Navigation Links
How many calories does it take to reach childhood obesity prevention goals?

In order for the nation to achieve goals set by the federal government for reducing obesity rates by 2020, children in the United States would need to eliminate an average of 64 excess calories per day, researchers calculated in a study published today in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. This reduction could be achieved by decreasing calorie intake, increasing physical activity, or both. Without this reduction, the authors predict that the average U.S. youth would be nearly four pounds heavier than a child or teen of the same age was in 2007-2008, and more than 20% of young people would be obese, up from 16.9% today.

"Sixty-four calories may not sound like much individually, but it's quite a consequential number at the population level, and children at greatest risk for obesity face an even larger barrier," says Y. Claire Wang, MD, ScD, assistant professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and lead author of the study. "Closing this gap between how many calories young people are consuming and how many they are expending will take substantial, comprehensive efforts."

The daily difference between how many calories young people consume and how many they expend through normal growth, body function and physical activity is known as the energy gap. The 64-calorie difference between consumption and expenditure is an average for the population. Dr. Wang and her colleagues note it is not intended to represent a change for any individual young person, and that many young people would need to see even greater reductions.

In particular, children and teens who currently have higher obesity rates would require larger energy gap reductions to reach the obesity rate goal. For instance, based on their current obesity rates, white youths would need a 46-calorie reduction, on average, in their energy gap to reach the goals. But given their higher obesity rates in 2008-2010, the average reduction needed to close the energy gap for Mexican-American youths is 91 calories and, for black youths, it is 138 calories. Youths in lower-income communities also need greater reductions than their peers in higher-income areas, again due to higher rates of obesity. Additionally, an earlier study by several of the same researchers found that the problem is especially acute for teens who are already overweight.

In order to project how many young people would be obese in 2020, Dr. Wang and her colleagues analyzed decades of data on obesity rates. Height and weight among U.S. youths ages 2-19 were taken from National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys from 1971 to 2008. Based on the trends, the authors projected that the childhood obesity rate would be about 21% in 2020, up from 16.9% now.

Dr. Wang and her colleagues then compared the projected rate of 21% to the goal of 14.6% set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in a 2010 report titled Healthy People 2020 and calculated how much of a daily energy gap the average youth would need to close in order to achieve that goal. A childhood obesity rate of 14.6% has not been seen since 2002.

"Reaching the 2020 goal will require significant changes to calories consumed and expended," said C. Tracy Orleans, PhD, co-author of the study and senior scientist at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "Because we know that children and teens who already are overweight or obese will need larger reductions, and that preventing obesity will be more effective than treating it, we must focus our attention on the policy and environmental changes likely to have early, broad, and sustainable impacts."

The authors outline several policy strategies that could help to close the daily energy gap for American youths. For instance, they point to research showing that:

  • replacing all sugar-sweetened beverages in school with water and not consuming any additional sugary beverages outside of school could reduce the energy gap by 12 calories per day;
  • participating in a comprehensive physical education program could eliminate 19 calories per day among children ages 9-11; and
  • engaging in an after-school activity program for children in grades K-5 results in an additional 25 calories expended per day.

In a commentary accompanying the study, William H. Dietz, MD, PhD, director of the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, writes that the research "provides important data that highlight the promise of prevention and raise the challenge of treatment in children and adolescents."

Contact: Timothy S. Paul
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health

Related biology news :

1. Key to evolutionary fitness: Cut the calories
2. Owners should count calories for obese pets, consider several factors for good health
3. Restaurant and packaged foods can have more calories than nutrition labeling indicates
4. Less is more when restraining calories boosts immunity
5. New evidence that fat cells are not just dormant storage depots for calories
6. Apes shed pounds while doubling calories, CWRU researcher finds
7. Illinois professor chairs committee that recommends immediate calories, protein for TBI
8. Saving Sumatra: Indonesia reaches historic agreement
9. Predatory bacterial swarm uses rippling motion to reach prey
10. Stronger coastal winds due to climate change may have far-reaching effects
11. Far-reaching genetics topics to be addressed: 2009 Annual Clinical Genetics Meeting, March 25-29
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/27/2015)... In the present market scenario, security is ... industry verticals such as banking, healthcare, defense, electronic gadgets, ... for secure & simplified access control and growing rate ... of bank accounts, misuse of users, , and so ... laptops, and smartphones are expected to provide potential opportunities ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... Synaptics Inc. (NASDAQ: SYNA ), the leader ... adopted the Synaptics ® ClearPad ® Series ... newest flagship smartphones, the Nexus 5X by LG and ... --> --> Synaptics works closely with ... in the joint development of next generation technologies. Together, ...
(Date:10/26/2015)... and LAS VEGAS , Oct. ... Labs , an innovator in modern authentication and a ... announced the launch of its latest version of the ... enabling organizations to use standards-based authentication that supports existing ... S3 Authentication Suite is ideal for organizations deploying customer-facing ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... India , November 26, 2015 ... The Global Biobanking Market 2016 - 2020 report ... by maintaining integrity and quality in long-term samples, ... enabling long-term cost-effectiveness. Automation minimizes manual errors such ... the technical efficiency. Further, it plays a vital ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... Nov. 25, 2015  Neurocrine Biosciences, Inc. (Nasdaq: ... President and CEO of Neurocrine Biosciences, will be presenting ... New York . ... website approximately 5 minutes prior to the presentation to ... the presentation will be available on the website approximately ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) , ... November 25, ... ... leading microbial genomics company uBiome, were featured on AngelList early in their initial ... by launching an AngelList syndicate for individuals looking to make early stage investments ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... - iCo Therapeutics ("iCo" or "the Company") (TSX-V: ICO) ... quarter ended September 30, 2015. Amounts, unless specified ... under International Financial Reporting Standards ("IFRS"). ... Andrew Rae , President & CEO of iCo ... value enriching for this clinical program, but also ...
Breaking Biology Technology: