Obese teens eat up fast food hype, study says

Oct. 29, 2013, HealthDay

Obese teens and young adults may be more receptive to TV fast food ads than those who aren’t obese, a new study says.

“Given the concerning rates of obesity in U.S. youth and associated health risks, a better understanding of influences leading to obesity in youth is critical in guiding prevention and public health strategies,” study author Dr. Auden McClure, of the Norris Cotton Cancer Center at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., said in a center news release.

The study included 2,541 participants, aged 15 to 23, from across the United States who viewed a random set of frames from fast food ads with brand names removed.

Participants were then asked if they had seen the ad, if they liked it, and if they could name the brand. Based on their responses, the participants received a score that reflected their receptiveness to the food ads. Those with higher scores were more likely to be obese than those with lower scores, according to the study, published in the November issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Continue reading

Most people use calorie information at fast food restaurants, when they read it

Nov. 22, 2013, Journal of Public Health

According to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) adults who read calorie information when it is available at fast food and chain restaurants tend to use the information when purchasing food. The authors, including Heidi Blanck, chief of CDC’s Obesity Prevention and Control Branch and member of the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research, found that 95.4 percent of those who read calorie information used it at least sometimes when making their food choices. The study was published online this week in the Journal of Public Health. Continue reading

Dinner rituals that correlate with child and adult BMI

Oct. 29, 2013, Medical Xpress

Beyond plate size and calorie count, the war against obesity may have a new leader – the dinner table. Families that eat together without the television on and stay seated until everyone’s finished have children with lower weights and body mass index (BMI), reports a Cornell behavioral economist in the October issue of Obesity.

Strong, positive socialization skills during dinners possibly supplant the need to overeat, the researchers explain. Mothers and fathers who talk meaningfully with children, especially young boys, about their day during dinner also have lower BMIs.

“The ritual of where one eats and how long one eats seems to be the largest driver,” said Brian Wansink, professor in Cornell’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management and director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab. He co-authored the study with Ellen Van Kleef, assistant professor at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. Continue reading

Diabetes risk tied to weight gain in youth

Oct. 29, 2013, MedPage Today

By Michael Smith

The risk of developing diabetes in adulthood is associated with weight in adolescence and weight gain during the teens and early 20s, researchers reported.

In a longitudinal cohort of teens and young adults, the timing of the weight gain also appeared to play a role in diabetes risk, according to Penny Gordon-Larsen, Ph.D., a professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

On the other hand, hypertension in adulthood was associated just with adult body mass index (BMI), while inflammation was linked only to increasing BMI, Gordon-Larsen and colleagues reported in the November issue of Obesity. Continue reading

Focus on developmental approach to obesity in children and adolescents

Oct. 22, 2013, Medical Xpress

New studies of factors affecting the risk of obesity in children and adolescents—as well as promising approaches to prevention and treatment—are assembled in the special October Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics (JDBP), the official journal of the Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics (SDBP).

The special issue emphasizes a developmental viewpoint on the crucial problem of childhood obesity, including studies with a cultural focus contributed by professionals across a wide range of disciplines. Highlighting the SDBP’s mission and values, the papers present “a developmental framework for understanding pediatric obesity and informing interventions that work,” according to Guest Editors Carolyn E. Ievers-Landis, Ph.D., and Elissa Jelalian, Ph.D. Continue reading

Equipment, encouragement gets kids active during recess

Oct. 24, 2013, The Baltimore Sun

By Allison Bond

Providing children with sports equipment, encouragement, and a safe environment boosts their activity level during the school day, according to a recent study from Australia.

Researchers found that simple steps such as making sure elementary school students have bats and balls to use during recess or asking students to stand up between classes boosted physical activity during recess by as much as 40 percent.

“We all know that physical activity is important, especially with the growing obesity epidemic,” Dr. Vandana Madhavan, a pediatrician at Massachusetts General Hospital who was not involved in the research, told Reuters Health. “This study looks at multiple ways to increase activity in the school setting.” Continue reading

Peer pressure can influence food choices at restaurants

Oct. 25, 2013, Medical Xpress

If you want to eat healthier when dining out, research recommends surrounding yourself with friends who make healthy food choices. A University of Illinois study showed that when groups of people eat together at a restaurant at which they must state their food choice aloud, they tend to select items from the same menu categories.

“My conclusion from the research is that people want to be different, but not that different,” said U of I food economist Brenna Ellison. “We want to fit in with the people we’re dining with. It goes against the expectation that people will exhibit variety-seeking behavior; we don’t want to be that different from others.” Continue reading

Gene mutation tied to higher obesity risk in kids

Oct. 24, 2013, HealthDay

Obesity is on the rise among children, and a particular genetic mutation might play a role for some kids, a new study suggests.

Researchers in Britain conducted genetic analyses of more than 2,100 severely obese youngsters. They found that those with mutations in the KSR2 gene had larger appetites and slower metabolism than those with a normal copy of the gene, according to the study published in the Oct. 24 issue of the journal Cell.

“Changes in diet and levels of physical activity underlie the recent increase in obesity; however, some people gain weight more easily than others,” study author Sadaf Farooqi, of the University of Cambridge, noted in a journal news release. “This variation between people is largely influenced by genetic factors. The discovery of a new obesity gene, KSR2, demonstrates that genes can contribute to obesity by reducing metabolic rate — how well the body burns calories.” Continue reading

First-ever census reveals growing popularity of Farm to School program

Oct. 22, 2013, The Washington Post

By Tim Carman

More than 40 percent of the U.S. public school districts that responded to a historic census said they were participating in a program that helps bring fresh, local produce to school cafeterias. The percentage of participating schools was even higher in Maryland, Virginia, and the District, where the program has taken deep root.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) first-ever census of school districts across the country revealed how popular the national Farm to School program has become in recent years: About 43 percent of U.S. school districts — or about 38,600 schools — bought local produce for their students during the 2011-2012 school year, investing more than $354 million in farms near their communities. Another 13 percent said they would be participating in the program “in the near future.” Continue reading

NCCOR Envision members help inform new recommendations on managing children’s weight

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), part of the Department of Health in the United Kingdom, recently issued new guidance on managing overweight and obesity in children through lifestyle weight management services.

The National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR) Envision members Tim Marsh and Martin Brown, in collaboration with additional researchers, helped inform this guidance by conducting economic modeling to determine the level at which these interventions would be cost effective and add to the quality of life and health of children. Continue reading