Obesity Childhood News

The news on obesity is often grim. Childhood obesity articles point to rising rates of overweight or obese kids. Childhood obesity statistics are alarming, and health complications associated with obesity are increasingly common for young people.

Childhood Obesity Statistics and Early Mortality

If you’re hearing about childhood obesity in news stories, the coverage isn’t likely to improve soon, if a report in the New England Journal of Medicine (2010) is any indication. Results of a long-term study of American Indian children born between 1945 and 1984 indicate that obese children are twice as likely to die before age 55 when compared to healthy weight children.

The study, conducted at Umea University Hospital (2010) in Umea, Sweden, used data gathered from 4,857 American Indian children born in the Arizona communities of Pima and Tohono O’odham. Approximately 29 percent of the children studied were obese. This news on obesity adds to concerns that childhood obesity could lower the lifespan of the average American.

Early Childhood Obesity News

Most childhood obesity programs focus on older children, but a report by researchers at the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute (2010) suggests that risk factors for childhood obesity start early in life. As part of the study, researchers interviewed 1,826 women during pregnancy and over the first four years of their children’s life.

The study results revealed that early-life risk factors for childhood obesity were higher among African American and Hispanic children than among Caucasians. Risk factors identified for childhood obesity included:

  • Babies who slept less than normal
  • Eating solid foods before four months of age
  • Gestational diabetes in mothers during pregnancy
  • High levels of fast food and sweetened drink consumption in preschoolers
  • Mother overweight at start of pregnancy
  • Small birth weight followed by excessive weight gains
  • Televisions in preschooler rooms.

The high rate of risk factors among minority children held true when adjusted for socio-economic status. Researchers suggested that the higher rate of risk factors in minorities may be tied to cultural values and intergenerational advice on child rearing passed from mothers or grandmothers to new mothers.

Genetic Childhood Obesity in News

When genetics and childhood obesity are discussed, people sometimes assume that a genetic predisposition for obesity makes weight gain inevitable. A childhood obesity news story from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden suggests otherwise.

The study, published in the April 2010 issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, examined the effects of exercise on teens that participated in the Health Lifestyles in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence Cross-Sectional Study. Of the 752 teens examined, 63 percent had mutations on the FTO gene (commonly referred to as the fat mass-and-obesity-associated gene).

Teens with one copy of the FTO mutation associated with weight gain who exercised for at least 60 minutes daily had BMI scores only 0.17 points higher than teens with normal FTO genes. In comparison, teens with FTO mutations who did not exercise had BMI scores 0.65 points higher than other sedentary teens without the mutation.

Childhood obesity articles on this study suggest that while genetics does influence childhood obesity, it may not be as great an influence as healthy eating and an active lifestyle.

Resources

Burton, K. (2010). Childhood obesity prevention should begin early in life, possibly before birth. Retrieved April 18, 2010, from http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2010/03/weighing-the-risk-factors/.

Franks, P. W., Hanson, R. L., Knowler, W. C., Sievers, M. L., Bennett, P. H.