- An overlooked factor in childhood obesity: Parents can’t recognize their child’s weight problems
- Register now for NIH mHealth Training Institute at Society of Behavioral Medicine conference
PUBLICATIONS & TOOLS
- Watch Connect & Explore: The Latest Findings from USDA’s FoodAPS
- CDC’s Data, Trends, and Maps database offers state-level, interactive data
- Prevention of Obesity in Infancy, Early Childhood: Workshop summary and funding announcement
- Report examines physical activity, healthy eating in afterschool programs
- Updated resources on school wellness from Bridging the Gap, CDC
CHILDHOOD OBESITY RESEARCH & NEWS
- Kids’ fast food consumption on the decline
- Fast food curb did not cut obesity rate in South Los Angeles
- Obese children may have a harder time tasting fats than leaner kids
- Kids may be more likely to exercise when friends do
An overlooked factor in childhood obesity: Parents can’t recognize their child’s weight problems
March 29, 2015, MedicalDaily
By Samantha Olson
Childhood obesity is a complicated disease, affecting more than double the amount of children it did 30 years ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine studied the relationship between parents and their obese children in order to understand how it can be used to improve pediatric health. The study, published in the British Journal of General Practice, reveals how poorly parents rate their own child’s weight issues — at least until they reach extreme levels of obesity.
“If parents are unable to accurately classify their own child’s weight, they may not be willing or motivated to enact the changes to the child’s environment that promote healthy weight maintenance,” said the study’s senior author Dr. Sanjay Kinra, reader in clinical epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Parents of kids who are black or of South Asian descent were more likely to overlook the fact their child was overweight or obese. They were even more blinded to their kids’ weight issues if the child was a boy.
The research team studied questionnaire responses from 2,976 parents; 369 had children who were very overweight. It turns out 31 percent of the parents were unable to identify the range their child fell into on the body mass index scale. Researchers believe if parents cannot identify the problem, the chances of them being proactive and seeking help for their child is slim. The parents were unable to accurately categorize their children’s weight problem until they were extremely obese, and according to researchers, that’s not early enough.
In America, more than one-third of the child and adolescent population is either overweight or obese. If parents can learn to recognize signs of unhealthy childhood weight gain, intervention programs can change the course of that child’s adulthood. It’s much more difficult to avoid being overweight or obese in adulthood when you’re either of them as a teenager, according to the CDC.
“Measures that decrease the gap between parental perceptions of child weight status and obesity scales used by medical professionals may now be needed in order to help parents better understand the health risks associated with overweight and increase uptake of healthier lifestyles,” said the study’s co-author Russell Viner, an academic pediatrician at the University College London Institute of Child Health.
Register now for NIH mHealth Training Institute at Society of Behavioral Medicine conference
The National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will host an mHealth Training Institute at the Society of Behavioral Medicine’s (SBM) 36th Annual Meeting & Scientific Sessions on April 22, 2015. The institute is designed to provide behavioral and social scientists with tools to successfully add mobile health (mHealth) technologies to their research. The event will offer a collaborative team environment with mentorship from leaders in the fields of engineering, medicine, and the behavioral and social sciences. Mentored by expert faculty, the institute will include presentations followed by hands-on experience developing an mHealth research project. Attendees will learn about the central multi-disciplinary aspects of mobile and wireless research; project development and implementation from conception to analysis; and cross-cutting research issues.
Program Overview and Faculty
Welcome & Introductions
Wendy Nilsen, PhD, National Institutes of Health
Module 1: Defining the Problem and the Targets
Donna Spruijt-Metz, PhD, MFA, University of Southern California
Susan Woolford, MD, University of Michigan
Module 2: User-Centered Design
Maribeth Gandy Coleman, PhD, Georgia Tech
Ross Shegog, PhD, University of Texas
Module 3: Technology and Assessment
Rich Fletcher, PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Noam Ziv, BS, Kesembe, Inc
Module 4: Research Methodology
Camille Nebeker, MS, EdD, University of California, San Diego
Module 5: Analytics: Using the NCCOR Resources
Linda Nebeling, PhD, MPH, RD, FADA, National Cancer Institute
Erin Hennessey, PhD, MPH, National Cancer Institute
To learn more and register for the workshop, visit http://ow.ly/LyHgP.
