obesity epidemic in children in the United States and in other countries. Obesity is a problem because it leads to increased risk of other health problems such as heart disease and diabetes mellitus.
Diabetes mellitus is a complex, long-term disorder in which the body is not able to effectively use a natural chemical called insulin. Insulin's main job is to quickly absorb glucose (a type of sugar) from the blood into cells for their energy needs and into the fat and liver cells for storage.
In the most recent issue of the Annals of Human Biology. researchers examined the prevalence of abdominal obesity in Maringa, Brazil and the behaviors associated with this. The study evaluated 991 adolescents (54.5% girls). Abdominal obesity was defined by the waist circumference. Of the adolescents studied, the abdominal obesity prevalence was 32.7% (girls = 36.3% and boys = 28.4%). The researchers stated that the higher percentage in girls may because females tend to have a higher percentage of body fat than males.
In both genders, abdominal obesity was associated with having a job. It is unclear exactly why this was the case, however. Girls with abdominal obesity had high levels of soda consumption. This is because soda is known for a high level of simple carbohydrates that raises glucose levels but does not always provide a feeling of fullness. Interestingly, obese females were less like to consume excessive levels of fried foods. Among males, the obese were less likely to consume excessive amounts of sweets and soda. The authors noted that this could have been related to dieting behaviors, however. In other words, they may have been reducing consumption of sweets and soda because in reaction to being obese.
Suggested reading: Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease
Reference: de Moraes AC, Falcão MC. Lifestyle factors and socioeconomic variables associated with abdominal obesity in Brazilian adolescents. Ann Hum Biol. (2013) 40(1):1-8.