Heather Armstrong and her daughter, Lauren, saw positive results from their time in the SHIFT study last year. Armstrong is now a SHIFT peer interventionist helping other families.
Heather Armstrong made a commitment to a healthier lifestyle when she volunteered herself and her 8-year-old daughter, Lauren, for a weight management treatment study at Seattle Children’s Research Institute.
For five months, Armstrong and Lauren attended weekly sessions in the Success in Health: Impacting Families Together (SHIFT) study that provided guidance and education to help them reach and sustain better eating and activity behaviors and ultimately better weight management. The sessions focused on healthy eating, supporting children throughout behavior changes, improving the home environment for physical activity and healthy eating, building confidence and incorporating more physical activity into family life. Read full post »
Nearly 90% of kids in the U.S. consume too much sodium, putting them at risk for high blood pressure in childhood, and heart disease and stroke later in life. While everyone needs a small amount of sodium to help control the fluid balance in the body and allow nerves and muscles work, too much sodium is harmful and is dubbed the ‘silent killer.’
In honor of American Heart Month, On the Pulse asked Kirsten Thompson, a dietitian in Seattle Children’s Pediatric Hypertension program, to provide insight into how kids are consuming so much sodium.
“When I ask patients and families about sodium intake, they often say that they don’t eat too much sodium because they don’t add salt from the salt shaker to the foods they eat,” said Thompson. “They’re often surprised to learn that sodium is actually hidden in a lot of foods that we wouldn’t normally think of as salty.” Read full post »
These images show brain scans of a normal weight child (top row) and an obese child (bottom row) before and after a meal. The blue in the top right image from a normal weight child indicates reduced activity in areas of the brain associated with hunger. The bottom right image shows similar brain activity in an obese child before and after eating, an indication there may be an issue in brain signaling to indicate hunger and fullness.
Are brain signals in obese children different than brain signals in normal weight children? Researchers at Seattle Children’s hope to answer that question with a new trial that uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to study brain signaling in children ages 9-11.
Dr. Christian Roth, a pediatric endocrinologist and researcher at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, is overseeing a trial called the Brain Activation and Satiety in Children Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (BASIC fMRI) study to look at how the brain responds to food in children who are obese and those who are normal weight.
“Our goal is to understand why some children who are obese still feel hungry after eating a meal,” Roth said. “We want to understand this tendency to overeat in more detail and get insight into the brain signals that cause it.” Read full post »
Traditional advice for helping families ensure their children and teens maintain a healthy weight begins with a focus on balancing calories consumed from food and beverages with calories used through physical activity and growth. Dr. Lenna Liu, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic and Child Wellness Clinic, uses a slightly different approach to support families with the complex issue of weight management. She starts by encouraging families to adopt a mindful approach to eating. Read full post »
Dr. Beth Dawson-Hahn (left) and Dr. Anisa Ibrahim (right) study refugee children and nutrition.
Dr. Anisa Ibrahim was 6 in 1993 when her family came to Seattle from Somalia, driven from their country by civil war. In the beginning, everything about their new country was exciting and confusing — especially the supermarket.
“We were used to going to the market every day to buy fresh food,” recalls Ibrahim, now a third-year resident in pediatrics at Seattle Children’s. “It was hard to transition to buying bags and boxes of food in bulk.”
Foods the family relied on back home — like goat and guava — were not readily available. And snacks Ibrahim’s classmates pulled out of their lunchboxes — like cheese and Chex mix — were completely unfamiliar.
Unlike some refugees, Ibrahim and her siblings were healthy and well-nourished when they arrived. And thanks to her mom’s skill at cooking and adaptation, says Ibrahim, they stayed that way as they learned their way around the new food landscape.
As a doctor, Ibrahim wants to ensure other families can do the same. That’s why she carved out time during residency to work with Dr. Beth Dawson-Hahn, a pediatrician and research fellow in the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, who is studying refugee children and nutrition. Read full post »
Lydia digs in.
Last April, at the age of 12, Lydia Vaughan felt hungry for the first time.
The new sensation – along with support from her family and a team of specialists at Seattle Children’s – helped her learn to do in two weeks what she had never done before: put food in her mouth and swallow it. Read full post »
When it comes to the holiday season, sugar is everywhere, particularly in desserts and holiday candy. But did you know that sugar is also added to many everyday foods, including soups and yogurt?
