Rutgers study finds link between teen girls, depression, and obesity

March 20, 2014, The Star-Ledger

By Susan K. Livio

Adolescent girls diagnosed with major depression are likely to gain an unhealthy amount of weight as they mature, according to a study co-written by a Rutgers-Camden professor and released March 20.

Conversely, obese teenager girls are prone to develop depression as they reach adulthood, according to the study, which was published March 19 in the International Journal of Obesity.

The same correlation between depression and weight was not found among boys and young men, according to the article.

While obesity and depression have long thought to be linked, the study found that one diagnosis is likely to follow the other among girls ages 14 to 24. Continue reading

School gardens grow kids’ physical activity levels

March 20, 2014, Cornell Chronicle

By Ted Boscia

To get school children moving, uproot them from classrooms into school gardens, concludes a two-year Cornell study of 12 elementary schools in five New York regions.

By experiment’s end, kids at schools with gardens were moderately physically active at school for 10 more minutes a week than before their schools had gardens. That was an increase of four times what peers experienced at gardenless schools. What’s more, children who gardened at school were substantially less sedentary at home and elsewhere than their counterparts.

With nearly one in three American children overweight or obese, school gardens could be a simple, low-cost way to get kids more active, said environmental psychologist Nancy Wells, associate professor of design and environmental analysis in Cornell’s College of Human Ecology.

She presented the findings March 11 at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Active Living Research Conference in San Diego. Continue reading

Study: Fried food can cause some more weight gain, depending on genes

March 18, 2014, USA TODAY

By Kim Painter

A diet full of fried foods isn’t good for anyone, but it may result in more weight gain for people at a high genetic risk of obesity, a new study suggests.

The study, published in the journal BMJ, is the latest evidence that life isn’t fair when it comes to navigating a world of french fries, soda, and comfy sofas — because some people are genetically predisposed to become fatter than others indulging in the same bad habits.

It’s a “groundbreaking concept” that could lead to more individualized prescriptions for weight control, says lead author Lu Qi, an assistant professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. Continue reading

Low-income families don’t limit shopping to ‘food deserts’

March 20, 2014, MinnPost

By Cynthia Boyd

Social-welfare experts have long assumed poor people, hampered by transportation difficulties, grocery-shop close to home at small corner groceries or convenience stores — “food deserts” that mostly offer high-sugar, highly processed, less-nutritious foods.

Inner city neighborhoods, particularly, have worried public-health officials who want to expand the availability of nutritious foods for low-income families.

But fresh research from the University of Minnesota, while far from suggesting that food deserts aren’t a problem, does indicate that lower-income Minnesotans who receive government aid to put food on the table go the distance for their food buys. Continue reading

Toddlers who sleep less may eat more

March 25, 2014, HealthDay

Toddlers who get too little sleep tend to eat more and are at increased risk for obesity, a new study indicates.

The study included children in over 1,300 British families who had their sleep measured when they were 16 months old and their diet checked when they were 21 months old.

Those who slept less than 10 hours a day consumed about 10 percent more calories than those who slept more than 13 hours, according to the study in the International Journal of Obesity.

This is the first study to link amount of sleep to calorie consumption in children younger than 3 years, the University College London (UCL) researchers said. They suggested that shorter sleep may disrupt the regulation of appetite hormones. Continue reading

Preemie birth linked to higher insulin levels in kids

Feb. 11, 2013, HealthDay

By Randy Dotinga

Based on tests of newborns and young children, a new study suggests that premature babies could face a higher risk of diabetes much later in life.

The findings don’t confirm a connection between premature birth and diabetes, although other studies have hinted at a possible connection and increased risk.

But they do show that babies and young children have higher insulin levels if they were born before full term, and the levels are greatest in those who were the most premature. Higher insulin levels, in turn, could be an indicator of diabetes even decades down the line, the researchers noted. Continue reading

Study: Obesity’s link to type 2 diabetes not so clear-cut

Feb. 12, 2014, HealthDay

Although it’s a common belief that a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes often follows a large weight gain, a new study challenges that notion.

Researchers found that the majority of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes didn’t get the disease until they’d been overweight or obese for a number of years.

What’s more, participants who maintained stable levels of overweight and eventually developed type 2 diabetes didn’t have a significant rise in their level of insulin resistance — a traditional risk factor — before getting the disease.

“In general, the majority of individuals developing type 2 diabetes were rather weight stable during follow-up with a slightly higher average BMI [body mass index] than the diabetes-free population,” wrote study author Dorte Vistisen, at the Steno Diabetes Center in Denmark, and colleagues. Continue reading

Study highlights long-term health effects of childhood obesity later in life

Feb. 12, 2013, http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-02-highlights-long-term-effects-childhood-obesity.html

Childhood obesity rates have nearly tripled in the previous 30 years and researchers are asking the important question of how this epidemic will impact the future health of these obese children and public health in general. A University of Colorado Cancer Center article recently published in the journal Gerontology shows that even in cases in which obese children later lose weight, the health effects of childhood obesity may be long-lasting and profound. Continue reading

Americans consume too much added sugars, study says, and it’s killing us

Feb. 3, 2014, Los Angeles Times

By Karen Kaplan

Americans consume too much sugar, and our collective sweet tooth is killing us.

So says a study published Feb. 3 by the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. It finds that 71.4 percent of U.S. adults get more than the recommended 10 percent of their daily calories from added sugars in foods and drinks — and that higher levels of sugar consumption are correlated with higher risk of death due to cardiovascular disease (CVD).

“Too much sugar does not just make us fat; it can also make us sick,” Laura A. Schmidt, a professor of health policy at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, wrote in a commentary that accompanies the study. Continue reading

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