personal failings, or an environment that is not conducive to success,” she said. “We’re arguing that the lack of financial resources itself can lead to impaired cognitive function. The very condition of not having enough can actually be a cause of poverty.”
The mental tax that poverty can put on the brain is distinct from stress, Shafir explained. Stress is a person’s response to various outside pressures that — according to studies of arousal and performance — can actually enhance a person’s functioning, he said. In the Science study, Shafir and his colleagues instead describe an immediate rather than chronic preoccupation with limited resources that can be a detriment to unrelated yet still important tasks.
“Stress itself doesn’t predict that people can’t perform well — they may do better up to a point,” Shafir said. “A person in poverty might be at the high part of the performance curve when it comes to a specific task and, in fact, we show that they do well on the problem at hand. But they don’t have leftover bandwidth to devote to other tasks. The poor are often highly effective at focusing on and dealing with pressing problems. It’s the other tasks where they perform poorly.”
The fallout of neglecting other areas of life may loom larger for a person just scraping by, Shafir said. Late fees tacked on to a forgotten rent payment, a job lost because of poor time-management — these make a tight money situation worse. And as people get poorer, they tend to make difficult and often costly decisions that further perpetuate their hardship, Shafir said. He and Mullainathan were co-authors on a 2012 Science paper that reported a higher likelihood of poor people to engage in behaviors that reinforce the conditions of poverty, such as excessive borrowing.
“They can make the same mistakes, but the outcomes of errors are more dear,” Shafir said. “So, if you live in poverty, you’re more error prone and errors cost you more dearly — it’s hard to find a way out.”
The first set of experiments took place in a New Jersey mall between 2010 and 2011 with roughly 400 subjects chosen at random. Their median annual income was around $70,000 and the lowest income was around $20,000. The researchers created scenarios wherein subjects had to ponder how they would solve financial problems, for example, whether they would handle a sudden car repair by paying in full, borrowing money or putting the repairs off. Participants were assigned either an “easy” or “hard” scenario in which the cost was low or high — such as $150 or $1,500 for the car repair. While participants pondered these scenarios, they performed common fluid-intelligence and cognition tests.
Subjects were divided into a “poor” group and a “rich” group based on their income. The study showed that when the scenarios were easy — the financial problems not too severe — the poor and rich performed equally well on the cognitive tests. But when they thought about the hard scenarios, people at the lower end of the income scale performed significantly worse on both cognitive tests, while the rich participants were unfazed.
To better gauge the influence of poverty in natural contexts, between 2010 and 2011 the researchers also tested 464 sugarcane farmers in India who rely on the annual harvest for at least 60 percent of their income. Because sugarcane harvests occur once a year, these are farmers who find themselves rich after harvest and poor before it. Each farmer was given the same tests before and after the harvest, and performed better on both tests post-harvest compared to pre-harvest.
The cognitive effect of poverty the researchers found relates to the more general influence of “scarcity” on cognition, which is the larger focus of Shafir’s research group. Scarcity in this case relates to any deficit — be it in money, time, social ties or even calories — that people experience in trying to meet their needs. Scarcity consumes “mental bandwidth” that would otherwise go to other concerns in life, Zhao said.
“These findings fit in with our story of how scarcity captures attention. It consumes your mental bandwidth,” Zhao said. “Just asking a poor person to think about hypothetical financial problems reduces mental bandwidth. This is an acute, immediate impact, and has implications for scarcity of resources of any kind.”
“We documented similar effects among people who are not otherwise poor, but on whom we imposed scarce resources,” Shafir added. “It’s not about being a poor person — it’s about living in poverty.”
Many types of scarcity are temporary and often discretionary, said Shafir, who is co-author with Mullainathan of the book, “Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much,” to be published in September. For instance, a person pressed for time can reschedule appointments, cancel something or even decide to take on less.
“When you’re poor you can’t say, ‘I’ve had enough, I’m not going to be poor anymore.’ Or, ‘Forget it, I just won’t give my kids dinner, or pay rent this month.’ Poverty imposes a much stronger load that’s not optional and in very many cases is long lasting,” Shafir said. “It’s not a choice you’re making — you’re just reduced to few options. This is not something you see with many other types of scarcity.”
The researchers suggest that services for the poor should accommodate the dominance that poverty has on a person’s time and thinking. Such steps would include simpler aid forms and more guidance in receiving assistance, or training and educational programs structured to be more forgiving of unexpected absences, so that a person who has stumbled can more easily try again.
“You want to design a context that is more scarcity proof,” said Shafir, noting that better-off people have access to regular support in their daily lives, be it a computer reminder, a personal assistant, a housecleaner or a babysitter.
“There’s very little you can do with time to get more money, but a lot you can do with money to get more time,” Shafir said. “The poor, who our research suggests are bound to make more mistakes and pay more dearly for errors, inhabit contexts often not designed to help.”
The paper, “Poverty impedes cognitive function,” was published Aug. 30 by Science. The work was supported by the National Science Foundation (award number SES-0933497), the International Finance Corporation and the IFMR Trust in India


