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

 

Lead by Example

This message is for all the women who put family first, often at the expense of their own health.

This message comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, from Nicholas Garlow with HHS HealthBeat.

Women often put the needs of their family first.  As a result, their own health can take a back seat. Women can do some things to promote healthy habits for themselves and for their family.

Dr. Nancy Lee is the director of the HHS Office on Women’s Health.

women“We want women to get active, eat healthy foods, pay attention to their mental health, schedule regular checkups, and avoid unhealthy behaviors such as smoking and not wearing a seat belt.”

Regular checkups are vital to the early detection of diseases. For instance, it’s important to have your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked regularly, and get the right screenings and vaccinations.

“By making their own health a priority and modeling healthy behaviors, women can lead by example.”

Learn more at healthfinder.gov.

HHS HealthBeat is a production of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

P.S. Be sure to include a yearly visit to the GYN for an exam including a PAP, a comprehensive breast exam, and if, you are 40, get a referral for your annual mammogram.

When A Doctor is Overweight

Are you willing to accept weight loss directives from your doctor if he or she is overweight or obese?

overweightAccording to a recent study, doctors who are overweight are less likely than other doctors to talk to their seriously overweight patients about weight control.

According to the study author Sara Bleich, an assistant professor of health policy at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, doctors in general, not just overweight doctors, are not doing a good job about bringing up weight loss with their patients.

Although, researchers did find that doctors of normal weight were more confident than their overweight counterparts in their ability to counsel overweight and obese patients about diet and exercise.

Bleich said she came up with the idea for the study after going to a dentist who had bad teeth. “I thought, ‘How are you going to take good care of my teeth if you can’t take good care of your own?’ ”

She decided to see a different dentist and began thinking about overweight doctors and their overweight patients.

Last year, Bleich and her colleagues sent a survey to 500 primary care physicians. Almost two-thirds were male, 70 percent were white and almost three-quarters were at least 40 years old. About half the physicians surveyed were overweight or obese.

Only about one-third of doctors of normal weight said they talked to obese patients about weight loss, compared to 18 percent of those doctors who were overweight.

“For physicians, weight matters when it comes to obesity care,” Bleich said.

Bleich said electronic record-keeping may help doctors do a better job of treating overweight patients because the body mass index (BMI) of patients can be automatically calculated.

The BMI is a commonly used measure of whether a person’s weight isn’t normal for his or her height.

(SOURCES: Sara N. Bleich, Ph.D., assistant professor, health policy, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore; Robert E. Post, M.D., research director, Virtua Family Medicine Residency, Voorhees, N.J.; January 2012, Obesity

 

Childhood Obesity=Increased Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

Women’s health dot gov, a project of the U.S. diabetesDepartment of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health published an extensive article, on Dec 30th on a study of childhood obesity and the increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.

What follows is a summary of the full article written by Dennis Thompson HealthDay Reporter.

A new study has found that the length of time a person carries excess weight directly contributes to an increased risk for type 2 diabetes.

Given that many of today’s young children are carrying a significant amount of excess weight from an early age, their chances of developing diabetes at some time in their lives is greater.

Dr. John E. Anderson, Vice President of Medicine and Science for the American Diabetes Association, said that research findings are pointing to what is now happening in our society, with more young children and teenagers diagnosed with type 2 diabetes than ever before.

“A disease that used to be confined to older people is creeping into high schools,” Anderson said. “At best, this is alarming. This obesity epidemic we have is fueling an epidemic of diabetes in young people.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, since 1980 obesity among children and adolescents has almost tripled.  Today, almost one in five American kids ages 2 to 19 are obese. That is about 12.5 million kids.

Researchers have found that the time spent carrying extra weight matters as much as the amount of extra weight.

“If you’re born in the year 2000 and the current trends continue unchecked, you will have a one in three chance of developing type 2 diabetes,” Anderson said. That risk increases for certain ethnic minorities, including African Americans, Native Americans and Hispanics.

Diabetes is a systemic disease, and by its nature can affect almost every part of a person’s body. Someone with diabetes has a shorter life expectancy, and on any given day has twice the risk for dying as a person of similar age without diabetes, according to the CDC.

“We worry this will be the first generation of Americans who don’t live as long as their parents did,” Anderson said.

“What can be done to alter the potentially grim outlook? To start losing weight, kids need to adopt a set of healthy living skills that become part of their daily routine,” said Sheri Colberg-Ochs, an exercise science professor at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., who works with the American Diabetes Association.

“It’s not just the weight, per se,” Colberg-Ochs said. “It’s the lifestyle they’ve developed that caused them to gain the extra weight.”

First, kids need to be taught to eat healthy foods and to avoid foods that are fatty, sugar-packed or heavily processed, she said.

“When food is a lot more refined, it’s lacking in a lot of vitamins and minerals that are essential to your effective metabolic function,” she said. “Kids eat empty calories, and those calories go straight to weight gain.

But they also need to become more physically active, she said. Exercise has been shown to both battle obesity and help better control blood glucose levels in the body.

“Those two things alone would probably solve the problem of childhood obesity, were society to pursue them vigorously,” Colberg-Ochs said.

(SOURCES: John E. Anderson, M.D., vice president, medicine and science, American Diabetes Association; Sheri Colberg-Ochs, Ph.D., professor, exercise science, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Va., and adjunct professor, internal medicine, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, Va.)