Weekly Roundup: Scientists Say Obesity Spreads "Like a Virus"

Dietitian Sandra B. O'Connor and Maple Avenue Market Farm co-owner Sara Guerre teach students at Nottingham Elementary School in Arlington, Va., about local and interesting varieties of produce during a National School Lunch Week event last year. The Christian Science Monitor this week looked at how schools are getting creative to get kids healthy, including through visits from local food experts.
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A team of scientists recently published a paper that uses data to show how obesity is spreading like a virus would, the Atlantic Cities reports. The analysis argues that from a scientific perspective, obesity isn’t happening on a person-by-person level, but rather is a systemic problem. These findings may impact the response to the epidemic, as they suggest government intervention is needed to stop the crisis.

Schools the Heart of Obesity Movement, Experts Say

The Christian Science Monitor on Wednesday looked at the role schools are playing in reversing the childhood obesity epidemic. Reporter Stacy Teicher Khadaroo reports that schools are getting creative in helping kids move more and eat healthier, including through visits from local chefs, farmers and nutritionists. Teicher Khadaroo also looks at how new government standards for school meals are playing a role in getting schools healthier.

Renewed Call for BMI Screenings

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended this week that doctors regularly screen patients for obesity during checkups, the Huffington Post reports. Not enough doctors calculate patients’ body mass index (BMI), the panel said. When a person’s BMI shows they are obese, doctors need to refer patients for “intensive nurtion-and-fitness help,” the panel also recommended.

Fat Cell Activity Drives Obesity, Rheumatoid Arthritis Link

Obese individuals are 25 percent more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than people of a normal weight. But as NPR reported this week, it isn’t just the extra pounds that cause the disease. Rather, researchers believe the way fat cells behave in an obese person’s body could be behind the disease.

Childhood Obesity Can Start at 9 Months

Babies as young as 9 months old can be classified as obese, a new study finds, and those youngsters are predisposed to be obese later in life, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

Photos of Fatty and Sugary Foods Drive Cravings

Ever get hungry after seeing a photo of a hamburger or cupcake? You aren’t alone. Researchers from the University of Southern California find that looking at pictures of fatty or sugary foods does indeed drive food cravings, HealthDay reports (via the Philadelphia Inquirer).

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