Picture
Previous literature has shown varying associations between food establishments and childhood obesity, so we sought to examine these associations in a very large sample of nearly 50,000 pediatric patients ages 4-18 years. The results were recently published in the journal Childhood Obesity. Our aim was to determine if the distance from a patient’s home to six types of food establishments was associated with their body mass index (BMI) or weight status.

 
 
Picture




by Karen Switkowski, MPH, MS


In the fight against the growing obesity epidemic, sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) have emerged as a major enemy. Most people know that soda isn’t the most nutritious choice of beverage, but juice retains an image of healthfulness – after all, it originates from fruit and can be a good source of certain vitamins when consumed in moderation. The problem is that many beverages thought of as “juice” actually contain very little fruit-derived content and lots of added sugars. And while 100% juice drinks may add some vitamins to the diet, they can also contribute to excessive sugar intake, resulting in problems such as tooth decay and obesity.

 
 
Picture
In America, pregnant women receive a great deal of advice: Eat fish, but only the right kind and not too much. Don’t smoke. Don’t drink alcohol. Don’t take certain over-the-counter medicines. The implication is that by taking these and other steps, a pregnant woman can ensure that her baby has the best possible start in life. But just how much can a pregnant woman do? How much responsibility does she bear for her uterine environment?

 
 
Picture




by Emily Oken, MD, MPH


When we think about poverty and hunger, many of us immediately picture the tragic scenes from areas afflicted by famine –people too weak to walk with ribs that can be counted and children with the skinny limbs and swollen bellies characteristic of kwashiorkor. However, in the US, and many other settings, the face of hunger is much more likely to have chubby cheeks

 
 
Picture




by Karen Switkowski, MPH, MS


 “I really want to get the salmon, but I can’t remember how many times I already had fish this week. Did we have that shrimp pasta on Sunday, or was that Saturday? I guess I’ll be OK if I have this now and we don’t make the tuna until next weekend…” Throughout my pregnancy, my husband had to listen to some version of this monologue every time we went out to dinner. Like many women, I had internalized the warning that I risked poisoning my baby with mercury if I ate seafood too often. Although I was also well aware of the importance of the nutrients found in fish and other seafood for fetal development, I was more concerned about consuming too much mercury that I was about not getting enough beneficial fatty acids in my diet.

 
 
Picture





by Lauren Fiechtner, MD

Is it fair to fine parents if their child with obesity does not lose weight? Lawmakers in Puerto Rico have proposed a bill that would do just that. Under the proposed bill, teachers would identify children with obesity and refer them to a counselor who would develop a diet and exercise plan. If the child does not lose weight in 6 months, the families would be fined $500. If in a year success still eludes, then the fines could increase to $800.

 
 
Picture





by Emily Oken, MD, MPH

Asthma and obesity are the two most common chronic health conditions affecting both children and adults. The most recent data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that about 1 in every 6 US children are obese (17%), and almost 1 of every 7  (14%) will develop asthma by age 18. Both obesity and asthma are on the rise. Could these two conditions be connected? 

 
 
Picture




by Jen Thompson, MPP


Why don’t more U.S. women breastfeed their babies for longer?  Both the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that babies be exclusively breastfed – meaning that they receive only breast milk, and no formula, other liquids or solid foods -- until they reach 6 months of age. Yet few U.S. mothers follow these recommendations.  According to the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 19% of babies born in the U.S. in 2011 were exclusively breastfed at 6 months.

 
 
Picture




by Matt Gillman, MD, SM


When you hear the word primordial, does it bring to mind 1) a primeval ooze or 2) the ability to keep babies healthy for a lifetime? If you are interested in #2, read on... 

 
 
Picture





by Renata Smith, MPH

We already know that lack of sleep is bad for your health.  Chelsea Jenter and Elizabeth Cespedes highlighted how screen time limits sleep and that poor sleep is associated with obesity, poor cognition, and children’s behavior. Much of this prior literature has focused on the impact of television screen time on children’s sleep, especially the presence of TVs in children’s bedrooms. But what about small screens (smart phones, iPads, iPods, etc.)?