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Should Young Kids Be Screened for Obesity?


Changing behavioral patterns that can prevent obesity may be more effective when they're begun at a young age. Therefore, The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force urges health professionals to check the body mass index of kids as young as 6 years old.

To fight childhood obesity, task force recommends screening all kids starting at age 6

This news story from the Los Angeles Times explains that kids who are obese are more likely to have health problems such as asthma, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, joint problems, and are more likely to develop psychological issues. Reducing childhood obesity would reduce the incidence of all those issues.


The task force looked at ways to help kids. They reviewed counseling sessions and found programs that included at least 26 hours of counseling were the most effective. These sessions including help for improving eating habits, getting more active and they involved the parents.


They also looked at two medications, Metformin and Orlistat, but found they weren't all that effective in kids and led to unpleasant side effects, so the Task Force decided against using these drugs.

Old Plastic Toys May Be Dangerous

Families often save money by buying second-hand toys or passing them down to younger siblings, cousins or friends. But, it's possible some of the older toys might harbor unsafe levels of chemicals that have been linked to health problems. Not good for little kids who may chew on them or stick toys or parts of toys in their mouths.

Hand-me-down plastic toys may not be good for kids

This new story from Reuters Health describes a study in the UK that looked at toys such as cars, trains, dolls and puzzles that had parts that were small enough for children to chew. The study team measured levels of various hazardous elements that even at low levels are toxic for little kids.


The thing is, while many countries have banned or limited the use of these chemicals, the oldest of toys may still have some of them. As an example, the old legos you had as a kid may have had cadmium in them.

Healthy Food Ads Only Work For Consumers In the Know

You've probably seen some advertisements featuring healthy foods somewhere – either on TV or the internet. We'd like to think those ads will get more people thinking about eating healthy foods, but one study suggests these ads might only impact people who already do eat right.

Healthy-eating adverts only affect 'educated' consumers, study suggests

This news story published by FoodNavigator describes a study in which researchers exposed participants to mock advertisements featuring healthy eating. What they found was that younger and less-educated people were less likely to choose fruit after viewing the ads and less likely to believe fruit could be a tasty snack.


If these findings are true than making sure students and their families understand the value of nutrition might be important. Maybe talk with students about how advertising works so they can be smarter consumers.

Older Adults and Little Kids Learn about Nutrition Together

Sometimes both little kids and senior adults need to learn some similar lessons, so why not learn them together? A program from the Virginia Tech Virginia Cooperative Extension called "Food for Long Life" does just that..

Kids and seniors learn about healthy food, nutrition

This news story from Lynchburg, Virginia's The News & Advance talks about the new program. Seniors team up with children from the local Head Start program and help them learn about new healthy foods and the seniors learn something too. Such a great idea for seniors who love to work and play with little kids.

Fast Action on TV Means More Snacking

Snacking while watching TV can become a little mindless, so you're more likely to consume more calories than you need. But is it possible that certain types of TV shows and movies can make you snack even more? Could be...

Action-packed TV a threat to your waistline?

This news story from MedlinePlus describes a study from Cornell University that had college students choose from an array of snacks while watching either an action move or a talk show.


They found that students who watched the action movie ate twice as much as those students who watched the talk show.


So should you plan your snack before you queue up a Netflix flick? Probably. I think that's a good idea anyway.

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    About the author
    Shereen Lehman
    Shereen Lehman is a health and nutrition writer with two decades of experience counseling people on nutrition and diet. She has a master's degree in human nutrition and is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Association of Health Care Journalists.
    Shereen writes about nutrition for the large website and she, is co-author of Superfoods for Dummies and Clinical Anatomy for Dummies.
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