Excessive Gestational Weight Gain and Risk of Childhood Obesity

I have become increasingly interested in the role that excessive gestational weight gain plays in the childhood obesity epidemic.  Obviously a woman is supposed to gain weight during pregnancy, but nationally about 50% of pregnant women gain more weight than is recommended by the Institute of Medicine for a healthy pregnancy.  In our birth cohort in New York City 64% of the mothers gained more weight during pregnancy than is recommended and excessive gestational weight gain was associated with a three fold increase in the odds of obesity for the child at age 7.  Excessive gestational weight gain was also associated with larger waist circumference and higher percentage body fat for the child at age 7.  The paper is on pubmed [here].

I was also interviewed about our research on New York’s WNBC [see here].


Antibiotic use during pregnancy and childhood obesity

My team working on the Childhood Obesity Project in Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health recently published an article showing that a woman’s use of antibiotics during pregnancy is associated with heightened risk of obesity in her child at age 7.  In addition, children born by C-section also had a higher risk of obesity.  The underlying idea is that antibiotic use during pregnancy and birth by C-section alters the normal transmission of bacteria from the mother to the child and that disturbances in the development of the ecosystem of gut bacteria that live within each of us influences our risk of weight gain. A similar idea underlies another recent paper I co-authored that showed that having pets in the home may alter the link between delivery by C-section delivery childhood obesity risk.

Our work on antibiotic use was picked up by the NYTimes, FoxNews.com and USAToday.


CEO.com article: Staying Healthy while on Business Trips

My colleague Dr. Michael Friedman and I recently wrote an op-ed piece for CEO.com on staying healthy while traveling for business.  A couple of years ago my student and I published a research article showing that among those who traveled for business, chronic disease health conditions correlated with the extent of travel, this was particularly true for obesity risk.  Analyses from the World Bank show the same pattern of results for their employees; medical claims for all conditions are higher among those who travel the most on World Bank business.

Now Michael and I are starting to think about concrete recommendations for how business travelers can avoid unhealthy lifestyle choices while they are on the road and how they can maintain their health while they are away from home. Our piece for CEO.com was our first efforts to put some ideas out their.


CartoDB maps of graffiti reports in NYC

I have started working with CartoDB a web based GIS tool that allows you to map and animate spatial data.  I downloaded reports of graffiti over the last several years from the NYC open.gov data site and was able to create this map showing the density of reports across NYC; darker red colors indicate more reports. CartoDB can also create animations of time sequence data.

Graffiti_smOne issue I ran into was that most of the NYC data uses the State Plane Coordinate system for point data while CartoDB and most other GIS tools require Longitude and Latitude data.  I found a program called Corpscon6 from the US Army Corps of Engineers that batch converts State Plan Coordinate data to Long and Lat data.  NYC usually uses the NAD83-feet format and you want to set the zone to “3104 – New York State Long Island”.

Most implementations of WordPress won’t let you embed the CartoDB maps and animations, so you will need to click out of my blog to see it (click here).


CNN Editorial

CNN.com just published my editorial on the value of Body Mass Index (BMI) as an indicator of obesity related health risks.  The editorial comments on a recent paper my students and I wrote looking at the relative value of various anthropometric measures (BMI, Fat mass index, Fat-free mass index, Waist circumference, Waist-to-height ratio and Percent body fat) for predicting blood pressure, fasting blood glucose, HDL and LDL-cholesterol levels.


NIEHS Childhood Obesity Virtual Forum

A video feed from the NIEHS Virtual Forum: Childhood Obesity that I took part in has been posted to YouTube (embedded below). Questions for the discussion panel were sent into NIEHS by email, text and Twitter. The discussion covers a lot of topics related to obesity including, neighborhood built environments, chemical exposures and policy.

NIEHS’ description of the event:

Could early life chemical exposures explain the dramatic rise in obesity rates?

There are many theories on what is causing the huge increase in obesity in the U.S. and around the world. Certainly diet and lifestyle have something to do with it, but what about prenatal and early life chemical exposures?

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences is pleased to announce a virtual forum on childhood obesity and possible links to environmental exposures. Whether you’re a concerned parent, advocate, community leader, or policy maker, you’ll want to tune in to hear the discussion and ask your questions about the latest research on obesity.  Our distinguished panel includes experts from: Johns Hopkins University, Kaiser Permanente, the University of Michigan, Columbia University, and the National Toxicology Program.

The Actual Event


Hello world!

Columbia University gives it faculty access to WordPress blog pages so I thought I would create one and see what happens.  My initial idea for this blog is for it to serve as a home for random ideas that don’t necessarily fit into my professional blogs or other web presences.  I have settled on using this blog to post and discuss advice, tips, tricks and hacks for career development for an academic. These posts will assume that the reader is already doing important, high quality research and will present ideas on how to amplify this work and build a successful career.

To access my professional web pages click on the links to the right.