Sunday, September 30, 2007

Childhood Obesity: Dietary Influences

by Gurion Blattman

Copyright (c) 2007 Gurion Blattman

Unhealthy dietary influences are a great factor in the growth of childhood obesity. Portion sizes of food and soft drinks served at fast food restaurants are somewhat at fault for this epidemic. Portion sizes have greatly expanded; McDonald's French fries were originally sold in two-ounce portions. Today's "super size" fries are nearly seven ounces. Eight ounces was the original size of a vending machine Coke; this has expanded to twenty ounces (Mrdjenovic, Gordana, "Nutritional and energetic consequences of sweetened drink consuming in 6 - to 13 - year-old children," The Journal of Pediatrics, 2003, p. 605).

Soft drinks are the leading source of added sugar in children's diets. A 20 ounce serving of soda contains 17 teaspoons of sugar. As soft drink intake increases, milk intake subsequently decreases resulting in inadequate calcium and vitamin intake that may contribute to osteoporosis later in life. The caffeine in soft drinks can also interfere with sleep patterns, impacting school performance (Schwartz, Robert P., "Soft drinks taste good, but the calories count," The Journal of Pediatrics, 2003, p. 599).

Beverage companies blame the obesity epidemic in school children on the decline in physical activity. They are partly correct; however, it would take almost 40 minutes of moderate exercise to burn the calories from one 20 ounce soda (Schwartz, p. 599).

According to interviews I conducted with teachers, the majority of the milk sold in schools is either two percent or whole milk. The dietary guidelines for Americans recommend that school-age children have a diet low in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol (cspinet.org). In a child's diet, milk is often the largest source of saturated fat.

For the prevention of future osteoporosis, it is important that children consume plenty of calcium since 95 percent of maximum bone density is attained by age 18. Children need the fat in whole milk for neural development, but only until age two. One percent and fat free milk provide the calcium children need for strong bones, but without the saturated fat that can contribute to obesity and heart disease later in life (cspinet.org).

One glass of whole milk has as much saturated fat as five strips of bacon. Two percent milk is not much better, being equal to about three strips of bacon. This is very important to note, because children drink up to three servings of milk per day combined between school and home. Switching to one percent milk or fat free milk is one of the easiest ways for children to get the calcium and vitamins they need while reducing their saturated fat intake and heart disease risk. Children who drink one cup of one percent milk instead of the same amount of two percent milk during the school day would cut almost 19 pounds of fat from their diet during their 13 years of school (cspinet.org).

Public schools are required by the National School Lunch Program to prepare meals that contain one third of the Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein and iron and no more than 30% of calories from fat. However, a USDA survey showed that a typical school meal still contains at least 35% of calories from fat (www.msnbc.com). Even worse, competitive foods and beverages are not part of the reimbursable Federal School Meals programs are not required to meet nutritional standards and are either sold as part of cafeteria food service (such as ice cream and pizza) or through other venues within schools such as vending machines and school stores.

Education about nutrition is a key component to the success of dietary changes and involving parents can only be beneficial to guarantee the success of the programs. Nutritional programs offer great potential for use within the public school system. There are several innovative programs that all have the possibility for successful implementation within schools.

The one percent or less school program was created by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). A school-based nutrition-education campaign kit is available for purchase to promote the drinking of one percent or fat free milk in school and at home. When a school signs up for the program, they receive a kit tailored to their school's needs including signs to place in the cafeteria, directions for conducting taste tests, class activity lessons and flyers for parents. This program is appealing on several levels. It is designed to involve children in promoting healthy choices for themselves, their families and friends. It is also a very low cost to participating schools. The kit itself is only $65.00.

With the goal of finding out if children would choose healthy snacks over junk food, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded grants totaling $6 million to schools through a Fruit and Vegetable Pilot Program (FVPP) for the 2002-2003 school year. The grants were used to provide each child in 107 elementary and middle schools with free fresh fruits and vegetables. The intent of the FVPP is to determine the feasibility and the success of such a program. The program has proven so far to be overwhelmingly successful and it is looking hopeful that this project will continue beyond the pilot (Buzby, Jean C., Guthrie, Joanne F., Kantor, Linda S. "Evaluation of the USDA fruit and vegetable pilot program," 2003, p. 1). The average cost of this program was $94 per student for the year (Buzby, p 12). Fresh fruits and vegetables were distributed to children through kiosks and free vending machines and some were served in classrooms as snacks. Over 90% of the participating schools provided nutritional education in conjunction with the program either by incorporating it in a lesson or as a health class. Some remarkable statistics emerged from the project. One school noted 25% fewer doughnuts sold at breakfast, one had a 50% decline in lunchtime dessert sales and a middle school noted candy sales dropped from an average of 850 pieces per week to 300 during the program (Buzby, p. 1).

