October 2009





Sons of Immigrants Have High Obesity Levels, Report Finds

Sept. 4, 2009, The Washington Post

By Tara Bahrampour
Staff Writer

The sons of immigrants to the United States suffer from alarmingly high levels of childhood obesity, according to a new report funded by the Foundation for Child Development.

Thirty-four percent of kindergarten-age immigrant boys are obese or overweight, compared with 25 percent of the sons of native-born Americans, according to an analysis of data collected by the U.S. Education Department. By eighth grade, that number rises to 49 percent, compared with 33 percent among natives. No similar discrepancy was found among girls.

Adult immigrants do not tend to become overweight until they have been in the United States for a while and become more acculturated, but “children from the newest, least acculturated immigrant families tend to be the most at risk of obesity,” said the report, “Moving to the Land of Milk and Cookies.” It relied on a federal study that tracked 21,000 children from kindergarten to eighth grade, a quarter of whom were children of immigrants.

The higher level of obesity among sons of immigrants cut across socioeconomic levels and was most pronounced among those whose parents do not speak English, the study found.

It was most prevalent among newly arrived Hispanic immigrants and non-Hispanic white immigrants. Black children of immigrants do not face a higher rate of obesity than their native counterparts, and the problem does not show up among Asian children of new arrivals, although it does appear among children of Asian immigrants who have been in the United States for 15 or 20 years, said Jennifer Van Hook of Pennsylvania State University, the report’s lead author.

Although the report did not study the reasons for the discrepancy, it cited likely factors such as the prevalence of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods and beverages in schools and in advertising directed at children, and the fact that new immigrants are often unaware of the risks of too much junk food or of opportunities for exercise.

Jeffrey Koplan, chairman of the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Childhood Obesity and director of Emory University’s Global Health Institute, said the findings do not surprise him. Many immigrants “may be used to a more rural setting overseas where there’s no access to soft drinks or they are too expensive, and here they find them all over the place and at a very low cost,” he said.

Van Hook said the obesity rates might be influenced by the tendency of immigrant children to take the lead in their families in deciding what to snack on, as well as children’s tendency to acculturate faster than adults and to try harder to fit in with American peers.

“I think part of making it in America is to participate in American consumerism, and part of that is eating,” she said.

The stigma of obesity might be lower among new arrivals, particularly those from cultures in which extra weight is a sign of prosperity. “A lot of immigrant families come from a place where obesity’s not a problem for kids and undereating is a problem,” Van Hook said, adding that in another study she and her colleagues had found obesity to be more pronounced among immigrants from less economically developed countries.

As to why the problem is more prevalent among boys, she said it might be because immigrant boys often have more freedom outside the home, whereas girls tend to be more protected and might watch their figure more.

Carmen Bonilla, 58, of Springfield said her family’s diet has changed considerably since it moved to the United States from El Salvador two years ago, although she tries to provide nutritious food at home.

“I don’t think American food is healthy, because they use a lot of oil, sugar, salt,” she said as she sat in the Springfield Mall’s food court, where two of her grandchildren feasted on chicken nuggets and french fries and a third ate a kebab. “We eat here only for fun.”

One of the nugget-eaters, Samuel, 8, said his father had told him that he should eat more healthfully. “I agree,” he said, grinning, “but this is my favorite food. I love the taste of it, fries especially.”

A few tables away, Elaine Cabling, 39, of Alexandria said her nephew Christian, 8, had gained a lot of weight since moving from the Philippines two years ago. “We encourage them to eat vegetables, fruits, and drink milk and a lot of water,” she said as Christian ate from a container of chocolate chip ice cream. “His mom is worried. She wants him to stop eating the soda and the candies.”

Some kids do tone it down after an initial fast-food binge. Kenda Yagura, 13, who moved with his family from Japan to Michigan two years ago, said that at first he dived into the culinary offerings of his new environment. “I loved American food. I ate a lot of junk food. My parents said that they didn’t like it, but I liked it.”

