How Much Milk Should My 1 Month Old Be Drinking Childhood Obesity and Carbohydrate Intake: Review of a Recent Study

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Childhood Obesity and Carbohydrate Intake: Review of a Recent Study

I think it’s safe to say that we all know obesity is a problem in this country. Sometimes we may deny how huge a problem it is, but when you pay attention and look around you realize that we have an epidemic on our hands. This is crippling our nation in terms of rising health care costs, unemployment, and a general lack of joy and vitality. It’s not just expensive, it’s just sad.

An even more terrifying situation on the horizon is the thousands of children who now face this terrible scenario at such a young age. Children are now being diagnosed with pre-diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. This is often in direct correlation with their weight. It’s not just for older kids either. Already 3-4 year old children see these increased numbers in their laboratory results. The question is: what are we going to do about it?

I worked at a WIC (Women, Infants and Children) clinic for a while after I graduated. My job was to advise parents with their small children as well as high-risk pregnant women about healthy nutrition. For some, this was the only time they received such individualized training. It was a rewarding experience. Unfortunately, we often saw young children rapidly climbing their growth charts. The system would tag these individuals and we would be reminded at each visit to discuss ways to reduce calorie intake. It was often recommended to switch to low-fat milk, reduce portion sizes or drink less juice. Sometimes these answers work, sometimes they don’t. To be honest, we didn’t always know what the right solution was. The main goal was somehow to get these parents through that something had to change. A simple directive like “eat healthy” wasn’t going to cut it.

That’s why this recently published new study caught my eye. It brought me back to those WIC days and made me think about how I would treat these clients differently if I had known a more direct and positive recommendation I could make with known health benefits. People often forget that when you work in public health, recommendations need to be simple and easy to remember. I’m not saying people are stupid or don’t care, but they may not be in my office by choice. They have to be there, so I hold them captive for a few minutes. If we can convince them simply and with solutions that work hard, that’s a take-home message they might use.

So back to studying. The starting point was to see if changes in the types of sugars consumed, without changes in the composition of macronutrients or calories in the diet, could affect biochemical markers based on health. Some of the markers they looked at before and after the diet included fasting blood glucose levels, fasting insulin levels, cholesterol levels, and the liver enzymes AST and ALT.

The study plan was this. They took a group of children aged 6 to 18 years with a high BMI and at least one other comorbid condition (hypertension, hypertriglyceridemia, impaired fasting blood glucose, hyperinsulinemia, elevated alanine aminotransferase, or severe acanthosis negricans) and assessed their typical macronutrient intake. and calorie intake. The goal was to keep this and their weight stable throughout the study.

Fasting blood samples and an oral glucose tolerance test were administered on the first day of the study. Later, they were to start a diet consisting exclusively of foods provided by the clinic. As mentioned above, these foods matched their exact macronutrient intake. The only change was switching out added sugars, mainly fructose, and substituting other types of carbohydrates from things like rolls, cereal, fruit, pasta and bread. Dietary total sugar and fructose were reduced to 10% and 4% of total calories, respectively. Is this enough to see changes in overall health?

As you can probably guess, it had a significant impact. Not in 3 months, not in 1 month – but 10 in a short day. That’s why this study caught my attention so quickly. If this is true, as I suspect it likely is (hopefully follow-up studies will further confirm this), this is an immediate and easy take-home message for parents and older children themselves. Cut back on added sugars, eat other carbohydrates instead (including colorful handouts, of course) and see your diabetes and cardiovascular disease risk improve.

Also, I found it interesting that the researchers had trouble keeping the study participant’s weights completely stable, meaning they lost a small percentage of the weight, which the researchers said could skew the results ever so slightly. You then have to wonder in a real world setting when the diet is implemented but not told that they would have to monitor their intake of identical macronutrients so closely if weight loss wasn’t a natural byproduct of simply changing the carbs they consumed.

I won’t dive into all the exact numerical results here, but you can check them out and the entire study itself via the link at the beginning of this article. It’s worth reading.

I think the take home message is this. The types of carbohydrates we consume are important, and they definitely matter to our young children. We need to get added sugars out of our diet. I’m not saying that bagels and cereal are the answer, but we can’t ignore what a problem refined sugar has become in our diet and especially in foods and products marketed to young people. For us public health professionals, we can use this research as a clear example of a simple, tangible way to influence someone’s health. You may not solve all the problems, but you may enable the client to get to better health.

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