Family meals could protect teens from obesity in adulthood

Oct. 4, 2014, Science World Report

By Catherine Griffin

A simple, family meal each day may reduce the risk of obesity in teens. Scientists have found that family meals during adolescence were protective for overweight and obesity in adulthood.

In order to see whether family meals played a role in obesity reduction, the scientists used data from a 10-year longitudinal study. They examined weight-related variables, such as dietary intake, physical activity, and weight control behaviors among adolescents. Then the scientists asked questions to assess family meal frequency and body mass index.

About 51 percent of the subjects were overweight while 22 percent were obese. More surprising though was the rate seen among adolescents who never ate family meals together; 60 percent were overweight and 29 percent were obese at a 10-year follow-up. There was also a stronger positive effect when it came to family meal frequency among black young adults compared with white young adults. 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

The one good thing about teens and sports drinks

May 6, 2014, TIME

By Alice Park

Researchers confirm a strong connection between sports and energy drinks and smoking, video game playing, and sugary soda consumption. But the beverages were also linked to more physical activity among teens.

Considering what we know about kids and sports drinks — briefly, that according to leading health groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics, most children should not be drinking them — the small silver lining, according to a recent study, is that kids who drink them tend to exercise more than those who don’t. But they were also more likely to do things that harm their health, too.

Nicole Larson and her colleagues at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health asked nearly 3,000 students in grades six through 12 an exhaustive series of 235 questions and concluded that nearly 40 percent drank a sports drink at least once a week. Both boys and girls consuming sports drinks regularly were more likely to smoke and to play video games, the researchers found. They were also more likely to drink sugary soda and juice. The fact that sports and energy drink consumption are correlated with other risky behaviors, such as smoking, isn’t a surprise (though, to be clear, the researchers do not suggest a cause-effect relationship between the two). Continue reading

Inadequate sleep predicts risk of heart disease, diabetes in obese adolescents

March 6, 2014, Medical Xpress

Obese adolescents not getting enough sleep? A study in [the March 6 edition] the Journal of Pediatrics, shows they could be increasing their risk for developing diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Lack of sleep and obesity have been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases in adults and young children.

However, the association is not as clear in adolescents, an age group known for lack of adequate sleep, and with an obesity and overweight prevalence of 30 percent in the United States. Continue reading

Overweight teens don’t share in life-expectancy gains

March 28, 2014, HealthDay

By Robert Preidt

Gains in life expectancy don’t extend to adults who were overweight or obese as teens, according to a new study.

The average lifespan in the United States has increased by more than a decade since 1950, to nearly 79 years for someone born in 2011, the researchers said. But rising obesity rates may stall that progress, they said.

“In studying the rate of death among adults younger than age 50, we found that there was no improvement among men who were overweight or obese as teenagers,” said Dr. Amir Tirosh of the division of endocrinology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

“The mortality rate among overweight and obese teenagers in the years 2000 to 2010 was as high as the rate observed in the 1960s and 1970s,” he said. Continue reading

Obesity linked to lower grades among teen girls

March 11, 2014, NPR [Shots Blog]

By Linda Poon

Childhood obesity has made it to the forefront of public health issues, both in the United Kingdom and in the United States.

Now researchers at the Universities of Dundee, Strathclyde, Georgia, and Bristol say that not only does obesity affect a child’s overall health, but it may also lead to poorer school performance among teenage girls. Among boys, the link is less apparent.

Since the 1990s, the United Kingdom has seen childhood obesity rates grow at an alarming rate, says John Reilly, specialist in the prevention of childhood obesity at the University of Strathclyde, and the study’s lead author. Today, nearly a quarter of children in United Kingdom are obese by the time they reach age 12. Continue reading

Study: U.S. teens eat too much salt, hiking obesity risk

Feb. 3, 2013, HealthDay

By Alan Mozes

American teens are taking in as much dietary salt as adults, far exceeding guidelines on healthy limits for daily consumption, new research warns.

The investigation tracked the week-long eating habits of more than 760 black and white high school kids. It found that, on average, teens now ingest a whopping 3,280 milligrams (mg) of sodium (salt) every day.

That amounts to more than double the uppermost recommended level of 1,500 mg of sodium per day set forth by the American Heart Association (AHA). Continue reading

Study: Physical activity does not help burn abdominal fat in teens

Jan. 10, 2014, University Herald

By Stephen Adkins

It is a known fact that eating junk food causes bulging waistlines in adolescents. But a study by the UPV/EHU University of the Basque Country has found that abdominal fat cannot be reduced even if they engage in more physical activity.

Researchers said that the only way to fight obesity is through a combination of diet with lower fat content and lots of exercise.

“Until now it was thought even with an unbalanced diet, you somehow compensated for it if you got plenty of physical exercise,” researcher Dr. Idoia Labayen said in a press release. “Adolescents are a risk group as far as lifestyles are concerned because they are starting to take their own decisions about what they want and do not want to eat, and they are also going through a period in which many of them have stopped doing any sport.” Continue reading

Obesity may disturb bone growth during teen years

Dec. 18, 2013, Reuters

By Shereen Jegtvig

Obese teens might not develop sufficient bone mass relative to their body weight, according to a new study from Brazil.

Both body fat and lean body mass have an impact on bone growth, but it’s not clear if the bones of the heaviest teens are strong enough for their weight and that could have long- and short-term consequences.

Bone mineral acquisition “rises exponentially in both genders” during the growth spurt following puberty, the researchers write in the journal Nutrition.

Previous studies examining whether obesity interferes with bone development have shown conflicting results — some indicate bone density is fine when compared just to the adolescent’s lean mass (muscle).

But others have suggested bone density doesn’t increase enough during this important period to support the heavier weight of obese teens, potentially putting them at increased risk for bone fractures. Continue reading

Report: California teens drinking more sugary drinks

Oct. 18, 2013, HealthDay

Although younger children in California are drinking less soda and other sugary beverages, teens in the state are actually drinking more, according to a report released Oct. 17.

The research from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the California Center for Public Health Advocacy (CCPHA) involved more than 40,000 households and revealed an 8 percent surge in sugary drink consumption among young people age 12 to 17. Particularly large increases were seen among black, Latino, and Asian teens.

“California has made real progress in reducing the consumption of sugary beverages among young children,” Dr. Susan Babey, of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, said in a center news release. “But teens are in trouble. Soda or sports drinks should be an occasional treat, not a daily habit. If this trend isn’t reversed there may be costly consequences for teens, their families, and the health care system in the form of increased obesity and diabetes.” Continue reading