Sunday, February 21, 2010

Child obesity: It's the TV food ads, not the TV, study finds

Knowing the usual prejudices of Left-leaning academics, I would be amazed if they found anything else! It's garbage, of course. Poor people are fatter and poor people watch more commercial TV -- hence the finding that commercial TV watching "causes" obesity. Note the patronizing advice about "steering" children to "quality" programs -- with "quality" no doubt being content approved by Leftists. How about "quality" being that which entertains people the most?

To head off obesity in your kids, you don't have to prohibit TV, some scientists are advising. Instead, they say, steer youngsters toward programming without junkfood commercials, such as educational channels or DVDs. That's because a new study indicates the link between TV and childhood obesity has more to do with the number of spots pushing junk food than with the amount of TV watching itself.

University of California Los Angeles researchers gathered data from primary caregivers of 3,563 children, ranging from infants to 12-year-olds, in 1997. Through timeuse diaries, study respondents reported their children's activities, including TV viewing, throughout a full weekday and weekend day. Caregivers were also asked to report the format -- TV programs, DVDs or videos -- and the names of the programs watched. This data was used to classify viewing into either educational or entertainment, and to find out whether it contained advertising or product placement.

A followup was conducted in 2002. The analysis accounted for the amount of physical activity and the children's gender, age, ethnicity, mother's weight status, education and sleep time. Commercial viewing was significantly associated with higher body mass index, a standard measure of obesity, the study found; the effect was stronger for children under seven.

The results suggest "the association between commercial television viewing and obesity does not arise solely or even primarily because heavier children prefer commercial television," said Frederick J. Zimmerman, chair of Health Services at the university's School of Public Health and the study's lead author.

Noncommercial viewing, including DVDs or educational television, had no significant association with obesity, the authors added. The findings, they said, also suggest that steering children away from commercial television may be effective in reducing childhood obesity, given that food is the most-advertised product on children's television and that almost nine in 10 children start watching the tube regularly before age two.

By the time they're five, children have seen an average of more than 4,000 food commercials annually, the researchers noted; and during Saturday morning cartoons, children see an average of one food ad every five minutes, mostly for junk food. "Commercial television pushes children to eat a large quantity of those foods they should consume least: sugary cereals, snacks, fast food and soda pop," Zimmerman said.

The authors conclude that the availability of high-quality, enjoyable and educational programs for all ages on DVD should make it relatively easy for health educators and care providers to nudge children's viewing toward content that's healthier for mind and body. "Just as there are far better and more nutritious foods than those advertised on television, there are also far better and more interesting shows on television than those supported by advertising," Zimmerman said. "Educational television has come a long way since today's parents were children, and there are now many fantastic shows on commercial-free television and, of course, wonderful content available on DVD."

The study is published in the American Journal of Public Health.


Can Chocolate Lower Your Risk of Stroke?

Good to see that the researchers were not dogmatic about the direction of causation

Eating chocolate may lower your risk of having a stroke, according to an analysis of available research that was released February 11 and will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 62nd Annual Meeting in Toronto April 10 to April 17, 2010. Another study found that eating chocolate may lower the risk of death after suffering a stroke.

The analysis involved reviewing three studies on chocolate and stroke. "More research is needed to determine whether chocolate truly lowers stroke risk, or whether healthier people are simply more likely to eat chocolate than others," said study author Sarah Sahib, BScCA, with McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Sahib worked alongside Gustavo Saposnik, MD, MSc, where the study was completed at St. Michael's Hospital and the University of Toronto.

Chocolate is rich in antioxidants called flavonoids, which may have a protective effect against stroke, but more research is needed.

The first study found that 44,489 people who ate one serving of chocolate per week were 22 percent less likely to have a stroke than people who ate no chocolate. The second study found that 1,169 people who ate 50 grams of chocolate once a week were 46 percent less likely to die following a stroke than people who did not eat chocolate.

The researchers found only one additional relevant study in their search of all the available research. That study found no link between eating chocolate and risk of stroke or death.


Now bananas and mangoes are bad for you (?)

Claim from Australia

EATING too many bananas and mangoes can make you gain weight rather than lose it, a weight loss expert has warned. Queensland Health recommends adults eat at least two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables a day, to help prevent heart disease and other health conditions.

But Dr Leon Massage, who operates a private weight loss clinic in Melbourne, has warned not all fruits are good for weight loss, particularly bananas and mangoes, The Cairns Post reports. "The tropical fruits tend to be more high in glycaemic index and more high in their calorie content," Dr Massage said. "So they are healthy, but you have to eat them in moderation."

Dr Massage, who was in Cairns this week to present a workshop on weight loss and nutrition, said dieters often made the mistake of eating larger amounts of fruit than necessary. "People often make the mistake in having large volumes of fruit, which can be a problem on their own," he said.

Cairns Base Hospital dietician Simone Conchin said it was nutritionally important to regularly eat different types of fruit and vegies. But she said people need to stick to eating two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables and make sure they exercise.


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