Childhood Obesity Again Tied to Earlier Puberty in Girls – WebMD

Childhood Obesity Tied to Earlier Puberty in Girls

By Amy Norton

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Nov. 4 (HealthDay News) — U.S. girls are developing breasts at a younger age compared to years past, and obesity appears to explain a large share of the shift, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that between 2004 and 2011, American girls typically started developing breasts around the age of 9. And those who were overweight or obese started sooner — usually when they were about 8 years old.

The numbers are concerning, the researchers said — especially since the typical age at breast development is younger now than it was in a similar study from 1997. The main reason: Girls are heavier now than they were in the ’90s.

“This is another manifestation of America’s high body-mass index,” said lead researcher Dr. Frank Biro, of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Body-mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on a ratio of height to weight.

The findings, reported online Nov. 4 and in the December print issue of the journal Pediatrics, add to evidence that American children are hitting puberty earlier than in decades past. The rising tide of childhood obesity has been suspected as a major cause, but the new study gives more hard data to support the idea.

Biro said, however, that excess pounds do not seem to be the full explanation. And it’s possible that other factors — such as diet or chemicals in the environment — play a role.

Why should people worry that puberty is coming sooner now than in years past? There is a concern when young kids look older than they are, and are possibly treated that way, Biro said.

Studies have found that girls who mature early are more likely to be influenced by older friends, start having sex sooner and have more problems with low self-esteem and depression. “Just because you’re developing more quickly physically doesn’t mean you’re maturing emotionally or socially,” Biro said.

Plus, early puberty has been tied to long-term health risks. For women, an earlier start to menstruation has been linked to a heightened risk of breast cancer. It’s not clear why, but some researchers suspect that greater lifetime exposure to estrogen might be one reason.

Biro said earlier puberty also has been tied to increased risks of high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes in adulthood. It’s hard, though, to know whether earlier puberty is to blame since obese kids tend to start puberty earlier, and obese children often become obese adults, he said.

Dr. Patricia Vuguin, a pediatric endocrinologist at the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y., said it’s not known if it’s the earlier development or the obesity itself that causes the increased risk of those conditions.

Childhood obesity drops in Chicago kindergarteners

As thousands of Chicago Public School kids sit anxiously waiting for trick or treat time, the city offers some good news and some bad news.

First the good news: New figures released today by the Chicago Department of Public Health suggest that childhood obesity among CPS kindergarteners has dropped by five percentage points, from 24 percent in 2003 to 19.1 percent in 2012.

Yay, right?

Well, don’t break out the king size Snickers yet. That figure still puts their obesity levels well above the national average (12 percent) for kids their age, and even the average (14 percent) for low-income kids.

Additionally, the latest figures don’t show any statistically significant improvements among older students who are measured at 6th and 9th grade.  Instead, those levels seem to be hitting a plateau, which mirrors overall obesity figures in the U.S. during the last decade.

Despite these qualifiers, the news was greeted with some optimism by local folks who have been working on this issue for years.

“I think the new numbers are promising,” said Adam Becker, who heads the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children. “For decades we’ve seen major increases in the rates and so to see the rates going down, even in small increments at a time, is an indication that we are moving in the right direction.”

The improvement among CPS kindergarteners follows modest progress in 21 states across the country among very young children, and improvements in other big cities including New York and Los Angeles. But Chicago still posts higher childhood obesity numbers than those big cities for reasons researchers are not quite able to explain.

“I think we are starting to see what we all hope will be an ongoing national decline in obesity levels for all kids,” Becker said. “And this should just encourage us to step it up.” 

Most researchers agree that tripling of childhood obesity in the U.S. over the last 35 years was a result of several converging factors.

To combat them, the city has recently taken a multifaceted approach that has included adding more fruits and vegetables to school lunches and ditching the daily nachos. Other initiatives have involved offering grocers incentives to open in underserved neighborhoods, supporting fresh produce cart vendors, restoring recess to schools and finally gathering and calculating these CPS obesity figures to begin with.

“Obviously I’m really excited about seeing these numbers headed in the right direction,” said Health Commissioner Bechara Choucair. “But we’ve still got a lot of work to do.” 

Obesity rate falls in 19 states for low-income preschoolers | MSNBC

How heavy can one country get? Until recently, the sky seemed the limit. If recent trends continued, government researchers warned in 2008, some 86% of U.S. adults would be overweight or obese by 2030, and a third of our kids would be fully obese by the time they turned 20.

