Focus on health, not fat, in food talks with kids

June 24, 2013, HealthDay

By Denise Mann

There’s a right way and a wrong way to persuade your adolescent to eat healthy and help avoid obesity, a new study suggests.

Pointedly connecting food with fatness or talking about needed weight loss is the wrong way and could even encourage unhealthy eating habits, researchers report.

Instead, discussions that focus on simply eating healthfully are less likely to send kids down this road, a new study shows.

“A lot of parents are aware of the obesity problem in the United States — it’s everywhere you turn — but they wonder how to talk about it with their children,” said study lead author Dr. Jerica Berge of the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis. Continue reading

Scientists find new tool to measure sugar consumption

June 18, 2013, University of Alaska Fairbanks

Scientists at the University of Alaska Fairbanks identified a new tool that can dramatically improve the notoriously inaccurate surveys of what and how much an individual eats and drinks. Their research is published in the June 2013 issue of the Journal of Nutrition.

Conventional wisdom says that consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda and fruit juice is a significant contributor to obesity and chronic disease risk, but the science surrounding this issue is inconclusive. Part of the problem is that in a typical diet survey few people accurately and consistently recall what they consumed. The problem becomes exaggerated when people underreport foods they know are less healthy for them, like sugars. Continue reading

Gene variants may play role in obesity

June 17, 2013, HealthDay

By Randy Dotinga

Two new studies offer some solace to those who can’t control their weight despite diet and exercise by providing more evidence that genetics may play a role in obesity.

One study offers unique insight because it finds genetic mutations in severely obese children that suggest their excess weight may be more connected to their DNA because they put on pounds at such a young age. The other study found that certain genetic traits boost the risk of obesity in families.

The exact connection between genes and weight remains elusive. Still, “it’s very likely that many of the genetic variants that contribute to weight interact with our environment — the food that we eat and the amount of exercise that we get,” said Sadaf Farooqi, professor of metabolism and medicine at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom and co-author of the study on children. “In fact, some of these genes act by influencing our appetite and how much we like food.” Continue reading

Soda size limits could aid fight against obesity, experts say

June 12, 2013, U.S. News & World Report

Restricting the sale of large sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages in restaurants and other food service outlets would affect 7.5 percent of Americans each day and have the greatest impact on overweight people, according to a new study.

In an effort to fight obesity, New York City’s Board of Health approved a ban on the sale of sugary beverages larger than 16 ounces at eateries, but the law was struck down by the New York Supreme Court in March. An appeal began this week.

In order to assess the effect that such a ban would have nationwide, researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health analyzed the records of more than 19,000 people who took part in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2007-2010. Continue reading

Mom’s obesity tied to higher risk of preemies

June 11, 2013, Reuters

By Genevra Pittman

Pregnant women who are overweight or obese are more likely to give birth prematurely, according to a new study from Sweden.

Researchers found that link was strongest for babies born the earliest – between 22 and 27 weeks – and therefore most at risk of complications.

“This study suggests that there is a direct association between maternal overweight and obesity during pregnancy and the risk of preterm birth,” said Dr. Muktar Aliyu, who has studied pregnancy risks at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tenn. Continue reading

American Heart Association Voices for Healthy Kids’ Request for Award

BACKGROUND
Over the past four decades, obesity rates have soared among all age groups.  Today, nearly one-third of children and adolescents in the United States are either overweight or obese. Obese and overweight children and adolescents are more likely to become obese adults, placing them at increased risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and certain forms of cancer.

The American Heart Association (AHA) together with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) are working to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic in the United States by 2015 and to decrease racial, ethnic, and income disparities in prevalence. Through our Voices for Healthy Kids’ Strategic Campaign Fund, the AHA is targeting the following six state, local and tribal advocacy priorities: Continue reading

More evidence links BPA to childhood obesity

June 12, 2013, U.S. News & World Report

By Brenda Goodman

There’s fresh evidence that the chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, may play a part in childhood obesity.

BPA is a chemical that is widely used in food packaging. Government studies have shown that 92 percent of Americans have detectable levels of BPA in their bodies.

There’s intense scientific interest in BPA because it is chemically similar to the hormone estrogen, and there’s some concern that it may mimic estrogen’s effects in the body, causing harm to the brain and reproductive organs, particularly in children. Continue reading

New report from Healthy Eating Research reviews new evidence on consumer menu labeling

More and more chain restaurants and cafeterias are labeling menus to provide consumers with calorie and other information about standard menu items. This trend is driven by the adoption of menu labeling regulations and other policies by states, localities, and institutions as they seek to prevent and reduce obesity.

This research review summarizes new information published since the last Healthy Eating Research review of this topic in 2009. Key findings from this review show that there is a high degree of public support for providing nutrition information at the point of purchase, and menu labeling in cafeterias and restaurants increases consumers’ awareness of nutritional information. Continue reading

A healthy neighborhood can lower the obesity level of its residents

June 7, 2013, Red Orbit

Neighborhoods that include restaurants and businesses that support healthy eating choices can make a “measurable” difference in the battle against obesity, according to a new study led by researchers at the Drexel University School of Public Health.

Dr. Amy Auchincloss, an assistant professor at the Philadelphia-based institution, and her colleagues conducted a five-year study analyzing the impact that a neighborhood could have on an individual’s health.

They found that “significantly” fewer people became obese when they lived within a mile of healthier food environments compared to those without access to such places. Previous studies have demonstrated that healthier, less-obese men and women are more likely to live in neighborhoods that had access to supermarkets and fresh foods, and to a lesser extent, in neighborhoods that are walkable. Continue reading

Call for presentations

The July 1 proposal deadline is fast approaching for the American Institute of Architects (AIA) 2014 Convention, occurring July 26-28, 2014, in Chicago. Submit your proposal today!

Recognizing and communicating the impact design can have on public health is a primary interest of the Institute and intended to be a focus area at the 2014 Convention. Subject matter experts in public health are welcome to apply. Continue reading