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Obesity among young children declines slightly
December 26th, 2012
03:26 PM ET

Obesity among young children declines slightly

The number of young children who are obese and extremely obese is going down, according to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In what researchers say is the first national study to show that the prevalence of obesity among young children may have begun to decline, scientists analyzed data from more than 27 million children from low-income families between the ages of 2 and 4 in 30 states and the District of Columbia.

"The results of this study indicate modest recent progress of obesity prevention among young children," according to the study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). 

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Grandparents need to be better informed when caring for kids
October 24th, 2012
01:58 PM ET

Grandparents need to be better informed when caring for kids

A growing number of grandparents are raising their grandchildren and a new study suggests they may not be as informed as they need to be when it comes to safety.

While grandparents do have years of child-rearing experience, a study presented this week at the American Academy of Pediatrics conference says some are relying on old data and unintentionally putting their grandkids' health and safety at risk.

"Pediatricians need to be aware, and they need to make sure they are going over (the) most recent safety recommendations with grandparents," says lead study author Dr. Amanda Soong.
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Want kids to eat veggies? Try a good marketing plan!
Kids are more likely to eat vegetables with catchy names like "X-ray carrots," a study shows.
September 28th, 2012
11:43 AM ET

Want kids to eat veggies? Try a good marketing plan!

Getting children to eat their veggies may be as simple as a good marketing strategy, says a new study.

"Marketing, when it comes to kids and food, tends to have a negative connotation," said David Just, a professor of behavioral economics at Cornell University and a co-author of the study. "What we've been doing is trying to establish whether it's possible to use marketing to get kids to eat healthier foods."

The plan? Just give vegetables catchy new names, and see what happens. FULL POST


Military leaders: We're still too fat to fight
One in four young adults are too overweight to join the U.S. military, a group of retired military leaders says.
September 25th, 2012
09:02 AM ET

Military leaders: We're still too fat to fight

Childhood obesity isn't just a health issue, according to a group of retired military leaders. It's also a national security issue.

One in four young adults are too overweight to join the U.S. military, a new report from the advocacy group Mission: Readiness says. And the U.S. Department of Defense spends an estimated $1 billion each year on medical care related to obesity issues for active duty members, their dependents and veterans.

"No other major country's military forces face the challenges of weight gain confronting America's armed forces," according to the report.

"At the end of the day, the reason America is safe and sound is not because of its tanks," adds retired Lt. Gen. Norman Seip, spokesman for Mission: Readiness. "It’s really the men and women who volunteer and so proudly serve."

Kids on average consume 130 "empty" calories a day from candy, cookies and chips, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Mission: Readiness has been working to get rid of junk food in schools since 2010, when it supported the passing of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The act requires the USDA to update nutrition standards in schools.

Mission: Readiness believes having healthier food in the cafeteria and in vending machines will help slow - or even reverse - rising childhood obesity rates. And healthy children are more likely to grow up to be healthy adults who can serve their country.

"We’re not picking on the schools," Seip says. "The schools are part of the solution. We like to think that this obesity problem... is one that’s going to require all of America to tackle."


Doctors warn trampolines are not toys
Smaller children can be more at risk from trampoline injuries, the American Academy of Pediatrics warns.
September 21st, 2012
12:05 AM ET

Doctors warn trampolines are not toys

Exercise is important for kids; they need to get outside and move.  But there's one form of exercise physicians say needs to be used with caution - the backyard trampoline.

An updated policy statement published in this week's edition of the journal Pediatrics, a publication of the American Academy of Pediatrics, says that although trampoline injury rates have steadily been decreasing over the past few years, 98,000 trampoline-related injuries still occurred in 2009, resulting in 3,100 hospitalizations.

Many parents still think these pieces of equipment are toys, researchers say, and they're not.
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Chemical BPA linked to children's obesity
BPA is used as an anti-corrosive in aluminum cans and is used to manufacture some plastics.
September 18th, 2012
03:24 PM ET

Chemical BPA linked to children's obesity

The chemical bisphenol-A, or BPA, has a long and controversial history.

Used to manufacture some plastics – like the kinds in soda or water bottles – and as an anti-corrosive in aluminum cans, BPA has been under fire for some time from consumer advocacy groups.

The FDA recently banned BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups after concerns were raised about potential side effects on the “brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and young children,” according to the FDA website.

Still, the organization has stood by the overall safety of the chemical; in March the FDA denied the Natural Resources Defense Council’s petition to ban BPA outright.

Now a new study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association is adding more fuel to the flames.  The paper shows an association between BPA levels in children’s urine and obesity prevalence.
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Too much salt spells health trouble for kids too
Too much sodium can lead to elevated or high blood pressure in kids, which can persist into adulthood, researchers say.
September 17th, 2012
12:05 AM ET

Too much salt spells health trouble for kids too

Children are eating as much salt as adults, according to a new report, and experts are concerned.

Most adults consume too much sodium and that can have serious health implications. Too much salt in a person's diet can raise your blood pressure; high blood pressure increases the risk for heart disease and stroke.

In this new study, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, researchers found that if a child is overweight and eats as much salt as an adult, the risk for high blood pressure goes up dramatically.
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CDC warns parents to beware button batteries
August 30th, 2012
02:46 PM ET

CDC warns parents to beware button batteries

They are used to power everything from flashlights to remote controls. So called "button batteries," which are the size of coins (and sometimes smaller), have grown in popularity over the past few decades. Now, the Centers for Disease Control is warning parents to keep them away from children.

According to this week's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, approximately 40,400 children aged 12 and younger were treated in emergency rooms for battery-related injuries between 1997 and 2010 

But here's the bigger concern: 14 children, all of them under the age of 4, died after swallowing batteries. Twelve of the 14 deaths involved button batteries. In most cases, the batteries got stuck in the esophagus.  Experts say when that happens, or if the batteries make it down to the intestine, they can emit hydroxide which can cause chemical burns.
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Decline in circumcisions could cost billions
Declining circumcision rates in the United States could wind up costing billions later, researchers warn.
August 21st, 2012
10:15 AM ET

Decline in circumcisions could cost billions

As the number of American parents increasingly leave their baby boys uncircumcised, HIV and other sexually transmitted disease rates are likely to climb, according to researchers from Johns Hopkins University, and the costs associated with those diseases could reach into the billions.

"The medical benefits of male circumcision are quite clear," said Dr. Aaron Tobian, an assistant professor of pathology at Johns Hopkins and lead author of the study published Monday in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. "But while the medical evidence has been increasingly more positive, male circumcision rates in the U.S. have been decreasing."

Specifically, he says, circumcision rates had been fairly stable in the 1970s, at about 79%. By 1999, he says less than 63% of boys had the procedure, and by 2010, the rate had dropped to 55%.

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Fewer teens having oral sex
More than a third of teens engage in oral sex by the time they reach 17, according to the CDC.
August 17th, 2012
10:41 AM ET

Fewer teens having oral sex

Fewer teens aged 15 to 17 are having oral sex now than in 2002, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, but the number remains high.

The report, based on data from The National Survey of Family Growth, found that more than a third of teens had engaged in oral sex by the time they turned 17. That number climbed to almost 50% by age 19, and more than 80% for 24-year-olds.

The study - based on computer surveys given to over 6,000 teens - also looked at the timing of first oral sex in relation to the timing of first vaginal intercourse. It found that the prevalence of having oral sex before vaginal intercourse was about the same as those having vaginal intercourse before oral sex.

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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.

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