URBANA, Ill. - During the last 30 years, childhood obesity has become an increasingly significant challenge for many families in the U.S. But the issue isn’t a simple one—excessive weight gain is the result of many different factors interacting over time—and it’s important for those working with issues around weight and family health to consider all the variables that are in play with this complex issue.
In a study recently published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, researchers at the University of Illinois have been looking at how emotional responsiveness can affect the feeding practices that parents use and how they relate to parents’ emotions.
What are feeding practices?
Feeding practices are defined as the ways in which children are socialized around food, eating, and mealtimes. Healthy feeding practices include providing a variety of foods, establishing routines around eating, and responding to a child’s cues of hunger or fullness. Unhealthy feeding practices, or non-responsive feeding, include pressuring children to eat and restricting the types or amount of food they have access to. Parents who use these unhealthy feeding practices may be increasing their child’s risk for obesity over time.
The study explores how parents’ emotional responsiveness and their use of certain feeding practices relate to child weight gain. Generally, supportive emotional responsiveness can have a positive effect on a child’s ability to regulate their emotions. Lead researcher Jaclyn Saltzman, a doctoral student in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Illinois says, “A good example of this is when a child is panicky and can’t sleep after watching something scary on TV. If a parent encourages a child to talk about their fear, comforts them, or does something fun with the child to distract them—those are supportive practices.” But if a parent gets angry or feels upset themselves—because their child is upset—Saltzman says that would be considered unsupportive emotion responsiveness. It indicates that there might be something going on with the parent’s ability to regulate his or her negative emotions.
Tied into this are parents’ unhealthy eating behaviors. Binge eating—or eating past the point of fullness and to the point of distress—is related to poor emotion regulation. Binge eating may also negatively affect parents’ emotional responsiveness to the child, because their capacity to regulate their own emotions effectively is compromised. Saltzman’s research shows these unsupportive emotional responsiveness strategies lead to the use of unhealthy feeding practices, and to increased child weight gain over time.
To determine this, Saltzman’s team studied approximately 250 moms and preschool-aged children at two stages: the first when children were 36 months and the second at 51 months old. At the first stage, mothers were asked about their height and weight, if they engaged in binge eating, the frequency of that eating behavior, their emotional responsiveness strategies, and the feeding practices they used. At the second stage, emotional responsiveness strategies and feeding practices were measured again for any changes over time. Additionally, height and weight were measured directly for children, and mothers’ height and weight were self-reported.
Based on the data, Saltzman finds a link between maternal binge eating and the use of more unsupportive emotional responsiveness strategies. “Parents who binge eat are more likely to get upset when their kids are upset, because they’re already at capacity trying to cope with their own negative emotions,” says Saltzman. “It might be harder for them to try to respond by helping the child sift through their emotions and express themselves effectively, because they might be struggling with that skill already.”
Those unsupportive emotional responsiveness strategies then lead to more unhealthy feeding practices, like pressuring a child to clean their plate. Or as Saltzman says, “Parents were then more likely to restrict children’s access to types or amounts of food, and push their kids past the point of fullness. Saying things like ‘One more bite, two more bites, or clean your plate.’ They were also more likely to use food as a reward for desired behavior.” After a prolonged period, these unhealthy feeding practices increased the risk for weight gain among children.
So what does this all mean for parents?
First, Saltzman stresses that parents shouldn’t be blamed. “We don’t want to use these results and say that parents are to blame for increased child weight,” Saltzman points out. “We have to consider how parents’ emotions are being brought to the table, especially for those parents who may be struggling with eating and emotion regulation themselves.” Blaming parents for excessive weight gain in kids would only make it harder for them to regulate their emotions, their eating behavior, and how they feed their children.
One of the main takeaways from the study is that parents are people who need care too, just like their children. As Saltzman says, “We know that people who binge experience a lot of distress because of those binge eating behaviors, and so we think this emotional overload may bleed out into the parent-child relationship.” Obesity prevention programs that focus only on children are leaving parents out of the equation, and may not be supporting them.
