Nutrition and Obesity

All Articles in the Category ‘Nutrition and Obesity’

Research in Sub-Saharan Africa Aims to Improve Lives of HIV-Positive Kids

Mogo pic small crop

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 »

Study Helps Teens Cope with Stress of Cancer, Diabetes

blogpic1The 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 »

Gov. Jay Inslee joins Seattle Children’s ‘walking school bus’

From left: Dr. Jason Mendoza, Gov. Jay Inslee, West Seattle Elementary School principal Vicki Sacco and vice proncipal.

From left: Dr. Jason Mendoza, Gov. Jay Inslee, West Seattle Elementary School principal Vicki Sacco and vice proncipal.

Gov. Jay Inslee joined staff from Seattle Children’s Research Institute this morning as they lead a group of West Seattle children in a “walking school bus.”

A walking school bus is an organized group of children who walk to school together each day while supervised by an adult. Jason Mendoza, MD, MPH, is leading a study in partnership with Seattle Public Schools, to determine whether obesity can be prevented with activities that were common during eras when obesity was less prevalent.

“Decades ago children were more likely to walk to school and obesity rates were much lower,” Mendoza said. “I want to find out whether encouraging children to walk or ride their bike to school might increase their overall physical activity.”

Inslee joined this morning’s walk to West Seattle Elementary to show his support of the program and encourage kids to stay active. The governor is supporting walking to school as part of his “Healthiest Next Generation” initiative. Read full post »

New food and beverage labels may be a step in the right direction, but is it enough?

NutirionMomReadingLabelBig changes could soon be coming to grocery stores across the U.S., but for those who don’t pay attention to the black and white nutrition label located on the back of food and beverage packages, the change might not seem very drastic.

Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed giving Nutrition Facts labels a makeover, a change Michelle Obama, an advocate for preventing childhood obesity, says “will make a big difference for families all across this country.” The tweaks are intended to help consumers make more informed decisions about what they put into their bodies. The proposed Nutrition Facts label, if approved, will be the first new look the label has received in over 20 years. Read full post »

Going old school: Researcher encourages walking school bus to prevent childhood obesity

Walking school bus

More than one third of children and adolescents are obese or overweight, and more and more families are coming to Jason Mendoza, MD, MPH, for advice on how to help their kids lose extra pounds. But obesity treatments can be difficult to complete and are often expensive. Mendoza is testing a new approach that aims to prevent obesity using ideas from eras when obesity was uncommon.

“I’m looking at whether getting children to walk or ride their bikes to school can increase children’s physical activity and reduce their risk of obesity,” said Mendoza, a principal investigator in the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute and associate professor at the University of Washington.

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Helipad transforms into a teaching garden for patients

Kirsten Thompson in the garden

Kirsten Thompson in the new garden

With a nationwide spotlight on fighting childhood obesity since obesity prevalence among kids and teens in the U.S. has almost tripled, it’s important we find ways to instill healthy lifestyles in today’s youth to prevent them from developing health issues down the road.

At Seattle Children’s, dietitian Kirsten Thompson found a unique way to teach kids and their families about making healthy choices by transforming the hospital’s old helipad into a teaching garden for patients and families.

Thompson, whose master’s thesis was about gardening with kids, began looking for a place to plant a teaching garden when she joined Children’s in 2008. The opportunity finally arrived this spring when the Building Hope expansion was completed and the helipad moved to a site near the new Emergency Department.

Every Wednesday, Thompson works with Children’s patients in the garden for an hour to teach them how to raise vegetables. They then head inside to the hospital’s Eat Well Be Well studio to prepare healthy, garden-inspired meals.

“The goal is to encourage and empower kids and families to eat healthy,” Thompson said.

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Back to school nutrition, packing healthy meals for kids

BacktoSchoolLunchboxThe transition back to school is fast approaching and while kids may be wondering whether or not their Captain America lunchbox is still cool, parents are thinking about what should go in it.

Celia Framson, MPH, RD, CD, a clinical pediatric dietitian at Seattle Children’s Hospital, says parents shouldn’t panic about packing the perfect lunch for their child. Instead, they should involve kids in the packing process and focus on providing a balanced meal that meets a child’s taste preferences and nutritional needs. Parents should also model healthy behaviors that their kids can learn from so they can adopt healthy habits that will last a lifetime.
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Fat letters from schools spur childhood obesity debate

Childhood obesityReceiving report cards from schools is a standard practice that helps parents stay informed about their child’s academic performance. But now, schools in some states have been going one step further and are also letting parents know how their child’s weight measures up.

A new report released this week in Pediatrics has spurred debate around this issue as it states that Body Mass Index (BMI) screenings in schools and subsequently informing parents about their child’s weight category is a necessary step in the fight against the childhood obesity epidemic.

Twenty one states, not currently including Washington, have enacted policies or made recommendations about collecting height and weight data and assessing body composition in schools. In some states, like Massachusetts and Arkansas, a confidential letter that has been dubbed a “fat letter” is mailed to parents whose child has a high BMI, informing them of their child’s weight status and advising them to talk with a doctor.  

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Vilifying Food – How fad diets are affecting our children’s health

Young girl and cupcake

Fad diets have taken the U.S. by storm: Paleo, Mediterranean, the “Fast Diet” – even Gwyneth Paltrow has a new cookbook.  Just as quickly as one diet is “out,” another diet emerges to take its place. With so many options, celebrity endorsements and websites full of misinformation, how can parents know which diets are safe – especially for kids?

Celia Framson, MPH, RD, CD, and Mary Jones Verbovski, MS, RD, CD, clinical pediatric dietitians at Seattle Children’s Hospital encourage parents to keep kids in mind when evaluating a potential diet.

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Talking to teens about weight: Teaching balance

NutritionBlog2PhotoBeing a teenager in today’s society is not easy. Faced with peer pressure and unrealistic expectations perpetuated through TV and magazines, teens are forced to deal with complex, uncomfortable situations daily, including a subject many would rather not discuss: weight.

“Looking at national data sources, like the CDC, that are sampling large portions of people in the U.S., we’re seeing more and more individuals in the obese or morbidly obese category,” says Yolanda N. Evans, MD, with the adolescent medicine division of Seattle Children’s Hospital.  “It’s a really important issue to talk about because more and more kids are being affected.”

However, Evans says the way we talk about the obesity epidemic could be making things worse – especially for teens.

The other side of our obsession with weight

Evans says the media’s focus on weight and people’s bodies has increased the risk for restrictive eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia. Rather than focusing on healthy behaviors, our society too often promotes a “thin is better” mindset. Evans says it’s a problem that needs to be addressed and discussed, particularly with children and teens.

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