Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Childhood Obesity - Fitness and Nutrition Facts for Child Health Promotion

by Beverly Hansen OMalley

The rates of childhood obesity in Canada has tripled in the last 25-30 years. Data reports from other developing countries is quite similar. Childhood obesity is becoming a worldwide epidemic.

There can be no question that the two most significant factors in the childhood obesity epidemic are diet and exercise. The abundance of nutritionally deficient foods and a sedentary lifestyle are creating a generation poised to become adults with significant morbidity.

For the first time ever experts are calling the current generation of children an energy positive generation meaning that they have more calories going in than being expended through physical exercise and the excess energy is stored in the body as fat.

Here are the fitness and nutrition facts regarding childhood obesity:

<>Childhood obesity affects children in the same ways that obesity affects adults. Children who are overweight are more likely to develop diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression, lowered self esteem, and breathing disorders such as asthma and sleep apnea.

<>Conditions that were once thought to be present only in adult populations are now being diagnosed in children. This would include conditions such as high cholesterol (hyperlipedemia), type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and gall bladder disease.

<>Children who have overweight parents are more likely to be overweight

<>Inactive children are more likely to grow up to be inactive adults

<>Physical exercise is strongly influenced by family patterns. Girls with active mothers are more likely to engage in regular physical exercise and boys who are involved in community sports programs are more likely to grow up to be men who engage in regular physical exercise.

<>Lower income and education levels correlate to lower physical exercise levels in developed countries.

<>Portion sizes shown in print and television advertising are as much as three times larger than is needed to meet energy needs.

<>Obesity during adolescence has been found to increase adult mortality.

<>Childhood obesity has been linked to the consumption of soft drinks, soda pop and even sweetened fruit juices.

<>Food and beverage companies in the US spent 1.6 million dollars (2006) marketing their products to children and adolescents. The amount of money spent to market soft drinks was 43 times the amount spent to market fruits and vegetables.

<>Families who eat their meals together are more likely to make healthier food choices that include the recommended daily allowances of all food groups.

<>A depressed mood is strongly associated with childhood obesity. Research suggests however that the depressed mood is a result of the obesity and not the cause of it.

<>Breastfeeding has been found to protect against obesity in later life.

<>Inadequate sleep has been correlated to higher obesity rates in children. Even as much as an extra hour of sleep every night can lower the risk of childhood obesity by 30%.

<>Television and computer screen time has been linked to childhood obesity. When screen time approaches 4 hours per day a child is more likely to be overweight.

<>Children view between 12 and 21 commercials daily for food and beverage products.

<>Television advertising of food and beverages directed towards children are usually for products that are high in calories, sugar, sodium, and fat.

These fitness and nutrition facts represent only a small portion of the knowledge base that is accumulating regarding the epidemic of childhood obesity. The data is clear that fitness and nutrition habits are established very early in life and are strongly influenced by marketing and the lifestyle of the family.

The best way to guard against childhood obesity is to reduce screen time, eat well, and move more. If you do these three things together as a family not only will you all become healthier, but as a result your family relationships will be strengthened.

About the Author
Beverly Hansen OMalley is a nurse who is passionate about health promotion. You are invited to visit www.registered-nurse-canada.com where Bev explores the uniqueness of the nursing profession in Canada including comparison of nurse salary across the country, preparation for the Canadian nursing entrance test and how to become a nurse in Canada if you graduated in another country.

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Monday, March 9, 2009

The Crazy Rise of Childhood Obesity

by Joanne Williams

Statistics have shown that for children between the years of 2 and 5 and adolescents between 12 and 19, the rate of obesity has doubled since the 1970s. For children between the ages of 6 and 11, the rate has tripled. Almost one third of all children today are at risk for becoming overweight. Sixteen percent of them already are.

Are boys more prone to rise in child obesity? When it comes to boys and girls, the rates of child obesity are similar. The rates have increased since the 1960s for both sexes. In the last years of the previous century, over 29% of all boys were at risk for becoming overweight, while 27% of all girls struggled with the same problem. Of course, some groups are more affected by this phenomena than others. Among boys, those who are of Mexican American descent tend to have a greater problem with obesity, with over 42% of boys in this group being affected by the problem. Among girls, the problem is more serious for those of African descent.

Why childhood obesity should not be taken lightly The problem of children being obese is a grave one, in that it can have lasting effects on one's emotional and physical health. In the year 2000, it was estimated that about a third of all children born in the United States are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes in their lifetimes. These children are developing Type II Diabetes and high blood pressure at an early age. They are placing themselves at increased risk for heart disease and other obesity-related diseases. Their weight also makes them the target of bullies and children who insult and taunt them about their weight. This can ruin their self-esteem and put them at risk for depression.

