obese children

Being teased about weight linked to more weight gain among children

May 30, 2019

Science Daily/NIH/Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Youth who said they were teased or ridiculed about their weight increased their body mass by 33 percent more each year, compared to a similar group who had not been teased, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health. The findings appear to contradict the belief that such teasing might motivate youth to change their behavior and attempt to lose weight. The study was conducted by Natasha A. Schvey, Ph.D., of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD, and colleagues at NIH's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. It appears in Pediatric Obesity.

 

The study involved 110 youth who were an average of 11.8 years of age when they enrolled. The participants were either overweight (defined as a body mass index above the 85th percentile) when they began the study or had two parents who were overweight or obese. At enrollment, they completed a six-item questionnaire on whether they had been teased about their weight. They then participated in annual followup visits for the next 15 years.

 

The researchers found that youth experiencing high levels of teasing gained an average of .20 kg (.44 lbs) per year more than those who did not. The authors theorize that weight-associated stigma may have made youths more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors, such as binge eating and avoiding exercise. Another possible explanation is that the stress of being teased could stimulate the release of the hormone cortisol, which may lead to weight gain.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/05/190530101213.htm

Maternal stress leads to overweight in children

January 9, 2019

Science Daily/Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ

Researchers were able to identify mother's perceived stress during the first year of the child's life as a risk factor for developing overweight in infancy. Researchers found this to have long-lasting effects on girls' weight development in particular.

 

Overweight is unhealthy. Yet more and more people in Germany are overweight, particularly children. As part of the LiNA mother-child study coordinated by the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), researchers were able to identify mother's perceived stress during the first year of the child's life as a risk factor for developing overweight in infancy. According to the study recently published in the BMC Public Health specialist magazine, researchers from the UFZ, the University of Bristol and the Berlin Institute of Health found this to have long-lasting effects on girls' weight development in particular.

 

In Germany, nearly ten percent of children aged two to six are overweight, of which three percent are classified as obese. High-caloric diets and too little exercise are known to be risk factors for obesity. "Maternal stress is also thought to contribute to the development of obesity in children," explains nutritionist Dr Kristin Junge from the Department of Environmental Immunology at the UFZ. "In terms of child development, the period between pregnancy and the first years of life is particularly sensitive to external influences, which may lead to illness or obesity." And this may include psychological influences such as maternal stress. In their current study, UFZ researchers are investigating whether and how perceived maternal stress during pregnancy and the first two years of life, affects the child's weight development up to the age of five. To do so, they analysed data available from the LiNA mother-child study.

 

LiNA is a long-term study in which sensitive childhood development phases are investigated with special consideration given to lifestyle, environmental pollution and the subsequent occurrence of allergies, respiratory diseases and obesity. Since 2006, UFZ researchers in cooperation with the Städtisches Klinikum St. Georg in Leipzig, and more recently with the Universitätsklinikum Leipzig, have been following several hundred mother-child pairs from pregnancy onwards to investigate the effects of environmental influences and lifestyle habits on health and well-being. As part of the research, regular surveys are completed, pollutant measurements are taken in the living environment, and the mothers and children undergo clinical examinations. The current UFZ study is based on data from 498 mother-child pairs from the LiNA study. Using the data for height and weight, the researchers determined the children's Body Mass Index (BMI) and standardised the results by age and gender. Mothers' perceived stress was assessed by validated questionnaires and included topics such as worries and fears, feelings of tension, general satisfaction as well as coping with daily demands. "We compared the data on mothers' perceived stress during pregnancy and in the first two years of the child's life with the child's BMI development up to the age of five, and investigated whether there was a correlation," explains biochemist Dr Beate Leppert, the study's lead author.

