by Wei Perng, PhD
by Wei Perng, PhD
Advancements in high-throughput technologies have enabled us to assess health from a more holistic point of view by considering our genetic code (“genomics”), actual expression of our genes (“epigenomics” and “transcriptomics”), the structure of proteins that carry out the biological processes (“proteomics”), and the unique chemical fingerprints that reflect our physiological response to external and internal conditions (“metabolomics”). Of particular interest to an obesity-prevention researcher is the possibility of “omics” to influence nutrition counseling, a one-on-one process between a patient and a nutritionist that aims to help the patient make and maintain dietary changes necessary for good health. These recommendations have historically been based on dietary recommendations derived from nutrient needs of heterogeneous populations. Enter the concept of personalized nutrition - a diet plan designed at the level of the individual, tailored to meet their specific health needs.
by Mike Seward, AB
My friends and teammates frequently ask me how I avoid added sugar – sugar added to processed or pre-packaged food during the production process – in what I eat. Here are some ways to reduce sugar without sacrificing taste or switching to artificial sweeteners.
In general, pick food items with short ingredient lists, and know one teaspoon of sugar = 4 grams to help visualize just how much sugar you are consuming when you buy processed or pre-packaged goods. The average soda can has over 10 teaspoons of added sugar -- would you put 10 teaspoons of sugar in your cup of coffee?
by Karen Switkowski, MPH, MS
My 1-year-old is an impressive eater. During recent holiday family gatherings, he provided regular entertainment as he sat at the table devouring near-adult-size portions of a variety of foods. Commentary ranged from “Wow, where does it all go?” “But he has such a tiny stomach!” And inevitably, the (well-intentioned, I’m sure) “so… you just let him eat as much as he wants?”
Living Closer To A Supermarket Helped Children Achieve A Healthier Weight In An Obesity Intervention
by Lauren Fiechtner, MD, MPH
In previous studies, we investigated if distance to a supermarket was associated with a child’s BMI or weight status. However, these studies only measured one point in time, and we wanted to know if children participating in an obesity intervention who lived closer to a supermarket would do better than those living farther away. Our findings from this study were recently published in the American Journal of Public Health.
by Ashley Hoesing, MPH
Oprah -- yes, THE Oprah -- recently made headline news with her $43 million dollar investment in the diet company Weight Watchers. She also announced that she is now actively participating in their famous “points” program. While I admire her for being so public with her weight struggles over the years, I started thinking about why some individuals spend half their lives trying to lose weight and keep it off, and others never count a calorie (or point or carb) in their entire life.
by Avik Chatterjee, MD
Recently, I was speaking with a student about income and weight in the United States, and he described the difference he saw between his hometown in rural California, where many people appeared obese, and Cambridge (and especially Harvard), where seeing someone with overweight or obesity was a rarity. While it’s true that in the United States, socioeconomic status and rates of obesity tend to be inversely related – with lower-income groups tending to have higher obesity rates, and vice versa – other, rapidly developing countries are wrestling with high rates of both underweight and obesity, also known as the dual burden.
by Kristina Lewis MD, MPH, SM
Beginning on December 1 in New York City, food items that are extremely high in sodium acquired a warning label. Specifically, any item that contains more than a full day’s worth of recommended sodium (>2300mg) will now have to be labeled with a somewhat innocuous image of a salt shaker, and the slightly less-subtle warning message: “High sodium intake can increase blood pressure and risk of heart disease and stroke”.
by Jen Thompson, MPP
Lately I’ve felt defensive when ordering food at restaurants. “Can you let me know if this has any gluten in it? I have celiac disease,” I’ll say while silently whispering to myself: please believe me. Over the past few years, those of us with celiac disease – a genetic disorder in which the gluten protein found in wheat, rye, and barley triggers a damaging autoimmune response – have found ourselves in an awkward spot. There’s now greater awareness than ever before of what gluten is, which foods contain it, and why people diagnosed with celiac disease need to scrupulously avoid it. Yet eating gluten-free has also become a fad, with many people avoiding wheat without receiving a formal diagnosis. Some people self-diagnose themselves with “gluten sensitivity”, or a wheat allergy, or simply insist that they feel better when they avoid gluten. Unfortunately, this has led to skepticism over gluten-free diets in general.
by Nicole Witham, BS
Working on Project Viva for the past few years, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and completing study visits with dozens of moms and their children. In addition to collecting in-person physical measurements like height, weight and waist circumference, we also administer questionnaires to our participants to capture their behaviors outside of the visit room. One of the most common questions our teen participants ask about their questionnaires -- aside from “What’s margarine?” -- is how to respond to the question “How often do you have gym class?”. Most of our participants attend gym for only a semester of the school year, and even during that semester, may not have gym class every day. Which got me wondering: how physically active (or inactive) are American teenagers, and what is the future of physical education in the United States?
by Lauren Fiechtner MD, MPH
In my weight management clinic, I’m always telling parents to remove the TV in their child’s bedroom, both to improve their sleep and decrease their sedentary time. However, this typically is accompanied by complaints about this request from their children. I’m often caught between allying with my patients and doing what’s right for their health. Researchers have found even more reasons for me to insist that they remove their TV from their bedroom – it is associated with higher sugary drink consumption.