Connect with us

News

Asthma May Contribute To Childhood Obesity Epidemic

Published

on

Toddlers with asthma are more likely to become obese children, according to an international study led by USC scientists.

The finding is a turnabout for children’s health as obesity has often been seen as a precursor to asthma in children, not the other way around. The study, conducted by a team of 40 scientists including researchers at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, was recently published in the European Respiratory Journal.

This is the largest study yet about early-onset asthma and obesity. It focused on more than 20,000 youths across Europe. It shows that, beyond wheezing and shortness of breath, asthma can lead to bodies that make young people more susceptible to other health problems later in life.

Lida Chatzi, the senior author and professor of preventive medicine at USC, says asthma and obesity pack a one-two punch against children’s health, which raises concern about a public health crisis due to their prevalence.

“We care about this issue because asthma affects approximately 6.5 million children — about one in 10 — in the United States,” Chatzi said.

“It’s a chronic childhood disorder and if it increases the risk of obesity, we can advise parents and physicians on how to treat it and intervene to help young children grow up to enjoy healthy, adult lives.”

For two decades, scientists have documented the parallel epidemics of childhood asthma and obesity, with focus on how obesity is a risk factor for asthma. In adults, obesity is an important risk factor for new asthma, especially among women, but the relationships appear to differ in children. Few studies look at the problem the other way around to understand how asthma contributes to obesity in kids, which prompted scientists to undertake this research.

Drawing upon big data on children’s health collected across Europe, the scientists investigated 21,130 children born between 1990 and 2008 across nine countries, including Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

The children were diagnosed by physicians with asthma at 3 to 4 years old and the scientists followed toddlers into childhood up to 8 years of age. Their goal was to focus on health risks of early-onset asthma.

On average, the scientists found that children diagnosed with asthma had a 66 percent higher risk of becoming obese than those without an asthma diagnosis. For children with persistent wheezing symptoms, their risk of developing obesity was 50 percent greater compared to children without such symptoms. Children with active asthma were nearly twice as likely to develop obesity than those without asthma and wheezing, according to the study. The findings are consistent with previous, but smaller, longitudinal studies conducted in the United States that observed asthma increased the risk of obesity.

The causal direction between asthma and obesity is not well understood. Asthma is regarded as a barrier to children’s physical activity that might lead to accumulation of fat in the body, while higher doses of inhaled corticosteroids had been hypothesized to increase risk of obesity in children with asthma. According to the study, children with asthma who used medication had the strongest risk of developing obesity.

Since both asthma and obesity have their origins early in life, it is possible that the asthma-obesity association is also established in this critical time window of child development. Previous studies have shown that in utero exposures, such as prenatal diet or maternal obesity, are associated with increased risk of both disorders.

“Asthma may contribute to the obesity epidemic. We urgently need to know if prevention and adequate treatment of asthma can reduce the trajectory toward obesity,” said Frank Gilliland, professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine, who participated in the study.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 40 percent of Americans, or 93 million, are obese. The estimated annual medical cost of obesity nationwide was $147 billion in 2008, the CDC estimates. Obesity is linked to diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke.

The CDC reports the number of people with asthma in the United States is growing every year. About one in 12 Americans is afflicted with the illness. In smoggy places, like California’s San Joaquin Valley, about 1 in 6 children suffer from asthma, the highest rate in the country.

In Europe, 1 in 8 people die due to lung diseases — or about one person per minute. It includes well-known diseases like asthma and lung cancer and other less-known diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which is now the third most common cause of death, according to the European Respiratory Society.

News

Parents, Kids Spend More Time Discussing How To Use Mobile Technology Than Talking About Content

Published

on

ANN ARBOR—Most parents would agree that one of the of the biggest modern parenting challenges is monitoring a child’s online activity.

A new study appearing in the Journal of Child and Family Studies found that parents spend more time talking with kids about the mechanics of using their mobile devices than they do about what their kids watch and download on those devices.

The findings came from a small, recent study of 75 children and their families, led by researcher Sarah Domoff, then a postdoctoral fellow at University of Michigan Center for Human Growth and Development. The children wore recording devices at home, which recorded talking, conversations or other sounds nearby, as well as audible screen media use.

Domoff, now an assistant professor at Central Michigan University, said the findings revealed some concerning trends in how families and children communicate about media today. Specifically, the researchers observed minimal conversation about the content of programming that children were watching.

Additionally, they learned that other family members appear to play an important role when content is discussed. Children––not parents––initiated most conversations about content, and older siblings played a much bigger role than parents in content mediation for younger siblings. Also, the study found that children as young as toddlers were exposed to multiple media sources at one time, or media multitasking.

Other findings include:

  • Negotiations and conflict are common among parents and children.
  • Parallel family media use is common, meaning different family members use their own devices at the same time.

“One of the most challenging aspects of parenting today is being aware of what children are exposed to online, particularly content delivered via mobile devices,” Domoff said.

“Thus, it is critical that parents utilize privacy settings and restrictions to protect children from certain content. Ideally, this would occur before the child received their own mobile device.”

Domoff recommends developing a family media plan. In 2016, The American Academy of Pediatrics released a tool that helps families set different goals and media use rules based on individual needs, she said.

It’s also troubling that some apps downloaded by children include advertising or request in-app purchases, she said. Parents can identify these apps by using Common Sense Media’s app review.

Parents can also recruit older children to help younger siblings make good content choices.

The study aimed to identify themes of parental mediation and family communication around mobile media devices. There’s a dearth of scientific data in this area compared to television and video games, but studies show that parental mediation leads to better outcomes for children.

Continue Reading

News

Internet Therapy Apps Reduce Depression Symptoms

Published

on

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — In a sweeping new study, Indiana University psychologists have found that a series of self-guided, internet-based therapy platforms effectively reduce depression.

