Sunday, March 31, 2013

Childhood Overweight and Obesity - A Growing Problem (I)

There are a variety of environmental factors that determine whether or not the healthy choice is the easy choice for children and their parents. American society has become characterized by environments that promote increased consumption of less healthy food and physical inactivity. It can be difficult for children to make healthy food choices and get enough physical activity when they are exposed to environments in their home, child care center, school, or community that are influenced by

Sugar drinks and less healthy foods on school campuses. About 55 million school-aged children are enrolled in schools across the United States,1 and many eat and drink meals and snacks there. Yet, more than half of U.S. middle and high schools still offer sugar drinks and less healthy foods for purchase.2 Students have access to sugar drinks and less healthy foods at school throughout the day from vending machines and school canteens and at fundraising events, school parties, and sporting events.

Advertising of less healthy foods. Nearly half of U.S. middle and high schools allow advertising of less healthy foods,2 which impacts students' ability to make healthy food choices. In addition, foods high in total calories, sugars, salt, and fat, and low in nutrients are highly advertised and marketed through media targeted to children and adolescents,3 while advertising for healthier foods is almost nonexistent in comparison.

Variation in licensure regulations among child care centers. More than 12 million children regularly spend time in child care arrangements outside the home. However, not all states use licensing regulations to ensure that child care facilities encourage more healthful eating and physical activity

Lack of daily, quality physical activity in all schools. Most adolescents fall short of the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommendation of at least 60 minutes of aerobic physical activity each day, as only 18% of students in grades 9—12 met this recommendation in 2007. Daily, quality physical education in school can help students meet the Guidelines. However, in 2009 only 33% attended daily physical education classes.

No safe and appealing place, in many communities, to play or be active. Many communities are built in ways that make it difficult or unsafe to be physically active. For some families, getting to parks and recreation centers may be difficult, and public transportation may not be available. For many children, safe routes for walking or biking to school or play may not exist. Half of the children in the United States do not have a park, community center, and sidewalk in their neighborhood. Only 27 states have policies directing community-scale design.
(to be continued)

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Keeping Kids From Falling Victim to Childhood Obesity

by Courtney Farr

In the past thirty years the number of childhood obesity cases in the United States has more than tripled and this problem amongst young people is continuing to grow. In fact today, issues with childhood obesity have impacted nearly half of the children living in the United States. The thing about childhood obesity that makes it such a concern is that children who are obese at such a young age are often putting themselves at risk for other serious healthy issues like cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. These children also often have low self esteem and deal with issues relating to depression. Even more; when children deal with obesity as a child they will likely have healthy issues that will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

There are a number of reasons as to why childhood obesity is becoming a problem in society today. The fast paced society we live in has become more and more dependent on fast and convenient meals such as fast food which is horrible for all people, especially growing children. Also the number of computer programs, video games and television shows that young people are turning to has grown as well and kids are currently not getting the amount of activity that they need and they are not getting out and playing as often as they should be. However, even with all of these factors there are still things that kids and parents can do to help avoid issues with childhood obesity before they become a problem and one of these things is to enroll kids in martial arts or karate classes.

Karate classes are helping more children than ever avoid falling victim to childhood obesity. One of the first reasons is because karate classes are helping kids get the recommended amount of exercise that they are supposed to be getting every day. Growing kids are supposed to have at least an hour of activity every day; but most aren't. With karate kids can get that type of exercise that they are looking for. Also, in addition to getting exercise, martial arts will teach kids important life lessons about staying healthy and getting in shape that kids can use not only to avoid childhood obesity but to avoid obesity issues all together for the rest of their lives.

With martial arts kids learn to have self confidence and they learn the importance of having self respect and treating their bodies with respect. This means nourishing their bodies with healthy foods instead of treating their bodies like trash cans and putting garbage in their systems. They will learn that doing things like this can distract from their karate training and that it can harm them down the line and important lessons like this are the best tools that kids today have to fight back against childhood obesity.

