Emerging Beverages Aim for Weight Loss Market

glass-of-water

Childhood Obesity News continues to explore some of the ways that humans have invented to adulterate nature’s perfect liquid. Strangely, criticism of “value-added water” is not as easy to find as might be expected. The idea that water is inadequate to the task of hydration has become normalized. What is wrong with us humans that we are incapable of appreciating plain water?

When someone enjoys eating cat hair or shattered glass they are displayed on television in the present-day equivalent of a freak show. Yet millions of people willingly drink water spiked with additives that may or may not achieve any positive ends. Supposedly, the amounts are too small to do any harm — which is also what medical science used to think about thalidomide.

Functional beverages

Again, when it comes to functionality, what could be more functional than water? It probably does more jobs than any other substance on earth, but the advertising experts have appropriated the word “function,” which now seems to indicate that a beverage provides something other than mouth pleasure and calories. A functional beverage might contain “plant sterols, grape seed extract, all-natural super-fruit, Acai, folic acid, calcium, fiber, gingko biloba and D-ribose, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate…”

Here is a definition from a company that exists solely to create more varieties. (See the page for an eyeful of brand package designs):

Functional beverages are beverages that have an immediate and obvious effect on the person who is consuming the beverage. Caffeine is the most common functional ingredient, think about it, you drink it, you wake up and you feel better quickly, highly FUNCTIONAL.

Actually, that sounds kind of illicit-druggy. Back on topic, this one business entity, Power Brands, has helped to create beverages advertised as promoting relaxation, energy, health, weight management, immunity boosting, digestion alertness, detoxification, sleep, and joint health. It is even suggested that energy potions can help parents who lose sleep to a teething baby.

Another source article describes how functional drinks are utilized by those in the “millennial” demographic:

Managing stress, combating fatigue, weight loss, and maintaining eye health, given their extreme use of digital tools, are among their top concerns… The belief that functional foods have the ability to replace some medications is a belief held by Millennials more than any other consumer group.

Weight management? Really? Whether because of a busy lifestyle or the desire to slim down, using these drinks as meal replacements is a big trend. One product contains protein, fiber, and 3,000 mg of Omega-3 oils. One paper revealed that the main weight loss ingredient in functional beverages was caffeine, but, in all fairness, it was published seven years ago. Hopefully, some better discoveries have been made by now.

A thick, costly, and more recent book (March 2016) titled Handbook of Functional Beverages and Human Health includes an entire chapter on the role of functional beverages in weight management. Garcinia cambogia, chromium, green coffee bean extract, green and oolong teas, linoleic acid, fenugreek, chitosan, glucomannan, calcium, caffeine — each popular additive gets its own section.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Functional Beverages,” PowerBrands.us, undated
Source: “Functional Foods, Beverages, and Ingredients in Athletics,” NSCA.com, Feb. 2010
Photo credit: chagin/123RF Stock Photo

Another Kind of Water Pollution?

three-blue-water-glasses

As we have seen, there is a correlation between a higher body mass index and the need for plenty of water, because the person’s increased weight, surface area and metabolic rate all push the requirement upward. It was disturbing to learn that most doctors do not proffer information about the vital importance of hydration. The need for sufficient water exists in everyone, not just athletes or even active civilians. Better hydration could probably alleviate many headaches suffered by many of us.

Adding stuff to water is known by the industry as “a more beneficial hydration solution,” “premium hydration,” and other euphemisms, but what is it really? Is value-added water what it claims to be?

Prof. Marion Nestle once declared, “The word is out: If you are thirsty, drink water.” Although the word may be out, neither consumers nor manufacturers seem ready to take it as carved in stone. For many years, our culture supported the idea that any problem could be solved by swallowing the right pill. Lately, that assumption has morphed into a belief that any problem can be solved by drinking the right bottle of “value-added water.”

Does the consumer want to perform better in a sports event, or score higher on an exam? Ingest more vitamins without having to cook vegetables? Burn body fat more efficiently? Stay awake longer? Sleep more deeply? There is a potion for every purpose.

Also, today’s Americans want their water fancy. At the very least, they want it to have a “flavor profile,” and even better, to be “enhanced,” or “functional,” or both. They want their water to have a science-fictional or exotic foreign-ish name — all of which explains why the beverage market is fragmented, and becoming more so.

