Navigation Links
Childhood obesity prevention should begin early in life, possibly before birth
Date:3/1/2010

BOSTON, Mass. (March 1, 2010)Efforts to prevent childhood obesity should begin far earlier than currently thoughtperhaps even before birthespecially for minority children, according to a new study that tracked 1,826 women from pregnancy through their children's first five years of life.

Most obesity prevention programsincluding the national initiative recently launched by First Lady Michelle Obamatarget kids age 8 and older. Scientists at the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute's Department of Population Medicine, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, now say that factors that place children at higher risk for obesity begin at infancy, and in some cases, during pregnancy. Their research also suggests that risk factors such as poor feeding practices, insufficient sleep and televisions in bedrooms are more prevalent among minority children than white children.

"This early life periodprenatal, infancy, to age 5is a key period for childhood obesity prevention, especially for minority children," says Elsie Taveras, lead author of the study and an assistant professor of population medicine at Harvard Medical School, as well as the director of the One Step Ahead Program at Children's Hospital Boston. "Almost every single risk factor in that period before age 2, including in the prenatal period, was disproportionately higher among minority children."

For the study, which appears online March 1 in the journal Pediatrics, researchers interviewed 1,343 white, 355 black and 128 Hispanic pregnant women at the end of the first and second trimesters, in the first few days following delivery, and when the children were 6 months and 3 years of age. The women also completed questionnaires when the children were 1, 2 and 4 years old.

When compared to Caucasian women, the researchers found that minority women were more likely to be overweight when they became pregnant and Hispanic women had a higher rate of gestational diabetes, both risk factors for childhood obesity. Although the prevalence of two other risk factorssmoking and depressionduring pregnancy was higher among African-American and Hispanic women, those rates dropped considerably when the researchers adjusted for socioeconomic status, suggesting that at least those two risk factors may be impacted by income and education levels.

When researchers looked at other risk factors during children's first five years, they found that African-American and Hispanic infants are more likely than their Caucasian counterparts to be born small, gain excess weight after birth, begin eating solid foods before 4 months of age and sleep less. During their preschool years, the study suggests, minority children eat more fast food, drink more sugar-sweetened beverages and are more likely to have televisions in their rooms than Caucasian children.

One commonly held theory is that the presence of these and other risk factors is caused by limited access to health care, poverty and low educational levels. However, when Taveras and her colleagues adjusted for socioeconomic status, they found that the prevalence of many of the risk factors remained the same.

More likely, Taveras says, the risk factors stem from behaviors and habits passed from generation to generation or that may be culturally embedded. "For a lot of patients I see in my clinic, it's intergenerationalfor example, the grandmother in the home is influencing how her daughter feeds her own child." That's especially true when it comes to at what age mothers begin giving their infants solid food or when the mothers decide to stop breastfeeding, Taveras says.

"Sometimes trying to tackle those intergenerational influences can be very difficult, but actually, it's promising that some of the areas where we did find disparities are modifiable," Taveras notes. "Anyone who works with families of young children, including pediatricians and child care providers, can work on these issues."

The far more difficult task would be to address problems that are related to socioeconomic status. In this study, that didn't play as large a role because participants had access to good prenatal and pediatric care for their children and were well-educated.

"We found these striking disparities even in this population, where we had racial and ethnic minority families who were of relatively higher education and income," she says. "Imagine what the disparity would be in a population that's of lower socioeconomic status."

That's a question Taveras plans to tackle next. The goal now is to look at other novel risk factors that might be more common among minority populationsincluding those that will likely be tied to income and education.

"All of the risk factors that we examined in this study were known factors that have been published in the literature, including some of our own literatures," Taveras says. "But there are risk factors that are still understudied, that we have a sense are more common, and that's where we plan to go next."


'/>"/>

Contact: David Cameron
david_cameron@hms.harvard.edu
617-432-0441
Harvard Medical School
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Study: Gene therapy reverses effects of lethal childhood muscle disorder in mice
2. 2 years old -- a childhood obesity tipping point?
3. Eczema in early childhood and psychological problems
4. Mice shed new light on causes of childhood deafness
5. A new method to measure childhood stress
6. Secondhand smoke exposure in childhood increases lung cancer risk later in life
7. Largest gene study of childhood IBD identifies 5 new genes
8. Survivors of childhood cancer less likely to marry
9. New hope for deadly childhood bone cancer
10. Novel genetic region identified for childhood asthma in Mexicans
11. Tackling childhood obesity at the local level -- IOM report releases Sept. 1
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/13/2016)... 2016  IMPOWER physicians supporting Medicaid patients in ... clinical standard in telehealth thanks to a new partnership ... platform, IMPOWER patients can routinely track key health measurements, ... index, and, when they opt in, share them with ... a local retail location at no cost. By leveraging ...
(Date:3/29/2016)... 2016 LegacyXChange, Inc. (OTC: ... SelectaDNA/CSI Protect are pleased to announce our successful effort ... variety of writing instruments, ensuring athletes signatures against counterfeiting ... from athletes on LegacyXChange will be assured of ongoing ... Bill Bollander , CEO states, "By ...
(Date:3/22/2016)... PROVO and SANDY, Utah ... Ontario (NSO), which operates the highest sample volume laboratory ... and Tute Genomics and UNIConnect, leaders in clinical sequencing ... announced the launch of a project to establish the ... panel. NSO has been contracted by ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)...  Liquid Biotech USA , ... Sponsored Research Agreement with The University of Pennsylvania ... cancer patients.  The funding will be used to ... clinical outcomes in cancer patients undergoing a variety ... employed to support the design of a therapeutic, ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... While the majority of commercial spectrophotometers and fluorometers ... the 6000i models are higher end machines that use the more unconventional z-dimension of ... beam from the bottom of the cuvette holder. , FireflySci has developed several ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016   Boston Biomedical , an ... designed to target cancer stemness pathways, announced that ... Orphan Drug Designation from the U.S. Food and ... cancer, including gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) cancer. Napabucasin is ... inhibit cancer stemness pathways by targeting STAT3, and ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Charm Sciences, Inc. is pleased to announce ... Research Institute approval 061601. , “This is another AOAC-RI approval of the Peel ... President of Regulatory and Industrial Affairs. “The Peel Plate methods perform comparably to ...
Breaking Biology Technology: