January 2022

SPOTLIGHT

PUBLICATIONS & TOOLS

CHILDHOOD OBESITY RESEARCH & NEWS

Spotlight

Register Today! Upcoming Webinar Highlights NCCOR’s Newest Resources

Join us on Monday, February 7, from 1:00-2:00 p.m. ET for the next Connect & Explore webinar titled “The Annual NCCOR Showcase: Highlighting New Projects, Tools, and Resources.” An expert panel of speakers will present an overview of NCCOR’s newest projects and highlight our successes from the past year. The webinar will be a perfect introduction for someone who is new to NCCOR and for those seeking a streamlined overview of the latest in childhood obesity research methods.

Last year’s NCCOR Showcase was among our most popular webinars of 2021, so register today! Featured projects will include:

  • Youth Active Travel to School Project: Learn more about the key challenges and proposed next steps to improve the surveillance and measurement of youth active travel to school.
  • Economics of Built Environments Improvement: Discover key economic indicators that demonstrate the value of promoting physical activity through environmental change.
  • Advancing Measurement to Address Childhood Obesity: Explore measurement priorities for new research on diverse aspects of childhood obesity.
  • A Toolkit for Evaluating Childhood Healthy Weight Programs: Gain new insights on how to improve the effectiveness and sustainability of your program with NCCOR’s newest tool.

During the webinar, audience members will have an opportunity to ask questions about these projects directly from the experts who created them. Hear from the following NCCOR members:

  • Stephanie George, PhD, MPH, MA, Program Director & Epidemiologist, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institute of Health
  • Hatidza Zaganjor, MPH, Behavioral Scientist, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control
  • David Berrigan, PhD, MPH, Program Director & Biologist, Applied Research Program, Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health
  • Brook Belay, MD, MPH, Obesity Prevention and Control Branch, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control

This Connect & Explore webinar is free, but attendance is limited. Register early and tell a friend! You must register to receive webinar access.

Please help us spread the word by sharing this information with your social networks using the hashtag #ConnectExplore. We will also be live-tweeting the event, so be sure to follow the conversation at @NCCOR. For those who cannot attend, the webinar will be recorded and archived on www.nccor.org/webinars/.

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Publications & Tools

NCCOR Toolbox: The NCCOR e-Newsletter Past and Future

The NCCOR e-newsletter offers a monthly pulse on the latest childhood obesity news, research, events, and funding opportunities. Starting in 2022, the NCCOR newsletter will be delivered at the beginning rather than the end of the month. As we plan for future issues, please contact us if you would like to share an event, funding opportunity, or resource with our newsletter audience. If you know someone who might be interested in the newsletter, encourage them to join our mailing list. Finally, did you know that every issue of the NCCOR e-newsletter—over 10 years—is available on our website? Revisit an article or resource by visiting our newsletter archive.

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New Research Brief Explores Implementation of WIC Online Grocery Ordering

The organization Healthy Eating Research (HER) recently released a research brief detailing the impact of online grocery ordering through WIC, a novel program launched in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The brief summarizes key findings and lessons learned from four pilot programs in New York City; Washington State; Knoxville, TN; and Oklahoma. Based on these findings, HER offers recommendations for short and long-term policy and program innovations.

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New Infographic Promotes Improving the Experience of School Meals

The UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy and Health created an infographic summarizing policy changes and program ideas to improve the consumption of school lunches. This infographic is based on a publication in Nutrients titled “Strategies to Improve School Meal Consumption: A Systematic Review.” The graphic provides an attractive and easily accessible summary of the article, making it suitable for a wide range of audiences.

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Factsheet Describes the Impact of Electronic Devices on Physical Activity among Adolescents with Lower Incomes

A factsheet from the Physical Activity Research Center (PARC) details findings from a study examining the impact of screen time on sedentary behaviors among a racially diverse sample of teenagers from low-income backgrounds. The factsheet describes the study methodology and its results and implications. Researchers identified that adolescents spent 6.5 hours viewing screens during the school year and up to 9.2 hours per day during the summer and that more devices in the bedroom lead to greater levels of sedentary behavior.

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Childhood Obesity Research & News

Childhood Obesity Linked with Mother’s Unhealthy Diet Before Pregnancy

December 22, 2021, EurekAlert!

New research led by the University of Southampton shows supporting women to eat a healthy diet pre-pregnancy could reduce risk of obesity for their children.

