Math model predicts effects of diet, physical activity on childhood weight

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have created and confirmed the accuracy of a mathematical model that predicts how weight and body fat in children respond to adjustments in diet and physical activity. The results will appear online July 30 in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology.

While the model may help to set realistic expectations, it has not been tested in a controlled clinical trial to determine if it is an effective tool for weight management.

The model evolved from one developed at NIH in 2011 to predict weight change in adults. The model for children considers their unique physiology, including changes in body composition as they grow. Continue reading

Minneapolis Public Schools food truck promotes healthy lunch for all kids

July 23, 2013, Twin Cities Daily Planet

By Margo Ashmore

“My son ate broccoli and carrots for the first time, seeing his peers do it. And the ranch dressing helped,” said Andrea Worsfeld, picnicking at Jackson Square Park [in Minneapolis, Minn.] with her 2-year-old son, his 6-week-old sibling, and another mother and her children. They’d come for swimming, but stumbled upon the free meals for kids offered from the Minneapolis Public Schools food truck.

Elijah Dodds and Bobbi Varichak, who staff the food truck, said they served 54 lunches on July 11. “The kids run to the truck when it comes,” Varichak said. “They are very thankful, they always say thank you.” Continue reading

‘Prescription’ for fruits, vegetables city’s next remedy in battle against obesity

July 23, 2012, New York Daily News

By Casey Tolan and Larry Mcshane

Take two tomatoes and call me in the morning.

City officials unveiled a new get-healthy program July 23 where doctors will “prescribe” a menu of fresh fruits and vegetables to patients battling obesity.

“This is probably going to prevent an awful lot of disease in the long term than the medicines we tend to write prescriptions for,” said New York Health Commissioner Thomas Farley. Continue reading

Report: Ubiquity of healthy food directly tied to obesity rates

July 18, 2013, City Beat

By Hannah McCartney

A report conducted by researchers at East Carolina University in North Carolina, released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sheds some interesting light on patterns in the availability of healthy food in different geographic regions and concludes that amping up corner stores that traditionally peddle junk food could be key in improving public health and national obesity rates.

The study focused heavily on the availability of healthy foods such as fresh produce in corner stores across the state in urban, suburban, and rural areas. The findings suggest that there are higher rates of obesity in rural areas of the United States than in urban or suburban areas, speculating that because rural residents tend to live farther from supermarkets, they may rely more on junk food from corner stores (like gas stations) or fast food. Where rural areas did have healthy food available, it tended to be of lower quality than other more populated areas. Continue reading

Webinar about new USDA school nutrition standards

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently finalized national school nutrition standards for vending, a la carte, school stores, and other foods sold outside the school meal programs. The National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity is hosting a webinar on Wednesday, July 24, 2013, from 2-3 p.m. EDT, to learn more about the new “Smart Snacks in School” interim final rule, discuss next steps towards implementation, and hear from a school district that is already providing healthy choices for students. Continue reading

Want kids to eat healthier? Don’t tell them, show them

July 19, 2013, Medical Xpress

If given the choice between eating a salad loaded with veggies or a burger and fries, most kids — and for that matter, most adults — would likely pick the less healthful option. But instead of telling kids to eat more fruits and vegetables, Iowa State University researchers found the trick may be to convince them visually.

Laura Smarandescu, an assistant professor of marketing, and Brian Mennecke, an associate professor of information systems, did just that using a digital display featuring a rotating image of a salad along with menu information. They found salad consumption among kids increased as much as 90 percent when a digital display showed a rotating image of the salad. The results are from a field study conducted in July at the YMCA of Greater Des Moines camp in Boone, Iowa. The camp is for children with diabetes, ages 6 to 12. Continue reading

Webinar discusses how local governments can reduce food marketing to kids

Leadership for Healthy Communities, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is hosting a webinar “Marketing Matters: How Local Governments Can Address Food Marketing to Children” on Thursday, July 25, from 2:00-3:00 p.m. EDT

The webinar will provide an overview of the role local governments can play to effectively reduce the marketing of unhealthful foods and beverages to children. Research shows a strong connection between marketing practices that target youth and an increase in the consumption of junk food that contributes to childhood obesity. Moving beyond industry self-regulation, several local governments have adopted innovative strategies to minimize the prevalence of unhealthy food and food marketing. Presenters will share examples of successful policy options to promote the marketing of healthier food and beverage options. Continue reading

Elevated blood pressure increasing among children

July 15, 2013, Los Angeles Times

By Monte Morin

The risk of elevated blood pressure among children and teens has risen 27 percent over a 13-year period, and is probably caused by over-consumption of salt and rising obesity, according to a new study.

In a paper published July 14 in Hypertension, a journal of the American Heart Association (AHA), researchers examined health and nutrition data for more than 11,600 children ages 8 to 17. Continue reading

Could a gene help make you obese?

July 15, 2013, U.S. News & World Report

By Dennis Thompson

Researchers have discovered a potential genetic explanation for why some people overeat and run a greater risk for obesity.

People who carry two copies of a variant form of the “FTO” gene are more likely to feel hungry soon after eating a meal, because they carry higher levels of the hunger-producing hormone ghrelin in their bloodstream, an international team of scientists found. Continue reading

There’s more to ending childhood obesity than ‘Eat Less, Walk More’

July 10, 2013, EducationWeek.org

By Ross Brenneman

The American Heart Association and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation held a joint conference in Washington yesterday about fighting obesity in America. The conference, “Signs of Progress,” highlighted 11 areas in the United States with declining obesity rates, with teams of panelists and keynote speakers brought in from those places to discuss successes.

The “why” of the conference is plain and simple: Obesity is an epidemic. Physicians now classify it as a disease. Two-thirds of the United States is overweight. According to a June 2013 United Nations report, among populous nations, the United States trails only Mexico in adult obesity rates, and that itself is only a recent development. Continue reading