Researchers identify primary factors responsible for preschool obesity

Jan. 15, 2013, Red Orbit

A lack of adequate sleep, having parents with high body mass index (BMI), and having their eating habits restricted for weight control purposes are the three most significant risk factors when it comes to childhood obesity for preschoolers, according to researchers from the University of Illinois.

“We looked at 22 variables that had previously been identified as predictors of child obesity, and the three that emerged as strong predictors did so even as we took into account the influence of the other 19,” said Brent McBride, director of the university’s Child Development Laboratory. “Their strong showing gives us confidence that these are the most important risk factors to address.”

“What’s exciting here is that these risk factors are malleable and provide a road map for developing interventions that can lead to a possible reduction in children’s weight status,” he added. “We should focus on convincing parents to improve their own health status, to change the food environment of the home so that healthy foods are readily available and unhealthy foods are not, and to encourage an early bedtime.” Continue reading

Study: U.S. teens eat too much salt, hiking obesity risk

Feb. 3, 2013, HealthDay

By Alan Mozes

American teens are taking in as much dietary salt as adults, far exceeding guidelines on healthy limits for daily consumption, new research warns.

The investigation tracked the week-long eating habits of more than 760 black and white high school kids. It found that, on average, teens now ingest a whopping 3,280 milligrams (mg) of sodium (salt) every day.

That amounts to more than double the uppermost recommended level of 1,500 mg of sodium per day set forth by the American Heart Association (AHA). Continue reading

Study finds deregulation fueling obesity epidemic

Feb. 2, 2014, Reuters

Governments could slow or even reverse the growing obesity epidemic if they introduced more regulation into the global market for fast foods such as burgers, chips, and fizzy drinks, researchers said on Feb 3.

A study published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization (WHO) suggested that if governments took firmer action, they could start to prevent people becoming overweight and obese — conditions with serious long-term consequences such as diabetes, heart diseases, and cancer.

“Unless governments take steps to regulate their economies, the invisible hand of the market will continue to promote obesity worldwide with disastrous consequences for future public health and economic productivity,” said Roberto De Vogli of the University of California, Davis, who led the study.

The WHO is urging governments to do more to try to prevent obesity happening in the first place, rather than risking the high human and economic costs when it does. Continue reading

Siting markets in ‘food deserts’ no quick cure for obesity, study says

Feb. 3, 2014, Los Angeles Times

By Melissa Healy

The logic seems simple enough: The consumption of healthy foods is low and obesity is high in neighborhoods where supermarkets are notably absent; so, opening supermarkets in those neighborhoods should boost consumption of healthier foods and drive down obesity. Right?

Not so fast, says the first American study gauging the success of a popular initiative aimed at combating obesity: improving access to fresh produce and healthy food in the nation’s “food deserts.”

Six months after the grand opening of a new supermarket in Philadelphia, the study found, residents of the surrounding low-income neighborhood were not eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, nor were they less likely to be obese than were low-income Philadelphians across town whose neighborhood continued to be a food desert. Continue reading

School health program helps kids get active

Jan. 14, 2014, Reuters

By Genevra Pittman

Investing in a broad school health program could lead to in-school and at-home benefits for students, a new Canadian study hints.

Children increased their daily physical activity on both school days and weekends in the years after schools hired a full-time health facilitator and set healthy living goals, researchers found.

“It shows that if you deliver a school program well, kids not only will be active more during the school hours when they are in the hands of the teachers but they’re also being trained and understand that it’s important to be physically active at other times,” Paul J. Veugelers said. Continue reading

Rich or poor, schools fall short on providing physical activity

Jan. 17, 2014, Medical Xpress

By Milly Dawson

Schools in wealthier areas are more likely to have a physical education (PE) teacher on staff than are schools in poorer areas, but students in both wealthy and less affluent areas are coming up short with regard to physical activity, finds a new study in the American Journal of Health Promotion.

“Children receive many important benefits from physical activity, benefits that aren’t limited to health,” said author Jordan Carlson, Ph.D., of the University of California, San Diego. Carlson said that beyond strengthening children’s bodies, physical activity improves concentration, classroom behavior, and achievement.

The researchers used data on 172 students at 97 elementary schools in San Diego and Seattle. Socioeconomic status (SES) of the schools was classified as low, medium, or high based on the percentages of children receiving free meals. Children in the study wore devices that measured minutes of physical activity during school hours. Continue reading