Posts belonging to Category obesity



New Obesity Weapon: Kids Teaching Kids

MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health published the following press release on their site regarding  study findings that support kids teaching kids when it comes to fighting obesity.

MONDAY, Feb. 10, 2014 (HealthDay News) — When older kids teach younger kids about nutrition and the benefits of exercise, the little ones seem to lose weight and gain knowledge about healthy living, Canadian researchers report.kids

Such a program — called Healthy Buddies — was tested in Manitoba elementary schools. It helped heavy kids lose an average of half an inch off their waist and increased their knowledge of diet and exercise, the researchers said.

“Engaging older kids in delivering health messages to younger peers is an effective method for preventing weight gain, improving knowledge of healthy living and increasing self-esteem,” said lead researcher Jonathan McGavock, an assistant professor at the University of Manitoba.

“The effects of this peer mentoring model of healthy living promotion is particularly effective for overweight children,” McGavock said. This approach — detailed online in the Feb. 10 issue of the journal JAMA Pediatrics — could help curb the obesity epidemic among young children in North America, he said. The percentage of U.S. children aged 6 to 11 considered obese increased from 7 percent in 1980 to nearly 18 percent in 2010, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

McGavock said younger children see older children as role models, which is why their advice is taken more seriously than when the same message is delivered by adults. “Younger children likely pay more attention to messages or cues from older peers,” he said. “Therefore, proper role modeling of healthy behaviors should be a key objective of elementary schools.”

Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center in New Haven, Conn., said he wasn’t surprised by the findings. “In my many interactions with parents regarding the importance of good nutrition in childhood, one of the more frequent protests over the years has been peer pressure,” Katz said. “Parents, it seems, often feel powerless to overcome the negative influence of peers eating badly.”

But Katz, a father of five, said he has seen the upside of peer pressure. “My wife and I have shared our devotion to healthy living with our children, and they have made it their own,” he said. “They, in turn, have helped pay it forward, influencing their peers favorably.”This paper illustrates the opportunity to convert negative peer pressure into a positive peer influence,” Katz said.

“We can teach healthy living skills to older kids and they, of course, benefit,” he said. “They can then help pass these skills along to younger kids, and both groups benefit some more. This paper highlights an important opportunity we have only begun to leverage — peer pressure, for good.”

Healthy Buddies has lessons that focus on physical activity, healthy eating, self-esteem and body image. The instruction is given by 9- to 12-year-olds to 6- to 8-year-olds.

In this study, 19 schools were randomly assigned to use the Healthy Buddies curriculum or their regular instruction during the 2009-’10 school year. Over the course of the school year, the researchers looked at changes in waist size and body-mass index (BMI), as well as physical activity, heart fitness, self-image and knowledge about healthy living and diet.

They found that the waist size of children in the Healthy Buddies program dropped an average of half an inch compared with children in the regular curriculum. There was no difference in BMI — a measurement of fat based on height and weight — between the groups.

Based on responses to questionnaires, knowledge about healthy living, self-image and diet increased among kids in the Healthy Buddies program, compared with other children, the researchers said. No differences, however, were seen between the groups in terms of physical activity (steps taken per day) or heart and lung fitness, the researchers said.

This suggests that the reduction in waist size seen among the Healthy Buddies participants is attributable to dietary changes, the researchers said.

SOURCES: Jonathan McGavock, Ph.D., assistant professor, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada; David Katz, M.D., M.P.H., director, Yale University Prevention Research Center, New Haven, Conn.; Feb. 10, 2014, JAMA Pediatrics, online

 

From Those in the Know about Childhood Obesity

obesityThis post is about the long-lasting effects of childhood obesity.

The first of two reports is from MedlinePlus,  a service of the U.S. Library of Medicine NIH National Institutes of Health. The second report is from HealthDay News, which recently was posted on Womenshealth.gov., Dept of Health and Human Services.

MedlinePlus Report: As reported by Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV on Childhood Obesity and Adult Hypertension

Being a heavy child may have long lasting impact. In fact, new research suggests it may quadruple your risk for high blood pressure as an adult.