NCCOR will also host the presidential roundtable “NCCOR: Accelerating Progress on Childhood Obesity through Research.” During this session, participants can learn about NCCOR’s activities, its resources for researchers, and funding opportunities. The session — on Thursday, April 23 from 7:30-8:15 a.m. in Conference Room 8 at the San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter — will also include an engaging discussion on emerging areas of interest, including the study of childhood obesity declines, healthy food incentives, and lessons learned from global efforts. The location for the roundtable will be confirmed in the coming weeks.
Attendees can also stop by NCCOR’s exhibit booth to learn more about the Collaborative’s resources and connect with staff from the NCCOR Coordinating Center.
Publications & Tools
Watch Connect & Explore: The Latest Findings from USDA’s FoodAPS
The National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey (FoodAPS) collects food purchasing data from nearly 5,000 households across the United States. NCCOR’s Connect & Explore Webinar on March 31 highlighted the latest insights from FoodAPS and the new research opportunities made possible by the first-of-its-kind survey. The webinar and slides are now available to view on the NCCOR website.
CDC’s Data, Trends, and Maps database offers state-level, interactive data
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity recently released the online Data, Trends and Maps interactive database. The database allows users to view state-level data in a variety of formats in the areas of obesity/weight status, fruit and vegetable consumption, physical activity, sugar drink consumption, television viewing, and breastfeeding.
Prevention of Obesity in Infancy, Early Childhood: Workshop summary and funding announcement
Research to develop and implement effective prevention and intervention strategies in the first two years after birth has been limited. In fall 2013, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases convened a multidisciplinary workshop to summarize the current state of knowledge regarding the prevention of infant and early childhood obesity and to identify research gaps and opportunities. A workshop summary was recently published in the March 2015 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics. A related funding opportunity announcement (FOA) was also released.
Report examines physical activity, healthy eating in afterschool programs
Afterschool programs continue to make advances when it comes to providing students with nutritious foods, keeping students physically fit, and promoting health. A new report by the After School Alliance, “Kids on the Move: Afterschool Programs Promoting Healthy Eating and Physical Activity,” examines how afterschool programs are helping students get healthy, stay healthy, and lead healthier lives.
Updated resources on school wellness from Bridging the Gap, CDC
Using data from the 2012-13 school year, researchers with Bridging the Gap’s National Wellness Policy Study collaborated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to update a series of briefs and an accompanying presentation highlighting opportunities to support wellness policies through evidence-based strategies. These briefs provide an assessment of policies across school districts nationwide related to seven wellness policy components. They also highlight areas of opportunity for state agencies, school districts, and schools to strengthen wellness policy components. The presentation provides stakeholders with an easy-to-use resource to present the research findings, recommendations, resources, and other information found in the briefs.
Childhood Obesity Research & News
Kids’ fast food consumption on the decline
March 30, 2015, Huffington Post
By Kathryn Doyle
Between 2003 and 2010, the number of U.S. kids eating fast food on any given day went down, and the calories from some types of fast foods have declined as well, according to a new study.
“Most prior studies have focused on menu items, but this (study) actually looked at what children are eating,” said coauthor Colin D. Rehm, formerly of the University of Washington in Seattle and now of Tufts University in Medford, Mass.
“The take-home message is that changes can be made, whether they are due to consumer preference or due to what the restaurants have done themselves,” Rehm told Reuters Health by phone. “It shows that change is possible.”
According to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, in 2003, almost 39 percent of U.S. kids ate fast food on a given day, which dropped to less than 33 percent by the 2009-2010 survey.
Calorie intake from burger, pizza, and chicken fast food restaurants also went down, while those from Mexican foods and sandwiches did not change.
Mexican food and sandwiches were minor contributors to total fast food consumption to start with, so it would have been difficult to detect a decrease over the course of the study, Rehm noted.
Other sources have noted a decline in pizza sales since 2003, which may explain some of the decrease in frequency and calories from those sources, the authors write in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics.
Increased consumer nutrition awareness and restaurant reformulations of menu items or portion downsizing also likely contributed to the trend, Rehm said.
“Menu labeling” with calorie information had really only just begun in 2010, so it would not have had a sizeable effect on these data, he said.
“Given that fast food intake appears to be declining among adults, it’s not surprising that we’d see a similar trend in children,” said Katherine W. Bauer of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University in Philadelphia.
Bauer was not involved in the new study.
