Nutrition, Obesity's Impact on Children's Bodies and Minds

Two studies presented at the 2014 American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions highlight the relationship between children's consumption of sugary beverages and neurological reactions, as well as changes to fat cell composition in obese children.

In the first study, researchers at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, CT compared responses in the brains of adolescents and adults when given a glucose drink. In adolescents, the glucose increased the blood flow to areas of the brain associated with reward-motivation and decision-making; however, the glucose decreased the blood flow to these regions in adults. While the behavioral responses to the glucose ingestion are unknown, the study authors note that further research on sugar exposure in adolescence, behavior, and the potential relationship to obesity is needed.

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Another study by researchers at the University Children's Hospital in Leipzig, Germany evaluated fat cell composition and biology in lean and obese children and adolescents. As early as age 6, an increase in the number of adipose cells was seen in obese children at a larger size compared to cells in lean children. The fat cells also showed signs of inflammation that can lead to insulin resistance, diabetes, and hypertension.

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