WBEZ | obesity http://www.wbez.org/tags/obesity Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en CPS doesn’t know how much sugar is in kids’ meals http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-doesn%E2%80%99t-know-how-much-sugar-kids%E2%80%99-meals-110079 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/132244825_dbf0e21d9f_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>UPDATE TO UPDATE: May 2: Early Friday afternoon Aramark told WBEZ it had supplied CPS with the sugar data. Late Friday afternoon CPS sent it to WBEZ. An initial glance shows that a single CPS breakfast of French toast, syrup and orange juice can deliver 34.5 grams of sugar. &nbsp;This far exceeds the sugar limits set by the American Heart Association for grown women over an entire day. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>UPDATE: May 2: Tim O&#39;Brien of the Illinois Attorney General&#39;s office tells WBEZ that he is contacting Chicago Public Schools about the district&#39;s failure to complete our Freedom of Information Act request --particularly when it comes to revealing how much sugar is in CPS food. &nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>When it comes to pinpointing the source of our childhood obesity epidemic, factors like fat and calories are receding slowly into the background while sugar is emerging as a major factor.</p><p>In fact, the Harvard School of Public Health says that &ldquo;Rising consumption of sugary drinks has been a major contributor to the obesity epidemic.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Strange, then, that in the most recent revamp of school food rules, sugar was untouched and remains completely unregulated. Sugar (which often arrives in the form of corn syrup)&nbsp; is such a non-issue to school food authorities that Chicago Public Schools don&rsquo;t even bother to keep track of how much they put in CPS food--food fed to some of the most obese children in the nation.</p><p>Seven weeks ago WBEZ sent in a Freedom of Information Act asking CPS for its Top 5 entrees and their ingredients, as well as the district&rsquo;s 50 most served foods and their nutrients. When the FOIA was finally answered, many things, including sugar levels, were missing.</p><p>Today, seven weeks after filing the FOIA request, WBEZ learned that the district doesn&rsquo;t &ldquo;collect&rdquo; and subsequently doesn&rsquo;t know how much sugar it&rsquo;s serving up to Chicago children.</p><p>WBEZ has put in a request to CPS caterer Aramark for this information. Representatives at the Pennsylvania-based company say that CPS never asked them for the data and this is the first they&rsquo;d heard of it.</p><p>It&rsquo;s unknown how much sugar is in the CPS &ldquo;syrup pancake cup&rdquo; or strawberry pancakes or French toast sticks, but it is known that Danimals yogurt cups contain 13 grams of sugar per serving. That&rsquo;s more than half of what the American Heart Association recommends for a grown woman&rsquo;s daily diet.</p><p>We&rsquo;ll keep you updated on our quest for data on Chicago Public School food here.</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https%3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2Fmonicaeng&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNGoYzy7NkmnMSoIdG75anzNVCJ90A">@monicaeng</a> or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Fri, 25 Apr 2014 16:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-doesn%E2%80%99t-know-how-much-sugar-kids%E2%80%99-meals-110079 Can you persuade kids to ditch soda for water? http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/can-you-persuade-kids-ditch-soda-water-109677 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Water Tasting Photo.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>February is &ldquo;<a href="http://www.rethinkyourdrinknow.com/ryd/Home">Rethink Your Drink</a>&rdquo; month in Illinois, by proclamation of Gov. Pat Quinn. And the drinks that consumers are being asked to rethink are the high-cal beverages that many Illinoisans and other Americans polish off by the liter.</p><p>The campaign to raise awareness about the health effects of sugary beverages coincides with a<a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-03/excess-sugar-may-double-heart-disease-risk-researchers-say.html"> new study</a> linking excess sugar consumption to increased risk of heart disease.</p><p>Schools, churches, and state agencies are holding programs as part of the campaign aimed at improving Illinois residents&rsquo; soft drink habits.</p><p>One novel approach was launched last week at Brooks Middle School in the west Chicago suburb of Oak Park, which focused on quenching thirst with water rather than pop.</p><p>Sandy Noel, a retired teacher and co-chairwoman of the Governor&rsquo;s Council on Health and Fitness, told students, &ldquo;When you&rsquo;re dehydrated, your brain kind of goes from a grape to a raisin. It actually shrinks a little bit and you feel a little wilted.&rdquo;</p><p>The 7th and 8th graders then lined up for a taste-off pitting two flavors of infused water, one strawberry-lemon and the other cucumber-lime.</p><p>As the kids filed through the tasting lines, their votes seemed to lean toward the strawberry-infused water. But the tasting process also left them with some new opinions on beverages in general.