Archive for November, 2007

In the News: Large mothers more likely to have overweight children

Thursday, November 1st, 2007

Overweight pregnant mothers are statistically more likely to have children with a higher amount of body fat by the time they turn nine years old, research has revealed.

A study, led by Catharine Gale and Professor Cyrus Cooper from the University of Southampton, found that children whose mothers had a higher pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI) or had fatter upper arms during late pregnancy were significantly more likely to have a higher amount of body fat themselves at the age of nine. Women who smoked during pregnancy also had fatter children, the study discovered. The researchers carried out a whole body scan of 216 nine-year-old children, whose mothers had participated in a study of nutrition during pregnancy.

The study investigated the relationship between maternal size in pregnancy, early growth and body composition at the age of nine years.

Previous research has shown that babies are born with a higher amount of body fat if their mothers are significantly overweight during pregnancy. The latest research indicates that this carries on into childhood, with possible long-term effects for health.

In the News: Junk food and sweets can make your child hyperactive.

Thursday, November 1st, 2007

Many children, and not just those suffering from extreme hyperactive conditions, can become more impulsive, inattentive and hyperactive from the cocktail of artificial additives found in drinks, sweets and processed foods, according to research published in the Lancet.

In the biggest study of its kind, scientists at Southampton University recorded the responses of 153 three-year-olds and 144 eight to nine-year-olds to various drinks and found that artificial food colours and additives were having “deleterious effects”. The youngsters drank a mix that reflected a UK child’s average daily additive intake.

Campaigners have long since warned that E numbers in hundreds of everyday products can affect children’s behaviour. They point to colourings in confectionary, soft drinks, ice cream and cakes aimed specifically at children. These artificial colours may brighten up food and drinks but they have the study provides clear evidence that mixtures of certain food colours and benzoate preservatives can adversely influence the behaviour of children.

The children, chosen as a snapshot of the general population, were all put on additive-free diets. None already suffered from a hyperactivity disorder. Then each day for six weeks, they were given drinks that either contained one of two mixtures of food colours and benzoate preservative or just fruit juice. All the drinks looked and tasted the same. The study builds upon tests conducted on the Isle of Wight in 2002, which were inconclusive about the possible links between additives and hyperactivity. The first mixture was similar to that used in the 2002 study. The second mixture contained the current average daily consumption of food additives by three-year-old and eight to nine-year-old children in the UK.

The FSA is now sending the findings to the European Food Safety Authority, which is currently reviewing the safety of all European Union permitted food colours. Hopefully it will increase pressure on manufacturers to stop using certain food colourings, but there are no plans to call for a ban.

Parents who are confused over what might be bad for their children are left with a simple message: read the label.

In the News: Salty food can condemn children to chronic poor health in adult hood

Thursday, November 1st, 2007

A study published in September 2007 reveals a link between a salty diet and high blood pressure. Researchers from the University of London analysed salt intake and blood pressures figures from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey.

The results confirmed that many children are consuming far too much salt. The average four year old eats 4.7 g of salt a day, mainly in processed food. Official advice is for four to six year olds to limit their salt intake to 3g a day. High blood pressure can lead to strokes and damage to the heart, brain, kidneys and eyes. The message once again for parents is to check labels and look for sodium (salt) content, especially on foods, such as breakfast cereals and snacks.