Parents Magazine features Dr. J Brian Thornburg as a doctor “Making A Difference”

Parents Magazine selected Dr. J Brian Thornburg as one of the top 7 pediatricians in the country “Making A Difference.” The magazine highlights the 7 of us in their November 2013 issue, and the American Academy of Pediatrics is honoring us at their 2013 National Convention and Exhibition Welcome Reception.

At the opening reception of the AAP’s national conference, Parents Magazine and Desitin will provide each of us a $1,000 check for a charity of our choice.  My check will go to the Children’s Advocacy Center of Collier County for abused children.

Thank you to everyone from my family and friends to my patients for giving me the courage to pursue a vision and to care for so many wonderful children. I am grateful to Parents Magazine, Desitin and the AAP for this recognition.

NBC-2 Interview of Dr. J. Brian Thornburg on the Appropriateness of BMI Screenings at School

BMI ChartWatch the NBC news video by clicking here.

By NBC-2

An 11-year-old’s weight is now the talk of the country after her story aired on the “Today” show and “Good Morning America.”

Lily Grasso is a star volleyball player, and by looking at her picture you can tell she’s far from obese.

But when school started last month, Lily brought home a letter from the Collier County Health Department that included results from her health screening.

Those results labeled her body weight “at risk.”

“I was crying when my parents told me the news was going to come, and I just didn’t know what people were going to say at school,” said Lily.

Her parents labeled it a “fat letter” that destroys a child’s self-esteem.

“I don’t think anyone will look at a letter and feel better about themselves,” said Lily’s mom, Kristen Grasso.

Doctor James Thornburg is a local Naples pediatrician. He says the body mass index can easily be off for athletes like Lily, adding that parents should follow up with their primary physician.

“It’s like any other static mark, you have to go find out what it really means because just a number on a piece of paper doesn’t really explain you as a person,” said Dr. Thornburg.

The Collier County Health Department says it has conducted the screenings for years, and has never received any complaints other than this incident.

“I was surprised because we don’t really get any complaints about this program” said Dr. Joan Colfer, with the Florida Department of Health and Collier County.

The department says whether the letters are sent home with children or mailed home is up to the school itself.

Department officials add the tests do more good than bad.

“These are important things that you need to find out about children early in life so you can make those corrections if needed,” said Colfer.

When asked if the department was considering a change in light of the incident, officials firmly said no.

“Absolutely not! This is a mandated by state law,” said Colfer.

Massachusetts is one state where representatives are trying to ban those screenings. Grasso’s mother wants the same push here in Florida.

“If we can change the law and get the tests out of schools even better,” said Lily’s mom.

Glucose vs. Fructose – Switching On The Addiction Switch

sugar-cubesGlucose and fructose are both simple sugars–and equal parts of each is the recipe for table sugar. High-fructose corn syrup is a bit more intensely sweet because it’s made up of 55% fructose. But scientists have long suspected there are differences in the way the human body processes these two forms of carbohydrate. A study published in the March 2011 issue of the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism raises more questions than it answers.

Researchers at Oregon Health and Science University scanned the brains of nine healthy, normal-weight  subjects in the minutes after each got an infusion of equal volumes of glucose, of fructose and of saline. The brain scans aimed to capture activity in a relatively small swath of the human brain in and around the hypothalamus, which plays a key but complex role in setting appetite levels and directing production of metabolic hormones.

The researchers found that “cortical control areas”–broad swaths of gray matter that surrounded the hypothalamus — responded quite differently to the infusion of fructose than they did to glucose. Across the limited regions of the brain they scanned, Purnell and his colleagues saw that glucose significantly raised the level of neural activity for about 20 minutes following the infusion. Fructose had the opposite effect, causing activity in the same areas to drop and stay low for 20 minutes after the infusion. Saline–the control condition in this trial–had no effect either way.

What does a different response in “cortical control areas” mean? Within some of the “cortical control areas” where differences were seen, lie some important neural real estate, including regions where notions of reward and addiction are processed. As scientists have a closer look in future studies, they should be able to zero in on which specific areas are affected differently by the two forms of sugar.

Homemade Baby Food – More Nutritious & Cheaper

Making homemade baby food does not have to be a lot of work. The book “Baby Love” makes the case that homemade baby food is better than commercial because you can control what’s in it. Both homemade and store-bought food contain vitamins and minerals your baby needs. But the book notes that those little jars of food on the grocery shelf also can have add-ins such as modified cornstarch, though major brands such as Gerber and Beech-Nut don’t add starch (or salt or sugar) to their purees. And, the authors say, because the food in those jars has been cooked at high temperatures to ensure a long shelf life, they may have lost some of their nutrients and flavor.

