Saturday, October 24, 2009

Childhood obesity warning over clock change

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy is encouraging parents to ensure children are physically active to overcome problems with sleeplessness.

A lack of sleep is linked to increased hunger in both adults and children and this can increase appetite and body weight.

Boys develop closer bonds with Bob the Builder than with parentsPhysiotherapists said regular exercise is important to burn calories as well has promote good quality sleep.

Televisions, computers and mobile phones in a child's bedroom all affect sleep, they said, and research has shown that for every hour a child is sitting – whether watching TV or reading a book during the day – it takes an extra three minutes for them to get to sleep.

Sammy Margo, chartered physiotherapist, author of The Good Sleep Guide and the forthcoming Good Sleep Guide for Kids said: "Many children appear to be overstimulated, overworked and overcommitted and at the same time under-exercised.

"All these factors affect sleep, which in turn is a factor in the worrying rates of childhood obesity in the UK. Making sure your child exercises for at least an hour a day, giving them healthy food, creating a restful sleeping environment and a bedtime ritual means that your child will be ready to sleep once they’ve been tucked in and it’s time to turn out the light."

Around one third of children in Britain are overweight or obese and only one fifth of parents know children should be physically active for one hour a day.

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Better health system needed to identify and manage childhood obesity

A new study has revealed GPs and pediatricians believe their capacity to effectively identify and manage childhood obesity is limited, due to barriers such as time constraints. 65 per cent of the doctors also perceived a shortfall in public sector dietitians to assist them in managing overweight and obese children, according to the study in Nutrition & Dietetics, published by Wiley-Blackwell.

Forty GPs and three pediatricians from New South Wales were interviewed about their capacity, knowledge, skill and confidence in managing overweight and obese children.

The doctors felt the health system needed to better support them in identifying and managing obesity in children - and 62 per cent were unaware of local services provided by dietitians.

'We need to be educating and encouraging doctors to refer overweight and obese children to nutrition experts as early as possible,' said co-author Julie McFarlane, an Accredited Practising Dietitian, from the Wyong Hospital.

Claire Hewat, CEO of the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA), said, "Current nutrition services provided by the local public sector are insufficient. DAA would like to see improved access to Accredited Practising Dietitians in the community setting to help manage overweight and obesity in children and adolescents."

"These kids have an increased risk of becoming obese adults. Carrying excess weight is linked with a greater risk of Hypertension.aspx">high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes - conditions that are already straining our health system and costing the Government big dollars."

Ms. Hewat said many children are eating too much saturated fat, salt and sugar, and not enough fruit and vegetables. She also said many weren't getting the recommended hour or more of moderate to vigorous exercise each day.

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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Doctors' Efforts to Fight Childhood Obesity Not Working

Researchers are recommending that officials in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia rethink their efforts to combat obesity in children because the current strategies -- emphasizing healthy diets and exercise -- aren't working.

In a study released online Sept. 4 in BMJ, Australian researchers followed more than 250 overweight and mildly obese Australian children who visited their general practitioners between 2005 and 2006. A total of 139 were given counseling over three months about changing their eating habits and increasing exercise; the other 119 did not get such counseling.

Parents said the kids who received counseling drank fewer soft drinks, but they didn't eat more fruit or vegetables or less fat, and they didn't lose significant amounts of weight.

The researchers reported that brief, physician-led intervention produced no long-term improvement in body mass index, physical activity or nutrition habits.

The counseling isn't harmful, the study authors noted, but it doesn't seem to work and is expensive.

"Resources may be better divided between primary prevention at the community and population levels, and enhancement of clinical treatment options for children with established obesity," the researchers concluded.

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