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I know our body doesn&rsquo;t really need sugar all the time,&rdquo; said Tate Ferguson, &ldquo;and so if you want something that tastes good and is better for your body, you should drink this.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I like the cucumber-lime water,&rdquo; said Max Walton. &ldquo;I think I would definitely drink it during sports because it gets you more hydrated than soda.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>Like their male classmates, many of the girls said they were open to swapping their usual drinks for water in the future.</p><p>&ldquo;Usually before I do martial arts, I am really tired, so I just have an energy drink,&rdquo; said Zoharia Drizin. &ldquo;So if I start drinking this instead, I think I will be energized in a healthier way.&rdquo;</p><p>Her classmate Claire Cooke agreed. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I would totally choose this over soda because it&rsquo;s much better for you,&rdquo; Cooke said. &ldquo;Soda makes you more thirsty, but water keeps you energized for a long period of time. I&rsquo;m in a lot of musical theater and when I&rsquo;m dancing I need lots of water.&rdquo;</p><p>For Abby Nichol, the contest was a little closer.</p><p>&ldquo;I love soda,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;but this is very, very close to it. So it&rsquo;s actually a very tough choice. Personally, I like this a little bit more than soda.&rdquo;</p><p>In the case of one student, the presentation -- which included displays of the amounts of sugar in soda and sports drinks -- made her rethink her lunchtime drink.</p><p>&ldquo;I usually have a Gatorade in my lunch,&rdquo; said Cait Egan, a 7th grader. &ldquo;But now I am starting to double guess that, because I saw how much sugar is in a Gatorade. And I think this water tastes better to me.&rdquo;</p><p>Still not all of the students agreed. Alec Fragos was especially outspoken in his opposition.</p><p>&ldquo;It was like drinking out of a faucet,&rdquo; Fragos said. &ldquo;It didn&rsquo;t have any taste. I wouldnt choose it over soda because I don&rsquo;t feel it would help me feel more hydrated &hellip; It&rsquo;s got no pop in the mouth. It&rsquo;s kind of flat.&rdquo;</p><p>Rethink Your Drink organizers say Fragos and other holdouts will have more opportunities for conversion in the future. The Oak Park Middle Schools plan to repeat the tasting monthly with new flavor combinations each time. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the&nbsp;</em><em><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/content/chewing-fat-podcast-louisa-chu-and-monica-eng">Chewing the Fat</a></strong></em><em>&nbsp;podcast. Follow her at&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">@monicaeng</a> or write to her at&nbsp;</em><em><a href="mailto:meng@wbez.org">meng@wbez.org</a></em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 10 Feb 2014 12:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/can-you-persuade-kids-ditch-soda-water-109677 Bill would push breastfeeding in Illinois hospitals http://www.wbez.org/news/bill-would-push-breastfeeding-illinois-hospitals-98730 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Gabel.JPG" style="margin: 6px 0px 0px 15px; float: right; width: 265px; height: 372px;" title="The measure’s author, Rep. Robyn Gabel, D-Evanston, predicts an impact on mothers who envisioned using formula. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)"></div><p>A bill heading toward a final vote in Springfield would make Illinois one of the first states to require hospitals to adopt an infant feeding policy that promotes breast milk.</p><p>Under the measure, which passed a state Senate committee Tuesday, any hospital in Illinois that provides birthing services would develop its policy with guidance from the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, a pro-breastfeeding effort of the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund, better known as UNICEF. Hospitals would post the policy “in a conspicuous place” and “routinely communicate” it to all obstetric and neonatal staffers, beginning with their orientation, according to the bill.</p><p>The legislation, HB4968, would allow hospitals to help mothers use formula if medically necessary or if the women preferred it. But the bill’s author, Rep. Robyn Gabel, D-Evanston, predicts her measure would have an impact on mothers who had never envisioned breastfeeding.</p><p>“Once the nurses talk to them and explain the benefits to the children — how it prevents obesity, many acute chronic diseases, [sudden infant death syndrome], asthma and allergies — mothers may be much more likely to breastfeed than they were before,” said Gabel, who modeled the legislation on a California law that will take effect in 2014.</p><p>The Illinois Hospital Association helped craft the bill and supports its passage, according to Nichole Magalis, the group’s senior director of government relations.</p><p>The House approved the measure in a 107-0 vote March 21. Sponsored in the Senate by Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, the bill passed the Senate Public Health Committee in a 9-0 vote Tuesday. The timing of a Senate floor vote is unclear.