Lack of physical activity - a major cause of child obesity One of the sad facts of our time is that young people have fewer and fewer chances to be physically active. In elementary and primary schools, quite often there is a lack of space and equipment for serious physical education, not to mention fewer and fewer teachers with specialized training in this area. Children spent the vast majority of their time at school sitting down behind a desk. The vast majority of six to eight year olds are allowed only thirty minutes of regulated physical education in their weekly school curriculums! The game fields and playgrounds are being sold off or abandoned.

At home, children are discouraged from playing outside due to their parents' concerns with safety. Along with lack of physical activity comes the convenience of fast food. There are fast food restaurants virtually around every corner, and they have easy access to snack foods full of saturated fats and sugars. In addition, obese parents are more likely to have obese children. The reason for this is two-fold. First, obese parents probably pass down their poor habits to their children. Second, genetics plays a role in obesity.

Individual obesity control plans work best for children For children dealing with obesity, it is best to evaluate the individual's situation, taking in to consideration environmental, genetic, and metabolic concerns while treating the arising physical and psychological damage that has arisen. An obese child's eating plan should also come with an exercise plan. Long term counseling is often needed to deal with self esteem issues relating to obesity that can affect the child's performance in the real world. It's important for parents to be role models to their children and emphasize the importance of physical activity and healthy eating. Parents can create healthy environments for their children by doing regular physical activities, such as biking, swimming, or walking together. They should encourage their children to participate in sports, dance, martial arts, and etcetera. This allows children to develop an appreciation of physical activity and enjoy exercising. When it comes to eating, parents need to implement diets rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole-grains. They can make eating enjoyable and healthy by preparing food together and eating together as a family. Fast-food should be limited and reserved for special occasions. Way too often, we reward ourselves for a job well done with food. Child obesity can easily be controlled. The process can be made fulfilling by using creative ideas. Look for other ways to reward your children for doing a great job, such as a special shopping trip or a day with just mom or dad. Not only will the kids feel appreciated, it will contribute to their well being in the long run.

About the Author
Joanne Williams is worried about child obesity and the effects it will have on this generation. It is a passionate subject as both her children were considered obese for a while. She has written extensively on this subject and shares her thoughts atchild obesity

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Education Fights Childhood Obesity

by Darwin Barker

The American nation is in a major health crisis. Possibly even our health insurance is in crisis. Our children are facing an early death sentence due to child obesity. It is said that this is the first generation in history where the children are not expected to outlive the parent due to childhood obesity. If that isn't enough of a wake-up call, the thought of your child not getting to experience life to the fullest should be.

If you're wondering what you can do to change the direction your child/family is headed, the first place to start is their daily activity. Most kids spend 4 hours a day in front of the T.V….and that's the minimum. Once you add in computer and video game time there is virtually nothing left for recreational activities. Sit down with your kids and find out what sports they are interested in. Ask them what kinds of things they like to do outdoors. Give them a list of chores to accomplish each day. Keeping our kids moving contributes to brain function and memory. It also gives them purpose! Depression in children is at an all time high…it's not hard to see why. This helps when you have cheap health insurance, however, why have the depressed child in the first place?

It's time to open up that refrigerator and take a good hard look inside. Do you like what you see? Are the foods on the shelves rich in fiber? Or are they loaded with fat and artificial preservatives? Our body can only give out what we put into it. If we are constantly buying fast-food or depriving our children's bodies of nutritious food, it will ultimately lead to them being tired, lazy and unenergetic. Make sure your refrigerator is stocked with healthy and fun snacks for your kids. Yogurt, cheese sticks, apples with peanut butter, carrots, etc. The children may whine at first, but their taste buds will adapt!

Make sure you Know what habbits you are instituting your family with. If they are healthy habbits then you don't need to worry, however, if they are unhealthy there are a lot of ways you can change this. Traditions is a key way. If you have good health insurance your kids will have good health insurance. If you exercise daily, your kids will exercise daily. Make sure you are setting the right example, for your kids.

In general, we need to spend much more time with our children. As parents, it is our responsibility to teach our kids how to live. Find several activities you like to do as a family that get you moving. Swimming, hiking, even a good game of family football will help your children become excited about living a healthy lifestyle. Planting and cultivating a garden is also a terrific activity for a family.

Sitting down and educating our kids on how their bodies work is something that few of us do. We should be teaching them how to look at nutritional labels, fat grams, calories, etc. Stressing the importance of regular doctor's visits is also our responsibility. Find affordable health insurance at www.healthplanone.com and get some appointments made. Have your doctor talk to the kids about blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and the risk of childhood obesity.

Habits we form as young children typically stay with us forever. In our society, taking the time to educate our kids will give them the tools they need to succeed in life! Our kids are definitely worth our time and effort.

To learn more about your local health insurance and about health insurance quotes I would suggest healthplanone.com I've had the best succes with them.

About the Author
Darwin Barker writes regularly about health related topics. I hope you enjoy this article.

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