Saltzman’s research further suggests that in order for parents to help their children develop healthy habits, parents have to be cared for as well. “To parents,” Saltzman suggests. “I would say that, in order to care for your child, it’s important to care for yourself. It’s really hard to focus on your child during a meal if you’re feeling overwhelmed around food or negative emotion.” Parents who engage in binge eating or overeating might want to consider seeking help from a clinician who practices with attention toward developing healthy emotion regulation strategies.
“In the end,” says Saltzman, “caring for parents’ emotions is going to have a positive effect on children, and working with parents instead of blaming them is clearly where we need to go.”
“Eating, feeding, and feeling: emotional responsiveness mediates longitudinal associations between maternal binge eating, feeding practices, and child weight” is published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, and is available online at http://ijbnpa.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12966-016-0415-5. Co-authors are Jaclyn A. Saltzman, Maria Pineros-Leano, Janet M. Liechty, Kelly K. Bost, Barbara H. Fiese and the STRONG Kids Team.
Corn and soybean storage
URBANA, Ill. – The current USDA projections indicate that U.S. corn and soybean supplies will be record large for the 2016-17 marketing year that begins on Sept.1. The corn supply (production, carryover stocks, and imports) is projected at 16.909 billion bushels, 1.512 billion bushels larger than last year’s supply and 1.43 billion bushels larger than the record large supply of two years ago. The soybean supply is projected at 4.346 billion bushels, 201 million larger than the record supply of last year.
“These large supplies are on top of a record large wheat supply totaling 3.417 billion bushels, 500 million larger than last year’s supply and 299 million larger than the record supply of 2012-13,” says University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good. “Such large corn and soybean supplies might be expected to result in issues with handling and storing the 2016 harvest. In turn, potential storage constraints might point to a weak harvest time basis and large spreads (carry) in the futures market. This is certainly what has happened in the hard red winter wheat market.”
Current basis in western Kansas is generally quoted around -$1.20 per bushel while the carry from September 2016 to May 2017 futures has been trading at about 50 cents per bushel, or about $0.056 per month. Average basis in the soft red winter wheat market in west southwest Illinois is stronger, at about -19 cents, but the September 2016 to May 2017 spread is nearly 54 cents, or 6 cents per month.
In contrast, Good says harvest bids for corn and soybeans generally reflect a relatively strong basis, although conditions vary a lot from region to region. At interior elevators in south central Illinois, current harvest time corn bids reflect an average basis of about -25 cents per bushel. That is slightly stronger than the basis at this time last year and about 10 cents stronger than that of two years ago. The carry from December 2016 to July 2017 futures is about 25 cents per bushels or only about $0.0325 per month. For soybeans, current harvest time bids in south central Illinois reflect an average basis of about -$0.245 per bushel. The basis is about 8 cents stronger than at this time last year and about 10 cents stronger than that of two years ago. The soybean futures market is mostly inverted, with the November 2016 to July 2017 carry at -6 cents per bushel.
“The relatively strong corn and soybean basis and small or negative carry in the futures market in the face of U.S. corn, soybean, and wheat supplies that exceed supplies of a year ago by more than 2.1 billion bushels is somewhat surprising,” Good says.
Good offers the following explanations.
First, a stronger-than-expected basis may reflect the industry’s good track record of handling large supplies with the use of temporary storage facilities for corn. With generally ample handling and interior storage facilities (permanent and temporary) the speed of harvest and transportation bottlenecks would be the major threats to the strong basis levels moving through harvest.
