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Commentary: School of Public Health associate professor reflects on the importance of physical education in our school systems

The following commentary was presented in December 2014 to the Minneapolis Public Schools Board of Education by Toben Nelson, Sc.D., associate professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota regarding graduation requirements for physical education.

“Developing minds and bodies need to be active in order to function at their best. I am here to urge you to reconsider the decision to reduce the number of physical education (PE) credits that students must take in order to graduate from a Minneapolis public school.

In my view, reducing physical education requirements is actually counter-productive to educational goals. Physical activity is critical for physical health. But it has a wide range of other benefits. Regular activity promotes mental health, reduces anxiety and depression, and improves mood. When schools provide structured time for physical activity through physical education, students respond with improved academic performance in the classroom and on standardized test scores.

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Make a plan, but consider balance when it comes to Halloween candy

One of the biggest candy days of the year is upon us, and parents and kids alike are trying to strike an accord on how much candy will be consumed in the coming days.

How much, really, is too much? And is there a magic formula families should follow to ensure the Halloween stash doesn’t lead to bigger problems later on?

According to pediatric dietician Laura Gearman, M.S., R.D., L.D., with the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, it’s a good idea to make a plan ahead of time and discuss it as a family but there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to Halloween candy consumption.

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Enterovirus D68 confirmed in MN by MDH, UMN

Enterovirus D68 is hospitalizing children around the Midwest due to its severe asthma attack-like symptoms. Today, it is confirmed that the virus has reached Minnesota.

According to a statement from the Minnesota Department of Health, its lab tests confirmed one case of having Enterovirus 68 (EV-D68). Labs at the University of Minnesota have also confirmed EV D68 in 11 samples from the University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital.

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What you need to know about Enterovirus D-68

The spread of respiratory illnesses in children across the Midwest, just as school began, has parents on edge. There’s concern over how contagious this illness might be, and whether it can be quite serious.

Enteroviruses are common viruses affecting people of all ages, but especially children. These viruses can cause a variety of illnesses, including the common cold and even hand-foot-and-mouth disease. There are more than 90 different strains and these viruses can cause a variety of illnesses, including the common cold and even hand-foot-and-mouth disease. The current strain causing concern is Enterovirus D-68, or EV-D68. The virus usually affects the respiratory system, causing inflammation of the small and medium airways resulting in an asthma attack-like response.

HealthTalk checked in with pediatric infectious disease physician Bazak Sharon M.D to get more on what parents need to know to help keep their families healthy.

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U of M study reveals kids exposed to more fat shaming comments on TV than adults

In a general sense, children’s television has a reputation for being politically correct, however, a new study reveals television aimed at kids contains just as many, if not more, weight-stigmatizing, or fat shaming, conversations.

The study led by Marla Eisenberg Sc.D., M.P.H., an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, was recently published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders. Eisenberg analyzed the content of more than 30 episodes of popular kid shows and identified the number of weight-stigmatizing incidents.

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Are ”safer” playgrounds better?

Parents and experts are always looking for ways to keep kids safe, but many agree the movement may have gone too far when it comes to playgrounds.

According to the New York Times, critics of new safer playgrounds say they may stunt emotional development, leaving children with anxieties and fears.

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