There are simple changes schools can make to improve the healthy eating habits of their students. Breakfast at school is associated with increased math grades, fewer absences and improved classroom behavior (www.archpedi.ama-assn.org). According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations, a cereal must contain 51% whole grain by weight to claim that "diets rich in whole-grain foods...may help reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers." Fiber is a major component of whole grain, so ensuring there are at least two grams of fiber per serving also serves as a good indication of adequate whole grains in the cereal. As easy way for schools to change the breakfast selections into a healthy option for children is to add fresh fruit and whole grain breads and cereals that meet the above criteria (Bistran, Bruce, M.D., Ph.D., Willett, Walter C., M.D., "Are you eating the right kind of breakfast cereal?" Harvard Health Letter, May 2003, p.2)

The fat content of school lunch programs needs to be lowered to a level in compliance with the Federal school meals program. Replacing unhealthy competitive foods, such as the ice cream sold at lunch, with healthy choices and eliminating vending machines that are accessible to the elementary school children would be a tremendous step in improving children's eating habits at school.

About the Author
Gurion Blattman is a lifelong athlete and fitness expert with over 20 years experience in the health and fitness industry. A graduate of Northeastern University, he is a Certified Professional Trainer by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Based in Darien, Connecticut,he has trained and coached men, women and children of all ages as well as professional athletes. http://www.gurionblattman.com

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Obesity Among Children and How to Prevent It

by juliet cohen

Obesity is both an individual clinical condition and is increasingly viewed as a serious public health problem. Obesity means having too much body fat. It is different from being overweight, which means weighing too much. The weight may come from muscle, bone, fat and/or body water. Obesity occurs over time when you eat more calories than you use. The balance between calories-in and calories-out differs for each person. Factors that might tip the balance include your genetic makeup, overeating, eating high-fat foods and not being physically active. Obesity can run in families, but just how much is due to genes is hard to determine. Many families eat the same foods, have the same habits (like snacking in front of the TV), and tend to think alike when it comes to weight issues. In most cases, weight problems arise from a combination of habits and genetic factors. Certain illnesses, like thyroid gland problems or unusual genetic disorders, are uncommon causes for people gaining weight. Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. One in three Americans is obese.

Obesity is mainly caused by taking in more calories than are used up in physical activity and daily life. Obesity puts you at greater risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes and many other serious health problems. Genetic factors play some part in the development of obesity -- children of obese parents are 10 times more likely to be obese than children with parents of normal weight. Obesity is now recognized as a major risk factor for coronary heart disease, which can lead to heart attack. Obesity is also increasing rapidly throughout the world. Obesity also can lead to stroke, greater risk for certain cancers such as breast or colon cancer, and even death. Obesity is not just a cosmetic consideration; it is a dire health dilemma directly harmful to one's health. In the United States, roughly 300,000 deaths per year are directly related to obesity, and more than 80% of these deaths are in patients with a BMI over 30. In the United States, women are slightly more at risk for becoming obese than men.

In addition to other potential problems, people who are obese are more likely to be depressed. Obesity rates have almost quadrupled in the last 25 years. Now 22% of Britons are obese and three-quarters are overweight. Medical treatment of obesity focuses on lifestyle changes such as eating less and increasing activity level. Phen-fen" and Redux - These prescription drugs have been removed from the market in the United States and many other countries. Ephedra - This natural substance is essentially an herbal phen-fen. Phenylpropanolamine (PPA) is often found in appetite suppressants as well as over-the-counter cough and cold remedies. Diet and exercise, the goal of medication treatment has to be realistic. With successful medication treatment, one can expect an initial weight loss of at least 5 pounds during the first month of treatment. Soft drinks, fruit juices, and sports drinks are loaded with sugar; drink fat-free or low-fat milk or water instead. Eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Avoid fast-food restaurants. Eat a healthy breakfast every day. Don't eat meals or snacks while watching TV.

Obesity Treatment Tips

1. Soft drinks, fruit juices, and sports drinks are loaded with sugar; drink fat-free or low-fat milk or water instead.

2. Eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables a day.

3. Avoid fast-food restaurants.

4. Eat a healthy breakfast every day.

5. Don't eat meals or snacks while watching.

6. Phen-fen" and Redux drugs have been removed from the market in the United States and many other countries.

7. Ephedra natural substance is essentially an herbal phen-fen. It is the active ingredient in MaHuang and is used as a stimulant and appetite suppressant.

8. Phenylpropanolamine (PPA) is often found in appetite suppressants as well as over-the-counter cough and cold remedies.

About the Author
Juliet Cohen writes articles on diseases and conditions and women health care. More information on health related topics visit our site at http://www.health-care-articles.info.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Weightloss for Teenagers and Children - A modern Problem?

by Robert Schuster

Unfortunately we are nowadays living in a time, where it is actually necessary to talk about the problem of overweight teenagers and where weight loss for teenagers and children becomes more and more important.

