Longer gym class periods reduce childhood obesity

May 20, 2013, Medical Daily

By Ashik Siddique

More time in gym class actually does reduce the likelihood that young children will become obese, according to a new study published in the Journal of Health Economics. The findings are some of the first evidence that physical education (P.E.) directly impacts the weight of elementary school children, say the researchers.

Organizations including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have been advocating for longer gym class periods for some time, recommending that children under the age of 17 should spend at least one hour per day in some kind of physical activity. Continue reading

Obese kids, healthy weight kids have different breath, study says

May 20, 2013, CBS News

By Ryan Jaslow

A child’s breath may reveal risk for diseases years before he or she gets sick.

Breath from obese children appears to contain different chemical compounds than the breath of non-obese kids, a researcher has discovered. He hopes his study could one day pave the way for a breath test at the pediatrician’s office instead of a painful blood test, he said.

“I think breath testing has major advantages, especially in the pediatric population,” study author Dr. Naim Alkhouri, director of the pediatric preventive cardiology and metabolic clinic at the Cleveland Clinic’s Children’s Hospital, said to CBSNews.com. “It’s like playing a game for kids. They really like it.” Continue reading

Children’s physical activity linked with friends’ influences, research shows

May 17, 2013, Health Canal

According to a review article by researchers at Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health, friends are an important source of support for children’s physical activity.

The review, led by Solveig A. Cunningham, Ph.D., professor at the Rollins School of Public Health, was published in the May 16 edition of the American Journal of Public Health. It reports three ways in which friends promote children’s physical activity:

  • Kids whose friends are positive and supportive of physical activity are more active.
  • Children whose friends are physically active are also more physically active.
  • Children who are active with friends (i.e., doing sports together, walking to school, riding bikes) are more active and are active for longer periods.

Continue reading

Researchers study effects of exergaming on children

May 17, 2013, News Medical

Levels of physical inactivity and obesity are very high in children, with fewer than 50 percent of primary school-aged boys and fewer than 28 percent of girls meeting the minimum levels of physical activity required to maintain health. Exergaming, using active console video games that track player movement to control the game (e.g., Xbox-Kinect, Wii), has become popular, and may provide an alternative form of exercise to counteract sedentary behaviors. In a study scheduled for publication in The Journal of Pediatrics, researchers studied the effects of exergaming on children. Continue reading

If you offer it, they will drink it

May 16, 2013, dailyRx

It’s no secret that drinking too much Coke or Gatorade can add inches to kids’ waistlines. But where they get those drinks might make a difference in how much they drink them.

A recent study found that children were much more likely to drink more sugar-sweetened beverages if they got them at school or at home.

Kids were three times more likely to drink five or more sugary drinks each week if they had access to the drinks at school.

The researchers concluded that limiting access to sugary drinks might be one component in preventing obesity.

The study, led by Lana Hebden, a research officer at the School for Public Health at the University of Sydney in Australia, looked at how many sugar-sweetened beverages school students drank. Continue reading

Do fast food restaurants fall short on their health claims?

May 16, 2013, LiveScience

By Christopher Wanjek

Fast food restaurants are serving healthier options, although only marginally so, according to a study published last week in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

You may have known that changes were afoot in the fast food restaurants most vilified by doctors for serving unhealthy fare. McDonald’s, Burger King and others now offer salad, fruit, and skim milk. The new offerings, advertised prominently, would make one think that a trip to the local burger joint is suddenly heart-healthy, and waistline-friendly.

Not quite, said Mary Hearst, director of public health at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minn., and lead author on the report. Continue reading

Black students drink more soda when available at school

May 15, 2013, Medical Xpress

By Valerie Debenedette

The availability of sugar-sweetened or diet soda in schools does not appear to be related to students’ overall consumption, except for African-American students, who drink more soda when it’s available at school, finds a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

These findings are from a study of more than 9,000 students in grades eight, 10, and 12 done in 2010 and 2011. The students were asked how much soda they drank per day and school administrators were asked about the availability of soda in their schools.

The finding that reducing the availability of soda in school is not linked to reducing overall intake among students has been observed before, said Yvonne M. Terry-McElrath, M.S.A., survey research associate at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. This may be because young people consume only 7 percent to 15 percent of the calories they take in from sugar-sweetened drinks at school, she noted.

However, finding that African-American students are consuming more soda when it is available at school was surprising, Terry-McElrath added. This may be due to less availability of soda at home or because these students are more likely to buy soda at school if it is available there, she said.

Removing soft drinks from the school environment is a good idea, Terry-McElrath said. “Schools [are] either part of the problem or part of the solution and removing all sugar-sweetened beverages supports a healthy learning environment and development of healthy habits.” “Our analyses looked just at soda and not all sugar-sweetened beverages,” Terry-McElrath said. “We know from research that the availability of soda in schools is now quite low. However, other sugary beverages, such as sports drinks or fruit drinks with added sugar, are still in schools.”

The availability of sodas and other sweet beverages in schools varies widely across the country. For example, soda has not been allowed to be sold during the school day in New York schools since the 1980s, said Deborah Beauvais, R.D., district supervisor of school nutrition for the Gates Chili and East Rochester School Districts in New York.

“Restricting the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages in schools has all the best intentions, but one must also take into account what happens outside the school day and the beverages consumed then,” Beauvais added. “If children have the means and the availability, they will consume these beverages outside of the school environment.”

 

If soda study is favorable, look for industry $$$

May 14, 2013, MedPage Today

By Kathleen Struck

A review of published studies investigating a possible link between sugar-sweetened beverages and obesity found that studies funded by the beverage industry were likely to find little evidence that sodas and juices fuel obesity.

Among 17 reviews analyzed, four industry-funded studies concluded that the causal relationship between sugary drinks and body weight was weak versus 13 independent studies that concluded the link between sweetened beverages and obesity was well founded. Continue reading

Fighting childhood obesity one school cafeteria at a time

May 10, 2013, ABC News

By Lisa Stark

In the fight against childhood obesity, the weapons have been many. Schools have tried exercise and education, and the government has mandated healthier school lunches. Now a school district in Virginia is believed to be the first in the country to try something radical —redesigning the school building, itself.

“It’s not completely out of thin air,” said public health expert Terry Huang, who helped spearhead the project, [and is a member of an expert scientific panel for the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR)]. “It is rooted in a long history of reinventing school designs to promote learning and mental well-being. We simply took that one step further.”

The result is a new elementary school for 970 kindergarteners through fifth-graders that opened this school year in rural Buckingham County, Va. From the ground up, the school is designed to promote activity and healthy eating. Continue reading

Johns Hopkins Global Center for Childhood Obesity funds projects to improve school nutrition programs and increase sale of health foods in urban areas

April 24, 2013, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

The Johns Hopkins Global Center on Childhood Obesity has awarded funding to two intervention projects aimed at preventing childhood obesity. The research is part of the third round of funding focused on “rapid response projects.”

The Johns Hopkins Global Center on Childhood Obesity reviewed research proposals from around the world and selected the following: Continue reading