By 2010, fewer kids were visiting pizza restaurants every day, and when they did, they tended to consume fewer calories. For burgers, calories decreased but the percentage of visitors per day did not, indicating that kids or their parents started making lower-calorie choices at burger restaurants, Rehm said.
Reduced frequency of fast food intake and reduced caloric contributions from fast food are positive signs for health, Bauer told Reuters Health by email.
“From this paper alone I don’t feel we’re able to say that kids are getting healthier because we don’t know what, if anything, they’re substituting for their fast food meals and snacks,” she said. “If children are substituting the calories from fast food for the same number of calories and quality of food from another type of restaurant, then they’re no better off.”
This study only looked at calories and did not consider the nutrition profile of the foods, which is important, he noted. U.S. dietary goals should be to reduce calories and to improve the nutritional value of those calories, Rehm said.
“We’re definitely getting a number of positive signs from around the country that our public health efforts to address obesity and improve children’s nutrition may be working, including what we see in this paper,” Bauer said.
Other studies have noted a decrease in kids’ overall calorie consumption as well as added sugar consumption, Rehm said.
“There’s always room for improvement in the American diet, but we are seeing some encouraging results,” he said.
Fast food curb did not cut obesity rate in South Los Angeles
March 19, 2015, Daily Herald
By Alicia Chang
A much-hailed law that restricted the opening of new stand-alone fast-food restaurants in one of the poorest sections of Los Angeles did not curb obesity or improve diets, a new study found.
City lawmakers passed the zoning ordinance in 2008 that limited the opening or expansion of fast-food outlets in a 32-square-mile area south of Interstate 10 that struggles with high obesity rates and other health problems.
The law, believed to be the first effort of its kind by a major city to improve public health, did not ban new eateries in strip malls.
The research by Rand Corp. (Rand) found that obesity rates in South Los Angeles continued to rise after passage of the law.
“It had no meaningful effect,” Rand senior economist Roland Sturm said. “There’s no evidence that diets have improved more in South Los Angeles. Obesity and overweight rates have not fallen.”
Health experts said a single intervention would not reverse the obesity problem. People also have to exercise and make lifestyle changes, they said.
“It’s not just about limiting unhealthy food, but increasing access to healthy food,” said Alex Ortega, a professor of public health at the University of California, Los Angeles, who had no role in the study.
Rand researchers reviewed permits issued by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, which inspects food outlets. There were no licenses for stand-alone fast-food restaurants, but chains opened 17 new outlets in strip shopping centers and food courts in South Los Angeles from 2008 to 2012.
Almost half of the new food permits were for convenience stores that sell soda and junk food, the study found.
Researchers also compared obesity rates in South Los Angeles and other parts of the county using surveys that asked residents to report their weight and eating habits.
Before the fast-food ordinance, 63 percent of South Los Angeles residents reported being overweight or obese compared to 57 percent in other parts of the county. Three years after the ordinance went into effect, 75 percent of South Los Angeles residents reported being overweight or obese compared to 58 percent in other parts of the county.
Supporters said the ordinance worked because it prevented chains from opening new restaurants at major intersections with their own drive-thru windows and parking lots. They acknowledged it will take some time to see health gains but noted that the area has seen farmers markets and community gardens in recent years.
“We never said this ordinance was the silver bullet” to solving the obesity problem, said Gwen Flynn of Community Health Councils. “As long as we can make sure people have more options, that’s the important thing.”
City Councilman Bernard Parks, who supported the zoning law, said he was hopeful that the area can attract more markets selling fresh food.
The ordinance was opposed by the California Restaurant Association. Spokeswoman Janna Haynes said the group had no comment on the Rand study.
Standing outside a McDonald’s in the Leimert Park neighborhood on March 18, Edward Cox lamented the lack of sidewalk cafes.
“I want to sit down and eat, but there’s no place to sit down and eat,” said the retiree, who usually drives to another neighborhood to dine out.
Cox said he’s hopeful that a planned light rail line will attract a variety of new eateries.
Maurice Thrower, who runs a burger joint sandwiched between fast-food chains, said he offers healthier fare such as vegetarian and turkey burgers.
“Once people stop to eat here, they come back,” said Thrower, who opened Simply Delicious Burgers last year.