Second, relatively strong export demand may be supporting the basis and reducing the carry in the futures market. Weekly corn export inspections have been in the range of 45 to 50 million bushels over the past two months. In addition, unshipped sales for the current marketing year total 265 million bushels and outstanding sales for the 2016-17 marketing year are at 398 million bushels, compared to 222 million on the same date last year. Weekly soybean export inspections have been much larger than is typical for this time of year, ranging from 26 to 37 million bushels per week for the most recent five-week period. Unshipped sales for the current marketing year total 176 million bushels and outstanding sales for the 2016-17 marketing year are at 564 million bushels, compared to 384 million on the same date last year. The strong export pace primarily reflects the shortfall in the most recent South American harvest.
Third, the relatively small carry in the corn futures market and the inverse in the soybean futures market may reflect expectations of larger corn and soybean crops in South America next year, as such expectations might pressure deferred futures prices. The USDA projects combined corn production in Brazil and (mostly) Argentina in 2017 to be 790 million bushels (21 percent) larger than in 2016. Soybean production is projected to increase by 260 million bushels (5 percent).
“Average harvest time bids for soybeans in south central Illinois are near $9.90 per bushel, above the upper end of the range of the U.S. average farm price projected by USDA for the 2016-17 marketing year,” Good says. “The relatively high price, strong basis, and inverted futures market discourages storage of the 2016 crop. For those who anticipate even higher prices, ownership in the form of futures or basis contracts is likely much less expensive than commercial storage, and may be less expensive than using existing on-farm facilities.
“For corn, average harvest time bids in south central Illinois are near $3.17 per bushel, near the mid-point of the range of the U.S. average farm price projected by USDA for the 2016-17 marketing year,” Good says. “Modest harvest time bids and some positive carry in the corn market makes storage of the 2016 crop more attractive than storage of soybeans. For example, if the average basis in south central Illinois strengthens to about -10 cents by late spring 2017, as it has the past two years, the market is offering about 40 cents per bushel to store corn from harvest to late spring next year.”
According to Good, with storage space limited in some areas this year, producers may not be able to store as much of the corn and soybean crop as desired. While basis levels and seasonal basis patterns vary from region to region, the corn market is offering a better opportunity for positive storage returns than is the soybean market.
Illinois alumnus stops in Champaign on history-making flight
URBANA, Ill. - University of Illinois alumnus Dr. Bo Zhang flew into Willard Airport on August 17, on his way to making aviation history. Zhang is performing China’s first flight around the world in a propeller-driven aircraft. Although this trip has been made in similar aircraft more than 350 times, Zhang is China’s first aviator to attempt the feat.
Zhang departed Beijing on August 7, and he will fly approximately 25,000 miles by way of 11 countries, making more than 30 stops along the way. Zhang’s route includes the first-ever flight along the Silk Road, an ancient network of trade routes. Zhang said, “When I made my plan, I was aware of China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative and its influence on the world’s economy. In my plan I will retrace the ancient Silk Road, to fly over the five central Asian countries. In that way I can both experience the shock from the ancient civilization and witness the development and the changes along the new Silk Road.”
Zhang was met at Willard Airport by scores of students, faculty, and alumni, as well as various Chinese and UI dignitaries, including President Timothy Killeen, President Emeritus Robert Easter, and Robert Hauser, Dean of the College of ACES. He will resume his flight on Thursday, and some of the next stops include welcoming activities in both Washington, D.C., and London. Zhang said he is approximately one-third of the way through his trip, which is expected to take two months.
Zhang received both his Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in agricultural engineering from Illinois, and he is a former board member of the University of Illinois Alumni Association. In 2014, he became the first student to earn a private pilot certificate from Parkland College in Champaign; he completed the program in 58 days, a record for the University of Illinois Aviation Institute.
Make manure safety a priority after harvest
- Hydrogen sulfide and methane gasses from liquid/slurry stores can be lethal.
- Remember key safety rules before agitating and emptying manure stores
- Make sure new or inexperienced workers are trained in safety
Make manure safety a priority after harvest
URBANA, Ill. - With harvest around the corner, manure application follows, so it’s a good time to remember manure safety, says Rich Gates, professor and Extension specialist at the University of Illinois. “Any liquid/slurry stores, when agitated, will release toxic hydrogen sulfide and methane gasses that can be lethal. This week, during agitation of a large manure storage tank in Wisconsin, a young farmer was killed from manure gas, along with 16 cows.
