Fixed bedtime, sufficient sleep may lead to healthier teens

Youths with age-appropriate bedtimes at age 9 had longer self-reported sleep duration and lower body mass index at age 15, compared with those who didn’t have bedtime routines, researchers reported in the journal Sleep. The findings also associated optimal bedtime and sleep routines in childhood with adequate sleep duration in adolescence.

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Teenagers can thank their parents’ positive attitude for avoiding obesity

Teenagers are less likely to be overweight if their mom or dad had a positive attitude during pregnancy, a new study by the University of Bristol and Emory University revealed. Using answers from more than 7,000 parents who took part in the Children of the 90s longitudinal study about their personality, mood and attitude during pregnancy; similar answers from their children at age of 8 and the child’s fat mass measurement up to the age of 17, researchers have assessed that a mother’s psychological background during pregnancy is a factor associated with teenage weight gain.  Read more

Healthy Diet as Teen, Less Weight Gain as Adult

Teens who eat right may gain less weight later on, researchers report.

Encouraging more young people to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables as well as lean proteins and whole grains while limiting sugar, red meat and processed foods could have a positive long-term effect on obesity rates, investigators found.

The University of Minnesota researchers tracked the diet and weight of more than 2,500 teens, starting at age 15, over a decade.

“People with a healthier diet at 15 gained less weight over the next five and 10 years,” lead author David Jacobs said in a university news release. Jacobs is a professor of epidemiology and community health.

A separate study of middle school and high school students showed similar results. It found that healthy eaters were not thinner at 15, but were slimmer at ages 20 and 25.

And that held true regardless of their food intake, physical activity and smoking habits, according to the report published recently in The Journal of Pediatrics.

“Food preferences and attitudes may be established as early as age 15,” Jacobs said. “The choices adolescents make during that stage establish a lifetime diet pattern, which could influence weight gain over time.”

The study authors suggested that parents and health care professionals help young people develop healthy eating habits and recognize that tastes may change.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more about teen nutrition.

Choosing a Backpack for Your Child

Your child’s school backpack will probably be the hardest-working item in your back to school shopping. The backpack will be used every day to take items to and from school. It needs to withstand daily use including traveling to and from school, locker storage, and the rough treatment that children dish out on their belongings.

Quality Counts in Backpacks

To look for a quality backpack, Consumer Reports magazine suggests you look over the backpack, inside and out, and keep an eye on the following:

  • Loose, uneven or careless stitching that could easily come undone.
  • Raw or frayed fabric edges which could unravel.
  • Zippers that are openly exposed to weather. Instead, opt for zippers that have fabric flaps over them to keep water and other elements out of the backpack.

A Backpack Needs to Fit Properly

Backpacks that do not fit properly, or are used incorrectly, have the potential to cause back and shoulder strain or pain.

To find a backpack with the proper fit, follow these tips:

  • Choose the proper size: The width of a backpack should be relatively proportionate to the person’s width. For instance, a small child should not opt for an adult-sized backpack. Further, the backpack’s height should extend from approximately two inches below the shoulder blades to waist level, or just slightly above the waist.
  • Straps are important features: Consider broad straps with padding for the shoulder, both to offer more comfort, and protect the shoulders from excessive pressure. Adjustable straps are useful, not just for proper fit but for proper positioning – again, the backpack should sit just slightly above the waist and both straps should stay even in length.
  • Evenly distribute the weight: Consider backpacks that offer pockets, slots and dividers to help evenly distribute extra weight. Heavier items should be placed closer to the person’s back, within the pack. Lighter items may sit further from the body.
  • Don’t over pack: The backpack, as well as its contents, shouldn’t total more than 15% of a person’s weight: A 100-pound child’s filled backpack shouldn’t exceed 15 pounds, while a 60-pound child shouldn’t carry more than 9 pounds.

Some backpacks offer chest or waist straps designed to help distribute weight. It is important to make sure that these straps sit properly on your child. If they do not sit properly on your child, they will not help distribute weight and may even lead to discomfort.

  • A hip belt should wrap around your child’s hips.
  • A chest strap should be adjusted to bring the shoulder straps in so the arms can move freely.
  • The height of the chest strap should be placed where it is the most comfortable for the child.


From Calories to Weight Change in Children and Adults

Excess weight gain occurs when more calories are consumed than expended over a long period of time. Accurate translation between changes in calories and changes in weight is important for setting goals and for evaluating interventions at both the individual and population levels. For years, a simple rule of thumb has been used for predicting weight change: 3,500 calories equals one pound of body weight change. However, emerging research demonstrates that the math is not that straightforward, and the 3,500-calorie rule will create overly optimistic predictions of weight loss, oftentimes being in error by many fold.

This brief presents new mathematical models that can be used to calculate the impact of calories on body weight in both adults and children, and several useful rules of thumb that can estimate changes at the population level. These models suggest that the obesity epidemic was driven by much larger changes in calorie intake than previously believed and will require aggressive strategies to reverse.

To access the full brief, click here.