New resources from Bridging the Gap and CDC highlight local school wellness policies

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Bridging the Gap program, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recently released a new set of resources highlighting opportunities to support wellness policies through evidence-based strategies. These briefs provide an assessment of policies across school districts nationwide, related to seven wellness policy components. They also highlight areas of opportunity for state agencies, school districts, and schools to strengthen wellness policy components. See all seven topic area briefs plus a methods document below. Continue reading

Certain kids with diabetes are most at risk for excess weight

May 30, 2014, Reuters

By Allison Bond

Children and teens with type 1 diabetes are already at increased risk for becoming overweight or obese, but certain traits make the odds even higher, according to a new study.

Because obesity can compound some of the health problems that go along with diabetes, it’s important to help kids avoid weight gain, researchers say.

Elke Frohlich-Reiterer of Medical University Graz in Austria, and her colleagues analyzed data collected from 250 diabetes centers in Germany and Austria; altogether, there were 12,774 participants in the study.

Kids were considered age 20 or younger and had type 1 diabetes, which used to be known as juvenile diabetes because it typically appears during childhood. Continue reading

Some child obesity fueled by stress response

May 27, 2014, CBS News

Children who struggle with stress by heading for the cookie jar are more likely to gain body fat, a finding that shows why it’s important to handle stress in more positive ways, European researchers say.

On May 24 at the European Congress on Obesity held in Sofia, Bulgaria, researchers presented a study on the link between children’s stress, hormones, diet, and increasing body fat or adiposity.

In a three-year study of about 500 elementary school children, those with high levels of the stress hormone cortisol and who turned to food for comfort gained body fat, Natalie Michels of the public health department at Ghent University in Belgium and her colleagues found. Continue reading

SNAP-Ed Toolkit adds 30 new resources

In 2013, the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR) helped the U.S. Department of Agriculture compile the first edition the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-Ed) Toolkit. The toolkit includes comprehensive, evidence-based, obesity prevention resources and interventions, as well as nutrition and physical activity strategies that can be readily adopted by SNAP-Ed agencies and states.

In May 2014, NCCOR and USDA released an updated version of the toolkit which includes 30 additional resources and interventions, and highlights those interventions with helpful designations: “research-tested,” “practice-tested,” or “emerging.” Continue reading

Study: Children who exercise have better body-fat distribution, regardless of weight

May 19, 2014, Medical Xpress

Maybe the numbers on the scale are not alarming, but that doesn’t mean that healthy-weight children get a pass on exercising, according to a new University of Illinois (U of I) study published in Pediatrics.

“The FITKids study demonstrates the extent to which physical activity can improve body composition, and that’s important because it matters to your health where fat is stored. But the study is also interesting for what happened in the control group to the kids who didn’t exercise,” said Naiman Khan, a postdoctoral researcher in U of I’s Division of Nutritional Sciences.

At the end of the nine-month program, the contrast between the exercisers and non-exercisers was noticeable, he said. “FITKids had improved cardiovascular fitness, less overall body fat, and carried less fat around their abdomens, a risk factor for diabetes and heart disease. The opposite was true for the control group who maintained their regular after-school routine.” Continue reading

Study: Children who are physically fit have enhanced language skills

June 3, 2014, Red Orbit

Physically fit children are not only healthier, they have faster and more robust neuro-electrical brain responses while reading, according to a new study by researchers from the University of Illinois. The findings were published in the journal Brain and Cognition.

Although the research does not prove that higher fitness directly affects the changes in the electrical activity in the brain, it does offer a mechanism to explain why physical fitness associates closely with improved cognitive performance with a variety of tasks and language skills.

The difference between physically fit children and unfit children is that better language skills are obtained with children that are fit. The study also revealed no difference while the child was reading correct sentences or ones with errors.

“All we know is there is something different about higher- and lower-fit kids,” said University of Illinois kinesiology and community health professor Charles Hillman, who led the research with graduate student Mark Scudder and psychology professor Kara Federmeier. “Now whether that difference is caused by fitness or maybe some third variable that (affects) both fitness and language processing, we don’t know yet.” Continue reading

How grocery store coupons can encourage healthful eating

April 10, 2014, The Washington Post

By Lenny Bernstein

Grocery coupons aren’t associated with nutritious food. Big chains use them to lure you into the store, offering discounts mostly on processed food and snacks. When researchers looked at 1,056 coupons available online for supermarkets nationwide, they found that the largest share (25 percent) were for “processed snack foods, candies, and desserts.” Another 14 percent offered price breaks on prepared meals, 11 percent were for cereals, and 12 percent were for beverages, more than half of which were sodas, juices, and energy or sports drinks.

Just 3 percent offered discounts on vegetables, 1 percent were for unprocessed meats, and fewer than 1 percent provided breaks on fruit prices. And those fruits were canned, not fresh.

If stores make “the unhealthier option less expensive and easier to purchase, we can’t be surprised when [people] purchase it,” said Andrea Lopez, a research analyst at the University of California-San Francisco School of Medicine, who helped conduct the study. It was published in March in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s journal, Preventing Chronic Disease. Continue reading

Analysts blame cheap food for obesity across all groups

May 23, 3014, Los Angeles Times

Our food is cheap — perhaps too cheap, if you look at the intersection of economics and obesity.

Researchers have found that obesity hits all groups of Americans — those with more money and education and those with less. That, and some other findings, challenge the common views about what’s fueling obesity in this country.

“[S]ome widely held beliefs about obesity and environments have little evidence in their favor, and some are contradicted by the data,” the researchers wrote May 22 in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

The researchers acknowledge that there are disparities in weight and health among groups of Americans, but they said that trends toward obesity occur in all groups. And they found that some of the circumstances commonly considered to be the causes are not borne out by data. Continue reading

Research concludes sugar-sweetened beverages contribute to the U.S. obesity epidemic, particularly among children

April 23, 2014, PR Newswire

In response to the ongoing policy discussions on the role of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) on weight and health, The Obesity Society (TOS) concludes that sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) contribute to the United States’ obesity epidemic, particularly among children. Based on an in-depth analysis of the current research, TOS’s position statement unveiled April 23 provides several recommendations for improving health, including that children minimize their consumption of SSBs.

“There’s no arguing with the fact that the high rates of obesity in the United States are troubling for our nation’s health, specifically the recently reported rise in severe obesity among children in JAMA Pediatrics,” said TOS spokesperson Diana Thomas, Ph.D., Professor at Montclair State University and Director of the Center for Quantitative Obesity Research.

“Following a thorough review and analysis of the existing research, TOS concludes that, by adding more non-nutritious calories to the American diet, SSBs have contributed to the U.S. obesity epidemic. Further, we recommend that to maintain and improve health children minimize drinking SSBs and adults reduce or avoid SSB consumption as part of an overall strategy to reduce calories.” Continue reading

RWJF infographic explains positive impact of healthier school meals

A new infographic from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) draws on the best of RWJF-funded research to show how 30+ million kids in the United States have healthier school meal options than children had 10 years ago.

Released June 9, “Healthier School Meals Matter” highlights the positive impact of healthy school meals on kids’ choices and obesity rates, particularly among children from low-income families. Check it out below, and read more about the infographic here.<!–more–>

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