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Research Snapshot: Helping curb the childhood obesity epidemic in rural Minnesota

Home isn’t just where the heart is; home is also where your meals are. Healthy meal and snacking habits at home could be building blocks for battling childhood obesity.

Jayne Fulkerson, Ph.D., professor in the University of Minnesota School of Nursing, is partnering on a new family-based project to help boost healthy eating habits. She believes engaging parents and creating a home environment that nurtures healthy eating habits is key to setting the stage for kids.

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Maternal consumption of artificially sweetened beverages can lead to infant weight gain

Childhood obesity rates have more than doubled in the last 30 years. One third of children in developed countries are overweight or obese, putting them at a high risk for many diseases.

Now, a new study published online today suggests that childhood obesity could be influenced even before birth.

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Research Snapshot: Promoting family meals holds promise for curbing childhood obesity

Every parent knows the struggle of eating all together. Preparing, coordinating and scheduling a family meal around the table can seem like a Herculean effort. Busy schedules, evening activities, errands and the lure of technology are all barriers to a family sit-down dinner that research shows strengthens families.

While creating a family-centric meal might be difficult, parents now have another reason to make it happen while their children are young.

New research suggests that having family meals with your children before they hit puberty holds promise for curbing obesity.

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Preventing childhood obesity while promoting a positive body image

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month—a new observance that started five years ago, but is in keeping with mounting public awareness about the problem of childhood obesity. While parents are hit with messages to prevent obesity, they often get conflicting advice. So what can parents do to prevent obesity without instilling an unhealthy obsession with weight?

Researchers at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health recommend parents start by modifying the home environment to make it easier to engage in healthier eating and activity and by modeling healthy eating and physical activity behaviors, a positive body image, and avoidance of weight talk. Their advice is based on research gathered through Project EAT, one of the largest and most comprehensive studies to examine weight-related issues in teenagers led by Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Ph.D. Neumark-Sztainer used the findings from Project EAT to provide parents strategies in the book, I’m, Like, So Fat! Helping Your Teen Make Healthy choices about Eating and Exercise in a Weight-Obsessed World.

Health Talk spoke with Colleen Flattum, M.S., R.D., senior program manager with Project EAT.

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Family dinners may decrease risk of obesity for children

Although sit down family dinners are most commonly used to strengthen a family’s bond, a new study from the University of Minnesota shows eating dinner together has more than just emotional benefits.

According to the study recently published in the Journal of Pediatrics, having just one sit down family dinner each week can decrease the risk of obesity for adolescents later in life.

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Research Snapshot: More research-based evidence needed in legislative discussions about childhood obesity in Minnesota

How our legislators make decisions depends on a variety of factors such as expert beliefs, constituents’ opinions, political principles and research-based evidence. And while we’d like to think more decisions are made utilizing research-based evidence, a new study by researchers at the School of Public Health and the Medical School at the University of Minnesota along with collaborators at the American Heart Association and the Public Health Law Center found only 41 percent of all formal legislative discussions over childhood obesity-related bills in Minnesota from 2007-2011 cited some form of research-based evidence.

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