January 30th, 2014
10:49 AM ET
The baby fat lingering around your 5-year-old's face (and tummy and thighs) may be an indicator of his or her weight for many years to come, a new study suggests. Children who enter kindergarten overweight are four times more likely than their normal weight peers to become obese by age 14, researchers say.
Though recent studies have shown signs of progress in the fight against childhood obesity, an estimated one out of every eight preschoolers in the United States is obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The numbers are higher in African-American and Hispanic populations, at one in five and one in six, respectively.
The new study, published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, suggests a big part of a child's obesity risk is already established by age 5. Interventions to combat childhood obesity may need to focus on those children who are overweight early in life, the study authors say.
December 3rd, 2013
03:04 PM ET
You've probably heard someone say, "I'm fat but fit." Several recent studies have suggested this statement could be true. But a new review of existing studies published this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine may put a stop to the rumor.
"Healthy obesity" is just a myth, the study authors say.
Scientists know that overweight people can be what they call "metabolically healthy." This means that despite having a high body mass index, or BMI, someone can have a small waistline, normal blood pressure and low cholesterol levels, and show little to no risk for developing diabetes. The opposite is also true; thin people can be metabolically unhealthy, with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and fat that accumulates only around their middle, which is a known risk for heart disease.
This kind of paradox highlights "the complexity of the relationship between weight and mortality," the authors of this new meta-analysis write. A lot of factors impact a person's cardiovascular health, including how much they exercise and when they put on the weight.
September 16th, 2013
01:46 PM ET
Efforts to increase healthy habits in American teens may be making an impact, according to a new study. Adolescents are moving more, eating better and watching less TV than they used to, and researchers say obesity rates in this group may finally be stabilizing.
The study results come a little more than a month after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it was seeing signs of progress in the fight against childhood obesity, especially in low-income families.
In the new study, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, researchers analyzed data from three sets of students in grades 6 to 10. One set was surveyed during the 2001-2002 school year, another set during the 2005-2006 school year and the third set from the 2009-2010 school year. Researchers asked the students about their daily physical activity, nutrition, breakfast consumption, TV habits, and height and weight. They then compared the answers across the three school years to identify trends in healthy - or unhealthy - behaviors.
August 15th, 2013
04:01 PM ET
Just days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released statistics showing promise in the fight against childhood obesity, another study suggests the American public health system shouldn't be celebrating quite yet.
While new statistics show childhood obesity rates in the United States are dropping, obesity in adults still accounts for 18% of deaths among black or white Americans between ages 40 and 85, according to a study published this week in the American Journal of Public Health. Researchers say that's approximately 1 in 5 black or white Americans who are dying from illnesses related to obesity.
Even though the statistics may not surprise those who work in public health, they are nearly three times higher than previous estimates, according to study authors. FULL POST
August 6th, 2013
12:01 PM ET
After decades of warnings about the rapidly rising rate of childhood obesity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has some good news. A new report from the CDC suggests we've made some progress in the fight against childhood obesity in the nation's youngest children - specifically those from low-income families.
Researchers analyzed data from approximately 12 million children between the ages of 2 and 4 who participate in federally funded nutrition programs. Data from 40 states, Washington, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico were included in the Vital Signs report.
Nineteen of the states and the U.S. Virgin Islands saw a small but significant decline in preschoolers' obesity rates between 2008 and 2011, according to the CDC. Three states - Colorado, Pennsylvania and Tennessee - saw a slight increase over the same time period, and the rest remained stagnant. Utah, Wyoming, Louisiana, Texas, Maine, Delaware, Alaska, Oklahoma, Virginia and South Carolina were not included in the report due to inconsistencies or changes in data reporting.
"It's a bright spot for our nation's young kids, but the fight is very far from over," CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said.
August 5th, 2013
01:47 PM ET
There's a strong link between sugary drinks and obesity. Scientific studies have shown that adults who consume more sugar-sweetened beverages tend to have higher body mass indexes, or BMIs, than their water-drinking counterparts.
But until now, this association hadn't been closely examined in kids younger than 5.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that young children avoid all sugar-sweetened beverages. A new study, published in the organization's journal Pediatrics, offers further evidence to support that recommendation.
July 25th, 2013
09:36 AM ET
Skipping breakfast doesn’t mean you’ll consume more calories later in the day, according to a new report from Cornell University.
Researchers split 400 college-age students into two groups; they fed one group breakfast and the other no breakfast. They then tracked their eating habits throughout the day and measured the amount of calories they were consuming.
While the non-breakfast eating group reported feeling hungry by lunchtime, they didn’t consume larger lunches compared to the group who had eaten breakfast. In fact, the breakfast skippers had consumed roughly 400 fewer calories total at the end of the day.
“The problem in our culture is that we consume too many calories, and we have to look around at ways to help us consume less,” says David Levitsky, study author and professor of nutritional sciences and of psychology at Cornell.
“And we found that if you are trying to lose weight, then skipping breakfast isn’t necessarily the worst thing for you to do.”
July 10th, 2013
05:01 PM ET
Diet soda drinkers have the same health issues as those who drink regular soda, according to a new report published Wednesday.
Purdue University researchers reviewed a dozen studies published in past five years that examined the relationship between consuming diet soda and health outcomes. They then published an opinion piece on their findings in the journal Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism, saying they were “shocked” by the results.
"Honestly, I thought that diet soda would be marginally better compared to regular soda in terms of health," said Susan Swithers, the report's author and a behavioral neuroscientist and professor of psychological sciences. “But in reality it has a counterintuitive effect.”
June 12th, 2013
05:05 PM ET
Poor diet and lack of exercise might not be the only factors contributing to the obesity epidemic. A new study suggests the environment may also play a role.
“Eating too much and exercising too little are important factors,” said Dr. De-Kun Li, a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California. “But they cannot explain the steep increase in the obesity rate the last three decades. We haven’t really changed our eating habits and exercise that much.”
The environmental culprit, according to the study published Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE, may be bisphenol-a, a chemical commonly found in plastic and cans.
Li and colleagues studied 1,326 school-age children in Shanghai, China, and measured BPA levels in their urine. In girls ages 9 to 12, higher BPA urine levels were associated with a doubled risk of obesity. And as BPA urine levels increased, so did the girls’ obesity risk - measured using their weight in reference to weight distribution in the population. FULL POST
May 21st, 2013
10:47 AM ET
Sticking to a Mediterranean diet may not just be good for your heart, it may be good for your brain as well, according to a new study.
Researchers in Spain followed more than 1,000 people for six and a half years, and found that participants who were on a Mediterranean diet and supplemented that diet with extra nuts or olive oil performed better on cognitive tests at the end of the study period than the control group, which followed a lower-fat diet. The study was published Monday in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.
"We found that a Mediterranean diet with olive oil was able to reduce low-grade inflammation associated with a high risk of vascular disease and cognitive impairments," said Dr. Miguel Martinez-Gonzalez, the chairman of preventive medicine at the University of Navarra in Spain and a study author.
The Mediterranean diet is devoid of processed foods and bad fats, and high in whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables, legumes, fish and even red wine - all things that are high in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. These types of foods are known to help reduce vascular (circulatory) damage, inflammation and oxidative (free radical) damage in the brain. FULL POST
About this blog
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.