Posts Tagged ‘ childhood obesity ’

Family Stress Might Be Making Girls More Obese Than Boys

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

Couple arguing in front of kids, boy and girlIn hopes of preventing childhood obesity, researchers are collecting data to pinpoint every potential reason why children are becoming overweight.

The latest study from the University of Houston focuses on family stressors and if they’re linked with children become obese by the time they’re 18 years old.

The study, published in this month’s issue of Preventive Medicine, concentrated on three main family stress points: family disruption, financial stress, and poor maternal health. The data of nearly 5,000 adolescents born between 1975 and 1990 was collected from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth.

Based on the data, there was a noticeable gender difference when it came to how kids responded to stress. For girls, they were most likely to become overweight or obese by 18 if they experienced family disruption and financial stress throughout childhood, reports Daphne Hernandez, lead author and assistant professor at the University of Houston. For boys, the only family stressor that related to their weight problems was poor maternal health.

Related: Could Your Preschooler Be at Risk for Obesity?

Focusing on more than calorie intake and physical activity may be the key to combatting the impact of family stress. Dr. Hernandez believes that many school programs that fight obesity, like the federally-funded Head Start program, are only producing short-term results. “Developing strategies to help with family stressors during childhood may help children maintain healthy weight into adulthood,” she said.

And, even worse, calling girls “fat” might make them more obese. Other research has also shown that a shocking number of parents don’t even realize their child is overweight. So as a parent, the first and possibly most important step is to be conscious and proactive about your child’s weight–and avoid using the word “fat.”

Plus: Sign up for our daily newsletters to keep up with the latest news on child health and development.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

The Lasting Impact of the Early Childhood Years
The Lasting Impact of the Early Childhood Years
The Lasting Impact of the Early Childhood Years

Image: Couple arguing in front of kids via Shutterstock

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Should Parents Be Fined for Their Obese Kids?

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

Obese boy on scaleIf you have an obese child, imagine getting fined — for up to $800!

This is what lawmakers are working on in Puerto Rico, where over 28 percent of kids are obese (versus 18 percent in the U.S.), reports The Guardian.

A new bill has been proposed that will allow teachers to notify school counselors about obese children. The counselors will then work with the children’s parents to identify the cause of obesity and then implement a healthy eating/weight loss plan.

Over the course of six months, counselors will monitor the family and gauge improvement. If there are no significant signs of improvement, parents will need to pay a fine between $500 and $800.

Now, even a charity in Britain has jumped into the conversation, and advocating that the same bill be proposed to fine British parents. According to Newsweek, over 33 percent of the kids in Britain are obese before they leave primary school.

The Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) defines obesity as excess body fat, which can lead to an increased risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, and certain cancers.

Sherry Huang is a Features Editor for Parents.com who covers baby-related content. She loves collecting children’s picture books and has an undeniable love for cookies of all kinds. Her spirit animal would be Beyoncé Pad Thai. Follow her on Twitter @sherendipitea

How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids
How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids
How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids

Image: Obese boy on scale via Shutterstock

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Could Your Kid’s Preschool Program Help Fight Childhood Obesity?

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

Childhood obesity is an issue in the U.S — the amount of children who are obese has tripled in recent years, and a quarter of preschool-aged kids are also overweight or obese. Although the White House has gotten involved in the fight against childhood obesity with Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign, along with many schools across the nation, a large percentage of children are actually overweight before they start kindergarten or first grade.

Thankfully, a study released in the journal Pediatrics says that the federally-funded Head Start preschool program can help in fighting against obesity, in addition to helping young children prepare for kindergarten. The study involved 43,700 Michigan preschool-age children, which included 19,000 kids enrolled in Head Start, which is free for 3- to 5-year-olds from families living in poverty. Before the study began, nearly one-third of the Head Start kids were considered obese or overweight, but they ended up with a healthier weight than the children who were not in the program.

“Even though children in the Head Start group began the observation period more obese, equally overweight, and more underweight than children in the comparison groups, at the end of the observation period the initially obese and overweight Head Start children were substantially less obese and overweight than the children in the comparison groups,” says the survey’s authors, which includes lead researcher Dr. Julie Lumeng.

A few reasons for the weight loss might be rooted in the holistic lessons that Head Start imparts to young kids at a crucial time, such as educating them on eating healthy foods and being more physically active, which contribute to making a child’s overall mental health better. All this can help decrease stress and TV time and increase sleep time. With Head Start steering children toward healthier habits and fostering structured routines, children are also more likely to make better choices in their lives.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids
How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids
How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids

Image: Preschool-aged children via Shutterstock

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Antibiotic Treatment During Pregnancy May Lead to Obesity Risk for Child

Friday, November 21st, 2014

Antibiotics During Pregnancy Can Lead to Obesity in ChildrenTaking antibiotics during your second or third trimester may lead to your child’s likelihood to develop obesity, new research shows.

A study published in the International Journal of Obesity evaluated 436 mother and child pairs and followed the children until they were 7 years old.

The study reports that kids who were exposed to antibiotics during the second or third trimester had an 84 percent higher chance of obesity compared to those who weren’t exposed during the second or third trimesters, after adjusting for several variables.

The study did not look into what kinds of antibiotics the women took. And it’s important to note that while some infections can get better on their own, others require antibiotic treatment to heal—and avoiding treatment could cause even more harm to the mother and developing child.

“The current findings in and of themselves shouldn’t change clinical practice,” Noel T. Mueller, the study’s lead author told The New York Times. “If they hold up in other prospective studies, then they should be part of the equation when considering antibiotic usage. There are many legitimate uses for antibiotics during pregnancy.”

Remember: If you’re pregnant and think you might need to take an antibiotic, always consult your healthcare provider and ask her about any questions or concerns you might have. You can read more about antibiotics and pregnancy here

Kids and Chronic Health Concerns
Kids and Chronic Health Concerns
Kids and Chronic Health Concerns

Photo of pregnant woman taking pills courtesy of Shutterstock

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Read This Before You Have Dinner Tonight …

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

Positive Family Meal Reduces Childhood ObesityWe’ve all heard about the benefits of a home-cooked meal (and likely bemoaned the amount of work and time that can take to produce), but a new study published this week in Pediatrics shows that when it comes to childhood obesity, what happens at the table may actually be more important than what’s on your child’s plate.

Researchers at  the University of Minnesota gave 120 families (about half with obese or overweight children and the other half with non-overweight children) iPads to record their meals for eight days, and they found that those families with non-overweight kids were more likely to have positive mealtime interactions.

These included what the study referred to as, “warmth, group enjoyment, and parental positive reinforcement,” while overweight children were more likely to experience a more negative mealtime experience such as “hostility, poor quality interactions, little communication and more controlling behavior from their parents,” TIME reports.

“I was surprised by how consistent the patterns were,” Jerica Berge, study co-author, told TIME. “Almost every single one of the emotional factors we coded were in the right direction, and there were really clear patterns in how much positive or negative interactions were associated with overweight and non overweight.”

The researchers also coded for a number of variables like where the meal took place (kitchen or dining room vs. family or bedroom), whether or not members of the family had some kind of screen, and also how long the meal lasted, among others. Through this they also found that for families with both obese and non-overweight children, mealtime is hardly a drawn out affair. Non-overweight children’s families typically sat down for an average of 18.2 minutes, while obese children’s families spent an average of 13.5 minutes.

It is important to note, however, that this study did not track exactly what families were eating at their meals—that will be their next study’s concentration, TIME reports. While we wait for those results, try out some of our own tried-and-true healthy dinner options for your family.

How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids
How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids
How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids

Photo of family eating dinner courtesy of Shutterstock.

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