Rates of childhood obesity are increasing worldwide. In the UK, nearly a quarter of under-fives are overweight or obese. This increases to more than a third by the time children start secondary school.

Children who are obese are more likely to be obese adults, with long-term consequences for their health. Unhealthy diets are an important factor that contributes to this.

New research, led by Dr Sarah Crozier, Associate Professor of Statistical Epidemiology  at the University of Southampton, has found children aged eight or nine were more likely to be obese if their mother had a poor diet during – and before – pregnancy. The research identifies these as critical times, when initiatives to reduce childhood obesity may be more effective.

Long-term analysis

The researchers analysed data on the diets of 2,963 mother-child pairs who were part of the UK Southampton Women’s Survey – a long-running study that tracks the health of mothers and their children. Women joined it before pregnancy when they were first considering having a baby.

As part of the survey, the women were interviewed and their answers used to fill in questionnaires on their diet and that of their child. The researchers asked about the mother’s diet before they became pregnant and when they were 11 and 34 weeks pregnant. They also asked about what the child ate at six months, one year, three years, six to seven years, and eight to nine years of age.

The dietary information collected was used to give each mother-child pair a combined diet quality score. They used these scores to divide them into five groups: poor, poor-medium, medium, medium-better and best.

Long-term effects

Mothers who were younger, had attained fewer academic qualifications, smoked and had a higher body mass index (BMI) before pregnancy tended to be in a worse diet group with their child.

When the children were eight to nine years old, the researchers assessed the amount of fat tissue in their bodies using a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan. They also calculated the child’s BMI, adjusting this to account for their age and sex.

The results, published in the International Journal of Obesity, showed that if a mother-child pair was in a lower diet quality group, this was associated with child having a higher DXA percentage body fat and BMI at age eight or nine.

Dr Crozier, Associate Professor of Statistical Epidemiology at the University of Southampton, said: “Childhood obesity is a significant and growing issue in the UK, causing long-lasting health problems that extend well into adulthood. This research shows the importance of intervening at the earliest possible stage in a child’s life, in pregnancy or even before conception, to enable us to tackle it.”

This work was funded by grants from the Medical Research Council, project EarlyNutrition, and the European Union’s Seventh Framework and Horizon 2020 programmes. It was also supported by the National Institute for Health Research Southampton Biomedical Research Centre, the University of Southampton and University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust.

[Source]

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Parenting Program to Prevent Obesity in Firstborn Children Benefits Siblings

December 21, 2021, NIH

An intervention shown to help first-time parents prevent childhood obesity has found spillover effects in second-born children as well, even without further training for the parents. The results are from a study funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health. The intervention, called responsive parenting, teaches parents how to interact constructively with their infant during feeding, bedtime, and play. Responsive parenting may be an important childhood obesity prevention strategy for families and an effective way to promote healthy growth in children. The study, called SIBSIGHT, was published Dec. 21 in Obesity.

SIBSIGHT followed a responsive parenting intervention with first-time parents, called Intervention Nurses Start Infants Growing on Health Trajectories (INSIGHT). INSIGHT was a randomized controlled trial designed to reduce unhealthy, rapid weight gain in infancy to prevent obesity in childhood. INSIGHT found that, after completing the three-year study, children in the responsive parenting group had a body mass index (BMI) in a healthier range compared to those in the control group and significantly lower rates of overweight or obesity in the responsive parenting compared to control group.

INSIGHT is now the first educational intervention for obesity prevention of first children to demonstrate spillover effect to future children. In the United States, more than 13% of children aged 2-5 have obesity, a number that rises as children age.

“SIBSIGHT findings are promising because the education gets to parents at optimal times, in the first months of life and now even before a subsequent pregnancy,” said Dr. Voula Osganian, NIDDK program director for pediatric clinical obesity. “SIBSIGHT demonstrates the potential long-term value of this childhood obesity prevention strategy.”

In the observational SIBSIGHT study, 117 firstborn infants that participated in INSIGHT and their siblings were monitored for one year. The first and second children whose parents received the responsive parenting intervention had a statistically significant difference in BMI compared to children in the control group, with BMI being 0.44 and 0.36 units lower respectively or about a 2.5% difference in weight.

“The continuing benefit of responsive parenting training is remarkable because parents of second children received no INSIGHT responsive parenting booster messaging in the observation-only evaluation,” said Dr. Jennifer S. Williams, lead author and director of the Center for Childhood Obesity Research at the Pennsylvania State University in University Park.

