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.”
Wednesday, April 30th, 2014
Calling a girl “fat” may result in a greater chance she’ll become obese later in childhood or life, according to new research published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics. More from Reuters:
The early stigma of being labeled that way may worsen the problem rather than encouraging girls to become healthier, but more research is needed to be sure, the study authors say.
“This study is one step closer to being able to draw that conclusion, but of course we can’t definitively say that calling a girl “too fat” will make her obese,” said senior author A. Janet Tomiyama of the University of California, Los Angeles.
“This study recruited girls when they were age 10 and followed them over nine years, so we know it’s more than just a one-time connection, which makes me believe that it’s an important question to continue researching,” Tomiyama told Reuters Health in an email.
She and her coauthor examined data from an existing study that followed girls through their teen years. At age 10, the girls answered the question, “have any of these people told you that you were too fat: father, mother, brother, sister, best girlfriend, boy you like best, any other girl, any other boy, or teacher?”
Out of just over 2,000 girls, a total of 1,188 answered “yes” to any of the choices.
Those girls were more likely to have a body mass index (BMI) – a measure of weight relative to height – in the obese range ten years later than girls who answered “no,” according to the results in JAMA Pediatrics.
“We know from considerable evidence that youth who feel stigmatized or shamed about their weight are vulnerable to a range of negative psychological and physical health consequences,” said Rebecca Puhl, deputy director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.
“This study suggests that negative weight labels may contribute to these experiences and have a lasting and potentially damaging impact for girls,” said Puhl, who was not part of the study.
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Tuesday, April 8th, 2014
Despite a spate of recent studies claiming a drop in the childhood obesity rate–especially one study that claimed a 43 percent drop in preschoolers with weight problems–new research published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics has found a sharp rise in the number of U.S. kids who are severely obese. More from CNN:
The researchers looked at data from more than 26,000 children age 2 to 19 in the United States who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They found that rates of overweight and obese children have been trending upward since 1999, with significant increases seen recently in the number of severely obese children.
Severe childhood obesity rates have more than doubled since 1999, according to the study. In 1999-2000, less than 1% of children fell into the Class 3 obesity category – meaning they had a body mass index 140% higher than their peers. In 2011-2012, 2.1% of children were in the same category. An additional 5.9% met the criteria for Class 2 obesity.
“I think there’s certain kids who are at greatest risk for obesity,” said lead study author Asheley Skinner, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. “When you put them in an environment like this one… they’re more likely to gain a whole lot of weight. That’s part of what’s going on.”
The risks associated with that extra weight are scary.
Obese children are more likely to have high cholesterol, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes later in life, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They’re also at risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea and psychological problems due to poor self-esteem. Studies show that obese children and adolescents are likely to remain obese as adults.
A separate study published in the journal Pediatrics this week estimates an obese child will incur anywhere from $12,000 to $19,000 in additional medical costs throughout his or her lifetime compared to a normal weight child.
Image: Blocks spelling “Obese,” via Shutterstock
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