by Karen Switkowski, MS, MPH

Height is about more than physical appearance or the ability to reach items on the upper shelves of the grocery store. Economics research indicates that taller people make more money, even after controlling for factors such as age, gender, weight, education, and experience. In public health research, we often use height and growth rate as a study outcome when looking at the effects of various exposures, particularly nutritional factors. Height is an easily measured variable that can be used as a general marker of nutritional status and also predict health and developmental outcomes. What are some of the research questions that height is used to study?


by Avik Chatterjee, MD

I’ve never been good about drinking water.  During my medical residency, though, I did get good at drinking coffee.  But drinking so much coffee and not water (like everyone else seemed to be doing) made me nervous about my hydration status. since I wasn't drinking enough water to begin with, wouldn’t drinking coffee (with the ensuing diuretic effects) make things worse?  IV fluids to the resident room, stat!


by Maricelle Ramirez

If you are hungry and running low on time, money, and/or palatable options, eating nutritious food may take the backseat, even if you do care about your food.

Over the past few summers, as part of a nutrition study, I went out to over 40 fast-food restaurants across New England and surveyed people who had just purchased food. It seemed that even participants who answered that calories were important in choosing their food also tended to respond that they either did not see calorie information or saw it but did not use it.


by Emily Oken, MD, MPH

We’ve all heard there’s an epidemic of obesity around the world– obesity is increasing in adults and children, and even infants, in all continents. With such a wide swath of the world’s population being affected, you might be tempted to think there’s something in the air that is causing everyone to gain weight – and you may be right.


by Sheryl Rifas-Shiman

Almost 14 years ago, I remember being very excited — and a bit confused — about when to start feeding my baby solid foods. The when, what, and how of starting solids was a hot topic among parents at the playground. Since that time, recommendations have changed but haven’t necessarily become clearer. National and international guidelines recommend not feeding an infant solid food until at least 4 months of age and preferably not until 6 months. The American Academy of Pediatrics and World Health Organization advocate for later introduction of solids as a way to promote exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months. When I was making this decision, I remember being mostly concerned about choking and allergies. But there may be another reason for delaying the introduction of solids: preventing obesity.


Jason Block, MD

I’m a rabid New Orleans Saints fan. Raised in Louisiana, I started going to games as a young child, joining my grandfather, dad, brother and others. I have reveled in their highs (in the last few years) and despaired in their lows (many, many over their history). I even went to the Super Bowl in 2010 when the Saints won.  Needless to say, I have a Drew Brees jersey and consider him to be one of the greats. He is a future Hall of Famer, a remarkable community asset, and a true leader. So what does Drew Brees have to do with the obesity epidemic? In one word: endorsements.


by Matthew W. Gillman, MD, SM

You've seen the articles: "10 ways to burn away fat!" Although most are more hype than help, new research raises the possibility that there may be ways to harness the "burn" for weight management.


by Elizabeth Cespedes, MS

Children in the United States consume an average of 7 hour/day of screen media.  Television is the biggest culprit, but time spent on cellular phones, in front of the computer, on a tablet, or playing video games contribute a good bit of that time too.

Screen media is present throughout children’s lives – at school, in free time and even in bedrooms. But is this constant exposure bad for children’s health? The answer seems to be yes, especially because of the link between excessive screen time and less sleep. Multiple studies have found that more time spent viewing television or other screen media predicts less daily sleep in children, from infancy through adolescence. Having a television or a computer in the bedroom is worse, leading to more total media use, and regardless of this total use, to a later bedtime and fewer hours of sleep.


by Chelsea Jenter, MPH

New parents are expected to follow an overwhelming number of guidelines, rules, and suggestions to keep their children healthy and safe. When my kids were born a few years ago, I recall trying to research various suggestions: Should we eat only organic food? What about whole grains? Phthalates? BPA? Cleaning agents? Which kind of sunscreen is OK? What about bug spray?

All parents want to do what is best for their kids, but navigating the current landscape can be terrifying. So here is a suggestion with a terrific bang for the buck: make sure your kids get enough sleep. Adequate sleep affects many outcomes in positive ways.


by Chrissy Horan, MPH

You can probably count on one hand the number of people you know who do not text. And the younger you are, the more common texting is among your peers. Specifically among teenagers, texting is popular with 12-17 year olds sending more than 5 times the number of texts per day as adults. In a prior post, Renata Smith already discussed the rising use of text messaging for weight loss and the state of the literature.   

We learned in focus groups with parents that they were more likely to read messages because they were brief, immediate and “hard to ignore”. Just think about how many unread text messages are on your phone versus unread emails in your inbox.

In addition to its rising use to encourage weight loss, text messaging has become an important way to share all sorts of health information. Studies have used text messaging to influence smoking cessation, asthma management, sunscreen application, heart failure self-management, prenatal care and medication adherence.