WHO unveils nutrient profiling to restrict marketing to kids

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has unveiled its nutrient profiling tool to restrict the marketing of unhealthy foods and drinks to children.

The nutrient profile model is intended to help national authorities identify unhealthy foods by their saturated fat, trans fat, salt and added sugar content, and restrict their marketing to children. The WHO has been working with its 53 European member states to develop nutrient profiling for such foods since 2009, and only a handful currently use a nutrient profile model in connection with marketing restrictions – Denmark, Ireland, Norway and the UK.

“Given the current epidemic of childhood obesity across Europe, there is no justification for marketing products that have little nutritional value and contribute to unhealthy diets,” said Dr Gauden Galea, director of the Division of Noncommunicable Diseases and Promoting Health through the Life-course at the WHO Regional Office for Europe.

via WHO unveils nutrient profiling to restrict marketing to kids.


Obese preschoolers already show signs of health problems | Fox News

Obese preschoolers already show signs of health problems | Fox News

Some overweight and obese preschoolers may already have risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, a new study from Italy suggests.

The study involved more than 5,700 healthy children ages 2 to 6 who visited pediatricians in Rome between 2011 and 2012. Of these children, about 600 (about 10 percent) had become overweight or obese within the last year, and the researchers ran detailed blood tests about 200 of these children for the study.

They found that nearly 40 percent of these children had at least one abnormal reading in their metabolism such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, elevated blood sugar or low levels of “good” cholesterol which, in studies of adults, have been linked with an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. About one-third of the children had nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, or a buildup of fat deposits in the liver.via Obese preschoolers already show signs of health problems | Fox News.

I did a research paper on this topic this past year. I know as a kid and teen I ate some terrible, fat drenched stuff. I was shocked to learn that artery buildup that leads to early death and disease in adulthood starts even as young as preschoolers.

Great reminder that although kids have fast metabolisms, they still shouldn’t eat (too much) junk.

Despite Childhood Obesity Epidemic, Few Kids Tested for Cholesterol

I JUST wrote a huge paper about this problem. The day I had it in there’s another study I should have included now.

Screen your kids folks!

Study found that less that 4 percent had their blood levels tested, countering recent guidelines

MONDAY, May 5, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Even though rising obesity rates are contributing to higher cholesterol levels among young Americans, less than 4 percent of U.S. children had their cholesterol levels checked between 1995 and 2010, new research shows.

According to a team led by Dr. Samuel Vinci of Boston Children’s Hospital, abnormal blood cholesterol reading are thought to occur in roughly a fifth of American children and adolescents.

The concern is that — if left untreated — problematic cholesterol levels among youth could translate into heart disease in adulthood.

Alert to the problem, since 2007 several organizations — including the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association — began recommending that children be screened for cholesterol starting as young as age 9.

With that in mind, Vinci and his colleagues sifted through cholesterol-screening data collected by the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey from 1995 to 2010.

They found that only 3.4 percent of children had been screened for cholesterol during that timeframe. What’s more, rates were seen to have risen only slightly by 2010, compared with what they had been in 1995 before the first screening guidelines were issued, the researchers said.

The study was published this weekend in the Journal of the American Medical Association, in conjunction with a planned presentation at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Vancouver, Canada.

via Despite Childhood Obesity Epidemic, Few Kids Tested for Cholesterol.

Drinking Milk in Pregnancy May Lead to Taller Children – NYTimes.com


A new study suggests that the amount of milk a woman drinks during pregnancy may affect the adult height of her offspring.

Researchers followed 685 Danish mother-child pairs in a prospective study over 20 years, tracking milk consumption during pregnancy and the height of the offspring at birth and age 20. The study was published online Sept. 4 in The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

After adjusting for the mother’s height, age, body mass index and many other factors, they found that mothers who drank more than five ounces of milk a day — almost all drank low-fat milk — had bigger babies, on average, than those who drank less. This, the authors write, confirms the results of previous studies.

By age 20, children with mothers who drank more than five ounces of milk a day during pregnancy were, on average, almost a half-inch taller. They also had an average of 8 percent higher blood levels of IGF-1, or insulin-like growth factor, which promotes bone growth. But these trends did not achieve statistical significance.

“There aren’t many prenatal dietary or environmental factors identified that explain growth in children,” said Thorhallur Halldorsson, a researcher at Center for Fetal Programming at the State Serum Institute in Copenhagen. “Milk drinking may be one. It does increase weight and length at birth, and there’s a possibility that this actually tracks into adult life.”

via Drinking Milk in Pregnancy May Lead to Taller Children – NYTimes.com.

