Overweight Kids and TV: An Advertising Epidemic

On Saturday afternoon, September 29th, 2007, the cable television channel Nickelodeon showed nothing for three hours to celebrate “Worldwide Day of Play”, encouraging children to get off the couch and be active. The “Worldwide Day of Play” is part of Nickelodeon’s “Let’s Just Play” campaign, in partner with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, to encourage kids to participate in active, healthy and playful lifestyles. The goal of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation is to create a new generation of healthy Americans by addressing one of the nation’s leading public health threats — childhood obesity.

So it should be simple, right? Don’t let kids spend so much time in front of the television … get them to be more active and they won’t be overweight. Or is there more to it? Let’s explore some of the science.

Healthy Fast Food Not So Healthy

Have you ever wondered if those healthy fast food meals are really any better for you? McDonald’s has the Fruit ‘n Yogurt Parfait, Wendy’s offers Garden Sensations salads and at Burger King you can even get a veggie burger.

Yogurt, salad, veggie burger … these are all healthy foods.

However, new research suggests that healthy fast food meals have the same effect on your cardiovascular system as a burger, fries and a soda.

Bitter Coffee, Better Health?

I love my coffee. Who doesn’t want (or need for all you coffee addicts out there) a cup of freshly brewed java to start their day? However, the bitterness of coffee is something most of us could do without.

Now chemists in Germany and the U.S. say they have identified the chemicals that are largely responsible for coffee’s bitterness. Their study, one of the most detailed chemical analyses of coffee bitterness to date, was presented this week at the 234th national meeting of the American Chemical Society [1].

Health Benefits of Bananas

My daughter loves Bananas, as do I. We both eat one for breakfast everyday. Not only do bananas taste great, but they provide a number of health benefits for children. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology a few years ago showed an association between regular consumption of bananas/oranges and orange juice in children from ages 0-2 and a reduction in the risk of childhood leukemia diagnosed between the ages of 2 and 14 years [1]. The results suggested that fruits or fruit juices containing vitamin C and/or potassium may reduce the risk of childhood leukemia, especially if they are consumed on a regular basis during the first 2 years of life. A separate study published this year found evidence that a higher consumption of bananas and apple juice from concentrate may protect against wheezing in children [2].

The Glycemic Index

The Glycemic Index (GI) is a system for rating carbohydrates, or saccharides, based on their immediate effect on the blood glucose level. An organic compound, glucose is a simple sugar or monosaccharide. Glucose is the principle sugar circulating in the blood; all cells use glucose as a source of energy and as a metabolic intermediate. Found in plants, glucose is the product of photosynthesis (the process of converting light energy to chemical energy and storing it in the bonds of a glucose molecule). Biologically active glucose is often referred to as dextrose. Glucose is often incorrectly referred to as table sugar – table sugar is a disaccharide composed of glucose and fructose.