April 2016





NCCOR Connect & Explore Webinar Series: Promising U.S. and international strategies for reducing childhood obesity available

April 11, 2016, NCCOR

This March and April, NCCOR hosted one standard and three special-event Connect & Explore webinars to examine the signs of progress and promising strategies in childhood obesity in the United States and abroad.

On March 22, the Connect & Explore webinar highlighted NCCOR’s Childhood Obesity Declines project, designed to look at communities where declines have occurred and explore in depth, the perceptions of potential drivers. Three of the four U.S. communities—Anchorage, New York City, and Philadelphia joined NCCOR to describe the strategies that may have influenced reported declines, barriers and opportunities, and lessons learned.

On March 31 and April 1, NCCOR hosted a special Connect & Explore series, live streaming three panel sessions from the Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM) 37th Annual Meeting & Scientific Sessions. The panels offered exclusive access to presentations from internationally renowned scholars. Experts discussed high-impact childhood obesity strategies from around the world, including scalable physical activity interventions in Latin America; sugar-sweetened beverage taxes in Mexico, South America, and the United States; and approaches to eliminating health disparities among U.S. and international populations disproportionately affected by obesity.

All webinars are archived and will be available here

Join the discussion on LinkedIn

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New article in The Lancet focuses on physical activity in relation to urban environments

April 1, 2016, The Lancet

ThisLiving in an activity-friendly neighborhood could mean people take up to 90 minutes more exercise per week, according to a study published in The Lancet. With physical inactivity responsible for over 5 million deaths per year, the authors say that creating healthier cities is an important part of the public health response to the global disease burden of physical inactivity.

The study included 6822 adults aged 18–66 from 14 cities in 10 countries from the International Physical activity and Environment Network (IPEN).

The research team mapped out the neighborhood features from the areas around the participants’ homes, such as residential density, number of street intersections, public transport stops, number of parks, mixed land use, and nearest public transport points. Physical activity was measured by using accelerometers worn around participants’ waists for a minimum of four days, recording movement every minute.

Learn more by reading the full article for free or by reviewing the Research Brief

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Publications & Tools

Johns Hopkins Global Obesity Prevention Center releases new video

Worldwide obesity has nearly doubled since 1980. According to the World Health Organization, globally, in 2013, the number of overweight children under the age of five, was estimated to be over 42 million. That number is expected to rise to 60 million by 2020 if this epidemic is not stopped.

The Johns Hopkins Global Obesity Prevention Center (GOPC) is a global center with a unique approach to preventing obesity by concurrently studying the many causes that contribute to the obesity epidemic including policy, economics, food environment, social influences, behavior, and physiology.

Check out the steps the Global Obesity Prevention Center (GOPC) at Johns Hopkins is taking to put an end to the obesity epidemic.

Watch the video

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Report: The Use of Brand Mascots and Media Characters: Opportunities for Responsible Food Marketing to Children

This issue brief examines how food, beverage, restaurant, and entertainment companies have used brand mascots and cartoon media characters to influence children’s diet and health. The evidence in the issue brief is based on the findings of two publications that reviewed and evaluated the scientific literature on these topics from 2000 to 2015. The papers also highlight how food, beverage, and restaurant industry leaders can be held accountable for their marketing practices and respond to appeals from parents, public health experts, and consumer groups to strengthen voluntary commitments to ensure that brand mascots and media characters are used responsibly to promote only healthy food and beverage products to children ages 14 and younger.


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Childhood Obesity Research & News

With one change, this school doubled the number of kids eating school breakfast

April 6, 2016, The Washington Post

By Moriah Balingit

Less than 10 percent of students at Frederick Douglass Elementary in Leesburg were eating school breakfast last school year, and educators noticed the impact: Students were fidgety and cranky and sometimes had to leave class to see the school nurse because of stomach aches.

