Fitter Kids-Better Grades (health/education)

WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Aug. 3, 2012 -- Fitter kids do better on school tests, according to new research that echoes previous findings.

The fitter the middle school students were, the better they did on reading and math tests, says researcher Sudhish Srikanth, a University of North Texas student. He presented his research Friday at the American Psychological Association's annual meeting in Orlando.

The researchers tested 1,211 students from five Texas middle schools. They looked at each student's academic self-concept -- how confident they were in their abilities to do well -- and took into account the student's socioeconomic status.

They knew these two factors would play a role in how well the students did, Srikanth says.

After those factors, they looked at others that might influence school performance, such as social support, fitness, or body composition.

Bottom line? Of the other factors examined, "cardiorespiratory fitness has the strongest effect on academic achievement," he says.

The research doesn't prove cause and effect, and the researchers didn't try to explain the link. But other research suggests why fitness is so important, says researcher Trent Petrie, PhD, director of the Center for Sport Psychology at the University of North Texas.

"Physical fitness is associated with improvements in memory, concentration, organization, and staying on task," he says.

Fitter Kids, Better Grades: Details

For one to five months before the students took standardized reading and math tests, they answered questions about:

  • Usual physical activity
  • Their view of their school ability
  • Self-esteem
  • Social support

The researchers assessed the students' fitness. They used a variety of tests that looked at muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, aerobic capacity, and body composition.

Previous studies have found a link between fitness and improved school performance, Srikanth says. However, this new study also looked at several other potential influences.

For the boys, having social support was also related to better reading scores.

For the girls, a larger body mass index was the only factor other than fitness that predicted better reading scores. The researchers are not sure why.

Other studies have found fitness more important than weight for test scores.

For both boys and girls, fitness levels were the only factors studied (besides socioeconomic status and self-concept) related to math scores.

Srikanth found an upward trend, with more fitness linked with better scores. He says he can't quantify it beyond that.

Fitter Kids, Better Grades: Perspectives

The new research echoes that of James Sallis, PhD, distinguished professor of family and preventive medicine at the University of California, San Diego. A long-time researcher on physical fitness, he reviewed the findings.

"The mountain of evidence just got higher that active and fit kids perform better in school," he says.

The finding that fitness was related to both reading and math scores in both girls and boys is impressive, he says. "That's strong evidence."

"I hope this study convinces both parents and school administrators to increase and improve physical education, recess, classroom activity breaks, after-school physical activity and sports, and walk-to-school programs."

He is a co-founder of SPARK physical activity programs, in place nationwide.

Lesley Cottrell, PhD, vice chair of research in pediatrics at West Virginia University, has also linked fitness with better school performance in her research. "They extend our findings by considering students' self-concept," she says.

Her advice to parents? "A healthy child is a well-rounded child. Focusing on one developmental area may neglect other, important areas. For instance, in our findings we acknowledge that we have neglected the physical activity and fitness development for our children as a whole."

"By doing so, we may miss an opportunity to improve or sustain their academic development," she says.

The study was funded by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education.

These findings were presented at a medical conference. They should be considered preliminary as they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.

Disrespecting Custer (politics)

WASHINGTON – Pat Rogers, a Republican National Committee (RNC) leader, is facing calls for his dismissal after telling the staff of Gov. Susana Martinez, R-N.M., that because she agreed to meet with American Indians, she disrespected the memory of Col. George Armstrong Custer.

Custer is infamous for being a U.S. Army commander in the mid-1800s who killed many American Indians during what are historically known as the Indian Wars. He was killed at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876.

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Computer-Based Drug Prevention Intervention (health)

Background: American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) have some of the highest rates of substance use compared with other ethnic groups. Native American youth start experimenting with drugs at younger ages, continue to use them after initial experimentation, and thus seem to mirror the same drug use patterns as their older peers. Despite the seriousness of the problem, there is a lack of evidence-based drug prevention interventions for AI/AN youth. Objectives: This review article describes the process by which an existing evidence-based, culturally relevant drug prevention intervention was transformed into a low-cost, computerized intervention digitized in order to extend its reach to Native American youth in reservations and rural locations. Methods: The intervention, titled HAWK2 (Honoring Ancient Wisdom and Knowledge2: Prevention and Cessation) is aimed at young Native children in elementary school settings (grades 4 and 5) and uses engaging multimedia features such as games, animations, and video clips to impart substance abuse prevention knowledge and skills training. The development of this intervention was a collaborative process involving the participation of community experts, research scientists, school teachers, and practitioners, as well as Native youth. Specific examples are provided to illustrate the development processes. Results: Initial feedback from practitioners and youth suggest the feasibility and acceptability of computer-based interventions by Native youth and practitioners. Scientific Significance: Computer-based interventions are a cost-effective way of engaging youth in prevention programming. Future studies of HAWK2 will provide an important means of testing the long-term effectiveness of self-administered, computer-based interventions for AI/AN youth.

Traditions & Drug and Alcohol Use (health)

New research indicates that urban American Indian youth who follow American Indian traditional spiritual beliefs are less likely to use drugs & alcohol.

Newswise — DENVER — New research indicates that urban American Indian youth who follow American Indian traditional spiritual beliefs are less likely to use drugs and alcohol. Arizona State University social scientists will present their findings at the 107th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.

The study, “Spirituality and Religion: Intertwined Protective Factors for Substance Use Among Urban American Indian Youth,” was recently published in The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. The authors are: Stephen Kulis, the study’s principal investigator and ASU School of Social and Family Dynamics professor; David R. Hodge, ASU School of Social Work associate professor; Stephanie L. Ayers, ASU Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center associate director of research; Eddie F. Brown, ASU American Indian Studies professor and American Indian Policy Institute executive director; and Flavio F. Marsiglia, ASU School of Social Work professor.

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Survey (health)

From: Myers, Virginia (CRIHB)

Please assist tribal epidemiology centers in determining our communication reach by sending this brief survey to all your contacts and affiliations.  This information will inform our communication campaign efforts. 

Thank you for your assistance,
We invite federal, state, county, local, tribal, university, non-profit organizations and/or community members to fill out this brief survey (~ 5 minutes). Your participation in this survey will assist Tribal Epidemiology Centers (TECs) in determining the extent of our current reach into the at-large population and strengthening our communication strategies to improve American Indian and Alaska Native health. Please complete the following survey by August 31, 2012

Thank you in advance for your participation. Please feel free to forward the survey to your colleagues for mass distribution.

Best regards,
Tribal Epidemiology Centers

Virginia Myers (Yurok/Karuk)
Outreach Coordinator
California Tribal Epidemiology Center

California Rural Indian Health Board
4400 Auburn Blvd, 2nd Floor
Sacramento CA 95841
(916) 929-9761

Tips From Former Smokers (health, opportunity)

Dear Colleague:

The CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health is in the process of recruiting individuals to feature in our next national tobacco education campaign. This campaign will be very similar to our highly successful Tips From Former Smokers campaign and enable us to highlight health conditions and population groups that we weren’t able to feature in the first Tips campaign. Like the first Tipscampaign, this campaign will feature real people who suffered severe health conditions caused directly by smoking or that were triggered by exposure to secondhand smoke.

As a partner with us in tobacco control, we would very much appreciate it if you would share this request for assistance as well as the enclosed flyer with your partners, members, and/or constituents. Additionally, should you know of any people whom you feel would be good candidates for this campaign, please feel free to forward their contact information to us. As with the first campaign, be assured that anyone you refer to us will be treated with respect and sensitivity.


