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

Severe obesity in teens tied to possible kidney problems

April 25, 2014, HealthDay

By Robert Preidt

Nearly one-fifth of severely obese teens have poor kidney function, a small new study suggests.

The study included 242 severely obese teens taking part in research on weight-loss surgery.

Seventeen percent of the teens had protein in their urine, which is an early sign of kidney damage. In addition, 7 percent had indications that their kidneys were working too hard, and 3 percent showed evidence of progressive loss of kidney function, the findings revealed.

Girls were more likely than boys to have protein in their urine, while those with the highest body mass index scores (BMI) — an estimate of body fat based on height and weight — and those with reduced insulin sensitivity were more likely to show signs of progressive loss of kidney function. Continue reading

Study of obese family leads to CEP19 gene discovery

Nov. 21, 2013, HealthDay

Researchers report that they have identified a gene that is tied to severe obesity.

They say their findings could lead to new treatments for obesity.

The team studied an Israeli Arab family whose members were severely obese. They found that the family members had a mutation in a gene that produces a protein called CEP19.

When the researchers deleted this gene in mice, the rodents became obese and developed diabetes. They also had increased appetites and burned less energy.

Scientists note, however, that research done in animals often fails to produce similar results in humans. Continue reading

‘Severely obese:’ 5 percent of U.S. kids, teens fit risky new category

Sept. 9, 2013, NBC News

By JoNel Aleccia

Overall obesity rates for American kids may have leveled off, but a new report finds that children and teens at the far end of the spectrum are getting heavier, faster — with about 5 percent now classified as “severely obese.”

That means nearly 4 million U.S. youth fall into a new category of obesity risk, one that carries dangers of serious disease and early death, even beyond expected harms, according to a scientific statement published Sept. 9 by the American Heart Association.

“It appears that severe obesity is the fastest-growing subcategory of obesity in youth,” write the authors in the report published in the journal Circulation.

Worse, when children get that big, it’s difficult to help them lose weight with traditional tools of diet and exercise, or even with drugs and surgery. Continue reading