But the fever may finally be breaking. A wisp of good news came from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which announced Tuesday that obesity rates have recently declined among low-income children in 19 states and territories.  “While the changes are small,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said in announcing the new findings, “for the first time in a generation they are going in the right direction.”

The new study isn’t definitive, but it suggests that conditions are improving even for the nation’s poorest and most vulnerable children.

The CDC researchers reviewed height-and-weight records for 12 million preschoolers who participated in WIC and other nutrition-assistance programs. Their analysis covered 43 states and territories, and it yielded good news for nearly all of them. Obesity rates either fell or held steady in 40 of the 43 jurisdictions after rising steadily in recent decades. Only three states—Colorado, Pennsylvania and Tennessee—saw upward trends from 2008 to 2011, and those increases were all minor.

Nationally, about 13% of preschoolers are overweight or obese, but the risk is still significantly higher among kids who are poor enough to qualify for nutrition assistance. In California, for example, 16.8% of the enrollees were obese in 2011, despite a significant three-year decline (the 2008 figure was 17.3%). New Jersey and Massachusetts still hover at similar levels (16.6% and 16.4% respectively), despite similar reductions in recent years.

Puerto Rico’s low-income kids had the highest obesity rate of any state or territory (17.9% in 2011), but the nearby U.S. Virgin Islands saw the steepest three-year decline (from 13.6% to 11%).

Child obesity progress (CDC 08-13 map)

What accounts for all these encouraging trends? The study didn’t identify causes, but health authorities believe that public policy and public awareness have both helped. “Many of the states in which we’re seeing declines have taken action to incorporate healthy eating and active living into children’s lives,” says Janet L. Collins, director of the CDC’s obesity division.

Specifically, the CDC points to growing community efforts to make nutritious food affordable and accessible and ensure that all kids have safe places to play. First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Child Care initiative has probably helped too, with 10,000 child care programs now embracing its prevention strategies.

“I think the main reason [rates are falling] is that people are rallying together as stakeholders in this battle,” Dr. Lindy Christine Fenlason of Vanderbilt University told NBC News Tuesday morning. “We’re talking about teachers and parents and caregivers, those in the media, those in government, and those in the medical profession. Everyone has come around to support people in making changes to have a healthy weight.”

That’s not to say the epidemic is anywhere near over. Obesity still affects 12.5 million children and teens in this country, and the potential consequences are devastating, ranging from arthritis and sleep apnea to heart disease, diabetes, stroke and several cancers. But the latest findings show that progress really is possible.

Why schools shouldn't report obesity

Most of us know schools as institutions of learning, usually associated with “the three Rs,” but now schools in 19 states are reporting progress on another subject: “BMI” — body mass index.

These schools are measuring the heights and weights of students to determine BMI, a measure of weight based on height, then sending home letters to inform parents of their children’s BMI status. As a pediatric nutritionist, I am not pleased.

Child obesity is at near epidemic proportions, with nearly one in three children overweight or obese. Obesity is a gateway disease to many chronic health problems, including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and joint problems.

I don’t want to see kids struggle with obesity or become obese. Not only for those reasons but also because it adds to their physical discomfort. Most importantly, I don’t want children saddled with chronic health problems that they should not encounter for decades and that might be prevented altogether.

What? A specialist in child nutrition who doesn’t want parents to be aware of their children’s abnormal weight? No, I didn’t say that.

I spend a good portion of my clinical time counseling motivated parents (and often unmotivated parents, but that’s for another blog post) about making positive changes to normalize their children’s weight. The key word here is “school.”

Schools these days seem to be tasked with doing just about everything related to raising kids: feeding them breakfast and lunch, teaching them (not just general knowledge, but good habits, manners, social skills, etc.), helping them with homework after school and, often, administering medication.