</p><p>Gov. Pat Quinn has not taken a position on the bill, according to a spokeswoman. It would take effect January 1, 2013.</p></p> Tue, 01 May 2012 15:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/bill-would-push-breastfeeding-illinois-hospitals-98730 Women’s hospital aims for ‘baby friendly’ status http://www.wbez.org/story/women%E2%80%99s-hospital-aims-%E2%80%98baby-friendly%E2%80%99-status-96224 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-February/2012-02-09/breast feeding_Flickr_thekmancom.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="Northwestern Memorial’s Prentice Women’s Hospital in Chicago. (AP/File)" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-08/Prentice.jpg" style="margin: 9px 18px 6px 1px; float: left; width: 254px; height: 380px;" title="The facility, part of Northwestern Memorial Hospital, delivers about 12,000 babies a year. (AP/File)">A hospital that delivers more than a quarter of babies born in Chicago is entering an international program that aims to improve the health of both newborns and their mothers. The program focuses on breastfeeding.</p><p>Prentice Women’s Hospital, part of Northwestern Memorial Hospital, is planning to follow 10 guidelines set by the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, a program sponsored by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund, also known as UNICEF.</p><p>The guidelines include helping mothers begin breastfeeding within an hour of birth, providing infants no food or drink other than breast milk unless medically necessary, giving no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding babies and allowing mothers and newborns to room together around the clock.</p><p>Prentice, one of eight Chicago hospitals to apply for the baby-friendly status so far, delivers about 12,000 infants a year, more than any other facility in the city. The path toward the designation includes extensive staff training and new hospital policies. The process could last years.</p><p>“All the staff in the hospital will get some exposure to what it means to be a baby-friendly hospital,” said Adam Becker, executive director of the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children, a federally funded group that works with the city to help hospitals enter the international program. “Then there are many categories of staff that do more hands-on training.”</p><p>“If Prentice takes all these steps,” Becker added, “roughly 27 percent of babies born in Chicago and their mothers will have access to the most supportive environment possible to encourage breastfeeding from birth.”</p><p>But the program has a downside, according to Dr. Maura Quinlan, vice chairwoman of the Illinois section of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “The main issue is time, especially documenting the whole process and the 10 steps,” she said. “I don’t think many smaller hospitals have the resources to go through the application.”</p><p>“The designation is something the hospital can show on its website but it doesn’t mean that other hospitals don’t provide the same services,” said Quinlan, who delivers babies at MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn.</p><p>Prentice’s quest for baby-friendly status marks a turnaround of sorts. Years ago the hospital eliminated many of its lactation-specialist positions.</p><p>Illinois birth-certificate data for the six months ending last July 31 suggest that about 80 percent of Prentice newborns breastfed there. By that measure, the hospital ranked sixth among 19 facilities that deliver babies in the city.</p><p>The first hospital in Chicago to apply for the baby-friendly status was Holy Cross last summer. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/after-wbez-report-hospital-steps-breastfeeding-efforts-90006">A top official there said a WBEZ report</a> about the hospital’s breastfeeding performance made improvement a priority.</p><p>The other Chicago applicants include Mount Sinai Hospital, St. Anthony Hospital, the University of Illinois Medical Center, St. Joseph Hospital, Resurrection Medical Center and Roseland Community Hospital.</p><p>More than 15,000 facilities in 134 countries have earned the baby-friendly status since the program’s 1991 launch, according to UNICEF. In the United States, just 125 hospitals had received the designation by December, according to New York-based Baby-Friendly USA Inc., a chapter of the international program. The only two in Illinois are Pekin Hospital in downstate Pekin and St. John’s Hospital, further south in Springfield.</p><p>U.S. health officials say breastfeeding helps newborns avoid infections, obesity and chronic diseases such as diabetes and asthma. For mothers, they say it reduces risks of breast and ovarian cancer. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies get no solids or liquids other than breast milk for the first six months of life.</p></p> Thu, 09 Feb 2012 11:12:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/women%E2%80%99s-hospital-aims-%E2%80%98baby-friendly%E2%80%99-status-96224 Lunch staffers to CPS: We want to cook http://www.wbez.org/story/lunch-ladies-school-officials-dump-frozen-food-95793 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-January/2012-01-24/cityroom_20100407_llutton_1648854_Chic_large.png.crop_display.