CAT | Kids Health
A new report from the Environmental Protection Agency brings good news for public health. According to the EPA, in just over two decades the organization has taken great strides toward its goal of significantly reducing toxic air pollution as required under the 1990 updates to the Clean Air Act.
Even as the economy has grown, there has been a reduction in the emissions of six common pollutants (including benzene, mercury and lead) by an average of 72 percent nationwide—and Americans today breathe less pollution and face lower risks of premature death and other serious health effects.i Environmental damage from air pollution is also significantly lower; many plants and factories are cleaner; and countless new vehicles feature improved emission control technologies. (The EPA also hopes to reduce motor vehicle air toxin emissions by 80 percent by the year 2030.)
“It shows that we’ve made considerable gains in improving air quality across the country,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in a recent article, though the organization says there is still much more work to be done. Among the major challenges are limiting climate change, reducing health and environmental risks from toxic air pollutants, and protecting the fragile ozone layer against degradation.
In working toward improving air quality and public health, the EPA says it also plans to increase public awareness about air pollution—in part by requiring companies that produce large amounts of emissions to report to EPA officials, who will then make sure the public has access to the information.
As summer comes to an end, kids across the country are loading up their backpacks with fresh supplies and heading back to school—but new notebooks and No. 2 pencils aren’t the only things they need for a successful school year. Good nutritional habits go a long way toward giving kids a healthy head start. Here are five important tips for parents!
Bring Back Breakfast
A wholesome breakfast gives kids the fuel they need to start their day and stay energized, and studies show that children who eat breakfast perform better in school and are less likely to have behavioral problems. Avoid sugary cereals and heavily processed pre-packaged breakfast foods, and opt instead for fiber-rich steel-cut oats, fresh fruits that are low in sugar, and lean protein sources such as eggs, plain Greek yogurt, and turkey bacon or sausage.
Keep them Active
Kids may be more active during the summer months, but a new study from Illinois University suggests parents should make regular exercise a priority all year long. Researchers found that the brain scans of physically fit kids showed more white matter—indicating a greater capacity for learning, memory and paying attention in the classroom. Sports and after-school activities are a great way to encourage exercise, and parents can even arrange meet-ups at the park or ball field to help children get active after a long day spent sitting at their desks.
Be Smart about Brown Bagging It
With school cafeterias under pressure to provide better nutrition, many parents are opting to brown bag it. However, a new study out of Tufts University shows that packed-at-home lunches often include sugary drinks and processed snacks and not enough fiber, protein and healthy dairy products. Choose plenty of low-sugar fruits and non-starchy veggies, along with lean protein sources such as plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and chicken or turkey slices. Other ideas include celery with low-sugar peanut butter, a handful of nuts, and baby carrots with hummus.
Make Sure They Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Research shows that children who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to have difficulty concentrating in the classroom. In addition, lack of sleep can contribute to mood swings, irritability and behavior problems during and after school. Most experts agree that school-age kids should get between 9 and 12 hours of sleep every night, so do your best to create (and stick to) a regular bedtime schedule to ensure they are getting a healthy amount of shut-eye.
Provide Essential Supplements
A healthy body begins with good digestion, so it’s important that children get the nutrients they need to digest their food properly and eliminate waste effectively and efficiently. Daily supplementation with fiber, probiotics and digestive enzymes can help kids get the nutritional support they need for a better digestion and overall health.‡ A daily probiotic supplement also promotes a healthy internal balance and can go a long way toward supporting healthy immune function during the school year, when children are exposed to daily challenges to their immune systems.‡