So what’s the problem with these BMI letters? Several things:

  • Parents should be taking their children for physical exams at least annually. The BMI is part of a standard pediatric physical, so in all likelihood, this information is known to the children’s pediatricians. Let’s hope that better access to affordable insurance will make this even easier for parents to do. However, while such access may get children to see a pediatrician, it won’t solve the issue of childhood obesity. Read on.
  • Parents of under- or overweight children will likely need some sessions with a registered dietitian skilled in working with kids and parents. Few health plans currently cover weight management. If they do, it is often for fewer hours or visits than are needed to make permanent dietary and lifestyle changes. The schools are not referring parents to helpful resources or making help available—just telling parents that they need to get some help. That’s not the same.
  • This is a perfect trigger for bullying. The kids know they’re being screened and they also know who the fat kids are. (Even at that age, the eyeballs are a keen assessment tool.) You can almost hear the taunts directed at the heavier kids once parents start receiving the letters. This just draws more attention to the issue. Bad idea.

I heartily applaud the intent of this initiative by the schools (as long as the intent is truly to help children, and not just the work of some politician or school board wanting to score points with constituents). But schools should get out of this business and get back to what they do well: teaching children, feeding them properly during the school day (school meals have improved tremendously) and providing structure.

Schools have an important role in children’s lives; this just isn’t it.

And if politicians or school boards really want to fight obesity, they can make physical education a daily activity for all kids, kindergarten through grade 12.

Keith-Thomas Ayoob is director, nutrition clinic, Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He blogs at The Doctor’s Tablet.

Childhood obesity: A problem of will and money

The American Heart Association recently published a sobering “scientific statement” on severe obesity among children and adolescents in the U.S. in their flagship journal, Circulation. The report, predictably spawning widespread attention in the popular press, suggests that by reasonable criteria, between 4 percent and 6 percent of our kids between the ages of 2 and 19 have severe obesity.

Those percentages probably don’t fully convey how common that makes this ominous condition. Consider that if a typical classroom held roughly 20 kids, there would be one “severely” obese child, on average, in every such classroom in the country. That is stunning, and extremely alarming — particularly given the current trends. Those trends, also noted in the report, indicate that severe obesity is “the fastest growing subcategory of obesity in youth.” Even where overall rates of obesity are leveling off, rates of severe obesity are rising briskly.

Our problems begin with our apparent inability to keep our eye on this ball. All too often, and at our collective peril, we treat scientific research like a Ping-Pong ball, diverting our attention first this way, then that. Media uptake of any given study often gives the impression that it represents the new, final word — replacing all we thought we knew before. But, of course, science is incremental; studies don’t replace one another, they contribute to the gradually accumulating weight of evidence. When we learn that rates of childhood obesity may be dipping slightly in some places, or leveling off among adults, it does not refute everything we knew about the outrageously high prevalence, the grave metabolic consequences, or the run-away increases in the most severe forms.

If virtually all of those vulnerable to obesity — adults and children alike — are already there, we can count on rates stabilizing. But if we are failing to help those who are already there from succumbing ever more fully,we can count on weights rising. It may no longer characterize the toll of epidemic obesity adequately to determine how many of us are overweight; that number may be relatively fixed now. We may need to ask: How overweight are the many of us? The American Heart Association gives us this answer about our kids: very.

This may explain why diabetes rates are rising on a truly ominous trajectory, even as overall obesity rates level off. More severe degrees of obesity are more predictive of metabolic complications and chronic disease, the details of just such associations occupying much of the new report’s verbiage.

But with the pages devoted to the new solutions we need, welcome and appropriate as this attention is, the AHA authors were far too conventional in my view. One of Albert Einstein’s famous witticisms is brought to mind: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

We created the problem of epidemic obesity in children, and now hyper-endemic obesity in adults, over the past half century while propagating its causes in our culture and seeking its remedies in our clinics. But scalpels may be a very sorry substitute for the good that might be done in schools; pharmacotherapy may compare quite unfavorably to empowering better use of feet and forks.

Imagine looking at us from without, and assessing causes and cures of severe obesity informed by a dispassionate view from altitude. There would be a role for clinicians, clearly, but much of the relevant medicine would be cultural. Is it symptomatic of our inability to see outside the donut box that there is no mention in the new report, for instance, of aggressive food marketing to children?

The causes of obesity are not so much within us, as all around us. We and our kids are put together much the same ways we ever were, of course; yet the epidemiology of severe obesity is as it never was before. It takes change to produce change, and while our genes and physiologies are fairly constant, our culture is awash in obesigenic changes. Our plight is the predictable consequence.

