Too many sugary drinks for kids

Aug. 26, 2013, dailyRx

Most kids love sugary beverages, but parents should be mindful of how much of these beverages their kids are drinking.

A recent review of studies found that drinking more sugar-sweetened drinks was linked to weight gain among children and adults.

The study authors noted that it is especially important to have overweight children reduce their consumption of sugary beverages.

This study was led by Vasanti Malik, Sc.D., from the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. Continue reading

CDC report shows progress in school health practices

Aug. 26, 2013, U.S. News & World Report

By Allie Bidwell

Over the last several years, more schools nationwide have begun implementing nutrition and health policies and requiring physical education programs, according to a report released Aug. 26 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

CDC reported that more schools are cracking down on the types of companies that can advertise on school grounds and what types of food are available in vending machines. Since 2006, there has been a 13 percentage point decrease in the number of school districts that allow soft drink companies to advertise on campus, and a 13.6 percentage point increase in the number of districts that prohibit offering junk food in vending machines. Continue reading

Obesity’s death toll may be much higher than thought

Aug. 15, 2013, HealthDay

By Dennis Thompson

Researchers have vastly underestimated the number of deaths caused by obesity in the United States, a new report reveals.

Obesity accounts for 18 percent of deaths among black and white Americans between the ages of 40 and 85, according to a study published online Aug. 15 in the American Journal of Public Health. Previous estimates had placed obesity-related deaths at only 5 percent of all U.S. mortalities.

“This was more than a tripling of the previous estimate,” said study author Ryan Masters, who conducted the research as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation scholar at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, in New York City. “Obesity has dramatically worse health consequences than some recent reports have led us to believe.” Continue reading

NIH workshop explores ways to prevent obesity in infancy and early childhood

Intervening to prevent the development of overweight and obesity as early as possible has the potential to improve health and reduce the health care costs associated with obesity-related diseases now and in the future. Little is known, however, regarding effective interventions for obesity prevention that might be implemented during infancy and early childhood.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Workshop on the Prevention of Obesity in Infancy and Early Childhood will bring together scientists with expertise in pediatric obesity, epidemiology, developmental psychology, developmental and behavioral pediatrics, nutrition, physical activity, sleep, temperament, and parenting to determine: (1) what is known regarding risk for excess weight gain in infancy and early childhood, (2) what is known regarding interventions that are promising or have been shown to be efficacious, and (3) challenges and opportunities in implementing and evaluating behavioral interventions in parents and other caregivers and their young children. Continue reading

Latino families in study eat more fruits and veggies, drink less soda

Aug. 12, 2013, Medical Xpress

A successful program that increased the number of fruits and vegetables eaten and decreased sugar-sweetened beverage consumption by 50 percent among Latino children had two secret weapons, according to a University of Illinois (U of I) researcher.

“First, we got mothers and other relatives involved because family togetherness is a very important value for Latinos. Many programs, delivered at school, target only the child, but we know that kids have very little ability to choose the foods they eat at home—they don’t purchase or prepare them,” said Angela Wiley, a U of I professor of applied family studies.

The second guiding principle was “mas y menos,” meaning “a little more, a little less.”

“Interventions often fail because their goals are too lofty. If someone tells me that ice cream is the root of my problem and I can’t eat any more of it, I’ll be disheartened and say I can’t do this. If someone says, would you be willing to eat ice cream two days a week instead of five, or eat light ice cream instead, I would be more willing to try,” she said. Continue reading

Obesity risk factors may vary for boys, girls

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

By Kathleen Doheny

While some behaviors increase the risk of obesity for both boys and girls, new research shows there are gender differences.

For instance, although being on a sports team reduced the risk of obesity for middle school-aged boys, it did not for girls, said study author Dr. Elizabeth Jackson, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Michigan School of Medicine.

On the other hand, “Girls who drank milk seemed to have more protection [against obesity],” she said.

Meanwhile, certain behaviors raised the risk of obesity for both boys and girls, the study found. Eating school lunch regularly increased the risk of obesity by 29 percent for boys and 27 percent for girls. Watching two or more hours of television a day boosted the odds of obesity by 19 percent for both genders. Continue reading

Soda tax won’t curb obesity, study contends

Aug. 9, 2013, HealthDay

Taxing sodas and other sugary beverages won’t help reduce obesity because consumers would switch to other high-calorie foods and drinks that aren’t taxed, a new study contends.

The researchers came to their conclusion after analyzing data on household food purchases made by Americans in 2006. The findings were published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics.

“Instituting a sugary-beverage tax may be an appealing public-policy option to curb obesity, but it’s not as easy to use taxes to curb obesity as it is with smoking,” study lead author Chen Zhen, a research economist at RTI International, said in a journal news release. Continue reading

Study shows elementary and middle schools can get students moving, not just thinking

Aug. 8, 2013, Medical Xpress

Despite widespread cuts to physical education classes and recess, an Indiana University study has shown that schools can play an important role in helping their students live healthier lives. Schools that implemented coordinated school health programs saw increases in students’ physical activity.

“With support from teachers, administrators, and parents, our schools can become healthier places,” said Mindy Hightower King, evaluation manager at the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community (IIDC) at IU Bloomington. “Despite budget cuts and increasing emphasis on academic skills, schools are choosing to focus on improving student health, which ultimately can support improved academic performance.”

The findings involved 1,100 students from eight southern Indiana elementary and middle schools. Students who attended the schools that most thoroughly implemented HEROES, a program based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s coordinated school health model, were more likely to increase their physical activity levels. HEROES is designed to enhance schoolwide wellness through changes in physical education, nutrition, health promotion efforts for school staff and family, and community involvement. Continue reading

Obese kids more likely to have asthma, worse symptoms

Aug. 7, 2013, HealthDay

By Dennis Thompson

Overweight and obese kids are more likely to struggle with asthma than kids of normal weight, according to a new review of more than 623,000 children.

Researchers found that children carrying extra weight are between 1.16 to 1.37 times more likely to develop asthma than normal-weight kids, with the risk growing as their body-mass index — a measure of body fat encompassing height and weight — increases.

Obese children also experience more frequent and severe episodes of asthma, requiring more medical attention and drug therapy, found the study in the Aug. 7 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology. Continue reading

Minority kids may need longer support to keep weight off

Aug. 7, 2013, MedPage Today

By Cole Petrochko

A lifestyle modification program for obese minority and inner city teens effectively helped them manage body mass index and nutrition, but the benefits wore off after the program’s conclusion, researchers found.

During nine months of the behavior- and nutrition-modifying intervention, participants saw significant reductions in rates of BMI increase (0.13 versus 0.04,P<0.01), BMI percentile (0.0002 versus -0.0001, P<0.01), the percentage of overweight participants (0.001 versus -0.001, P<0.01), and in BMI z-score (0.003 versus -0.003, P<0.01), according to Jessica Rieder, M.D., of the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in New York City, and colleagues. Continue reading