The open secret

But even if consumers insist on pure water, they won’t get it. Apparently, there was a finite period of sanity in the water business.

According to Coca-Cola executive Hal Kravitz, at one point…

People started flocking to the purest form of hydration which was water. They didn’t want calories. They didn’t want coloring. They didn’t want vitamins. They wanted pure water.

Or thought they did, but the success of a product called Smartwater proved otherwise. Kravitz went on to say that the market accepted “some variance of that without violating those other requirements.” It is almost as if Big Soda mused, “Okay, we can’t put sugar in the water… What else can we load it up with?” — and arrived at the answer — “Just about anything.”

Neil Martinez-Belkin describes a fancy water that sounds more like juice:

In 2014 Ocean Spray, the world’s leading producer of cranberry juice, introduced PACt, a cranberry extract water boasting 80 milligrams of proanthocyandins, which the company says contains cleanse-like benefits.

In what is supposed to be plain water, it is acceptable to include “magnesium sulfate, potassium chloride, salt, calcium chloride, and sodium bicarbonate,” and still advertise the product as pure and natural. Oddly, even the flavor is a focus of dissent:

The additives pose no health concern per Professor Marion Nestle, Food Studies and Public Health at New York University. In her book “What to Eat”; she added that the extra chemicals in bottled water create a salty and bitter flavor.

Yet according to the industry, they are meant to add a sweet taste.

Why must water taste of anything at all? A very “meta” argument could be made, that we as human beings were designed to find pure, clear water the most delicious flavor in the world. The fact that we turn away from that absence of flavor could be a symptom of our general unwellness.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “The Future of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages,” MenusOfChange.org, 06/13/16
Source: “From Vitaminwater’s Roots, Many Branches,” Bevnet.com, 10/21/15
Source: “Major Beverage Companies Don’t Want You Discovering These Dark Secrets About Bottled Water,” GreenvilleGazette.com, 07/30/14
Photo credit: Hiroyuki Takeda (onigiri-kun) via Visualhunt/CC BY-ND

Saban Institute Shares Research News

poster-w8loss2go-childrens-hospital-la

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles explores an enormous number of scientific hypotheses. The ideal situation is for the various faculty members, clinical trainees and research trainees to be aware of what their colleagues are doing. Of course, it is also important for everyone to help their fellow professionals and academics understand what they are working on, because you never know what obscure finding in one field might click into place with a disregarded discovery in another.

Eyes, ears and ideas are all brought together by The Saban Research Institute, which sponsors the Annual Poster Session in June. The event is open to the public, and so well-regarded that visitors even travel from other countries to attend.

The literature says that the event…

[…] provides the CHLA research community the opportunity to spend time learning about, thinking about and interacting around the scientific findings and questions of our clinical and research trainees and faculty. It also offers a forum for participants to share their recent project findings and network for future research endeavors.

It is also an exercise in a certain type of graphics design challenge. The ideal poster is comprehensible by the reasonably literate layperson, such as a member of the press, and also mollifies the scholarly mind’s demand for order, brevity and even elegance.

This year’s 22nd Annual Poster Session, which took place on June 6 at the Saban Research Building in Los Angeles, began with a keynote speech by Mark S. Humayun, M.D., Ph.D. As custom dictates, posters were displayed in a pleasant courtyard where attendees circulate freely and pause for discussions.

A particular item

The poster shown on this page can be seen enlarged at Weigh2Rock.com. As its text states, and as Childhood Obesity News has often discussed:

Few weight management interventions have tested therapeutic techniques founded in addiction medicine principles to date.

