Food cravings are stronger, but controllable, for kids

Sept. 8, 2014, Medical Xpress

Children show stronger food cravings than adolescents and adults, but they are also able to use a cognitive strategy that reduces cravings, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

“These findings are important because they suggest that we may have another tool in our toolbox to combat childhood obesity,” says psychological scientist and lead researcher Jennifer A. Silvers, a post-doctoral fellow at Columbia University in the laboratory of Professor Kevin Ochsner.

Most interventions aimed at preventing or reducing childhood obesity focus on changing the environment—by limiting access to soda, for example, or by encouraging physical activity. Continue reading

Expanded Built Environment and Public Health Clearinghouse a go-to resource for design and public health training, news

The American Public Health Association, American Planning Association, National Network of Public Health Institutes, and Georgia Institute of Technology recently launched a greatly expanded Built Environment and Public Health Clearinghouse (BEPHC) as a resource for community design and public health training and community building. It is intended to be an evolving resource for training at the university and professional levels and a source for relevant news at the critical intersection of health and place.

The newly launched BEPHC website offers both academic and professional training resources that address the link between public health and planning, architecture, health impact assessment, transportation engineering, and other fields. The academic training pages provide information on courses taught at the university level that link public health to the built environment, while the professional training pages resources include multi-sector tools, training, case studies, and best practices to create, promote, and maintain healthy places. Continue reading

Key groups launch research consortium for design, public health collaboration

Request for proposals due Oct. 15 for university-led research 

The AIA Foundation, along with the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), recently announced the establishment of the AIA Design & Health Research Consortium to help fund basic research into the growing influence design has on public health.

The consortium will be comprised of like-minded university teams consisting of experts in architecture and public health. AIA Foundation and its partners will work with consortium members to identify and develop opportunities for funded research, publication, and other resources in design and public health, with the idea that coordination and collaboration will benefit the consortium, its partners, and the design and health professions. Continue reading

New commentary explores the negative impact of weight bias

Theodore Kyle and Rebecca Puhlare are participants on the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Roundtable on Obesity Solutions. In a new commentary, Kyle and Puhlare examine the negative impact of weight bias on finding solutions to the obesity epidemic.

In the paper the authors describe the how weight bias, an often neglected issue, impedes progress toward evidence-based solutions to obesity. They maintain it also leads to adverse health outcomes for children and adults since those who face weight bias are more likely to avoid health care, engage in unhealthy eating behaviors, increase food consumption, avoid physical activity, and experience elevated stress. Continue reading

Help CDC spread the word about obesity during September’s National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

Approximately 1 of every 5 (17%) children in the United States has obesity, and certain groups of children are more affected than others. Childhood obesity puts children at early risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease—conditions usually associated with adulthood.

There is no single or simple solution to childhood obesity.  It is influenced by many different factors, including a lack of access to healthy, affordable food and drinks as well as limited opportunities for physical activity in the places where children live, learn, and play.  Working together, states, communities, and parents can help make the healthy choice the easy choice for children and adolescents. Continue reading

Insights into Landmark Calorie Declines in the U.S. Food Marketplace

NCCOR’s Connect & Explore Webinar provides an in-depth look at the findings and groundbreaking methods from the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation evaluation

In an unprecedented review of the U.S. food system, researchers have, for the first time, used big data to track the number of foods and beverages consumed and purchased by Americans. The assessment, conducted by University of North Carolina (UNC) researchers, was part of an evaluation of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation’s (HWCF) pledge to remove 1 trillion calories from the marketplace by 2012, and 1.5 trillion by 2015.

The independent evaluation was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and examined the number of calories in packaged goods and the amount of calories purchased by U.S. families with children. The two studies, published September 17 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found that 16 food industry leaders cut 6.4 trillion calories from the U.S. food market over five years (2007-2012). The findings also showed that American families with children bought 101 fewer calories from packaged goods per person per day in 2012 than they did in 2007. Continue reading

Rates of abdominal obesity leveling off among kids

July 21, 2014, Reuters

By Kathryn Doyle

After rising steadily for more than 10 years, the proportion of U.S. kids defined as obese due to a large waist circumference held steady [from] 2003–2012, according to a new analysis of national data.

The new results echo recent studies that found the increase in U.S. obesity rates has slowed over the past several years.

“Even though the trends were flat across the years, the prevalence of abdominal obesity is still too high,” said senior author Lyn M. Steffen, from the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minn.

Abdominal obesity refers specifically to “visceral fat,” or the fat that accumulates around the midsection. This can be measured by waist circumference or by a waist-to-height ratio.

Using biennial data from a nationwide health and nutrition study, Steffen and her co-authors found that about 18 percent of kids ages 2 to 18 were obese based on their waist circumference in 2011 and 2012, very close to the rate in 2003 and 2004. Continue reading

Walking, biking, and taking public transit tied to lower weight

Aug. 19, 2014, Reuters

By Andrew Seaman

People who walk, bike, or take public transportation to work tend to be thinner than those who ride in their own cars, according to a new study from the United Kingdom.

The new findings — including that taking public transportation was just as beneficial as the other “active commuting” modes — point to significant health benefits across society if more people left their cars at home, researchers say.

“It seems to suggest switching your commute mode — where you can build in just a bit of incidental physical activity — you may be able to cut down on your chance of being overweight and achieve a healthier body composition as well,” said Ellen Flint, who led the study. Continue reading

Train your brain to crave healthy food

Sept. 1, 2014, CNN

By Jacque Wilson

It may be possible to rewire your brain so that it wants — craves, even — healthier foods. How? By following a healthy diet.

We know, that wasn’t the quick fix to afternoon ice cream binges you were hoping for. But this research could lead to a more sci-fi solution to the obesity epidemic.

In a pilot study published Sept. 1 in the journal Nutrition & Diabetes, scientists say that changing your eating behavior can actually change how your brain reacts to high-calorie and low-calorie foods.

“We don’t start out in life loving french fries and hating, for example, whole wheat pasta,” senior author Susan Roberts, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Energy Metabolism Laboratory, said in a statement. “This conditioning happens over time in response to eating — repeatedly — what is out there in the toxic food environment.” Continue reading

One in four U.S. kids underestimate their weight

July 31, 2014, HealthDay

Many obese and overweight kids don’t see themselves that way, which makes achieving a healthy weight almost impossible, researchers report.

In a new study, 27 percent of children and teens underestimated their weight. Fewer than 3 percent overestimated it. About 25 percent of parents underestimated their child’s weight and just 1 percent overestimated it, according to the study.

“Efforts to prevent childhood obesity should incorporate education for both children and parents regarding the proper identification and interpretation of actual body weight,” said lead researcher Han-Yang Chen, from the department of quantitative health sciences at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Mass. Continue reading