20 or more years ago, even talking about weight loss for teenagers and children was unheard of. The consumption of fast-food was more or less zero and the children and teenagers spent their leisure-time outside, playing and running around. Joining a sports club was normal and from the age 6 upwards, every child and every teenager was involved in one or more physical activities.

The change to the worse was not a sudden one. Restaurants, which invested a lot of money in advertising and not so much in the quality of their food, started to spread. At first only in the larger cities and in TV-advertisings, later they also showed up in smaller towns and villages. Video Games became more and more popular and it was just a short time, until the children preferred to sit at home and play virtual games.

Looking at these facts it does not come as much of a surprise, that the average weight of children and teenagers became higher and higher. And all of a sudden, it was necessary, to talk about diets for overweight children, ways to prevent obesity amongst teenagers and many parents started to look for tips for weight loss for teenagers and children.

Overweight and obesity is nowadays a very common problem. Over 60 % of the teenagers and children in western countries are either the one or the other. Finding a solution for this problem, finding a remedy for weight loss for teenagers and children, will be one of the major tasks of modern society.

About the Author
The author was born an raised in Switzerland, but is now living in Spain, enjoying the Mediterranean lifestyle. Working as a chef in many different countries, got him in contact with various diets from all over the world. Now he is running the website http://www.hoodia-diet-shop.co.uk and working as a catering manager for various hotels and restaurants.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Our Children, Healthy Foods and Fitness

by Bill Jensen

Many of us are aware of the latest report regarding what pregnant women eat and the eating habits of their offspring. As reported in the British Journal of Nutrition, scientists say that pregnant women and those breast feeding their young who are increasing their uptake of fatty and sugary foods may be programming the eating habits of their unborn or developing children toward similar types of food.

They further suggest that such children will have a tendency toward eating foods high in sugar and fats.

Studies done on the eating habits of rats show that those whose mothers were fed human junk foods while they were pregnant or lactating produced offspring who had a preference for foods high in fats and sugars. These same rat offspring had a tendency to eat more than rats from mothers who were fed normal diets. These same scientists suggest that human results should likely be the same.

With these thoughts in mind we should perhaps look at other aspects of food and children's fitness.

Experts in the field of children's eating habits suggest that they pick up many of their views, unconscious of other, by observing what adults do with regard to food. They suggest that parents who demonstrate healthy eating habits that also allow for the occasional straying to junk food as a treat develop a far healthier attitude towards food in their children. Children whose parents strictly stick to healthy foods and do not allow the occasional sampling of junk food may help develop some unhealthy practices towards eating; some of which may be binge-eating and cheating.

Dr Rachel Pryke, a mother of three, and practicing doctor in Redditch, Worcestershire, UK believes that we may be developing in our children psychological difficulties with food because of the way we, the parents, deal with food, junk food and dieting.

When one member of the family goes on a diet they eat differently than the rest of the family. Often their comments about the foods they are allowed to and not allowed to eat give their children incorrect feelings about healthy eating and associate it with discomfort, hunger and even sense of denial. They also begin to see associations with abstinence followed by binge-eating. This can be followed by guilt feelings in children when they eat the so-called forbidden foods.

Dr. Pyke goes on further to say that girls are even more prone to copy dieting behaviours and to associate guilt feelings with eating enjoyable foods. This kind of relationship with food may lead to the very unhealthy cycle of dieting followed by binge eating that has a great tendency to lead to obesity.

It is very important that we, the adults, take the lead and demonstrate that practicing healthy eating can also allow for the occasional enjoyment of less healthy foods. Teaching an understanding of the need for the healthy foods as the main intake of food will help our children to likewise learn to follow a balanced diet.

In learning to help our children to eat in a healthy manner it is important that we understand that children have different nutritional need than we do. According to the experts fat, which is part of a well-balanced diet may be even more important to the healthy development of children. Research tends to show that children attain a far greater amount of their energy from burning fats than do adults. These results tend to indicate that putting children on a low fat diet, even in cases of obesity may be the wrong direction to take.

One might extrapolate from this that increased and regular fitness activity combined with a balanced diet which doesn't remove or restrict any food group would be the more prudent route to take.

John Kostyak (Pennsylvania State University) led a study by a US team which found that the total fat consumed by children in activity amounted to about the same as that consumed by adults. When you adjust for size and weight, one comes up with the conclusion that of the total calories consumed by children; one quarter to one third should be fat compared to one fifth for adults.

Tam Fry, board member of the National Obesity Forum was quoted as saying that "Young children need more fat and energy for the whole purpose of growing up and living. Therefore to give them low fat and sugar-free products is a bad idea."

A rational individual might tend to conclude from this that just like for healthy adults, we should preach and demonstrate that regular physical activity combined with a sensible, healthy diet would be the ideal solution for healthy children. This should include physical fitness that embodies both aerobic and strength activity and a healthy diet that includes junk foods in moderation.

