Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Doing the math to fight childhood obesity

Date:
August 15, 2012
Source:
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
Summary:
Dieters often use online calorie calculators to stay true to their weight-loss plan. Translating the concept to the population health arena, researchers have created the Caloric Calculator to help policymakers, school district administrators, and others assess the potential impact of health policy choices on childhood obesity.

Dieters often use online calorie calculators to stay true to their weight-loss plan. Translating the concept to the population health arena, researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health created the Caloric Calculator to help policymakers, school district administrators, and others assess the potential impact of health policy choices on childhood obesity.

Select a target population (middle-school-age boys, for example) and the Caloric Calculator tells you the percentage of this group who are obese (18%) and the average daily calorie cuts necessary to meet two goals: returning them to obesity levels for that population in the year 2000 and the early 1970s (109 and 237 kcal, respectively). The user can then choose from a menu of 14 interventions: 30 minutes of daily PE time, for example, would reduce 49 kcal; eliminating one can of soda would cut an additional 136 kcal; and restricting television time by 60 minutes would cut another 106 kcal. Each time an intervention is added, the Calculator displays a graph illustrating the cumulative impact on obesity goals. In this example, both goals are met.

"While childhood obesity can sometimes seem like an insurmountable problem, there are many proven interventions that can make a difference. The Caloric Calculator shows that, when implemented in combination, they add up to what is needed," says Claire Wang, MD, ScD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Policy & Management, who led the development of the tool.

While the Caloric Calculator is geared for policymakers, it may also prove useful to parents and teachers who want to be informed about the relative merits of ways to fight childhood obesity in their community.

In developing the Calculator, Dr. Wang and colleagues conducted an extensive review of scientific literature on physical activity, dietary, and other preventive interventions to estimate their impact on children's "energy gap" -- the difference between the number of calories consumed each day and the number of calories required to support normal growth and physical activity. Excess weight gain occurs when energy intake exceeds energy expended over a period of time, explains Dr. Wang.

"One of our goals with the Calorie Calculator is to encourage more researchers to use calories as a measure for the effectiveness of obesity-related programs and policies," she says. "This will allow us to add new menu items to the Calculator, increasing the options for fighting the epidemic of childhood obesity."

"The Caloric Calculator quickly shows you that not all policy changes are equal -- some strategies can make a major dent in childhood obesity risk… and others not so much," says Steven Gortmaker, PhD, Professor of the Practice of Health Sociology, Harvard School of Public Health. "This tool should be required when policymakers are considering their choices."

Currently, one in three children and adolescents are obese. The government's Healthy People 2020 initiative seeks to reduce the overall childhood obesity level to 14.6% by 2020. In order to meet this goal, an average American child would need to reduce 64 calories per day, either by reducing calories intake or by increasing physical activity, according to research by Dr. Wang.

The Caloric Calculator is entered into the Childhood Obesity Challenge, an online competition administered by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Funding for developing the tool was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. "Doing the math to fight childhood obesity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120815103031.htm>.
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. (2012, August 15). Doing the math to fight childhood obesity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120815103031.htm
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. "Doing the math to fight childhood obesity." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120815103031.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Is your child ready? Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Issues Ebola Travel Restrictions, Are Visa Bans Next?

U.S. Issues Ebola Travel Restrictions, Are Visa Bans Next?

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) Now that the U.S. is restricting travel from West Africa, some are dropping questions about a travel ban and instead asking about visa bans. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
US to Track Everyone Coming from Ebola Nations

US to Track Everyone Coming from Ebola Nations

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) Stepping up their vigilance against Ebola, federal authorities said Wednesday that everyone traveling into the US from Ebola-stricken nations will be monitored for symptoms for 21 days. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctors Help Paralysed Man Walk Again, Patient in Disbelief

Doctors Help Paralysed Man Walk Again, Patient in Disbelief

AFP (Oct. 22, 2014) Polish doctors describe how they helped a paralysed man walk again, with the patient in disbelief at the return of sensation to his legs. Duration: 1:04 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins