Childhood Overweight and Obesity By: Nicole Staniszewski Cognitive Development December 5, 2012
Associations With Overweight and Obesity Among Children Sleep Poor Academic Performance Activity Level Eating rates Cognitive Function Maternal Influences
Associations Between Sleeping Habits and BMI Obesity has been found to be associated with high rates of sleep problems in children (Marcus et al., 1996). Data was collected among children between the ages of 3 to 18 at two different times (Time 1: aged 3-12 and Time 2: aged 8-18) analyzing sleep measures in relation to their overweight/BMI status (Snell, Adam, and Duncan, 2007). Results indicated that sleeping less than 8 hours a night at time 1 correlated with a higher BMI and being overweight at time 2. Sleeping 10-11 hours a night at time 1 correlated with not being overweight at time 2. Later bedtimes at time 1 predicted a higher BMI and being overweight at time 2.
Differences Between Younger vs. Older Children’s BMI and Sleep Generally, having a later wake time was found to be associated with a lower BMI. However, later bedtimes had a greater effect on younger children’s (3-8 years old) weight. Only sleeping 10-11 hrs. and having a later wake time were associated with a lower BMI for older children. Overall, children who receive more sleep are estimated to have lower BMIs and rates of being overweight 5 years later.
Why may sleep affect BMI and overweight status? Disruption of hormones that regulate metabolism and appetite. This, in turn, may lead to increased hunger and appetite for carbs (Spiegel, Tasali, Penev, & Van Cauter, 2004). Therefore, it’s important to think about the ways in which children can balance their sleep schedule and body’s biological needs.
Weight Status and Math Performance Studies have shown that obesity is associated with poorer functioning and that obese children have reported lower academic performance and future educational goals (Falkner et al., 2001). A study was done from kindergarten entry to fifth grade assessing children’s math performance in relation to their weight with interpersonal skills and internalizing behaviors as an intermediary between the two factors (Gable, Krull, & Chang, 2012). Three groups were assessed: persistently obese, later onset obesity, and never obese. Results indicated that there were significant effects in first, third, and fifth grade spring for persistently obese boys and girls.
Weight Status and Math Performance (cont.) No significant effects were found for boys in the later onset group. However, when compared to never obese boys, boys in the later onset group had significantly higher ratings for internalizing behaviors (anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem). Further results showed that girls in the never obese group were viewed by teachers as more interpersonally skilled (maintaining friendships, getting along with others, etc.) compared to girls in the other two groups. Overall, children who were never obese didn’t perform as poorly as those in the other two groups. How could we help obese children who feel rejected by playmates and perform poorly in school?
Infant and Early Childhood Motor Activity Physical activity has been an important topic to study for preventing increases in weight. Motor activity has been shown to increase over an infant’s first year of life by using an actometer or maternal ratings (Worobey, Vetrini, & Rozo, 2009). Rose et. al showed that ratings of movement and activity predicted body size at 5 months better than the amount of calories taken in. Also, Stettler, Zemel, Kumanyika, and Stallings (2002) showed that rapid weight gain in the first months after an infant is born predicts child overweight.
How do we measure infant activity? There are confounding variables when measuring an infant’s motor activity. For example, when using an actometer, maternal activity may be recorded. Therefore, this study suggests that measures of infant activity may not be accurate and in order to explore infant activity in terms of weight gain, the caregiver’s handling of the infant should also be monitored (Worobey, Vetrini, and Rozo, 2008). How effective is physical activity with preventing weight gain?
Eating Rates of Normal and Overweight Preschool Children Heavy infants increased their consumption more than middle and lightweight groups when the sweet of the formula was changed. This suggests that differences exist in styles of eating at birth among overweight (Drabman et al., 1979). Drabman et al., (1979) observed 30 normal and 30 overweight white preschool children and assessed eating rates (bites per interval) and other meal behaviors. Findings revealed that preschool children who were overweight had an increased bite rate and fewer chews per bite, with boys having a higher eating rate than girls. Epstein, Parker, McCoy, and McGee (1976) implemented behavioral weight-control programs to reduce bite rates and thus amount of food consumed. For example, putting utensils down between each bite. How can we control for eating rates? It is important to think of other behavioral methods to slow down eating rates from the preschool age level.
Breakfast and Cognitive Function in Healthy Children Taki et al. (2010) states that adequate diet affects cognitive function and brain development. Hoyland, Dye, and Lawton (2009) suggested that eating breakfast was associated with positive effects on well-nourished children and their cognitive functioning, such as scholastic performance. Therefore, Taki et al. (2010) performed a study to determine if there was a correlation between breakfast type, gray matter ratio (GMR) in the brain, and IQ. Japanese children of various age groups were used in this study and divided into rice and bread groups. Results indicated that the GMR and IQ of the rice group was significantly higher than the bread group, but only in the older groups.
What does this mean? The major difference between these two types of foods is the glycemic index (GI), which measures blood- glucose fluctuation, and fat content. Rice is shown to have less GI and fat content than bread. By having low GI, glucose supplies are more stable. Neurotrophic factors from the brain are expressed less frequently with a high- fat diet (Molteni, Barnard, Ying, and Gomez-Pinilla, 2002). Finally, another study showed that a diet high in nutrients is associated with higher IQ (Isaacs et al, 2008). Therefore, you are what you eat in many kinds of ways!
Maternal Influences of Childhood Overweight Current study examines associations between maternal postpartum depression and child overweight. Ajslev et al. (2010) states that in the postpartum period, the mother’s psychological wellbeing may be a possible determinant of childhood overweight. Surkan et al. (2008) found an increased risk of overweight children with higher maternal postnatal distress scores. This could be because a depressed mother may neglect her infant or change feeding routines. If stress hormones are altered and the mother is breastfeeding, this may contribute to the infant’s metabolism and hormonal responses.
Maternal Influences (cont.) Ajslev et al. (2010) found that maternal postpartum distress was not a risk factor for a child being overweight at 7 years old. However, the study confirmed other factors associated with overweight including smoking during pregnancy, high BMI among mothers and fathers, maternal weight gain during pregnancy, and certain methods of breastfeeding. Since these are confirmed associations and not causalities, it is important to keep an open mind with assessing maternal distress and overweight children. For example, since Ajslev et al. (2010) found that women seemed to be of lower social status with overweight children, environmental influences may also be important to consider with a child’s weight.
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