New commentary explores the negative impact of weight bias

Theodore Kyle and Rebecca Puhlare are participants on the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Roundtable on Obesity Solutions. In a new commentary, Kyle and Puhlare examine the negative impact of weight bias on finding solutions to the obesity epidemic.

In the paper the authors describe the how weight bias, an often neglected issue, impedes progress toward evidence-based solutions to obesity. They maintain it also leads to adverse health outcomes for children and adults since those who face weight bias are more likely to avoid health care, engage in unhealthy eating behaviors, increase food consumption, avoid physical activity, and experience elevated stress. Continue reading

Help CDC spread the word about obesity during September’s National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

Approximately 1 of every 5 (17%) children in the United States has obesity, and certain groups of children are more affected than others. Childhood obesity puts children at early risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease—conditions usually associated with adulthood.

There is no single or simple solution to childhood obesity.  It is influenced by many different factors, including a lack of access to healthy, affordable food and drinks as well as limited opportunities for physical activity in the places where children live, learn, and play.  Working together, states, communities, and parents can help make the healthy choice the easy choice for children and adolescents. Continue reading

Insights into Landmark Calorie Declines in the U.S. Food Marketplace

NCCOR’s Connect & Explore Webinar provides an in-depth look at the findings and groundbreaking methods from the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation evaluation

In an unprecedented review of the U.S. food system, researchers have, for the first time, used big data to track the number of foods and beverages consumed and purchased by Americans. The assessment, conducted by University of North Carolina (UNC) researchers, was part of an evaluation of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation’s (HWCF) pledge to remove 1 trillion calories from the marketplace by 2012, and 1.5 trillion by 2015.

The independent evaluation was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and examined the number of calories in packaged goods and the amount of calories purchased by U.S. families with children. The two studies, published September 17 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found that 16 food industry leaders cut 6.4 trillion calories from the U.S. food market over five years (2007-2012). The findings also showed that American families with children bought 101 fewer calories from packaged goods per person per day in 2012 than they did in 2007. Continue reading

Rates of abdominal obesity leveling off among kids

July 21, 2014, Reuters

By Kathryn Doyle

After rising steadily for more than 10 years, the proportion of U.S. kids defined as obese due to a large waist circumference held steady [from] 2003–2012, according to a new analysis of national data.

The new results echo recent studies that found the increase in U.S. obesity rates has slowed over the past several years.

“Even though the trends were flat across the years, the prevalence of abdominal obesity is still too high,” said senior author Lyn M. Steffen, from the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minn.

Abdominal obesity refers specifically to “visceral fat,” or the fat that accumulates around the midsection. This can be measured by waist circumference or by a waist-to-height ratio.

Using biennial data from a nationwide health and nutrition study, Steffen and her co-authors found that about 18 percent of kids ages 2 to 18 were obese based on their waist circumference in 2011 and 2012, very close to the rate in 2003 and 2004. Continue reading

Walking, biking, and taking public transit tied to lower weight

Aug. 19, 2014, Reuters

By Andrew Seaman

People who walk, bike, or take public transportation to work tend to be thinner than those who ride in their own cars, according to a new study from the United Kingdom.

The new findings — including that taking public transportation was just as beneficial as the other “active commuting” modes — point to significant health benefits across society if more people left their cars at home, researchers say.

“It seems to suggest switching your commute mode — where you can build in just a bit of incidental physical activity — you may be able to cut down on your chance of being overweight and achieve a healthier body composition as well,” said Ellen Flint, who led the study. Continue reading

Train your brain to crave healthy food

Sept. 1, 2014, CNN

By Jacque Wilson

It may be possible to rewire your brain so that it wants — craves, even — healthier foods. How? By following a healthy diet.

We know, that wasn’t the quick fix to afternoon ice cream binges you were hoping for. But this research could lead to a more sci-fi solution to the obesity epidemic.

In a pilot study published Sept. 1 in the journal Nutrition & Diabetes, scientists say that changing your eating behavior can actually change how your brain reacts to high-calorie and low-calorie foods.

“We don’t start out in life loving french fries and hating, for example, whole wheat pasta,” senior author Susan Roberts, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Energy Metabolism Laboratory, said in a statement. “This conditioning happens over time in response to eating — repeatedly — what is out there in the toxic food environment.” Continue reading

One in four U.S. kids underestimate their weight

July 31, 2014, HealthDay

Many obese and overweight kids don’t see themselves that way, which makes achieving a healthy weight almost impossible, researchers report.

In a new study, 27 percent of children and teens underestimated their weight. Fewer than 3 percent overestimated it. About 25 percent of parents underestimated their child’s weight and just 1 percent overestimated it, according to the study.

“Efforts to prevent childhood obesity should incorporate education for both children and parents regarding the proper identification and interpretation of actual body weight,” said lead researcher Han-Yang Chen, from the department of quantitative health sciences at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Mass. Continue reading

Access to places for safe physical activity on the rise

July 16, 2014, Sacramento Bee

By Ana B. Ibarra

Physical activity among adults and teens is on the rise, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The State Indicator Report on Physical Activity 2014 revealed that 54.5 percent of youths in the country have access to parks or playground areas, recreation centers, community centers, boys’ and girls’ clubs and walking paths or sidewalks. Although this means that more than half of U.S families live in neighborhoods that support physical activity, the CDC states there is still more that can be done to increase the percentage.

The report showed that only 19.1 percent of adults in California engage in none leisure-time physical activity; lower than the national average of 25.4. The report also showed that 3.8 percent of adults in the state usually bike or walk to work; the national average was recorded at 3.4 percent. The percent of the state population that live within half a mile of a park is 58.3. Continue reading

Don’t forget: Register for Sept. 10 webinar on U.S. Report Card on Physical Activity

At a congressional briefing in April, the National Physical Activity Plan (NPAP), in collaboration with the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), released the groundbreaking 2014 United States Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. NPAP focuses on tactics and strategies for addressing physical activity. The report card is the first in a historic series of report cards that will provide an unprecedented benchmark using a common methodology on this critical public health issue.

A free hour-long webinar about the implications of the Physical Activity Report Card will be held on Sept. 10 at 1 p.m., ET. The webinar will include a question and answer session with Peter Katzmarzyk, Ph.D., chair of the U.S. Report Card Research Advisory Committee and associate executive director at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University and Russell Pate, Ph.D., chairman of the NPAP Alliance and professor at the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina. Continue reading

Study examines effects of ‘neighborhood poverty’ on obesity

June 20, 2014, Medical Xpress

By Karene Booker

By age 2, poor children have gained more weight than their wealthier counterparts. But after age 2, neighborhood poverty, not family poverty, puts the pounds on, finds a new study, published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology.

About one-third of America’s children are overweight or obese, but rates are highest among poor and minority children. The study identifies for the first time the effects of neighborhood-level poverty, family poverty, and ethnicity on children’s weight, shedding new light on the origins of adult health disparities, the authors say.

“The effects of neighborhood poverty on children’s weight may be just as important as the effects of family poverty,” says Cornell’s Gary W. Evans, the Elizabeth Lee Vincent Professor of Human Ecology, who co-authored the study with Pamela Klebanov, Princeton University, and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Columbia University.

“Children and families are embedded in neighborhoods; poor neighborhoods differ structurally from wealthier neighborhoods, with fewer safe and natural places to play and exercise, fewer supermarkets and more fast food,” Evans explains. Continue reading