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Principals Surveyed about Sun Safety

During January and February of 2002, school principals and other personnel at 484 secondary schools in 27 cities in the U.S. were surveyed by telephone.  Answers to the 60 item survey indicate that 63% of principals would be willing to make structural changes to increase the amount of shade on school grounds if funds were available. However only 10% of schools have a sun safety policy with rules or recommendations for students, teachers, staff or parents designed to improve sun protection. Policies are more prevalent in regions with high ultraviolet radiation compared with low. 


The study also shows that 30% of schools have a policy that prohibits students from wearing hats.  While 74% say that some form of sun safety education took place in the past year, only 26% say a written curriculum was used. 


Article Published: Buller DB, Buller MK, Reynolds KD. A survey of sun protection policy and education in secondary schools. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2006;54:427-32

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Study Finds Shade May Increase Student Physical Activity

In a study on preschoolers in Stockholm County, Sweden researchers studied the impact of outdoor environments on spontaneous physical activity and exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. 


The researchers measured physical activity and UV radiation on 197 4- to 6-year-old children at 11 preschools in May-June of 2004.  Physical activity was measured with pedometers worn on the waistband of students, and UV radiation exposure was measured with dosimeters pinned to the students shoulders. School environments were assessed for vegetation, free sky, and ground surface. 


In environments with trees, shrubbery, and broken ground, the mean step count/min of students was 21.5, and the mean exposure to UV radiation was 14.6% of available UV.  In environments with little vegetation, the mean step count/min was 17.7 and the mean exposure to UV was 24.3%. 


The researchers conclude that preschool environments with trees, shrubbery, and broken ground trigger physical activity and yield sun protection.  They recommend access to such environments when planning community architecture. 


Article Published: Boldermann C, Blennow M, Dal H, et al. Impact of preschool environment upon childrens physical activity and sun exposure. Preventative Medicine. 2006,42:301-308

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Sunscreen Ads Miss the Target: High Risk Groups

Magazine sunscreen advertisers are missing important groups, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion. Researchers reviewed 579 issues of 24 magazines published between the months of May and September from 1997 to 2002. The magazines were selected for review by their top-selling rating and categorized as being aimed at men, women, teens, parents, travelers, or outdoor recreation users.

Reviewers found 783 sun care product advertisements in the magazine selection, 77% of which were found in womens magazines. The researchers note that while more womens magazines were reviewed, there were more than four advertisements for sun care products per issue in womens magazines compared to less than one advertisement per six outdoor recreation issues and less than one advertisement per issue in parent and family magazines.

Only 19% of the advertisements were for sunscreens as stand-alone products while nearly two-thirds of the advertisements were for cosmetics or moisturizers containing SPF.

The reviewers also found that advertisements were often misleading or withheld important health information about the use of their products. Eighty-two percent of ads mentioned SPF 15+, 18% stated protection against UVA and UVB. None of the advertisements mentioned the need for application before sun exposure, reapplication after swimming or vigorous exercise, or the amount needed to achieve adequate coverage for the face and body.

The researchers conclude that most high-risk consumers will have little access to advertising that is often required to alert, prompt and remind consumers to the use of sunscreen if current advertising trends continue.

Article Published: Lee ET, ORiordan D, Swetter SM, et al. Sun Care Advertising in Popular U.S. Magazines. American Journal of Health Promotion. 2006;20(5):349-352

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