 

First year of life particularly influential

 

And the study results show: There is actually a correlation. If mothers' perceived stress was high during the child's first year of life, there was a high probability that her child would develop a higher BMI in the first five years of their life. "The effects of maternal stress seem to have a long-term impact," says Kristin Junge. The correlation between perceived maternal stress in the child's first year of life and an increased BMI was especially evident in girls. "It seems that daughters of stressed mothers in particular are at increased risk of becoming overweight," says Dr Saskia Trump, senior author of the current study,who now works at the Berlin Institute for Health Research. "There are studies that demonstrate that psychological factors such as perceived maternal stress may be experienced less intensely or may be better compensated by boys." Perceived maternal stress during pregnancy or during the child's second year of life showed little evidence for an effect on the weight development of either gender. "The first year of life seems to be a sensitive phase and a characteristic factor for the tendency to be overweight," says Dr Junge. After all, mothers and children usually spend the entire first year together -- a lot of time in which the mother's perceived stress and/or associated behaviour is experienced by the child. "During this time, special attention should therefore be paid to the mother's condition," adds Dr Trump.

 

Identified stress factors

 

But what causes perceived maternal stress in the first place? To answer this question, researchers examined further data from the mother-child study and searched for possible influencing factors, such as household income, level of education, and the quality of the living environment. The results showed that mothers with a considerably higher perceived stress level were often exposed to high levels of traffic or noise, had poor living conditions or had a low household income. Maternal stress caused by difficult living conditions or an unfavourable living environment can lead to children becoming overweight in the long term. "Stress perceived by mothers should be taken seriously," says Dr Junge. "Midwives, gynaecologists, paediatricians and GPs should be particularly attentive to signs of stress in the first year following the child's birth." After all, if mothers are helped early on or are offered support, we may be able to kill two birds with one stone: To improve maternal well-being and also prevent their children becoming overweight. Following from this study, the UFZ team will continue to investigate whether the effects of perceived maternal stress also extend beyond the age of five.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190109102419.htm

Despite common obesity gene variants obese children lose weight after lifestyle changes

November 28, 2018

Science Daily/University of Copenhagen The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Children who are genetically predisposed to overweight, due to common gene variants, can still lose weight by changing their diet and exercise habits, according to a new study.

 

Overweight and obesity constitute an increasing global problem that may lead to serious sequelae such as heart attacks, diabetes and cancer. In 2016, 124 million children and adolescents worldwide suffered from obesity. Now researchers from the University of Copenhagen and the Children's Obesity Clinic, the Department of Paediatrics at Holbæk Hospital have examined how genetics affect children and young people's ability to lose excess weight.

 

'We are trying to understand the genetic driving force behind overweight and whether this force also makes it impossible for some to lose weight. We show that a high genetic predisposition to overweight during childhood in fact had no influence on whether the children reacted to lifestyle intervention compared to children with low genetic predisposition to overweight. The 15 genetic variants we have studied are common in the population and are the ones that in general increase a child's risk of becoming overweight,' says Postdoc at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research at UCPH Theresia Maria Schnurr, who is one of the authors of the study.

 

The new research results have just been published in the scientific journal Obesity. The researchers' aim was to determine the influence of specific gene variants on children and adolescents' ability to lose weight. Therefore, they studied the 15 specific gene variants implicated in childhood obesity and which are common in the population. In the study, the researchers demonstrate that these genetic variants did not predict whether children and adolescents' were able to lose weight when they changed their lifestyle. So far only children with a rare genetic mutation in the MC4R gene do not seem to lose weight when undergoing lifestyle intervention.

 

Lifestyle Intervention Led to Weight Loss

 

The researchers examined 754 children and adolescents with overweight and obesity. The median age was 11.6 years. The genetic profile of all participants was mapped, and the researchers then calculated a genetic risk score for childhood overweight for each participant based on the 15 genetic variants. They all carried one or more of the 15 genetic variants associated with increased risk for obesity and overweight during childhood. To determine whether a genetic predisposition for overweight affected the children and adolescents' ability to lose weight the children had to implement a series of lifestyle changes.

