Childhood obesity: risk factors and prevention

childhood obesity

The factors that contribute to overweight and obesity are complex, but one pattern is clear: having obesity during childhood increases the likelihood of having obesity as an adult.

Trends in obesity prevalence

Latest stats show continued increase in obesity rates

While obesity has been on the rise for decades in the US, the proportion of Americans who are obese appeared to have reached a plateau more recently.

A new analysis suggests that this leveling off was temporary, lasting from 2009-2012, and indicates that obesity rates have since continued to climb in both children and adults.

If current trends continue, researchers project that by 2030, one-third of America’s children age 6-11 and half of adolescents age 12-19 will be overweight or obese.

New insights on risk factors

Mounting evidence that sugar-sweetened beverages are a risk factor for childhood obesity

A study that tracked more than 700 kids from the toddler to teen years finds intake of sugar-sweetened beverages was associated with a significantly higher body mass index (BMI) throughout childhood, while intake of milk, 100% juice and water-based sugar-free beverages was not associated with any difference in BMI.

As one of the first longitudinal studies to examine children’s beverage consumption over time, the study bolsters the evidence that sugar-sweetened beverages are an important risk factor for obesity.

Promoting healthy weight

Characteristics of successful programs to promote healthy weight among middle schoolers

Many programs and policies have been implemented to curb overweight and obesity rates in children and teens.

New research takes a broad look at the outcomes of such programs to understand which factors seem to be associated with greatest success.

Examples of impactful interventions include the use of scratch cooking for preparing school meals, not using physical activity for discipline at school and promoting drinking water at school.

Eating breakfast can help kids meet dietary recommendations

Kids in America eat a wide variety of morning foods, from cereal and milk to pancakes and pastries to eggs and fruit.

In a new study funded by the Kellogg Company, kids who ate breakfast generally showed higher daily consumption of recommended nutrients including fiber, calcium, vitamin D and potassium, as well as greater whole grain and lower added sugar intake compared to those who did not eat in the morning.

In particular, consuming grain-based foods with milk for breakfast was linked with several health benefits.

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News source: American Society for Nutrition (ASN). The content is edited for length and style purposes.
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