Monday, March 23, 2009

Health Headlines - March 23

Children's Taste for Sweets Linked to Growth

A high growth rate is the reason why many children like sweets so much, say U.S. researchers who studied sweet preference, biological measures of growth and physical maturation in 143 children, ages 11 to 15.

Sensory taste tests were used to determine whether the children had a high or low sweet taste preference. Children with a low preference were found to have lower levels of a biomarker associated with bone growth, United Press Internationalreported.

The researchers said it appears that children's taste for sweets is related to their high growth rate and that sweet preferences decrease as their growth slows and eventually stops.

"The relationship between sweet preference and growth makes intuitive sense, because when growth is rapid, caloric demands increase. Children are programmed to like a sweet taste, because it fills a biological need by pushing them towards energy sources," Danielle Reed, a geneticist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, said in a news release, UPI reported.

The study is published in the journal Physiology & Behavior.

DDT Exposure Increases Women's Obesity Risk: Study

Females exposed to the insecticide DDT while in the womb are more likely to be obese, says a Michigan State University study.

The researchers checked levels of DDE (a breakdown of DDT) in the adult daughters of 250 women who eat fish from Lake Michigan and were recruited for a large study in the early 1970s, United Press International reported.

Compared to daughters with the lowest levels of DDE, those with intermediate levels had an average of 13 pounds more weight, and those with higher levels were more than 20 pounds heavier, said lead author Janet Osuch.

"What we have found for the first time is exposure to certain toxins by eating fish from polluted waters may contribute to the obesity epidemic in women," Osuch said in news release, UPI reported. "These findings not only apply to the offspring of women in our cohort but to any woman who has been exposed to high levels of DDE when she was growing in her mother's womb -- mothers with the highest DDE levels are women who have consumed a lot of fish or high-fat meats."

The findings were published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The U.S. banned DDT in 1973, but the chemical and its by-products persist in the environment, the study reported.

Children's Exercise Sessions Often Too Short to Prevent Obesity

Too few children and teens engage in exercise sessions that last long enough to reduce their risk of obesity, say Canadian researchers.

They analyzed data on 2,498 young people, ages 8 to 17, who took part in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Motion sensors were used to measure the participants' levels of physical activity. The results showed that two-thirds of their physical activity involved short, sporadic sessions that lasted less than five minutes, United Press International reported.

"Even in 60-minute physical education classes or team practices, children are inactive for a large portion of the time, and this would not necessarily count as sustained exercise," study author Ian Janssen, of Queen's University, said in a news release. "When children engage in longer periods of sustained physical activity, there is a smaller likelihood that they will be overweight or obese."

The study is in the May issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

No comments: