Income, not ‘food deserts,’ more to blame for U.S. obesity

Sept. 20, 2013, Gallup.com

By Kyley McGeeney and Elizabeth Mendes

In the United States, obesity in “food deserts” is above average. However, it is not solely — or even primarily — access to grocery stores that appears to be the issue — higher obesity rates are more likely to be linked to lower incomes. In other words, a lack of access to food in and of itself doesn’t matter when it comes to obesity. It only matters if Americans are also low-income. Further, income always matters, regardless of whether an individual has access to grocery stores or not.

“Food deserts” are typically defined as either an area that has limited access to grocery stores or as an area that is low income and lacks access to grocery stores. Regardless of which definition is used, what is clear is that the lack of access to grocery stores alone is not related to higher obesity rates — rather, it is more a lack of income. Continue reading

More education, not income, fights obesity

Sept. 13, 2013, Medical Xpress

By Stephanie Stephens

Educational status may protect women living in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas against obesity, finds a new study in the American Journal of Health Promotion.

The study adds to previous studies showing an inverse association between body mass index (BMI) and socioeconomic status (SES). Generally, researchers have discovered that women in areas with fewer economic resources have higher BMIs than women in more affluent communities.

Income and education are frequently used as markers for studying health inequalities, although they are “conceptually distinct,” said the new report’s authors. “It is possible that education is a marker of an individual’s access to health information, capacity to assimilate health-related messages, and ability to retain knowledge-related assets, such as nutrition knowledge.” Continue reading

Teens who beat obesity at risk for eating disorders

Sept. 9, 2013, USA Today

By Michelle Healy

Teens who were once overweight or obese are at a significant risk of developing an eating disorder as they lose weight, but identification and treatment of the condition is often delayed because of their weight history, researchers say.

“For some reason we are just not thinking that these kids are at risk. We say, ‘Oh boy, you need to lose weight, and that’s hard for you because you’re obese,’ “ says Leslie Sim, clinical director of the eating disorders program at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and lead author of a case study report in October’s Pediatrics, published online today.

In the report, Sim and colleagues review two cases in which teens with a history of obesity developed severe, restrictive eating patterns in the process of losing weight. But indications of an eating disorder went unidentified and untreated by medical providers for as long as two years despite regular check-ups. Continue reading

Obesity’s death toll may be much higher than thought

Aug. 15, 2013, HealthDay

By Dennis Thompson

Researchers have vastly underestimated the number of deaths caused by obesity in the United States, a new report reveals.

Obesity accounts for 18 percent of deaths among black and white Americans between the ages of 40 and 85, according to a study published online Aug. 15 in the American Journal of Public Health. Previous estimates had placed obesity-related deaths at only 5 percent of all U.S. mortalities.

“This was more than a tripling of the previous estimate,” said study author Ryan Masters, who conducted the research as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation scholar at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, in New York City. “Obesity has dramatically worse health consequences than some recent reports have led us to believe.” Continue reading

NIH workshop explores ways to prevent obesity in infancy and early childhood

Intervening to prevent the development of overweight and obesity as early as possible has the potential to improve health and reduce the health care costs associated with obesity-related diseases now and in the future. Little is known, however, regarding effective interventions for obesity prevention that might be implemented during infancy and early childhood.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Workshop on the Prevention of Obesity in Infancy and Early Childhood will bring together scientists with expertise in pediatric obesity, epidemiology, developmental psychology, developmental and behavioral pediatrics, nutrition, physical activity, sleep, temperament, and parenting to determine: (1) what is known regarding risk for excess weight gain in infancy and early childhood, (2) what is known regarding interventions that are promising or have been shown to be efficacious, and (3) challenges and opportunities in implementing and evaluating behavioral interventions in parents and other caregivers and their young children. Continue reading

Elevated blood pressure increasing among children

July 15, 2013, Los Angeles Times

By Monte Morin

The risk of elevated blood pressure among children and teens has risen 27 percent over a 13-year period, and is probably caused by over-consumption of salt and rising obesity, according to a new study.

In a paper published July 14 in Hypertension, a journal of the American Heart Association (AHA), researchers examined health and nutrition data for more than 11,600 children ages 8 to 17. Continue reading

Focus on health, not fat, in food talks with kids

June 24, 2013, HealthDay

By Denise Mann

There’s a right way and a wrong way to persuade your adolescent to eat healthy and help avoid obesity, a new study suggests.

Pointedly connecting food with fatness or talking about needed weight loss is the wrong way and could even encourage unhealthy eating habits, researchers report.

Instead, discussions that focus on simply eating healthfully are less likely to send kids down this road, a new study shows.

“A lot of parents are aware of the obesity problem in the United States — it’s everywhere you turn — but they wonder how to talk about it with their children,” said study lead author Dr. Jerica Berge of the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis. Continue reading

Outdoor food ads may persuade you to pile on the pounds

Jan. 29, 2013, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

“Living in a neighborhood that’s home to lots of outdoor food advertising may increase your chances of becoming overweight or obese,” said Lenard Lesser, MD, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Clinical Scholar (2009-2011). His new study is the latest work to reveal yet another link between the built environment and health.

“Determining why people eat certain foods and how they are influenced is a very complex process,” Lesser said. To test his hypothesis about the relationship between weight and outdoor advertising, Lesser and his team analyzed a telephone survey of adults, ages 18 to 98, from parts of California (Los Angeles near Drew University) and Louisiana (New Orleans near Tulane University). Continue reading

Childhood obesity may boost risk of multiple sclerosis

Jan 30, 2013, MyHealthNewsDaily

By Rachael Rettner

Very obese children and teens may be at risk for multiple sclerosis, a new study suggests.

In the study, very obese girls (those who had a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or higher) were nearly four times more likely to be diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) within the study period, compared with girls who were normal weight. The link was strongest among teenagers.

No link between obesity and multiple sclerosis was found for girls in other weight classes, or for boys. Continue reading

CDC infographic explores impact of eating away from home, obesity

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new infographic on Jan. 22 to coincide with the time when many Americans have returned to their busy schedules and are challenged to stick to New Year’s resolutions.

Go Light When You Have A Bite, shown below, outlines how Americans have shifted their Continue reading