About one third of the Loudoun County school’s students qualify for free- or reduced-price meals, but many of those children were not eating breakfast at school. The reason? Students were worried a sit-down breakfast in the cafeteria would make them late in the midst of the rush to get to class. Cathy Wilson, the school’s cafeteria manager, believed the bustling cafeteria was intimidating some students so much that they just didn’t want to walk in.

So Wilson came up with a solution: Let children grab their breakfasts and go straight to class with the meals.

The idea, implemented at the start of 2015, has had dramatic results. The number of students eating school breakfast has more than doubled from the start of last school year to this school year, going from 60 to 130.

The program gained the attention of Katie Wilson, deputy undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, who visited the school during School Breakfast Week in March, according to Loudoun Now.

Educators have long recognized the importance of breakfast for helping children learn and stay focused, as eating breakfast has been linked to higher test scores and lower rates of childhood obesity. But there have been challenges to getting children — even those who qualify for free breakfast because they come from low-income families — to chow down in the morning.

“It’s what your mom always told you. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” said Becky Domokos-Bays, supervisor of school nutrition services for Loudoun County schools. “You need to get a balanced nutritious meal in the morning so your brain can start working.”

Katie Wilson, who previously worked as a school nutrition director in Wisconsin, said children there who qualified for free- and reduced-meals tended to avoid school breakfast because they worried about being tagged as poor while their more affluent classmates ate breakfast at home.

Getting breakfast out of the cafeteria and into the classroom could erase some of the stigma. Frederick Douglass Elementary draws from both affluent and very poor communities, but Domokos-Bay said the program also has boosted participation among wealthier students who pay full price.

“We typically get more paying students to participate as well since they also want to be like their friends,” Domokos-Bay said.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe included $537,000 in additional funding for school breakfast in his proposed budget so that schools can try out alternative ways of serving breakfast. No Kid Hungry, an advocacy group that works on childhood hunger issues, has pushed alternative delivery models as a way to get more students to eat breakfast.

School meals have been seen as a critical way to reduce childhood hunger for students who come from households in poverty. Even in wealthy Loudoun County, nearly 20 percent of schoolchildren qualify for free- and reduced-price meals and more than 1,000 children are homeless. More than half of public-school children nationwide qualify for free- and reduced-price meals.

At Frederick Douglass, the most marked increase in participation came among children who qualify for free school meals. The school was serving an average of 33 free breakfasts to qualifying children last year. Now, the cafeteria serves an average of 73 free breakfasts, meaning about 40 percent of children who qualify for free meals are eating school breakfast. That’s good news for children who might not have been eating at home.

County-wide, about one-third of all children who qualify for free meals eat school breakfast. The county is now serving an average of 5,538 breakfasts every day, up 24 percent from the same time last year, but that still represents less than 10 percent of the district’s student body.

It also has had a soothing effect for otherwise hectic mornings. Children now eat their school breakfasts — which can include a cheese stick, a sausage sandwich, fruit, zucchini bread and other options — during morning announcements. They no longer have to sprint to class or chug a milk carton to make it to class on time.

The program has created “a much calmer start to the day for everybody,” said Principal Paula Huffman. “The kids aren’t stressed about being late to class.”

Some classrooms are exempt from the program. Kindergarten students still eat breakfast in the cafeteria because they need extra supervision. Students who come from classrooms that are designated food-free because of children with severe food allergies also continue to eat in the cafeteria.

Huffman said the classroom breakfasts have not disrupted learning, which was a concern among some teachers.

“We don’t really have any food fights in the classroom,” Huffman said.

Katie Wilson said Frederick Douglass Elementary’s administration “really embraced wellness.” She views breakfast as an important tool for a child’s success in school, adding that every teacher wants “every tool possible for that child to be successful.”


Original source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/with-one-change-this-school-doubled-the-number-of-kids-eating-school-breakfast/2016/04/05/561089cc-fb47-11e5-80e4-c381214de1a3_story.html

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Obesity can be predicted as early as 6 months of age

April 1, 2016, Science Daily

Severe obesity can be predicted using a simple body mass index (BMI) measurement as early as 6 months of age, according to a new study. The study is believed to be the first to show that weight gain during infancy differs in those who eventually develop obesity.

