November 2022


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Mark Your Calendars! NCCOR Announces New Learning Opportunities

Deepen your skills and gain new research perspectives with NCCOR this fall as we launch a lineup of free, online learning opportunities. Join us for the following events:

  • Create Thriving-Activity Friendly Communities with NCCOR
    Thursday, November 17th from 2:00-3:00 p.m. ETThere is still time to register for the next Connect & Explore webinar! An expert panel will demonstrate how to use our newest tool, Create Thriving, Activity-Friendly Communities: Making the Case for Investments in Activity-Friendly Communities. During this free webinar, you will learn how focusing on the economic benefits of improving the built environment can be a powerful incentive for promoting physical active. Speakers include:

    • Hatidza Zaganjor, MPH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    • Cole Youngner, MPH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    • Mark Fenton, MS, adjunct associate professor at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and public health, planning, and active transportation

    Click here to register.

    Implementation Science & Childhood Obesity: Sparking Conversations and Actions to Advance Equity
    Wednesday, November 30th from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. ET

    The free NCCOR workshop will offer an introduction to implementation science for researchers working in childhood obesity, nutrition, or physical activity. A panel of experts will provide examples of implementation science “in action” by illustrating approaches to advance equity across the phases of pre-implementation, implementation, and sustainability. You will learn about the application of implementation science to enhance equitable approaches for evidence-based interventions for childhood obesity. Speakers include:

    • Taren Swindle, PhD, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
    • Gabriella McLoughlin, PhD, Temple University
    • Sandra Echeverria, PhD, MPH, UNC Greensboro
    • Valarie Bluebird Jernigan, DrPH, MPH, Oklahoma State University, Executive Director for Center for Indigenous Health Research and Policy
    • Courtney Parks, PhD, Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition
    • Deanna Hoelscher, PhD, RD, LD, CNS; UTHealth School of Public Health

    Click here to register.

    Optimizing Recess for Healthy Child Development
    Tuesday, December 6th from 2:00– 3:00 p.m. ET

    We know kids love it, but what does science say about the health benefits of recess? Find out more on during this Connect & Explore webinar! Covered topics will include the benefits of school recess for child development and energy balance, approaches to improving recess, and the current state of recess and related surveillance and policy in the United States. In addition, participants can ask questions and discuss the future of recess practice and research. Speakers include:

    • William Massey, PhD, Oregon State University, College of Public Health and Human Sciences
    • Kimberly Clevenger, PhD, MPH, Utah State University, Department of Kinesiology and Health Science

    Click here to register.

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Publications & Tools

NCCOR Toolbox: Welcome New Subscribers from APHA!

NCCOR recently returned from the American Public Health Association’s (APHA) Annual Meeting in Boston. If you joined NCCOR at our booth or conference session, we welcome you to our newsletter and look forward to having you as part of the NCCOR community. If you are new to NCCOR, here are a few website links to learn more about what we offer. Our Tools page will link you to all of our signature resources, such as the Measures Registry and Catalogue of Surveillance Systems, that can assist with your research, grant writing, or program planning. Our research library links to you to over 50 free peer-reviewed articles related to childhood obesity. Our webinar library contains free access all of our past presentations from leading scholars and public health practitioners. Finally, you can learn about current and past activities on our project page. If NCCOR can provide any assistance with our resources or if you would like to share a new idea, success story, or a suggestion for how we can improve, please contact us! We are happy that you are part of NCCOR!

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New Report Warns of Challenges to Youth Physical Activity

The Physical Activity Alliance released its quadrennial report on youth fitness, which warns that few children in U.S. get the recommended 60 minutes of activity a day. The 2022 United States Report Card on Physical Activity draws on data from comprehensive national surveys, such as NHANES and YRBSS, to assess both youth behavior and the environmental factors that may hinder physical activity. For example, only 3.6% of U.S. secondary schools have implemented a Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program and only 11% of children usually walk or bike to school. View the report card on the Physical Activity Alliance’s website. 

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Groundbreaking Series about Early Childhood Nutrition Published

A special series focused on the importance of early childhood nutrition is now available in the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH). The journal, in collaboration with 1000 Days, an initiative of FHI Solutions (501C3), developed the series to focus on the importance of nutrition in the 1000-day window, through pregnancy, infancy and toddlerhood. The series features the work of 15 authors who describe the state of science and research needs, as well as how policies, systems, and environments affect the nutrition of mothers and children. The 1,000 Days initiative also released an updated communications toolkit for the launch with free media assets and background resources to help promote the series and the importance of maternal and child nutrition. 

