September 2016 | | 1-888-376-7136

[Volume 8, Issue 9]

Stand Up and Slim Down

It's well-known that being sedentary contributes to weight gain, so anything that gets kids (and grownups) moving is a good thing. Perhaps using standup desks could help to reduce sitting time. Which could be good for calorie-burning and posture.

Classroom standing desks may help kids slim down

This news story from Reuters Health tells about a recent study that finds kids who used standing desks were more active and slimmed down a bit, compared to kids who didn't use the standing desks.

This is just a pilot study, but the results are encouraging and maybe standing desks could be an option.

What to do at school:

  • Look into getting some standing desks that require kids to stand or sit on a stool.
  • Have younger kids stand up between classes and maybe a quick standing break during classes.
  • Talk about why it's important to get some exercise outside of class time.
Kids Can Have High Blood Pressure Too

We typically think of high blood pressure as an adult health problem, but it's also on the rise in children and teens. Unfortunately, it often goes undetected and can lead to serious health problems later in life.

High blood pressure in children

This news story by the New York Times tells us that one study finds just under 4 percent of kids have hypertension, while another study says 15 percent of high school athletes in Philadelphia have high blood pressure.

One problem is that kids with high blood pressure aren't being diagnosed properly (maybe blood pressure screenings at school might be a good thing?). But, once the diagnosis is made, it can often be treated with lifestyle changes such as a healthier diet, fewer calories and more exercise.

Body Shaming Doesn't Work and May Hurt

Weigh-related discrimination hurts kids because it leads to emotional problems. Growing up is hard enough without being body shamed. An old school of thought is that overweight and obese kids feel bad because of their weight, but a new study suggests it's not the fat that's at fault for the emotional pain, it's due to responses of peers.

Weight-based shaming, not BMI, may cause kids' distress

This news story from MedPage Today describes the study that included middle school participants. The researchers found that discrimination from peers in seventh grade was a strong predictor of body dissatisfaction in 8th grade, even more than body mass indices. The study authors say this could lead to body dissatisfaction, social anxiety and loneliness.

What to do at school:

  • Be tactful when talking to kids about weight issues.
  • Talk to students about this so they understand why it's wrong to body shame other kids.
  • Watch your own actions in front of kids - don't make fun of overweight people.
Decoding Food Label Buzzwords

Food labels can be helpful but they can also be confusing. While the Nutrition Facts labels on the back or bottom of a package is pretty straight-forward, the front of the package labels can be misleading.

Here’s what you need to know:

Food labels can lead you astray if you don't know what the buzzwords mean

This story from the Washington Post goes into some detail about various front of label 'health' claims. These claims sound good, but sometimes they don't really mean much. For example, 'whole grain' on the front label means there are some whole grains used as ingredients, but it doesn't mean all of the grains are whole. You'll need to look at the ingredients list to be sure.

What to do at school:

  • Talk about food labeling and bring in examples or have kids take smart phone pictures of labels they see in the stores.
  • Teach kids about healthy foods and what to look for if they need to buy packaged foods.
  • Have students create informational packs to take home to family so everyone can be a smarter shopper.
Slower Metabolism During the Teen Years

Sometimes weight problems arise when kids are teenagers. It doesn't make sense intuitively because maybe we remember our teen years as being an active time. It's still not clear why that happens, but some researchers have a potential explanation:

Why the teen years may not be lean years

This news story from HealthDay describes a study that finds kids' resting energy expenditure (the amount of calories you need to burn without any additional activity) dros during puberty. If the research is correct, then keeping teens active and moving is even more important so they can manage their weight.

When Kids See Parents as Role Models

Yeah, I know… we often feel like our kids don't listen to us. And that may be true sometimes, but they do pay attention to what we do. When it comes to health and nutrition, your kids are looking at your for guidance, whether you know it or not.

Parents can play key role in setting healthy habits for kids

This story from HelathDay describes a Canadian research study that found parents who were more active and ate more fruits and vegetables were more likely to have kids who did the same.

I don't think this is a surprise at all. I do think it's a good reminder that our kids look up to us and, by extension, I bet they pay attention to what teachers and school staff members do too - so eat healthy and get moving.

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More About School Lunches, Nutrition and Healthy Kids

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Gut bacteria differ between obese, lean youth

About Shereen Lehman

Shereen Lehman is a health and nutrition writer with two decades of experience counseling people on nutrition and diet. She has a master's degree in human nutrition and is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Association of Health Care Journalists.

Shereen writes about nutrition for the large website (, is co-author of Superfoods for Dummies ( and Clinical Anatomy for Dummies ( She also teaches Evidence Based Nutrition to nutrition graduate students at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut.