Just Big Boned

Kevin Lewis

March 13, 2010

Youngsters Trade Bagels And Butter For Cucumbers And Carrots

Steve Bogira
Health Affairs, March 2010, Pages 491-497

"Nine-year-old Zaraya Thomas is sitting on a couch in her living room one winter evening, awaiting dinner. Zaraya and her family live in a townhome in Essex, Maryland, a suburb of Baltimore. Zaraya has a playful smile and an animated manner. She is an African American with spiky dreadlocks fashioned by her mother. Her face is full, her arms are chubby. She is tall and heavy for a nine-year-old-four-foot-seven, 139 pounds. Her body mass index - 32 - is in the ninety-ninth percentile for her age. At school, 'People be cracking jokes on me and everybody thinks it's funny,' she says. 'One boy said that if I sit on a swing, I'm gonna make the whole swing set crash down.' But Zaraya says she faces real obstacles to losing weight - such as a longstanding sweet tooth. 'I love cakes, I love pie, I love ice cream,' she says. 'And I just love whipped cream.' Several miles away, in another Baltimore suburb, Dundalk, ten-year-old Austin Schaefer is also battling his weight. Austin, who is white, has a broad face dominated by square-framed glasses, and he sports a stud in one earlobe. He is five-foot-four - towering for a ten-year-old - but even on that long frame, his weight of 166 pounds gives him a BMI of 29, the ninety-ninth percentile for his age. He, too, has borne the taunts of classmates because of his weight, he acknowledges on another evening. 'I just want to lose some pounds and keep myself healthy,' he says. But he, too, faces obstacles - including a division of opinion among his parents as to how serious his weight issues really are. Austin's mother, Melody, first voiced concerns about Austin's weight to his pediatrician. Austin's father, Joe, questions the whole business. 'I don't necessarily believe that Austin has a problem with his weight,' he says, noting that he has 'a little bit of a belly' himself. 'Everybody in both of our families has been tall, so I'm thinking he's just gonna be a thicker guy,' Joe says...'I love most foods they tell me I can't eat,' Zaraya says in her living room. 'Like macaroni and cheese. Especially her macaroni and cheese,' she says, nudging her mother. Nikita sheepishly admits to putting red-light quantities of shredded cheese in the offending dish, and then topping everything with a layer of sliced Colby or sharp cheddar - with a stick of butter and some eggs thrown in as well. Zaraya closes her eyes and groans longingly as her mother lists the ingredients...'Everything in my school is a red,' Zaraya says. 'Red, red, red. Chicken nuggets. Mozzarella sticks. Pizza. Fat, fat, fat.' And there's little chance in school to work any of this off. She likes gym, but she has it just once a week. Recess has grown shorter as she's gotten older, and her fellow fourth-graders roll their eyes at any recess activity that entails moving...Austin's father, Joe, a 29-year-old machine operator whose scalp is shaved and tattooed, is six-foot-two and weighs 230 pounds. 'I'd actually like twenty more pounds, just spread out,' he says. Melody protests. 'I don't want Austin to turn out like us, and think it's OK to eat all that butter and salt.' She gestures at Joe. 'He eats Tastykakes' - a line of cupcakes, pies, and donuts - 'sometimes three or four in a sitting.' 'I had four before dinner tonight,' Joe boasts with a wry grin."


Body Objectification, MTV, and Psychological Outcomes Among Female Adolescents

Shelly Grabe & Janet Shibley Hyde
Journal of Applied Social Psychology, December 2009, Pages 2840-2858

In response to the American Psychological Association's Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls, the present study explored the role of sexually objectifying media-in this case, music television-in a host of psychological consequences among a community sample of adolescents girls (M age = 13 years). Objectification theory posits that the consequences of sexual objectification involve the process of self-objectification. As such, we hypothesized that music television consumption would first and foremost be associated with self-objectification, which would, in turn, predict a number of body-related consequences. The findings support a model in which self-objectification mediates a direct relation between music television viewing and body esteem, dieting, depressive symptoms, anxiety, and confidence in math ability.