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Childhood Obesity Research & News

Sleep-Deprived Kids Will Snack More: Study

October 24 2022, U.S. News & World Report

Experts studying kids’ sleep and eating habits have learned more about a potential reason for childhood obesity. 

Kids who are deprived of sleep tend to eat more calories the next day, researchers found. And some of those extra calories come from less-healthy, sugar-laden snacks or treats. 

“When children lost sleep, overall they ate an extra 74 calories per day, caused by an increase of 96 calories per day in non-core foods such as crisps and chocolate, which potentially increases the risk of obesity,” said Jill Haszard, a biostatistician at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. 

“Such a difference could easily explain why not getting enough sleep increases the risk of obesity in children,” she said in a university news release. 

The findings were independent of any changes in sedentary time and physical activity, which might have explained why kids were eating more. 

For the study, the researchers analyzed data from the DREAM (Daily Rest, Eating and Activity Monitoring) trial. It included 105 kids between 8 and 12 years of age with a range of body sizes. About 61% were considered normal-weight. The rest [had] overweight or [obesity]. 

Participants went to bed an hour earlier for one week, had a week of normal sleep and then went to bed one hour later for a week. 

All wore a wrist device to track their behavior around the clock, including every minute spent in sleep, sedentary time, light physical activity and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. 

Twice a week, kids were also asked what food and drink they had consumed during the previous 24 hours. 

The 82 children with complete data lost 48 minutes of sleep a night, but also woke up eight minutes less on average, the study found. The extra time awake included 31 sedentary minutes, 21 minutes of light activity, and four minutes of vigorous activity. 

Overall, the tired kids ate an average 74 extra calories per day and 96 more in treats. Fewer calories came from core foods important to a healthy diet. 

After accounting for the increased energy needed to be awake longer in a day, the changes were linked to eating 63 more calories per day on average. 

Researchers noted a stronger relationship between sleep loss and calorie intake for foods eaten in the evening and high-calorie foods eaten more for pleasure than health. While increasing activity led to eating more healthy foods, increased sedentary time spurred more eating in the evening. 

“Together, these experimental findings show that changes to dietary intake, not reductions in physical activity, explain why not getting enough sleep increases the risk of overweight and obesity in childhood,” said DREAM study leader Rachael Taylor, also from the University of Otago. 

“Although improving our sleep doesn’t usually come to mind first when we think of managing our weight, it might just be a good option,” Taylor said in the release. 

Researchers said further study will be required to determine whether sleep is a good intervention for improving diet and weight over time. 

“Finding ways to improve healthy sleep habits including reading or a bath before bed may help children to extend their sleep time to the recommended 10 to 11 hours per night and reduce the risk of overweight and obesity,” Haszard said. 

The findings were presented at the International Congress on Obesity, Oct. 18-22, in Melbourne, Australia. Findings presented at medical meetings are considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.


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USDA Makes Major Investments in WIC to Improve Maternal and Child Health

October 19, 2022, U.S. Department of Agriculture

The U.S. Department of Agriculture acknowledges major progress and promise in several modernization and innovation efforts for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, known as WIC. Efforts include the award of nearly $53 million across three major grants funded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Combined, these investments will help WIC reach more eligible mothers and young children and improve the service they receive throughout their entire experience with the program, setting them up for healthy outcomes and helping to reduce longstanding disparities in maternal and child health. 

“WIC is an incredibly powerful public health program, with strong, proven benefits for participants, so we’ve got to do all we can to connect eligible mothers, infants, and children to the program and provide them with a positive, meaningful experience,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “These grants build on the USDA’s extensive efforts to strengthen the WIC program, make it easier and more convenient for participants, and use data and feedback from stakeholders to fulfill our commitment to serve them well.” 

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, or FNS, awarded the following grants with the goal of improving outreach and program experience for participants: 

  • Community Innovation and Outreach Cooperative Agreement: FNS awarded $20 million to the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) for innovative outreach to existing and potential WIC participants. FRAC will provide funds to WIC state and local agencies, community organizations, and other nonprofits to use community-level data to test new ways of delivering WIC messaging and conducting outreach. The grant will also expand partnerships with community-based organizations to connect underserved populations with WIC. 
  • Technology for a Better WIC Experience: Communications, Data, and Metrics Grants: FNS awarded more than $23 million to 66 WIC state agencies to improve technology and service delivery in WIC. Projects include leveraging text messaging, mobile phone support, appointment scheduling tools, plain language and limited English proficiency support, and more. 
  • WIC Shopping Experience Improvement Grants: FNS awarded about $10 million in grants to 19 WIC state agencies to improve the shopping experience through modernizing in-store shopping – responding to feedback from WIC participants – and working toward online shopping. Projects include efforts to help participants identify WIC-eligible foods in the grocery store, plan for and test online shopping with WIC benefits, and train grocery store staff to provide better service to WIC participants. 

