More parents think their overweight child is ‘about right

admin   •   August 27, 2014   •   2143

Children and teens take off from the starting line for the annual run/walk for patients and their friends and families at The Children’s Hospital in Aurora, Colorado June 5, 2010.
CREDIT: REUTERS/RICK WILKING

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Between 1988 and 2010, the number of parents who could correctly identify their children as overweight or obese went down, according to a new study.

“Today, almost one out of every three kids is overweight or obese,” said senior author Dr. Jian Zhang of the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro. “They are at significantly increased risk of a number of diseases as they grow older, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis and cancer.”

The first step to dealing with any problem is, of course, being aware of it, he said.

Zhang and his team examined height and weight data on 2,871 children, ages six to 11, from the 1988 to 1994 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and 3,202 similar kids from the 2005 to 2010 cycles of the survey.

In all cases, the children’s parents were asked if they considered their child ‘overweight, underweight, just about the right weight, or don’t know.’

In the 1988 to 1994 data set, 78 percent of parents of an overweight boy and 61 percent of parents of an overweight girl, identified the child as ‘about the right weight.’ That number increased to 83 percent for boys and 78 percent for girls in the 2005 to 2010 period.

Similarly, for obese boys, 26 percent of parents said they were ‘about the right weight’ in 1988 compared to 37 percent in 2010, according to results in Pediatrics.

Like their parents, many kids also identify themselves as about the right weight even if they are overweight or obese, and those kids are less likely to try to lose weight (see Reuters story of August 6, 2014 here: reut.rs/1oGOJxf).

The increasing trend of weight underestimation is alarming, Zhang told Reuters Health by email.

“Studies overwhelmingly show that parental perceptions of their child’s weight influence family readiness to foster healthy behaviors and increasingly underestimating puts more kids at the risk of becoming overweight or obese,” he said.

Other studies have shown that overweight adults are increasingly not perceiving themselves as overweight, said Mary A. Burke, a senior economist in the research department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

Burke was not part of the new study.

The misclassification rate was quite high for both time periods, she told Reuters Health by phone.

“For six to 11 year old children, a lot of parents could say ‘I’m waiting to make a pronouncement because kids are always changing, they may grow out of it’,” she said.

And ‘about the right weight’ could reasonably include some kids who are slightly overweight but close to the healthy weight category, she said.

“Misperception among obese children is most important,” Burke said.

And though it seems logical that parents who more accurately perceive their kids’ weight will be more ready to try to change an overweight child’s behavior, it may not be that simple, she said.

“It’s not clear that if a doctor hammers home that a child is overweight, the parent will have more readiness to help child engage in more healthful behaviors,” she said.

“Do you really need to change parental perception first? It may be more effective to promote healthier behaviors among all kids,” she said.

Some people mistrust growth charts, she said, but most accept that good health behaviors like eating right and exercising apply to them, Burke said.

Parental perceptions might be changing over time as obesity becomes more common, since people generally judge themselves (and their children) against the people around them, she said.

It is also possible that more parents are unwilling to admit their children are overweight due to the increasing stigma of obesity, Zhang said.

The Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity provides helpful tips to help children maintain a healthy weight and growth charts for interpreting their weight class, available here, he noted.

SOURCE: bit,ly/1ltNBCt Pediatrics, online August 25, 2014

Prenatal and early childhood fructose tied to asthma in kids

UNTV News   •   December 20, 2017

A bronchodilator is placed atop of a prescription treatment paper that belongs to Shahrour’s son who is suffering from asthma, inside their home in the besieged town of Arbeen, in Damascus suburbs, Syria February 6, 2016. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh

(Reuters Health) – – Grade school kids may be more likely to develop asthma if they consumed lots of drinks sweetened with sugar and high fructose corn syrup or if their mothers drank these beverages often during pregnancy, a recent study suggests.

To assess the connection between childhood asthma, sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages, researchers examined data about eating habits from about 1,000 mother-child pairs as well as information on kids’ health, including whether they had an asthma diagnosis by ages 7 to 9.

