Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014
Moms who are overprotective of their children–especially in the arena of avoiding risks in physical activity–may actually be increasing their kids’ risk of health problems, specifically obesity. A longitudinal study conducted by Australian researchers found that moms who are overprotective tend to limit physical activity for their kids, and by age 10 or 11, the kids are at a higher risk of being overweight or obese.
The data came from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, which followed more than 2,500 children from ages 4 to 11. They used a measure called the Protectiveness Parenting Scale to rank parents’ degrees of protectiveness in three main areas:
- How difficult a parent finds it to be separated from their child
- How much they try to protect their child from problems or difficulties
- How difficult it is for them to relinquish control of their child’s environment as they get older.
As the Science Network of Western Australia reports, moms who scored moderately high on the scale were 13 percent more likely to have overweight or obese kids; moms who scored high on the scale were 27 percent more likely. More from the Science Network:
“However, we only found this pattern once kids reached the age of about 10-11 years.”
“This could be to do with the amount of independence and physical activity that kids get.”
“At 10–11 years some kids will be allowed to walk or ride to school on their own, or with friends, or participate in sport… others will be driven around and have greater restrictions.”
“So while some kids have many options for physical activity, kids with an overprotective parent might miss out, [which] could explain why we found higher rates of overweight and obesity.”
They also found higher protective scores across mothers from greater socioeconomic and environmental disadvantage, which Ms Hancock says is understandable.
“If they’re living in areas with increased traffic congestion, or in neighbourhoods that are less safe, then we need to remember that… it isn’t as simple as saying ‘let your kids be more active’ if the opportunities aren’t there.”
What is your parenting style?
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Thursday, June 26th, 2014
The obesity rate among American kids may actually be higher than the 18 percent of children the Centers for Disease Control currently classifies as obese, according to an analysis published in the journal Pediatric Obesity. As many as 25 percent of obese or overweight kids may not be counted because the tally is based on the body mass index (BMI), a calculation that researchers say is flawed because children’s height and weight change rapidly as they grow–and not always in proportion with each other.
More from The Wall Street Journal:
“BMI is not capturing everybody who needs to be labeled as obese,” said Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, director of preventive cardiology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., who headed the study with Asma Javed, a pediatric endocrinology fellow.
Measuring body-mass index is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to screen for obesity among large groups of people, such as children in a school setting. A problem is that BMI, a calculation based on a person’s height and weight, isn’t well suited to children because their height and weight don’t proportionally increase as they grow, said Ruth Loos, a professor of preventive medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, who wasn’t involved with the Mayo study.
“It doesn’t mean that we cannot use BMI in childhood but it requires extra caution,” she said.
Other recent research has linked everything from sleep deprivation to weight-based name calling with an elevated risk of childhood obesity. Research released earlier this year had claimed a significant drop in the childhood obesity rate in the U.S., but subsequent research actually showed a sharp increase in the number of severely obese kids.
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Wednesday, June 18th, 2014
Despite the idea that kids would be playing and moving around outside during the summer months, new research from Harvard University shows that summertime is actually when kids are most at risk of packing on pounds. Part of the reason may be school-led efforts to offer healthier lunches and ban sugary drinks, but also at fault could be sedentary summer habits, less structure, and more (and less healthy) snacks. More from Today.com:
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health looked at data from seven studies that included more than 10,000 kids ages 5 to 12 in the United States, Canada and Japan. In all but one of the studies published between 2005 and 2013, the findings suggested that weight gain accelerated among kids during the summer — mostly for black and Hispanic youngsters and children and teens who were already overweight.
“It’s especially those kids who are already at risk who are the most at risk during the summer,” said Rebecca Franckle, a Harvard doctoral student who led the study published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease.
In one study of more than 5,300 kindergarten and first-graders in 310 U.S. schools, researchers found that the kids’ body mass index growth, one measure of excess weight, was more than twice as fast during summer vacation as during the school year.
“Although schools may not provide ideal environments for healthy BMI growth, it appears that they are healthier than most children’s non-school environment,” researchers concluded in the 2007 study in the American Journal of Public Health.
About a third of children and teens in the U.S. are either overweight or obese, according to federal health estimates. Piling on extra weight at a young age can lead to serious health problems later in life.
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Friday, June 13th, 2014
Parents of preschoolers who don’t get enough rest are more likely to have kids with sleep problems–and a higher likelihood of being overweight or obese. More from HealthDay News on a new study published in the journal Frontiers of Psychology:
“We viewed how long parents slept and how long children slept as part of a household routine and found that they really did go together,” study author Barbara Fiese, director of the Family Resiliency Center at the University of Illinois in Urbana, said in an university news release.
Researchers assessed the weight of 337 preschool children and their parents, as well as factors that could protect against overweight and obesity.
The protective factors assessed in parents included adequate sleep (more than seven hours a night) and family mealtime routine. The factors assessed in children included adequate sleep (10 or more hours a night), family mealtime routine, not having a television in the bedroom, and limiting screen time to less than two hours a day.
Getting adequate sleep was the only individual protective factor against overweight and obesity in children. Those who didn’t get enough sleep were more likely to be overweight/obese than those who followed at least three of the other protective routines on a regular basis.
The researchers also found that the number of hours a parent sleeps per night affects their children’s amount of sleep. This means that parents’ sleep habits could affect their children’s risk of being overweight/obese.
“Parents should make being well-rested a family value and a priority. Sleep routines in a family affect all the members of the household, not just children; we know that parents won’t get a good night’s sleep unless and until their preschool children are sleeping,” Fiese said.
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Monday, June 9th, 2014
The parents of an 11-year-old British boy have been arrested on charges of neglect and child cruelty, prompted by concerns about the boy’s severe obesity. More from The New York Times:
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The boy, who like his parents was not identified, weighed 210 pounds. Doctors and social workers concerned about his welfare had called the police after he was brought in twice for treatment, The Sun newspaper reported on Friday.
The parents were arrested in March after being questioned by the police in King’s Lynn, in Norfolk. The father, 49, and the mother, 44, were released on bail, a police spokeswoman said.
The family was reunited, and this week, in a letter of intent, the couple agreed to improve their son’s health.
The boy is 5 feet 1 inch with a body mass index of 41.8, the newspaper reported. That is higher than what is classified as obese for an average adult male and is “very overweight” for a boy his age, according to Britain’s National Health Service.
“He’s always been big,” the father told The Sun. “He was born with shovels for hands and spades for feet. Our son’s favorite snack is steamed broccoli — and he’s still big.”
In a statement, the police said that “obesity and neglect of children” were sensitive issues, but that its child abuse investigation unit worked with health care and social service agencies to ensure a “proportionate and necessary” response.
The police said in the statement that “intervention at this level is very rare and will only occur where other attempts to protect the child have been unsuccessful.”