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by Nicole Witham, B.S.


When we hear about childhood obesity, a few main factors get the majority of our attention: quality and quantity of food eaten, levels of physical activity obtained and total screen time consumed, to name a few. While these factors undoubtedly influence the development of childhood obesity, there are other variables that might also play a role. If we are thinking about how the quality and quantity of food a child consumes might lead to obesity, we should also consider how parents affect how a child approaches food. Evidence suggests that there is an association between restrictive feeding practices by parents and both overeating and weight gain in children.

 
 
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Previous literature has shown varying associations between food establishments and childhood obesity, so we sought to examine these associations in a very large sample of nearly 50,000 pediatric patients ages 4-18 years. The results were recently published in the journal Childhood Obesity. Our aim was to determine if the distance from a patient’s home to six types of food establishments was associated with their body mass index (BMI) or weight status.

 
 
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by Wei Perng, PhD


As evidenced by our previous blog posts on food allergies, it is clear that allergic diseases, which include food allergies as well as atopic dermatitis (eczema) and allergic rhinitis (hay fever), are on the rise – especially in developed countries. Given the improvements in health care and sanitation in recent decades, why would this be?

 
 
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I recently found myself involved in a discussion of Soylent, a shake-like “food product” described on the product website as “a full day of balanced nutrition made in 3 minutes for $3/meal.”  Created by a Silicon Valley software engineer, Soylent is designed to provide “maximum nutrition with minimum effort” by allowing consumers to drink a pre-prepared liquid instead of eating actual food at all or some of their meals. Several bloggers have tried it and written about their experiences. (Fortunately, I have a solid excuse for forgoing this exercise, as Soylent is not recommended for nursing women.) In scanning posts and comments on Soylent, it’s obvious that there’s a broad spectrum of opinions, particularly in regards to the health benefits vs. dangers of the product. I could probably write forever on that topic, but instead started thinking about this from another angle – could food-replacement products contribute to a healthier American food culture?

 
 
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by Avik Chatterjee, MD, MPH

Recently, I’ve had the great fortune to visit Greenland. As luck would have it, a friend of mine is living there to studying fisheries as a Fulbright Scholar.  When I got the invitation, I was very excited to see the mountains and fjords and to learn more about the Inuit, as well as the interesting political relationship between Greenland and its colonial ruler, Denmark. I was a bit less excited about the food.


 
 
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by Emily Oken MD, MPH


I recently participated in a ‘debate’ about whether we should routinely weigh pregnant women. The debate, which I thought would make interesting fodder for this blog, was just published in the June 2015 edition of the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. I’ll try to get permission to also post the other side, “Routine weighing does not solve the problem of obesity in pregnancy”, which is currently behind a paywall.

Gestational weight gain (GWG) outside of recommended ranges is a common and growing public health challenge. Since 2000, the percent of US women gaining weight during pregnancy in excess of current guidelines increased 3% – from an already high 42.5% in 2000-1 to 45.5% in 2008-9. In combination with the ~20% of women with inadequate gain, almost 2/3 of women are now gaining outside of recommended ranges. 

 
 
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With the recent news that the FDA has demanded that trans fats –fats found in margarine, and in many processed foods as partially hydrogenated oil -- be removed from the US market within 3 years, I was afraid that my mother had been correct in telling me to limit my fat intake while I was growing up. As a teenager growing up in the 1970s, she was coming of age when the first set of dietary guidelines called for Americans to limit how much fat they ate.  This advice stuck with her through adulthood when she eventually became a mother and did her best to raise healthy kids.