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Make health an important part of back-to-school planning

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POSTED: July 30, 2014 1:00 p.m.

Back-to-school is a busy and exciting time of year, no matter what age children are.
In addition to making sure students have school supplies, new clothes and, increasingly, some type of “smart device,” going back to school provides a great opportunity to think about a good-health checklist. .
Here are some steps to help:
Check-up. Back-to-school is a logical time for children to have a  check-up. Doctors can make sure a child is maintaining a healthy weight and check on any potential problems.
Immunizations. Most elementary schools require students to be current on childhood vaccinations. Newer requirements also call for vaccinations or booster shots before middle or high school.
Physical activity. Limiting TV and video games not only makes time for homework, but for active play too. Children who get at least one hour a day of exercise have less stress and an easier time maintaining a healthy weight.
•  Eye exam. Poor vision can cause headaches and also may cause otherwise good students to fall behind because they can’t see the board. An optometrist can fit your child with glasses if needed and recommend an appropriate age for children to begin using contact lenses.
 • Sleep. School-aged children need at least nine hours of sleep a night, but many don’t get that much. On school nights, it’s important to have consistent, enforced times for video games to be tuned off so kids can wind down before going to bed.
Nutrition. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Georgia ranks in the top 20 states in childhood obesity, with 35 percent of Georgia kids overweight and 16.5 percent considered obese. Poor nutrition and lack of physical activity are major reasons. Childrens’ lunches and after-school snacks should include fruits and vegetables. Also, each 12-ounce can of soft drink contains approximately 10 teaspoons of sugar and greatly increases a child’s risk of obesity.
 •Safety. Go over basic safety rules with kids before starting school. They should know to wear a seat belt in a car or on the school bus (if their bus is equipped with them), to wear a helmet if biking to school, and follow rules for crossing the street if walking. Children also should have a list of family and emergency phone numbers to keep in their backpacks.

 

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