New study finds ways to counter child obesity

Washington: While childhood obesity is a rising concern for several mothers, a new study proposes that providing mothers with simple facts about the risks of consuming sugary beverages during pregnancy and early childhood can help in coming up with strategies to reduce childhood obesity.

The study was published in the Journal ‘Academic Pediatrics’.

“Emerging evidence suggests that regular consumption of sugary beverages, either by the mother during pregnancy or by the child before age two, may increase a child’s risk of obesity later in childhood,” says Jennifer Woo Baidal, lead author of the study.

Recent studies have shown that obesity in young children is growing between the ages of 2 to 5 years.

“We were surprised at how many parents and infants were regularly consuming drinks with added sugar. In order to influence behavior, we needed a better understanding of the factors that influence parents’ attitudes,” Woo Baidal explains.

For this study, researchers took in-depth interviews with 25 of the WIC-enrolled families. They were asked to respond to materials from public health campaigns and other interventions (written and visual) about sugar content and the risks associated.

Many families were confused about which beverages were healthy, the researchers found and were surprised to learn that many juices and flavored milk contain large amounts of sugar.

“Parents were unreceptive to finger-wagging messages about what they should buy or drink, but most welcomed information that would help them make healthy choices for themselves and their families,” Baidal says.

“Although our study was small, our findings could inform broader strategies to counter the mixed messages that many low-income families get about what’s healthy and what’s not,” she concluded.