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago schools are serving more healthy food than they were a couple years ago, but many kitchen workers seem to think the district still has a long way to go.</p><p>For the 2010-11 school year, Chicago Public Schools switched to menus with more whole grains, a wider array of vegetables, and less sodium, starch, sugar and fat. For the current school year, the district made its breakfast offerings more nutritious. The district says it’s also adding more salad bars.</p><p>A union that represents about 3,200 CPS food workers on Tuesday released survey findings suggesting that many students and even school principals are not eating the chow. UNITE HERE Local 1 criticized the district’s use of frozen food prepared off site, and called on the Board of Education to “ensure that all new school construction proj­ects are planned with full-size kitchen facilities capable of real cooking.”</p><p>Linda Green, a 22-year CPS employee who works in the Southwest Side’s Grimes Elementary kitchen, said students are eating less of what she serves than they once did. “There is a lot of waste because it’s just unappetizing,” said Green, who helped conduct the survey. “If it’s cooked on site you can use more seasoning and make it more flavorful.”</p><p>Local 1 said 436 CPS food employees completed the survey in December. According to the union, 42 percent felt that students were eating the new food, 50 percent reported they rarely or never had observed their principals eating their cafeteria’s lunch offerings, 75 percent indicated they had not had a chance to provide input about the new menu and recipes, 62 percent wanted more training on healthy food and 39 percent felt they could report food quality or safety concerns to parents or students without facing discipline.</p><p>A CPS statement says about a quarter of the district’s schools now serve food prepared mostly off site. The statement says that “all new elementary schools are being built with a warming kitchen” and that “all new middle and high schools are being built with cooking kitchens.”</p><p>“The food that is brought into the warming kitchen meets the same nutritional guidelines as the food in the cooking school model,” the statement adds. “We are committed to providing healthy and nutritious meals for all students at all schools. Delivery of this meal may depend on a variety of factors including kitchen capacity, facility size and condition as well as cost. However, nutritional standards are consistent across all schools. Vendors, regardless of delivery system, are expected to meet the same nutritional standards.”</p><p>The survey findings came as the U.S. Department of Agriculture planned a Wednesday unveiling of the first major changes in school meal standards in more than 15 years. The department says the new rules aim to reduce childhood obesity by “ensuring kids are offered fruits and vegetables every day of the week, substantially increasing offerings of whole grain-rich foods, offering only fat-free or low-fat milk varieties and making sure kids are getting proper portion sizes.”</p><p>A version of the guidelines the department proposed more than a year ago would also have cut down on potatoes, made it harder for schools to report pizza tomato paste as a vegetable, and halved the amount of sodium in school meals. In November, lawmakers blocked the department from carrying out those rules.</p></p> Wed, 25 Jan 2012 00:43:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/lunch-ladies-school-officials-dump-frozen-food-95793 Leaving poor neighborhoods brings health benefits http://www.wbez.org/story/leaving-poor-neighborhoods-brings-health-benefits-93302 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-October/2011-10-19/Cabrini.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Moving from public housing to a better-off neighborhood might come with health benefits, according to a unique study led by Chicago researchers.</p><p>During the 1990s, the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development paid for 1,788 women with children to move out of public housing and into low-poverty neighborhoods as part of the Moving to Opportunity program. A comparable group remained in public housing. That set up a perfect experimental situation for researchers, who could now examine how the group who moved fared compared with the control group.</p><p>In a batch of data <a href="http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa1103216">published in the New England Journal of Medicine, </a>they found that women who moved had much better rates – about 20 percent lower – of obesity and diabetes than women who stayed in public housing.</p><p>“I was actually surprised by the size of the effects,” said Jens Ludwig, professor of law and public policy at the University of Chicago. “Having the opportunity to move from a high-poverty to a lower-poverty neighborhood had about the same size impact on diabetes as what you see from things like lifestyle interventions or medication.”</p><p>The study didn’t examine why that’s the case, but Ludwig said previous research suggests some possible explanations. It could be that poor neighborhoods have worse food options, fewer opportunities for exercise, and higher levels of stress. The study included residents of Chicago’s Robert Taylor Homes, as well as women from four other cities.