Posts Tagged ‘ weight gain ’

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 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 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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Healthier Pregnancies Are Possible for Obese Women, Study Finds

Friday, August 29th, 2014

Healthier Pregnancies Are Possible for Obese Women, Study FindsAbout 30 percent of  reproductive-age women in the U.S. are currently classified as obese. And with obesity rates on the rise nationally, monitoring and understanding healthy weight gain during pregnancy has become a real concern for healthcare professionals.

Dangers abound for women who are obese and pregnant, including miscarriages, birth injuries, and a chance of having gestational diabetes, among other issues for the child down the road, TIME reports.

But research just out from the journal Obesity has promising news. The study found that the risk level can be lowered if women join in a program that encourages them to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

The study followed 114 women who were classified as obese, based on the Institute of Medicine guidelines. A test group was given an “intervention program,” which included individualized calorie goals, advice to follow the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension dietary pattern without sodium restriction, and attended weekly group meetings, while the control group was only given advice one-time dietary advice.

And the results? Women who participated in the intervention programs gained less weight than their counterparts and their babies also had lower numbers of large-for-gestational age weights.

“Most interventions to limit weight gain among obese women during pregnancy have failed, but our study shows that with regular contact and support, these women can limit the amount of weight they gain, which will also reduce the risk of complications during and after pregnancy,” author Kim Vesco, MD, MPH, a practicing obstetrician/gynecologist, said in a press release.

Not sure what a healthy weight range is for you during pregnancy? Take a look at our general guidelines. But remember, you should always ask your healthcare provider about what’s best for you and your baby.

Weight and Pregnancy: Gain Only What You Need
Weight and Pregnancy: Gain Only What You Need
Weight and Pregnancy: Gain Only What You Need

Photo of pregnant woman courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Study: Kids Gain More Weight in Summertime

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

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.

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: Ice cream cone, via Shutterstock

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Screen Time, Weight Gain Linked Again in New Study

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Children who spend a lot of time watching television or playing with smartphones or tablets are more likely to gain weight than kids who have less screen time, according to a new study.  The new research is the latest in a long string of findings that link weight issues with screen time.  More from Reuters:

Many parents believe their children are getting a reasonable amount of recreational screen time, Mark Tremblay said. But most U.S. and Canadian kids exceed the recommended two-hour maximum per day.

“We don’t pay attention to the fact that it’s half an hour here, half an hour there, an hour here, an hour there,” Tremblay told Reuters Health. He is the director of Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute in Ottawa, Canada, and wasn’t involved in the new study.

Researchers used data from a long-term study of kids who took surveys every other year. The surveys included questions about their height and weight as well as how much time they spent watching TV and DVDs and playing computer and videogames.

Kids were between ages nine and 16 when the study started.

Out of about 4,300 girls in the study, 17 percent were overweight or obese. Twenty-four percent of the 3,500 boys were also above a healthy weight.

From one survey to the next, each one-hour increase in children’s daily TV watching was tied to an increase of about 0.1 points on a body mass index (BMI) scale, which measures weight in relation to height. That’s a difference of approximately half a pound per extra hour of TV.

Increases in total screen time between survey periods were linked with similar but smaller changes in BMI.

“The weight of the evidence is pretty strong that television viewing is related to unhealthy changes in weight among youth,” Jennifer Falbe said.

But, she told Reuters Health, “It’s important for parents to be aware of all the potentially obesogenic screens that they should really be limiting in their children’s lives.” Increases in DVD and video watching were tied to weight gain among girls, in particular.

Falbe led the study while at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. She is now at the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health.

Image: Kids watching TV, via Shutterstock

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