Controversy ensues over banning of bake sales

In their effort to combat childhood obesity, schools in Massachusetts are banning bake sales. On August 1, anything deemed unhealthy will be banned.

Bakesales may be a great way to raise money, but they encourage unhealthy eating habits and are being banned as part of the fight against childhood obesity. Photo courtesy of ultimateyounow.wordpress.com

The ban targets food sold during the day in the hallways, cafeteria, vending machines, bake sales, holiday parties and other “competitive foods.” State officials, however, are pushing for the ban to include evening, weekend and events held in the community.

Controversy has arisen because of the money that bake sales inherently bring in to sponsor sports events and band trips and the argument that people should have the freedom to choose what they eat.  More critics argue that the government is not equipped to make such a significant change in a child’s life. But supporters counter that the obesity epidemic has gotten so out of hand that severe measures are necessary.

Listen to Stephanie Armour of the Bloomberg Businessweek talk to David Greene about the issue on NPR.

Schools take stance against childhood obesity

Schools across the nation are taking a stance against childhood obesity thanks to federal grants and Childhood Obesity Prevention Education.

Schools are beginning to revise the lunch menu to incorporate healthier options. Photo courtesy of the Daily Press.

Klein Independent School District in Klein, Texas is implementing new programs at four schools thanks to the federal grants. Each campus was awarded $2,500 to implement obesity prevention programs during the 2011-2012 academic year.

Many people, including Natalia Forside, the district’s school wellness counselor, find that fighting obesity in the school setting is the best place to start.

The programs are family-friendly, and much of the food is home-made and targeted at what kids like to eat.

Even schools unaffiliated with the prevention programs are beginning to revise what they serve for lunch. Additional initiatives such as dancing and running in place to assist in kids’ physical activity are also being implemented throughout the nation’s schools.

Obesity battle must be fought together, study shows

It will take more than just one small change to reduce childhood obesity in America, according to a report from a committee convened by the Institute of Medicine. Multiple strategies and efforts spanning all segments of society need to be made to reduce the obesity epidemic.

Graphic courtesy of the Institute of Medicine.

Schools, the workplace and healthcare providers will all need to be part of the solution, the study showed. Illnesses and costs associated with obesity are on the rise and show no signs of stopping.

Click here to read five goals and recommended strategies concerning the fight against childhood obesity.

Decrease in obesity not seen in less affluent children

Although childhood obesity is showing signs of leveling and in some cases declining, this trend is only occurring in certain subgroups, according to a CNN Health article. Comprehensive national surveys have reported the decline in children ages 2-5, but a specific study of children from low-income families did not find the same declines.

Concern is spreading that young children, especially ones from low-income families, are drinking too much sugary juice. Photo courtesy of Dr. Robyn Silverman.

In the May edition of the journal Pediatrics, a study shows that less affluent children are worse off when it comes to fighting obesity. The study was performed only in Massachusetts, so researchers are hesitant to assume the trend is occurring on a national scale, but previous studies have found the trend to be true in other states as well.

There are several reasons that this trend exists, according to Susan Babey, a senior research scientist at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. Parents working more than one job have less time to be active and model healthy behavior for their kids, and fast-food meals are easier and cheaper than preparing something fresh and homemade. Many studies have also found that less affluent children drink too much juice.

Answers won’t come from simply telling kids to “eat healthy.” Efforts targeted specifically to children in low-income families need to be made, researchers conclude.

Food and beverage industries winning fight against White House

Despite Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign, the White House continues to lose the battle against food and beverage industries, according to a Reuters Special Report.

Congress declared pizza a vegetable in order to save it from a nutritional overhaul of school lunch programs. Photo courtesy of Reuters.

The White House’s abandonment of their multi-agency effort to provide healthier food to children is contributing to the growing number of obese children, the Report argues. In the past two years, Congress has declared pizza a vegetable and killed a plan to reduce sugar, salt and fat in foods marketed to children.

