Posts Tagged ‘ overweight ’

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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Are You in Denial About Your Child’s Weight Gain?

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

Overweight boyWe’ve all heard it before: obesity is a problem worldwide, especially in the United States and especially among children. If an individual is already overweight as a child, they are at a much greater risk for premature mortality and diseases—like type 2 diabetes and heart disease—as adults.

When a child is struggling with their weight, parents can face the problem early and avoid greater problems in the future. But what if parents don’t recognize the problem in the first place? New research suggests that many parents don’t even realize when their child is overweight.

The research, published in the British Journal of General Practice, examined 2,976 families with children ages 4-5 and 10-11. The children were divided into three categories based on their Body Mass Index (BMI): normal, overweight (above the 85th percentile), and obese (above the 95th percentile). Parents were also asked which BMI category they believed their child fit into.

The findings were startling. “Of the 369 kids who were very overweight, only four parents thought they were,” reports Forbes. “When the researchers analyzed the numbers further, they saw that for a given child with a BMI in the 98th percentile [obese], a whopping 80 percent of parents would say that the child was normal weight.”

It’s important to note that BMI is not a diagnostic tool for weight because it does not account for muscle mass; in order to come to a definitive conclusion for obesity, further tests should be performed by a doctor.

But if a parent is in denial about their child’s weight, it’s likely that their attitudes will be passed onto their children — who will also have a skewed perception of their own weight, which may encourage unhealthy eating habits and necessary interventions.

Take Our Quiz: Is Your Child at Risk of Being Overweight?

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: Overweight child via Shutterstock

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Are Overprotective Moms Hurting Kids’ Health?

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Moms who are overprotective of their children–especially in the arena of avoiding risks in physical activity–may actually be increasing their kids’ risk of health problems, specifically obesity.  A longitudinal study conducted by Australian researchers found that moms who are overprotective tend to limit physical activity for their kids, and by age 10 or 11, the kids are at a higher risk of being overweight or obese.

The data came from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, which followed more than 2,500 children from ages 4 to 11.  They used a measure called the Protectiveness Parenting Scale to rank parents’ degrees of protectiveness in three main areas:

  • How difficult a parent finds it to be separated from their child
  • How much they try to protect their child from problems or difficulties
  • How difficult it is for them to relinquish control of their child’s environment as they get older.

As the Science Network of Western Australia reports, moms who scored moderately high on the scale were 13 percent more likely to have overweight or obese kids; moms who scored high on the scale were 27 percent more likely.  More from the Science Network:

“However, we only found this pattern once kids reached the age of about 10-11 years.”

“This could be to do with the amount of independence and physical activity that kids get.”

“At 10–11 years some kids will be allowed to walk or ride to school on their own, or with friends, or participate in sport… others will be driven around and have greater restrictions.”

“So while some kids have many options for physical activity, kids with an overprotective parent might miss out, [which] could explain why we found higher rates of overweight and obesity.”

They also found higher protective scores across mothers from greater socioeconomic and environmental disadvantage, which Ms Hancock says is understandable.

“If they’re living in areas with increased traffic congestion, or in neighbourhoods that are less safe, then we need to remember that… it isn’t as simple as saying ‘let your kids be more active’ if the opportunities aren’t there.”

What is your parenting style?

Parenting Style: Attachment Parenting
Parenting Style: Attachment Parenting
Parenting Style: Attachment Parenting

Image: Mom and child holding hands, via Shutterstock

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Childhood Obesity Rate May Be Undercounted

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

The obesity rate among American kids may actually be higher than the 18 percent of children the Centers for Disease Control currently classifies as obese, according to an analysis published in the journal Pediatric Obesity.  As many as 25 percent of obese or overweight kids may not be counted because the tally is based on the body mass index (BMI), a calculation that researchers say is flawed because children’s height and weight change rapidly as they grow–and not always in proportion with each other.

More from The Wall Street Journal:

“BMI is not capturing everybody who needs to be labeled as obese,” said Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, director of preventive cardiology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., who headed the study with Asma Javed, a pediatric endocrinology fellow.

Measuring body-mass index is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to screen for obesity among large groups of people, such as children in a school setting. A problem is that BMI, a calculation based on a person’s height and weight, isn’t well suited to children because their height and weight don’t proportionally increase as they grow, said Ruth Loos, a professor of preventive medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, who wasn’t involved with the Mayo study.

“It doesn’t mean that we cannot use BMI in childhood but it requires extra caution,” she said.

Other recent research has linked everything from sleep deprivation to weight-based name calling with an elevated risk of childhood obesity.  Research released earlier this year had claimed a significant drop in the childhood obesity rate in the U.S., but subsequent research actually showed a sharp increase in the number of severely obese kids.

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

Image: Scale, via Shutterstock

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Overweight Women May Have Uterine ‘Switch’ that Makes C-Section More Likely

Friday, June 20th, 2014

Pregnant women who are overweight may have an electrical “switch” in their uterine muscle that makes Cesarean section delivery more likely, according to new research published in the journal Nature Communications. The switch is believed to play a role in the progression of labor, and in overweight women is often found to be faulty. More from ScienceDaily:

It’s well known that strong rhythmic contractions of the uterus are needed to allow the baby’s head to dilate the cervix. However little was known about what controls these contractions until now.The groundbreaking research from Monash University, the Royal Women’s Hospital and the Hunter Medical Research Institute, show that a potassium ion channel called hERG in the uterus is responsible.

Acting as a powerful electrical brake, hERG works during pregnancy to suppress contractions and prevent premature labour. However, at the onset of labour a protein acts as a switch to turn hERG off, removing the brake and ensuring that labour can take place.

The team, led by Professor Helena Parkington from the School of Biomedical Sciences at Monash University, found that in overweight women the switch doesn’t work, failing to turn hERG off.

“We’ve known for years that women who are overweight are much more likely to experience complications during pregnancy and labour — but we didn’t know why,” Professor Parkington said.

“Pinpointing the mechanism is a major breakthrough, not only does it ensure a smooth pregnancy, but knowing when contractions kick in at more or less the right time, is crucial to our understanding of the labour process.”

Image: C-section prep, via Shutterstock

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