The work, which reviewed 21 pre-existing studies with a total of 4,781 participants, was published in the November issue of the Journal of Medical Internet Research. The study was led by Lorenzo Lorenzo-Luaces, an assistant professor of clinical psychology in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.

In the past several years, many internet-based apps and websites have made claims to treat depression. The subjects of the IU study were specifically those applications that provide treatment with cognitive behavioral therapy, a form of psychotherapy that focuses on changing thought patterns and behavior to alleviate symptoms of depression and other mental disorders.

Previous studies had examined the effectiveness of individual internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy apps, or iCBT, using a range of methods. Until this study, however, no review had examined whether the effects of these treatments were inflated by excluding patients with more severe depression or additional conditions such as anxiety or alcohol abuse.

“Before this study, I thought past studies were probably focused on people with very mild depression, those who did not have other mental health problems, and were at low risk for suicide,” Lorenzo-Luaces said.

“To my surprise, that was not the case. The science suggests that these apps and platforms can help a large number of people.”

For Lorenzo-Luaces, internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy apps are an important new tool for addressing a major public health issue: that individuals with mental health disorders like depression far outnumber the mental health providers available to treat them.

“Close to one in four people meet the criteria for major depressive disorder,” he said.

“If you include people with minor depression or who have been depressed for a week or a month with a few symptoms, the number grows, exceeding the number of psychologists who can serve them.”

People with depression are also expensive for the health care system, he added.

“They tend to visit primary-care physicians more often than others,” Lorenzo-Luaces said.

“They have more medical problems, and their depression sometimes gets in the way of their taking their medication for other medical problems.”

By conducting a “meta-regression analysis” of 21 studies, Lorenzo-Luaces and collaborators decisively determined that internet-based therapy platforms effectively alleviate depression. A central question was determining whether previous studies distorted the strength of these systems’ effects by excluding people with severe depression.

The conclusion was that the apps worked in cases of mild, moderate and severe depression.

Many of the studies in the analysis compared use of internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy apps to placement on a wait list for therapy or the use of a “fake app” that made weak recommendations to the user. In these cases, the iCBT apps worked significantly better.

“This is not to say that you should stop taking your medication and go to the nearest app store,” added Lorenzo-Luaces, who said both face-to-face therapy and antidepressants may still prove to be more effective than the iCBT apps alone.

“People tend to do better when they have a little bit of guidance,” he said. But he added that a 10- to 15-minute check-in may be sufficient for many people, freeing health care providers to see more patients.

App-based therapy also has an advantage in situations where access to face-to-face therapy is limited due to logistical barriers, such as long distances in rural areas or inflexible work schedules.

“ICBT apps take the methods we have learned and make them available to the many people who could benefit from them,” Lorenzo-Luaces said.

“It’s an exciting development.”

 

Continue Reading

News

New Study Finds Employee Incentives Can Lead To Unethical Behavior In The Workplace

Published

on

Considering end-of-year bonuses for your employees? Supervisors be forewarned, a new study finds that while incentive rewards can help motivate and increase employee performance it can also lead to unethical behavior in the workplace.

“Goal fixation can have a profound impact on employee behavior, and the damaging effects appear to be growing stronger in today’s competitive business landscape,” says Bill Becker, co-author of the study and associate professor of management in the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech.

The study, “The effects of goals and pay structure on managerial reporting dishonesty,” provides valuable insight into the relationship between pay structures and motivation.

Findings suggest that setting compensation goals can increase dishonesty when managers are also paid a bonus for hitting certain targets.

“These unintended negative consequences can lead to dishonesty, unethical behavior, increased risk-taking, escalation of commitment, and depletion of self-control,” says Becker.

The study points to observations of unethical behaviors in the workplace that include employees falsifying or manipulating financial reporting information as well as time and expense reports.

For example, service professionals such as auditors, contractors, lawyers, and consultants who report hours billed against a target budget is often based on a fixed contract price.

“This causes potential for both under-reporting and over-reporting costs, which can undermine organizational objectives and negatively impact the interest of the firm,” says Becker.

“Using purely monetary incentives is almost always a double edged sword.”

Continue Reading

Like Us on Facebook

Trending Posts

News23 hours ago

Parents, Kids Spend More Time Discussing How To Use Mobile Technology Than Talking About Content

ANN ARBOR—Most parents would agree that one of the of the biggest modern parenting challenges is monitoring a child’s online...

News23 hours ago

Internet Therapy Apps Reduce Depression Symptoms

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — In a sweeping new study, Indiana University psychologists have found that a series of self-guided, internet-based therapy...

News23 hours ago

New Study Finds Employee Incentives Can Lead To Unethical Behavior In The Workplace

Considering end-of-year bonuses for your employees? Supervisors be forewarned, a new study finds that while incentive rewards can help motivate...

News23 hours ago

Trying To Get People To Agree? Skip The French Restaurant And Go Out For Chinese Food

Why sharing a plate leads to better negotiation outcomes? Here’s a new negotiating tactic: enjoy a family-style meal with your...

News23 hours ago

Review Confirms Food Cravings Can Be Reduced

BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA — Food craving, the intense desire to eat certain foods, can sabotage efforts to maintain healthy eating habits...

News2 days ago

Study Points To Optimal Blood Pressure Treatment For Stroke Patients

Aggressive treatment of hypertension in stroke patients could do more harm than good in the long term, according to a new...

News2 days ago

Study Identifies A Key Cellular Mechanism That Triggers Pneumonia In Humans

The situation is relatively common, especially in winter. You come down with the flu, which lasts longer than usual. A...

Trending