School lunches and television watching linked with obesity

Image: PD 

1. Frequent school lunch consumption and two hours of daily television were independently associated with obesity in middle school age children. 

2. Increased sport participation in males and consistent milk consumption in females were associated with decreased obesity risk. 

Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good) 

Study Rundown: In recent decades, the prevalence of obesity among children has drastically increased. Childhood obesity has been linked to increased risk of cardiovascular problems and death in adulthood. In the current study, researchers attempted to identify risk factors for obesity in middle school age children related to gender, as this has not been previously investigated. It was found that frequent school lunch consumption was associated with obesity among both males and females. Television viewing time of two or more hours a day was also significantly associated with obesity in both boys and girls.  Increased physical activity was linked to decreased obesity risk in males but not in females. Drinking two or more servings of milk each day was associated with a reduced risk of obesity in females. Obese children were also found to have significantly higher serum lipid levels and blood pressures than non-obese children. Although this study had a relatively small sample size, it effectively emphasizes the need for improvement in school lunches , a reduction in television viewing time, and  Continued efforts to reduce obesity among today’s youth.

Click to read the study, published today in Pediatrics

Relevant Reading: Relationship of childhood obesity to coronary heart disease risk factors in adulthood

In-Depth [retrospective cohort study]: Researchers included 1714 6th graders currently enrolled in the school-based health awareness program, Project Healthy Schools.  Participant data was analyzed according to gender and obesity status. All participants’ serum lipid profiles, blood pressure, resting and post-exercise heart rates were assessed. Participants completed a questionnaire addressing the frequency of their physical activity, sedentary behaviors, and dietary intake. Eating school lunches “almost always” or “always” (males OR = 1.29, p = .04; females OR = 1.27, p = .05), or  watching ≥ two hours of tv a day (OR = 1.19, p < .01 for both males and females) were independently associated with obesity. In males, reporting physical activity (OR = 0.90, p = .02) and school sports participation (OR = 0.77, p = .01) was associated with a significantly lower risk of obesity. Consuming two or more servings of milk per day of any type was associated with a decreased risk of obesity in females (OR = 0.81, p = .03).

By Brandon Childs and Leah H. Carr

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