The study was presented April 1 at the National Endocrine Society meeting in Boston.

“BMI at 6, 12 or 18 months of age above the 85th percentile on the growth chart can accurately predict children at risk for early childhood obesity,” says Allison Smego, MD, a fellow in the division of Endocrinology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Center and the study’s lead author. “These children have a high lifetime risk for persistent obesity and metabolic disease and should be monitored closely at a very young age.”

The researchers studied several groups of children of lean and obese children under the age of 6, including a group of severely obese children referred for specialized care to Cincinnati Children’s.

All participants were selected based on BMI between the ages of 2 and 6. In all, 783 lean and 480 severely obese participants were included. The trajectories of BMI in children who become severely obese by age 6 began to differ from children who remain normal weight at about 4 months of age. Results of the study were validated in a population of young children seen in a hospital-based pediatric clinic in Denver to ensure that the findings applied to other groups of children.

“It’s not currently recommended to measure BMI in children under the age of 2, but we say it should be because we now know it predicts obesity risk later,” says Dr. Smego. “Pediatricians can identify high-risk infants with BMI above the 85th percentile and focus additional counseling and education regarding healthy lifestyles toward the families of these children. Our hope in using this tool is that we can prevent obesity in early childhood.”


Original source: Reported on Science Daily using materials provided by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160401130612.htm

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Videos of kids eating veggies may entice preschoolers to eat more themselves

April 6, 2016, Reuters

By Rob Goodier

Watching videos of kids eating vegetables may encourage small children to follow suit, a new study suggests.

Preschoolers who watched a short video of kids eating bell peppers later ate more of the vegetables themselves, the researchers reported in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.

They also presented their findings this month at the annual meeting of the Society of Behavioral Medicine in Washington, D.C.

The difference in consumption was not immediate, however. Instead, a week after seeing the video, the children ate about 16 grams of bell pepper (about half an ounce, or a little less than 1/8 of a cup). Kids who hadn’t seen the video only ate about 6 g.

“The DVD segment we assembled was 7.5 minutes in length, and after just one exposure the preschoolers increased vegetable consumption one week later. So a brief DVD exposure . . . between children’s TV programming, or during a transition time at daycare before snack or meal time, (may) influence children to make healthier food choices,” Amanda Staiano, at Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who led the study, told Reuters Health by email.

Staiano’s team randomly assigned 42 youngsters, ages three to five, to watch either the video of other children eating bell pepper, or a video on brushing teeth or no video at all.

The next day, those who watched the veggie video actually ate less bell pepper than the others. But one week later, after accounting for the amount of bell pepper that each child ate on day one, the veggie video group’s consumption was higher and the difference was statistically significant, the researchers found.

“This indicates that the children retained the positive experience of watching peers eating the vegetable and were able to reproduce that action one week later,” Staiano says.

Childhood obesity has more than doubled in the past 30 years according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And one of the CDC’s recommendations to combat the rise is to eat more servings of vegetables.

The children in the video may serve as ambassadors for healthier eating.

“The kids were positively influenced by their peers through role modeling of healthy behaviors,” says Amy Yaroch, executive director of the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition in Omaha, Nebraska, who was not involved in the research.

“We know from behavioral theory that role modeling is an effective strategy to get people (including young kids) to adopt healthy behaviors. Parents typically serve as role models, but peers can be a very strong influence as well, especially if they are viewed as ‘cool’ by their peers,” Yaroch says.

Staiano and her team still have several questions they’d like to investigate, including how to increase the effect and whether repeated video exposure could convince a kid to choose a vegetable over candy.

“Figuring out ways to make screen-time into healthy time is critical for our young children, who are expected to have shorter lifespans than their parents due to obesity-related diseases,” Staiano says.


Original source: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-diets-kids-veggies-idUSKCN0X125G

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