Marion Nestle, author of Food Politics, said the special report brought up concerns similar to those mentioned in her own blog last December. If the First Lady is to make progress, people need to show their support and take the time to write to the White House, she says.

The public debate is expected to resume next month. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will hold a conference in Washington May 7-8, and a “Sugary Drinks Summit” will be held June 7-8.

Childhood obesity linked to presence of social stressors

Results from a new study published in the journal “Pediatrics” show that young children, especially girls, are at an increased risk of obesity when exposed to social stressors.

Young girls who are exposed to social stressors are at a greater risk of becoming obese by age five. Photo courtesy of Press TV.

The results showed that young girls with more than one stressor had significantly higher odds of obesity, and 17% of children were obese at age 5.

Data from more than 1,600 preschoolers was analyzed. The six stressors considered were depression in mothers, substance abuse by mothers, partner violence, unstable housing situations, lack of food and if the father was in jail.

Previous studies have been conducted that yield similar results.

Children lack sufficient outdoor activity, research shows

Almost half of preschoolers in the United States do not have one parent-supervised outdoor playtime per day, according to research published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Preschoolers are not spending enough time in outdoor daily activity. Photo courtesy of purelyfitness.com

The sample of 8,950 children represented approximately 4 million children in the United States.

Clinicians are encouraged by the American Academy of Pediatrics to promote active living, which involves playing outside. Playing can be beneficial to motor development, vision, cognition, vitamin D levels and mental health.

The study concluded that efforts to increase active outdoor play should focus on children who are female and nonwhite, and outdoor play opportunities at day care are crucial for parents who work outside the home.

New York socialite forces young daughter to lose weight

In the April 2012 issue of Vogue, socialite and New York city mother Dara-Lynn Weiss shared her techniques on how she forced her 7-year-old daughter, Bea, to lose 16 pounds. The article, along with the news that Weiss has been offered a deal to turn her story into a book, has created a whirlwind of controversy and has appalled readers, bloggers and mothers alike.

Socialite Dara-Lynn Weiss forced her 7-year-old daughter Bea to lose 16 pounds and shared the story in Vogue's April edition.

Weiss’s tactics include publicly humiliating Bea by depriving her of birthday cake and even forcing Bea to skip dinner if she over-indulged in school. Bea was officially obese — 4 feet, 4 inches and 93 pounds, according to ABC’s WJLA, but after losing the weight was photographed wearing fancy designer clothes that she can now fit into.

Time Magazine’s Judith Warner calls Weiss “the newest mom-we-have-to-hate” and provides more details of Weiss’s narrative, including how Bea reacted to the restrictions and how she was rewarded after the pounds were shed.

Click here to read Susie Moloney’s defense of Weiss in a Fox News Opinions article.

Overweight doctors less likely to discuss exercise with patients

Physicians struggling with their own weight are less likely to discuss diet and exercise with overweight patients, study shows. Photo courtesy of Discovery News.

Overweight physicians are less able to assist their patients in losing weight, research suggests.

A random sample of 498 general practitioners were surveyed for a recent study published in the journal Obesity about their diagnosis of overweight patients.

As reported in a New York Times article, 27 percent of normal weight physicians discussed diet with overweight patients, while only 16 percent of physicians whose own B.M.I was higher than normal discussed the topic.

The biggest disparity was in the way physicians assessed the patients, according to dailymail.co.uk, and further research is needed to understand the full impact of a physician’s own weight and obesity diagnosis.

N.C. mayor launches anti-obesity campaign

Winston-Salem’s mayor has started a campaign to fight childhood obesity, according to Fox News. The goal of the campaign is to educate children ages 7 – 10 about the importance of exercise and good nutrition.

The campaign was launched March 13 by Mayor Allen Joines and includes partnerships with organizations across the city, workshops and an exercise DVD. There is also a website component, which features talking vegetables, ideas for playing outside and a video of the mayor doing push-ups, according to an article published by the Winston-Salem Journal.

It cost about $90,000 and is funded by grants.

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