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12% of kids’ calories come from fast food, plus more health briefs

At a time of growing concern over childhood obesity, a new report shows kids are getting12 percent of their total calories from fast-food restaurants.

Not surprisingly, teens are more likely than younger kids to consume fast food, according to the report from the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those 12 to 19 years old got 17 percent of their calories from fast food in 2010-2011, versus 9 percent of children 2 to 11 years old.

By comparison, an earlier CDC report, done in 2013, found that adults got about 11 percent of their calories from fast food.

A third of kids eat fast food on any given day, according to the new report, which found that children eat the equivalent of a small hamburger — such as the kind found in a McDonald’s Happy Meal — every day.

Sandra Hassink, president of the Elk Grove Village-based American Academy of Pediatrics, credits advertising fast food with cartoon characters and including toys with meals.

“The marketing is working,” says Hassink.

Children who eat a lot of fast food tend to consume more calories but have a nutritionally poorer diet versus other kids, the report says — of special concern given that the obesity rate among children has more than doubled in the past 30 years, from 7 percent in 1980 to nearly 18 percent in 2012.

A growing number of children are developing health problems once seen only in middle-aged people, such as high blood pressure, liver disease and type 2 diabetes, Hassink says.

“Childhood is not a place where you can say, ‘Let everyone eat what they want, and we can fix it later,’ ” she says.

USA Today

Feds give Northwestern grant to fight prostate, brain cancer with nanotechnology

The National Cancer Institute has awarded a five-year, $11.7 million grant to Northwestern University to find ways to use nanotechnology to develop new treatments for cancer.

The work, to be led by pioneering nanotechnology researcher Chad Mirkin and Dr. Leonida Platanias, the director of the Lurie Cancer Center, will target two of the deadliest malignancies: a form of brain cancer known as glioblastoma multiforme and prostate cancer.

Staff report

Study: New knees might help with disease affecting shins

For middle-aged people with Blount’s disease, a bone disease stemming from childhood that affects the shinbone and can cause deformity and arthritis, total knee replacement might be an effective treatment, Loyola University researchers have found.

Patients with a median age of just under 50 who had the procedure on one or both legs ended up with stable joints and good range of motion and didn’t need pain medication, they reported in the Journal of Arthroplasty.

But study author Dr. Harold Rees and his fellow researchers cautioned their study was small, involving just five patients — all of them obese men.

Staff report