Science 30 August 2013:
Vol. 341 no. 6149 pp. 976-980
DOI: 10.1126/science.1238041
• Research Article
Poverty Impedes Cognitive Function
1. Anandi Mani1,
2. Sendhil Mullainathan2,*,
3. Eldar Shafir3,*,
4. Jiaying Zhao4
+ Author Affiliations
1. 1Department of Economics, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK.
2. 2Department of Economics, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.
3. 3Department of Psychology and Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08540, USA.
4. 4Department of Psychology and Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z4, Canada.
1. ↵*Corresponding author. E-mail: mullain@fas.harvard.edu (S.M.); shafir@princeton.edu (E.S.)
• Abstract
• Editor’s Summary
The poor often behave in less capable ways, which can further perpetuate poverty. We hypothesize that poverty directly impedes cognitive function and present two studies that test this hypothesis. First, we experimentally induced thoughts about finances and found that this reduces cognitive performance among poor but not in well-off participants. Second, we examined the cognitive function of farmers over the planting cycle. We found that the same farmer shows diminished cognitive performance before harvest, when poor, as compared with after harvest, when rich. This cannot be explained by differences in time available, nutrition, or work effort. Nor can it be explained with stress: Although farmers do show more stress before harvest, that does not account for diminished cognitive performance. Instead, it appears that poverty itself reduces cognitive capacity. We suggest that this is because poverty-related concerns consume mental resources, leaving less for other tasks. These data provide a previously unexamined perspective and help explain a spectrum of behaviors among the poor. We discuss some implications for poverty policy.
• Received for publication 19 March 2013.
• Accepted for publication 23 July 2013.
Read the Full Text
The editors suggest the following Related Resources on Science sites
In Science Magazine
• Perspective Psychology The Poor’s Poor Mental Power
o Kathleen D. Vohs
Science 30 August 2013: 969-970.

Moi wrote in 3rd world America: Money changes everything:
Sabrina Tavernise wrote an excellent New York Times article, Education Gap Grows Between Rich and Poor, Studies Say:

It is a well-known fact that children from affluent families tend to do better in school. Yet the income divide has received far less attention from policy makers and government officials than gaps in student accomplishment by race.
Now, in analyses of long-term data published in recent months, researchers are finding that while the achievement gap between white and black students has narrowed significantly over the past few decades, the gap between rich and poor students has grown substantially during the same period.
“We have moved from a society in the 1950s and 1960s, in which race was more consequential than family income, to one today in which family income appears more determinative of educational success than race,” said Sean F. Reardon, a Stanford University sociologist. Professor Reardon is the author of a study that found that the gap in standardized test scores between affluent and low-income students had grown by about 40 percent since the 1960s, and is now double the testing gap between blacks and whites.
In another study, by researchers from the University of Michigan, the imbalance between rich and poor children in college completion — the single most important predictor of success in the work force — has grown by about 50 percent since the late 1980s.
The changes are tectonic, a result of social and economic processes unfolding over many decades. The data from most of these studies end in 2007 and 2008, before the recession’s full impact was felt. Researchers said that based on experiences during past recessions, the recent downturn was likely to have aggravated the trend.
“With income declines more severe in the lower brackets, there’s a good chance the recession may have widened the gap,” Professor Reardon said. In the study he led, researchers analyzed 12 sets of standardized test scores starting in 1960 and ending in 2007. He compared children from families in the 90th percentile of income — the equivalent of around $160,000 in 2008, when the study was conducted — and children from the 10th percentile, $17,500 in 2008. By the end of that period, the achievement gap by income had grown by 40 percent, he said, while the gap between white and black students, regardless of income, had shrunk substantially.
Both studies were first published last fall in a book of research, “Whither Opportunity?” compiled by the Russell Sage Foundation, a research center for social sciences, and the Spencer Foundation, which focuses on education. Their conclusions, while familiar to a small core of social sciences scholars, are now catching the attention of a broader audience, in part because income inequality has been a central theme this election season.

