September 2020


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New from NCCOR: “A Guide to Methods for Assessing Childhood Obesity”

NCCOR, September 8, 2020

Measurement is a fundamental component of all forms of research—that’s why it’s a top priority for NCCOR to promote accurate measurement by encouraging the consistent use of high-quality, comparable methods across childhood obesity prevention and research. In keeping with this mission, today, NCCOR released a brand new tool for those working on assessing childhood obesity.

Whether you are a researcher, a public health practitioner, clinician, or student with an interest in researching or evaluating weight-related outcomes, A Guide to Methods for Assessing Childhood Obesity will help you understand the most common adiposity assessment methods and select the most appropriate method for your particular objective. The Guide describes six methods commonly used to assess body composition in children and highlights procedures, validity and reliability, reference data, accessibility, cost, and participant burden and risk.

To further assist users in learning about these methods, this user guide includes six different case scenarios to walk users through what to think about when selecting a method based their research aim, study design, and setting they are working in.

Each case study highlights considerations for selecting methods described in the guide offering an opportunity to enhance what they learn from this guide. For those headed back to school this fall, this is also a useful tool for the classroom for both graduate students and faculty.

To learn more about this new user guide and how it can benefit your work, join NCCOR for a Connect & Explore webinar on October 8 at 12:00 p.m. E.T. Register here.

Make your childhood obesity research easier by checking out this free, comprehensive new user guide here.

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Childhood Obesity Evidence Base (COEB): Test of a Novel Taxonomic Meta-Analytic Method

NCCOR, September 17, 2020

Childhood Obesity published four papers highlighting findings from the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research’s (NCCOR) Childhood Obesity Evidence Base (COEB) Project, a collaborative effort between NCCOR and Mission Measurement. The papers are accompanied by commentaries by Dr. Shiriki Kumanyika, Dr. Christina Economos, and Dr. Debra Haire-Joshu. The four articles and two commentaries in this supplement are described below and are available here.

  • A Rationale for Taxonomic vs. Conventional Meta-Analysis introduces the rationale for a taxonomic meta-analysis of childhood obesity prevention interventions in comparison to a conventional meta-analysis.
  • Methods for Taxonomy Development for Application in Taxonomic Meta-Analysis explains the methodology used to generate the taxonomy specific to childhood obesity prevention interventions targeting children ages 2–5, which can be applied to other areas of research, including obesity prevention for other populations.
  • A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of a Taxonomy of Intervention Components to Prevent Obesity in Children 2 to 5 Years of Age, 2005 to 2019 evaluates the efficacy of childhood obesity interventions and applies a taxonomy of intervention components to identify specific components that increase the efficacy of these interventions in their context.
  • Building Translational Capacity Through Meta-Analytic Methods highlights COEB contributions to the fields of meta-analysis and prevention of childhood obesity and discusses uses and limitations of the method.
  • Learning More from What We Already Know About Childhood Obesity Prevention is a commentary from Shiriki Kumanyika, PhD, MPH, which reflects on the importance and potential implications of the project from a methodological perspective.
  • Preventing Obesity in 2-5 Year Olds: A Pathway to Advancing Intervention Research is a commentary from Christina D. Economos, PhD and Debra Haire-Joshu, PhD, which discusses several research design, methods, and implementation areas to improve the efficacy of these interventions.

As a result of the NCCOR COEB Project, a taxonomic-specific database and several other resources were developed, which can be used to examine additional interventions and research in the field. These products are freely available here.

The COEB Project aligns with NCCOR’s efforts to identify and evaluate practical and sustainable interventions as well as facilitate the ability of childhood obesity researchers and program evaluators to conduct research and program evaluation. Learn more about other NCCOR initiatives at

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Publications & Tools

NCCOR’s Toolbox

Are you a graduate student wondering how to use NCCOR’s tools? Check out this case study for a step-by-step example of how to use NCCOR’s Measures Registry.

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Schools Find Success in Reducing Sodium in Meals

This new issue brief from Healthy Eating Research examines the recent history of sodium standards for school meals. It highlights current sodium intake among America’s children and School Nutrition Meal Cost Study findings about sodium content of school meals.