The Attractive Female Body Weight and Female Body Dissatisfaction in 26 Countries Across 10 World Regions: Results of the International Body Project I

Viren Swami et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, March 2010, Pages 309-325

This study reports results from the first International Body Project (IBP-I), which surveyed 7,434 individuals in 10 major world regions about body weight ideals and body dissatisfaction. Participants completed the female Contour Drawing Figure Rating Scale (CDFRS) and self-reported their exposure to Western and local media. Results indicated there were significant cross-regional differences in the ideal female figure and body dissatisfaction, but effect sizes were small across high-socioeconomic-status (SES) sites. Within cultures, heavier bodies were preferred in low-SES sites compared to high-SES sites in Malaysia and South Africa (ds = 1.94-2.49) but not in Austria. Participant age, body mass index (BMI), and Western media exposure predicted body weight ideals. BMI and Western media exposure predicted body dissatisfaction among women. Our results show that body dissatisfaction and desire for thinness is commonplace in high-SES settings across world regions, highlighting the need for international attention to this problem.


Trends In Snacking Among U.S. Children

Carmen Piernas & Barry Popkin
Health Affairs, March 2010, Pages 398-404

Nationally representative surveys of food intake in U.S. children show large increases in snacking between the 1989-91 to 1994-98 and 1994-98 to 2003-06 periods. Childhood snacking trends are moving toward three snacks per day, and more than 27 percent of children's daily calories are coming from snacks. The largest increases have been in salty snacks and candy. Desserts and sweetened beverages remain the major sources of calories from snacks.


Body Composition and Wages

Roy Wada & Erdal Tekin
Economics & Human Biology, forthcoming

This paper examines the relationship between body composition and wages in the United States. We develop measures of body composition - body fat (BF) and fat-free mass (FFM) - using data on bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) that are available in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III and estimate wage models for respondents in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979. Previous research use body size or BMI as measures of obesity despite a growing concern that they do not distinguish between body fat and fat-free body mass or adequately control for non-homogeneity inside human body. Therefore, measures presented in this paper represent a useful alternative to BMI-based proxies of obesity. This paper also contributes to the growing literature on the role of non-cognitive factors on wage determination. Our results indicate that BF is associated with decreased wages for both males and females among whites and blacks. We also present evidence suggesting that FFM is associated with increased wages. We show that these results are not the artifacts of unobserved heterogeneity. Finally, our findings are robust to numerous specification checks and to a large number of alternative BIA prediction equations from which the body composition measures are derived.


Life History Strategy and Disordered Eating Behavior

Catherine Salmon, Aurelio José Figueredo & Lindsey Woodburn
Evolutionary Psychology, December 2009, Pages 585-600

A sample of female undergraduates completed a packet of questionnaires consisting of the Arizona Life History Battery, a modified version of the Eating Disorders Inventory, the Behavioral Regulation scales from the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function, and two measures of Female Intrasexual Competitiveness that distinguished between competition for mates and competition for status. As predicted, Executive Functions completely mediated the relation between Slow Life History Strategy and Disordered Eating Behavior. Surprisingly, however, the relation between Female Intrasexual Competitiveness (competition for mates and competition for status) and Disordered Eating Behavior was completely spurious, with executive functions serving as a common cause underlying the inhibition of both Disordered Eating Behavior and Female Intrasexual Competitiveness. The protective function of Slow Life History Strategy with respect to Disordered Eating Behavior apparently resides in a higher degree of Behavioral Regulation, a type of Executive Function. The enhanced Behavioral Regulation or self-control, of individuals with a Slow Life History Strategy is also protective against hazardously escalated levels of Female Intrasexual Competitiveness.


Body mass index (BMI) and peer aggression in adolescent females: An evolutionary perspective

Andrew Gallup & David Sloan Wilson
Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology, December 2009, Pages 356-371

Previous research has shown a strong connection between body mass index (BMI) and peer aggression and victimization. Here we report on two separate studies investigating this relationship, providing evolutionary interpretations based on intrasexual selection and reproductive competition. The first study investigated self-reported aggression and victimization in 9th grade high school students. Measures of indirect aggression were positively correlated with BMI in females, but not males, while peer victimization was not correlated with BMI in either sex. The second study investigated yearbook photo ratings of aggressiveness and physical attractiveness in 12th grade high school students. Ratings of aggression were positively correlated with BMI in females only, while ratings of attractiveness were negatively correlated with BMI in both males and females. Thus, in two separate samples, self-report measures of aggression and independent ratings of aggressiveness were positively correlated with BMI in female high school students. These findings support recent research suggesting that aggression and victimization among female adolescents may be partially mediated by physical attractiveness levels.