Teachers and schools have been made TOTALLY responsible for the education outcome of the children, many of whom come to school not ready to learn and who reside in families that for a variety of reasons cannot support their education. All children are capable of learning, but a one-size-fits-all approach does not serve all children well. Different populations of children will require different strategies and some children will require remedial help, early intervention, and family support to achieve their education goals. https://drwilda.com/2012/02/11/3rd-world-america-money-changes-everything/

ALL children have a right to a good basic education.

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Virginia Mason Hospital study: Carbon monoxide can pass through dry wall

21 Aug

Carbon monoxide poisoning can kill. Marijke Vroomen Durning wrote in the Forbes article, Carbon Monoxide, A Silent Killer: Are You Safe At Home?

Every year, 20,000 to 30,000 people in the United States are sickened by accidental carbon monoxide poisoning and approximately 500 people die, many in their own home. Carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. It cannot be detected by humans without the help of a detector.
A new study, released today in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), has found that carbon monoxide easily passes through gypsum wallboards (also called drywall), the material used to finish walls and ceilings in most residential homes. The porous material does nothing to stop the gas from seeping through.
Here’s where the problem gets worse: Twenty-five states require that residents have a carbon monoxide alarm in their homes but in December 2012, 10 states exempted residences that don’t have an internal carbon monoxide-producing source, such as a gas stove or fireplace, or an attached garage in which a car could be left idling. This move worries toxicologists who fear that these exemptions may give people a false sense of security. It’s believed that removing the requirement for all homes to have such alarms will lead to an increased number of accidental carbon monoxide poisonings, particularly in multi-unit buildings.

Here is the press release from Virginia Mason Hospital:

News Releases
Researchers Prove Carbon Monoxide Penetrates Gypsum Wallboard
SEATTLE – (Aug. 21, 2013) — Carbon monoxide (CO) from external sources can easily penetrate gypsum wallboard (drywall) commonly used in apartments and houses, potentially exposing people indoors to the toxic, odorless, tasteless gas within minutes, concludes a study conducted at Virginia Mason Medical Center.
These findings, which underscore the importance of CO alarms in single-family and multi-family homes, are published in today’s edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Authors of the study are Neil B. Hampson, MD; James R. Holm, MD; and engineer Todd G. Courtney, of the Virginia Mason Center for Hyperbaric Medicine.
Their research casts doubt on the assumption that the risk for CO poisoning inside a residence is eliminated if there is no apparent internal source of the gas. They determined that carbon monoxide from an external source, such as an electrical generator operating in an adjacent apartment or an automobile engine running in an attached garage, can pass through drywall ceilings and walls because gypsum wallboard is highly porous. CO also penetrates painted drywall, albeit more slowly, the researchers determined.
Their study is believed to be the first to examine the ability of carbon monoxide to diffuse through gypsum wallboard. Gypsum particles contain microscopic pores that are many times larger than CO molecules, allowing these dangerous molecules to easily penetrate drywall.
“There are numerous media reports describing simultaneous CO poisonings in different units of multifamily dwellings,” the authors note. Even though carbon monoxide might have traveled through ventilation ducts, hallways, elevator shafts or stairways in some cases, this was not possible in every case due to configurations of the buildings, they add. This raised the question whether CO could pass through drywall.
Many states are enacting legislation mandating residential CO alarms, although some have exempted structures if there is no apparent indoor carbon monoxide source (i.e., fuel-burning appliances, fireplaces, etc.). This action is dangerous, authors of the study caution, because occupants of multifamily dwellings, for example, can bring sources of CO production into their units and put themselves and people in neighboring units in harm’s way.
Since January 2013, Washington state law has required carbon monoxide alarms be installed in most existing single-family homes, as well as hotels, motels and apartments. The alarms must be located outside, and near, each separate sleeping area.
Carbon monoxide poisoning causes about 500 accidental deaths annually in the U.S.
About Virginia Mason Medical Center
Virginia Mason Medical Center, founded in 1920, is a nonprofit regional health care system in Seattle that serves the Pacific Northwest. Virginia Mason employs more than 5,300 people and includes a 336-bed acute-care hospital; a primary and specialty care group practice of more than 460 physicians; satellite locations throughout the Puget Sound area; and Bailey-Boushay House, the first skilled-nursing and outpatient chronic care management program in the U.S. designed and built specifically to meet the needs of people with HIV/AIDS. Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason is internationally recognized for its breakthrough autoimmune disease research. Virginia Mason was the first health system to apply lean manufacturing principles to health care delivery to eliminate waste and improve quality and patient safety.
To learn more about Virginia Mason Medical Center, please visit Facebook.com/VMcares or follow @VirginiaMason on Twitter. To learn how Virginia Mason is transforming health care and to join the conversation, visit our blog at VirginiaMasonBlog.org.
Media Contact:
Gale Robinette
Virginia Mason Media Relations
(206) 341-1509