Starting back in 1986, researchers in Indiana began tracking the growth and blood pressure of over 1,100 healthy adolescents. Over the 27 years, they were able to accumulate a vast amount of data. 6% of normal weight children had high blood pressure as adults. While 14% of overweight children developed high blood pressure. But the big news was the 26% of obese children ending up with high blood pressure as adults.

The researchers believe these findings add more evidence that being overweight or obese in childhood is a true public health threat.

Highlights of HealthDay News Report on Childhood Obesity and Adolescent Eating Disorders:

Obese children and teens who lose weight are in danger of developing eating disorders — including anorexia and bulimia.

These problems may not be diagnosed quickly, because parents and doctors “think it’s a good thing that these teens have lost so much weight,” said lead researcher Leslie Sim, an assistant professor of psychology and an eating disorders expert at the Mayo Clinic Children’s Center in Rochester, Minn.

“We started to see kids coming into our clinic with severe eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, where you lose a lot of weight and restrict your eating, and these kids actually started out as obese,” she said.

“They lost way too much weight and became preoccupied with their eating,” Sim said. “Every thought and behavior really surrounded eating.”

“We think obese kids are at risk for eating disorders because they are getting a lot of media messages that they are not healthy and that there is something wrong with them and they need to change their ways,” Sim said. “And because they are teens, they do extreme things. Weight loss is not that typical for adolescents,” Sim said. “I think parents should be concerned with any weight loss,” she added.

“When parents see their children losing weight, they should ask about their eating habits and whether they are skipping meals or avoiding friends, as these may be signs of an eating disorder,”  Sim said. “At least 6 percent of teens suffer from eating disorders.”

“The study highlighted many important messages, ” said Dr. David Katz, director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center. “Obesity itself is a risk factor for eating disorders. This link is well established for binge-eating disorder, where obesity is potentially both cause and effect.”

“Effective treatment of obesity cannot simply be about weight loss — it must be about the pursuit of health,” Katz said. “An emphasis on healthful behaviors is a tonic against both obesity and eating disorders. By placing an emphasis on diet and activity patterns for health and by focusing on strategies that are family based, we can address risk factors for both eating disorders and obesity.”

Regulating Sugars in Soft Drinks

sugarsIn a press release issued yesterday, HealthDay News reported that a leading consumer advocacy group, along with nutrition experts and health agencies from a number of U.S. cities, are calling for lowering the amount of sugars added to soft drinks.

The press release reads as follows:

Led by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), the group  sent a petition to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration asking the agency to determine safe levels of high-fructose corn syrup and other sugars in sodas and assorted soft drinks.

Currently, the average 20-ounce bottle of soda contains about 16 teaspoons of sugars made from high-fructose corn syrup, the CSPI said. The American Heart Association currently recommends that men consume no more than 9 teaspoons of added sugars daily, and women no more than 6 teaspoons’ worth.

Some 14 million Americans of all ages now get more than one-third of their calories from added sugars, the petition stated.

“The consumption of such high amounts of sugar and high-fructose corn syrup [in sodas] are causing serious health problems, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, among others,” said CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobson.

There’s been a great deal of scientific evidence gathered over the past decade to support that link to health problems, he said, and “we’re contending that much of the evidence centers around beverages.” The CSPI believes most sugary sodas could be safely replaced by those made with low-calorie sweeteners.

The group said its petition has the support of public health departments in Baltimore; Boston; Los Angeles; Philadelphia; Seattle; Portland, Ore.; and other cities, as well as leading academics at Harvard and Yale universities and other institutions around the country.

According to Jacobson, the FDA is legally bound to examine the health effects of the amount of sugars being consumed and take corrective action.

The center is first asking the FDA to determine the safe level of sugar in drinks. Also, it wants the FDA to issue targets for the sugar content of other sugary foods and urge industry to voluntarily reduce sugar levels in those foods, Jacobson said.

“The third thing is to educate consumers to choose healthier foods and beverages,” he said.

The FDA classifies high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose and other sugars as “generally recognized as safe,” Jacobson said.

“What we’re asking the FDA to do is to modify those regulations and set some limits in beverages,” he said.

In the 1980s, the FDA twice committed to looking at limiting the level of sugars in foods if new scientific evidence found sugar levels were harmful to the public, or if sugar consumption rose, Jacobson said.

“We are reminding the FDA of that and saying you have an obligation to revisit this and protect the public’s health,” he said.