Read the brief

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The State of Obesity 2020: Better Policies for a Healthier America

This new report finds that the U.S. adult obesity rate tops 40 percent—the highest ever recorded. COVID-19-related food insecurity also puts more Americans at risk for obesity or worsening obesity.

Read the report

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Childhood Obesity Research & News

A Novel Approach to Childhood Obesity Prevention

EurekAlert!, September 16, 2020

A novel taxonomic approach to obesity prevention using existing U.S. obesity prevention studies is highlighted in a special supplement of the peer-reviewed journal Childhood Obesity. The studies demonstrate an approach to breaking down and reaggregating study specifics to enable a determination of which obesity intervention strategies work and under what circumstances. Click here to read the supplement now.

The work is a collaborative effort between the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR) and Mission Measurement. NCCOR is a partnership between The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); National Institutes of Health (NIH); Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF); and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“The Childhood Obesity Evidence Base Project” is guest edited by Deborah Young-Hyman, PhD, National Institutes of Health, and Laura Kettel Khan, PhD, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The issue includes these studies:

  • A Rationale for Taxonomic Versus Conventional Meta-Analysis
  • Methods for Taxonomy Development for Application in Taxonomic Meta-Analysis
  • A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of a New Taxonomy of Intervention Components to Improve Weight Status in Children 2-5 Years of Age, 2005-2019
  • Building Translational Capacity Through Meta-Analytic Methods

Shiriki Kumanyika, PhD, MPH, Drexel University, presents a Commentary entitled “Learning More from What We Already Know About Childhood Obesity Prevention.”  Christina Economos, PhD, Tufts University, and Debra Haire-Joshu, PhD, Brown School at Washington University, St. Louis, present their perspective in a Commentary entitled “Preventing Obesity in 2-5-Year Olds: A Pathway to Advancing Intervention Research.”

The research reported in this supplement was supported by the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research of the NIH under contract number GS-00F-0007M. The findings and conclusions in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the NIH or the CDC.

Original source

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Taste Buds May Play Role in Fostering Obesity in Offspring

EurekAlert!, September 11, 2020

Cornell food scientists show in animal studies that a mother’s high-fat diet may lead to more sweet-taste receptors and a greater attraction to unhealthy food in their offspring – resulting in poor feeding behavior, obesity in adulthood.

The researchers’ findings were published July 31 in Scientific Reports.

Maternal exposure to a high-fat diet during the perinatal period – before the animal gets pregnant – appears to induce physical, detectable changes in the taste buds for offspring, said senior author Robin Dando, associate professor of food science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

“We see this is something actually happening in the taste buds themselves,” Dando said. “Adult progeny, fed such a diet, have more sweet-taste receptors inside their taste buds than in the control group, whose mothers ate a steady, healthy diet.”

Five weeks before mating, female mice were fed high-caloric, high-fat meals; other mice were also fed the high-fat diet from their pregnancy through lactation.

The progeny, weaned after the lactation period, ate healthy, high-quality laboratory chow. When the offspring became adults, the mice received their first taste of the high-fat diet.

“Up until then, the animals showed no difference between themselves and the control group,” Dando said. “But as soon as the offspring of the moms who consumed the unhealthy diet had access to it, they loved it and they over-consumed it.”

The offspring only encountered a high-fat diet by way of the maternal environment.

“If a mother has an unhealthy diet where she consumes a lot of calories through high-fat and sugary products,” Dando said, “the offspring are going to have a predisposition for liking the unhealthy diet. The origin of this is not only the changes the brain, but there are other physical changes happening within the taste buds.”

As Dando stressed, these results are in mice, but obesity in humans combined with an environmental component, the heritability is between 40% to 70%. “Obesity in the offspring is strongly predicted by the metabolic state of the parents,” he said.

While the specific mechanism remains unclear, Dando said, the results introduce the concept of “taste” to the list of metabolic alterations arising from fetal programming.