 

They followed a treatment protocol developed at Holbæk Hospital. The protocol centres around the family with behavioural lifestyle changes. For example, the children and adolescents had to change their diet, means of transportation, physical activity, sedentary activity, amount of sleep, consumption of snacks and sweet things and social activities. The intervention lasted six to 24 months. Subsequently, the researchers followed up on the treatment and found that the lifestyle changes had affected the weight of the participants, despite their genetic disposition for overweight and obesity.

 

'Large parts of the population believes that when you have problematic genes it is game over. That is why it is very important we send a clear message that even though you have a genetic sensitivity this treatment can help people. We have discovered that it does not matter whether the children and adolescents have an increased genetic risk score or not. They can respond to treatment just as well. This means our treatment is efficient despite carrying common obesity risk genes. It gives hope to people with obesity and obesity related complications such as high blood pressure, cholesterol and fatty liver that we can in fact help them,' says one of the study's authors Jens-Christian Holm, doctor and head of the Children's Obesity Clinic, Holbæk Hospital.

 

Genetic Markers

 

The genetic variants the researchers have examined are common in the population and turned out not to have an effect on the ability to lose weight during the intervention. So far, the researchers did not find any biological markers for a poor response on lifestyle intervention except for the rare gene MC4R associated with poor response in terms of weight loss following a lifestyle intervention.

 

'MC4R is a rare genetic mutation and thus the question remains why around 75 percent of children in a group of children receiving the exact same treatment react more positively to the treatment compared to the remaining 25 percent of children not responding to lifestyle treatment. Identifying additional common genetic markers would help us understand the biological pathways that affect obesity and a person's reaction to lifestyle changes -- and thus in the long term help us provide even better treatments,' says Professor at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research Torben Hansen, last author of the study.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181128115006.htm

Vitamin D supplements may promote weight loss in obese children

September 27, 2018

Science Daily/European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology

Vitamin D supplements may promote weight loss and reduce risk factors for future heart and metabolic disease in overweight and obese children, according to new research. These findings indicate that simple vitamin D supplementation may be part of an effective strategy to tackle childhood obesity and reduce the risk of serious health problems, such as heart disease, in adulthood.

 

Obesity in childhood and adolescence represents a major health problem worldwide, which leads to the development of expensive, serious and debilitating complications, including heart disease and diabetes, in later life. Although vitamin D deficiency is typically associated with impaired bone health, in recent years it has been increasingly linked with increased body fat accumulation and obesity, with the precise nature of this relationship currently under intense investigation by researchers. However, the effect of vitamin D supplementation on the weight and health of obese children and adolescents had not yet been investigated.

 

In this study, Dr. Christos Giannios, Professor Evangelia Charmandari and colleagues at the University of Athens Medical School and the 'Aghia Sophia' Children's Hospital in Athens, assessed 232 obese children and adolescents over 12 months, with 117 randomly assigned to receive vitamin D supplementation, in accordance with the Endocrine Society's guidelines on treatment and prevention of deficiency. Levels of vitamin D, body fat, and blood markers of liver function and heart health were assessed at the start of the study and 12 months later. The study reported that children given vitamin D supplements had significantly lower body mass index, body fat and improved cholesterol levels after 12 months of supplementation.

 

"These findings suggest that simple vitamin D supplementation may reduce the risk of overweight and obese children developing serious heart and metabolic complications in later life," says lead researcher Prof Charmandari.

 

The team now plan to investigate the effects of vitamin D supplementation on the health of obese children and adolescents that already have unhealthy conditions, such as high blood pressure, high blood glucose and high cholesterol, all of which increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

 

Prof Charmandari cautions, "Although these initial findings indicate that vitamin D could be used in the treatment of obesity, there remains a lack of evidence on the safety and long-term effects of supplementation, particularly if there is no vitamin D deficiency. However, if your child is overweight or obese I recommend that you consult your primary care physician for advice, and consider having their vitamin D levels tested."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/09/180927215656.htm

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