DiversityNursing Blog

Can Fast Food Hinder Learning in Kids?

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Dec 29, 2014 @ 10:28 AM

FSF050 resized 600A steady diet of fast food might hurt your child in the classroom, a new study finds.

Kids who frequently ate fast food in fifth grade lagged behind by eighth grade, said researchers who reviewed questionnaires and test scores of more than 8,500 U.S. students.

"The largest effects were found for the kids who reported daily consumption of fast food," said study leader Kelly Purtell, assistant professor of human sciences at Ohio State University. "On average they were scoring three or four points lower than the kids who did not report eating fast food at all in the past week." 

The researchers compared academic test scores in reading, math and science for fifth and eighth grade and looked at the students' responses to food questions on a national survey. 

On average, test scores increased 16 to 19 points, depending on the subject, Purtell said.

But kids who ate fast food the most had test-score gains of up to 20 percent less than those who never ate fast food, she found.

The study was published online this month in Clinical Pediatrics

More than two-thirds of the students surveyed reported some fast-food intake. And one in five had eaten at least four fast-food meals in the previous week, the survey found.

The amount of fast food consumed corresponded with eighth-grade scores, even after researchers took into account for physical activity, TV watching, income levels and school characteristics, Purtell said.

The proliferation of fast food is already a concern because of America's obesity epidemic.

However, the study can't prove the fast food caused the lower scores, only that the two were linked, Purtell noted. Still, other research has linked high-sugar and high-fat diets with an adverse effect on learning processes requiring attention, she said.

Although researchers can't explain the tie-in for sure, it's also possible that those with a fast-food habit may not get the nutrients needed for good learning, she suggested.

Experts aren't recommending you ban all fast foods on the basis of this one report, but they do advise moderation.

"It is premature to presume that frequent fast-food consumption will compromise one's later academic functioning," said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York, who wasn't involved in the study.

"Although this study found an association between frequently eating fast food and weaker academic performance a year later, we cannot be certain that the observed differences were due to nutritional factors and not other variables," he said.

Still, it's advisable to "encourage kids to go slow when it comes to fast food" to preserve health and good nutrition, Adesman added.

More research is needed, he said, to determine what impact fast food has on students' learning potential.

In the meantime, Purtell said, "I don't think the occasional fast meal is anything to worry about." Once a week or less might be a good goal, she suggested.

Source: www.nlm.nih.gov

Topics: learning, kids, fast food, harmful, healthy lifestyle, lifestyle choices, classroom, youth, pediatrics, nursing, health, healthcare, children, diet, medical, food, physicians

Diet Stops Seizures When Epilepsy Drugs Fail

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Oct 29, 2014 @ 02:48 PM

By JESSICA FIRGER

jackson small

When Jackson Small began having seizures at 7, his parents hoped and assumed at least one of the many epilepsy drugs on the market would be enough to get things under control. But one seizure quickly spiraled to as many as 30 a day.

"He would stop in his tracks and not be aware of what was going on for 20 or 30 seconds or so," his mother Shana Small told CBS News. Jackson was eventually diagnosed with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy, a type of epilepsy characterized by brief but often frequent muscle jerking or twitching.

But a number of medications typically prescribed to patients with this type of epilepsy were not effective. And so the quest to help Jackson gain control over his seizures led the family from their home in Orlando, Florida, to the office of a registered dietician at the NYU Langone Comprehensive Epilepsy Center in New York City.

They were there to discuss the medical benefits of heavy cream, mayonnaise, eggs, sausage, bacon and butter.

A lot of butter.

The plan was to treat Jackson with a diet that is heavy in fat, low in protein and includes almost no carbohydrates. It's known as the ketogenic diet and has long been in the arsenal of last-resort options for patients with epilepsy who are unresponsive to medication. Doctors may recommend a patient go on this special diet after unsuccessfully trying two or three prescriptions.

The diet works by putting the body in a "fasting" state, known as ketosis. "When we're fasting the body needs to find fuel so our body will break down fat storage and break down their own fat and enter a state of ketosis," Courtney Glick, the registered dietician who coordinated and fine-tuned Jackson's diet plan, told CBS News. "But with this diet, instead of breaking down the body's fat, the body breaks down dietary fat."

The ketogenic diet consists of as much as 90 percent fat. Some patients who feel they can't make such an extreme change adopt a modified Atkins diet, which is between 65 and 70 percent fat. It can be nearly as effective for controlling seizures, though every patient is different.