“Our research adds to the evidence that the taste bud plays a role in the etiology of obesity,” he said. “From a public health standpoint, improving our knowledge of prenatal and early postnatal factors that program obesity in offspring may provide insight into therapeutic targets to combat the obesity epidemic – a disease easier to prevent than to cure.”

Original source

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Healthy Diet and Exercise During Pregnancy Could Lead to Healthier Children, Study Finds

EurekAlert!, September 11, 2020

New research shows improving the lifestyle of women with obesity during pregnancy could mean long-term cardiovascular benefits for their children.

The study, led by King’s College London and supported by the British Heart Foundation and Tommy’s charity, examined how an antenatal diet and physical activity intervention in pregnant women with obesity could positively influence the health of the women and their children three years after giving birth.

The UPBEAT trial is a randomised controlled trial which aims to improve the diet and physical activity of obese pregnant women across the UK. Women who were given a diet and exercise intervention were compared to women in a control group, who made no changes to their lifestyle during pregnancy.

Follow-up examinations three years after birth showed that the children born to the intervention arm of the trial had a lower resting heart rate of -5 bpm than children treated with standard care. A higher resting heart rate in adults is associated with hypertension and cardiovascular dysfunction.

The study also showed that mothers in the intervention arm maintained a healthier diet three years after birth.

While women reported lower glycaemic load, maternal energy and saturated fatty acids intake, and higher protein intake three years after delivery, there were no differences in self-reported physical activity or in measures of body composition.

Lead author Kathryn Dalrymple from King’s College London said: “This research shows that an lifestyle intervention in pregnant women, which focused on improving diet and increasing physical activity, is associated with improved cardiovascular function in the child at three-years of age and a sustained improvement in the mothers diet, three years after the intervention finished. These findings are very exciting as they add to the evidence that pregnancy is a window of opportunity to promote positive health and lifestyle changes which benefit the mother and her child.”

Senior author Professor Lucilla Poston, Tommy’s Chair for Maternal and Fetal Health, said: “Obesity in pregnancy is a major problem because it can increase the risk of complications in pregnancy as well as affecting the longer-term health of the child. This study strengthens my resolve to highlight just how important it is that we give children a healthy start in life.”

Tommy’s Research and Policy Director, Lizzie D’Angelo, said: “Pregnancy can be higher risk for women who are obese, but trying to lose lots of weight while pregnant is not advised, so our research focuses on finding new ways to make pregnancy safer for these families. It’s very reassuring to see that our researchers have been able to improve mothers’ diets and children’s heart health in the long term, helping to give these babies the best start in life.”

Tracy Parker, Senior Dietitian at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Keeping physically active and maintaining a balanced diet are both important ways of keeping our hearts healthy. This research shows that for pregnant women, the benefits don’t end there. A healthy diet before, during and after pregnancy can have positive long-term health benefits for both mother and child.”

The team of researchers will follow-up these children again at 8-10 years of age to see if this improvement in cardiovascular function is maintained through childhood.

Original source

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Identification of Measurement Needs to Prevent Childhood Obesity in High-Risk Populations and Environments

American Journal of Preventive Medicine, September 9, 2020


Children at highest obesity risk include those from certain racial/ethnic groups, from low-income families, with disabilities, or living in high-risk communities. However, a 2013 review of the National Collaborative for Childhood Obesity Research Measures Registry identified few measures focused on children at highest obesity risk. The objective is to (1) identify individual and environmental measures of diet and physical activity added to the Measures Registry since 2013 used among high-risk populations or settings and (2) describe methods for their development, adaptation, or validation.


Investigators screened references in the Measures Registry from January 2013 to September 2017 (n=351) and abstracted information about individual and environmental measures developed for, adapted for, or applied to high-risk populations or settings, including measure type, study population, adaptation and validation methods, and psychometric properties.


A total of 38 measures met inclusion criteria. Of these, 30 assessed individual dietary (n=25) or physical activity (n=13) behaviors, and 11 assessed the food (n=8) or physical activity (n=7) environment. Of those, 17 measures were developed for, 9 were applied to (i.e., developed in a general population and used without modification), and 12 were adapted (i.e., modified) for high-risk populations. Few measures were used in certain racial/ethnic groups (i.e., American Indian/Alaska Native, Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and Asian), children with disabilities, and rural (versus urban) communities.


