Worth Talking About

Obesity Linked to Early Puberty in Girls, Study Finds

By JoNel Aleccia

There’s yet another reason to worry about the obesity epidemic among America’s kids: Extra weight may be sending U.S. girls into puberty earlier than ever.

Researchers have found that girls with higher body mass index, a ratio of height and weight, may start developing breasts more than a year before their thinner friends — perhaps as early as second grade.

The change is spawning a whole new market of child-sized sanitary pads — decorated with hearts and stars — and deodorants aimed at 8- to 10-year-olds, according to a new study and an editorial published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

In addition, white girls are maturing about four months earlier than in a landmark 1997 study that shocked parents with the news that their daughters who played with My Little Pony could be entering puberty.

What Works

Stop the Comfy Couch From Becoming a Household Hazard

By M. Larson

My teen clocks enough time on the couch that I’m considering surgical removal. If you’re like most parents, you know what I’m talking about.

Research indicates that activity levels decline at a steady rate as children move into their adolescent years. According to the Surgeon General’s report on physical education and fitness, nearly half of American youths ages 12 to 21 are not vigorously active on a regular basis, and 14 percent report no activity at all.

Admittedly, our teen’s activity level needs to change.

One surefire way to get kids off the couch is to assign a chore.

What's Ahead

Childhood Diabetes Rates are Skyrocketing

Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are significantly rising among young people in the United States, according to new research that warns of a growing epidemic that could strain the American health care system.

Between 2001 and 2009, Type 1 diabetes rose 21 percent among children and teenagers, said the study published in the journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) this week. It also found that Type 2 diabetes increased 30 percent over the same eight-year period.

Type 1 diabetes appears most often in children, and is a disorder in which the pancreas does not make insulin, leading to too much glucose in the blood. People with Type 1 diabetes need to take insulin for the rest of their lives.

Type 2 diabetes is more common, and occurs when blood sugar levels are too high and the body doesn’t make insulin well enough. It is often caused by an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise. It can be controlled through changes in diet, exercise and medications.

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