</p></p> Wed, 19 Oct 2011 21:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/leaving-poor-neighborhoods-brings-health-benefits-93302 Is U.S. farm policy feeding the obesity epidemic? http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-08-10/us-farm-policy-feeding-obesity-epidemic-90390 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/npr_story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-10/corn-harvest-joe-raben_wide.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>These days, U.S. farm policy is blamed for a lot of things — even the nation's obesity epidemic. The idea is that the roughly $20 billion in subsidies that the federal government gives to farmers encourages them to grow too much grain. As a result, the theory goes, prices drop, food gets cheaper and we end up eating too much.</p><p>It seems like a simple equation. But the truth is rarely simple. So what's really going on?</p><p><strong>Americans Eat Cheap</strong></p><p>Americans, on average, spend less than 10 percent of our money on food. A lot of people buy too much fast food — but from an <em>economic</em> standpoint, it is a good decision. <strong></strong></p><p>"The smartest, most rational decision is to eat the crappiest food, because everywhere you turn it's more accessible, more affordable and more convenient," says David Wallinga, a senior adviser in science, food and health at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy in Minneapolis. He is one of the people who say federal farm subsidies lead directly to overeating.</p><p>"What we've had is a cheap feed grain policy, or a cheap calorie policy, and that's been pretty consistent from farm bill to farm bill over the last 30-odd years," he says, referring to the bundle of legislation that includes agricultural subsidies.</p><p>So the farm bill helps make us fat, right?</p><p>Maybe not. Let's take a closer look at this whole picture.</p><p><strong>Technology Has Made Farmers More Productive</strong></p><p>Ken McCauley, a farmer from White Cloud, Kan., says he is indeed growing more corn — but <em>not </em>because of subsidies.</p><p>"The expansion that you're hearing about in agriculture today, or for the past several years, is all about the machinery and the easy of work," McCauley says. "Your work is easier because of machinery and technology."</p><p>On McCauley's farm, his son Brad charges back and forth over the land in a self-propelled sprayer. The machine, which looks like a monster bug – a green tractor on stilts with booms stretching 90 feet like enormous wings – is trailing a finely calibrated mist of herbicide.</p><p>"It steers itself, shuts itself on and off, so I basically just turn around and make sure everything's running right," Brad says.</p><p>The spray kills everything but the corn, because the corn has been genetically engineered to withstand the herbicide. And for good measure, the corn has also been designed to produce its own insecticide.</p><p>So now the corn plants grow much closer together than they used to and, weather permitting, produce twice as much grain per acre.</p><p>"Food productivity is more than doubled, so the real cost is less than half what it was 40 to 50 years ago," says Julian Alston, an agricultural economist at the University of California at Davis. "That's the big story. And that wasn't caused by subsidies. That was caused by improvements in productivity on the farm."</p><p>Farmers are proud of all that productivity, and it has driven crop prices <em>down</em>.<br /> But shouldn't farm subsidies themselves make food cheaper? When the government picks up part of the cost of something, shouldn't the price go down?</p><p>Alston says not necessarily. "What's wrong with that line of thinking is that it doesn't pay attention to how farm subsidies actually do work."</p><p><strong>Some Government Policies Actually <em>Raise</em> Food Prices</strong></p><p>Subsidies are not the only way the government influences farmers. Some federal programs do make crops cheaper: Subsidized crop insurance and other traditional price supports make food more abundant and reduce prices. But some policies actually<em> increase</em> prices.</p><p>In that category would be "getting paid not to plant": some farmers get federal money to let land lay fallow. That cuts production and raises prices. Same goes for tariffs – if there's a tariff on imported sugar, it tends to boost the price of all sweeteners, including corn syrup. And ethanol production, which is supported by a federal mandate, now buys up about 40 percent of the corn crop — again raising prices.</p><p>"The net effect of the whole set of farm supports is to make food more expensive and actually to discourage obesity," Alston says.</p><p>Robert Paarlberg, who teaches political science at Wellesley and Harvard, has tried pointing this out. "Farm subsidies have nothing to do with it," he says. "You almost never get any interest in trying to make the counter-argument. People assume that you're a crank if you dare to challenge what everyone knows to be true."</p><p>There are some obesity experts who agree with Paarlberg and Alston, including Margo Wootan, the director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.