Drywall No Barrier Against CO Poisoning http://www.medpagetoday.com/PublicHealthPolicy/EnvironmentalHealth/41091

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted information about Carbon Monoxide Poisoning:
Frequently Asked Questions

What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide, or CO, is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death.
Where is CO found?
CO is found in combustion fumes, such as those produced by cars and trucks, small gasoline engines, stoves, lanterns, burning charcoal and wood, and gas ranges and heating systems. CO from these sources can build up in enclosed or semi-enclosed spaces. People and animals in these spaces can be poisoned by breathing it.
What are the symptoms of CO poisoning?
The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. High levels of CO inhalation can cause loss of consciousness and death. Unless suspected, CO poisoning can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms mimic other illnesses. People who are sleeping or intoxicated can die from CO poisoning before ever experiencing symptoms.
How does CO poisoning work?
Red blood cells pick up CO quicker than they pick up oxygen. If there is a lot of CO in the air, the body may replace oxygen in blood with CO. This blocks oxygen from getting into the body, which can damage tissues and result in death. CO can also combine with proteins in tissues, destroying the tissues and causing injury and death.

Who is at risk from CO poisoning?

All people and animals are at risk for CO poisoning. Certain groups — unborn babies, infants, and people with chronic heart disease, anemia, or respiratory problems — are more susceptible to its effects. Each year, more than 400 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning, more than 20,000 visit the emergency room and more than 4,000 are hospitalized due to CO poisoning. Fatality is highest among Americans 65 and older.
How can I prevent CO poisoning from my home appliances?
• Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
• Do not use portable flameless chemical heaters (catalytic) indoors. Although these heaters don’t have a flame, they burn gas and can cause CO to build up inside your home, cabin, or camper.
• If you smell an odor from your gas refrigerator’s cooling unit have an expert service it. An odor from the cooling unit of your gas refrigerator can mean you have a defect in the cooling unit. It could also be giving off CO.
• When purchasing gas equipment, buy only equipment carrying the seal of a national testing agency, such as the CSA Group .
• Install a battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall.

How do I vent my gas appliances properly?

• All gas appliances must be vented so that CO will not build up in your home, cabin, or camper.
• Never burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn’t vented.
• Have your chimney checked or cleaned every year. Chimneys can be blocked by debris. This can cause CO to build up inside your home or cabin.
• Never patch a vent pipe with tape, gum, or something else. This kind of patch can make CO build up in your home, cabin, or camper.
• Horizontal vent pipes to fuel appliances should not be perfectly level. Indoor vent pipes should go up slightly as they go toward outdoors. This helps prevent CO or other gases from leaking if the joints or pipes aren’t fitted tightly.

How can I heat my house safely or cook when the power is out?

• Never use a gas range or oven for heating. Using a gas range or oven for heating can cause a build up of CO inside your home, cabin, or camper.
• Never use a charcoal grill or a barbecue grill indoors. Using a grill indoors will cause a build up of CO inside your home, cabin, or camper unless you use it inside a vented fireplace.
• Never burn charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal — red, gray, black, or white — gives off CO.
• Never use a portable gas camp stove indoors. Using a gas camp stove indoors can cause CO to build up inside your home, cabin, or camper.
• Never use a generator inside your home, basement, or garage or near a window, door, or vent.
How can I avoid CO poisoning from my vehicle?
• Have a mechanic check the exhaust system of my car every year. A small leak in your car’s exhaust system can lead to a build up of CO inside the car.
• Never run a car or truck in the garage with the garage door shut. CO can build up quickly while your car or truck is running in a closed garage. Never run your car or truck inside a garage that is attached to a house and always open the door to any garage to let in fresh air when running a car or truck inside the garage.
• If you drive a vehicle with a tailgate, when you open the tailgate, you also need to open vents or windows to make sure air is moving through your car. If only the tailgate is open CO from the exhaust will be pulled into the car.

