Wednesday, December 12th, 2012
The childhood obesity rate–still believed to be a nationwide epidemic–is actually dropping in some major U.S. cities, a new report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has found. More from The New York Times:
“It’s been nothing but bad news for 30 years, so the fact that we have any good news is a big story,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, the health commissioner in New York City, which reported a 5.5 percent decline in the number of obese schoolchildren from 2007 to 2011.
The drops are small, just 5 percent here in Philadelphia and 3 percent in Los Angeles. But experts say they are significant because they offer the first indication that the obesity epidemic, one of the nation’s most intractable health problems, may actually be reversing course.
The first dips — noted in a September report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation — were so surprising that some researchers did not believe them.
Deanna M. Hoelscher, a researcher at the University of Texas, who in 2010 recorded one of the earliest declines — among mostly poor Hispanic fourth graders in the El Paso area — did a double-take. “We reran the numbers a couple of times,” she said. “I kept saying, ‘Will you please check that again for me?’ ”
Researchers say they are not sure what is behind the declines. They may be an early sign of a national shift that is visible only in cities that routinely measure the height and weight of schoolchildren. The decline in Los Angeles, for instance, was for fifth, seventh and ninth graders — the grades that are measured each year — between 2005 and 2010. Nor is it clear whether the drops have more to do with fewer obese children entering school or currently enrolled children losing weight. But researchers note that declines occurred in cities that have had obesity reduction policies in place for a number of years.
Image: Children at school cafeteria, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, April 12th, 2012
A short film about a 9-year-old boy’s homemade arcade in East Los Angeles has blossomed into an Internet sensation, with the 10-minute video by Los Angeles filmmaker Nirvan Mullick garnering 1.3 million views on Vimeo since Monday, with upwards of 575,000 more views on YouTube.
The video chronicles the filmmaker’s discovery of an arcade made by the passionate and creative boy Caine using cardboard boxes in his father’s used auto parts shop. Seeing the boy’s persistence and upbeat outlook even as his arcade goes un-patronized inspires Mullick to surprise Caine with a flashmob of customers eager to buy $5 “fun passes” and experience the basketball, soccer, and other arcade-style games Caine created, earning tickets and collecting prizes as they play.
The arcade continues to run on Saturdays from 8 am until 5 pm and Sundays by appointment. Mullick is also attempting to raise a $100,000 scholarship for Caine to use toward his future college education.
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Monday, January 23rd, 2012
Melinda Star Guido, one of the world’s smallest babies, is heading home after a long stay in a Los Angeels neonatal intensive care unit, The Associated Press reports:
Melinda Star Guido weighed only 9 ½ ounces at birth- less than a can of soda. After spending her early months in the neonatal intensive care unit, a team of doctors and nurses will gather Friday to see her off.
Melinda has been growing steadily and gaining weight since she was born premature at 24 weeks in August at the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center. She is the world’s third smallest baby and the second smallest in the U.S.
Now weighing 4½ pounds, doctors said Melinda has made enough progress to be discharged. It’s too early to know how she will fare developmentally and physically, but doctors planned to monitor her for the next six years.
Most babies this small don’t survive even with advanced medical care. About 7,500 babies are born each year in the United States weighing less than 1 pound, and about 10 percent survive.
Image: Premature baby in incubator, via Shutterstock
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