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

Excessive weight gain during pregnancy tied to childhood obesity

Oct. 1, 2013, Medical Xpress

A study of 41,133 mothers and their children in Arkansas has shown that high pregnancy weight gain increases the risk of obesity in those children through age 12. The findings, published Oct. 1 in PLOS Medicine, suggest pregnancy may be an especially important time to prevent obesity in the next generation.

“From the public health perspective, excessive weight gain during pregnancy may have a potentially significant influence on propagation of the obesity epidemic,” says the study’s senior author David S. Ludwig, M.D., Ph.D., and director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Programs to limit pregnancy weight gain could help prevent some cases of childhood obesity. “Pregnancy presents an attractive target for obesity prevention programs, because women tend to be particularly motivated to change behavior during this time,” says Ludwig. Continue reading

Too many sugary drinks for kids

Aug. 26, 2013, dailyRx

Most kids love sugary beverages, but parents should be mindful of how much of these beverages their kids are drinking.

A recent review of studies found that drinking more sugar-sweetened drinks was linked to weight gain among children and adults.

The study authors noted that it is especially important to have overweight children reduce their consumption of sugary beverages.

This study was led by Vasanti Malik, Sc.D., from the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. Continue reading

Sugary drinks tied to obesity among preschoolers

Aug. 5, 2013, Reuters

By Genevra Pittman

Five-year-olds who drink sugar-sweetened sodas, sports drinks, or juices every day are more likely to be obese than those who have sugar-sweetened beverages less often, according to a new study.

Although the link between sugary drinks and extra weight has been well documented among teens and adults, researchers said that up until now, the evidence was less clear for young children.

“Even though sugar-sweetened beverages are relatively a small percentage of the calories that children take in, that additional amount of calories did contribute to more weight gain over time,” said Dr. Mark DeBoer, who led the study at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Continue reading

Stigma overweight people face could spur more weight gain

July 24, 2013, HealthDay

By Steven Reinberg

Discriminating against a person because of their weight may actually increase the chances of that individual becoming obese, researchers report.

People who experienced this so-called “weightism” are two and a half times more likely to become or stay obese later on, the researchers added.

“Discrimination is hurtful and demeaning, and has real implications for physical health,” said lead researcher Angelina Sutin, an assistant professor of psychology at Florida State University.

“In the case of weight discrimination, people often rationalize that it is okay to do because it will motivate the victim to lose weight,” Sutin said. “Our findings suggest the opposite.” Continue reading

Gene variants may play role in obesity

June 17, 2013, HealthDay

By Randy Dotinga

Two new studies offer some solace to those who can’t control their weight despite diet and exercise by providing more evidence that genetics may play a role in obesity.

One study offers unique insight because it finds genetic mutations in severely obese children that suggest their excess weight may be more connected to their DNA because they put on pounds at such a young age. The other study found that certain genetic traits boost the risk of obesity in families.

The exact connection between genes and weight remains elusive. Still, “it’s very likely that many of the genetic variants that contribute to weight interact with our environment — the food that we eat and the amount of exercise that we get,” said Sadaf Farooqi, professor of metabolism and medicine at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom and co-author of the study on children. “In fact, some of these genes act by influencing our appetite and how much we like food.” Continue reading