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This Month in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine
April 04, 2011

This Month in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2011;165(4):290. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2011.26
National School Lunch Program and Low-Income Children's Weight Trajectories

Policy makers and researchers are focusing on school settings and the food these settings provide as a possible mechanism to reduce childhood obesity. Whether the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is contributing to the obesity epidemic is largely inconclusive, and it is unknown whether NSLP participation affects the relative weight status of girls and boys differently. In this study of 1140 low-income children who attended schools participating in the NSLP, girls participating in the program had a larger rate of change in their body mass index compared with similar peers who did not participate. There were no effects for boys. Low-income children who participated in the NSLP lived in more socioeconomically disadvantaged environments compared with income-eligible children who did not participate. Efforts to gain a better understanding of what children are consuming and how often children are consuming particular foods in relation to environmental stressors may provide important new best practices on creating healthier lunch options for all children.

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Skeleton of a Century: American Journal of Diseases of Children and Rickets in the 1930s

In this article, part of our 100th anniversary celebration, Schalick discusses the efforts to control rickets among children in the 1930s. More than 420 reports on rickets appeared during the 1930s, of which 47 were original contributions. Vitamin sales increased by a factor of 20 from 1930 to 1940, becoming more than 10% of all wholesale drug revenue by 1941. Irradiation of foodstuffs, pioneered at the University of Wisconsin by Harry Steenbock in 1923, became the widely preferred method of rickets treatment and prophylaxis. By the decade's end, an American Journal of Diseases of Children abstract crowed that it was possible to eradicate rickets from large cities, suggesting hope to clinicians and researchers alike.

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Physical Activity During Youth Sports Practices

National guidelines state that children and adolescents should accumulate 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) each day. It is not clear how much physical activity is provided by youth sports practices, as much of the time may be inactive, such as receiving verbal instruction and waiting for turns. This study of 200 youth playing soccer or baseball/softball found that less than half the time during a practice was spent in MVPA. Soccer players spent about 17 more minutes per practice in MVPA than baseball/softball players. Overall, only 24% of participants met the 60-minute MVPA guideline during practice; girls were less active than boys and older players were less active than younger players in sports practices. Organized sports participation is not sufficient to ensure that youth meet physical activity recommendations on practice days.

Mean moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) during practice and percentage of participants meeting PA guidelines by age group. Means were calculated at the participant level; error bars represent standard deviation.

Mean moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) during practice and percentage of participants meeting PA guidelines by age group. Means were calculated at the participant level; error bars represent standard deviation.

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Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Mental Health Among Children and Adolescents

The US Surgeon General has concluded that there is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure. While the physical consequences of such exposure are well established, the potential mental health effects of SHS on children and adolescents are still unclear. Data on children aged 8 to 15 years from the 2001 to 2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey were used to assess the effects of SHS exposure, as measured by serum cotinine level, on symptoms of mental disorders. Exposure to SHS was positively associated with Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fourth Edition) symptoms of major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactive disorder, and conduct disorder among the total sample of nonsmokers, even when adjusting for age, sex, race/ethnicity, poverty, asthma, hay fever, migraine, maternal smoking during pregnancy, and allostatic load. Given the critical developmental period of childhood and adolescence, the effects of policy to reduce or ban smoking in public places and in the home may help prevent or reduce the progression of illness in at-risk individuals and alleviate the heavy burden of illness attributable not only to tobacco but also to mental disorders.

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