It is more important than ever for those living in multi-unit homes to have carbon monoxide detectors in each unit.

Consumer Search offers tips about buying a carbon monoxide monitor in How to Buy a Carbon Monoxide Detector:

What the best carbon monoxide detector has
• Audio alarm. Devices certified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) have a minimum 85-decibel horn that can be heard within 10 feet.
• Interconnectivity. Interconnecting units are helpful in large homes because they communicate with one another; when one alarm detects a hazard, it triggers them all to sound an alarm. To work properly, all units must be made by the same manufacturer. While traditionally hardwired, battery-operated wireless interconnecting units are now available.
• Five-year sensor lifespan. The sensors on carbon monoxide detectors do wear away over time. Expect your unit to last at least five years. The better models have an end-of-life timer to alert you when the unit needs to be replaced. Kidde’s newest CO detectors, released in March, last for 10 years.
• Long warranty. Carbon monoxide detectors can malfunction, and the best units come with a warranty of at least five to seven years.
• Digital display. UL-certified carbon monoxide detectors are designed to sound an alarm if they sense CO levels of 70 parts per million (ppm) or higher. Exposure of 100 ppm for 20 minutes may not affect healthy adults. However, people with cardiac or respiratory problems, infants, pregnant women and the elderly may be harmed by lower concentrations. A device with a digital display can show these concentrations and give you the peace of mind.
• Testing functionality. CO detectors should be tested once a month. The best detectors have a test/silence button to test the device and also silence the alarm in the event of a false alarm.
Know before you go
What are the regulations in your state or municipality? Most states require a carbon monoxide detector to be installed in new homes or before the sale of a home. Some require hardwired or plug-in units to have battery backup in the case of a power outage. The National Conference of State Legislatures is a good resource for determining what regulations apply to you.
How are your current carbon monoxide detectors installed? Detectors may be hardwired, plugged into an outlet or battery operated, depending on the model. Some plug-in and hardwired units use batteries as a backup during a power failure and will not operate if they are not installed. If your current carbon monoxide detectors are hardwired, you will most likely want to keep that system. Otherwise, battery-operated and plug-in models are the easiest to install.
Do you need a smoke alarm, too? If you also need a smoke alarm, a combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarm might be best. Decide whether you need the smoke alarm to use ionization or photoelectric technology. The U.S. Fire Administration provides background on the different technologies.
How many alarms do you need? CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, according to the National Fire Protection Association, which also recommends interconnecting all alarms.
Does your unit meet safety standards? Check to see that the detector is certified by an independent testing agency such as Underwriters Laboratories or Canadian Standards Association.

The Virginia Mason study shows how important carbon monoxide detectors are.

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Harvard study: More children showing signs of adult illnesses like hypertension

16 Jul

Moi wrote in Study: Parental education reduces childhood obesity, but more physical activity may be needed:
The goal of this society should be to raise healthy and happy children who will grow into concerned and involved adults who care about their fellow citizens and environment. In order to accomplish this goal, all children must receive a good basic education and in order to achieve that goal, children must arrive at school, ready to learn. There is an epidemic of childhood obesity and obesity is often prevalent among poor children. The American Heart Association has some great information about Physical Activity and Children http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/Physical-Activity-and-Children_UCM_304053_Article.jsp#.TummU1bfW-c
Because many children are obese, they are at increased risk of adult diseases.

Alexandra Sifferlin reports in the Time article, Sick Before Their Time: More Kids Diagnosed With Adult Diseases:

Diabetes, obesity and elevated blood pressure typically emerge in middle-age, but more young children are showing signs of chronic conditions that may take a toll on their health.
The latest report on the trend, from researchers at Harvard Medical School found that children and adolescents are increasingly suffering from elevated blood pressure. Published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension, the study showed a 27% increase in the proportion of children aged 8 years to 17 years with elevated blood pressure over a thirteen-year period.
The scientists compared over 3,200 children involved in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III in 1988-1994 to over 8,300 who participated in NHANES in 1999-2008. The national survey records health, eating and lifestyle behaviors of the volunteers. More kids in the recent survey were overweight, with larger waistlines than those in the previous cohort. And the children with body mass index (BMI) readings in the top 25% of their age group were two times more likely to have elevated blood pressure than the kids in the bottom 25%.
The kids did not have diagnosed hypertension, which requires a threshold of 140 -90, but elevated blood pressure — anything above 120-80 — at such young ages could prime them for hypertension later. “High blood pressure is dangerous in part because many people don’t know they have it,” said lead study author Bernard Rosner, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in a statement.
The results are only the latest to reveal the first signs of chronic conditions that normally don’t occur until middle-age, in children and teens.