“Many people are unaware of just how pervasive added sugar is in our foods,” said Dr. Mollie Grow, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “It isn’t just cookies and soda, it’s being added to many foods that most people wouldn’t consider as sweets.”
The result: the average American adult is consuming three times more sugar than is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) – 76.7 grams per day versus the recommended 25 grams per day, according to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
“The problem with sugar is that it presents a variety of risks to our health,” said Grow. “Some are more obvious, in the sense that more sugar means more calories which can contribute to weight gain. Weight gain leads to obesity, and can bring along many health problems like diabetes. But an excess amount of sugar also affects our long term health by altering our metabolism and causing inflammation.”
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It’s a serious business to win over the minds and taste buds of youth today. In fact, the food industry spends about $1.8 billion annually on food marketing to children and adolescents, according to a review by the Federal Trade Commission. In 2006, the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) was launched by food companies to promote healthier dietary choices and healthy lifestyles in advertisements. But it may not be enough, says Dr. Mollie Grow, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital.
In an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics, Grow weighs in on a study published this year about how children perceived television advertisements by two national fast food chains. According to Grow, the study shows there is room for improvement when it comes to how the food industry advertises healthier dietary choices. Many fast-food chains have agreed to standards when advertising to kids, but it seems they are not always clear to children.
In the study titled “Children’s Reaction to Depictions of Healthy Foods in Fast-Food Television Advertisements,” researchers found that advertisements don’t adequately depict healthier options to children. Many children in the study couldn’t correctly identify the healthy food items in the advertisements. Furthermore, 81% of the children participating in the study said they remembered seeing french fries in an advertisement, when the food that was shown was actually apples. That has led researchers to beg the question: Can more be done by advertisers to influence children’s dietary decisions and curb childhood obesity? Read full post »
Dr. Mogomotsi Matshaba, a clinician and researcher at the Botswana-Baylor Children’s Clinical Center of Excellence in Gaborone, Botswana.
Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s mission to prevent, treat and eliminate childhood disease extends far beyond the Pacific Northwest or even the United States. Researchers like Dr. Jason Mendoza, of the institute’s Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development, are advocating for vulnerable patients all over the world. Mendoza recently led a global health research study in Botswana, published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, to find out if inadequate access to food, also called food insecurity, might be associated with worse health outcomes of HIV-positive children in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Studying patients with the greatest need
HIV is a major public health problem in Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2012, there were 3.3 million children worldwide, under the age of 15, living with HIV. Of those, 2.9 million were in Sub-Saharan Africa. Botswana has one of the highest HIV rates of countries in this region, with 23% of adults (ages 15 to 49) infected. Additionally, from 2010 to 2012, 27.9% of people in Botswana did not have physical or economic access to enough nutritious food to maintain a healthy, productive lifestyle. Read full post »
The teen years can be difficult– you’re fighting for your independence but still trying to develop an identity. And your 20s come with their own obstacles, like going to college, starting a career and living on your own. Can you imagine facing those developmental milestones while injecting yourself with insulin or enduring chemotherapy?
Dr. Abby Rosenberg, medical leader for Seattle Children’s Hospital’s Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer program and researcher in Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Center for Clinical and Translational Research, and Dr. Joyce Yi-Frazier, research health psychologist at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, have seen teens with cancer and type 1 diabetes struggle physically and psychosocially. Adolescents and young adults with cancer are less likely to achieve social milestones like college, marriage, and employment and more likely to suffer from anxiety and post-traumatic stress. Likewise, teens with type 1 diabetes struggle to control their blood sugar levels and are more likely to be depressed.
“The teen and young adult years are a critical time of transition for anyone,” Rosenberg said. “When you add a serious illness to the mix, you are asking patients to do extraordinarily hard things. We want to help them integrate the experience into their identity so they are not only surviving, but thriving.”
An intervention model
To help patients, Rosenberg and Yi-Frazier worked together on the Promoting Resilience in Stress Management (PRISM) study. PRISM is an intervention model designed to teach patients resilience – the ability to maintain psychological and physical well-being in the face of stress – to buffer the impact of serious illness. Read full post »