There is a correspondingly predictable emphasis on drugs and surgery in the new report, and on models of clinical counseling. These are, indeed, appropriate for severe obesity — but they have severe liabilities.Drugs don’t tend to work very well. Surgery does, at least in the short term. But the costs are high; recidivism may be high as well. And surgery is something of a “deus ex machina” approach to obesity, doing nothing to address the factors that caused it in the first place. Surgery requires the skills of a surgeon but imparts no skills to the patient. Benefits we acquire under general anesthesia, whatever their duration, cannot be paid forward.

As for clinical counseling, consider its challenges. A child who is severely obese is generally caught up in a difficult dynamic at the family level. For a clinician to provide family counseling, appointments need to be scheduled for the whole family — a logistical challenge. If these appointments are during business hours, they pull adults away from work (assuming they are employed), and kids away from school. At best, the frequency of such encounters will be modest compared to the scope of the problem, and ill-suited to address some very practical concerns — such as no one in the home having the time, or skills, to prepare a meal.

Such challenges are further compounded by something we likely all know from personal experience, if not from the abundant research literature on the topic: Severely-obese kids are severely persecuted by their peers. When we were young, the “chubby” kid was the object of schoolyard bullying, to the regret of those of us victimized by it, and the shame of those of us who perpetrated it. Now, among kids who are chubbier in general than we were, it’s the severely “fat” kid who gets that daily dose of derision. That addition of insult to injury can lead to depression and despair, putting the behavior change needed for a remedy hopelessly out of reach. Can we really expect a doctor visit, even as often as once a month, to fix all of this?

There is something that can. We can embed solutions to severe obesity into the existing infrastructure of our lives and routines.

So, for instance, just as we have boarding schools to cultivate the talents of the academically gifted, or remediate the difficulties of the behaviorally challenged, so, too, could we have boarding schools for the severely obese, that blend academic rigor with comprehensive weight management. The appeal of such a concept, nowhere mentioned in the AHA report, is that severely-obese kids could get the intensity of treatment they need without stepping out of their lives to do so.

That treatment would almost certainly include behavioral, and psychological counseling. Depression and despair would need to be recognized and addressed by qualified professionals.

It would also include an emphasis on the relevant skills, such as identifying nutritious foods, learning how to choose and prefer them, and learning how to cook. It would include physical education and training, with an emphasis on strategies to fit fitness into every kind of daily routine. And by providing this and more in an environment where all the kids have run the same gauntlet, such a program could offer the therapeutic benefits of community, and compassion, and understanding.

And finally, if we could “fix” severe obesity in kids by empowering them with skills for healthy living, the kids could pay such benefits forward — to family members, and peers. Imagine re-integrating such kids into their public schools of origin, where their success at not just losing weight, but finding health — could inspire hope in others. Imagine such kids acting as peer mentors with a unique fund of knowledge and experience on which to draw.

And then stop imagining, because at least one such program exists. I have been privileged to serve as senior medical advisor to Mindstream Academy, which is the very model I’m describing. The results to date are stunning — with kids losing an average of nearly 50 pounds per semester, and some losing closer to 100. More important still is what the kids find: hope, self-esteem, and a renewed capacity to believe in themselves, and dream. And all of this is achieved by teaching a set of sustainable skills, not with any quick-fix gimmickry.

Why is the Mindstream model not more widely known, not mentioned in Circulation, and not accessible to the hundreds of thousands of kids who need it? In a word: money.

The families of severely-obese children tend to be the very families least able to afford treatment of any kind. Third-party payers can fix this, but they are accustomed to looking only at “medical” treatments. We tend to be rather blind to the possibility of lifestyle, or culture, as the medicine we need. But these are, in fact, the best medicines we’ve got – and with the potential to save us dollars along with lives.

Admittedly, we need to prove it. The Mindstream experience to date, for instance, needs to be published in the peer-reviewed literature; that’s in the works. We need to know more about the overall cost-effectiveness of such an approach, its sustainability, and how the program might be modified and still work. But we have routinely reimbursed for “medical” treatments before having such data. Even now, we know little about the long-term effects of bariatric surgery in tweens and teens. We might at the very least give school the same benefit of doubt we give scalpels.

There are many reasons why a problem that is hard but not truly complex, and amenable to remedies involving better use of feet and forks, has defied us for so long. We are inclined to medicalize obesity to legitimize it. But obesity as a “disease” implies a need for treatments of a clinical nature, drugs and surgery in particular. There are many good reasons why we do not have, and are unlikely to have, good drugs for obesity treatment. Surgery works, although just how long and how well for children, we really don’t know. But even if it worked well and sustainably, would we really want to sanction sending our sons and daughters through the operating room doors, to reorganize their gastrointestinal tracts, because we couldn’t manage to find ways to keep them from passing under the Golden Arches quite so often?