“Mobile Health Weight Loss Intervention Based on Addiction Approach in Obese Adolescents” won first place in the competition. It was authored by:

Alaina P. Vidmar, M.D.
Center for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Division of Pediatrics, and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA

Robert Pretlow, M.D.
eHealth International, Inc., Seattle, WA

Claudia Borzutzky, M.D.
Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA

Choo Phei Wee, M.S.
CTSI Biostatics Core, Saban Research Institute

Steven D. Mittelman, M.D., Ph.D.
Center for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Division of Pediatrics
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, Mattel Children’s Hospital, University of California Los Angeles

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “The Saban Research Institute Annual Poster Session,” Chla.org, undated
Source: “The Saban Research Institute 22nd Annual Poster Session,” calendar.usc.edu
Image: “Mobile Health Weight Loss Intervention Based on Addiction Approach in Obese Adolescents

“Value-Added Water” — What the Heck?

water-droplet-close-up

At Childhood Obesity News, our wish to never again mention Big Soda is a running joke. But the industry continues to make unacceptable moves, and mentions of previous atrocities keep popping up. There is no respite from the assault upon our bodies and, incidentally, our intelligence.

A human body is more than half composed of water. A human brain is about 75% (or three-quarters) water. We can’t live without it. Clean, pure water is perfection, and everything water does, it does perfectly. Perfection can’t be improved on, so how can there be “value-added” water? Immediately, the mind rejects this terminology as illogical and meaningless.

But not according to the Beverage Marketing Corporation, or the branding expert who came up with the “value-added water” concept. The firm’s research director, Gary Hemphill, predicts that within the next two years, bottled water will become the largest beverage category. One consequence is that health-conscious people will need to transfer some of their concern from fizzy drinks to these “emerging” beverages.

Variety

Also known as “niche” products, the choices include ready-to-drink tea and coffee; raw pressed juices; and lightly-sweetened beverages containing either organic sugar (rather than high fructose corn syrup), or zero-calorie stevia. The flavors of calorie-free plant-based waters are provided by lemon, passionfruit, or dragonfruit, with a little bit of fiber to lend a mouthfeel different from clear water.

Other products are alkaline water and essence water — the more “crafty” and artisanal, the better. The newest energy drinks are protein-enhanced water spiked with caffeine for alertness.

Donna Berry reported for Food Business News:

Protein also has established itself as a satiety-inducing macronutrient, fashioning it essential for weight loss and weight management regimes.

Here is where it gets interesting. Apparently, even the most fanatical pursuers of fitness are not willing to abandon fizziness. A brand called Celsius, for instance, is available in both sparkling and non-carbonated versions. The ingredients include Vitamin C, ginger, green tea, B-complex vitamins, and guarana, which is where the caffeine comes from.

Billed as healthy energy drinks, the beverages purport to help burn 93% more body fat (than what?). Berry writes:

Further, studies show that consuming a single 12-oz drink containing a mere 10 calories can burn 100 calories.

Additionally, another beverage niche is created and filled by non-dairy probiotics, which will be further discussed.

The Beverage Marketing Corporation(BMC) offers a list of the major players in the new world of “value-added water“:

Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo, Sunny Delight Beverages Company, Nestle Waters North America (NWNA), Aquahydrate, Herbal Water Inc., Hint Inc., Bai Brands, Karma Culture, Essentia Water, Avitae USA and Core Nutrition.

Interested parties should note that the BMC will sell anyone a report detailing exactly how well each company is doing, and a lot more besides, for just a smidgen under $3,000.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Beverage trends 2016,” FoodBusinessNews.net, 01/12/16
Source: “U.S. Value-Added Water Through 2020,” BeverageMarketing.com, 2016
Photo credit: Public Domain Photography via Visualhunt/CC BY-SA

Soft Science, Hard Science, and Dads

father-son-playing-in-the-pool

Historically, the discussion of childhood obesity has tended to focus mainly on mothers, but over the past couple of years it has expanded considerably. Still, to the exclusion of boys, we mainly hear about the father-daughter dynamic in such articles as “Daddy’s little girls: How do fathers influence body image?”

In a survey conducted in 2014 among the general online public, 87% of the respondents confirmed that fathers are “very important” to the self-images formed and carried by their children. When fathers were asked if they, specifically, in their paternal roles, have a big influence over their children’s self-image, 78% of the dads said yes.

But this seemed to be contradicted by another question, about who has more influence over a child’s body image. Only 9% said the father, while 53% said the mother exerts more influence in the area of body image.

When asked whether their own fathers had influenced their body images, one-quarter of the respondents answered, “Yes, in a bad way.” The rest were equally split between positive influence and no influence at all.

