The childhood obesity window is closing: Genetic influence of height and weight grows as we get older

April 23, 2014, Medical Daily

By Matthew Mientka

A new study on twins shows the importance of early intervention as America’s childhood obesity rate continues to rise after doubling during the past 30 years, with more than one-third of children overweight and obese.

By comparing data collected on more than 2,500 pairs of twins with genomic analysis, researchers from King’s College London and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), got a pretty good look at the interplay between nature and nurture. They found the influence of genetics on individual differences in body mass index (BMI) rose from 43 percent at age 4 to 82 percent by age 10, suggesting parents and clinicians might intervene with improved diet and lifestyle choices at earlier ages — when the time is ripe. Continue reading

Study: Children who exercise have better body-fat distribution, regardless of weight

May 19, 2014, Medical Xpress

Maybe the numbers on the scale are not alarming, but that doesn’t mean that healthy-weight children get a pass on exercising, according to a new University of Illinois (U of I) study published in Pediatrics.

“The FITKids study demonstrates the extent to which physical activity can improve body composition, and that’s important because it matters to your health where fat is stored. But the study is also interesting for what happened in the control group to the kids who didn’t exercise,” said Naiman Khan, a postdoctoral researcher in U of I’s Division of Nutritional Sciences.

At the end of the nine-month program, the contrast between the exercisers and non-exercisers was noticeable, he said. “FITKids had improved cardiovascular fitness, less overall body fat, and carried less fat around their abdomens, a risk factor for diabetes and heart disease. The opposite was true for the control group who maintained their regular after-school routine.” Continue reading

Less sleep linked with obesity in low-income kids

April 26, 2014, Huffington Post

Kids from low-income homes who get less sleep at night may have a higher risk of obesity, a small new study suggests.

Researchers from the Rush University Prevention Center examined several potential obesity risk factors — including food intake and screen time — in addition to sleep, and found that sleep duration was the only factor directly associated with low-income children’s weight.

Specifically, children of normal weight slept for 33.3 more minutes than children who were overweight or obese in the study.

The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Behavioral Medicine; because they have yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, they should be regarded as preliminary.

The study included 6-to 13-year-olds from 103 low-income, urban households. Researchers analyzed their diets, amount of screen time, and sleep, and took note of what food, electronics, and sports equipment they had in their homes and bedrooms. Continue reading

Mothers’ monitoring of media tied to kids’ weight

March 17, 2014, Reuters

By Andrew M. Seaman

Children whose mothers pay close attention to how much time they spend watching TV and playing video games tend to weigh less, according to a new study.

Researchers found that mothers who were more active in their media supervision had children who were thinner at age 7 and who gained less weight over the next few years.

“At this point we can say there is an association but we cannot say exactly why,” Stacey Tiberio, the study’s lead author from the Oregon Social Learning Center in Eugene, told Reuters Health. Continue reading

Mom’s obesity tied to higher risk of preemies

June 11, 2013, Reuters

By Genevra Pittman

Pregnant women who are overweight or obese are more likely to give birth prematurely, according to a new study from Sweden.

Researchers found that link was strongest for babies born the earliest – between 22 and 27 weeks – and therefore most at risk of complications.

“This study suggests that there is a direct association between maternal overweight and obesity during pregnancy and the risk of preterm birth,” said Dr. Muktar Aliyu, who has studied pregnancy risks at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tenn. Continue reading

Longer gym class periods reduce childhood obesity

May 20, 2013, Medical Daily

By Ashik Siddique

More time in gym class actually does reduce the likelihood that young children will become obese, according to a new study published in the Journal of Health Economics. The findings are some of the first evidence that physical education (P.E.) directly impacts the weight of elementary school children, say the researchers.

Organizations including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have been advocating for longer gym class periods for some time, recommending that children under the age of 17 should spend at least one hour per day in some kind of physical activity. Continue reading