Original source: http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20150318/business/303189688/
Obese children may have a harder time tasting fats than leaner kids
April 1, 2015, Reuters
By Lisa Rapaport
Obese children may have taste buds that are less able to detect fats than those of leaner kids, a factor that could contribute to excessive eating, a small study suggests.
“Some people may be more susceptible to dietary fat than others,” said Russell Keast, a nutrition researcher at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, who wasn’t involved in the study. “The data indicates that there may be a genetic component to dietary fat that is highlighted in the obese.”
Globally, about 60 million children, or 9 percent of all kids, will be overweight or obese by 2020, according to the World Health Organization. This makes them more likely to grow into obese adults and increases their risk of premature death, breathing difficulties, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, fractures, and mental health issues.
The study, by Naïm Khan at the Université de Bourgogne in France and colleagues, examined fat taste perception in 116 school children in Algeria who were 7 or 8 years old. The group included 57 obese children and 59 kids of average weight, with about the same number of boys and girls.
The children were asked to come into the clinic on an empty stomach for a taste test of a series of drinks. They were given three clear liquids to taste, one of which contained an odorless and colorless fatty acid known as olenic acid. Then they were asked to identify which liquid was different from the others.
Obese children had a significantly harder time detecting the fatty acid in the drinks than their leaner peers, the study found, with a 40-fold decreased sensitivity for the fat. There was also a correlation between waist size and a higher threshold for being able to detect the fatty acid.
The researchers also used saliva swabs from each child to test for variants of the CD36 gene, which is involved in making the chemical receptors in the taste buds that help recognize fat.
One variant of the CD36 gene, known as the A allele, is tied to having fewer of the fat receptors, so a person with that allele would, in principle, need more fat to be present before they could detect it. The A allele was more common in the obese children, and was also linked to an increased risk for obesity, according to the results.
Other studies have linked this variant to liking more high-fat foods, Kathleen Keller, a food science researcher at Pennsylvania State University who wasn’t involved in the research, said by email.
While the exact nature of this interaction is not known, Keller said, it is also possible that regularly eating a high fat diet could be what decreases the fat-taste receptors’ sensitivity over time in obese kids.
To be sure, the study was small and more research is needed in a larger group of kids before drawing broad conclusions, the authors write in the International Journal of Obesity.
“The variant is significant, but needs replication in a large cohort with appropriate controls,” Latisha Love-Gregory, a nutrition researcher at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo., said in an email.
“We do not know if the variant by reducing fat sensitivity would increase or decrease fat intake so it is hard to make dietary recommendations at this point,” said Love-Gregory, who wasn’t involved in the study.
“Regardless of genetic background, improving the diets of overweight or obese children is paramount in reducing the risk of obesity-associated complications such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension,” she said.
Kids may be more likely to exercise when friends do
March 3, 2015, HealthDay
Friends play a major role in youngsters’ levels of physical activity, new research indicates.
“Clinically, much of the focus on increasing physical activity involves engaging the family and encouraging the patient to be more active, but this study suggests that encouragement may not be sufficient,” said study author Jessica Graus Woo, an associate professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio.
“Clinicians may also need to consider how to get children to be active with their friends,” she said in an American Heart Association (AHA) news release.
The study included 104 children and teens who were asked to rank 10 potential benefits and 15 potential barriers to physical activity.
Top barriers included feeling self-conscious (29 percent), lack of enjoyment (22 percent), poor health (22 percent), lack of self-discipline (21 percent), and lack of energy (21 percent).
About 78 percent of the youngsters said they received family encouragement to be active, but only 36 percent to 48 percent said their family or friends did physical activities with them.
Children and teens who did physical activities with a friend were far less likely to cite barriers for not exercising, while family participation or encouragement did not have this effect.
Only 38 percent of youngsters who said friends never or almost never joined them in physical activity were among those with the highest levels of activity, compared with 76 percent of those who were physically active with friends.
While children aged 12 and older were more likely than younger children to understand the health benefits of being physically active, they were also more likely to cite barriers such as lack of time, lack of enjoyment, and fear of injury.
The findings, which were presented March 3 at an AHA meeting in Baltimore, suggest that programs focusing on friends may be a good way to boost children’s physical activity levels.
Research presented at meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
“We speculate that the social network of friendships is increasingly important in influencing behaviors as children get older,” said Woo.
“Having physically active friends may make it easier for obese children to get involved with activities and lower the perceived barriers for doing so, while having a physically active family may not be as inspiring,” she added.