The last question, addressed exclusively to dads, inquired, “Do you try to teach your daughters to ignore society’s messages about beauty?” A resounding 77% of fathers affirmed that they do indeed try to help daughters insulate themselves from the harmful strictures of public opinion.

Obviously, several things are going on here. Primarily, what people self-report to media surveys and what they do in real life is not always in alignment. Also, there seems to have been a generational improvement, with current adults feeling negative or doubtful about the effect their fathers had on their minds, while at the same time aspiring to do better for their own children.

Anecdotal weirdness and academic science

The search for individual stories, known by scientists with a more strict technical bent as “anecdotal evidence,” turns up some sad memories. In a recollection that has apparently since been removed, Reddit contributor MagenaH told of being raised by parents who believed that sweet fruit would prevent their child from demanding candy, a belief that turned out to be correct.

But as a tween-ager, the writer had a young friend whose mother had died, and who was being raised by her father. This unfortunate child was so repelled by the junk food in her home that she resorted to bringing over a box of toaster snacks to trade with MagenaH’s father for a bag of oranges.

A recent story reported on a National Institutes of Health study showing that children with obese fathers tend to “struggle in social situations and may find it harder to make friends.” Sarah Knapton wrote:

It is the first study to look at how a father’s weight at conception can influence the development of youngsters… Children of obese fathers were 75 percent more likely to fail the test’s personal-social domain — an indicator of how well they were able to relate to and interact with others.

Childhood Obesity News has written of discoveries in the relatively new field of epigenetics showing that obesity can be passed along by obese men through modifications of the DNA in their sperm, along with stray “short pieces of RNA.” These modifications affect how active various genes are, by switching them off or on.

The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute found that “compared with the offspring of lean males, both the sons and grandsons of the obese males were more likely to show the early signs of fatty liver disease and diabetes when given a junk food diet.”

Happy Father’s Day to the dads who consciously try to have a positive influence on their children’s self-images, and to those who make the effort to supply healthful, nutritious foods while keeping junk food out of the home. Also, our good wishes go out to men who conscientiously bring their own habits and weight under control before conceiving children. But mainly, we wish a joyous Father’s Day to all dads, everywhere.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Daddy’s little girls: How do fathers influence body image?,” Today.com, 02/25/14
Source: “Obese fathers may harm their child’s ability to make friends,” Telegraph.co.uk, 12/30/16
Source: “Obese grandfathers pass on their susceptibility to junk food,” NewScientist.com, 07/18/16
Photo credit: Liz Davenport (lizdavenportcreative) via Visualhunt/CC BY

Another Early Father’s Day Gift

father-feeding-baby

The most recent subject of discussion was a list of suggestions for fathering, as formulated by Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD. We had not yet gotten to them all.

“Deal with stress positively” is the name of the game. To continue, #5 is about exercise, and then #7 says:

Spend active time with kids: gymnastics, hiking, throwing a ball, or going to the park.

As an unnamed source puts it, “Soon enough, the day will come when the last thing your kid wants is to be seen in public with you. So enjoy the parks and playgrounds while you can.”

The importance of exercise can never be overemphasized. Dr. Colin Higgs has listed 15 benefits to be gained from exercise, and only one of them is “promote healthy weight.” But wait, stay tuned, and stick around for the hidden secret. Here it is: The other 14 benefits of exercise work to promote healthy weight indirectly, by routes that may be circuitous, but are often successful in bringing about needed change.

Extra points for…

All the 15 benefits of exercise apply equally to children and adults. Be an extra-good dad, and remember, when doing athletic-type things with a kid, it’s not a competition. You’re not there to win or shame the kid or create some kind of ordeal that will make them hate exercise forever. And it doesn’t have to be circus-clown fun, if you’re not that guy. Just please keep it light.

Another part of dealing with stress positively is often difficult for grownups, namely, getting enough sleep. Being mad at it rarely helps. Take a look in the mirror and see what part you play in that. Maybe it will be necessary to quit caffeine, or make some other lifestyle change. Figure out how to get better sleep for your own sake, and for your kids’ sake too.

