Wednesday, December 5th, 2012
At 9 years old, Breanna Bond weighed 186 pounds, a number that had her doctor and her family alike worried for her health in an age of childhood obesity and rampant Type II diabetes that affects an estimated 12.5 million U.S. children. As CNN.com reports, the involvement of the whole family was the key motivating factor that helped Breanna shed 65 pounds:
“Conversations about a child’s weight can be fraught with psychological landmines, says Dr. Denise Wilfley, director of the Weight Management & Eating Disorders Program at Washington University School of Medicine.
“Mainly what we suggest is actually having the whole family take on a healthier lifestyle — for everybody to eat as well as possible, as nutritiously as possible, so the overweight child is not singled out,” she says.
Wilfley encourages parents in her programs to “walk the walk” and be a role model for their children. She talks about food as energy for kids’ bodies — eating better will help them think harder, jump higher, play more.
Her families try to follow the traffic light diet, with green-light foods such as vegetables, yellow-light foods such as lean protein and red-light foods such as sweets or simple carbohydrates.
“We focus a lot on not defining self-worth by the number on the scale,” she says. “The best way to prevent eating disorders is having very healthy eating patterns.”
[Heidi] Bond realized that in order to get [her daughter] Breanna to exercise regularly, they would had to make it a family activity. The Bonds started walking four miles, four days a week, on a trail near their home in Clovis, California.
“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” Bond says. “There were times where she refused to move.” But in the end, “a little tough love to save the rest of their life” was worth it, she says.
It’s best to avoid a power struggle when it comes to exercise and healthy eating, according to Jelalian. She says it’s easy for parents to become the “food police” without getting at the deeper issues. Parents should ask why a child wants a certain food or doesn’t want to work out and problem-solve with them to find a healthy alternative.
She recommends parents give their kids a choice as much as possible — not about being active or not active, but about what activity they want to do.
“It really takes that balance in parenting of being firm — this part is not negotiable, but being warm, caring in how you do that.”
Identifying your child’s motivation for losing weight is key, Wilfley says. Do they want to be able to run faster? Play football? Avoid teasing at school? Combining that goal with incentives such as sleepovers or family outings should help to keep a child motivated.”
Image: Family nature walk, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, October 16th, 2012
Nestle and General Mills, which are part of a parent company called Cereal Partners Worldwide and the second-largest cereal producers in the world, have announced a massive new plan to cut the amount of salt and sugar in their cereals…outside of the United States and Canada.
Twenty cereal brands popular with children and teenagers will be part of the initiative, as the companies pledge to cut 24 percent of the sugar and 12 percent of the salt in the products, Reuters reports. The move follows a 2003 program in which the companies increased the nutritional profile of their cereals, including making large cuts in salt and sugar. From Reuters:
CPW Chief Executive Jeffrey Harmening said the plan builds on efforts started in 2003 to improve the nutritional profile of cereals. The group has cut almost 900 tonnes of salt and more than 9,000 tonnes of sugar from its recipes since then.
“A certain number of moms don’t want their kids to have as much sugar as they do right now, so that is a barrier for some to purchasing breakfast cereal,” Harmening told Reuters at CPW’s new global innovation centre in the Swiss town of Orbe.
The move comes as food and beverage companies seek to preempt tougher regulation due to the global obesity epidemic by offering healthier products or smaller portions.
The World Health Organisation estimated there were over 42 million overweight children under the age of five in 2010. It says obesity in Europe is already responsible for up to 8 percent of health costs and up to 13 percent of deaths.
Image: Cereal, via Shutterstock
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Monday, October 15th, 2012
A new regulation in New York City that would limit the size of soft drinks to 16 ounces or fewer is the subject of a lawsuit filed late last week by a restaurant group and members of the soda industry. The New York Times reports:
“Legal action was widely anticipated from the soft-drink industry, which led an aggressive campaign this summer portraying [New York City Mayor Michael] Bloomberg’s plan as an affront to consumer freedom and has frequently opposed local regulations of its products.
The 61-page filing offers a detailed rebuttal to Mr. Bloomberg, arguing the soda restrictions are a form of de facto legislation, enacted by “executive fiat,” which should have been considered by the City Council. The plaintiffs say the rules represent “a dramatic departure” from the traditional role of the health department, and they are asking a judge to reject the size limits before they are put into effect.
The mayor’s chief spokesman, Marc La Vorgna, rejected those arguments on Friday, calling the lawsuit “baseless.” City health officials have argued that the plan can help curb runaway obesity rates in the city, where more than half of adults are overweight or obese.
“The Board of Health absolutely has the authority to regulate matters affecting health, and the obesity crisis killing nearly 6,000 New Yorkers a year — and impacting the lives of thousands more — unquestionably falls under its purview,” Mr. La Vorgna wrote in a statement.”
Image: Soda bottles, via Shutterstock
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Monday, October 15th, 2012
Teenaged boys who are obese have testosterone levels that are lower than normal-weight teens, to the point of being “alarming,” researchers have found in a new study published in the journal Clinical Endocrinology. The research may offer a clue into at least one medical explanation for obesity in boys. CNN has more:
“It has its origins in earlier research, which showed that type II diabetes and obesity in older men are linked to a high rate (25-33%) of hypogonadism, or low testosterone levels. According to the new study, the rate of hypogonadism in type II diabetic men ages 18-35 is greater than 50%.
In addition, concentrations of free testosterone — testosterone that isn’t chemically bound and thus available to the body — were shown to be negatively related to BMI: The higher the body mass, the lower the concentration.
“This raises the question whether obesity is associated with lower testosterone concentrations, even in younger males,” the study said.
Controlling for age, physical maturity and certain medical factors, 25 obese and 25 lean males between the ages of 14 and 20 were studied.
Blood samples were drawn in the morning to measure both total and free testosterone.
Mean testosterone concentration was 50% lower in obese males. Mean free testosterone concentration was 46% lower.
The results present several problems for those affected, according to Dr. Paresh Dandona, chief of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at the University of Buffalo’s medical school and the study’s lead author.
Obesity can lead to diabetes and heart disease. What’s more, low testosterone can slow or stop sexual maturation — and there’s nothing more hurtful than “a male not having his maleness,” Dandona said.”
Image: Obese boy, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, September 19th, 2012
A new study is reporting that bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical found in some plastics and food cans, may, in addition to causing a host of health risks, raise the risks that children will become obese. Though BPA has been removed from many plastic children’s toys, bottles, sippy cups, and food packages, it has not been banned from use.
In a nationally representative study of nearly 3,000 children and teens, researchers found that kids with the highest levels of BPA in their urine were 2.6 times more likely to be obese compared to those with low levels of the chemical. The report was published in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
It’s the latest evidence that obesity might be affected by more than just diet and exercise, said Dr. Leonardo Trasande, a professor of pediatrics and environmental medicine at the New York University School of Medicine.
“Clearly poor diet and lack of physical activity contribute to increased fat mass, but the story doesn’t end there,” he said.
Image: Childhood obesity sign, via Shutterstock
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