Healthy Weight Week, Jan. 20-23, 2015: Columbia's Mailman School on Obesity Prevention

January 22, 2015

Mailman School faculty members continue to generate scientific knowledge on obesity, through the school’s Obesity Prevention Initiative, which emphasizes prevention. Y. Claire Wang, MD, ScD, associate professor of health policy and management, and Andrew Rundle, DrPH, associate professor of epidemiology, lead this initiative with a goal of producing position papers and a vision for more effective strategies for obesity prevention. A symposium titled “ A Smart Start: Preventing Childhood Obesity” is scheduled for April. Other upcoming events include a Grand Rounds talk by nutrition expert Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH, and one on the social epidemiology of eating by Nicole Avena, PhD, author of Why Diets Fail. Read more about the Obesity Prevention Initiative.

Columbia Team Named Charter Members of First AIA Design and Health Research Consortium The American Institute of Architects (AIA), the AIA Foundation, and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) recently named Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health and Graduate School of Architecture charter members of the AIA Design & Health Research Consortium, which will help fund basic research on how design affects public health. The Columbia team will focus on how urban design can support physically active lifestyles. Read more on the announcement and a Scientific American article on the AIA initiative.

Neighborhood Park Features Associated with Body Mass Index The size and cleanliness of a neighborhood park are strongly associated with the body mass index (BMI) of the neighborhood’s residents, according to research by Andrew Rundle, DrPh, Gina Lovasi, PhD, MPH, and colleagues. Findings are published online in the journal Preventive Medicine.

Teens Who Average Only Six Hours of Sleep a Night More Likely to Be Obese Teenagers who get an average of six hours sleep a night are 20 percent more likely to be obese by the age of 21 than their peers who get eight or more hours of sleep, according to a study led by Shakira Suglia, ScD, assistant professor of epidemiology, that was published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

Obesity-Attributable Absenteeism Among U.S. Workers Costs the Nation More than $8 Billion A study by Y. Claire Wang, MD, ScD, found that obesity costs the United States $8.65 billion per year as a result of absenteeism in the workplace. The study is the first to provide state-level estimates of obesity-attributable costs of absenteeism. Findings are in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Taking Antibiotics During Pregnancy Increases Risk of Child Becoming Obese Children who were exposed to antibiotics in the second or third trimester of pregnancy had a higher risk of childhood obesity at age 7. The research, led by Andrew Rundle, DrPH, also showed that babies delivered by Caesarean section, whether elective or non-elective, had a higher risk for obesity. Read more in the International Journal of Obesity.

Hispanic Immigrant Women’s Perspective on Healthy Foods Mailman faculty led in-depth interviews to gather data on Hispanic immigrant women’s perspectives on healthy food and local neighborhood food access. Having a farmer’s market in their residential neighborhood was linked with significantly higher consumption of fruits and vegetables. Hear NPR’s Latino USA coverage and read the Social Science & Medicine paper.

Nutrition Intervention Led to Sustained Dietary Behavior Changes Among Latina Breast Cancer Survivors Heather Greenlee, ND, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology, and colleagues in partnership with the not-for-profit Cook for Your Life initiative published the results of an intervention designed to provide Latina breast cancer survivors with the knowledge and skills needed to change and sustain dietary behaviors. The Cook for Your Life program uses a culturally based hands-on educational approach to help survivors, who are at higher risk of obesity and low physical activity, adhere to recommended guidelines to eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables. Participants increased their daily fruit and vegetable servings to 6.8 and lost 2.5 percent of their body weight. Read the paper in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Markers of Obesity and Cardiovascular Risk Ryan Demmer, PhD, associate professor of epidemiology, collaborated on research linking the markers of obesity to subclinical cardiovascular risk, as well as research on the role of the oral microbiome in cardiometabolic risk. Two recent papers are: "Periodontal Infection, Impaired Fasting Glucose and Impaired Glucose Tolerance" and “Periodontal Infection and Cardiorespiratory Fitness in Younger Adults.”

“First Steps to Healthy Living” Team Assesses Health Behaviors and Obesity Rates of Children Enrolled in NY State WIC Nutrition Program Research by the “First Steps to Healthy Living” team, led by Sally Findley, PhD, professor of population and family health and of sociomedical sciences; Mary Ann Chiasson, DrPH, professor of epidemiology; and Jackson Sekhobo, PhD, MPA, Bureau of Nutrition, New York State Department of Health, looks into relations among eating behaviors, activity patterns, and obesity rates in infants and toddlers enrolled in the NY State WIC program.  Findings from two rounds of surveys at WIC sites statewide show that adopting the WIC-recommended lifestyle changes of breastfeeding, delayed introduction of solid foods, and reduced screen time helped to reduce consumption of sweets and sweetened drinks.

The “First Steps to Healthy Living” has just completed the final round of statewide surveys, supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Over the next six months, Dr. Findley and colleagues will use the survey data, as well as focus group and NYS WIC data, to produce a series of manuscripts on early childhood obesity.