Dad in the kitchen

Jacobsen says, “Give Mom a feeding break,” and that does not mean go to the nearest fast-food joint to pick up the day’s special. No, the concept is for Dad to actually get out there in the kitchen and cook. A dad could take an elementary-level cooking class that teaches the basics. (Butter burns. Eggs keep on cooking themselves after you think they are done, so aim to undercook them just a little.) A dad could specialize in one super-healthful, super-delicious sandwich.

One of the nice things about a complicated food processor is that a dad might be tempted to use it, because it is in some way related to lawnmowers and other machines that dads stereotypically bond with. It’s possible to hide a lot of veggies in a fresh smoothie, and feel the satisfaction of a technologically-oriented job well done.

Dads, take part in feeding little kids, and chalk it up to good PR. Like all small, helpless creatures, babies remember who feeds them. It could be the start of a lifetime relationship!

Oh, and help with the cleanup, please.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “7 Simple Ways Dads Can Positively Influence Their Kids’ Health,” RaiseHealthyEaters.com, 06/17/11
Photo credit: sam74100/123RF Stock Photo

An Early Father’s Day Gift

girl-feeding-dad-watermelon

Plenty of willing but confused dads are out there, wondering how to be better fathers, especially when their kids seem to be going off the rails, weight-wise. Here is the short version, the bottom line and the sine qua non: Just about anything you do with your kids, as long as it’s done with a genuine smile and a heart full of love, will be a positive contribution.

But for those looking for more specific guidance, we pass along some notes from Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD. Her top suggestion is, “Be there for meals as often as you can.”

This is the prerequisite, in order to be able to follow the other suggestions. Because #2 is, “Try more foods.” It works best in person, although if dads have to be away from home frequently, video-conferencing might suffice.

The concept is, the child needs to watch as you encounter a food or a preparation method you’ve never met up with before, and give it a chance. You are there to demonstrate open-mindedness, tolerance, and good manners (no spitting stuff out on the floor.) Two weeks later, the child needs to see you give a dish a second chance, and to hear you say, “Well this is weird. I didn’t used to like cauliflower, but this bite right here tasted fine.”

Role model to a child is the modeling job of a lifetime. You’re showing a kid how to be a grownup that other grownups can bear to be near, and might even like to hang around with.

Strength in union

If it’s a two-parent family, the absolute best practice is for the official Authority Figures to agree on policy beforehand. A useful agreement is the one that says, “No arguing in front of the kid/s.” If Dad thinks s’mores are okay for breakfast and Mom doesn’t, it’s not the end of the world if the kids get away with it once. To let it happen keeps things nicer than having a power struggle in front of a young audience.

Mom and Dad can talk it over in private, and decide that if the question comes up again, the answer is, “I hope you kids enjoyed that one time, because s’mores for breakfast is not going to be a regular thing.” It may not even come up again. Quite possibly, the fun was in getting away with it once.

Here is a direct quotation from Jacobsen:

Make feeding yourself a priority: Show your kids that eating and food are priorities for you by sitting down for breakfast and packing snacks and a balanced lunch if access to good food at work is limited.

A child hearing Dad say, “I’ll just grab something from the vending machine” could be influenced for life. It’s the sort of cool-sounding declaration a kid will pick up on. The preferred method is to act like food matters.

A dad could ask a kid, “Do you know why I eat sardines?” One answer is, because they have a lot of protein. You don’t need to go into a whole lecture. Just drop in a fact, here and there. Sardines also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are good, and if kids want to know more, they will ask.

The real, rock-bottom message here is that you maintain some kind of consciousness about what fuel you put in your body. The details don’t even matter at this point. The important thing is, you demonstrate that putting thought and consideration into what they eat, is what grownups do.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “7 Simple Ways Dads Can Positively Influence Their Kids’ Health,” RaiseHealthyEaters.com, 06/17/11
Photo credit: tomwang/123RF Stock Photo

And Still More on Fathers and Obesity

happy-family-of-four

In studies of pediatric obesity where only one parent is allowed to participate, in only 6% of the cases is that lone parent the father. There seems to be more effort made to recruit mothers, under the assumption that they are the primary caregivers in every instance. Intentionally or accidentally, fathers are left out.