Even as we tear our proverbial beards, and gnash our teeth, we manage to turn a blind eye. Obesity is a cultural problem and requires a cultural solution we have the knowledge and means to administer. That we fail to apply those means — that we can watch television shows telling us of this threat to our kids, while our kids watching television are bombarded with intensive marketing of the very products that propagate the problem — bespeaks our ambivalence at best, our profit-driven hypocrisies at worst. Are we truly willing to mortgage the health of our children to fortify the corporate bottom line?

This is largely a problem of will, and money. Money, too, figures in the new report. The authors note that access to effective treatments for severe obesity is limited by lack of insurance coverage. In fact, the closing line of the article closes with a focus on dollars: “The task ahead will be arduous and complicated, but the high prevalence and serious consequences of severe obesity require us to commit time, intellectual capital, and financial resources to address it.”

Given the dire consequences of severe obesity left unaddressed, pecuniary neglect is at best penny-wise and pound-foolish. But given the prospects for losing far more than pennies as the pounds accumulate to rob our vulnerable daughters and sons of both years of life, and life in years, it is far worse than that. It is a colossal, collective cultural failure of the first order.

The new report speaks to the grave threat of severe obesity among our children and hints at the solutions we need. The solutions exist; the will to cultivate them seems to be in question. So, the words in this report are just a start. The question now is this: Will we put the needed money where these erudite mouths are?

David L. Katz is the founding director, Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center.

How to prevent obesity in our kids

Obesity is an epidemic in the Latino population and we need to take action because our kids may be the first generation to live a shorter life than our own.  NBC Latino’s Dr. Joseph Sirven walks you through the startling numbers and gives you ways to combat childhood obesity by increasing children’s physical activity and making better food choices.

RELATED:Obesity rates among low-income preschoolers dropping in some states

Dr. Joe Servin -nbc-final

Dr. Joseph Sirven is a first-generation Cuban-American. He is Professor and Chairman of the Department of Neurology and was past Director of Education for Mayo Clinic Arizona. He is editor-in-chief of and has served U.S. and global governmental agencies including the Institute of Medicine, NASA, FAA, NIH and CDC.

Preventing Childhood Obesity: Tips for Parents and Caretakers

Balance is key in helping your child maintain a healthy weight. Balance the calories your child eats and drinks with the calories used through physical activity and normal growth.

Overweight and obese children and teens should reduce the rate of weight gain while allowing normal growth and development. Don’t put your child on a weight-reduction diet without talking to your health care provider.

Balancing calories: Help Kids Develop Healthy Eating Habits
Offer your kids nutritious meals and snacks with an appropriate number of calories. You can help them develop healthy eating habits by making favorite dishes healthier and by reducing calorie-rich temptations.

  1. Encourage healthy eating habits. Small changes can lead to a recipe for success!
    • Provide plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole-grain products.
    • Include low-fat or non-fat milk or dairy products.
    • Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, lentils and beans for protein.
    • Serve reasonably sized portions.
    • Encourage your family to drink lots of water.
    • Limit sugar-sweetened beverages, sugar, sodium and saturated fat.
  2. Make favorite dishes healthier. Some of your favorite recipes can be healthier with a few changes. You can alsotry some new healthy dishes that might just become favorites too!
  3. Remove calorie-rich temptations. Treats are OK in moderation, but limiting high-fat and high-sugar or salty snacks can also help your children develop healthy eating habits. Here are examples of easy-to-prepare, low-fat and low-sugar treats that are 100 calories or less:
    • A medium-size apple
    • A medium-size banana
    • 1 cup blueberries
    • 1 cup grapes
    • 1 cup carrots, broccoli, or bell peppers with 2 tbsp. hummus
  4. Help your kids understand the benefits of being physically active. Teach them that physical activity has great health benefits like:
    • Strengthening bone
    • Decreasing blood pressure
    • Reducing stress and anxiety
    • Increasing self-esteem
    • Helping with weight management
  5. Help kids stay active.
    Children and teens should participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity most days of the week, and every day if possible. You can set a great example! Start adding physical activity to your own daily routine and encourage your child to join you. Some examples of moderate-intensity physical activity include:
    • Brisk walking
    • Playing tag
    • Jumping rope
    • Playing soccer
    • Swimming
    • Dancing
  6. Reduce sedentary time. Although quiet time for reading and homework is fine, limit “screen time” (TV, video games, Internet) to no more than two hours a day. The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend TV for kids age 2 or younger.12 Encourage your children to find fun activities to do with family members or on their own that simply involve more activity.

