Vitamin D may lower diabetes risk in obese children and adolescents, study finds

March 26, 2013, Medical Xpress

Childhood and adolescent obesity rates in the United States have increased dramatically in the past three decades. Being obese puts individuals at greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes, a disease in which individuals have too much sugar in their blood. Now, University of Missouri researchers found vitamin D supplements can help obese children and teens control their blood-sugar levels, which may help them stave off the disease.

“By increasing vitamin D intake alone, we got a response that was nearly as powerful as what we have seen using a prescription drug,” said Catherine Peterson, an associate professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at MU. “We saw a decrease in insulin levels, which means better glucose control, despite no changes in body weight, dietary intake or physical activity.” Continue reading

After years of recess erosion, schools try to get kids moving again

March 22, 2013, Yahoo! News

By Liz Goodwin

At 9:30 a.m. sharp on a Tuesday morning, all 1,200 elementary school students at PS 166 in Queens, N.Y. stood up and began doing jumping jacks in unison with a Beatles song blaring over the loudspeaker.

In Ms. Dianna Chappell’s third grade class, some kids began panting near the end of the required two minutes. One boy even stopped jumping momentarily, doubling over in exhaustion. “Oh come on! I’m much older than you!” Chappell yelled, as she continued jumping. Continue reading

Activity level is more important than caloric intake to prevent childhood obesity

March 19, 2013, San Francisco Chronicle

Research recently published in U.S. News and World Report suggests that caloric intake plays a less significant factor in obesity than activity levels.

The authors of the study hypothesize that the thinner children all participate in regular sessions of exercise, thereby increasing their energy expenditures. The overweight and obese subjects were more sedentary.

Originally published in the Journal of Pediatrics, researchers studied the dietary habits of approximately 13,000 children from the ages of 1 to 17 years between 2001 and 2008. Continue reading

New resources from Active Living Research highlight new research on physical activity and children

Active Living Research (ALR), a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, has recently published three new research briefs that summarize the findings from research that focuses on children and physical activity.

The research briefs include:

  • Do Short Physical Activity Breaks in Classrooms Work? This brief summarizes the research on how programs that provide classroom physical activity breaks impact physical activity, academic performance, health and related factors in children. The focus is on activity breaks held in the classroom and it does not include physical education or recess.

To learn more about the latest promising approaches for preventing obesity, increasing children’s physical activity levels, and improving overall health, please visit ALR’s website.

Skimmed milk ineffective against toddler obesity

March 18, 2013, Agence France-Presse

Giving your toddler skimmed or semi-skimmed milk is unlikely to make inroads against the risk of obesity, a large study conducted among American children has found.

Researchers trawled through data from a long-term probe into the health of 10,700 children born in 2001.

Parents or caregivers were asked about milk consumption when the infant was age 2 and were questioned again two years later, when the child was again weighed and measured. Continue reading

Pre-packaged foods too salty for young children

March 22, 2013, Red Orbit

By Brett Smith

On average, Americans like their food salty, but it is an affinity that often results in conditions like hypertension and heart disease.

A new study from officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that many pre-packaged children’s food may be giving the youngest Americans an early start when it comes to eating salty foods. They may also be giving these young kids an early start on lifelong health issues as a result of too much sodium in their diet. Continue reading

The Office of Disease Prevention is seeking public comment on its strategic plan

The Office of Disease Prevention (ODP), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is currently seeking public comment on the development of its strategic plan for the next five years.

The mission of the ODP is to improve public health by increasing the scope, quality, dissemination, and impact of prevention research supported by NIH. The goals and objectives presented in the final strategic plan will outline the priorities for ODP and highlight the role of the Office in advancing prevention research at NIH.

Respondents are encouraged to review and provide comments on a set of draft strategic priorities. Specifically, ODP would like input on measurable objectives for each priority and benchmarks for gauging progress. Respondents can also provide recommendations on steps ODP could take to improve processes NIH uses to solicit, review, and administer prevention research grants and cooperative agreements. Continue reading

Green food labels make nutrition-poor food seem healthy

March 12, 2013, Medical Xpress

A Cornell researcher says in a forthcoming print issue of Health Communication that consumers are more likely to perceive a candy bar as more healthful when it has a green calorie label compared with when it had a red one—even though the number of calories are  the same. And green labels increase perceived healthfulness of foods, especially among consumers who place high importance on healthy eating.

“More and more, calorie labels are popping up on the front of food packaging, including the wrappers of sugary snacks like candy bars. And currently, there’s little oversight of these labels,” said Jonathon Schuldt, assistant professor of communication and director of Cornell’s Social Cognition and Communication Lab. “Our research suggests that the color of calorie labels may have an effect on whether people perceive the food as healthy, over and above the actual nutritional information conveyed by the label, such as calorie content,” added Schuldt, who wrote the article, “Does Green Mean Healthy? Nutrition Label Color Affects Perceptions of Healthfulness.” Continue reading

Sweet drinks tied to higher calorie consumption in kids

March 12, 2013, HealthDay

Children who drink sugar-sweetened beverages consume more calories than other children and the beverages are the main reason for that higher calorie intake, a new study reveals.

In addition, children who drink sugar-sweetened beverages eat more unhealthy foods than other children, the researchers found.

Evidence shows that consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages — which include sodas, fruit drinks, sports and energy drinks — has risen in the past 20 years.

For the study, researchers analyzed data from nearly 11,000 U.S. children, aged 2 to 18, who were included in national surveys between 2003 and 2010. During this time, children’s consumption of food and sugar-sweetened beverages increased, while they drank fewer non-sweetened beverages. Continue reading

Mandating fruits and vegetables in school meals makes a difference

March 12, 2013, Newswise

State laws that require minimum levels of fruits and vegetables in school meals may give a small boost to the amount of these foods in adolescents’ diets, according to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. This effect was strongest in students who had no access to fruits and vegetables at home.

With the recent requirements from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National School Lunch Program to incorporate healthier options in school meals, the researchers wanted to find out if such laws made a difference in student fruit and vegetable consumption. Continue reading