"As a parent and grandparent, I know that back-to-school time is a busy time. Yet, I encourage parents and students to be mindful of some health essentials to add to your to-do lists," said Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Getting a flu shot this fall, frequent hand-washing, and staying active all contribute to a healthier and more productive academic year," he said in a CDC news release.
Hand-washing with soap and water is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid illness and prevent the spread of colds, flu and other diseases to others. At school, students should wash before eating; after using the toilet; and after blowing their nose, coughing or sneezing.
Healthy eating and physical activity are also important. Most children consume nearly half their calories at school, making it an important place to learn and practice healthy eating habits.
Physical activity can ease anxiety and help kids focus in school. Experts say children should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day. They point out that nearly 20% of U.S. kids are obese, making them more likely to have health problems such as asthma and high blood pressure, and to be shunned, depressed and have lower self-esteem.
Vaccinations are one of the most important ways to protect your child's health. Getting immunized also protects classmates, friends, relatives and others in the community.
Electronic cigarettes are a growing problem among American youth. In 2018, more than 3.6 million young people - including 1 in 5 high school students and 1 in 20 middle school students - had vaped in the past month.
The nicotine in e-cigarettes can harm a youngster's developing brain, especially areas responsible for learning, memory and attention.
Parents and teachers should explain why e-cigarettes are harmful for kids and set an example by being tobacco-free. Schools should adopt tobacco-free-school policies that include e-cigarettes.