The recent decline in the height of African-American women

John Komlos
Economics & Human Biology, March 2010, Pages 58-66

Height trends since World War II are analyzed using the NHANES surveys for US-born individuals stratified by gender, ethnicity and income. After stagnating or declining for nearly a generation, the height of adult white men and women began to increase among the birth cohorts of c. 1975-1986, who reached adulthood between 1995 and 2006. The increase in their height overcame the prior downturn that lasted between ca. 1965 and 1974. The height gap between white and black men has increased by 0.43 cm (0.17 in.) during past decade compared to the previous quarter century, to reach 1.0 cm (0.39 in.). In contrast to the three other groups examined, the height of black women has been actually declining by some 1.42 cm (0.56 in.). Consequently, a very considerable wedge has developed between black and white women's height of 1.95 cm (0.77 in.). In addition, black women in the age range 20-39 weigh some 9.5 kg (21.0 lb) more than their white counterparts. Two hypotheses are worth considering, namely, a) that the decline in their height is related to the obesity epidemic and to inadequate dietary balance, and b) that their future health will be subject to a double jeopardy in the sense that both their increasing weight and decreasing physical stature are likely associated with negative health consequences.


Economic Insecurity and the Spread of Obesity in Social Networks

Michael Barnes, Trenton Smith & Jonathan Yoder
Washington State University Working Paper, February 2010

A number of recent studies have provided evidence suggesting that increases in body weight may spread via social networks. The mechanism(s) by which this might occur have become the subject of much speculation, but to date little direct evidence has been available. We provide evidence for one such mechanism: economic insecurity. Using a sample of working-age men from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, we show that cohabitation with working (but not non-working) adults appears to be protective against weight gain. We address the potential endogeneity of the independent variable by employing instrumental variables in our regression analysis.


Body Size and Social Self-Image Among Adolescent African American Girls: The Moderating Influence of Family Racial Socialization

Ellen Granberg, Leslie Gordon Simons & Ronald Simons
Youth & Society, December 2009, Pages 256-277

Social psychologists have amassed a large body of work demonstrating that overweight African American adolescent girls have generally positive self-images, particularly when compared with overweight females from other racial and ethnic groups. Some scholars have proposed that elements of African American social experience may contribute to the maintenance of these positive self-views. The article evaluates these arguments using data drawn from a panel study of socioeconomically diverse African American adolescent girls living in Iowa and Georgia. The article analyzes the relationship between body size and social self-image over three waves of data, starting when the girls were 10 years of age and concluding when they were approximately 14. The findings show that heavier respondents hold less positive social self-images; however, the findings also show that being raised in a family that practices racial socialization moderates this relationship.


Dairy beverages and energy balance

Arne Astrup, Jean-Philippe Chaput, Jo-Anne Gilbert & Janne Lorenzen
Physiology & Behavior, forthcoming

High dairy intakes have been associated with lower rates of obesity in observational studies, but mechanisms to explain the association are lacking. A high intake of dairy protein reduces spontaneous food intake and may be one important mechanism, but more specific effects of dairy calcium seem to exist. We have found that high versus low calcium intakes from dairy products had no effect on 24-h energy expenditure or substrate oxidation rates, but fecal fat excretion increased not, vert, similar 2.5-fold on the high-calcium diets. In a meta-analysis of intervention studies we found that increasing dairy calcium intake by 1200 mg/day resulted in increased fecal fat excretion by 5.2 (1.6-8.8) g/day. Newer research shows that humans possess taste receptors for calcium in the gastrointestinal tract and that signaling may be linked to appetite regulation. A new line of evidence suggests that an inadequate calcium intake during an energy restricted weight loss program may trigger hunger and impair compliance to the diet. These mechanisms may be part of the explanation for the protective effects of dairy products with regard to obesity and metabolic syndrome.


Decomposing cross-country differences in levels of obesity and overweight: Does the social environment matter?

