19815 Bay Branch Rd
Andalusia, Alabama 36420
(334) 222-2523
HELPLINE: 1-877-530-0002



Facebook    

 

SCAMHC is an approved Mental Health site for the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment program.  Find out the program details and see if you qualify by visiting: http://nhsc.hrsa.gov/

SCAMHC is an Equal Opportunity Provider and Employer and maintains a Drug-Free Workplace

 

 

 

 


powered by centersite dot net
Child & Adolescent Development: Overview
Resources
Basic InformationMore InformationLatest News
With Social Distancing, Schools Should Be Safe to Reopen This Fall, Experts SayThe Long-Term Harm of Missing SchoolHow the Pandemic Is Changing Summer CampHealthier School Meal Programs Helped Poorer Kids Beat Obesity: StudyWith Pandemic-Related Stress, Abuse Against Kids Can SurgeKeep Your Kids Safe in the Water. Here's HowMultiple Surgeries for Cleft Lip, Palate Won't Cause Major Psychological Damage2 in 3 Parents Would Send Kids to School in Fall: SurveySigns of Developing Adult Diabetes Seen as Early as Age 8: StudyVaccine Might Guard Against Bacteria That Cause Diarrhea in KidsShould You Send Your Kid to Summer Camp? Expert Offers AdvicePractice Gun Safety for Your Kids' Sake, Especially During PandemicAsthma More Likely in Kids With Disabilities, DelaysDon't Let COVID-19 Scuttle Your Child's Health ExamsAbout 1 in 15 Parents 'Hesitant' About Child Vaccines: SurveyHome Alone: Will Pandemic's Changes Harm Kids' Mental Health Long-Term?Concussion Can Lead to Vision, Balance Problems in Young KidsAHA News: Finding Balance Between the Good of Youth Sports and Risks of COVID-19Black Children Hit Especially Hard by COVID-19 Inflammatory SyndromeKids Breaking Fewer Bones During Pandemic, But More Fractures Happening at HomeSimilar to Adults, Obesity Raises Kids' Odds for Severe COVID-19Are Food Allergies Under-Diagnosed in Poor Families?Stay-at-Home Orders Could Mean More Obese Kids: StudyWhere Are Kids Getting the Most 'Empty Calories'?AHA News: For Kids, a Pandemic of Stress Could Have Long-Term Consequences6 Expert Tips for Defusing Kids' Quarantine MeltdownsFor Many Kids, Picky Eating Isn't Just a Phase, Study FindsSure-Fire Solutions for Managing Lockdown Temper TantrumsKeeping Kids Slim, Fit During Lockdown Isn't Easy: Here Are Some TipsCOVID-19 Antibodies May Tame Inflammatory Condition in Kids: StudyCould Certain Chemicals Trigger Celiac Disease?Italian Doctors Detail Cases of Inflammatory Condition in Kids With COVID-19AHA News: Is Your Child's Blood Pressure Something to Worry About?Zika Virus Tied to Profound Developmental DelaysCOVID-19 Still Rare in Kids, But Far From Harmless: StudyKids' ER Visits for Mental Health Problems Soared Over 10 YearsTo Prevent Injuries, Give Your Kids a Pass on Cutting the GrassFewer Kids in Cancer Trials, Which Might Not Be a Bad ThingLoving Family May Lower Future Depression Risk in KidsBest Ways to Help Kids Through the PandemicIn Rare Cases, COVID-19 May Be Causing Severe Heart Condition in KidsReplace That Old Carpet to Shield Your Kids From ToxinsCoronavirus Crisis Has Fewer Kids Getting Needed VaccinesAHA News: Traumatic Childhood Increases Lifelong Risk for Heart Disease, Early DeathFDA Bans Products That Help Kids Hide Vape Use From ParentsCalm Parenting Will Help Children Through Coronavirus PandemicStudy Confirms Safety, Effectiveness of Children's VaccinesUp to 50,000 U.S. Kids May Be Hospitalized With COVID-19 by Year's EndAre Immune-Compromised Kids at Greater Risk From COVID-19?All That Social Media Hasn't Hurt Kids' Social Skills, Study Finds
Questions and AnswersVideosLinksBook Reviews
Related Topics

ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Childhood Mental Disorders and Illnesses
Parenting

Could Obesity Alter a Child's Brain Structure?

