Thursday, November 14th, 2013
Children who experience traumatic events including health problems in the family, family structure like divorce or inconsistent caregiving, or physical or emotional abuse are more likely to struggle with their weight when they become teenagers, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics. More from Reuters:
“I felt like I was seeing a lot of children who had experienced stress early in their lives later gain weight pretty rapidly” Dr. Julie Lumeng at the University of Michigan Medical School told Reuters Health.
“There has been quite a bit of research looking at stress in the lives of adults leading to weight gain, but it has not been studied as much in children,” said Lumeng, who led the new study.
“We did this particular study because it looked at simply ‘events’ that had occurred in children’s lives and then asked mothers to rate the events in terms of how much of an impact they had,” Lumeng said.
The researchers used data from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development.
The mothers of 848 children enrolled in the study completed surveys when their children were 4, 9 and 11 years old. They were asked if any of 71 different life events had occurred during the previous year, and they rated the impact of the event on a scale from -3 (extremely negative) to zero (no effect) to +3 (extremely positive).
Four categories of negative life events were studied: health problems in the family; work, school or financial stability; emotional aspects of family relationships; and family structure, routine and caregiving.
The kids’ height and weight were measured at age 15. Teens with a BMI above the 85th percentile for age and gender based on CDC growth charts were defined as being overweight.
Of the 848 children, 260 were considered overweight and 488 were not. Thirty percent of the overweight children had experienced a significant number of negative life events, compared to 22 percent of the non-overweight children.
Experiencing many negative life events was tied to a nearly 50 percent higher risk of being overweight, versus no negative events.
The associations were strongest for negative events related to family physical or mental health, among children of obese mothers and among children who waited longer for food, the researchers report in the journal Pediatrics.
Image: Overweight teen, via Shutterstock
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Monday, November 11th, 2013
Children who don’t get an adequate amount of sleep each night may be at higher risk of obesity, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics. More from The New York Times:
Researchers randomly divided 37 children aged 8 to 11 into two groups. Each group increased their habitual time in bed by an hour and a half per night for one week, then decreased their time by the same amount the next week. They wore electronic devices to measure sleep time, were assessed for daily food intake three times a week, and had blood tests to measure leptin, a hormone that affects hunger, and high levels of which correlate with fat tissue accumulations.
Children consumed 134 calories fewer each day during the increased sleep week than the during the week with less sleep. Fasting leptin levels were lower when the children slept more and, over all, the children’s weight averaged about a half pound less at the end of long sleep weeks than short ones.
Image: Child eating, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, November 7th, 2013
Fast food restaurant chains have slowed down televised advertisements, but they are ramping up efforts to market to younger customers by using social media outlets, according to a new study by the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity. More from Time.com:
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The researchers studied 18 of the top fast food chains in the U.S. and documented the changes in the nutritional quality of the food they served, as well as their marketing campaigns to kids and teens on TV and online.
Since 2010, kids between the ages of 6 to 11 saw 10% fewer TV ads for fast foods, and more of these ads included healthier meals, such as fruit snacks and salads.
But the positive trend also hid some less encouraging news. While the youngest kids were seeing fewer TV ads, older kids and teens still saw about three to five fast food advertisements on television every day. Appeals to teens on social media also surged, and while children saw more advertisements for healthier fast food options, these made up only a quarter of the fast food ads viewed by these kids, and only 1% of kids’ meals at these chains met healthy nutritional standards.
The results highlight the challenge that families face in improving children’s diets, as such enticements to consume high calorie, high fat meals continue to surround them. A recent study published in the journal PLOS One reported, for example, that fast food ads targeting kids were more likely to include toys and giveaways, which are a nearly irresistible draw for younger kids. And research suggests that these types of marketing campaigns seed lasting emotional connections to brands, making children more likely to continue eating at fast food chains and take their own families there as adults.
Monday, September 23rd, 2013
Pregnant women who are seriously overweight or obese are more than 50 percent less likely to deliver a baby who has a healthy birth rate, according to new research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. More from NBC News:
Women with a body-mass index between 30 and 35 were 58 percent more likely than those at a healthy weight to deliver an extremely premature baby, a team of U.S. and Swedish researchers found after examining the medical and delivery records of 1,599, 551 Swedish moms. Pregnant women with a BMI between 35 and 40 were twice as likely as normal-weight moms to have an extremely premature baby, while those with BMIs of 40 or greater were nearly three times as likely to deliver an extremely premature baby.
“When a baby is born earlier than it should be born, the potential for all the organs not being fully developed is increased,” said Karen Cooper, director of Healthy Expectations, a program at the Cleveland Clinic that helps women lose weight before they become pregnant. The program also helps obese pregnant women such as Bufford make healthier lifestyle choices so they might minimize the risks to their babies.
“When it comes to being obese and being pregnant, the risk factors for things going wrong multiply very quickly,” Cooper told NBC News. “Along with that comes gestational diabetes, hypertension, and preeclampsia, which can eventually lead to eclampsia, which is a condition where seizures occur.”
A premature baby may need a ventilator to help with breathing and nutrients fed through an IV tube, said Dr. Sandra McCalla, director of obstetrics at the Maimonides Medical Center. Further, prematurity can put a baby at risk for future problems, McCalla said.
More than half of American women of reproductive age are overweight or obese, said Cooper. But dieting during pregnancy is not the solution to maternal obesity.
“We just really encourage them to have a healthy lifestyle,” Cooper said. “We put together exercise activities per the individual mom and a calorie plan specific to the mom to have them gain an appropriate amount of weight.”
Image: Overweight pregnant woman, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, September 10th, 2013
Childhood obesity rates are leveling off in America, but a new sub-category within the clinical definition of obesity is growing. Called “severely obese,” it affects an estimated 4 million American kids and teens–about 5 percent of children. More from NBC News:
That means nearly 4 million U.S. youth fall into a new category of obesity risk, one that carries dangers of serious disease and early death, even beyond expected harms, according to a scientific statement published Monday by the American Heart Association.
“It appears that severe obesity is the fastest-growing subcategory of obesity in youth,” write the authors in the report published in the journal Circulation.
Worse, when children get that big, it’s difficult to help them lose weight with traditional tools of diet and exercise, or even with drugs and surgery.
“Once this problem gets so severe, there’s no turning back, or there’s no turning back easily,” said Dr. Thomas Inge, a co-author of the paper and director of the Center for Bariatric Research and Innovation at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. “People don’t like to hear that and they don’t like to know that.”
Severely obese kids have higher rates of weight-related disease, including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, with complications such as high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries. Previous research has shown that obese kids as young as age 10 can have the arteries of middle-aged adults.
The new class encompasses kids ages 2 to 19 who have a body-mass index, or BMI, that’s 20 percent higher than the 95th percentile for their gender and age, or a BMI score of 35 or higher. A child or teen in the 95th percentile weighs more than 95 percent of others his or her age.
Image: Overweight pre-teen with salad, via Shutterstock
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