</p><p>"I'm very concerned about how hard it is to eat well in America today," she says. "Our food environment has evolved in a way that it's almost perfectly engineered to promote or cause obesity."</p><p>Wootan says that environment isn't shaped by farm policy nearly as much as it is by food processors and marketers. Even when corn prices doubled, the price of corn flakes barely moved. That's because food ingredient costs are miniscule compared to other expenses.</p><p>On average, less than one in five dollars consumers spend on food actually goes to farmers and ranchers. Shipping, packaging, processing and marketing and selling make up the rest of your grocery bill.</p><p>"Companies are really competing very aggressively to sell their food and not somebody else's food," Wooten says. "And that's creating more and more food that Americans are eating, and as a result, we're gaining a lot of weight."</p><p>And as a Wooten's group, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, regularly points out, processed foods are often loaded with salt, sugar and fat. <div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2011 KCUR-FM. </p> Wed, 10 Aug 2011 16:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-08-10/us-farm-policy-feeding-obesity-epidemic-90390 Report: Illinois is the fattest it's ever been http://www.wbez.org/story/report-illinois-fattest-its-ever-been-88857 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-08/obesity_AP_Toby Talbot.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The results are in: Illinois is tipping the scale, and it out-weights almost half of the country.</p><p>A new report from the Trust for America's Health states that Illinois is the fattest it's ever been. According to the study, the state's obesity rate has increased more than 80 percent over the last 15 years.</p><p>Melaney Arnold, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Public Health, said one of the main factors for this increase is the vast number of food deserts in Illinois. Food deserts are areas where residents have little or no access to grocery stores or fresh produce, and are forced to buy groceries from convenience stores or gas stations.</p><p>"There have been different studies and so forth that show the cost for soda is cheaper than a gallon of milk, so if that being the case then you know you're having that sugary beverage which has the empty calories, doesn't give you the nutrition, and can lead to obesity," Arnold said.</p><p>Assistant Professor Margarita Tarin-Garcia, of the University of Illinois, said the solution to the obesity problem is education -- and starting it as early as possible. She said parents need to educate their children right away, and are better off not having any junk food snacks within their children's reach.</p><p>"If the parents have the choice to buy popcorn without butter or with low amounts of sodium, and there is nothing else to snack on in the house, what will the kid do? He will have to eat what's there," Tarin-Garcia said.</p><p>This study, called <em>F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future in 2011, </em>ranks the obesity rates by state. Illinois weighed in at the 23rd spot, while Mississippi took first place. The least obese state was Colorado, with an obesity rate of 19.8 percent.</p></p> Thu, 07 Jul 2011 21:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/report-illinois-fattest-its-ever-been-88857 Junk food near schools may be trivial factor for kids' weight http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-06-20/junk-food-near-schools-may-be-trivial-factor-kids-weight-88119 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/npr_story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-21/112561118.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>You may think that having lots of stores and restaurants selling unhealthful food right next to high schools would be one of the reasons children are getting fatter.</p><p>But you might be wrong. Researchers in Maine have found something contrary to that conventional wisdom: Junk food sold near high schools does not seem to affect students' body mass index, or BMI.</p><p>"Soda — and fast food as well — is so ubiquitous in these kids' lives that having one more or one less venue where they can be purchased near the schools doesn't seem to make any bit of difference," says lead author of the study <a href="http://usm.maine.edu/con/facultyprofiles/DavidHarris.htm">David E. Harris</a>, a researcher at the University of Southern Maine. "If there's soda in the fridge at home, whether you can buy it near the school doesn't seem to make a difference."</p><p></p><p>Students from 11 Maine high schools answered questionnaires about their height, weight and junk food consumption — 552 students in all.</p><p>Researchers found that half of the students drank soda at least once a week and more than 10 percent drank it each day. Also, about two-thirds had visited a fast food restaurant selling burgers in the previous month. In the study, 12.5 percent of those surveyed were obese. According to the 2007-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hestat/obesity_child_07_08/obesity_child_07_08.htm">16.9 percent</a> of children and adolescents are obese.