Mindfulness Training Improves Attention In Children

03 September 2013 British Psychological Society (BPS)

A short training course in mindfulness improves children’s ability to ignore distractions and concentrate better.

 

There Is No Spoon These are the findings of a study carried out by Dominic Crehan and Dr Michelle Ellefson at the University of Cambridge being presented today, 6 September 2013, at the British Psychological Society’s Cognitive Developmental Psychology Annual Conference at the University of Reading.

Dominic explained: “Mindfulness involves paying attention in a particular way – on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally. It has been shown to reduce levels of stress and depression, and to improve feelings of well-being, but to date researchers have not established a link between mindfulness and attention skills in children.”

 

The researchers recruited thirty children (girls and boys aged 10 to 11 years old) to take part in a mindfulness course as part of their school curriculum. The children took part in the mindfulness course in two groups at different times, and so the researchers were able to compare the groups and see the effects of the course.

To do this, they measured the children’s levels of mindfulness using a questionnaire. They also measured their attention skills, using a computer game designed specifically for this purpose. They made these measurements on three occasions, at three month intervals, so that they could measure changes in attention skills over time as a result of the mindfulness course.

The results indicated that an improvement in the children’s ability to focus and deal with distractions was associated with the mindfulness course.

Dominic said: “The ability to pay attention in class is crucial for success at school. Mindfulness appears to have an effect after only a short training course, which the children thoroughly enjoyed! Through their training, the children actually learn to watch their minds working and learn to control their attention. These findings could be particularly important for helping children with attention difficulties such as ADHD. Further research on the effects of mindfulness on children’s attention is very much needed.”

Source: http://www.bps.org.uk/news/mindfulness-training-aids-kids-attention

Coaching Childcare Providers Offers Leverage On Impacting Childhood Obesity

A B C – 1 2 3, But What Is Good for Me?

08 November 2012 Elsevier

Coaching Childcare Providers Offers Leverage On Impacting Childhood Obesity

Philadelphia, PA, November 8, 2012 – The National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys revealed that over 21% of children 2 to 5 years old were considered overweight or obese. Child care settings can serve as a platform to teach children about nutrition in our fight against childhood obesity, as nearly 50% of children in the United States under age 5 are enrolled in child care. In a new study released in the November/December 2012 issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, training child care providers about their role in children’s healthful eating is an essential component of child care-based obesity prevention initiatives.

This study from Washington State University called the ENHANCE project, looked at 72 child care providers from 45 child care settings before and after a three-hour wellness retreat, and focused on feeding relationships, child nutrition education, and family communication. This forum provided tools and skills for providers to succeed in incorporating obesity prevention and healthful eating promotion within their child care setting. Based on observations and a survey before and one year after the wellness retreat, researchers found child care providers’ beliefs related to children’s healthful eating and feeding affected classroom practices. For example, if a child care provider felt confident in their ability to provide nutrition information, then they increased their nutrition education efforts and communicated more frequently with families about healthful eating and child feeding.

Jane D. Lanigan, PhD, the lead investigator from Washington State University, says, “Teachers did feel empowered to shape children’s food preferences and employed a variety of evidence-based practices during feeding. However, they felt uncertain about managing children’s intake or addressing child weight issues with parents. The current study suggests that the child care feeding environment can be improved by helping providers understand the negative consequences associated with feeding practices such as pressuring a child to eat, restricting highly palatable food, and using rewards to encourage children to eat healthful food or increase consumption.”

So why is this important for childcare? Dr. Lanigan says, “The potential for early learning professionals to contribute to the childhood obesity solution has yet to be fully realized. The ENHANCE project sought to position obesity prevention within the early learning philosophy of promoting the development of the ‘whole child’ and help child care providers connect child care feeding practices to children’s development of lasting beliefs about healthful eating.

“Incorporating child feeding training into state child care licensure, national certification, or as a requirement for participation in the Child & Adult Care Food Program are potential mechanisms for improving the child care feeding environment and addressing the childhood obesity epidemic.”

Attached files

  • child care providers can be part of the solution for childhood obesity, interview with study’s lead investigator, Jane D. Lanigan, PhD

Dietary Guidelines Offers Practitioners Insight On Obesity Epidemic

22 October 2010 Elsevier

In an insightful Commentary in the November issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Linda Van Horn, PhD, RD, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal, Chair of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, and Professor and Associate Dean, Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, highlights the key features and noteworthy findings of the 2010 US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) Report.

While many of the recommendations from previous reports are reinforced, new evidence-based findings will help registered dietitians and other health care providers prioritize effective approaches towards facilitating better eating habits among Americans.