It will take years before any action is taken, but that gives industry time to adjust to using less sugar in drinks, Jacobson said.

Jacobson said economic issues shouldn’t be part of the FDA’s consideration. “There are winners and losers for any kind of a regulation. The sugar industry and the corn industry [which supplies ingredients for high-fructose corn syrup] would be losers, but the soft drink industry might be winners,” he said.

The makers of no-calorie sweeteners “would probably make out like bandits,” Jacobson said.

The CSPI hopes new sweeteners — such as rebiana, made from the stevia plant — will replace high-calorie sugar, making drinks healthier.

Although some people are concerned that these sweeteners may be harmful, Jacobson said they are still a better option than sugar.

“The FDA considers all these sweeteners perfectly safe,” Jacobson said. “We think the certain harm that’s coming from the 16 teaspoons of sugar in a 20-ounce bottle of soda greatly outweighs the speculative risk from artificial sweeteners,” he added.

“We have an obesity epidemic on our hands, with two-thirds of Americans obese or overweight, and that should take precedence over smaller concerns,” Jacobson said.

One industry representative took issue with the new petition.

“As we continue to debate the root causes of our nation’s obesity issue, we need to rely on science and facts, not look for quick fixes that draw focus away from developing real solutions to a complex problem,” said J. Patrick Mohan, the interim president of the Corn Refiners Association, which represents high-fructose corn syrup manufacturers.

And the American Beverage Association, which represents soft drink makers, said its industry is already making changes.

“Today about 45 percent of all non-alcoholic beverages purchased have zero calories and the overall average number of calories per beverage serving is down 23 percent since 1998,” the ABA said in a statement issued Wednesday. And according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Americans are consuming 37 percent fewer calories from sugars in soft drinks and other sweetened beverages than in 2000,” the group added.

“Everyone has a role to play in reducing obesity levels — a fact completely ignored in this petition,” the ABA said. “This is why the beverage industry has worked to increase options and information for consumers.”

Dr. David Katz, director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, said he joined the CSPI effort and is “proud to have signed the petition.”

“The evidence that an excess of added dietary sugars, in any of its many guises, is a major contributor to the prevailing public health ills of our time is now essentially incontrovertible,” he said. “It stands to reason that lowering those levels will help in efforts to reduce the levels of obesity, diabetes and other chronic disease.”

Soda and other sugary drinks are the single biggest source of calories in the U.S. diet, with Americans, on average, consuming between 18 and 23 teaspoons — about 300 to 400 calories — of added sugars each day, according to the petition.

Many teens and young adults consume even more sugar than the average. Some get at least 25 percent of their calories from added sugars, according to the 2007-2008 U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The CSPI petition notes that cities around the country have taken note of the problem and have acted. In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is capping restaurant soda serving sizes at 16 ounces — a move that has met with considerable resistance from some who believe it tramples individuals’ rights.

Note: A judge blocked the enforcing of the NYC law, that was to go into effect earlier this week, just a day before it was to become law.

BulliesTarget Kids with Health Concerns

Sadly, kids with health issues such as allergies and weight problems are often the target of cruel comments, threats and teasing about their conditions.

Two studies looking at kids with food allergies and kids going through weight-loss programs reported:

  • Eyal Shemesh, MD, of Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, and colleagues found that almost 32% of kids with food allergies reported bullying or harassment related to their allergy, often involving threats with food.

  • Rebecca Puhl, PhD, of Yale University, and colleagues reported on a study where 64% of teens at weight-loss camps reported weight-related victimization, not just by schoolmates but often by friends, coaches, teachers, and parents too.

Shemesh’s group analyzed surveys of 251 established food allergy patients, ages 8 to 17, and their parents at a single allergy clinic in the Enhancing, Managing, and Promoting Well-Being and Resiliency program.

Any bullying or harassment of these kids was reported by 45% of them and 36% of their parents, although with poor agreement when related to reasons other than the food allergy.

Being victimized due specifically to food allergies accounted for most of these cases, with 32% of the food allergic kids and about 25% of their parents reporting such bullying.

Almost all the bullies were classmates (80%), and most bullying happened at school (60%).

The most common form was teasing (42%), followed by waving the allergen in front of the child (30%).