</p><p>Researchers also collected data on food stores and restaurants that sold unhealthful food within a 2-kilometer radius of each school. But when they compared the data, the number and proximity of junk food stores didn't seem to impact the kids' BMI. The results of the <a href="http://www.jneb.org/article/S1499-4046%2810%2900457-4/abstract">study</a> appear in the <em>Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior</em>.</p><p>However, <a href="http://www.goranlab.com/">Michael Goran</a>, director of the Childhood Obesity Research Center at University of Southern California, doesn't think the research has much significance. He notes that the study population was small, the environment is unique, and students were reporting their own weight and height, which could skew the results. "I don't put very much weight behind this study," Goren says.</p><p>The authors do acknowledge these limitations in their research.</p><p>But Goran agrees with the researchers on one point: Obesity can't be boiled down to just one factor. "It's all about individual choices," he says. "But, the more that we swim in an obesity-promoting environment, the harder it is to make those choices." </p> Mon, 20 Jun 2011 16:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-06-20/junk-food-near-schools-may-be-trivial-factor-kids-weight-88119 Hospital regulators let formula vie with breast milk http://www.wbez.org/content/hospital-regulators-let-formula-vie-breast-milk <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Vanessa3.JPG" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: left; width: 266px; height: 199px;" title="Lactation consultant Vanessa Stokes says Cook County’s Stroger Hospital has a long way to go. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)"></div><p>A new French study shows that breastfeeding may have lasting benefits for a child’s metabolism. Other studies suggest breastfeeding helps prevent infections, chronic diseases and obesity. Evidence like this has moved the American Academy of Pediatrics to recommend giving babies no food or drink other than breast milk for their first six months. At many Chicago-area hospitals, though, breast milk competes with baby formula. At some of them, the real stuff usually loses. From our West Side bureau, we compare how the area’s hospitals approach breastfeeding and see whether watchdog agencies are paying much attention.</p><p>MITCHELL: Certified lactation consultant Vanessa Stokes landed a job in December.</p><p>STOKES: I was excited just to get to that place to really make a difference.</p><p>MITCHELL: That place was the maternity ward of Cook County’s Stroger Hospital. Stokes was there to encourage and train moms to breastfeed. But she noticed the hospital giving them signals it was OK to feed newborns formula.</p><p>STOKES: I saw bottles in the cribs.</p><p>MITCHELL: Then Stokes met one of the hospital’s newest mothers. Like many patients on the ward, she was young and black. What was less usual was her file. It showed she’d been planning to breastfeed.</p><p>STOKES: The baby was born and then, at night, she had some problems with latch-on, which happens. She said, ‘The nurse told me to give the baby a bottle.’ That’s what she told me.</p><p>MITCHELL: You believe her?</p><p>STOKES: Yes, I do. Most nurses, they just don’t want to take the time to help moms. They have a million other things to do.</p><p>MITCHELL: And there was no breastfeeding peer counselor or lactation consultant on duty overnight?</p><p>STOKES: No.</p><p>MITCHELL: One of Stokes’ supervisors at Stroger confirms that the hospital keeps bottles in cribs and that the nurses sometimes give out formula without any medical reason. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/baby-formula/breast-feeding-disparities-sharp-chicago-area-hospitals">Birth-certificate data</a> show that less than 60 percent of infants born at Stroger get to breastfeed there. And there are more places like this. A dozen Chicago-area hospitals have even lower rates. The data show there’s one on the South Side where just 10 percent of newborns start breastfeeding.</p><p>SOUND: Elevator door closes.</p><p>MITCHELL (on site): I’m inside that hospital now. It’s called Holy Cross. I’m taking an elevator to the 6th floor to see Anita Allen-Karriem. She directs what Holy Cross calls its Family Birth Center.</p><p>SOUND: Elevator door opens. Intercom voice. Birth Center door opens.</p><p>MITCHELL: Allen-Karriem shows me around the ward.</p><p>ALLEN-KARRIEM: And, as you can see, this is our rooming-in. And our moms are here and they can have their baby here 24/7...</p><p>MITCHELL: She says Holy Cross initiates breastfeeding within an hour of birth.</p><p>ALLEN-KARRIEM: My nurses have the tools that they need to assist with breastfeeding the mom. And we encourage breastfeeding on demand.</p><p>MITCHELL (on site): How many lactation consultants do you have on staff?</p><p>ALLEN-KARRIEM: We don’t have any. Our volume does not support that at this particular time.</p><p>MITCHELL (on site): Any peer counselors that come in as volunteers? Breastfeeding peer counselors?</p><p>ALLEN-KARRIEM: No, we don’t have that at the present.</p><p>MITCHELL: Allen-Karriem says convincing her patients to breastfeed is not always easy. She says most have not received any prenatal care before showing up in labor. Even more than Stroger Hospital, Holy Cross lets breast milk compete with formula. Allen-Karriem says her hospital sends moms home with a few days worth of formula. The idea’s to tide them over, until they get into a federal nutrition program that provides more.