Childhood Blood Pressure Trends and Risk Factors for High Blood Pressure
The NHANES Experience 1988–2008
1.Bernard Rosner,
2.Nancy R. Cook,
3.Stephen Daniels,
4.Bonita Falkner
+ Author Affiliations
1.From the Childhood Blood Pressure Trends and Risk Factors for High Blood Pressure, Boston, MA; Professor and Chairman, Department of Pediatrics, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora CO (S.D.); and Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA (B.F.).
1.Correspondence to Bernard Rosner, Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, 181 Longwood Ave, Boston, MA 02115. E-mail stbar@channing.harvard.edu
The obesity epidemic in children makes it plausible that prevalence rates of elevated blood pressure (BP) are increasing over time. Yet, previous literature is inconsistent because of small sample sizes. Also, it is unclear whether adjusting for risk factors can explain longitudinal trends in prevalence of elevated BP. Thus, we analyzed a population-based sample of 3248 children in National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III (1988–1994) and 8388 children in continuous NHANES (1999–2008), aged 8 to 17 years. Our main outcome measure was elevated BP (systolic BP or diastolic BP ≥90th percentile or systolic BP/diastolic BP ≥120/80 mm Hg). We found that the prevalence of elevated BP increased from NHANES III to NHANES 1999–2008 (Boys: 15.8% to 19.2%, P=0.057; Girls: 8.2% to 12.6%, P=0.007). Body mass index (Q4 versus Q1; odds ratio=2.00; P<0.001), waist circumference (Q4 versus Q1; odds ratio=2.14; P<0.001), and sodium (Na) intake (≥3450 mg versus <2300 mg/2000 calories; odds ratio=1.36; P=0.024) were independently associated with prevalence of elevated BP. Also, mean systolic BP, but not diastolic BP, was associated with increased Na intake in children (quintile 5 [Q5] versus quintile 1 [Q1] of Na intake; β=1.25±0.58; P=0.034). In conclusion, we demonstrate an association between high Na intake and elevated BP in children. After adjustment for age, sex, race/ethnicity, body mass index, waist circumference, and sodium intake, odds ratio for elevated BP in NHANES 1999–2008 versus NHANES III=1.27, P=0.069.
Key Words:
blood pressure
body mass index
National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey
nutrition surveys
waist circumference
Received December 10, 2012.
Revision received January 8, 2013.
Accepted May 13, 2013.
© 2013 American Heart Association, Inc.

The issue of childhood obesity is complicated and there are probably many factors. If a child’s family does not model healthy eating habits, it probably will be difficult to change the food preferences of the child. Our goal as a society should be:

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©


University of Illinois Chicago study: Laws reducing availability of snacks are decreasing childhood obesity

New emphasis on obesity: Possible unintended consequences, eating disorders https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/29/new-emphasis-on-obesity-possible-unintended-consequences-eating-disorders/

Childhood obesity: Recess is being cut in low-income schools

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U.S.D.A. has new rules for snacks in school vending machines

7 Jul

Moi has been following the school vending machine issue for awhile. In Government is trying to control the vending machine choices of children, moi wrote:
The goal of this society should be to raise healthy and happy children who will grow into concerned and involved adults who care about their fellow citizens and environment. In order to accomplish this goal, all children must receive a good basic education and in order to achieve that goal, children must arrive at school, ready to learn. Ron Nixon reports in the New York Times article, New Guidelines Planned on School Vending Machines about the attempt to legislate healthier eating habits. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/21/us/politics/new-rules-planned-on-school-vending-machines.html?_r=1&hpw
There have been studies about the effect of vending machine snacking and childhood obesity.
Katy Waldman wrote the Slate article, Do Vending Machines Affect Student Obesity?

