Sunday, September 5, 2010

Childhood Obesity and Nutritional Needs (I)

by Protica Research

One of the most serious and continuing problems that parents of today's children have to deal with is childhood obesity. Not only are children who are overweight or obese for their age group at greater risk for psychological and social development problems, but they are also facing more and more health risks that have long been considered adults-only problems. One in three American children and teens are classified as either overweight or obese. Here are some frightening statistics about children (especially teens) and weight:

- The number of US teens that are overweight tripled from 1980 to 2004 from 5% to 17%.

- US teens are more likely to be overweight or obese than their peers from other countries.

- 47% of 11 year old girls thought they were overweight and were on or thought they should be on a diet. The number of girls age 15 who thought this way was 62%

(Source: Papalia, Olds and Feldman, 2008)

The consequences of these statistics:

- Overweight children ages 7-13 are at an increased risk of heart disease at age 25.

- Children, aged 6 to 11 are twice as likely to have diabetes as children of normal weight.

- Children who watch two to four hours of television are 2.5 times as likely to develop high blood pressure over those who watch less.

(Source: Lippert, 2009)

Healthy Food Needs Not Diets

Before you start a diet for your child, it is important that you work with the pediatrician. A child's needs for calories and nutrients are as important as an adult's. Reducing calories too drastically can lead to serious problems for the child's development not only physically, but mentally as well.

A child still needs to get the right amount of calories, but often needs a tweak on where those calories are coming from. It is often a matter of getting the child up and moving around more throughout the day as well as limiting the time that is spent in front of the television and the computer. Make sure that the child is still getting the right amounts of fats, proteins and carbohydrates for his or her age group. Also, make sure that the child is not obsessing about his or her weight and resist doing the same. Enlist your child's help in choosing better foods, including snacks, and have them help cook dinner. Remember, there are no "bad" foods, and an occasional treat is not a bad thing, as long as there is moderation and exercise. Eventually, most children will have a growth spurt that will leave them a little taller so that the weight they have is more evenly distributed. The pediatrician will give you guidelines for the number of calories and nutrients that your child should have, but a general guideline for protein needs:

Age Group

Protein grams per kg of body weight

Newborn to six months 2.2

Six to twelve months 2.0

One to three years 1.8

Four to six years 1.5

Seven to ten years 1.2

Eleven to fourteen years old 1.0

Fifteen to eighteen years 0.9

Ages nineteen plus 0.8

(Source: US Guidelines on Protein and Diet)

Protein plays a vital role in every cell in the body and must be included in a healthy diet, but sources should be lower in fat whenever possible. Opting for plant proteins and protein supplements can be more healthful for children as well as their parents.
(to be continued)

About the Author
About Protica Research (http://www.protica.com) Founded in 2001, Protica, Inc. is a nutritional research firm specializing in the development of dense nutrition in compact forms. Protica manufactures Profect (http://www.profect.com), IsoMetric (http://www.isometric.com), Pediagro (http://www.pediagro.com), Fruitasia (http://www.fruitasia.com) and many other brands in its GMP-certified, 250,000 square foot facility. Copyright - Protica

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Childhood Obesity and Nutritional Needs (I)

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