</p><p>ALLEN-KARRIEM: Is it the best method of nutrition? No, it is not. Breastfeeding is. However, it’s the mom’s choice. If she wants to exclusively breastfeed, we do not send her home with formula. However, because she has not chosen to breastfeed, would you send her outside your doors with no way to feed her infant and no way to buy any formula?</p><p>MITCHELL: Again, Holy Cross is at the bottom when it comes to breastfeeding rates in Chicago-area hospitals. Experts say that’s not a big surprise since it doesn’t have lactation consultants and gives out all that formula. But some hospitals are taking a different tack.</p><p>INTERCOM: Stroke alert for the Emergency Room...</p><p>MITCHELL: Like Stroger and Holy Cross, Mount Sinai on Chicago’s West Side serves mostly low-income patients. Last year about half the babies born at the hospital were getting breastfed there. To lift that rate, Mount Sinai says it’s planning to apply for a pro-breastfeeding designation from the United Nations called Baby Friendly.</p><p>SAIDEL: This is the room where the hearing screen is done...</p><p>MITCHELL: Lou-Ellen Saidel is one of two half-time lactation consultants on Mount Sinai’s maternity ward. She says you can see the effect of the Baby Friendly program right in this room. Saidel says the nurses used to quiet down babies for hearing tests by giving them formula. Now, she points to a big sign at eye level.</p><p>SAIDEL: It says, ‘Bottles should only be given for a documented medical reason.’ So now they don’t use formula on breastfeeding babies anymore in here.</p><p>MITCHELL: Saidel says Mount Sinai puts almost every staffer who comes into contact with new mothers or infants through breastfeeding training...</p><p>SAIDEL: ...from registered nurse to secretary. This is a process of people acquiring skills that were not taught in nursing school and medical school.</p><p>MITCHELL: For the Baby Friendly designation, some Sinai staffers will need more training. The sessions won’t cost the hospital much money but will eat up staff time. That could explain why no Chicago hospital has applied for the designation. But a lot of breastfeeding experts say the hospitals should give it a try.</p><p>ABRAMSON: Breastfeeding is one those priority areas that are life-and-death for their patients.</p><p>MITCHELL: Rachel Abramson is a former post-partum nurse who heads a Chicago nonprofit group called HealthConnect One.</p><p>ABRAMSON: Those of us who grew up thinking that formula feeding is the norm and perfectly adequate have a hard time shifting our vision to see the risks of illness in the first year of life, juvenile diabetes, of breast cancer for mother, of obesity and diabetes — lifelong — for mothers and babies.</p><p>MITCHELL: Abramson says the costs for treating these diseases often ends up on the shoulders of taxpayers. If that’s the case, you might think the government and hospital oversight groups would push hard for better breastfeeding rates. But they don’t push. They mostly nudge.</p><p>MITCHELL: One group with some accountability is the Oakbrook Terrace-based Joint Commission. It accredits hospitals. Ann Watt helps direct the commission’s quality-evaluation division. Watt says about a year ago the commission published some standards for hospitals to measure whether newborns were breastfeeding.</p><p>WATT: Our medical experts have indicated to us that this is a best practice.</p><p>MITCHELL: But these commission standards are voluntary. In fact, just three Illinois hospitals have adopted them.</p><p>MITCHELL (on phone): Could a hospital be performing poorly by these measures and still get accreditation?</p><p>WATT: Yes.</p><p>MITCHELL: Another group with some say is the Illinois Hospital Association. I asked the group whether it would support more public oversight of hospital breastfeeding practices. A spokesman declined to answer on tape but sent a statement saying the rules should not be rigid. The statement says breastfeeding management should begin with prenatal care, not the mother’s hospital stay. The hospital association also points out that the decision to breastfeed is personal.</p><p>MITCHELL: The folks with the most to say about hospitals breastfeeding rates are at the Illinois Department of Public Health. The department is in charge of enforcing the state’s hospital-licensing code. The code requires hospitals to follow basic breastfeeding guidelines that two physician groups published in 2007. In a statement to WBEZ, the Illinois Department of Public Health says it investigates breastfeeding infection-control issues. Otherwise, though, the department says it does not enforce the guidelines. That leaves public policy on breastfeeding largely up to individual hospitals — places like Stroger, Mount Sinai and Holy Cross.</p><p><em>Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the status of Mount Sinai Hospital’s Baby Friendly effort. Chicago officials announced in August 2010 that Mount Sinai was seeking the international designation. The hospital registered to begin that four-phase process in September 2011.</em></p></p> Thu, 05 May 2011 16:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/content/hospital-regulators-let-formula-vie-breast-milk