After accounting for maternal obesity and other factors that can also influence kids’ odds of developing asthma, researchers found that women who consumed the most soda and sugary beverages during pregnancy were 70 percent more likely to have a child diagnosed with asthma by mid-childhood than mothers who never or rarely had sodas during pregnancy.

Women who had the most total fructose during pregnancy were 58 percent more likely to have kids with asthma than women who had little to no fructose.

“Previous studies have linked intake of sugary beverages with obesity, and obesity with asthma,” said study co-author Sheryl Rifas-Shiman, a researcher at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute in Boston.

“In addition to influencing asthma through increasing the risk of obesity, we found that sugary beverages and high fructose may influence the risk of asthma not entirely through obesity,” Rifas-Shiman said by email. “This finding suggests that there are additional mechanisms by which sugary beverages and fructose influence asthma risk beyond their effects on obesity.”

What kids ate and drank also mattered. Even after accounting for prenatal exposure to sodas, kids who had the most total fructose in their diets earlier in childhood were 79 percent more likely to develop asthma than children who rarely or never had fructose.

Once researchers also factored in whether children were overweight or obese, kids with the highest fructose consumption were still 77 percent more likely to have asthma.

Mothers who consumed more sugary beverages tended to be heavier and have less income and education than women who generally avoided sodas and sweet drinks. But the connection between sodas, sugary drinks and childhood asthma persisted even after accounting for these factors.

“We don’t know for certain the exact pathways by which sugary beverages and fructose lead to asthma,” Rifas-Shiman said. “We believe at least in part they act by increasing inflammation, which may influence the child’s lung development.”

The study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how sodas or sugary drinks might cause asthma.

Another limitation is that researchers relied on women to accurately recall and report on soda consumption for themselves and their young children, which may not always be accurate, researchers note in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

Even so, the findings add to the evidence that women should avoid sodas and sugary foods and drinks during pregnancy and also limit these things for their young kids, said Dr. Leda Chatzi, a researcher at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles who wasn’t involved in the study.

“Pregnant women should stay away from sugar sweetened drinks and foods with added sugars,” Chatzi said by email.

“Healthy eating during pregnancy is critical to their baby’s growth and development of chronic diseases such as asthma later in life,” Chatzi added. “A healthy dietary pattern during pregnancy contains a variety of food groups, including fruits and vegetables, breads and grains, protein sources and dairy products.”

SOURCE: bit.ly/2BaEVOI Annals of the American Thoracic Society, online December 8, 2017.

Obese children to outnumber severely underweight by 2022 – WHO

admin   •   October 11, 2017

One in five children is now obese or overweight.

Thin or weak children have long been the enduring image associated with poor nutrition in developing countries, while obesity is considered the curse of rich nations. However, a recent report from the World Health Organization (WHO)showed an obvious shift in this trend.

WHO released a report published in the lancet which shows that obesity rates among five to 19-year-olds Rose Tenfold in the past four decades, from 11 million in 1975 to 124 million in 2016.

In line with the observance of World Obesity Day today, the world agency offers recommendations of policy actions for countries to tackle obesity and overweight in young children.

“These actions are all feasible for all countries to tackle ending obesity and overweight in children. Countries will start at different places, perhaps in the schools, perhaps in the physical activity, perhaps in the public education and awareness and the regulatory and marketing, but all countries can tackle obesity through these six recommendations,” said WHO Program Manager Fiona bull.

The report said that 0.7 percent of children were obese in 1975, compared to 5.6 percent of girls and 7.8 percent of boys in 2016.

If the trend continues, more children and adolescents will be obese than moderately to severely underweight by 2022, according to the analysis of the weight and height measurements of nearly 130 million people – the largest ever epidemiological study, according to WHO.

“Being an overweight child or adolescent means you are more likely to be an overweight adult and it is also more likely to lead to early onset of conditions like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Overweight in childhood and adolescence also causes social psychological problems for the children themselves, more stigmatism, more bullying, less optimal school performance,” said WHO team leader Leanne Riley.

The study showed that there are now 124 million children and adolescents in the world who are obese and an additional 214 million overweight children and adolescent.  — United Nations Multimedia

 

Yo-yo dieting hikes death, heart risks in overweight heart disease patients

UNTV News   •   April 6, 2017

FILE: Reuters

(Reuters Health) —  For overweight people with heart disease, trying and failing to lose weight may be more dangerous than not losing weight at all.