This comes from Australia’s University of Newcastle, where lead study author Philip Morgan told journalist Lisa Rapaport:

Of the limited research investigating the reasons why fathers are less likely to participate in parenting programs, key barriers appear to include competing work commitments, reduced awareness of programs or their unique and important role, reluctance to participate in “mother-dominated” environments and a lack of programs that are designed specifically for dads.

Morgan adds that when two parents are present, it is, of course, very important for their philosophies and actions to be in harmony. In the ideal situation, both parents model the desired behaviors and practice similar parenting styles with rules and expectations that are in accord.

In 2008, one in every four European children was obese, and, only two years later, that proportion had risen to one in every three. Consequently, there is a widespread conviction that something must be done. Nicole M. King describes a new Danish/American study which “makes it quite clear that children are physiologically prone to obesity if they are born in a fatherless home.”

Previous studies have looked at families that broke up after trying to make a go of it, but, apparently, a child suffers from separation anxiety even when his or her father has never lived in the same home. Comparisons were made with children from conventional families with both parents present.

Kids who never lived with their fathers, when they get to the 9-11 year range, are twice as likely to be overweight and three times as likely to be obese. King explains:

What is new about this study focusing on Danish children is its focus on children whose parents were already separated at the time of their birth. Quite plausibly, the researchers interpret their findings as evidence of “a fetal programming effect due to prenatal moderate stress exposure.”

Researchers from the Universities of Copenhagen and Kansas formulated this biochemical explanation:

Early parental separation may be a stress factor causing a long-term alteration in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal-axis activity possibly impacting on the susceptibility to develop overweight and obesity.

The bad news here is that any government entity interested in ending the childhood obesity epidemic must concentrate not only on nutrition and good habits, but on somehow convincing men and women to raise their children together, which is kind of a tall order.

Father’s influence starts early

Thanks to nutrition and dietetics expert Adam Walsh of the Royal Children’s Hospital, the Deakin Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition undertook a study to learn how a father influences his first-born child’s relationship to food. As it turns out, children as young as 20 months “already take cues from their father’s intake of sugary snacks, takeaway foods and soft drinks.” Whether or not fathers realize it, the behavior they model matters a lot, whether it is sitting down for a family meal or shunning green vegetables.

Fathers would do well to step up and acknowledge their role model status, because otherwise they miss a prime opportunity to help form a child’s healthy taste and habits. Journalist Jemma Ryan says of Walsh:

His advice is to lead by example by setting a context around when treat foods are appropriate and, where possible, assist with meal preparation to help spark the child’s interest with food, cooking and nutrition.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Few dads take part in trials of obesity treatments for kids,” WHBL.com, 01/28/17
Source: “Missing fathers, swelling waistlines,” MercatorNet.com, 02/16/17
Source: “Deakin University research shows dads influence kids’ dietary behaviour,” GeelongAdvertiser.com, 04/30/17
Photo credit: Army Medicine via Visualhunt/CC BY

More Fathers and Obesity

active-father-daughter

Early-onset puberty seems inextricably linked to obesity, and for some reason, absent fathers are linked to early-onset puberty. As always, correlation does not necessarily guarantee causation, but a girl growing up in a fatherless household is twice as likely to start menstruating before age 12. This precocity is in turn connected to higher risk for depression, adult obesity, type 2 diabetes, and breast cancer.

Obviously, the most important thing a father can do is be present. But even that is not a panacea, because influence also includes negative influence, and plenty of girls and women have paternal horror stories to tell.

Up until quite recently, thanks to a number of assumptions about cultural norms, there were not many father/child interaction studies. In early 2014, one was done in Victoria, Australia that, while it didn’t achieve much, took note of how previous studies seemed to indicate that young children of active fathers are apt to be more active themselves. Also, there had been signs that fathers demonstrably taking part in weight loss and fitness regimes were more likely to have children with good eating habits.

Another article, this one by Kerry Hubartt, added more detail to the overall picture. About one-third of American children, or 24 million, live in homes without their biological fathers.

Of course, there is nuance in the situation. Just because a man is the biological father of kids he lives with, there is no guarantee that any genuine caring or involvement is taking place.

Also, stepfathers and other types of male presences can be very positively involved. One way or another, the National Fatherhood Initiative believes that children with involved fathers “do better across every measure of child well-being than their peers in fatherless homes.”