Making your own can be far cheaper than store-bought baby food and nearly as convenient, the authors insist. Most of all, though, O’Donnell and Tracy say, homemade baby food simply tastes better and can foster a lifelong love of healthful food.

“Baby Love” features delicacies as straightforward as Get Your Greens, a blend of spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, water and milk, for children 8 months and older; and as exotic as Ginger Beef, a puree of 12 ingredients that requires some cooking, for kids 10 months and older and their parents. For kids 12 months and older, there are baked goods such as Norah’s Brain-Booster Zucchini Muffins. Foods for the youngest babies (6 months) are necessarily simple: Perfectly Basic Avocado, for instance, involves mashing half a ripe avocado with the back of a fork for 90 seconds, then mixing in a tablespoon of orange juice. Even I could have done that!

One time-saving strategy suggested in the book is organizing all the ingredients and equipment before you start to cook, known as mise en place. Tracy writes that doing this allowed him to make food for two weeks in just an hour. Most recipes for the youngest kids are purees meant to be frozen in an ice-cube tray, then stored in plastic baggies in the freezer.

Jatinder Bhatia, MD, who chairs the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Nutrition and is my former attending at the Medical College of Georgia, notes that feeding babies a version of the family’s meal is a time-honored way to influence the child’s future tastes in food. “It’s common sense,” he says. “That’s how ethnic babies learn to eat ethnic food.”

“At this point, your baby is still a captive,” Bhatia says. It’s an ideal time to “present what the family’s eating” — assuming, that is, that the family is eating healthfully.

What’s Your Feeding Style?

Meals to parentingby

Feeding is arguably one of the most time-consuming and grueling jobs of parenthood.  Often thankless, and plagued with parental insecurity and low confidence, parents struggle and muddle through the process of feeding their children. Here is a sobering statistic:  throughout an 18 year childhood, a parent will feed their child over 28,000 times (assuming age-appropriate meals and snacks). The effort to feed a child can be overwhelming…planning, procuring, preparing, serving, and cleaning up.

Parent feeding styles, and their impact, warrant attention, particularly when you look at the magnitude of feeding interactions throughout a child’s life.

Researchers suggest that feeding styles, or the attitudes and actions a parent uses in the process of feeding their child, closely mirror parenting styles.  Did you know that each parent has a style of their own when it comes to feeding?  And while one style is generally used most of the time, all the parenting styles can overlap and mingle.

Our feeding styles also tend to mimic our own experiences as a child;  they are deeply ingrained, and our “go to” method for feeding our own children.  In other words, parent feeding styles reflect childhood experiences with food and eating.  In the current climate of childhood obesity, it is sobering to think about the feeding styles that our current generation of children may be using with their future offspring.

There are four parenting styles and as an extension of this, feeding styles:

Authoritarian, also known as “parent-centered” parenting.  In the realm of feeding, this style is associated with “The Clean Your Plate Club”, where rules about eating predominate, from trying foods to completing a meal. Dessert is contingent upon eating dinner.  Parents plate the food for their children.  Eating is directed by the parent, rather than self-directed by the child.  A child’s true feelings and subsequent actions about food and eating may be hidden, while potential animosity and compensatory behaviors build around eating.  Weight problems, both underweight and overweight, are correlated with this parenting style.

Permissive, also known as “The ‘Yes’ Parent”.  A parent with this parenting style feeds their child in a similar fashion: even though “no” or limitations may be the first response, “yes” ultimately reigns.  The classic example of this is the mother who is attempting to manage the vocal child in the grocery store who wants candy at the checkout stand.  He begs and begs, hearing, “no, no, no…well….okay, I guess so.”  Children of permissive feeders may become overweight, as research shows that the limits on calorie-dense foods may be unlimited.

Neglectful parenting, when aligned with feeding, often produces the ill-prepared parent: irregular shopping, empty cabinets and refrigerators, and no plan for meals. Food and eating may lack importance for the parent, and that may transcend to feeding their child.  Children who experience this feeding style may feel insecure about food and eating, and unsure about when they will have their next meal, if they will like it, and if it will be enough.  These children may become overly focused on food and frequently question the details around mealtime.

Authoritative, or the “Love with Limits” parenting style, promotes independent thinking and self-regulation within the child, but also sets boundaries within which the child is expected to operate. The authoritative feeder determines the details around the meal (what will be served, when it will happen, and where it will be served), but allows the child to decide if they will eat what is prepared, and how much they will eat.  Trust and boundaries are the basis of this parent feeding style.  Children who have authoritative parents in the home tend to be leaner, good at self-regulating their food consumption, and feel secure with food and eating.  The most current research advocates this style of parenting/feeding as an effective childhood obesity prevention approach.

So, mom and dad, what’s your feeding style and how is it affecting your child?