First study shows overweight and obese youth can lose weight from active videogames, or exergames

April 23, 2013, The Wall Street Journal

While most parents have to compete with the videogame console to ensure their kids get enough exercise, new, groundbreaking research published in the scientific journal, Obesity, makes an argument for a certain kind of video game: active videogames, also known as exergames. These games are a form of exercise and rely on technology to track the body’s movement and reaction.

“Faced with a pediatric obesity crisis, our nation urgently needs sustainable physical activities that promote healthy weight in youth,” said study author Amanda Staiano, Ph.D., of Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La. “In the past, light-to-moderate energy expenditure has been documented during exergame play; however, this is the first study to demonstrate weight loss among teenagers as a result.” Continue reading

Activity level is more important than caloric intake to prevent childhood obesity

March 19, 2013, San Francisco Chronicle

Research recently published in U.S. News and World Report suggests that caloric intake plays a less significant factor in obesity than activity levels.

The authors of the study hypothesize that the thinner children all participate in regular sessions of exercise, thereby increasing their energy expenditures. The overweight and obese subjects were more sedentary.

Originally published in the Journal of Pediatrics, researchers studied the dietary habits of approximately 13,000 children from the ages of 1 to 17 years between 2001 and 2008. Continue reading

Exercise may help protect children from stress

March 8, 2013, The New York Times

By Jan Hoffman

Physically active children generally report happier moods and fewer symptoms of depression than children who are less active. Now researchers may have found a reason: By one measure, exercise seems to help children cope with stress.

Finnish researchers had 258 8-year-old boys and girls wear accelerometers on their wrists for at least four days that registered the quality and quantity of their physical activity. Their parents used cotton swabs to take saliva samples at various times throughout a single day, which the researchers used to assess levels of cortisol, a hormone typically induced by physical or mental stress. Continue reading

Heart healthy habits in childhood may prevent future disease

March 4, 2013, HealthDay

Teaching children heart healthy habits now can help protect them from heart disease when they’re adults, an expert says.

“The process of atherosclerosis, which is the hardening of the arteries and is known to cause heart attacks, strokes, and sudden death, has been shown to begin in early childhood,” Dr. Zachary Stone, a primary-care doctor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said in a university news release. “It’s important to concentrate on healthy lifestyles in children to prevent adult cardiovascular disease.”

The three heart health areas to watch in children are diet, physical activity levels, and exposure to secondhand smoke. Continue reading

When kids exercise more, their grades might rise too

Feb. 28, 2013, HealthDay

One key to better grades in the classroom may lie in the gym or on the playground, a new study finds.

The research, to be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Pediatrics, found that elementary and middle school students who don’t get enough exercise are more likely to fail math and reading tests.

Although the study didn’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship, the findings may be especially important in light of the fact that some school districts in the United States have cut physical education classes in order to devote more time to the “3 Rs” (reading, writing, and arithmetic), the researchers said. Continue reading

In many families, exercise is by appointment only

Feb. 27, 2013, NPR [Shots Blog]

By Jane Greenhalgh and Patti Neighmond

Most families know that their kids need to exercise. In a poll that NPR recently conducted with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, practically all of the parents surveyed said it’s important for their kids to exercise. But about one-third of them said that can be difficult.

Take Yvonne Condes of Los Angeles: It falls on her, like many parents across the country, to make sure her kids get enough exercise every day. Federal health officials recommend at least one hour of daily exercise for children and teens. But many public schools have reduced or completely cut physical education classes because of budget constraints. Continue reading

How ‘crunch time’ between school and sleep shapes kids’ health

How ‘crunch time’ between school and sleep shapes kids’ health
Feb. 25, 2013, NPR [Shots Blog]

It’s an important question for American families and the nation as a whole: Why do so many kids weigh too much?

There are recent hints the epidemic may be abating slightly. Still, one in every three American kids is overweight or obese.

To understand why, NPR conducted a poll with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. It focuses on what happens in American households during the hours between school and bedtime.

This is crunch time for most families — when crucial everyday decisions get made about food and exercise.

Our poll used a unique design to get at what is actually happening in the life of a “target child” in each household. We supplemented their responses with more than 800 that came in when we asked parents, through NPR’s Facebook page, to describe their own “crunch times.” Continue reading

Screen time not linked to kids’ physical activity

Jan. 10, 2013, Reuters

By Genevra Pittman

Just four in 10 U.S. kids met dual national guidelines for getting enough physical activity and for limiting “screen time,” researchers found – but the likelihood of kids exercising regularly didn’t depend on whether they kept away from screens.

“I don’t think it’s as simple as, if a child is not watching television, then by default that child will be physically active,” said the study’s lead author, Tala Fakhouri, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Continue reading

Childs play helps combats obesity

Nov. 9, 2012, Voxy

Research published Nov. 9 in the New Zealand Medical Journal suggests that children can benefit more from active play compared to structured exercise.

“When it comes to combating obesity and increasing children’s daily physical activity levels, active play is just as important, if not more so, than structured exercise,” says Associate Professor Erica Hinckson from AUT University’s Centre for Child Health Research and Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition. Continue reading