NCCOR Envision member discusses the effectiveness of childhood obesity interventions

As part of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Seminar Series, Steven Gortmaker, a professor for the Harvard School of Public Health and member of the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research Envision project, is presenting findings from a series of papers examining the cost-effectiveness of four childhood obesity interventions.

The discussion will focus on The Childhood Obesity Intervention Cost-Effectiveness Study (CHOICES) Project. This project is a collaboration between the Harvard School of Public Health, Columbia University, and research partners at Deakin and Queensland University in Australia. Over several years the CHOICES Research Team is assessing the cost-effectiveness of approximately 40 interventions aimed at reducing childhood obesity, including policy changes, programs, and interventions that have been identified as being effective, promising, or prevalent. Continue reading

Preschooler physical activity influenced by several factors

Oct. 13, 2013, dailyRx

It’s important for all children to get a regular amount of physical activity each day. Sometimes, the amount they get is affected by factors at preschool.

A recent study identified nine factors that affected how much physical activity preschoolers got.

Boys were more active than girls, and rainy days decreased their activity levels.

The placement of the preschool on the playground and the time children spent at preschool in the afternoon also influenced their physical activity levels. Continue reading

High blood pressure common among overweight kids

Oct. 10, 2013, HealthDay

Overweight and obese children have a high risk of developing high blood pressure, a new study warns.

Researchers analyzed the health records of nearly 250,000 children, aged 6 to 17, in California, and found those who were overweight were twice as likely as normal-weight children to have high blood pressure (hypertension).

The risk was four times higher in moderately obese children and teens, and 10 times higher in those who were extremely obese, according to the study, which was published Oct. 10 in the Journal of Clinical Hypertension. Continue reading

New study explores ways to prevent unhealthy weight gain among rural school-aged children

Oct. 11, 2013, News Medical

In the United States, children don’t eat enough fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Instead, their diets typically include excessive amounts of sugars and solid fats, counter to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendations, increasing the risk of obesity and diabetes.

A team of investigators implemented a two-year intervention study in low-income, rural areas where a disproportionately higher risk of overweight and obesity habits among children persists, leading to increased risk of diabetes and heart disease in adulthood. The children enrolled in the study consumed significantly more fruits and vegetables. The results are published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

To evaluate students’ diet quality at the beginning and after the study, researchers designed the CHANGE (Creating Healthy, Active, and Nurturing Growing-up Environments) study, a two-year randomized, controlled, community- and school-based intervention to prevent unhealthy weight gain among rural school-aged children. Continue reading

Study: Screen time contributes to weight gain despite exercise

Oct. 8, 2013, Perth Now

By Susie O’Brien and Katrina Stokes

Even a large amount of exercise does not cancel out “bum time” — periods spent in front of TVs and computers, according to researchers from the University of the Sunshine Coast.

The study of 144 active children found those who were normal weight spent an average of 140 minutes less a week on screens than those who were overweight. The two groups did almost exactly the same amount of exercise — more than 90 minutes a day.

Researcher Dr. Rachael Sharman also found children in teams, clubs, or formal exercise lessons were less likely than other kids to “trade off” physical activity for screen time. Continue reading

Cafeteria debit cards tied to unhealthy school lunches: Why paying with plastic could be hurting kids

Oct. 11, 2013, Medical Daily

By Chris Weller

Dropping a handful of quarters into the waiting palm of a lunch lady is quickly getting replaced by rapid, blurry swipes of a debit card, and the proliferation in cafeterias around the country has two researchers pushing for greater monitoring of children’s unhealthy spending habits.

Cornell University behavioral economists David Just and Brian Wansink recently investigated the school lunch choices of 2,314 children around the United States. The team compared calorie counts in meals purchased in schools that were debit-only to those that accepted both cash and debit cards. Meals purchased in debit-only schools not only had more calories than in other schools, but also contained a greater number of calories from high-fat, high-sugar foods.

“There may be a reason for concern about the popularity of cashless systems,” the researchers said in a university press release. “Debit cards have been shown to induce more frivolous purchases or greater overall spending by adults and college students.” Continue reading

Sports superstars endorse sugary, fatty foods

Oct. 7, 2013, Reuters

When Miami Heat star LeBron James isn’t scoring baskets, he’s busy — selling soda, sports drinks, and fast food.

But James isn’t alone. In a new study, many top U.S. athletes, from Peyton Manning to Serena Williams, were all over television promoting food and drinks, most of which aren’t very healthy.

“We see these people — they’ve obviously (reached the top) of sports achievement, they’re obviously living a healthy lifestyle — and they’re endorsing these foods. And that kind of lends an aura of healthfulness to these foods and beverages that they don’t deserve,” said Emma Boyland, from the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom.

“The message is really getting mixed up,” added Boyland. She studies marketing and children’s food choices but didn’t work on the new research. Continue reading

Junk food makers target kids with free online games, study says

Oct. 4, 2013, HealthDay

By Kathleen Doheny

Free online games promoting food products tend to emphasize high-fat or sugary products, according to researchers who looked at 143 websites marketing foods to children through the interactive games, known as “advergames.”

Featured foods tended to be low in multiple nutrients or vitamins and high in calories, sugar, and fat, said study researcher Lorraine Weatherspoon, an associate professor of food science and human nutrition and director of the didactic program in dietetics at Michigan State University, in East Lansing, Mich.

Children often see the game promoted on the food packaging, then go online to play. The games vary, but one cereal maker, for instance, has the product character featured in an interactive comic book online. A beverage maker has a game in which users “swap the sweets” — pictures of candy, cupcakes, and other treats — to make sets of three or more. Continue reading

The long-term returns of obesity prevention policies

April 2013, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the costs of proposed federal legislation over a 10-year timeframe. For policies and programs that have a long-term impact, the 10-year timeframe can account for many of the costs, but miss out on the savings.

This report from the Campaign to End Obesity concludes that widening that window to 75 years, which the CBO has done in other instances, could better account for all of the costs and savings attributable to various obesity prevention efforts. Because such programs would prevent obesity and related chronic conditions in the long run, they can help save money by reducing health care costs and increasing wages. The report identifies billions of dollars in potential savings that are attributable to four specific obesity prevention strategies, finding the highest potential for savings among women. The savings highlighted below are specific to women: Continue reading

Five regular meals a day reduce obesity risk among adolescents

Oct. 3, 2013, Science News

A regular eating pattern may protect adolescents from obesity, according to a Finnish population based study with more than 4,000 participants. When eating five meals — breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two snacks — a day, even those with a genetic predisposition to obesity had no higher body mass index (BMI) than their controls.

The collection of the data on the study population began prenatally, and the participants were followed up until the age 16. The aim was to identify early-life risk factors associated with obesity; to investigate the association between meal frequencies, obesity, and metabolic syndrome; and to examine whether meal frequency could modulate the effect of common genetic variants linked to obesity. The genetic data comprised eight single nucleotide polymorphisms at or near eight obesity-susceptibility loci. Continue reading