Notably, 12% had been forced to touch the food they are allergic to and 10% had food thrown at them.

Bullying was significantly associated with poorer quality of life scores and greater anxiety, which the researchers noted was independent of allergy severity. While most of the bullied kids said they had told someone about what happened, parents knew in only about half of the cases.

To increase disclosure of bullying, “Clinicians might consider asking a screening question about bullying during encounters with children with a food allergy,” Shemesh’s group suggested.

While it’s hard to compare the results with those of other studies, general population rates appear to be 17% to 35%, suggesting that food-allergic kids may be bullied or harassed more than their peers, they pointed out.

kidsPuhl’s study included 361 kids, ages 14 to 18, surveyed online while at two national weight-loss camps.

34% of the respondents were in the normal weight range, while 24% were overweight and 40% were obese.

The large proportion of healthy-weight kids was unexpected, but “program administrators confirmed that a portion of enrollees had experienced significant weight loss and returned to camp for support with weight-loss maintenance.”

The likelihood of weight-based victimization rose with weight, with odds ratios of 8.7 for overweight and 11.7 for obese kids, although those of a normal weight after weight-loss treatment still were at some risk.

The most common form was verbal teasing (75% to 88%), followed by relational victimization (74% to 82%), cyberbullying (59% to 61%), and physical aggression (33% to 61%).

The most sources of bullying were:

  • Peers: 92%
  • Friends: 70%
  • Physical education teachers or sport coaches: 42%
  • Parents: 37%
  • Teachers: 27%

“For those youth who are targets of weight-based victimization at school and at home, healthcare providers may be among their only remaining allies,” researchers reported. “Thus, it can be especially helpful for providers to promote adaptive coping strategies (e.g., positive self-talk, social support, problem-focused coping) during patient visits with youth who are targets of weight-based victimization.”

Both groups of researchers acknowledged the limitation of self-reported data without independent verification or a control group and that their sample populations may not have been representative of the general population.

Source: Pediatrics (online)

 

Parents Underestimate the Calories in Fast Food Meals

At a recent meeting of the Obesity Society Jason Block, MD, of Harvard Medical School and fellow researchers reported that parents often underestimate the calories their school-age kids are consuming when they eat large meals at fast food restaurants.

caloriesAccording to the study, the average meal purchased  in four New England cities contained 733 calories, and 21% contained more than 1,000 calories, But the parents estimated an average of only 562 calories per meal, with 72% underestimating the actual content. “There was an association between larger meals and larger underestimations, which may hold some promise for menu labeling,” Dr. Block said. He noted that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates that restaurants with 20 or more locations nationwide post calorie information on their menus.

The researchers found that only 15% of parents saw nutritional information in the restaurants and fewer still (4%) used that information when ordering. “So they may not use it even if it’s more accessible,” Block stated.

Last year at the society’s annual meeting, Dr Block reported that 80% of adolescents in Boston, Springfield, Mass., Providence, R.I., and Hartford, Conn., underestimated the amount of calories their fast food meals contained and 86% did not notice any nutritional information in the restaurants.

In the current study, Block and his colleagues visited 10 restaurants in each of the four cities… three McDonald’s, three Burger King, two Subway, one KFC, and one Wendy’s. Each restaurant was visited six times at dinnertime.

Those participating in the study included parents or legal guardians of children and teens, ages 3 to 15 (mean age 7.9). The analysis included 330 families, representing 45% of those who were approached.

Most of the children (57%) were overweight or obese. The sample was ethnically diverse — 33% black, 30% Hispanic, 19% white, 3% Asian, and 15% other or multiracial.

The researchers collected receipts when the parents left the restaurants and administered a short survey about the calorie content of the meal and awareness and use of the nutritional information. The actual calorie content of the meals was calculated using the receipts and information on the restaurants’ websites.

Many of the parents purchased large meals for their children and most underestimated the calorie content. Nearly one-quarter (24%) underestimated the calorie count by at least 500.

Those who underestimated the daily requirement tended to also underestimate the calories in a meal, a finding that “supports an anchoring statement on menus,” Block said. The federal regulations require that, in addition to calorie information, menus must include an anchoring statement describing the typical daily calorie requirement.

The study was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and by a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholars Seed Grant.

Source: The Obesity Society