“Although this tragedy was truly an aberration, according to reports,” says Gates, “it is important to remember the key safety rules when agitating and emptying manure stores. These rules include taking steps to promote adequate ventilation, removing workers and if possible animals, from buildings or nearby downwind structures, and starting the agitation slowly and watching for any harmful effects. Never enter an enclosed manure store without appropriate precautions, and be mindful that you can be overcome with a single breath if concentrations are high.”
Gates notes that two fact sheets, “Safe Manure Removal Policies” and “Manure Storage Entering Procedures” are available free online from the National Pork Board and U of I Extension’s ag safety website. He adds, “Don’t forget the importance of ensuring that new or inexperienced workers are also trained in safety.”
This Friday, August 19th, a free online webinar entitled “Manure Safety and Transport” is being hosted by the Livestock and Poultry Environmental (LPE) Learning Center, 1:30 pm CDT. To access the webinar, go to www.extension.org/58813 to download the speaker notes and connect to the virtual meeting. LPE has instructions for first time webinar participants at www.extension.org/8924. Attendance is free, and the sessions are recorded and can be viewed later.
Recycled leaves make inexpensive mulch
URBANA, Ill. – Rather than bagging or removing fallen leaves, University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator Rhonda Ferree suggests using them in your yard.
“The tree leaves that accumulate in and around your landscape represent a valuable natural resource that can be used to provide a good source of organic matter and nutrients for use in your landscape,” Ferree says. “Leaves contain 50 to 80 percent of the nutrients a plant extracts from the soil and air during the season. Therefore, leaves should be managed and used rather than bagged or burned.”
Ferree says adding a 2-inch layer of leaf mulch adds approximately 150 pounds of nitrogen, 20 pounds of phosphorus, and 65 pounds of potassium per acre. Due to natural soil buffering and breakdown in most soil types, leaf mulch also has no significant effect on soil pH. Even oak leaves, which are acid (4.5 to 4.7 pH) when fresh, break down to be neutral to slightly alkaline.
According to Ferree, there are four basic ways leaves can be managed and used in the landscape.
- A light covering of leaves can be mowed. Simply leave the shredded leaves in place on the lawn. This technique is most effective when a mulching mower is used. In fact, during times of light leaf drop or if there are only a few small trees in your landscape, this technique is probably the most efficient and easiest way to manage leaf accumulation.
- Mulching is a simple and effective way to recycle leaves and improve your landscape. Leaves can be used as a mulch in vegetable gardens, flower beds and around shrubs and trees. Leaves that have been mowed or run through some other type of shredder will decompose faster and are much more likely to remain in place than unshredded leaves. Unshredded leaves also tend to mat together, which can impede water and air infiltration. Ferree uses a chipper/shredder/vacuum to pick up her leaves, which she uses instead of purchased mulch in her landscape beds.
- Leaves can be collected and worked directly into garden and flowerbed soils. A 6- to- 8-inch layer of leaves tilled into a heavy, clay soil will improve aeration and drainage. The same amount tilled into a light, sandy soil, will improve water and nutrient-holding capacity. A recommended strategy for using leaves to improve soil in vegetable gardens and annual planting beds is to collect and work them into the soil during the fall. This allows sufficient time for the leaves to decompose prior to spring planting. Adding a little general purpose fertilizer to the soil after working in the leaves will hasten their decomposition.
- Try composting your leaves. Compost is a dark, crumbly, earth-smelling form of organic matter that has gone through a natural decomposition process. If you have a garden, lawn, trees, shrubs, or even planter boxes or houseplants, you have a use for compost. For additional information composting, visit the University of Illinois Extension website.
Ferree also recommends jumping in the pile of leaves “at least once.”