First-time parents assigned to the responsive parenting group during the INSIGHT study were educated on how to respond to their infant’s needs across four behaviors: feeding, sleep, interactive play, and emotional regulation. This group also learned such strategies as how to put infants to bed drowsy, but awake, and avoid feeding infants to sleep; anticipate and respond to infants waking up at night; when to introduce solid foods; how to use growth charts; and how to limit sedentary time. The control group received a home safety intervention. Both groups received four home visits from a research nurse during infancy, followed by three annual research center visits.

“The vast majority of parents have multiple children, and so a parenting strategy that can be taught once and then show benefits through subsequent children may be a path forward in helping curb the rising problem of childhood obesity,” Osganian said.

At 12 months of age, the benefit in second children was similar to that observed in first children. Researchers conclude that the INSIGHT training prevented the use of nonresponsive feeding practices and helped establish consistent feeding routines in second siblings.

“A child’s first months are a critical period for parents and health care providers to intervene and promote healthy behaviors and growth, and the INSIGHT and SIBSIGHT results show us a potential way do this effectively,” said NIDDK Director Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers. “Early and long-term obesity prevention strategies help set up our children for a healthy future.”

The NIDDK, part of the NIH, conducts and supports basic and clinical research and research training on some of the most common, severe, and disabling conditions affecting Americans. The Institute’s research interests include: diabetes and other endocrine and metabolic diseases; digestive diseases, nutrition, and obesity; and kidney, urologic, and hematologic diseases. For more information, visit www.niddk.nih.gov.

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Overweight Children Are Developing Heart Complications

December 14, 2021, EurekAlert!

The percentage of obese children and teens jumped from 19% pre-pandemic to 22%, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And the rate at which body mass index (BMI) increased doubled.

New research from the University of Georgia suggests that could spell bad news for children’s cardiovascular systems both now and down the line.

Published in Pediatric Obesity, the study measured abdominal visceral fat levels and arterial stiffness in more than 600 children, adolescents and young adults. Visceral fat is the fat found in the abdomen that infiltrates vital organs. Arterial stiffness forces the cardiovascular system to work harder to pump blood throughout the body.

The researchers found significantly higher levels of visceral fat and arterial stiffness in the overweight youth, suggesting that abdominal fat likely contributes to cardiovascular problems in kids.

“The stiffer the artery, the faster blood is going to move through those blood vessels, and that can be detrimental and overstress our system,” said Joseph Kindler, corresponding author of the study and an assistant professor of nutritional sciences in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences. “As these issues build up, unfortunately, it’s sort of this game of dominoes. You tip one over, and the rest of the systems start being overtaxed. That’s when really pervasive health issues can occur.”

Studies of cardiovascular risks in youth are limited, but researchers believe the negative changes to the cardiovascular system that lead to disease and heart attacks likely begin in childhood and adolescence.

“We want to prevent cardiovascular disease. We want kids to live strong, healthy lives into adulthood,” Kindler said. “But to do that, we need to know the underlying factors contributing to poor health outcomes so that we can identify where to target, whether that’s through diet, physical activity, sleep or some other intervention. Identification is key, and then intervention is critical.”

Arteries are stiffer in children with high BMI

The researchers used technology known as dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, or DXA, to measure levels of body fat in the children.

It’s a technique commonly used in the fields of bone and hormone research. And it’s becoming more common in body fat research because it gives scientists the same information as traditional scans. But it’s faster, less expensive and doesn’t require large doses of radiation like other scans do.

They also measured how long it took for participants’ blood to make it from the central part of the body to the lower limbs, a standard way of assessing arterial stiffness.

“One really important take-home message is that arterial stiffness, which predisposes children to cardiovascular disease down the line, looks to be the most pronounced in individuals who have a high BMI,” Kindler said.

Another concern is that children are increasingly being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, a condition previously only seen in adults. Being overweight is a big risk factor. Of the study’s participants, 145 had been diagnosed with the disease.

“It’s a very pervasive, scary condition in youth, even more so than in adults,” Kindler said. “Many body systems tend to degrade at a more accelerated rate if the disease occurs during the growing years than in adulthood. This disease attacks the brain, the kidneys, the bones, the liver. It really heightens the need for understanding ways we can prevent disease.”

This study was co-authored by Simon Higgins, Babette Zemel, Philip Khoury and Elaine Urbina. It was funded in part by the Endocrine Fellows Foundation; the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute; and a grant from the University of Georgia’s Obesity Initiative.

[Source]

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