According to a Harvard Medical School study, girls who drink sugary soda more often are more likely to start their menstrual cycles at a younger age.
Researchers analyzed data from 5,583 girls in the Growing up Today Study (GUTS), surveying American children from 1996 to 2001, beginning when they were between the ages of 9 to 14. The study, published in Human Reproduction, found that girls were 24% more likely to start menarche (their first menstrual cycle) in the next month if they drank at least 1.5 servings of sugar-sweetened drinks a day than if they drank no more than two servings per week.
This correlation was true for the carbonated drinks with added sugars, but not for drinks with natural sugars like fruit juice, says Karin Michels, a co-author and associate professor at Harvard Medical School. This study did not examine the underlying reasons for this, but according to Dr. Karin Michels, it’s probably because the natural sugar in fruit juice has less of an effect on insulin levels and changes to hormonal metabolism the sugar often added to carbonated drinks.
The researchers say sugary sodas also put kids at risk for obesity, which is another cause of early menstruation. They accounted for obesity in this study, and found that sugary drinks cause early menstruation regardless of weight.
Media giant Walt Disney has decided to ban junk food commercials on its TV, radio and online programmes.
Walt Disney Company, which also runs famous theme parks, said it was setting new nutrition standards to tackle America’s growing problem of child obesity.
US First Lady Michelle Obama described the initiative as a “game changer”.
However, the new rules will not come into effect until 2015, and much will depend on how Disney defines junk food.
Makers of junk food and sugary drinks spend about $1 billion a year on commercials directed at children under 12 years.
Walt Disney has decided to ban junk food commercials on its TV, radio and online programmes
Disney said that any cereals with 10 grams or more of sugar per serving or a full meal with more than 600 calories would not be advertised.
Sugary drinks and high sodium products would also be off the air, the company said.
CEO Bob Iger acknowledged there might be a short-term dip in advertising revenue, but added that the company would adjust and create new products that meet standards.
Michelle Obama, an active campaigner to curb child obesity, welcomed the plan.
“Just a few years ago if you had told me or any other mom or dad in America that our kids wouldn’t see a single ad for junk food while they watched their favorite cartoons on a major TV network, we wouldn’t have believed you,” Michelle Obama was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.
Recent studies have shown that almost a third of America’s children are overweight or obese.
Inevitably, there is skepticism about Disney’s move.
Still, it is all part of a growing campaign to fight obesity.
Last week, in the first move of its kind by an American city, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed to ban sales of super-sized sugary drinks in restaurants, delis, cinemas and sports arenas.
An eight-year-old boy, third grade student from Cleveland Heights, Ohio, has been removed from his home after he grew to 218 pounds, weighing nearly as much as four of his age children.
The boy was put in foster care by social workers from the Department of Children and Family Services because his mother isn’t doing enough to control his weight, the state agency says.
The “severely obese” boy requires so much medical attention, the state agency is considering getting a personal trainer to visit his foster home so he can lose weight.
The child, whose name was not made public, is otherwise a normal elementary school student who participates in school activities and makes the honor roll, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
The average weight for an eight-year-old boy is 57 pounds – about one quarter of what the Ohio boy weighs.
Ohio social workers said the child’s mother is neglecting her son because she’s not doing enough to bring his weight down.
“This child’s problem was so severe that we had to take custody,” Mary Louise Madigan, a spokeswoman for the Department of Children and Family Services, told the Plain Dealer.
But the mother, who was also not identified, said she has worked hard to get her son to shed pounds. She just hasn’t been able to get him to keep it off.
“Of course I love him. Of course I want him to lose weight. It’s a lifestyle change, and they are trying to make it seem like I am not embracing that. It is very hard, but I am trying,” the mother told the Plain Dealer.
The case has set off debates about the point at which childhood weight problems become child abuse, especially when nearly 20% of children aged 6 to 11 are obese.
Dr. David Ludwig, a Harvard University pediatric obesity expert, says severe obesity in children can cause diabetes, cholesterol problems, sleep apnea and other conditions that could dramatically shorten the child's lifespan
Dr. David Ludwig, a Harvard University pediatric obesity expert, says severe obesity in children can cause diabetes, cholesterol problems, sleep apnea and other conditions that could dramatically shorten the child’s lifespan.
Arthur Caplan, a University of Pennsylvania ethicist, said obesity isn’t like other things that have been labeled child abuse.
“A third of kids are fat. We aren’t going to move them all to foster care. We can’t afford it, and I’m not sure there are enough foster parents to do it,” Arthur Caplan told the Plain Dealer.