Healthier, Happier Kids

Family Health
on June 8, 2010

Want to raise happy, healthy kids? Who doesn’t, right? Here are some quick tips that can help you out on the job. Good luck!!

Music for the mind

Parents, tune into this research from The Ohio State University: Researchers found that students who learn to play an instrument or take music appreciation out-performed their non-musical classmates on standardized tests in math and reading. Another study reported that elementary schoolers who took three years of piano lessons had better vocabulary and reading skills than those who didn’t. Researchers say the similarities in how our brains interpret music and language may give the junior musicians an advantage.

Super veggies

Scientists at Cornell University may have come up with a simple way to get kids to eat their vegetables: rename all those peas and carrots. When the researchers gave preschoolers X-Ray Vision Carrots, Tomato Bursts, Power Peas and Dinosaur Broccoli Trees (aka carrots, tomatoes, peas and broccoli), the tykes couldn’t get enough. In fact, the kids ate twice as much of the creatively named produce, and continued eating 50 percent more even on days when they weren’t labeled. The trick can work on adults, too. In one study, testers said they preferred wine with a California rather than North Dakota label — even though they were actually the same cheap-o bottles from Trader Joe’s.

Turn off the TV

Several studies link watching TV at an early age to an increased risk of obesity, attention problems and decreased sleep quality in kids. What’s more, little ones who spend more time outside and away from the TV are less likely to be nearsighted, says a study in the journal Optometry and Vision Science. So switch off Sponge Bob, and take your kids or grandkids for an afternoon in the park or trip to the farmer’s market instead.

Having a grand time

Results from one British study suggested that the more time 11- to 16-year-olds talked to a grandparent about school and hobbies, the less likely the kids were to be hyperactive and disruptive. Hours with their elders also helped the youngsters get along better with their peers — and children with separated or divorced parents especially benefi ted from hanging out with the Grands. Researchers suspect the senior set act as caregivers who can help kids adjust to life changes, especially when parents aren’t around.

Crunching the numbers

25 — percentage of American kids who eat fast food every day

3 — percentage of kids’ fast-food meals that meet federal dietary guidelines

100 — percentage of fast-food meals that meet federal dietary guidelines that included fruit and milk

Found in: Family Health