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This week’s healthy schools highlights

Shade: A weapon against skin cancer, childhood obesity

Kids flocked to two redesigned New York City playgrounds last year to check out the shiny, stainless-steel climbing domes. But they reacted with more than squeals of delight.

On sunny days, the climbing domes quickly got hotter than a frying pan. Kids scalded their hands, prompting park officials to install a tent over the dome in Union Square and to remove the domes in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Read more in USA Today about a growing need for shade in playgrounds.


Study: Can a soda tax help curb obesity?

New research from Northwestern University suggests that soda taxes don’t actually help obese people lose weight, largely because people with weight problems already tend to drink diet soda rather than the sugary kind. So taxing full-calorie sodas may not help many Americans make better dietary choices. Read more in this TIME magazine article.

Report: 75 % of H.S. students have smoked or used drugs

Three-quarters of high school students have smoked cigarettes, drunk alcohol or used another drug, and nearly half have done so within the past 30 days, according to a new report by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. Read more at New Jersey Today.

Fast food ‘exclusion zone’ set up in English town

A council will help protect children from obesity by setting up 400m “exclusion zones” around its schools to block new fast food takeaways from opening. Members of St Helens Council agreed to the halt on fast food outlets around schools in a bid to cut down on the “growing problem” of obesity. Read more in U.K.’s Independent.

Is Michelle Obama’s ‘Let’s Move’ losing its footing?

First Lady Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity campaign, launched on February 9, 2010, initially closely fit what obesity research data calls for, with its focus on children and its attention to exercise and better eating (rather than dieting), including its very title, “Let’s Move.”  At the launch, the first lady announced four major areas of focus: providing parents with the resources and education they need to make informed healthy decisions for their kids, providing healthy food in schools, improving access to healthy affordable foods, and increasing physical activity.

Read more at Health Affairs Blog.

How does a baby get to be obese?

A 4-year-old lumbered into a Boston pediatric clinic. He walked with a limp.

“He was carrying so much weight, he displaced his hips,” recalled Dr. Elsie Taveras, co-director of the Obesity Prevention Program at Harvard Medical School.

The boy, an extreme example of childhood obesity, carried more than 100 pounds and had a body mass index that was over the 99th percentile for his age group. Check out the CNN report.

Dietician suggests child obesity starts in the womb

A well-publicized study by the National Institute of Medicine suggests child obesity is the result of a myriad of factors, including too much TV, too many videogames, a lack of physical activity in preschool and child care, and unhealthy sleeping practices.

Karen Astrachan would like to add something else. “I think we need to target the pregnant mom,” says Astrachan, a registered dietician with the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. Read more in Menlo Park Patch.

Boulder swaps candy for healthier choices in vending machines

By early 2012, city employees and visitors to city facilities can say goodbye to most of the chocolate, nougat and caramel-covered goodness that’s now available in vending machines at city facilities.

The decision to replace candy and cookies with healthier options — like granola, Clif Bars and baked chips — is part of the city’s recent commitment to the “Let’s Move!” campaign spearheaded by first lady Michelle Obama. Read more in the Colorado Daily.

Colo. adults can join kids for free summer meals

DENVER — The federal government pays for needy children to eat breakfast and lunch at schools over the summer. Now adults at sites across Colorado are also being invited to join their children for a free meal. Learn more from the 7NEWS.

Girls affected by ADHD often overlooked

WAYNE, PA.  “They called me Sugar Rush in middle school, because I was so hyper,” recalls a local teen.

Learning is a year-round process for 16-year-old Olivia McQuiggan, a student at Conestoga High School. Although she loves it, it can be a challenge because she has ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Check out this ABC report.

New Calif. law requires free, clean drinking water in schools

This week marks a key date in California’s efforts to fight childhood obesity. On Friday, July 1, a new state law requires all public schools to provide free fresh drinking water to students at mealtimes.

Last year, California lawmakers approved Senate Bill 1413 requiring school districts to offer free fresh water at mealtimes by July 1, 201, unless the district approves a resolution saying it cannot comply for fiscal or health and safety reasons. Learn more about the new law in this Business Wire story.

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.