Doctors Lean Toward Introducing Allergenic Foods To Kids Early : The Salt : NPR

Doctors Lean Toward Introducing Allergenic Foods To Kids Early


September 12, 201311:18 AM

It’s an anxiety that lots of us parents live with: With all the talk about the high rates of food allergies, will my baby or toddler be next?

There’s a lot that doctors are still trying to understand about how to treat food allergies in kids. But a committee of experts from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology is weighing in with new guidelines aimed at preventing allergies to the most common allergenic foods.

The guidelines represent a shift in thinking about when it’s best to introduce babies and toddlers to the foods that are most likely to cause allergic reactions.

For years the parents of infants were told that delaying the introduction of certain foods may help prevent allergic disease.

For instance, parents were told to hold off on introducing eggs until kids turned 2. Doctors recommended against adding fish and nuts until age 3. But, increasingly, the evidence is pointing in a new direction.

In fact, in the new guidelines, the committee of allergists cites seven studies that suggest that delaying beyond 4 to 6 months of age the introduction of solid foods, especially highly allergenic foods, may actually increase the risk of food allergies or eczema.

Instead, they suggest introducing some foods that can cause allergies between 4 and 6 months of age, at a rate not faster than one new food every three to five days.

The details of the guidelines are included in this paper, first published in January. Allergist David Fleischer, of National Jewish Health, will present the guidelines in October at a meeting of pediatricians in Orlando, Fla.

If you listen to my story on Here & Now, you’ll hear Dr. Fleischer explain why there’s still a lot to learn.

Many of the studies evaluating the timing of introducing foods are suggestive, but not conclusive. And many studies are still ongoing.

For instance, allergists don’t yet know whether holding off on introducing peanut butter until the toddler years will result in fewer peanut allergies among kids.

There are currently studies underway here in the U.S. and in the United Kingdom that will help answer this question.

Experts say babies with severe eczema or early allergic reactions to food should develop a personalized plan to introduce foods with an allergist.

The shift in thinking about the timing of introducing allergenic foods has been gradual. Back in 2008, the American Academy of Pediatrics changed its policy.

A committee within the AAP concluded that there was no evidence that delaying the introduction of allergenic foods such as fish, eggs and peanuts beyond 4 to 6 months of age protects against the development of allergies.

So, on this topic, stay tuned: There are plenty of questions yet to unravel.

via Doctors Lean Toward Introducing Allergenic Foods To Kids Early : The Salt : NPR.

Taco Bell Says Adios To Kids’ Meals And Toys : The Salt : NPR

Taco Bell Says Adios To Kids’ Meals And Toys


July 23, 2013 5:44 PM

Steve Helber/AP

That Crunchy Taco will no longer come with a side of toy.

Taco Bell announced Tuesday that it is ditching kids’ meals and the trinkets that come with them at its U.S. locations. The items will begin to come off menus starting this month, the company says, and should be completely gone by January 2014.

“As we continue our journey of being a better, more relevant Taco Bell, kids’ meals and toys simply no longer make sense for us to put resources behind,” Greg Creed, chief executive officer of Taco Bell, said in a statement announcing the move.

The decision may be a financial one, but nutrition advocates have been calling on fast food chains to drop the use of toys in menu items aimed at kids for years. Critics have long argued that such toy accompaniments serve as a lure to hook young eaters on food that’s often loaded with calories, fat and salt.

A few years ago, the city of San Francisco passed an ordinance banning freebie toys that come with meals that fail to meet nutritional standards set by the city. But as our colleagues at KQED reported, McDonald’s found a way around the ban by charging parents 10 cents for the trinkets.

With Tuesday’s announcement, Taco Bell becomes the first nationwide chain to voluntarily stop selling kids’ meals with toys, though regional chain Jack in the Box nixed the plastic playthings in its meals for children in 2011.

Margo Wootan, nutrition policy director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, was among the advocates who praised Taco Bell’s decision.

“We urge McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, and others to follow Taco Bell’s lead and stop using toys or other premiums to lure kids to meals of poor nutritional quality,” Wootan said in a statement.

In 2009, fast food restaurants spent $714 million on marketing to kids, according to a Federal Trade Commission report released last year. A 2008 study from the FTC estimated that the fast food industry sells more than 1.2 billion kids’ meals each year.

Saying adios to kids’ meals is probably a lot less financially painful for Taco Bell than it would be for McDonald’s, whose Happy Meals are rumored to account for about 10 percent of sales, as NPR has reported. By contrast, kids’ meals account for just half of 1 percent of Taco Bell’s overall sales, according to USA Today.