Since 2013, a total of 38 measures were added to the Measures Registry that were used in high-risk populations. However, many of the previously identified gaps in population coverage remain. Rigorous, community-engaged methodologic research may help researchers better adapt and validate measures for high-risk populations.

Original source

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Obesity Prevalence Varies Widely Among Latino Populations, NYC Study Finds

EurekAlert!, August, 31, 2020

A new study of obesity among the largest Latino populations living in New York City (NYC) finds that the prevalence of obesity varies widely–with Mexicans and Puerto Ricans much more likely to have obesity than Dominicans, Ecuadorians, and Colombians.

The study of over 8,000 adults, representing a weighted sample of over 1 million New Yorkers, being presented at The European and International Congress on Obesity (ECOICO 2020), held online this year (1-4 September), underscores that approaches to tackling obesity need to be tailored to the needs of diverse groups within the Latino population.

“Our study of a large, diverse sample of Latinos living in New York City reveals that there’s a dramatic variation in prevalence of obesity by country of origin. This suggests that Latinos are not a monolithic group and that standardised treatment of all Latino people may obscure unique risks among specific groups”, says author Carlos Devia, a doctoral candidate from CUNY Graduate School of Public Health Policy, New York, USA.

He continues: “However, despite group differences, all Latino groups have high levels of obesity and warrant renewed effort and novel strategies tailored to the specific context and culture of each group to prevent and reduce obesity.”

Latinos, the largest and fastest growing ethnic group in the USA, are disproportionally impacted by obesity. Although Spanish-speaking Latinos are considered as a single ethnic/racial group, they represent a diverse mix of genetic ancestry, culture, immigration history, and environmental exposures from 20 different countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Most of the obesity research in the USA to date has involved Mexican Americans, or has failed to analyse differences among the diverse subgroups that make up the Latino population.

To address these shortcomings, researchers analysed data in the NYC Community Health Survey from 2013-2017 on 7,929 adults to compare obesity prevalence (body mass index [BMI] of 30?kg/m2 or higher) and risk factors among the largest Latino populations (i.e., Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Dominicans, Ecuadorians, and Colombians). The survey is a cross-sectional telephone survey with an annual sample of around 10,000 randomly selected adults aged 18 and older from all five boroughs of NYC.

The study estimated age-adjusted obesity prevalence–to account for obesity becoming more common as a person ages–as well as weighted prevalence ratios for obesity by ethnicity adjusting for demographic characteristics (age, sex, marital status, presence of children in household); socioeconomic factors (education, employment status, household size, poverty status); health-related behaviour (daily consumption of soda and sugar-sweetened beverages and exercise in the past 30 days) and health status (perception of health, and comorbidities).

Mexicans had the highest age-adjusted prevalence of obesity among the Latino populations analysed–with more than 1 in 3 (37%) of the adult population having obesity. Puerto Ricans too had very high rates of obesity–36% of adults. In contrast, rates of obesity were significantly lower among Dominicans (27%), Colombians (24%), and Ecuadorians (24%).

Even after adjusting for socioeconomic, demographic, and health factors, the analyses found that compared with Mexicans, the prevalence rate ratio of obesity was 20% lower among Colombians, 25% lower in Ecuadorians, and 28% lower among Dominicans. No significant difference was observed between Mexicans and Puerto Ricans.

“As the US Latino population continues to grow these differences between groups will become more important to addressing health needs”, says Devia. “Our study strongly underscores the necessity to disaggregate Latinos into distinct cultural groups in future obesity and related health research. Furthermore, results from this study raises awareness about variations in obesity, obesity risk behaviours (e.g., diet and physical activity), and obesity-related comorbidities that should be considered when tailoring prevention interventions for Latinos.”

The authors acknowledge that their findings show observational differences, so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect, and they point to a number of limitations, including unmeasured confounding that may have influenced the results, and measurement error due to recall and social desirability biases. They also note that the findings are specific to NYC and may be not generalisable to other Latino populations.

Original source

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