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Childhood obesity linked to health habits, not heredity: U-M study
Date:1/31/2011

ished in the American Heart Journal.

U-M researchers found that 58 percent of obese children had watched two hours of TV in the previous day, compared to 41 percent of non-obese children. Forty-five percent of obese students always ate school lunch, but only 34 percent of non-obese students ate school lunch.

Significantly fewer obese kids exercised regularly, took physical education classes, or were a member of a sports team.

Because the eating and exercise patterns of obese children were so different than their normal weight peers, researchers concluded that lifestyle was more closely linked with childhood obesity, than genetics.

New evidence has emerged showing a leptin deficiency, a genetic mutation in the hormone that controls hunger, may cause a person to overeat.

"If diets and physical activity were similar in obese and non-obese students this would argue for a stronger genetic basis for obesity in children," says study first author Taylor Eagle.

In the U-M study, 15 percent of the middle school students were obese, but nearly all, whether overweight or not, reported unhealthy habits.

More than 30 percent had consumed regular soda the previous day, and less than half remembered eating two portions of fruits and vegetables within the past 24 hours. Only one-third of students said they exercised for 30 minutes for five days in the previous week.

"It's clear that opportunities to improve health abound for the majority of our students, not just the 15 percent who are already obese," says study co-author Elizabeth Jackson, M.D., assistant professor of internal medicine at the U-M Cardiovascular Center.


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Contact: Shantell M. Kirkendoll
smkirk@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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