We are seeking people across all ethnic and racial backgrounds, but particularly candidates who are veterans or American Indian/Alaska Natives—ideally age 55 or younger. All applicants must have been tobacco-free for at least 6 months. We are specifically seeking individuals:     

·                     Who have suffered a heart attack due to exposure to secondhand smoke (age 55 or younger) 

·                     Who have symptomatic COPD, including chronic bronchitis or emphysema (i.e., marked by restriction in activities or home oxygen), due to their own smoking (ages 30 through 50)

·                     Who have diabetes (either Type I or Type II) and who’ve suffered health problems as a result of their continued smoking; this could include amputation of limbs, kidney failure, vision impairment, or blindness (age 55 or younger)

·                     Who have had a serious asthma attack triggered by exposure to secondhand smoke (ages 18 through 30)

·                     Who have used proven strategies to successfully quit smoking (such as setting a quit date, working with their health care provider, removing ashtrays and cigarettes from their environment, or using an approved medication) and have a compelling story to tell about how they quit (age 50 or younger)

In order to qualify, participants must have been tobacco-free for at least 6 months, be able to travel for filming in October 2012, and be willing to have a doctor sign a legal statement saying tobacco caused and/or contributed to their health condition. Please see the attached recruitment flyer for additional information regarding qualifications. The compensation for participating in this campaign is $2,500 as well as paid travel expenses.


We really appreciate your assistance in this endeavor. Should you have any questions or concerns related to the campaign, please contact Kari Sapsis, Campaign Development Team Lead, For questions about the recruitment process and to recommend good candidates for the campaign, please call or email one of the following representatives from Mimi Webb Miller Casting, a national casting and research company.


Mimi Webb Miller                               Leslie Rhoades         

(310) 452-0863                                   (310) 968-6409








Timothy McAfee, MD, MPH

Director, Office on Smoking and Health

National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention

  and Health Promotion

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Diabetes News (health)

An analysis of fossilized Native American feces shows that our ancestors ate up to sixteen times the fiber that we do today, but our stomachs didn’t evolve to fit our changing diets.

The findings come from analysis of fossilized feces dating from A.D 1123 and earlier. They reveal that the ancient Native Americans lived on a heavily fibrous diet of prickly pear, yucca, and seeds, with low impact on blood sugar.

The native people of Arizona ate foods with traditionally very low glycemic indexes, but are now more susceptible to type 2 diabetes than Caucasians, for their bodies do not produce enough insulin to break down the sugar in modern foods. The Native populations were extremely efficient in their calorie intake, but the arrival of Europeans caused their diet to change faster than their bodies could keep up with, and their digestive systems didn’t evolve to handle foods with a high glycemic index.

Modern humans of all ethnicities have suffered from this dietary change.

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Native Diabetes Wellness (health)


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Native Diabetes Wellness Program, Division of Diabetes Translation, is pleased to announce the availability of an entertaining new novel for youth that combines mystery with health promotion messages about preventing type 2 diabetes. Coyote and the Turtle’s Dream is the first in a series of three books primarily for middle schoolers in American Indian and Alaska Native communities, though it may also appeal to a wider audience.

The book builds on storytelling traditions honored in the original Eagle Books series for younger children. Animal and human characters return with an expanded list of characters that includes family members, teachers, store owners, other residents of a small reservation town—and an elderly box turtle. Broadening the dialogue about preventing type 2 diabetes presented in the original books, Coyote and the Turtle’s Dream also introduces the character of Arianna, a young girl living with type 1 diabetes. Native youth and tribal leaders reviewed the book prior to publication and their comments are featured on the book cover and inside pages.

Type 2 diabetes is becoming more common everywhere, including American Indian and Alaska Native communities. Native Americans aged 10 to 19 are developing type 2 diabetes at higher rates than youth in other racial and ethnic groups of this age. In part because type 2 diabetes is often associated with being overweight or obese, many tribal communities are dedicated to engaging youth and families to reclaim traditional ways of health such as being physically active and eating healthy local foods. The Native Diabetes Wellness Program expresses deep appreciation to tribal leaders who early on recognized the need for stories about type 2 diabetes prevention and the many champions who ensure that the stories are remembered, retold, and talked about in communities across the country.

CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation, through the Native Diabetes Wellness Program, supports culturally relevant initiatives for preventing type 2 diabetes in American Indian and Alaska Native communities. For more information about the book, and to order free copies, please visit call 1-800-CDC-INFO.