Field Notes

Premature Babies at Risk of Abnormal Blood Glucose

By the time they’re in their early 30s, extremely low birth weight (ELBW) babies are four times more likely to develop dysglycemia, or abnormal blood glucose, than their normal birth weight (NBW) peers.

These babies, who were born weighing less than 2.2 lbs, also are more likely than their peer group to have higher body fat and lower lean mass in adulthood, although both groups have a similar BMI, says research published in the journal Pediatrics.

Now in their early 30s, 26% of the ELBW babies have dysglycemia, compared with 8% of their NBW peers.

“Because they were born early, the ELBW babies were living outside the womb during the most important developmental period for fat and muscle development. We think that might be related to our findings,” says Katherine Morrison, MD, FRCP(C), principal investigator of the study and an associate professor of pediatrics of McMaster University’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. She’s also a pediatrician for Hamilton Health Sciences.

“It’s important to know about these potential implications for the ELBW babies, so that we can identify ways to help those born premature counteract these potential influences on their health,” Morrison says.

Researchers at McMaster University, led by pediatrics professor emeritus Saroj Saigal, MD, FRCP(C), have been following the health of extreme preemies since their birth at Hamilton Health Sciences between 1977 and 1982.

“This is one of the largest and oldest longitudinal studies of extremely low birth weight children, but we’re learning how that early start in life impacts them throughout their lives,” says Morrison, who’s also the codirector of the Metabolism and Childhood Research Program of McMaster and Hamilton.

“We very much appreciate the commitment of these study participants who have helped us with these studies throughout their lives.”

— Source: McMaster University


Open Floor Plans May Lead to More Eating

No competent food critic reviews a restaurant without taking into consideration the ambience of the place, because whether or not a meal is enjoyable greatly depends on the environment in which it’s served.

According to Kim Rollings, PhD, an assistant professor in the University of Notre Dame’s School of Architecture in Indiana, dining environments can have even more serious consequences for eating behaviors, and in an article published recently in the journal Environment and Behavior she and Nancy Wells, PhD, an environmental psychologist from Cornell University, describe some of them.

The article, “Effects of Floor Plan Openness on Eating Behaviors,” concerns a study Rollings and Wells conducted with 57 college students in the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

The study made use of folding screens to manipulate the arrangement of kitchen and dining areas during the service of buffet-style meals, and two-way mirrors for the unobtrusive observation of variously sized groups of student diners.

“Although more research is needed,” Rollings says, “the results of our study suggest that the openness of a floor plan, among many other factors, can affect how much we eat. Eating in an ‘open concept kitchen,’ with greater visibility and convenience of food access, can set off a chain reaction. We’re more likely to get up and head toward the food more often, serve more food, and eat more food.”

Rollings noticed that each time college students in the study got up to get more food, they ended up eating an average of 170 more kcal in the “open” than in the “closed” floor plan kitchen. “Considering that decreasing calorie consumption by 50 to 100 kcal per day can reduce or avoid the average annual weight gain of one to two pounds among US adults,” she says, “these results have important implications for designers of and consumers in residential kitchens; college, workplace, and school cafeterias and dining areas; and buffet-style restaurants.”

Not long ago, most American kitchens were separate, enclosed spaces, purely functional and not intended for entertaining. “Now,” Rollings says, “open-concept plans put kitchens on display, which is great for entertaining, but not necessarily for our waistlines. Serving food out of sight from diners in an open kitchen, serving food from a counter in a closed kitchen rather than from a dining table, and creating open kitchens that have the ability to be enclosed may help US adults maintain their weight.”

Rollings says that the study findings have important implications not only for college and university students but also for people who need to eat in health care, group home, and military settings.

— Source: University of Notre Dame