Stories about: Childhood obesity

Home sweet home? How reducing sugary drinks at home can help teens avoid weight gain

sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain
Eliminating drinks like soda, sports drinks and sugary juices can help prevent extra weight gain.

Given the whirlwind of media around New York’s recent ban on super-sized sugary drinks it’s no surprise to hear that sugar-sweetened beverages add extra calories to our diets—and, ultimately, extra pounds to our bodies. What’s more surprising is just how directly sugar-sweetened beverages impact weight gain, and how keeping zero-calorie drinks in the house can prevent that unnecessary weight from affecting our kids.

Recently, researchers Cara Ebbeling, PhD, (associate director) and David Ludwig, MD, PhD, (director) of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center Boston Children’s Hospital examined the relationship between sugar-sweetened beverages, weight gain and teen’s home environments. They looked at 224 teens who were either overweight or obese, and who drank sugar-sweetened beverages on a daily basis.

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Back-to-school health tips: Eating well at school

Back-to-school time may mean a break from 24-hour parenting, but are you worried about your child’s eating habits now that you can’t keep an eye on what she’s eating at school?

David Ludwig, MD, PhD, director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center Boston Children’s Hospital recently spoke to Boston.com about quick and easy steps parents can take to pack healthy snacks and school lunches for children. Here are a few of the key points:

Homemade is almost always healthier

School lunch may never have had a great reputation as far as nutrition goes, and things have only gotten worse over the years. Even when you discount obviously unhealthy choices like pizza and fries, hidden salt, artificial flavors and preservatives can tarnish even healthy options provided by many schools. “Almost anything a parent could provide will likely be better than what is served at school,” Ludwig said. “Encouragingly, some districts are aiming to improve the quality of school lunches through collaborations with local farmers, for example.”

Leftovers may get a bad rap, but with minimal effort they can often be turned into a quality lunch the following day.

“Lunches at our house usually involve some variant of what we had for dinner the night before,” Ludwig said. “Adding one new ingredient can make it seem like a whole new meal without much extra time in food preparation.”

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Boston Children’s research in the news

image: flickr /christopher.woo

Boston Children’s Hospital made the headlines this week, when major news outlets across the globe reported on new studies from many of our researchers.

We’re well known for our world-class care and innovative approach to pediatrics, but did you know we also have a long, distinguished tradition in clinical research? And on more than one occasion that research has advanced not just pediatric care, but all of medicine.

Here’s a quick recap of some of our recent research coverage:

David Ludwig, MD, PhD

Researchers Cara Ebbeling, PhD, and David Ludwig, MD, PhD, of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center Boston Children’s Hospitalthis week published a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), suggesting that all calories aren’t created equal. The study looked at three diets (low-fat, low-carb and low-glycemic) in order to see which helped participants keep pounds off after losing weight. Even though all three diets consisted of the same amount of calories, the low-glycemic diet came out on top.

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Soda’s tax-free status: right or oversight?

New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg isn’t sugarcoating his views on soda. Citing sugary drinks as a leading cause of obesity, Bloomberg is pushing for legislation that would ban the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants, movie theaters and street carts in the Big Apple.

Under Bloomberg’s proposed law, any sugary drink larger than 16 fluid ounces—smaller than many single serving soda bottles—would be banned at any establishment regulated by New York’s health department. Grocery stores, convenience stores and vending machines wouldn’t be affected.

Lawmakers in Massachusetts are proposing new legislation regulating sugary drinks as well, though less drastic than their peers in New York. Currently, food products in Massachusetts are exempt from the state’s standard 6.25 percent sales tax. Governor Deval Patrick is suggesting that soda and candy no longer be exempt from that tax, and the additional money raised—estimated at $51 million each year—go towards new and existing health programs to help combat obesity. Representative Kay Khan (D-Newton), House Chair of the Joint Committee on Children and Families, is also proposing a similar legislation.

“The proposal is in the public’s best interest,” says David Ludwig, MD, PhD, who has led the way in researching the link between sugar-sweetened beverages and obesity at the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center Boston Children’s Hospital. “It will reduce exposure to unhealthy food products while raising much-needed funds for obesity prevention and other necessary public measures.”

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