GUTS in the News

Health breakthroughs using GUTS data often attract media attention

GUTS research makes important contributions to scientific knowledge -- and reporters are interested. These advances are only possible thanks to all of the participants who dedicate their time answering the annual questionnaires.

Here are some of the headlines you've made, with brief excerpts from each article:

September 6, 2016
Los Angeles Times: Science Now
With a caesarean section, the path to obesity may begin at birth
"In their initial calculations, the researchers found that a caesarean birth was linked with a 30% greater risk of obesity. After they took into account factors like the body mass index of mothers before they became pregnant, the magnitude of the risk dropped to 15% but remained large enough to be statistically significant. The relationship between C-sections and obesity held up regardless of age or gender... The results bolster the idea that the birth canal is an essential source of microorganisms that are beneficial to health."


August 1, 2016
The New York Times Blog
Attention, teenagers: Nobody really looks like that
"Regardless of sexual orientation, kids who described themselves as more gender conforming were more likely to use laxatives (the girls) or muscle-building products (the boys)... The early patterns of gender conformity were significant, Dr. Calzo said, because they were linked to behaviors that lasted through adolescence and into young adulthood. 'Laxative use increases with age, muscle-building product use increases with age," he said. "There is a need for early intervention.'

As Dr. Calzo says, we need to worry about the vulnerabilities of children who are growing up with issues of gender identity and sexuality. But don't assume that more "mainstream" or "conforming" kids have it easy when it comes to body image. Parents can help by keeping the lines of communication open and starting these conversations when children are young. We should be talking about the images that our children see, about how real people look and how images are altered."


June 28, 2016
Medical Daily
A quality parent-child relationship improves kids' diet, behavior, and sleep; Having dad there is key
"The bond between parent and child, especially father and son, can have a lasting impact on weight and sleep quality among adolescents and young adults... 'It appears the father-son parent relationship has a stronger influence on sons than the mother-daughter relationship has on young women,' said Haines. 'However, more research is needed to explore the mechanisms by which father-son relationship quality influences weight status in youth and to explore possible differences in these mechanisms among males and females.'"


June 24, 2016
Drive to build muscle may flag mental illness in young males
"Young men and male adolescents who express concerns over their muscularity and leanness may be at increased risk for depressive symptoms, as well as binge drinking and drug use... 'As research accumulates, the body image concerns and eating disorder presentations for boys and men overall are shown to be different. For example, at least in the United States and many Western countries, body image ideals tend to focus a lot more on muscularity, and when concerns tend to focus on thinness, it's not thinness to the same degree that one thinks about thinness in girls and women; it tends to focus more on leanness, which is qualitatively different... We need to do a better job of addressing the wider of concerns and behaviors that males who are affected by body image concerns and eating disorders might be presenting.' "

April 28, 2016
Mediterranean diet lowers BMI in US adolescents
"American adolescents who adhere to a Mediterranean dietary pattern or increase their adherence have smaller BMI increases compared with their peers... 'Our results suggested that promoting the [Mediterranean dietary pattern] might by a pragmatic tool to prevent excessive weight gain among adolescents.' "


February 2, 2016
Science Daily
Does gender expression impact weight? New research ties masculinity to higher BMI for young people
"'Because thinness is not consistent with dominant cultural standards of masculinity, young people who conform to masculine norms may be more likely than other youth to engage in unhealthy behaviors such as high-calorie food consumption, overeating and sedentary behaviors,' explains Dr. Austin. "While females who identify with being more masculine are at risk for a higher BMI than their more feminine peers, males who identify as being masculine face a larger challenge: both higher BMI and more rapid BMI gains."


October 8, 2015
Masculinity: Men's makeover
"An almost two-decade-long study of US teenagers — the Growing Up Today Study, or GUTS — reported that nearly 18% of adolescent boys are highly concerned about their physical appearance. Of the male respondents, 7.6% reported using muscle-building supplements, growth-hormone derivatives or anabolic steroids to achieve their ideal body. Although these behaviours do not fulfil the conventional eating-disorder criteria, they are risky actions that may be missed by pediatricians and parents, says Alison Field."

April 10, 2015
Reuters Health
Sense of 'mission' may keep young woman from risky behaviors
"Women with a low sense of mission were about 35 percent more likely to report a history of sexually transmitted infections than those with a high sense of mission and were also likely to have had higher numbers of sex partners... Women who went to religious services less than three times per month were nearly three times as likely as young women with high attendance at religious services to have started having sex at an early age, and 33 percent more likely to have a history of sexually transmitted infections.

'We do not mean to imply religious teens are healthier, but that's just one example of being part of something greater than yourself and feeling like you could contribute something bigger than yourself.' "


January 27, 2015
The Guardian
Sugary drinks may cause menstruation to start earlier, study suggests
"After adjusting the results to take account of body mass index (BMI), girls drinking the most SSBs were 22% more likely to start their period in the month after being questioned about their diet than the lowest consumers.... The researchers found that artificially added sugar was chiefly responsible for their findings, rather than natural sugars in drinks such as fruit juices. Drinks with added sugar have a higher glycaemic index than naturally sweetened drinks, leading to rapid spikes of the hormone insulin... Boosted insulin can result in higher concentrations of sex hormones, and large changes in the levels of these have been linked to periods starting earlier, the scientists said."

August 18, 2014
Inside Science
Sports Drinks For The Non-Sporty Cause Weight Gain

"For each sports drink that adolescents drank per day, they gained 0.3 BMI units over the three-year period. This weight gain corresponds to about one or two pounds per drink for an average teenager... The excess weight is especially concerning for the large number of adolescents who are already overweight or obese. 'People have assumed that sports drinks are a much better option than soda, or that they're a healthy part of someone's life,' said Field. She credits the beverage industry's brilliant marketing. 'They have really coupled the image of sports drinks with a very healthy lifestyle and with professional athletes'... Ounce for ounce, sports drinks have less sugar than soda. But when packaged in extra-large bottles with multiple servings, they still pack a sugary punch."

April 8, 2014
Reuters Health
For Teen Girls, Fruits and Veggies Linked to Lower Risk of Breast Condition
"Teenage girls who eat more colorful fruits and vegetables are less likely to develop benign breast disease as young adults, according to a new study...
6,500 girls filled out dietary questionnaires once a year for three years, starting when they were about 12 years old... The researchers divided the girls into four groups based on how many carotenoid-rich foods they ate as teens. They found the group that ate the least amount of beta-carotene - a common type of carotenoid - was almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with benign breast disease as girls who ate the most."

December 23, 2013
CBS News
Eating Nuts During Pregnancy May Lower Child's Chance of Peanut Allergy
Watch senior author, Dr. Young, discuss findings from the GUTS study in an interview with CBS news.

Boston Magazine

November 5, 2013
Boston Magazine
Eating Disorders More Common in Males than Previously Thought
"The study looked at 5,527 teenage males from across the U.S. and researchers found that 17.9 percent of adolescent boys were extremely concerned about their weight and physique. These boys were more likely to start engaging in risky behaviors, including drug use and frequent binge drinking, the study says. Evaluations for eating disorders have been developed to reflect girls’ concerns with thinness but not boys’ concerns, which may be more focused on gaining muscles than thinness. “Males and females have very different concerns about their weight and appearance,” says lead author Alison Field."


September 26, 2013
Breast Health, a Great Reason to Love Peanut Butter and Jelly
"Peanut butter is a delicious snack, but here's another incentive to dig into a jar of crunchy. New research indicates that older girls who regularly eat peanut butter, nuts, and other sources of vegetable protein and fat may reduce their risk of developing benign breast disease (BBD) by as much as 39 percent. The findings are based on data collected from over 9,000 girls and young women who participated in Growing Up Today Study, a long-term research study led by Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital."


The Boston Globe

July 15, 2013
Boston Globe
Male Eating Disorders: Excessive Workouts to Blame?
"Binging, purging, and diet-supplement abuses are traditionally viewed as women’s-health issues. But recently, the Los Angeles Times reported that in Los Angeles county, young men are just as likely as women both to induce vomiting and abuse diet pills. This is part of a growing pool of evidence that eating disorders are affecting more men every year...'We need to educate the public on what to look for, and break down stereotypes,' says Jerel Calzo. The motivations that lead to male eating disorders may be different than the ones that lead women to anorexia or bulimia. 'It might not be just about body image,' Calzo says. 'It could do with other things related to masculinity, such as strength.'"