Until then ... help your child to be fit, healthy ... and ... look ...... marvellous!


About the Author
Bill Jensen operates http://myhealthandfitnessstrategies.com/ a blog about health and fitness of mind, body and spirit. He loves giving away free things and is now giving away free membership to his monthly newsletter. You're not going to believe what you get when you sigh up . . . and it's all free! More information here: http://myhealthandfitnessstrategies.com/

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Monday, September 3, 2007

Defeat Childhood Obesity

by Cinzia Cervellini


 Defeat childhood obesity

In the last few years childhood obesity has shown to be an issue of critical and increasing importance. A little boy is considered obese if he exceeds his ideal weight by 25%; the threshold is set at 30% for little girls. A child's ideal weight can be easily calculated on the base of BMI (body massive index). If you want to check your child's weight you can visit the website: http://www.cdc.gov and write "bmi" in the search engine.

Childhood obesity is frequently a consequence of an unbalanced nutrition, more and more based on fat and caloric food, lacking in proteins and nutritive value. Children often eat casually and prefer snacks and soft drinks. Parents tend to buy ready-to-eat products rather than cook themselves with natural ingredients. Purchase decisions in our consumer society are influenced by marketing and misleading advertising, which affect nutrition and deploy its biggest effects on youth.

We lead an inactive life, too. We ride our children at school by car and drive to the workplace, regardless the health effects of a long walk. Our kids like to spend most of their time watching TV, playing videogames and eating junk-food, rather than go out and play.

We all know that genetic factors "weight heavily" too: the risk of becoming obese is 40% higher among children who have one obese parent. For this reason it is extremely important to educate children to eat correctly since the first years of life. Parents bear the responsibility of orienting the eating habits in the family and making their children develop a personal relationship with food, eventually keeping them on a slimming diet.

In this society of the "bite and flee" is essential getting together for lunch of dinner time. So the primary target of the parents is to trasmetting to the own children the right way to follow a healthy diet.

The first step to defeat the obesity is to change slowly and gradually our life-style and explaining the benefits we obtains by loosing weight. For example: getting more energy, social respect, major safety and self-esteem. The parents must also know that the obesity brings:

PREMATURE CONSEQUENCES as:

RESPIRATORY: apnea, sleeplessness and difficulties payng attention to homeworks or studies. TIREDNESS: articular disturbs. Leggs crossed as a bow or X. Flat feet reduced mobility, articular pain. DIGESTING APPARATUS DISTURBS: calculus stones in gallbladder PSYCHOLOGICAL DISEASE. Children usually make fun of fat friends and discriminate them, because they are awkward and tend not to take part in sports. Consequently, obese children feel often ashamed, lose confidence and self-esteem and prefer to spend most of their time at home, watching TV, eating chips and taking soft drinks.

EARLY PUBERTY:the obesity can cause early puberty in girls as:

1) Downy. 2) Heavy sweating. 3)Breast growth.

In such cases the specialist (endoctrinologist) will suggest lab. exams like:

1) Pelvic Ecography. 2) Left wrist X ray. 3) Blood exam. Hormonal dosage for glycemia to diabetes control. 4) Measuring the height and the weight for early growing.

LATE CONSEQUENCES: a child who has been obese in the infancy has more chance becoming obese in the adult-age and be exposed to the nature disturbs:

CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE: high blood pressure. MUSCOLAR SKELETAR: premature arthrosis. METABOLISM TROUBLES: diabets, hypercolesterol. FOOD TROUBLES: gastroenteric cancer.

All these consequences must spur parents to improve and make children's lifestyle more healthy. If necessary, a specialist could provide psychological support and help kids to start this slow and difficult way. A winning move to achieve the best results in the struggle against childhood obesity is to integrate psychological training with recreational and cultural activities, such as acting in theatre, cinema or courses which stimulate kids to experience their manual skills, like painting on ceramics, clay modelling, carving in wood...

Every children have a passion or inner interest and this can be a great opportunity to help them to express their personality. Never forget to support and trust them during their difficult change of eating habits. Children have a surprising interior strength: if their skills are correctly addressed, they are able to make a healthy and happy future come true.

This is the point of view of a mother who loves her children immensely. In this technologically advanced society everything evolves swiftly and we can't take our time to meditate about what is really important in our life. I am firmly convinced that we have the duty to teach health principles to our children and improve the world, by rediscovering our origins and taking care of nature. Why don't we start by nutrition, teaching our children to eat natural and genuine food?

Take action for healthy nutrition!!!

Feel free to visit my blog: http://defeat-childhood-obesity.blogspot.com


About the Author
Cinzia Cervellini is a newbie article writer about childhood obesity, issue of critical and increasing importance.

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