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Do small changes in our diet really add up?

by Kristin Cantu on March 3, 2010

We’re constantly told that if we eat less and exercise more, the pounds will come sliding off. Not true. According to a recent study, small caloric changes have almost no long-term effect on weight.

While this news is disappointing, Children’s obesity expert – David Ludwig, MD, PhD, tell The New York Times that there is hope, especially for children. Small changes made during childhood lead to a much healthier adult lifestyle.

You can read more of Ludwig has to say on topic of childhood obesity here on Thrive.

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Claims of vitamin-fortified, sugary foods hard to swallow

by Boston Children's Hospital staff on February 24, 2010

cerealboxWalking down the cereal aisle at the supermarket, it’s impossible to miss the declarations of health benefits prominently located on the fronts of the colorful boxes. The Nutrition Facts Panel—a valuable consumer resource that lists a product’s sugar, salt, fat and calorie content—is usually printed on the side of the box. But do parents searching for a healthful choice even bother to read the nutritional information when the front of the box suggests the product is made of “whole grain goodness” and “immune-boosting” vitamins?

Unfortunately many don’t and that’s a real problem, says David Ludwig, MD, PhD, in a commentary co-authored with Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH, and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). “We’ve arrived at the deplorable situation of Cocoa Krispies being marketed as a way to protect children from H1N1 flu, because it has a few added vitamins,” says Ludwig.

Consumers tend to believe claims on the front of packages, according to recent research, and perceive health statements to be endorsed by the government. But few health claims on food products have any basis in science at all. And unlike medications, food product labels don’t have to disclose their potential ill effects, such as obesity from high added sugar content. Full story »

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This week on Thrive: Feb. 8 – 12

by Boston Children's Hospital staff on February 14, 2010

Here’s a quick look at what Thrive was up to last week.

A new study suggests a change in the way we prescribe eyeglasses to children. Another study suggests more youth than ever are dealing with mental health issues. Judy Palfrey, MD, FAAP talks about the First Lady’s new anti-obesity initiative. A pill may just be the answer for individuals with fragile X syndrome. Find out all of the information you need to know about Massachusetts’s new tooth brushing law. A Children’s researcher discovers that people with anorexia have high levels of fat in their bone marrow. Massachusetts restaurants are leading the way in making dining out safer for those with food allergies. Our Mediatrician explores whether vampire fiction can contribute to anxiety. Children’s clinicians reflect on their time in Haiti.

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Health headlines: Food labels, alcoholism & teen obesity surgery

by Boston Children's Hospital staff on February 13, 2010

soda pouring into a glassOther stories we’ve been reading:

There’s more bad news for soda – a new study links it to pancreas cancer. [Read what Children’s obesity expert has to say about artificially sweetened beverages.] There are federal efforts to ban junk food from schools. [Read about junk food advertisements on kids’ websites.] The FDA wants nutrition information labels on the front of food packages. Junk food is getting the spot light in many movies.

Children born early in the year are more likely to be athletes. Obese children are more likely to die young. There’s a link between children with a super sweet tooth and alcoholism. Can you really tell if you’re child will be obese by age 2?

Depression during pregnancy could result in an antisocial teen. A pregnant woman can decrease her baby’s risk of schizophrenia later in life by increasing her iron intake. Obese moms put their newborns at risk for a number of health risks. Older women are more likely to give birth to a child who develops autism. Extremely premature babies show a higher risk for autism.

Obesity surgery may be the best solution for overweight teens. Early language problems may hinder adult literacy. There may be a genetic cause for your child’s obstructive sleep apnea. Childhood cancer survivors are at an increased of dying from a heart-related condition. Reading fiction may be the key to teen girls properly managing their weight.

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Preventing obesity in a big way

by Judy Palfrey, MD, FAAP on February 9, 2010

Judith Palfrey

Judy Palfrey, MD, FAAP, has been a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Boston since 1974. She is a general pediatrician and child advocate. She was chief of Children’s General Pediatrics Division from 1986 to 2008 and currently directs the Children’s International Pediatric Center.

Dr. Palfrey is the new president of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which is the nation’s largest pediatric organization, with a membership of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists.

A week or so ago, I heard the story of a mother who was incredibly grateful to her pediatrician. She described her fairly typical family: 2 full-time working parents with 2 children.

Each day, she said, was crammed with rushing here and there with work and school commitments and little time at the end of the day for meal preparation. She described how with all the 21st century pressures, she and her husband were relying increasingly on pizza deliveries and drive-through hamburger stores for their family dinner.

When her pediatrician sat down and alerted her that her little girls’ BMI measurements were creeping up, she put into place several small adjustments: decreasing the size of meal portions, adding fruits and vegetables to meals and snacks, putting water instead of juice in their lunches and watching TV only on the weekends. She said that these changes were really very easy to do. Full story »

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Other stories we’ve been reading:

Adolescents taking a certain anti-psychotic drugs are at an increased risk for diabetes. An industrial chemical is being sold as a dietary supplement for autism treatment. Diabetes drugs are helping dieting teens lose weight. [Read Minnie’s story about living with Type 2 diabetes.]

Loving foster homes improves children’s attention and impulsivity. Girls with ADHD are more likely to develop other mental health risks.

Obese boys are more likely to begin puberty later in life. A Girl Scouts’ survey found that the fashion industry pressures girls to be thin. [Read about unrealistic media images and how one teen feels about them.] Boys are treated with growth hormone therapy much more often than girls.

Babies of mothers who smoke during pregnancy are much more stressed out. [Read how dangerous secondhand smoke is to children.] Black and Hispanic infants are more likely to have HIV. Expectant mothers can receive pregnancy tips through texting.

Girls who bike to school are in better shape than those who walk or get a ride. The USDA is tightening requirements to assure school lunch safety.[Read about our nation’s fight for kids’ food.]  Overloaded backpacks set your child up for spine strain. [Read about National School Backpack Awareness Day.]

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This week on Thrive: Jan. 18 – 22

by Boston Children's Hospital staff on January 24, 2010

Here’s a quick look at what Thrive was up to last week.

Researchers have found that morphine can lesson PTSD before it even strikes. Graco recalled 1.5 million strollers. Schools are starting to evaluate students’ weights. Children’s Judith Palfrey, MD, FAAP carried the Olympic torch for children everywhere. Kids spend more time online than they do in school. Children’s Joanne Cox, MD reflects on the alleged Gloucester pregnancy pact on the eve of Lifetime’s movie based on news stories. Keep up with Children’s disaster response teams working in Haiti.

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Other stories we’ve been reading:

We discovered this week that Thrive is listed as one of the top 50 early childhood health blogs! school gradeThe FDA voices some concern over BPA risk. Using the term “concussion” versus “brain injury” garners different responses from parents.

Parents feel traumatic stress after their child’s been injured. Twenty percent of teens have unhealthy cholesterol. Researchers are asking why U.S. birth rates are falling.

Parents get to grade public schools. Children raised by same-sex couples do just as well as those raised by parents of both sexes. First Lady, Michelle Obama is launching a major initiative to fight childhood obesity.

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