Systems modeling post-doctoral opportunities at Johns Hopkins Global Center on Childhood Obesity

The National Institute of Health-funded, Johns Hopkins Global Center on Childhood Obesity (JHGCCO) is seeking qualified post-doctoral trainees with a career interest in using systems science theories and methods to address childhood obesity, non-communicable chronic diseases, and related topics in public health.

The Center, supported by the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR), conducts both domestic and international research aiming to better understand the causes and prevention of childhood obesity and other lifestyle related non-communicable chronic diseases from a systems perspective.  While based at the Johns Hopkins University, with investigators from five schools including Public Health, Medicine, Nursing, Engineering, and Arts and Sciences, we also have multidisciplinary researchers at approximately 20 leading institutions around the globe. For more information please visit, http://www.jhgcco.org/ Continue reading

Is childhood obesity contagious?

July 11, 2013, Pew Research Center.org

By Rich Morin

Every parent knows that young children catch lots of things at school: chicken pox, the flu and, of course, the annual back-to-school cold.

Now there’s evidence that kids can catch something else from their classmates:  obesity.

Of course there isn’t a fat virus, or at least one we know about. But a research team from the University of Arkansas has tracked the pattern of weight gains and obesity among 341,876 elementary school students and found that the typical student gained extra pounds in grades with a larger share of obese classmates but slimmed down when they were in classes with a larger proportion of skinny kids. Continue reading

Nutrition standards won’t fix ‘Big Food’s’ worst child marketing tactics

July 9, 2013, The Huffington Post

By Michele Simon

Last month, I participated in an important panel at a childhood obesity conference to discuss the current strategy backed by some advocacy groups: asking industry to market “healthier” foods to children. But as Susan Linn and I recently argued, any marketing to children is harmful, regardless of the product’s nutritional content.

Instead of begging corporations to tweak the grams of sugar, fat and salt that these highly processed junk foods contain, we should demand that industry stop exploiting children altogether. Some advocates argue this approach is too radical. But it’s actually far more practical and ultimately more effective because of certain key tactics that industry uses to target children. Continue reading

Can you be addicted to carbs?

June 26, 2013, NPR [the Salt Blog]

By Allison Aubrey

Fresh research adds weight to the notion that certain foods (think empty carbs like bagels and sweet treats) can lead to more intense hunger and overeating.

Fast-digesting carbohydrates can stimulate regions of the brain involved in cravings and addiction, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Prior studies have shown that highly desirable foods, perhaps a cheesecake or pie, can trigger pleasure centers in the brain. But what’s new about this research is that it shows that even when people are unaware of what they’re eating, the intake of fast-digesting carbs can activate parts of the brain associated with pleasure, reward, and addiction. Continue reading

2014 ALR conference call for proposals

Active Living Research (ALR) invites abstracts to be considered for presentation at the 2014 Annual Conference on March 9-12 in San Diego, Calif. The theme of the 2014 conference, “Niche to Norm,” recognizes the importance of advancing active living from an emerging research field with limited results and impact to well-accepted findings that regularly guide decision-making across sectors to create more active communities. Continue reading

USDA’s new nutrition standards mean healthier food options in school vending machines and snack bars

June 27, 2013, USDA Office of Communications

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on June 27 that under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) new “Smart Snacks in School” nutrition standards, America’s students will be offered healthier food options during the school day.

“Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our children,” said Secretary Vilsack. “Parents and schools work hard to give our youngsters the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong, and providing healthy options throughout school cafeterias, vending machines, and snack bars will support their great efforts.”

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 requires USDA to establish nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools — beyond the federally-supported meals programs. The “Smart Snacks in School” nutrition standards…reflect USDA’s thoughtful consideration and response to the nearly 250,000 comments received on the proposal earlier this year. Continue reading

New, free USDA education materials show children how to make healthful food choices

June 25, 2013, USDA Blog

Research shows that students with healthful eating patterns tend to do better in school, and it’s important that children begin learning about food and nutrition when they’re young. In support of that goal, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) recently released three, free sets of curriculum educators can use to empower children to make healthful food choices and develop an awareness of how fruits and vegetables are grown.

The Great Garden Detective Adventure” curriculum forthird and fourth grades includes 11 lessons, bulletin board materials, veggie dice, fruit and vegetable flash cards, and 10 issues of Garden Detective News for parents/caregivers. Kids will discover what fruits and vegetables are sweetest, crunchiest, and juiciest through investigations and fun experiences connecting the school garden to the classroom, school cafeteria, and home. Continue reading

Many kids missing out on healthy lifestyle

June 25, 2013, HealthDay

Only half of American youths get the recommended amount of exercise and less than one-third eat the suggested amount of fruits and vegetables each day, according to a federal government study.

Researchers surveyed nearly 10,000 students aged 11 to 16 in 39 states, and found that only half were physically active five or more days a week and fewer than one in three ate fruits and vegetables daily.

“The students showed a surprising variability in eating patterns,” study author Ronald Iannotti, of the prevention research branch of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, said in an institute news release. “But most — about 74 percent — did not have a healthy pattern.” Continue reading