Hispanics are the fastest growing minority group in the US today. So it is alarming to see that the overweight children in this group lean to what is called persistent pre-diabetes. We say someone has pre-diabetes when their fasting blood sugar falls between 100 and 120 - higher than normal but not high enough to qualify for a formal diagnosis of diabetes. The assumption is that without lifestyle habit modification, though, the pre-diabetic child will become a diabetic teen or young adult.
A recent University of Southern California study specifically shed light on the Hispanic Doctors are now being encouraged to perform serious assessments of children with 3 or 4 annual positive "above normal" blood glucose tests and signs of visceral fat. Those repeated high blood sugar results indicate impaired Beta-cell function, which means they can no longer compensate and achieve normalized blood sugar levels.
On another note - another piece to the obesity puzzle seems to be GABA - a
neurotransmitter in the brain. It seems to have a very important role in controlling energy balance in the body. In the world of dieting we talk about "weight loss" but almost equally important is that once you achieve a weight - you need to establish weight maintenance. By the same token - what allows one person to maintain a "healthy weight' while another person struggles with constant weight gain?
There are 3 components to weight maintenance. The first stage involves the brain getting certain messages from hormones like leptin and ghrelin and also from the fuels in the system like glucose and fatty acids. In the second stage the brain processes this information along with sensory input from the environment like aromas and other enticements and even information from the current emotional state. In the third stage the brain makes a decision and alters food intake and energy expenditure to maintain energy balance while preventing weight gain and obesity.
Researchers played with the different neurotransmitters released and found that how much or little GABA released can impact desire to feed and energy expenditure. This could have serious implications as researchers continue to try and develop drugs to prevent obesity. In the meantime, we need families to take their kid's weights seriously and to realize that weight and health do directly correlate. We want the best for our kids - soif their is a weight problem brewing - get help from your pediatrician and decide to "shift habits" as a family so that everyone benefits!!
Published On: August 27, 2008