Why the Obesity Trend Continues to Climb Unabated in the U.S.

obesityStory at-a-glance −

Obesity rates continue to climb in the US; 38 percent of American adults were obese as of 2014, up from 35 percent in 2011/2012, and 32 percent in 2003/2004

Factors contributing to mounting obesity rates include processed food diets, Continue reading

Environmental Toxins Linked to Childhood Obesity

pacifiersAre toys, pacifiers and even shampoo driving the epidemic of childhood obesity? 

Researchers from the Children’s Environmental Health Center at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York have found an association between a class of chemical substances known as “phthalates” Continue reading

Fighting Childhood Obesity through Social Media

Social media may be an effective tool to help children overcome obesity, according to a new American Heart Association scientific statement.

The statement is published online in the association’s journal Circulation.

“Online communication and social media are Continue reading

Edible School Yards and Healthy Cooking Lessons – Growing Fresh Solutions for Childhood Obesity

Purple carrots, raspberry bushes and a bounty of schoolyard-grown vegetables are sprouting up around the nation. Edible schoolyards are teaching children about sustainability, nutrition and the fun of growing, cooking and eating their own food. As more of these gardens germinate from an idea to a full fledged classroom, children learn about wholesome food choices — helping to curb childhood obesity.

The blossoming of garden classrooms

Instead of sitting in front of video games Continue reading

Longer, More Regular Sleep May Reduce Childhood Obesity

Promoting longer, more regular sleep, even catching up at weekends on sleep lost in the week, may help reduce the incidence of childhood obesity, concluded US researchers in a new study published online in a leading journal this week.

You can read how Dr David Gozal, Professor and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Chicago Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois, and colleagues, arrived at this conclusion in a paper published online on 24 January in the journal Pediatrics.

Previous studies have already reported that insufficient sleep is linked to an increased risk of obesity in children, but in this study, Gozal and colleagues set out specifically to explore the effect of duration and regularity of sleep on BMI and metabolic regulation in children.

BMI stands for Body Mass Index, a measure of obesity, expressed in kg per meter squared, and equal to a person’s weight divided by the square of their height.

For this cross-sectional study, they recruited 308 community-resident children aged 4 to 10 years, and measured their BMIs, their blood glucose before eating in the morning, insulin, blood fats and cholesterol. In a sub-sample group, they also measured levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (an “inflammation” marker used to assess risk of cardiovascular disease).

The children wore wrist monitors for a week. These measured physical activity and allowed the researchers to assess how often, when the children slept, and how long for, over the week.

The results showed that:

* The children slept for 8 hours every night on average, regardless of their BMI.

* However, there was also a non-linear trend between sleep and weight.

* The children in the obese BMI range, slept fewer hours and showed greater variability in the differences between weekend sleep time and school days sleep time.

* Children whose BMI was in the overweight range, showed an inconsistent sleep pattern.

* Analysis of sleep patterns and blood markers showed that high variance in sleep duration, or shorter sleep duration, was more likely to be linked to altered levels of insulin, LDL cholesterol, and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein.

* Children who slept the least, particularly those who also had irregular sleep patterns, showed the greatest health risk (ie the riskiest combination of BMI and blood markers).

The researchers found that just an extra half hour of sleep every night was linked to lower BMI and reduced pattern of risky blood markers.

And they also found that catching up with sleep at the weekend was linked to a lower risk of obesity, they wrote that:

“Obese children were less likely to experience ‘catch-up’ sleep on weekends, and the combination of shorter sleep duration and more-variable sleep patterns was associated with adverse metabolic outcomes.”

They concluded that:

“Educational campaigns, aimed at families, regarding longer and more-regular sleep may promote decreases in obesity rates and may improve metabolic dysfunction trends in school-aged children.”

Lack of Sleep May Be Linked to Childhood Obesity

Infants and preschoolers who don’t get enough sleep at night are at increased risk for later childhood obesity, a new study suggests.

The researchers also found that daytime naps are not an adequate substitute for lost nighttime sleep in terms of preventing obesity.

The study included 1,930 U.S. children, ages 1 month to 13 years, who were divided into two groups — younger (ages 1 month to 59 months) and older (ages 5 to 13 years). Data on the children was collected at the start of the study (baseline) in 1997 and again in 2002 (follow-up).

At the follow-up, 33 percent of the younger children and 36 percent of the older children were overweight or obese. Among the younger children, lack of sufficient nighttime sleep at baseline was associated with increased risk for later overweight or obesity.

Among the older children, the amount of sleep at baseline was not associated with weight at follow-up. However, a lack of nighttime sleep at follow-up was associated with increased risk of a shift from normal weight to overweight and from overweight to obesity, the study found.

The findings “suggest that there is a critical window prior to age 5 years when nighttime sleep may be important for subsequent obesity status,” wrote Janice F. Bell of the University of Washington in Seattle, and Frederick J. Zimmerman of the University of California, Los Angeles.

“Sleep duration is a modifiable risk factor with potentially important implications for obesity prevention and treatment,” the authors concluded. “Insufficient nighttime sleep among infants and preschool-aged children appears to be a lasting risk factor for subsequent obesity, while contemporaneous sleep appears to be important to weight status in adolescents. Napping had no effects on the development of obesity and is not a substitute for sufficient nighttime sleep,” they added.