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

New evidence on how weight, diet, and exercise can help reduce cancer risk

Feb. 18, 2014, The Washington Post

By Suzanne Allard Levingston

Cutting your risk of cancer is no longer just about shunning tobacco. Be lean. Eat healthfully. Get active. Common-sense lifestyle strategies for lowering the risk of heart disease and diabetes are now being shown to help prevent many types of cancer.

Of course, there are few absolutes in cancer prevention. Cancer is still a riddle, with many factors, including genetics, playing a role. But growing evidence suggests that there are steps that we can take to lower our chances of getting the disease, experts say.

Otis Brawley, chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society (ACS), urges careful attention to the “three-legged stool” of excess weight, poor diet, and inadequate physical activity, which together are linked to between a quarter to a third of cancer cases. If tobacco use continues its decline of the past 15 years or so, he said, that trio may supplant smoking as the leading preventable cause of cancer. Continue reading

Fast food: A symptom, not the cause of childhood obesity

Jan. 21, 2014, WUNC North Carolina Public Radio

It’s easy to point the finger at fast food joints. A decade after the breakout documentary, “Super Size Me,” the cheap, un-nutritious, happy meal is a go-to candidate for public ire when it comes to childhood obesity.

But a new study by researchers at the University of North Carolina says that explanation might be too easy.

After studying nearly 5,000 children, the researchers say that fast food consumption may be indicative of dietary problems, but the greater concern lies in a child’s broader diet throughout the day. Continue reading

New study explores ways to prevent unhealthy weight gain among rural school-aged children

Oct. 11, 2013, News Medical

In the United States, children don’t eat enough fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Instead, their diets typically include excessive amounts of sugars and solid fats, counter to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendations, increasing the risk of obesity and diabetes.

A team of investigators implemented a two-year intervention study in low-income, rural areas where a disproportionately higher risk of overweight and obesity habits among children persists, leading to increased risk of diabetes and heart disease in adulthood. The children enrolled in the study consumed significantly more fruits and vegetables. The results are published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

To evaluate students’ diet quality at the beginning and after the study, researchers designed the CHANGE (Creating Healthy, Active, and Nurturing Growing-up Environments) study, a two-year randomized, controlled, community- and school-based intervention to prevent unhealthy weight gain among rural school-aged children. Continue reading

Promoting a unified message on diet and physical activity

A recent commentary published in the Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention examines the advantages of using an energy-balance framework to unify diet and physical activity messages so that adults and their children are better able to understand and follow these guidelines.

Energy balance is an essential principle of weight regulation. Maintaining a healthy body weight is fundamentally a balance between the amount of food eaten and the amount of energy expended throughout the day. So, if a person eats fewer calories than he or she expends weight loss will occur. The opposite is also true; if a person’s energy intake is consistently higher than his or hers energy expenditure then the result is weight gain. Continue reading