About the Author
Courtney Farr is a marketing consultant for TIGER SCHULMANN'S Brooklyn, NY MMA and kickboxing school. For more information visit http://www.bayridgemma.com

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Monday, March 25, 2013

What are the ways to fight childhood obesity?

by Mandy Stone

In New York and Los Angeles the amount of obese children keeps on increasing. Author of the recently held study Jackson Sekhobo says: “In New York City, the prevalence of obesity appeared to have peaked around 2003-2004, whereas in Los Angeles it appeared to have leveled off around 2008-2009 and started to decline in 2010-2011.” Both cities develop new plans which are aimed to help to fight obesity in children. A new government program promotes healthy behavior among kids from lo-income families. Health officials encourage children to “Eat Well Play Hard” and drink low-fat milk. The program also promotes eating more fruit and vegetables, exercising and spending less time in front of the TV.

Specialists admit that the problem of childhood obesity arises not only in New York and Los Angeles, but also in many other American cities. Health specialists are really worried about what's going on, and they hope the situation will change. Sure, changes will take time, but the result is worth it. Clinical nutrition coordinator at the Center for Cancer Care at Griffin Hospital in Derby, Samantha Heller, says: “Ongoing education, support and approaches that target specific cultural and socioeconomic groups can have positive effects in reducing childhood obesity.” However, there are still a lot of actions to take to fight obesity among children.

An important part of the program is educating parents as well as children. Besides, there must be reduced the amount of fast-food restaurants in low-income areas. According to Samantha Heller, “Bringing the healthy lifestyle message into the schools will be helpful as well. Nutrition programs and physical activity programs in schools for children of all ages should be a required part of the curriculum, and can help turn the tide toward reducing childhood obesity.

Recent research held by the group of health specialists provided interesting results. It appeared that such social media such as Facebook can help reduce the growth of childhood obesity.

Online communications have become an important part of our life. Although, most parents consider social networks to be a waste of time, this kind of Internet entertainment can help children lose weight and - what is even more important - improve relations between kids and their moms and dads. The thing is that there are a lot of online programs which are aimed to help children lose and keep their weight.

Dr. Jennifer Li, chair of the statement writing group, says: Online communication and social media are an increasing part of our lives and our overall social network of family, friends and peers. Healthcare providers should embrace its potential as a tool for promoting healthy behavioral change. Online programs for weight maintenance require parents interaction, so many of them have a chance to become closer with their children.

About 95% per cent of teenagers have access to the Internet, so it's time to make using web browsing beneficial. Creating a network of overweight children will help to fight their obesity. Knowing that they are not alone will help obese kids to start fighting this disease.

About the Author
I want to share my knowledge and experience with you

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Rewards get kids active, but don't improve health

Children will meet activity goals to earn rewards, but the extra effort doesn't necessarily affect their weight and health, according to a new study.

The findings reinforce earlier research showing that incentives work to get kids more physically active, but the goal might need to be more challenging to show any health benefits.

"If I had to do it again I would do it at a higher level. It was too easy," said Eric Finkelstein at the Duke-National University of Singapore, who led the new study.
Inactivity among kids is a pressing concern in the U.S. and abroad (see Reuters Health story of March 29, 2010 here: http://reut.rs/jTEfxv).

"Kids are known to be inactive, getting five hours a day of screen time," said Gary Goldfield, a scientist with the Healthy Active Living and Obesity research group at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, who was not involved in the study.

Finkelstein and his colleagues designed a program meant to encourage more physical activity among elementary school-age kids.

All of the children in the study wore a pedometer for an average of nine months to measure how many steps they took each day.

One group of 138 kids was told to aim for a minimum of 8,000 steps per day (for an adult that's about four miles).

Each month, the kids who met this goal for at least half of the days received a Toys-R-Us gift card worth about $24.

In addition, this group was encouraged to attend outdoor events with enticements to win theme park or zoo tickets.

The researchers compared this group of children to another group of 113 kids who wore a pedometer, but were not given any incentives or offers to participate in outdoor activities.

At the beginning and the end of the study the researchers collected the kids' height and weight, heart rate and other physical and mental health measures.
They found that the kids who were offered incentives were more active, logging an average of 8,660 steps per day, compared to 7,767 steps per day in the other group.

"The results are not whopping," Goldfield said.

The modest difference in activity between the groups might explain why the researchers didn't see any differences in body mass index (BMI) - a measure of weight relative to height - or in their overall health at the end of the study.

"I don't think that's enough to see differences in BMI and other health indicators," Goldfield told Reuters Health.

Despite the lack of health benefits, the findings demonstrate that incentives can work to get kids more active, he added.

