Obesity may disturb bone growth during teen years

Dec. 18, 2013, Reuters

By Shereen Jegtvig

Obese teens might not develop sufficient bone mass relative to their body weight, according to a new study from Brazil.

Both body fat and lean body mass have an impact on bone growth, but it’s not clear if the bones of the heaviest teens are strong enough for their weight and that could have long- and short-term consequences.

Bone mineral acquisition “rises exponentially in both genders” during the growth spurt following puberty, the researchers write in the journal Nutrition.

Previous studies examining whether obesity interferes with bone development have shown conflicting results — some indicate bone density is fine when compared just to the adolescent’s lean mass (muscle).

But others have suggested bone density doesn’t increase enough during this important period to support the heavier weight of obese teens, potentially putting them at increased risk for bone fractures. 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

Strict school lunch standards tied to healthy weight

April 8, 2013, Reuters

By Andrew M. Seaman

Strict school lunch standards that are similar to new regulations from the U.S. government may be tied to healthier body weights among students, according to a new study.

“I think it’s evidence that healthier school lunches have a positive effect but it’s preliminary evidence. It’s far from definitive,” said Anne Barnhill, who studies food policy at University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia but was not involved with the new research.

The new findings, published in JAMA Pediatrics on April 8, bode well for the standards introduced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in January 2012 that — among other moves — set maximums for calories offered during lunch and mandate that only skim or reduced-fat milk are offered to students. Continue reading