Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Parenting & dealing with childhood obesity

One of the most important problems related to today’s youth is that of childhood obesity. The most effective parenting tips that could ultimately save a child’s life is to deal with the problem early and yet with great sensitivity. The truth is that dealing with this delicate parenting issue early may help to save a child from dealing with obesity and other related illnesses in later life.

Over the years, obesity in children has dramatically increased. More and more experts attribute the surge to over exposure to computers, television and video games.. Others suspect that the increasing problem stems from poor eating habits and still others believe it may be a little bit of both.

Among other problems, obese children are at higher risk for developing diabetes and heart related illnesses. Health professionals are commonly worried that children who battle with weight early in life may face obesity later in adulthood, which could have a very negative impact on their health.

A child who is overweight or has recently been diagnosed with obesity, should not be singled out from the family as being the only one needing to make a change in their lifestyle. This is one of the most important parenting techniques to use when dealing with childhood obesity and is also one that will greatly impact a child’s self-esteem. If parenting isn’t done properly in this situation, the child may forever feel inferior or begin to identify themselves by how much they weigh, which is an unhealthy possibility. It is important that the entire family join together and participate in healthier meals, less television time and increased levels of activity, including walking.

Among the best parenting remedies used to combat obesity is preparing more fruits, vegetables and less foods that are high in fat. Positive parenting techniques will involve having healthy snacks available for your family and encouraging them over junk foods. Additionally, set a schedule for the family to take a brisk walk or spend some time doing some type of physical activity, including a game of basketball, softball, volleyball, etc. Anything that will get your child up and moving instead of spending all of his/her time in front of the television or video game will be to their benefit and will lend to the positive impact of good parenting. And finally, be vocal during your child’s medical visits. This includes asking the doctor questions about any concerns that you may have, as well as taking his/her advice when it comes to the health of your child.

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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Father's obesity influences child's cancer risk

Ia a recent study, researchers from Duke Unviersity Hospital reported obese men are more likely to father children who go on to develop cancer, compared to men of normal weight

Previous studies showed that a mother's diet and weight might impact a child's health - even before he/she is born.

Hypomethylation of the gene coding for IGF2 (Insulin-like growth factor 2) in infants increases their risk of developing cancer when they are older. The researchers said that among babies whose fathers were obese, they found a drop in the amount of DNA methylation of IGF2 in the fetal cells that had been taken from cord blood.

The scientists gathered and examined data regarding parental weight and compared the epigenetic data of their offspring (newborns) - this was part of the Newborn Epigenetics Study (NEST). While DNA is the genetic data which children inherit from their parents, epigenetic imprinting controls how active these genes are. DNA methylation is an example of DNA methylation.

IGF2 codes for a growth factor that is particularly crucial during a fetus' development. DNA hypomethylation, as well as other abnormal controls of this gene have been associated with cancer.

IGF2 was hypomethylated in infants with obese fathers, the researchers explained. This was not found in infants of obese mothers.

During spermatogenesis some regions in the DNA may be sensitive to environmental damage; these effects can be transmitted to the next generation. It is possible that (mal)nutrition or hormone levels in obese fathers, leads to incomplete DNA methylation or to unstable genomic imprinting of sperm cells. Further research is necessary to confirm our findings. In general, epigenetic marks are reprogrammed while sperm and eggs are being formed, and consequently nutrition, lifestyle or environment of the parents at this point in time can have a direct effect on a child's development and subsequent health.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Encourage Healthy Eating Habits

Healthy eating and physical activity habits are key to your child’s well-being. Eating too much and exercising too little may lead to overweight and related health problems that may follow children into their adult years. You can take an active role to help your child - and your whole family - learn healthy eating and physical activity habits that last a lifetime

<> Buy and serve more fruits and vegetables (fresh, frozen, canned, or dried). Let your child choose them at the store.

<> Buy fewer soft drinks and high-fat or high-calorie snack foods like chips, cookies, and candy. These snacks may be OK once in a while, but always keep healthy snack foods on hand. Offer the healthy snacks more often at snack times.

<> Make sure your child eats breakfast every day. Breakfast may provide your child with the energy he or she needs to listen and learn in school. Skipping breakfast can leave your child hungry, tired, and looking for less healthy foods later in the day.

<> Eat fast food less often. When you do visit a fast food restaurant, encourage your family to choose the healthier options, such as salads with low-fat dressing or small sandwiches without cheese or mayonnaise.

<> Offer your child water or low-fat milk more often than fruit juice. Low-fat milk and milk products are important for your child’s development. One hundred percent fruit juice is a healthy choice but is high in calories.

<> Limit the amount of saturated and trans fats in your family’s diet. Instead, obtain most of your fats from sources such as fish, vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds.

<> Plan healthy meals and eat together as a family. Eating together at meal times helps children learn to enjoy a variety of foods.

<> Do not get discouraged if your child will not eat a new food the first time it is served. Some kids will need to have a new food served to them 10 times or more before they will eat it.

<> Try not to use food as a reward when encouraging kids to eat. Promising dessert to a child for eating vegetables, for example, sends the message that vegetables are less valuable than dessert. Kids learn to dislike foods they think are less valuable.

<> Start with small servings and let your child ask for more if he or she is still hungry. It is up to you to provide your child with healthy meals and snacks, but your child should be allowed to choose how much food he or she will eat.

<> Be aware that some high-fat or high-sugar foods and beverages may be strongly marketed to kids. Usually these products are associated with cartoon characters, offer free toys, and come in bright packages. Talk with your child about the importance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other healthy foods—even if these foods are not often advertised on TV or in stores.

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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Health risks for overweight or obese children

Doctors and scientists are concerned about the rise of obesity in children and teens because obesity may lead to the following health problems:

<> Heart disease
<> Type 2 diabetes
<> Asthma
<> Sleep apnea
<> Social discrimination

Obese and overweight children may experience immediate health consequences which can lead to weight-related health problems in adulthood. Obese children and teens have been found to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD), including high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and abnormal glucose tolerance. In a sample of 5-to 17-year-olds, almost 60% of overweight children had at least one CVD risk factor and 25% of overweight children had two or more CVD risk factors. In addition, studies have shown that obese children and teens are more likely to become obese as adults.

Stigma and Self-Esteem

In addition to suffering from poor physical health, overweight and obese children can often be targets of early social discrimination. The psychological stress of social stigmatization can cause low self-esteem which, in turn, can hinder academic and social functioning, and persist into adulthood. While research is still being conducted, there have been some studies showing that obese children are not learning as well as those who are not obese. Further, physical fitness has been shown to be associated with higher achievement.

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