"If you look at the percentage of people who met the 8,000 steps per day goal, then you get larger effects," Goldfield said.

Just two percent of the kids in the no-rewards group reached 8,000 steps each day, compared to 24 percent in the rewards group, the researchers report in The Journal of Pediatrics.

"Incentives are important for the adoption of behaviors," and starting out with easily-attainable goals is not a bad idea, Goldfield said.

Finkelstein said his group is planning to do a study with a more challenging goal.
Finkelstein attributes the increased activity to the rewards the children were given, and not to th
e outdoor activities they were offered.

That's because far fewer families attended the outdoor activities by the end of the study, but many kids continued to meet their steps-per-day goals.

He also said that it's possible even modestly increasing the levels of activity could have longer term benefits - such as a slowing of weight gain - that would not be picked up in a study that lasted nine months.

"There are benefits to getting them active while they're young, they just won't accrue until they're older," he told Reuters Health.

Although there is a cost to implementing such a program, Finkelstein and his colleagues argue that it's worthwhile if it could curb obesity rates.

"To me, $25 to keep kids active is a small price to pay. If you can do it and it works, I think this is the sort of thing that should be fostered," he said

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Email this page to a friendShare on facebookShare on twitterBookmark & SharePrinter-friendly versionSubscribe to RSSKids on food stamps don't eat any healthier

Children whose families are on food stamps are just as likely to be overweight and obese as other low-income youth, a new study suggests.
  Researchers found poor children tend to have diets high in processed meats, saturated fat and sugary drinks and low in whole grains and fruits and vegetables - regardless of whether they receive federal nutrition assistance.

The Food Stamp Program, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), places few restrictions on the type of groceries people can buy using food stamps. That has led to concern that the program isn't doing enough to encourage healthy eating, especially among young people.

One report estimated that in 2011 alone, almost $4 billion of SNAP benefits were used to purchase sodas and other soft drinks.

"The true intent of the program was to provide as much optimal nutrition as possible to the people who are in the program," said Dr. Jonathan Shenkin, a health policy researcher from Boston University and a pediatric dentist in Maine.

Shenkin, who wasn't involved in the new study, is a proponent of tighter restrictions on the types of products SNAP benefits can be used to purchase - or, at least, better education for food stamp users about healthy choices.

The new research included about 5,200 low-income kids and teens who were surveyed about their diets between 1999 and 2008 as part of a long-term national health and nutrition study.

Between one-quarter and one-third of those children were part of households currently receiving SNAP benefits. To qualify, a family must be living at 130 percent of the federal poverty level or below - equal to an income of about $2,400 per month for a family of four in 2011.

About 19 percent of kids on SNAP were overweight and another 18 percent were obese, similar to the proportion of low-income children not on federal nutrition assistance who were heavy.

Both groups of young people ate less than the recommended amount of whole grains, fruits and vegetables - just one serving per day or fewer of each - and more processed meat, sugary beverages and saturated fat, researchers led by Cindy Leung from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston found. 

There was no difference in their overall calorie intake.

Compared to children not on SNAP, those with the extra nutrition assistance consumed more high-fat dairy products and sugary drinks and ate fewer nuts and legumes.

More than 47 million Americans were on SNAP as of late 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"The low intake of nutritious food among children participating in SNAP represents a significant missed opportunity for the program to promote health during an important life stage," Leung and her colleagues wrote in Pediatrics.

NOT USED AS INTENDED

Shenkin told Reuters Health the study is more evidence that food stamps aren't necessarily helping families be any healthier and aren't being used as they were originally intended.

"The program itself should be paying for nutritious foods that are contributors to health," he said.

Ideally, Shenkin said, the government program would reward people who buy fresh fruits and vegetables with extra benefits, for example - but that would call for increased funding. A more cost-effective option would mean requiring people purchase non-nutritious foods and drinks with their own money and not SNAP benefits, he said.

Not everyone agrees, however, with some researchers and policymakers arguing that limiting what consumers can purchase with food stamps is paternalistic. There's also a concern about a lack of grocery stores carrying healthy options in predominately low-income areas.

One potential solution, according to Shenkin, could be to expand what's covered in SNAP-related education programs to encourage people to seek more healthy options on their own.

"In no way do we want to cut food stamps," he said. "We want to optimize the value that they provide."

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