HealthDay News
by By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter
Updated: Dec 9th 2019

new article illustration

MONDAY, Dec. 9, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Childhood obesity may be linked to changes in brain structure that might result in impulsive kids who struggle with problem-solving, a new study reports.

Overweight and obese children tend to have a thinner prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain associated with decision-making and problem-solving. These same kids performed more poorly on games designed to evaluate those skills, said lead researcher Jennifer Laurent. She is an associate professor with the University of Vermont College of Nursing and Health Sciences, in Burlington.

"With escalating levels of BMI [body mass index], there was reduction in all of the cortical areas but specifically in the prefrontal cortex," Laurent said. "In that situation, these kids had a poorer working memory. Working memory is what you use to make decisions."

There are 13.7 million children and teens in the United States who are obese, and another 12 million are overweight, the researchers said in background notes.

Previous studies have associated childhood obesity with early risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, Laurent added.

She and her colleagues wondered if obesity then might have some effect on the developing brain, given that extra pounds affect blood flow, blood sugar levels and inflammation.

So, the researchers gathered data from a large-scale study of adolescent brain development, which recruited a large number of 9- and 10-year-old children at 21 sites across the United States in 2017.

Nearly 3,200 children were weighed and then given a battery of thinking and memory tests. The kids also underwent an MRI brain scan.

About 13% of the kids qualified as overweight and 15% were obese, the researchers said.

As BMI increased, the outer layer of the brain -- the cortex -- became thinner in these kids, brain scans revealed.

The effect was particularly apparent in the prefrontal cortex, which is at the front of the brain and is the last part of the cortex to develop in children, Laurent said.

"That's one of the reasons adolescents are so impulsive, it's because their prefrontal cortex isn't fully developed," Laurent said. "They don't have that ability to walk away from something."

Brain games showed an association between a thinner prefrontal cortex and poorer ability to reason, organize information, and decide.

The findings were published online Dec. 9 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Because this was an observational study that did not prove cause and effect, it's hard to say exactly how the association between weight and brain structure works, Laurent said.

It could be that obesity causes a thinner cortex, or it could be that a thin cortex leads to poor decision-making that causes obesity, she explained.

"Perhaps these particular children are making less appropriate decisions about what they eat or when they eat or how they eat," Laurent said. "We really don't know.

However, these results should serve as a wake-up call regarding the need to prevent childhood obesity, she added.

"Kids as early as 10 years old may be having metabolic dysfunction that's affecting their heart and their brain," Laurent said. "It hopefully is a public health alert that we really need to start addressing healthy eating behaviors and other healthy behaviors really early in life."

However, Laurent warned that these findings should not be used to contribute to any sort of fat-shaming.

"We don't want people to think if kids are obese, that they have a problem with their brain or that they're stupid," Laurent said. "It doesn't have anything to do with their intellectual capability."

Childhood obesity expert Dr. Eliana Perrin, who co-wrote an editorial accompanying the study, agreed with Laurent.

"I am definitely concerned that these findings could be used out of context to further stigmatize children and adolescents with obesity, and that stigma we know is very harmful," said Perrin, director of the Duke University Center for Childhood Obesity Research in Durham, N.C.

Perrin added that there might even be some as-yet-unknown additional factor that's influencing the kids' weight, brain structure, performance on brain games, or all three.

"Sometimes when people see that one thing happens alongside another thing, they think that first thing caused the other when we don't know that at all," Perrin said. "In research, this work is often stepwise. It's important that we not turn it into something it's not before we've completed all the steps."

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more about childhood obesity.