2.1 billion people worldwide are overweight or obese

May 29, 2104, Los Angeles Times

By Karen Kaplan

The world isn’t getting smaller, it’s getting bigger, according to a comprehensive report published May 29 in The Lancet.

Whether you’re looking at men or women, children or adults, citizens of rich countries or poor ones, people were much more likely to be overweight or obese in 2013 than they were in 1980, the study found.

In 1980 — the year Pac-Man was unleashed on the world and John Lennon was assassinated — there were 857 million people on the planet who were either overweight or obese. Thirty-three years later, the comparable figure was 2.1 billion.

It is not just that the global population grew (and thus the number of people with too many pounds on their frames). The proportion of men who were overweight or obese rose from 28.8 percent in 1980 to 36.9 percent in 2013, while the proportion of women in that category increased from 29.8 percent to 38 percent during the same period, the report said. Continue reading

Young male smokers may raise obesity risk in their future sons

April 2, 2014, Reuters

By Kate Keland

Men who start smoking before the age of 11 risk having sons who are overweight, British researchers have found, adding to evidence that lifestyle factors even in childhood can affect the health of future offspring.

The scientists said the findings, part of ongoing work in a larger “Children of the ’90s” study, could indicate that exposure to tobacco smoke before the start of puberty in men may lead to metabolic changes in the next generation.

“This discovery of transgenerational effects has big implications for research into the current rise in obesity and the evaluation of preventative measures,” said Marcus Pembrey, a professor of genetics at University College London, who led the study and presented its findings at a briefing on April 2. Continue reading

The childhood obesity window is closing: Genetic influence of height and weight grows as we get older

April 23, 2014, Medical Daily

By Matthew Mientka

A new study on twins shows the importance of early intervention as America’s childhood obesity rate continues to rise after doubling during the past 30 years, with more than one-third of children overweight and obese.

By comparing data collected on more than 2,500 pairs of twins with genomic analysis, researchers from King’s College London and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), got a pretty good look at the interplay between nature and nurture. They found the influence of genetics on individual differences in body mass index (BMI) rose from 43 percent at age 4 to 82 percent by age 10, suggesting parents and clinicians might intervene with improved diet and lifestyle choices at earlier ages — when the time is ripe. Continue reading

Supermarket access is key ingredient in obesity programs

May 3, 2014, Medical Xpress

Living close to a supermarket appears to be a key factor in the success of interventions to help obese children eat better and improve their weight, according to a study presented May 3 at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Urban neighborhoods and rural towns without access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food are known as food deserts. Instead of supermarkets and grocery stores, food deserts sometimes have only fast-food restaurants and convenience stores.

Few studies have looked at whether living farther from a large supermarket affects the success of interventions to improve eating habits and reduce weight. Continue reading

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