But his parents watched his diet, cooking Japanese food at home, and on a recent visit to the Pentagon Mall food court, he followed their example and ordered Thai noodles.


Original Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/

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CDC-Sponsored Communities Putting Prevention to Work Webinars: Applying for Stimulus Funding

The CDC is providing a series of webinars, hosted by Prevention Institute Executive Director Larry Cohen, for potential applicants for the prevention and wellness stimulus funding. The webinars will educate communities about various policy, systems, and environmental change strategies they can implement with the stimulus funds in areas including healthy eating and physical activity-related chronic disease prevention, nutrition policy, tobacco policy, and evidence-based policy intervention.

The webinars will occur:

  • Fri., Oct. 9, 12:00-1:30 p.m. PDT
  • Wed., Oct. 14, 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. PDT


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RWJF Center Director Discusses Obesity Initiatives

Nemours hosted the first conference to examine the role early childcare programs can play in obesity prevention. The two-day, Sept. 23-24 meeting in Washington, D.C. – titled Healthy Kids, Healthy Future: A Conference on Health Promotion and Obesity Prevention in Early Care and Education – gathered researchers, advocates, practitioners, and others to discuss how states are helping these programs provide children with healthier foods and more physical activity, what states can learn from each other, and future priorities.

Joseph W. Thompson, M.D., M.P.H., director of the RWJF Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity presented the opening remarks. The entire conference was covered via live-blogging.

To read a brief interview with Thompson, please visit the websitewww.healthykidshealthyfuture.com. Highlights and additional presentations can be found on there.

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Publications & Tools

Brownell KD, Farley T, Willett WC, Popkin BM, Chaloupka FJ, Thompson JW, Ludwig DS. The Public Health and Economic Benefits of Taxing Sugar-Sweetened Beverages, New England Journal of Medicine 2009; www.nejm.org: 1-7.

The consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has been linked to risks for obesity, diabetes, and heart disease; therefore, a compelling case can be made for the need for reduced consumption of these beverages. Sugar-sweetened beverages are beverages that contain added, naturally derived caloric sweeteners such as sucrose (table sugar), high-fructose corn syrup, or fruit-juice concentrates, all of which have similar metabolic effects.

Taxation has been proposed as a means of reducing the intake of these beverages and thereby lowering health care costs, as well as a means of generating revenue that governments can use for health programs.


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Active Living Research. Active Education: Physical Education, Physical Activity and Academic Performance, Research Brief 2009; www.activelivingresearch.org: 1-8.

In schools across the United States, physical education has been substantially reduced — and in some cases completely eliminated — in response to budget concerns and pressures to improve academic test scores. Yet the available evidence shows that children who are physically active and fit tend to perform better in the classroom and that daily physical education does not adversely affect academic performance. Schools can provide outstanding learning environments while improving children’s health through physical education.


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Childhood Obesity Research & News

Obesity Called a Threat to U.S. Security

Sept. 11, 2009, San Antonio Express-News

By Don Finley

As U.S. surgeon general, Dr. Richard Carmona raised eyebrows by describing obesity as “the terror within” and a threat to national security.

At a national conference on Hispanic childhood obesity, he hadn’t softened his stance — pointing to rising rates of type 2 diabetes, obesity, hypertension and heart disease among young people.

“Let’s look at who will be the next generation that will be our first responders, police and fire and military uniformed personnel, who will protect the nation and communities. They [aren’t] going to be there, folks,” said Carmona, who served as surgeon general from 2002 to 2006.

He spoke at a national conference organized by Salud America!, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded research network headquartered at the University of Texas Health Science Center. About 200 researchers from across the country attended the event at the Sheraton Gunter Hotel.

Carmona said there was a strong economic case for investing in obesity prevention.

“Seventy-five cents of every (health care) dollar spent is spent on chronic diseases — most of which are preventable. So if you are running a business and I told you that 75 percent of your revenue is going out the window on needless stuff, you wouldn’t be the CEO long if you didn’t change it.”