FNS also recently entered into a contract for the development and implementation of a bold, modern and strategic national outreach campaign to increase enrollment and retention in WIC, while reducing disparities in program access and delivery. 

Participation in WIC is key to improving nutrition security and advancing equity for underserved groups, including people of color, tribal populations, immigrants, and rural communities. WIC has a long history of improving health outcomes for children as well as longer-term cognitive development and academic achievement. Yet, fewer than three out of five who are eligible for the program are enrolled, and while participation rates are high among infants, they drop substantially as children get older. FNS is committed to modernizing and innovating the WIC program to maximize its impact throughout the entire period of eligibility. To learn more about WIC modernization and innovation initiatives, visit the WIC Modernization & Innovation webpage.


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Mother’s Ultra-Processed Food Intake Linked to Obesity Risk in Children

October 5, 2022, EurekAlert!

A mother’s consumption of ultra-processed foods appears to be linked to an increased risk of overweight or obesity in her offspring, irrespective of other lifestyle risk factors, suggests a US study published by The BMJ. 

The researchers say further study is needed to confirm these findings and to understand the factors that might be responsible.  

But they suggest that mothers might benefit from limiting their intake of ultra-processed foods, and that dietary guidelines should be refined and financial and social barriers removed to improve nutrition for women of child bearing age and reduce childhood obesity. 

According to the World Health Organization, 39 million children were overweight or obese in 2020, leading to increased risks of heart disease, diabetes, cancers, and early death.  

Ultra-processed foods, such as packaged baked goods and snacks, fizzy drinks and sugary cereals, are commonly found in modern Western style diets and are associated with weight gain in adults. But it’s unclear whether there’s a link between a mother’s consumption of ultra-processed foods and her offspring’s body weight. 

To explore this further, the researchers drew on data for 19,958 children born to 14,553 mothers (45% boys, aged 7-17 years at study enrollment) from the Nurses’ Health Study II (NHS II) and the Growing Up Today Study (GUTS I and II) in the United States. 

The NHS II is an ongoing study tracking the health and lifestyles of 116,429 US female registered nurses aged 25-42 in 1989. From 1991, participants reported what they ate and drank, using validated food frequency questionnaires every four years. 

The GUTS I study began in 1996 when 16,882 children (aged 8-15 years) of NHS II participants completed an initial health and lifestyle questionnaire and were monitored every year between 1997 and 2001, and every two years thereafter. 

In 2004, 10,918 children (aged 7-17 years) of NHS II participants joined the extended GUTS II study and were followed up in 2006, 2008, and 2011, and every two years thereafter. 

A range of other potentially influential factors, known to be strongly correlated with childhood obesity, were also taken into account. These included mother’s weight (BMI), physical activity, smoking, living status (with partner or not), and partner’s education, as well as children’s ultra-processed food consumption, physical activity, and sedentary time. 

Overall, 2,471 (12%) children developed overweight or obesity during an average follow-up period of 4 years. 

The results show that a mother’s ultra-processed food consumption was associated with an increased risk of overweight or obesity in her offspring. For example, a 26% higher risk was seen in the group with the highest maternal ultra-processed food consumption (12.1 servings/day) versus the lowest consumption group (3.4 servings/day). 

In a separate analysis of 2,790 mothers and 2,925 children with information on diet from 3 months pre-conception to delivery (peripregnancy), the researchers found that peripregnancy ultra-processed food intake was not significantly associated with an increased risk of offspring overweight or obesity. 

This is an observational study, so can’t establish cause and the researchers acknowledge that some of the observed risk may be due to other unmeasured factors, and that self-reported diet and weight measures might be subject to misreporting. 

Other important limitations include the fact that some offspring participants were lost to follow-up, which resulted in a few of the analyses being underpowered, particularly those related to peripregnancy intake, and that mothers were predominantly white and from similar social and economic backgrounds, so the results may not apply to other groups. 

Nevertheless, the study used data from several large ongoing studies with detailed dietary assessments over a relatively long period, and further analysis produced consistent associations, suggesting that the results are robust.

The researchers suggest no clear mechanism underlying these associations and say the area warrants further investigation. 

Nevertheless, these data “support the importance of refining dietary recommendations and the development of programs to improve nutrition for women of reproductive age to promote offspring health,” they conclude. 


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