Despite all the recent handwringing (even pearl clutching) over junk food in schools, a study out this month in the quarterly Sociology of Education found no link between student obesity rates and the school-wide sale of candy, chips, or sugary soda. The finding undermines efforts by policy makers to trim kids’ waistlines by banning snacks from the classroom. And it must taste odd to the many doctors and scientists who see vending machines as accessories in the childhood obesity epidemic.  
The study followed 19,450 fifth graders of both sexes for four years. At the beginning, 59 percent of the students went to schools that sold “competitive foods”—that is, non-cafeteria fare not reimbursable through federal meal programs. CFs tend to have higher sugar or fat content and lower nutritional value (think the indulgences at the top of the food pyramid, like Coke and Oreos). By the time the students reached eighth grade, 86 percent of them attended schools that sold competitive foods. The researchers, led by Pennsylvania State University’s Jennifer Van Hook, then compared body mass indexes from the 19,450 students, including those who’d spent all four years in junk food-free environments, those who’d left such schools for vending machine-friendly ones, those who’d transferred from vending machine-friendly schools to junk food-free schools, and those who enjoyed access to vending machines for all four years. Regardless of which data sets they contrasted, the researchers were unable to find any sort of connection between obesity and the availability of “unhealthy” snacks in school. In other words, children who could theoretically grab a Snickers bar after class every day for four years were, on average, no heavier than those who couldn’t.
While Van Hook speculated to the New York Times that the findings reflect our tendency to “establish food preferences… early in life,” she also noted in her paper that middle schoolers’ regimented schedules could prevent them from doing much unsupervised eating. (I guess that means that the students didn’t have time to utilize the junk food options they had, which is an issue for another day). In any case, the takeaway is clear. You can’t solve childhood obesity by outlawing vending machines. The obesity epidemic (if it is one) depends on a complex interplay of genetic, environmental, and behavioral factors. Maybe a full-court press of school regulations plus zoning laws that encourage supermarkets to come to poor neighborhoods plus government subsidies for fruits and veggies plus crackdowns on fast food advertising plus fifty other adjustments would begin to make a dent in the problem. (Maybe a saner cultural attitude towards food, weight, and looks in general would also help). http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2012/01/24/junk_food_in_school_do_vending_machines_make_kids_fat_.html

See, Rising Childhood Obesity and Vending Machines http://www.medicaladvices.net/Child_Health/rising-childhood-obesity-and-vending-machines-a14.html
Nirvi Shah writes in the Education Week article, Rules for School Vending Machines, Snacks Unveiled:

Long-awaited rules that regulate the fat, salt, sugar, and calories in snacks and vending machine foods sold in schools were finally released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture today.
The rules take effect during the 2014-15 school year. Nutrition advocates have been pressing the USDA to issue the rules this month. Any later, and they wouldn’t have taken effect until the 2015-16 school year.
The new rules are the first update to school snack regulations since the 1970s. The existing rules only limited “foods of minimal nutritional value,” which didn’t keep candy bars, snack cakes, and sugary, vitamin-fortified sports drinks, from being regulated, said Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Despite some high hopes for the rules, which come on the heels of strict rules for school lunches, they won’t completely wipe out sodas, chips, or sweets from schools. But they will make a dent.
“Millions of students currently have widespread access to snacks and beverages that are high in sugar, fat, and salt, but limited access to nutritious options such as fruits and vegetables in school stores, snack bars, and vending machines,” said Jessica Donze Black, director of the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project. “With many students consuming up to half of their daily calories at school, these new standards represent the kind of positive change we need to help reduce obesity rates among children and teens.”
Many of the rules are adapted from those that were originally proposed by the agency, which received about 250,000 comments.
What happens if schools don’t comply? Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said he hopes schools do, though there aren’t explicit penalties if they don’t, unlike rules for the school lunch and breakfast programs. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/rulesforengagement/2013/06/rules_for_school_vending_machines_snacks_unveiled.html?intc=es

Here is the press release for the “Smart Snacks in Schools” rule:

News Release
Release No. 0134.13
USDA Office of Communications (202) 720-4623

Printable version
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Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Highlights New “Smart Snacks in School” Standards; Will Ensure School Vending Machines, Snack Bars Include Healthy Choices