Carmona, who’s of Puerto Rican descent, said successful public health campaigns must take culture into account.

As an example, he cited the “neighborhood cabinet” of grandmothers who ruled Spanish Harlem, his childhood neighborhood in New York.

“The thing that resonates most with abuelita is her grandkids,” Carmona said. “You tell her [that] her grandkids are suffering, she’s going to move mountains to change what has to be done.”

Hispanic children have among the highest obesity rates in the country. The conference is looking at a number of prevention strategies, including making fresh fruits and vegetables more accessible in poor neighborhoods and creating safe recreation space.


Original Source: http://www.mysanantonio.com/health/58624112.html

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HealthPartners Research Foundation Receives $7.3 Million in Grants

Sept. 23, 2009, Medical News Today

Three new HealthPartners Research Foundation studies will examine ways to prevent and treat childhood obesity and hypertension. One study will look at interventions to prevent obesity in children ages 5-9, another will focus on obesity prevention in children ages 2-5, while another will examine hypertension in children and adolescents, including the quality and cost of care.

The two studies on preventing obesity, “Healthy Homes/Healthy Kids: Pediatric Primary Care-Based Obesity Prevention,” are led by Nancy Sherwood, senior research investigator at HealthPartners Research Foundation. Her team received a $3,765,000 grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to conduct the five-year study, which seeks to demonstrate the effectiveness of a low-cost intervention targeting obesity prevention in children. She also received $559,959 to study children ages 2-5 from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

“Obesity is the number one nutritional problem in the United States and recent obesity trends are alarming,” said Dr. Sherwood. “We need to develop effective interventions to prevent unhealthy weight gain among preschool and early school age children. With children bearing the greatest lifetime health risk from obesity, childhood weight, physical activity and healthy eating are key topics for health researchers.”

A team led by Patrick O’Connor, Ph.D., senior clinical investigator at HealthPartners Research Foundation and assistant medical director at HealthPartners Medical Group, received a $3,036,000 grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to conduct its four-year study, “Childhood Hypertension and Obesity: Diagnosis, Care and Costs.” The team will study the vital signs and clinical conditions of 80,000 children and adolescents with the goal of understanding their hypertension, carefully assessing how blood pressure is linked to being overweight, and assessing the quality of care provided.

“The prevalence of elevated blood pressure in children and adolescents is rising,” said Dr. O’Connor. “Often these young people progress to hypertension as adults, which means more health problems later in life.”

Sherwood’s team will work with the Obesity Center at the University of Minnesota and the Behavioral Medicine Research Group at the University of Washington’s School of Social Work. O’Connor’s group is working with Kaiser Permanente’s Division of Research in California and Institute for Health Research in Colorado.


Original Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/164817.php

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Massachusetts Officials Postpone BMI Screening Initiative in Favor of H1N1 Preparations

Sept. 1, 2009, RWJF Childhood Obesity News Digest

Massachusetts state officials have postponed a childhood obesity initiative that would have required students to undergo body mass index (BMI) screenings, opting instead to focus on preparations for the anticipated resurgence of the H1N1 flu, the Boston Globe reports. Part of Gov. Deval Patrick’s (D) plan to improve the fitness of adults and children, the initiative would have required the state’s public schools to begin weighing and measuring the height of students in grades 1,4,7 and 10 unless parents requested their child be excluded. However, according to the Globe, “some of the same specialists who are essential to the launch of the childhood obesity initiative have been immersed in flu preparations,” and school nurses will need to devote much of the first months of the school year to tracking and responding to the seasonal flu and the H1N1 flu. Nevertheless, Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach says that he expects 80 school districts, representing about half of the state’s public school students, to participate in the initiative before the 2009-2010 academic year concludes. Auerbach noted that “postponing BMI screening to be sensitive to the demands of H1N1 doesn’t mean that this is any less of a priority for us.” The Globe notes that the threat of the H1N1 flu has also derailed efforts by the state’s Department of Public Health to develop the educational and promotional materials designed to support the state’s BMI screening effort (Smith, Boston Globe, 8/27/09 [registration required]).