And as Wootan notes, items that used to be on the Taco Bell kids’ meal menu will still be available a la carte on the regular menu.

“Dropping the kids’ menu may lead parents to order higher calorie meals off the regular menu, and it’s not as if its adult menu is full of health food,” she says.

via Taco Bell Says Adios To Kids’ Meals And Toys : The Salt : NPR.

Whole Milk Or Skim? Study Links Fattier Milk To Slimmer Kids : The Salt : NPR

Parents are currently advised to switch toddlers to reduced-fat milk at age 2.


The job of parenting toddlers ain’t easy. Consider the 2-year-old to-do list: Get tantrums under control. Potty train. Transition from whole milk to low-fat milk.

Speaking from experience, only one of these things was easy.

As my daughter turned 2 in January, we made the simple switch to reduced-fat milk. Done. Don’t need to overthink this one, right?

After all, I’m following the evidence-based advice of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The guidance is based on studies that found children who consumed low-fat milk as part of a reduced-saturated-fat diet had lower concentrations of LDL cholesterol. Given the body of evidence in adults linking high cholesterol to increased risk of heart disease, it makes sense to keep an eye on cholesterol, beginning in childhood.

And if you take fat out of milk, you’ve also reduced calories, which should help protect kids against becoming overweight. At least, that’s been the assumption.

So here’s where things gets confusing. A new study of preschool-aged children published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, a sister publication of the British Medical Journal, finds that low-fat milk was associated with higher weight.

That’s right, kids drinking low-fat milk tended to be heavier.

“We were quite surprised” by the findings, Dr. Mark DeBoer told me in an email. He and his co-author, Dr. Rebecca Scharf, both of the University of Virginia, had hypothesized just the opposite.

But they found the relationship between skim-milk drinkers and higher body weights held up across all racial/ethnic and socioeconomic groups. DeBoer says their data also show that low-fat milk did not restrain weight gain in preschoolers over time.

The study included about 10,700 children in the United States. Parents were interviewed about their child’s beverage consumption on two occasions: once when the children were 2 years old and again at 4 years. Direct measurements of height and weight (to calculate body mass index) were taken by researchers.

Interestingly, this is not the first study to point in this direction.

In a 2005 study, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital reported that skim and 1 percent milk were associated with weight gain among 9-to-14-year-olds.

And a 2010 study by researchers at Children’s Hospital in Boston, which also looked at preschool-aged children, found that higher intake of whole milk at age 2 was associated with a slightly lower BMI (body mass index). The researchers concluded that switching from whole milk to reduced-fat milk at 2 years did not appear to prevent weight problems in early childhood.

When you look at these studies together, DeBoer’s findings become more intriguing, though it’s unclear how higher fat could lead to lower weight.

One theory: It’s possible that whole milk gives us a greater sense of satiety.

“This is speculative,” says DeBoer, but if you feel fuller after drinking whole-fat milk, “it may be protective if the other food options are high in calories.” In other words, if whole-fat milk saves a kid from eating an extra cookie or a second serving of mashed potatoes, he or she may end up eating fewer calories overall.

As the authors acknowledge, one of the shortcomings of the new study is that the researchers did not know how many calories the children were consuming overall or what types of foods they were eating.

So is it time to think anew about switching toddlers to low-fat milk?

“I don’t think there is harm in rethinking a recommendation, particularly if there weren’t rigorous data behind it,” says DeBoer. He says he hopes his results lead to further, more definitive studies.

But not everyone is convinced. “I do think that the recommendation to give low-fat milk at age 2 is sound advice,” says Dr. Stephen Daniels, a pediatrician at the University of Colorado and member of the AAP’s Committee on Nutrition.

“I don’t think the link between low-fat milk and higher weight makes much sense from a biological perspective,” he says.

Some of the earliest studies evaluating diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol did find a link to less obesity among girls. And Daniels points out that in the new study, the toddlers who were on low-fat milk were already heavier.

“This leaves open the real chance that parents may have been choosing low-fat milk as a weight-management strategy for those who were already overweight,” Daniels says.

Parents, if this leaves you confused, one thing to keep in mind is that — whether it’s whole, 2 percent or skim — milk is probably not a major driver when it comes to childhood weight problems. Many studies have shown that sugar-sweetened beverages play a much bigger role.

via Whole Milk Or Skim? Study Links Fattier Milk To Slimmer Kids : The Salt : NPR.

Most restaurant kids’ meals packed with calories

Not that this is surprising..


