DiversityNursing Blog

This Is What’s Keeping Teens From Getting Enough Sleep

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Feb 16, 2015 @ 11:21 AM

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Up to a third of teens in the U.S. don’t get enough sleep each night, and the loss of shut-eye negatively impacts their gradesmental well-being and physical health. Biologically, adolescents need fewer hours of slumber than kids — but there’s a bigger reason for teens’ sleep loss, according to a new study in the journal Pediatrics.

Katherine Keyes, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia University, looked at survey data from more than 270,000 eighth-, 10th- and 12th-grade students at 130 public and private schools across the country, gathered between 1991 and 2010. Each student was asked two questions about his or her sleep habits: how often they slept for at least seven hours a night, and how often they slept less than they should.

She found that over the 20-year study period, adolescents got less and less sleep. Part of that had to do with the fact that biologically, teens sleep less the older they get, but Keyes and her team also teased apart a period effect — meaning there were forces affecting all the students, at every age, that contributed to their sleeping fewer hours. This led to a marked drop in the average number of adolescents reporting at least seven hours of sleep nightly between 1991–1995 and 1996–2000.

That surprised Keyes, who expected to find sharper declines in sleep in more recent years with the proliferation of cell phones, tablets and social media. “I thought we would see decreases in sleep in more recent years, because so much has been written about teens being at risk with technologies that adversely affect the sleep health of this population,” she says. “But that’s not what we found.”

Instead, the rises in the mid-1990s corresponded with another widespread trend affecting most teens — the growth of childhood obesity. Obesity has been tied to health disturbances including sleep changes like sleep apnea, and “the decreases in sleep particularly in the 1990s across all ages corresponds to a time period when we also saw increases in pediatric obesity across all ages,” says Keyes. Since then, the sleep patterns haven’t worsened, but they haven’t improved either, which is concerning given the impact that long-term sleep disturbances can have on overall health.

Keyes also uncovered another worrying trend. Students in lower-income families and those belonging to racial and ethnic minorities were more likely to report getting fewer than seven hours of sleep regularly than white teens in higher-income households. But they also said they were getting enough sleep, revealing a failure of public-health messages to adequately inform all adolescent groups about how much sleep they need: about nine hours a night.

“When we first started looking at that data, I kept saying it had to be wrong,” says Keyes. “We were seeing completely opposite patterns. So our results show that health literacy around sleep are not only critical but that those messages are not adapted universally, especially not among higher-risk groups.”

Source: http://time.com

Topics: mental health, studies, pediatrics, health, research, sleep, teens, insomnia, childhood obesity, grades

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

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