February 21, 2013
Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry / Podcast
Childhood Gender Nonconformity, Bullying Victimization, and Depressive Symptoms Across Adolescence and Early Adulthood: An 11-yr Longitudinal Study
In this podcast, researcher Dr. Andrea Roberts discuss her findings on trauma, childhood gender noncomformity, sexual orientation, depressive symptoms.

December 12, 2012
CNN Health / The Chart
Overeating in Children May be Linked to Drug Use
"Researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital studied a group of 16,882 boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 15 who participated in the Growing Up Today Study... Investigators sent out questionnaires every 12 to 24 months, asking if these children were overeating or binge eating... Overeating did not have to be connected to loss of control. By looking at the results, clinicians examined the association between overeating (without loss of control) and binge eating (overeating with loss of control) and such health red flags as being overweight or obese, depression, binge drinking, and drug use."



March 6, 2012
MedPage Today
Vitamin D Key to Girls’ Bone Health
"In the Growing Up Today Study, an ongoing cohort study of the adolescent children of women in the Nurses' Health Study, seven years of follow-up turned up stress fractures in 4% of the 6,712 girls, ages 9 to 15, at baseline. Nearly all of those fractures (90%) occurred in the 30% who practiced sports or other high-impact activity at least an hour a day."


February 20, 2012
Kids Who Don’t Gender Conform Are at Higher Risk of Abuse
"Harvard researchers gathered the data by administering childhood behavior questionnaires among nearly 9,000 young adults ages 17 to 27, who were enrolled in 1996 in the long-term Growing Up Today Study. The questionnaires, given in 2007, asked participants to recall their childhood experiences: their favorite games and toys, media characters they had imitated or admired, and whether they took male or female roles in pretend play. The participants were also asked about physical, sexual and emotional abuse in childhood, and were screened for PTSD... By young adulthood, rates of PTSD were almost twice as high among those who had been gender non-conforming as kids than among those who had not."

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February 20, 2012
ABC News
Gender-Nonconforming Students at Elevated Risk for Abuse, Post-Traumatic Stress
"The children had enrolled in the longitudinal Growing Up Today study in 1996 and were asked a decade later in 2007 to recall their childhood experiences... Rates of PTSD were almost twice as high among young adults who were gender nonconforming in childhood than among those who were not, according to researchers... 'The message of this study is discrimination towards these kids is pretty severe and it takes place in the home as well as outside the home,' said lead author Andrea Roberts... 'And it can have lasting health effects on kids -- PTSD is a very serious illness.'"


April 12, 2010
Teen Drinking Linked to Benign Breast Disease
"Girls were aged 9 to 15 when the Growing Up Today Study began. They answered questionnaires from 1996 to 2001, and then again in 2003, 2005, and 2007. The questions about alcohol consumption in the previous year were a part of the 2003 survey. During the 2005 and 2007 surveys, the participants were asked about benign breast disease; 147 women said they had been diagnosed with it and 67 of these women said this diagnosis was confirmed with a biopsy."


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October 7, 2008
USA Today
Study: Teen Girls Need to Keep Exercising
"Girls often become much less physically active during their teen years, but that's just when they should move into high gear if they want to control their weight, a new study reveals. Scientists at Harvard Medical School in Boston analyzed national data on 3,914 females, ages 14 to 22.... Some of the younger girls were gaining weight because they were still growing and maturing. However, most of the older girls had reached their full maturity and their weight gain was more likely to be unhealthy. In 2001, about 54% of the young women wanted to lose weight, and 24% were trying to maintain their weight. About half said they had been on a diet over the past year."



June 7, 2005
Washington Post
Study: More Milk Means More Weight Gain
"Berkey and her colleagues analyzed data collected from about 12,829 children from all 50 states who were ages 9 to 14 in 1996, when they began participating in the Growing Up Today Study.... The researchers examined the relationship between the children's milk intake between 1996 and 1999 and their weight over a one-year period. Those who drank more than three 8-ounce servings of milk a day gained the most weight, even after the researchers took into consideration factors such as physical activity, time spent on television and video games, other dietary factors, and growth."