THUMBS UP to a pilot program in Kennebec, Sagadahoc and Somerset counties that will test electronic monitoring for people charged with domestic violence.

The program, approved earlier this month by the state Board of Corrections, uses GPS monitoring devices to track suspects out on bail and under a protection from abuse order. The devices can have both exclusionary zones, where accused abusers are not allowed to go, and inclusionary zones, where suspects are required to be at certain times of the day. If a suspect goes somewhere he should not, a signal is sent to a dispatch center, which alerts law enforcement.

The pilot effort is being funded through money raised by the parents of Amy Bagley Lake, who was killed by her estranged husband in Dexter in 2011 along with her two children, Monica and Coty, as well as from discretionary funds allocated by Gov. Paul LePage. It is already being used in Somerset County.

The use of the devices won’t stop all tragedies related to domestic violence, but it is another tool for law enforcement, and the pilot program will help determine which suspects respond best to monitoring, and how police can use the devices effectively to keep victims safe.

THUMBS DOWN to a study linking the consumption of fast food to lower test scores for children.

Using data from more than 11,000 students, researchers found that students who reported eating fast food regularly scored 20 percent lower on eighth-grade math, reading and science tests than students who ate no fast food, even after accounting for other factors, such as socioeconomic background and school characteristics.

The study does not claim to solidify a direct correlation, but the numbers speak for themselves, and are backed up by other studies linking diets high in fat and sugar to problems with learning. The lack of nutrients in a diet heavy with fast foods is likely the culprit, as that can stunt neurological growth.

Fast-food consumption has leveled or even dropped off slightly in recent years. But too many calories in the American diet still come from fast food, even though more people recognize how unhealthy that is.

The study reaffirms just how important diet is as a preventative health measure, good for lowering instances of chronic diseases and, it seems, raising academic achievement.

It also shows how important it is to make local, healthy, whole foods more available and convenient, so that young Mainers pick them up more often instead of a cheeseburger and fries.

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