children eating lunch at school

Now that school is back in full swing, we thought we’d take the time to highlight some important research that aims to benefit the health of school kids. Here are five recent studies that aim to tackle a number of kids’ health challenges.

1. A recent study co-led by University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences researcher Monica Wendel and her Texas A&M University collaborators showed that standing desks might help tackle childhood obesity. While the study looked at a small number of students, it did show a 5.24-percent decrease in BMI percentile in the group that used standing desks for two years in a row compared to the students using standard sitting desks over the same period.

2. What is the ideal temperature to store school lunches at? That’s the question researchers at Kansas State University and K-State Olathe are looking into for a new project. Specifically they are looking into how the cooling techniques and temperature used when schools are storing or preparing food affects the growth of foodborne pathogens.

3. Too much sugar is an issue in many children’s diets, which is why researchers recently helped craft the American Heart Association’s new recommendations for sugar intake for children ages two to 18. After an in-depth review of scientific research on the effects of added sugars on children’s health, they determined that children in this age range should not consume more than six teaspoons of sugar per day.

4. Could an app one day help your child make healthier food choices? The results of a small study indicate that the answer could be yes, though the authors say that more research is likely needed before knowing for sure if such tools are truly effective. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers examined the use of computer messages, or “nudges,” to urge children in a Florida school to include all food groups in their meals. Use of such messages increased the number of healthy food choices students made in the study.

5. Finally, a study involving 57 college students in the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell shows that open-concept kitchen and dining designs may to be so great when it comes to our waistlines. Kim Rollings, an assistant professor in the University of Notre Dame’s School of Architecture who collaborated on the study with Cornell environmental psychologist Nancy Wells, said such layouts can affect how much people eat. In the study, students ended up eating an average of 170 calories more in the open floor plan kitchen than in the closed design. Like the other studies, however, because of the small sample size, Rollings says more research is needed.