Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Childhood obesity: Strongest predictor of premature death

In a study now being published in The New England Journal of Medicine, Associate Professor Paul Franks of UmeƄ University in Sweden, in collaboration with researchers in the US, shows how childhood obesity, together with other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, affects premature death.

The researchers studied 4,857 children from the indigenous Indian population in the US, born between 1945 and 1984. All underwent detailed medical examinations, including measurement of body fat (BMI), cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar. The children were then followed up for an average of 24 years of their continuing lives, during which time further parameters were monitored, as were any deaths in the group.

In this group, 559 individuals (11.5%) died before the age of 55, 166 of them from natural causes. The most common natural causes of death were alcohol-related liver disease and cardiovascular disease. Among the four risk factors that were monitored in the study, childhood obesity turned out to be the strongest predictor of premature death from disease. The 1,214 most overweight children in the group (the upper quarter) had a mortality frequency that was more than twice as high (230%) of that of the leanest quarter of those studied.

In a similar manner, high blood sugar was shown to elevate the frequency of death by 73%, and high blood pressure in the childhood years raised the risk by 53%. These two risk factors were almost entirely associated with the degree of obesity. On the other hand, the scientists found no measurable effects on mortality from high cholesterol values in childhood. All children in the group were diabetes free when the study commenced, but nearly 600 of them developed diabetes during the follow-up period. However, this fact could not explain the connection between childhood obesity and premature death.

This is the first study of its kind and is especially interesting since the group under study, as children as early as the 1940s, had an equally high level of obesity as many children today. The proportion of overweight children is on the rise all over the world, and the authors conclude that measure to increase physical activity, improve food habits, and keep families together should receive high priority during early childhood.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Researchers investigate risk factors for childhood obesity

Both genetics and parents who comfort their infants with food are the focus of a study funded for $1 million by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestion and Kidney Disease investigating risk factors for childhood obesity. The grant is part of the National Institutes of Health American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding.

"When the infant cries, parents typically have a set of soothing techniques they'll use to comfort their child -- if one doesn't work, they move to the next -- and somewhere on that list is feeding," said Cynthia Stifter, professor of human development and family studies and principal investigator on the project. "It may be, with some children, that using food as a means of soothing distress promotes the association of food with emotional comfort, a characteristic of emotional eaters that is associated with adult obesity."

One goal of Stifter's study is to provide a detailed description of how and when parents use feeding to soothe infants and its relation to weight gain in infancy. Rapid weight gain in infancy has been linked to childhood obesity.

"There has been much speculation about the role of food in parent soothing of infant distress, but there is no research," said Stifter. "What is known is that food, especially that containing sugar, has an immediate effect on infant distress and that many middle-income and lower-income mothers endorse using food to soothe an infant's distress."

To see how parents respond to their infants' distress, researchers will go with families to routine doctor appointments where infants receive vaccinations. These immunizations commonly cause distress. The researchers will also keep track of children's rate of weight gain and parents will complete a "daily diary," at five minute intervals for three days, recording whether their child fussed, cried, slept, was content or was fed. Parents will also participate in a number of laboratory visits to assess the infants' emotional reactivity and regulation, and a variety of interviews including one conducted by Penn State's Diet Assessment Center, which will examine the food environment -- meal location, the context in which food is eaten -- whether the child was crying or fell asleep after eating and child feeding practices -- whether food was offered to soothe the child.

Stifter will also look at the brain's natural reward system, which releases dopamine into the brain, producing a feeling of pleasure.

"Dopamine basically makes you want more of something," says Stifter.

Dopamine in the brain is associated with nicotine, alcohol and other addictions. Stifter and her colleagues will consider food as the object of an addiction for certain individuals. They will draw upon previous research pinpointing a set of genes that determine a person's dopamine system activity. Certain individuals may be genetically predisposed to be more sensitive to their brain's reward system.

"We are hypothesizing that the parenting practice of feeding to soothe, or the use of food to soothe infant distress not related to hunger, may interfere with the development of the ability to read internal cues of hunger and fullness, which, in certain children with sensitive dopamine systems, may lead to increased energy intake, rapid weight gain in infancy, and subsequent childhood obesity," said Stifter.

No previous studies have examined parent feeding style in infancy and genetics as precursors to childhood obesity.

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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Help your Child Fight Childhood Obesity

by sharonsky

Halloween, slumber parties, birthdays - sometimes, it seems like childhood is a single major food fest. It's hard to deprive your youngster with particular delicacies and delights when all her friends are having a grand feast.

Childhood obesity is a condition where excess body fat negatively affects a child's health or wellbeing. Childhood obesity is often the result of an interplay between many genetic and environmental factors. Childhood obesity is a serious medical condition that affects children and adolescents.

Childhood obesity is particularly troubling because the extra pounds often start kids on the path to health problems that were once confined to adults, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Childhood obesity is the leading cause of pediatric hypertension along with increasing the risk factor of a child coming down with diabetes and heart disease.

For your greater element in the population, genetic materials may establish the lower optimum values of people's weight, but individuals themselves establish the higher optimum values by their foods selections. In addition, since most children cannot simply set the limits and select the foodstuff that they should eat, it is the duty in the dad and mom to set the limits.

You do not know the way to do it? Here are some tips that should assist you to keep track of your child's foods and consuming regimen and assist him fight childhood obesity.

1. Happy Halloween!

As the only festival dedicated nearly totally to overeating on "sugar-laden treats," Halloween holds an extraordinary place in hell for most parents dealing with childhood weight problems.

This can understandably be a very tough time for your child to get by, but you are able to make it simpler. Try focusing within the actual spirit from the season and make a special haunted house for that children, or let them have a "spooktacular" party with ghost stories, rubber spiders, and the old "spaghetti intestines and grape eyeballs" game.

For younger youngsters, a costume celebration with pumpkin painting and other activities is continually fun. The crucial thing is that you simply shun away your sorts from any signs of sugary sweets.

2. Overnight trips

The first solo sleepover can be nerve-wracking for both you along with the host dad and mom. Kids old enough for slumber parties and overnight trips are typically at least starting to manage some of their own meals and diet regimen, which assists.

Invest some time with the parents in advance from the event to give them a briefing on what your baby could potentially require, and make yourself offered via phone for any questions they may well have.

Offer them with healthy snacks they can consume and give them nutritious to cook.

3. Calorie-conscious kiddos

Its critical to train your kid about the kinds of foods that they are expected to consume. Splurge some time teaching your kid the comparative calorie substance. That could make your child make greater meals alternatives.

Its much better to teach them early how to read foodstuff labels to support boost their foodstuff awareness.

4. Snack on the best meals

Infants are incredibly vulnerable to snacks; hence, it would be tough to eliminate them. The only best way to prevent childhood obesity is to permit them to snack on the best meals. Give them some apples rather than a bar of chocolates.

Maintain in mind that consuming is a habit. If your children's eating regimen has been accustomed to balanced eating from the very commence, they will grow healthful and strong.

Indeed, fighting childhood obesity isn't a difficulty. It really is just inside the way parents show their youngsters the right stuffs to eat.

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