Nanci Hellmich, USA TODAY8:21a.m. EDT March 28, 2013

Consumer group analyzes thousands of kids’ meals and finds much room for improvement.

Most kids’ meals at the USA’s top chain restaurants are still failing to make the grade when it comes to good nutrition, a new analysis finds.

Fried chicken fingers and nuggets, fries and soda are the most common items offered to children, and some kids meals contain more than 1,000 calories and are high in sodium and fat, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). The government’s dietary guidelines recommend that children ages 4 to 10 eat 1,200 to 2,200 calories for the entire day.

Continue reading

Selling Kids On Veggies When Rules Like ‘Clean Your Plate’ Fail : The Salt : NPR


March 04, 2013 3:25 AM

If you’re a parent, you’ve probably heard remarks like this during dinner: “I don’t like milk! My toast is burnt! I hate vegetables! I took a bite already! What’s for dessert?” It can be daunting trying to ensure a healthy diet for our children. So it’s no wonder parents often resort to dinner time rules.

In our new poll, with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, 25 percent of families tell their children to eat everything on their plate, and 45 percent report setting restrictions on the types of foods eaten. Increasingly common are rules like “clean your plate,” as well as newer strictures such as “no second helpings of potatoes,” “no dessert until you eat your vegetables” and “sodas and chips only on special occasions.”

This is all well-meant advice. But does it work? Kelly Brownell, who directs the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University, says, “No.”

“By demanding that children eat things like vegetables before they have a dessert, it makes it seem like there’s something wrong with eating vegetables, and that you have to swallow medicine before you get to the good part,” Brownell says.

Not only that, but rules like this can backfire, according to Kristi King, a registered dietitian at Texas Children’s Hospital and a spokesperson with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Some of the studies have shown us that when they were put in a situation where somebody is saying ‘finish this’ or ‘finish that,’ the kids actually had more negative responses and actually consumed less of the food than the kids who didn’t have that reinforcement of ‘you need to finish.’ ”

On The Run: How Families Struggle To Eat Well And Exercise

The better option, King says, is creative negotiation. Take, for example, what she calls “Try It Tuesdays.” On a “Try It Tuesday,” parents, along with their children, pick out a new food to sample. It helps to involve the kids in preparing the dish as well, she says. This investment in the new food increases the likelihood that the child will try it and even enjoy it.

If they still say no, King suggests “no-thank-you bites” — something her friends made up for their 3-year-old daughter. It goes like this: The child just has to take a bite, and if she doesn’t like it, she can say “no thank you,” and that’s that. But typically in this family, the “no thank you” turns into a “thank you,” as the 3-year-old watches her parents eating and enjoying the food.

“You see her little hand reach across to the fork, and it kind of goes over into the vegetable,” King says. “The next thing you know, you turn around and she’s eaten the entire vegetable.”

And, it turns out — as with most other behaviors — your kids are watching you, King says. “I had a parent who came into clinic not too long ago, and I said, ‘OK, what’s our goal for being here today?’ And he looked at me and said, ‘Make him eat vegetables!’ And, my question back was, ‘Well, do you eat vegetables?’ And his answer was, ‘No, I don’t like them.’ ”

Dad mentioned he loved grilling, so King suggested he try that with vegetables. By their next visit, he’d become an avid veggie griller.

“Zucchini and squash and carrots and eggplants and onions and tomatoes — you name it, he was grilling it,” says King. “[It’s] a dietitian’s dream — getting an entire family involved in eating more healthy foods.”

As for dessert, Yale University’s Brownell says there’s nothing wrong with an occasional treat. “That doesn’t mean that the only options are things high in sugar or fat or salt. There can be wonderful combinations of things like sorbet, sherbet, fruits — things like that can make outstanding desserts and be really good for people.”

Some parents worry that having only healthy foods at home will lead kids to overdo it with junk food when they head off to college. But Brownell says there’s no evidence to support this worry. And, in fact, the reverse is probably true.

Even if the young adults indulge in unhealthy foods at first, they’re far more likely to return to the healthy foods they grew up with. “Having only good foods around the house makes all the sense in the world, and research supports this,” he says.

So, Brownell says, fill your kitchen with healthy food, don’t buy junk food, and watch what you eat. Your kids will follow your lead.

This story is part of the series On the Run: How Families Struggle to Eat Well and Exercise. The series is based on a poll from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. If you want to dive deeper, here’s a summary of the poll findings, plus the topline data and charts.

via Selling Kids On Veggies When Rules Like ‘Clean Your Plate’ Fail : The Salt : NPR.