Joan Costa Font, Daniele Fabbri & Joan Gil
Social Science & Medicine, forthcoming

This paper examines the influence of environmental factors on weight gain and obesity. We take advantage of a markedly different pattern of obesity between Italy in Spain to undertake a non-linear decomposition analysis of differences in the prevalence of overweight and obesity between the two countries. The analysis is based on cross-sectional national surveys for 2003. We have attempted to isolate the influence of lifestyle factors, socio-economic and socio-environmental effects in explaining cross-country differences in BMI status. Our findings suggest that when the social environment (proxied by different measures of peer effects and regional BMI) is not controlled for, we explain about 27-42% of the overall Spain-to-Italy overweight and obesity gap. Differences in eating habits and education between the two countries are the main predictors of the gaps in obesity and overweight. However, when social environment is controlled for, our estimates explain between 76 and 92% of the obesity and overweight gap and the effect of eating habits are wiped out. These results suggest healthy body weight depends on cultural or environmental triggers that operate through individual level health production determinants.


Height, weight and body mass index values of mid-19th century New York legislative officers

Howard Bodenhorn
Economics & Human Biology, forthcoming

Previous studies of mid-19th century American heights and body mass index values have used potentially unrepresentative groups - students in military academies, prisoners, and African Americans. This paper uses an alternative source with heights and weights of ordinary people employed in a wide variety of occupations. The results reveal the operation of the antebellum paradox in that average heights declined between men born circa 1820 and those born circa 1840. Average weights also declined for adult males, suggesting a decline in mid-19th century nutritional status.


Age at Puberty and the Emerging Obesity Epidemic

Lise Aksglaede, Anders Juul, Lina Olsen & Thorkild Sørensen
PLoS ONE, December 2009, e8450

Background: Recent studies have shown that puberty starts at younger ages than previously. It has been hypothesized that the increasing prevalence of childhood obesity is contributing to this trend. The purpose of this study was to analyze the association between prepubertal body mass index (BMI) and pubertal timing, as assessed by age at onset of pubertal growth spurt (OGS) and at peak height velocity (PHV), and the secular trend of pubertal timing given the prepubertal BMI.

Methodology/Principal Findings: Annual measurements of height and weight were available in all children born from 1930 to 1969 who attended primary school in the Copenhagen municipality; 156,835 children fulfilled the criteria for determining age at OGS and PHV. The effect of prepubertal BMI at age seven on these markers of pubertal development within and between birth cohorts was analyzed. BMI at seven years was significantly inversely associated with age at OGS and PHV. Dividing the children into five levels of prepubertal BMI, we found a similar secular trend toward earlier maturation in all BMI groups.

Conclusion/Significance: The heavier both boys and girls were at age seven, the earlier they entered puberty. Irrespective of level of BMI at age seven, there was a downward trend in the age at attaining puberty in both boys and girls, which suggests that the obesity epidemic is not solely responsible for the trend.


Ethnicity-related skeletal muscle differences across the lifespan

Analiza Silva, Wei Shen, Moonseong Heo, Dympna Gallagher, Zimian Wang, Luis Sardinha & Steven Heymsfield
American Journal of Human Biology, January 2010, Pages 76-82

Despite research and clinical significance, limited information is available on the relations between skeletal muscle (SM) and age in adults, specifically among Hispanics, African Americans (AA), and Asians. The aim was to investigate possible sex and ethnic SM differences in adults over an age range of 60 years. Subjects were 468 male and 1280 female adults (18 years). SM was estimated based on DXA-measured appendicular lean-soft tissue using a previously reported prediction equation. Locally weighted regression smoothing lines were fit to examine SM trends and to localize age cutoffs; piecewise multiple linear regression models were then applied, controlling for weight and height, to identify age cutoffs for sex-specific changes in SM among the ethnic groups. The age of 27 years was identified for women and men as the cut-off after which SM starts to show a negative association with age. Both sexes had a similar ethnic pattern for expected mean SM at the age cutoff, with AA presenting the highest SM values, followed by Whites, Hispanics, and Asians. After the age cutoffs, the lowering of SM differed by ethnicity and sex: AA women showed the greatest SM lowering whereas Hispanic women had the least. Hispanic men tended to show a higher negative association of SM with age followed by AA and Whites. To conclude, significant sex and ethnic differences exist in the magnitude of negative associations of SM with age >27 years. Further studies using a longitudinal design are needed to explore the associations of ethnicity-related decline of SM with health risks.


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