A new retrospective study has concluded that patients whose weight fluctuates the most die twice as quickly or have twice the risk of heart attack or stroke compared to people who maintain a stable body weight.

And their risk of developing diabetes grows by 78 percent.

The findings, which need to be confirmed by further research, suggest a life-and-death conundrum. Being overweight is already known to pose serious health risks. The new research says dropping the pounds and putting them back on again poses additional dangers.

If you are an overweight person with heart disease who lost 20 pounds “you are worse off if you drop your weight and gain it back” than if you didn’t lose it in the first place, chief author Dr. Sripal Bangalore, an interventional cardiologist and associate professor of medicine at New York University’s Langone Medical Center told Reuters Health by phone.

The study is saying, “If you’re going to lose weight, do it right and you need to take it seriously,” said Dr. Ira Ockene, a professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, who was not connected with the research.

If people use the results as an excuse not to drop unhealthy pounds, “that would be unfortunate,” Ockene told Reuters Health. “There’s a lot of data that says if you lose weight and keep it off, you do better.”

“Hopefully this will be used as a motivation to lose weight and maintain weight,” Bangalore said.

Such yo-yo dieting, where a person’s weight fluctuates repeatedly, is already known to be unhealthy in people without heart disease.

The new study in the New England Journal of Medicine explored whether that was specifically true for people with coronary artery disease, where fatty deposits have built up in the blood vessels feeding the heart muscle. The researchers recycled data from 9,509 volunteers who were part of a Lipitor study published in 2005 and sponsored by Pfizer.

Another important limitation of the study: It did not examine whether patients lost weight because they tried to, or if their weight fluctuated because they were battling illness.

After adjusting for various factors such as high blood pressure, smoking, race, gender, diabetes, cholesterol levels and treatment with Lipitor, the Bangalore team found that people whose weights fluctuated the most were 2.24 times more likely to die from any cause within about five years, 2.17 times more likely to have a heart attack and 2.36 times more likely to be hit with a stroke than people whose weights were the most stable.

For every 3- or 4-pound change in body weight, their risk of heart attack, cardiac arrest, chest pain, death from heart disease or the need for surgery to open a clogged artery rose by 4 percent.

The dangers posed by shifting weight were least pronounced in people who had a normal weight to begin with.

Ockene said people need to put weight loss in perspective.

“Studies show people set unattainable goals. Heavy people say, ‘I need to lose 40 pounds’ and they set a goal that is largely unattainable. And when they lose 10 pounds they’re disappointed. And they say, ‘What the hell’ and they just gain it back,” he said.

“But if you lose 10 pounds and keep it off, your diabetes will be better, your blood pressure will be better, your lipids will be better, a lot of things will be better. You don’t need to lose 30 or 40 pounds,” he said. “That’s an important issue for people to understand.”

As a typical example of patients in the study whose weights fluctuated significantly, the researchers cited the case of a 53-year-old man whose weight went from 231 pounds to 244 pounds three months later, then dropped to 211 pounds eighteen months later before going up to 253 pounds after another 18 months had passed. — The dangers posed by shifting weight were least pronounced in people who had a normal weight to begin with.

Ockene said people need to put weight loss in perspective.

“Studies show people set unattainable goals. Heavy people say, ‘I need to lose 40 pounds’ and they set a goal that is largely unattainable. And when they lose 10 pounds they’re disappointed. And they say, ‘What the hell’ and they just gain it back,” he said.

“But if you lose 10 pounds and keep it off, your diabetes will be better, your blood pressure will be better, your lipids will be better, a lot of things will be better. You don’t need to lose 30 or 40 pounds,” he said. “That’s an important issue for people to understand.”

As a typical example of patients in the study whose weights fluctuated significantly, the researchers cited the case of a 53-year-old man whose weight went from 231 pounds to 244 pounds three months later, then dropped to 211 pounds eighteen months later before going up to 253 pounds after another 18 months had passed. — By Gene Emery

SOURCE: bit.ly/2nognpI New England Journal of Medicine, online April 5, 2017.

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