tufts university


When Good Parents Pack Bad Lunches: Study Finds Kids’ Food Falls Short

(Wikimedia Commons)

(Wikimedia Commons)

Busted. So busted.

I’ve been meaning to write about this new Tufts study on the nutritional sins of the lunches kids bring to school. (No, it’s not just the cafeterias with their “vegetable” ketchup.)

But the spurts of guilt kept deterring me — the guilt of a mother who has been known to fill a lunchbox with Sun chips, alphabet cookies, challah and nothing else. Not even a pretense of a vitamin.

So I’m thrilled that the Boston Globe’s Beth Teitell has taken it on: At Lunch, Home-Packed May Not Mean Healthy.

Over 40 percent of U.S. schoolchildren bring their lunches to school on a given day.

Bottom line: It looks like the lunches that most kids bring to school are nutritionally pathetic. When researchers examined — and documented in photos — the lunches of more than 600 Massachusetts third- and fourth-graders in six public school districts, the meals almost all flunked. From the press release:

[Lead author Jeanne] Goldberg and colleagues compared students’ lunch and snack items to federal National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and Child and Adult Food Care Program (CAFCP) standards, respectively. They found that only 27% of the lunches met at least three of the five NSLP standards, and only 4% of snacks met at least two of the four CAFCP standards, both of which emphasize fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low- or non-fat dairy.

The findings highlight the challenges associated with packing healthful items to send to school. “When deciding what to pack, parents are juggling time, cost, convenience, and what is acceptable to their children. Unfortunately, these factors are not always in harmony with good nutrition,” Goldberg said.

“Lunches were comprised more of packaged foods than anything else,” Goldberg said. “Almost a quarter of the lunches lacked what would be considered an entrée, such as a sandwich or leftovers, and were instead made up of a variety of packaged snack foods and desserts.” Continue reading

Rat Study: Teen Girls’ Pot Use May Incline Future Kids To Drugs



WBUR’s Deborah Becker reports:

A new study out of Tufts University suggests that a mother’s use of marijuana — even long before she has children — could lead to drug use in her kids.

The study found that when adolescent female rats were exposed to the active ingredient in marijuana, their offspring were more likely to abuse drugs. One of the study’s authors, Elizabeth Byrnes, Associate Professor at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, says the study proves that some drugs have long-term repercussions:

“You really can’t assume that exposure to drugs prior to pregnancy doesn’t have long-term effects on the next generation,” she said. “These things seem to cause some persistent effects.”

But Byrnes says it’s too early to establish a connection between adolescent drug use and possible effects on future children.

Not that a mere anecdote disproves research, but my late mother liked pot so much she grew it in our backyard, and I could never stand the stuff myself. (And haven’t been drawn to opioids like the rat offspring, either.) I heaped adolescent disapproval upon her when I found her little tin of buds and leaves hidden high on top of our kitchen cupboard.

But for all the current mothers who were not as angelic as yours truly in their teen years, and who just issued profane exclamations of concern when they saw this headline, here’s more from the Tufts press release:

Mothers who use marijuana as teens — long before having children—may put their future children at a higher risk of drug abuse, new research suggests.

Researchers in the Neuroscience and Reproductive Biology section at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine conducted a study to determine the transgenerational effects of cannabinoid exposure in adolescent female rats. For three days, adolescent rats were administered the cannabinoid receptor agonist WIN-55, 212-2, a drug that has similar effects in the brain as THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. After this brief exposure, they remained untreated until being mated in adulthood. Continue reading