Original Source: http://www.rwjf.org/childhoodobesity/digest.jsp?id=22001

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HHS, Ad Council Partner with Warner Bros. to Launch Childhood Overweight and Obesity Prevention Public Service Announcements

Sept. 14, 2009, RWJF Childhood Obesity News Digest

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Ad Council have joined with Warner Bros. Pictures to launch a series of public service announcements (PSAs) that feature characters and scenes from the upcoming “Where the Wild Things Are” movie encouraging children and families to lead healthy lives, Advertising Age reports. The PSAs, which are a continuation of the Childhood Overweight and Obesity Prevention campaign launched in 2005 by HHS and the Ad Council, were created pro bono by Warner Bros. The multimedia effort includes television, radio, print, outdoor and Internet advertisements that feature Max, the star of the film, playing in the wild with various creatures from the film. The advertisements encourage children to find time to play every day and promote the benefits of regular physical activity using the message “The Wild is out there; did you play today?” The various PSAs urge families to visit www.smallstep.gov for play ideas and other information on physical activity and healthy eating. The PSAs will appear in advertising time and space donated by the media, adding to the more than $179 million in donated media support the campaign has already received. Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council, has said that “the film’s beloved characters will encourage children throughout the country to become more active and reduce their risk for obesity” (Egolf, Advertising Age, 9/10/09; HHS release, 9/10/09). (Editor’s Note: The Ad Council is an RWJF grantee; however the campaign discussed in this article was not funded by the Foundation.)


Original Source: http://www.rwjf.org/childhoodobesity/digest.jsp?id=22541

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Nourish Interactive Website Tackles Childhood Obesity and Wins Parents’ Choice Award

Sept. 17, 2009, PRWeb

Nutrition Education website for kids and parents has just won the 2009 Parents’ Choice Award. Nourish Interactive Inc., an interactive, bilingual, free nutrition education website won the Approved Award from Parents’ Choice, the nation’s oldest, nonprofit consumer guide to quality children’s media, founded in 1978.

NourishInteractive.com was started with the mission to help families promote healthy eating and daily activity to children through fun, positive messaging. The website is completely free featuring nutrition education games for children and online nutritional tools for parents. The parents’ site interfaces with the child’s games and resources to show parents the key nutritional messages their child is learning, and how their activities and games are providing valuable information about nutrition, energy, and exercise in an engaging way. Last year, an educators’ section was created complete with nutrition lesson plans, printable worksheets, fun activities and send-home tips for parents. The classroom segment was designed to support elementary school’s nutrition education programs. It is now the fastest growing visitor segment of the website.

There are many nutrition games for children to learn and play. The main food pyramid game, a multi-leveled online game, Chef Solus and the Food Pyramid Adventure, allows players to explore secret passageways and mystical surroundings while being guided through challenges, storylines, clues, obstacles and puzzles. The nutrition game allows children to make their own food choices, ultimately aiming to create three balanced meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The game, based on the USDA Food Pyramid guidelines, offers parents and health educators an easy and free solution to introducing nutrition to young children who are just beginning to form their eating and exercise habits.

“It is an honor to receive a Parents Choice Award for our nutrition website. We are a team of dedicated health professionals just trying to make a difference in helping families eat healthier,” stated Maggie LaBarbera RN MBA, founder and president.

A Parents’ Choice Approved seal indicates a wholesome product that helps children enjoy developing physical, emotional, social or academic skills. The Parents Choice Organization stated that fewer than 20 percent of the products submitted to the Parents’ Choice Awards program receive any level of commendation. Maggie LaBarbera added, “We believe that early education is the key to helping children establish healthy habits and fight childhood obesity through early prevention and positive reinforcement. …”


Original Source: http://www.prweb.com/releases/nutrition/education/prweb2888004.htm

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