WASHINGTON, June 27, 2013 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that under USDA’s new ” Smart Snacks in School” nutrition standards, America’s students will be offered healthier food options during the school day.
“Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our children,” said Secretary Vilsack. “Parents and schools work hard to give our youngsters the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong, and providing healthy options throughout school cafeterias, vending machines, and snack bars will support their great efforts.”
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 requires USDA to establish nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools — beyond the federally-supported meals programs. The “Smart Snacks in School” nutrition standards, to be published this week in the Federal Register, reflect USDA’s thoughtful consideration and response to the nearly 250,000 comments received on the proposal earlier this year.
“Smart Snacks in School” carefully balances science-based nutrition guidelines with practical and flexible solutions to promote healthier eating on campus, drawing on recommendations from the Institute of Medicine and existing voluntary standards already implemented by thousands of schools around the country, as well as healthy food and beverage offerings already available in the marketplace.
Highlights of the “Smart Snacks in School” nutrition standards include:
More of the foods we should encourage. Like the new school meals, the standards require healthier foods, more whole grains, low fat dairy, fruits, vegetables and leaner protein.
Less of the foods we should avoid. Food items are lower in fat, sugar, and sodium and provide more of the nutrients kids need.
Targeted standards. Allowing variation by age group for factors such as portion size and caffeine content.
Flexibility for important traditions. Preserving the ability for parents to send their kids to school with homemade lunches or treats for activities such as birthday parties, holidays, and other celebrations; and allowing schools to continue traditions like fundraisers and bake sales.
Ample time for implementation. Schools and food and beverage companies will have an entire school year to make the necessary changes, and USDA will offer training and technical assistance every step of the way.
Reasonable limitations on when and where the standards apply. Ensuring that standards only affect foods that are sold on school campus during the school day. Foods sold at afterschool sporting events or other activities will not be subject to these requirements.
Flexibility for state and local communities. Allowing significant local and regional autonomy by only establishing minimum requirements for schools. States and schools that have stronger standards than what is being proposed will be able to maintain their own policies.
USDA is focused on improving childhood nutrition and empowering families to make healthier food choices by providing science-based information and advice, while expanding the availability of healthy food.
America’s students now have healthier and more nutritious school meals due to improved nutrition standards implemented as a result of the historic Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.
USDA’s MyPlate symbol and the resources at ChooseMyPlate.gov provide quick, easy reference tools for parents, teachers, healthcare professionals and communities.
USDA launched a new $5 million Farm to School grant program in 2012 to increase the amount of healthy, local food in schools.
USDA awarded $5.2 million in grants to provide training and technical assistance for child nutrition foodservice professionals and support stronger school nutrition education programs.
Collectively these policies and actions will help combat child hunger and obesity and improve the health and nutrition of the nation’s children; a top priority for the Obama Administration. The interim final rule announced today is an important component of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to combat the challenge of childhood obesity.
Additional materials available:
High-resolution version info-graphic
Questions & Answers
TV Feature
Interim Final Rule
For more information on Smart Snacks in School, please visit http://www.usda.gov/healthierschoolday
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).

The issue of childhood obesity is complicated and there are probably many factors. If a child’s family does not model healthy eating habits, it probably will be difficult to change the food preferences of the child. Our goal as a society should be:

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©

University of Illinois Chicago study: Laws reducing availability of snacks are decreasing childhood obesity https://drwilda.com/2012/08/13/university-of-illinois-chicago-study-laws-reducing-availability-of-snacks-are-decreasing-childhood-obesity/
New emphasis on obesity: Possible unintended consequences, eating disorders https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/29/new-emphasis-on-obesity-possible-unintended-consequences-eating-disorders/
Childhood obesity: Recess is being cut in low-income schools https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/15/childhood-obesity-recess-is-being-cut-in-low-income-schools/
Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

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COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART© http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/
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The 06/26/13 Joy Jar

26 Jun


Moi has several in her house. You probably have several in your house. They are in the workplace, at the mall -they are everywhere. They are on the street. Sometimes people want to kick the can down the street. You really don’t notice them until you are ready to deposit garbage or trash or they have been knocked over and their contents spilled. Today’s deposit into the ‘Joy Jar’ is the garbage can.

God helps all the children as they move into a time of life they do not understand and must struggle through with precepts they have picked from the garbage can of older people, clinging with the passion of the lost to odds and ends that will mess them up”

Lillian Hellman

A work desk is a garbage can with drawers”


In Beverly Hills… they don’t throw their garbage away. They make it into television shows.”

Woody Allen

If you put garbage in a computer nothing comes out but garbage. But this garbage, having passed through a very expensive machine, is somehow ennobled and none dare criticize it.”


Water and air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans.
Jacques Yves Cousteau

The lowest form of popular culture – lack of information, misinformation, disinformation, and a contempt for the truth or the reality of most people’s lives – has overrun real journalism. Today, ordinary Americans are being stuffed with garbage.
Carl Bernstein

I lived through the garbage. I might as well dine on the caviar.”

Beverly Sills