Learn more:

  • Childhood Obesity
  • BMI in Children
  • Making a Healthy Home

Antipsychotics tied to diabetes in kids and teens

By Andrew M. Seaman

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Children and young adults who are prescribed antipsychotic drugs have a three-fold risk of developing diabetes, compared to youths who take other psychotropic drugs, suggests a new study.

The study’s senior researcher said the findings should give doctors pause before prescribing antipsychotics to children and teens.

“If it turns out that the child does ultimately need an antipsychotic, they should be carefully monitored for metabolic effects and the dose should be as low as possible for the shortest amount of time,” Wayne Ray, a health policy researcher at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, told Reuters Health.

Antipsychotics include Risperdal, known generically as risperidone, Zyprexa (olanzapine), Seroquel (quetiapine) and Abilify (aripiprazole).

The drugs are used to treat conditions like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and irritability and aggression in children with autism.

Ray and his colleagues cannot prove the drugs caused diabetes, but their study adds to growing evidence linking antipsychotics to the development of obesity, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

In 2011, a large study from the University of Massachusetts found kids who took antipsychotic drugs were four times more likely to develop diabetes than their peers who were not taking the medications (see Reuters Health story of November 22, 2011 here:

Also that year, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory board raised concerns about the drugs and urged the agency to monitor weight gain and other metabolic diseases in children taking antipsychotics (see Reuters story of September 22, 2011 here:

And last year, a study found that the number of antipsychotic drugs prescribed to kids and teens during psychiatric visits in the U.S. has almost quadrupled since the 1990s (see Reuters Health story of August 7, 2012 here:

For the new study, Ray and his colleagues used records from Tennessee’s Medicaid program to compare the number of type 2 diabetes cases diagnosed among children and teens that were prescribed antipsychotics to the number of cases among young people prescribed other psychotropic drugs, such as antidepressants and stimulants.

Specifically, the researchers focused on children who were prescribed antipsychotic drugs for conditions that can be treated with other medicines, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or mood disorders.

Overall, they had data on 28,858 young people between the ages of six and 24 who were prescribed antipsychotics between 1996 and 2007, and 14,429 children and teens prescribed other psychotropic drugs during that time.

Among those taking antipsychotics, the researchers found 92 cases of type 2 diabetes during an average of just over one year, compared to 14 cases among those taking other medications. That works out to about a three-fold increased risk among those prescribed antipsychotic drugs, according to findings published in JAMA Psychiatry.

The increased risk seemed to show up during the first year of treatment and persisted for at least one year after the kids and teens stopped using the drugs.

“We found that the risk was increased in the first year of use so that would suggest caution even with relatively short term use,” Ray said.

That is one of the findings that stood out to Dr. Jonathan Mink, a child neurologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York.

“I think there is a belief among many prescribing physicians that short term use is safe. It does seem the cumulative use over time increases the risk, but even (with one year of treatment) the risk is significantly higher,” Mink, who wasn’t involved with the study, said.

He added that it’s also important to note the children taking antipsychotics were very closely matched to those taking other medications, which would partially eliminate the effect of obesity on the results.

“I don’t think anyone knows the mechanism yet, but we have the evidence to believe it’s real,” Mink told Reuters Health.

Ray said more research is needed to know which treatments besides antipsychotics are best for specific conditions in childhood.

“I think that there is a lot of work to be done defining the best therapy option in children with mental disorders,” he said.

SOURCE: JAMA Psychiatry, online August 21, 2013.

Michelle Obama Sampled on Anti-Obesity Rap Song, Not Officially …

Michelle Obama will briefly appear on a rap album, Songs for a Healthier America, dropping September 30th. A speech of hers is sampled for the intro to “Everybody,” a Jordin Sparks, Doug E. Fresh and Dr. Oz (???) collab taken from the 19-track LP, being released jointly by Hip Hop Public Health and the Partnership for a Healthier America, with support from Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign. The project has gem titles like “U R What You Eat” and “Veggie Luv”, and credits guests like Ashanti, Ariana Grande, Travis Barker and “salad bar”—but leaves Michelle out of the liner notes.