Though experts don't know everything about why this diet is effective for seizure control, they do know that eating mostly fat causes the body to fuel on ketones rather than glucose, which ultimately lowers insulin levels. This can have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body and may prevent seizures by calming the brain, said Glick.

One study by researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School found that a child's ability to stave off seizures is tied to a protein that affects metabolism in the brain. The protein, called BCL-2-associated Agonist of Cell Death, or BAD, also regulates metabolism of glucose. The researchers discovered that by modifying this, they switched metabolism in brain cells from glucose to ketone bodies, which are fat byproducts.

Glick said the diet plan didn't work for Jackson until he tried the most strict version, which was a 4 to 1 ratio of fat to protein and carbohydrates. Each day, he ate approximately 160 grams of fat, 8 to 10 grams of carbohydrates and 30 grams of protein, all of which amounted to about 1,700 calories a day.

Four months into the program, Jackson was seizure-free. He remained on the strict diet for two years with no return of seizures. His mother prepared foods from special recipes such as "keto" pizza made with a macadamia nut crust or chicken nuggets with coconut flour.

Over the summer -- after receiving a green light from his doctors -- Jackson, now 10 years old, began to wean himself off the diet, and his mother has slowly introduced foods such as breads and ice cream. He has maintained seizure-free and takes very little anti-seizure medication.

Research has found that for pediatric patients the anti-seizure effects of the diet often continue long after the child stops following the food plan, though the reason why remains unclear. This is typically not the case for adults, who may need to stay on the diet for life in order to control seizures.

"We've probably seen more kids go on the diets than adults, and adults are really set on their eating patterns," said Glick, adding that social obligations can make the diet difficult to fit into a grown person's lifestyle.

Jackson's mother said his doctors are hopeful that in the near future he may no longer need medication -- or a keto diet -- to stay seizure-free. "I think it's taught him a very important lesson about how food is as important as medicine, and how food affects the chemistry of your body," she said.

Source: www.cbsnews.com and http://www.dana-farber.org/

Topics: health, healthcare, health care, medication, children, diet, medical, food, seizures, Epilepsy

The Top 5 Ways Nurses can Keep the Holiday Pounds from Creeping On!

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Fri, Nov 30, 2012 @ 02:06 PM

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Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could eat what you wanted, skip the gym and still look terrific? Sigh. We all can dream, right?!

A majority of us mere mortals don’t live in that wonderful world, so as the holiday season kicks off, we start to worry about the extra pounds joining us for Thanksgiving (and New Year’s…and Valentine’s Day…and Memorial Day). Want to maintain your weight and eat some delicious treats this holiday season? Here’s our guide to keeping fit and healthy…and eating your cake, too.

1. Watch your portions.

Overdid it on the turkey this year? Check out these five easy ways to take control over how much you eat (and prevent the pounds from piling on!):

  • Know how many servings of food from each food group you should have each day
  • Think “portion” and “serving size” every time you eat
  • Snack smart–especially at work
  • Cook leftovers
  • Share!

See how simple each of these steps really is!

2. Work it out…at work!

Have the holiday cakes, pies and cookies put a little wobble in your rear? Try this quick fix: When you’re standing and charting, do toe rises. That is, rise up onto your toes and then lower. Squeeze your glutes (butt muscles) together as you rise. Hello, fab tush!

We have five more awesome exercises you can sneak into your workday here!

3. Hate workouts? Don’t do ‘em…but stay active!

If running for an hour on the treadmill doesn’t strike your fancy (um, does it strike anyone’s fancy?), try one of these activities instead. You’ll be having so much fun you won’t even notice you’re exercising!

  • Dance around the house to music
  • Try some aerobics at home with a group of friends (spandex optional!)
  • Take a Zumba class with a pal
  • Get out in your garden for a few hours

See 10 more popular ways nurses are shedding the pounds.

4. Gadget-ize!

Try adding a workout gadget to help you stay in shape.

One winner? The Stamina Pilates Magic Circle, below. It powers up your workout by providing added resistance. Squeeze it between your thighs and it engages both legs and abs; do the same thing in your hands and you’ll work arms and abs. Press it against your hip using one arm and you’ll get killer deltoids and triceps. Yes, please!

Four more workout gadgets you’ve gotta try.

5. Boost your metabolism with baby steps

Find little ways to stay in motion during the day–you’ll be surprised at how much they do to burn calories and keep you fit!

  • Put down the remote
  • Wash the car by hand
  • Flex your muscles while sitting down
  • Stretch in your free time–try a quick five-minute stretch on your lunch break!

Check out eight more mini-metabolism boosters!

Topics: exercise, weight, holiday, diet

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