The U.S. Census Bureau found that “children in father-absent homes are almost four times more likely to be poor. In 2011, 12 percent of children in married-couple families were living in poverty, compared to 44 percent of children in mother-only families.” Other statistics show that children in homes without fathers also face higher risks of child abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, and childhood obesity.

Concerning fathers who stay, research from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has found that when they actively engage in such early childcare tasks as meal preparation, feeding, bathing, and dressing, their children are less likely to be obese at ages 2-4. Conversely, when fathers are uninvolved during infancy, the childhood obesity risk increases.

While some healthcare professionals see this as a call for encouraging greater paternal involvement, others shake it off, saying that a two-parent home is generally more stable and more economically secure, and those factors alone are enough to make a significant difference. If indeed there is less obesity among children with present fathers, some experts attribute that to the fact that fathers are more likely to encourage physical exercise, while discounting the effects of the more nurturing types of activities.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Fathers Matter: More Evidence on their Importance,” Independent.org, 06/28/16
Source: “The effect of an early childhood obesity intervention on father’s obesity risk behaviors: the Melbourne InFANT Program,” BioMedCentral.com, 02/14/14
Source: “Fathers can make a world of difference,” News-Sentinel.com, 06/20/15
Source: “Kids Less Likely to Be Obese When Dad Is Active Parent,” MedPageToday.com, 11/04/17
Photo credit: georgerudy/123RF Stock Photo

Fathers and Obesity

father-daughter-in-supermarket

While discussing epigeneticsChildhood Obesity News has mentioned Eric Boodman before. He said:

It isn’t just our genes and our parenting that determines the health of our children: it could be our lifestyle, too.

This warning came from Boston’s Joslin Diabetes Center, which has been learning more and more about how a father’s physical condition influences a baby. Epigenetic markers reveal that dads and their eating patterns can have previously unexpected effects on babies, even before conception.

This connection shows up in various ways. When a man has bariatric surgery and loses a massive amount of weight, his sperm even look different that they did before. It appears that epigenetic changes, which trigger gene expression, may carry over into succeeding generations. Although it requires very complicated and highly structured studies, scientists are currently exploring why and how that happens.

A man’s consciousness that his lifestyle choices might echo through the generations is a heavy burden to bear. However, a tool exists to help a prospective father change his life for the better, and any male who contemplates fathering a child could begin right now to optimize that child’s chances for a long and healthy life.

Yes, it was designed for kids, but there is no earthly reason why it can’t benefit a grownup even more, because adults own certain types of experience and motivation that are not available to children. We recommend the W8Loss2Go program and smartphone application to any potential father who wants to prepare by getting into the best physical, mental and emotional shape before conception actually takes place. The perfect time to start is now.

Other paternal news

A few years back, the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior published a study by Texas AgriLife Research which showed that lenient fathers are more likely to buy fast-food meals for their children, and stricter fathers are more likely to insist on full-service restaurants when the family eats out.

The study was somewhat longitudinal study, encompassing 15 months. One of its conclusions was, of course, that “The only instances of mothers being more lax on the use of fast-food restaurants are those who are neglectful and those who are highly committed to their work.” Another was that fathers need to be better educated in nutrition.

A short time later, the University of Alberta released the results of a metastudy that used data from 135 studies, and determined that the early markers “most consistently associated with or predictive of adult obesity” include childhood growth patterns, childhood obesity, maternal body mass index, and father employment.

Father employment is what they call a “proxy measure for socioeconomic status.” It is not clear whether the researchers meant that working fathers are more likely to have overweight kids, on account of being able to afford food; or whether employed fathers are more likely to have overweight kids because they are cared for by irresponsible mothers who take them to fast-food outlets rather than to sit-down restaurants.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “A father’s sperm could predict whether his child will be obese,” StatNews.com, 12/03/15
Source: “Dads more likely than moms to impact childhood obesity,” ScienceBlog.com, 06/09/11
Source: “Early Childhood Factors ID’d for Predicting Adult Obesity,” DoctorsLounge.com, 12/29/11
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Childhood Obesity News | OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say | Dr. Robert A. Pretlow
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