The plan is to make health-promoting videos like the one for “Everybody,” above, for a bulk of the album’s songs, and distribute those in schools in cities like New York, San Antonio, Philadelphia and DC. Let’s Move! Executive Director Sam Kass says rap’s a powerful tool for getting kids to live well because, “Cultural leaders… can give these messages to kids in a way that’s not preachy… So many kids love hip-hop. It’s such a core part of our culture… and particularly in the African-American community and the Latino community which is being disproportionately affected by those health issues.”

Watch Beyonce in a 2011 Let’s Move! video, “Move Your Body”:

Watch Riff Raff and Lil Debbie’s “Michelle Obama” video:

Michelle Obama credits 'Let's Move' campaign as kid obesity rates …

Michelle Obama credited her signature “Let’s Move” campaign–which encourages healthy eating and exercise–for helping to decrease childhood obesity rates in the U.S. The first lady spoke on Tuesday after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 19 states and territories saw obesity rates among low-income preschoolers decline.

“Today’s announcement reaffirms my belief that together, we are making a real difference in helping kids across the country get a healthier start to life,” the first lady said in a statement. “We know how essential it is to set our youngest children on a path towards a lifetime of healthy eating and physical activity, and more than 10,000 childcare programs participating in the Let’s Move! Child Care initiative are doing vitally important work on this front. Yet, while this announcement reflects important progress, we also know that there is tremendous work still to be done to support healthy futures for all our children.”

When Obama launched her initiative more than two and a half years ago, conservatives mocked the first lady’s commitment to ending childhood obesity. Sarah Palin accused Michelle Obama of using big government to take control of parenting decisions.

“Take her anti-obesity thing that she’s on,” Palin said on The Laura Ingraham Show.

“She’s on this kick, right? What she is telling us is she cannot trust parents to make decisions for their own children, for their own families and what we should eat. And I know I’m going to be again criticized for bringing this up, but instead of government thinking that they need to take over [and] make decisions for us according to some politician or politician’s wife’s priorities, just leave us alone, get off our back, and allow us as individuals to exercise our own God-given rights to make our own decisions and then our country gets back on the right track.”

The former vice presidential candidate even took a shot at the first lady on her short-lived reality TV show. ”Where’s the s’mores ingredients,” Palin jokingly asked. “This is in honor of Michelle Obama, who said the other day we should not have dessert.”

Rush Limbaugh jumped on the right-wing bandwagon, attacking Michelle Obama for eating ribs at a meal when “she is demanding that everybody basically eat cardboard and tofu.”

“Michelle My Belle, minus the husband, took the kids out to Vail on a ski vacation, and they were spotted eating and they were feasting on ribs,” Limbaugh said. “Ribs that were 1,575 calories per serving with 141 grams of fat per serving. Now I’m sure some of you members of the new castrati: ‘This is typical of what you do Mr. Limbaugh, you take an isolated, once in a lifetime experience, and try to say that she’s a hypocrite.’ She is a hypocrite. Leaders are supposed to be leaders. If we’re supposed to go out and eat nothing–if we’re supposed to eat roots, and berries and tree bark and so show us how. And if it’s supposed to make us fit, if it’s supposed to make us healthier, show us how.”

While the right continued their attacks, the first lady campaigned for an active lifestyle and healthier eating habits, and the message seemed to resonate. She visited Sesame Street and exercised with Elmo.  She showed off her exercise routine by doing push-ups with Ellen DeGeneres (and mom-dancing with Late Night host Jimmy Fallon). She invited schoolchildren from across the country to help her garden and cook meals at the White House, and even enlisted Beyonce’s help with the “Move Your Body” music video for the initiative.

CDC research shows that about one in eight preschoolers is obese and that such children are five times more likely to be overweight later in childhood and adolescence. Obesity rates among preschoolers are improving, but the research states that there is still more work to be done. Among low-income children ages 2-4 years, between 2008 – 2011, obesity rates decreased slightly in 19 of the 43 states and territories studied, and obesity rates increased slightly in 3 of the 43 states and territories.