Dietary Goals for Americans (DGA) were first set in 1977 at a time when the average total fat intake was 42% of total energy intake, saturated fatty acids (SFA) intake was about 14%, and cardiovascular disease mortality was at an all-time high. Population-wide improvement in these parameters has occurred. By 2010, average American intake of total fat and SFA has decreased significantly to 33.6% and 11.4%, respectively – still higher than recommended, but certainly improved.

Meanwhile, the obesity epidemic in the US continues. “The literal ‘elephant in the room’ is the persistent and pervasive obesity epidemic that continues to perpetuate and perplex health care providers in all specialty areas, as well as consumers,” commented Professor Van Horn. This report indicates that the US population consumes inadequate nutrient-rich foods such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and over consumes calorie-dense, nutrient-poor foods that include solid fats, added sugars, salt, and refined grains. The result is a population that is overfed and undernourished.

Key features of the 2010 US DGAC Report:

  • It is the first totally evidence-based report that maximizes the quality, quantity, and critical organization of the underlying scientific data that fully substantiate and raise to new levels of significance the importance of these recommendations.
  • It addresses, for the first time, an unhealthy American public, with the majority (72.3% of women, 64.1% of men) classified as overweight or obese and the rest at risk of becoming obese. This increases the level of intensity, urgency, and significance associated with the translation and implementation of these DGA.
  • It includes a strong and emerging evidence base on infants, children, and pregnant women, vulnerable subgroups. All previous DGA have been directed at the population age 2 years and older.
  • It was conducted in a completely transparent manner with six public meetings, including three Webinars that uniquely provided worldwide, complete real-time access to all the proceedings as they occurred.
  • It includes two new chapters, one regarding the “Total Diet” to present the totality of the recommended eating patterns, and a “Translation/Implementation” chapter that provides the environmental context that affects the overall usefulness and adaptation of the DGA.

The report highlights other noteworthy findings of particular importance for registered dietitians.

Between 1970 and 2010, energy intake has increased by over 600 calories per day. Grain-based desserts (for example, cakes and cookies) are the highest ranking contributor to energy intake in the US population, while sodas and sports drinks provide the highest source of calories to adolescents, followed closely by pizza.

Given the dismal success rate of weight loss efforts in adulthood, and the even less successful efforts to maintain weight loss once it is achieved, this report stresses the importance of recognizing that primary prevention of obesity beginning in childhood is potentially the single most powerful method for halting and reversing America’s obesity epidemic.

Professor Van Horn writes that “tremendous input was provided by an exceptional team of highly qualified, experienced, knowledgeable, and dedicated registered dietitians from many different backgrounds whose efforts made all the difference in achieving this herculean effort. In conclusion, this commentary serves to congratulate and distinguish the many contributions of RDs, American Dietetic Association members, and others throughout this process.” She notes further that, “Encouraging these changes will require partnership with policymakers, industry, and consumers. RDs are key to facilitating these changes, along with dietetic technicians, registered dieticians, and other health care providers.”

Let’s not forget the impact the school districts, farmers and parents can have when optimal health is at stake.

The 2010 DGAC report is available online at the link below.

http://www.dietaryguidelines.gov

  • Full bibliographic information“Development of the 2010 US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report: Perspectives from a Registered Dietitian” by Linda Van Horn, PhD, RD. It appears in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Volume 110 Issue 11 (November 2010) published by Elsevier.

Multivitamins Offer A Safe, Affordably Way To Address Nutrient Gaps In Many U.S. Kids

In another example of what passes for fair and balanced reporting, a recent wave of media bluster about vitamins being unnecessary came from a study published February 3 in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine.

The study found that nearly a third of U.S. children ages 2 to 17 take a multivitamin or other vitamin or mineral supplement—but many of these kids may not require supplementation and those most in need are the least likely to take supplements, the researchers reported.

In response to the study—which triggered hundreds of media hits—the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) issued a statement pointing out that the researchers failed to mention that other data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the survey used for the study, show that many U.S. children and adolescents fail to consume recommended amounts of vitamins E, C and A, as well as calcium and magnesium. “A daily multivitamin could affordably and safely help fill these nutrient gaps,” said Douglas MacKay, ND, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs at CRN. Interestingly, only a handful of media outlets included comment from the association or other health experts defending the intake of multivitamins by children. Most articles and news stories simply reported the study findings without providing an alternate view.

Nutrition Business Journal has finished research for their inaugural Healthy Kids issue. They report that there are plenty of opportunities for innovators and entrepreneurs to enter and make a splash in the U.S. children’s nutrition market. Maybe we’ll begin to pay as much attention to our childrens’ nutrition as we seem to do for our pets.

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