Fighting Obesity in Children

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Fighting Obesity in Children

Children are facing a health crisis: According to several studies (fall of 2001), many children currently face a serious health crisis in that they are overweight, malnourished and inactive. One study, published in the Dec. 12, 2001, issue of the Journal of American Medical Association, calls obesity in children an "epidemic." According to the study: the number of overweight black or Hispanic children more than doubled in 12 years; the number of overweight white children also climbed 50 percent; by 1998, nearly 22 percent of black children ages 4 to 12 were overweight, along with 22 percent of Hispanic children and 12 percent of white children; the problem was most prevalent among "minorities and southerners." Amount of television watching tied to likeliness of being overweight: In June, 2002, a study published in Pediatrics said that preschoolers who watch a lot of television -- particularly children who have a television in their room -- are more likely to become overweight. There are serious ramifications for children who are not eating properly, exercising enough, or getting enough fruits and vegetables in their diet. Some of the health issues thought to be consequences of excess body weight are: type 2 diabetes, heart disease, digestive problems, various cancers, and psychological effects such as poor self-esteem or depression. Several national strategies are cited by the Surgeon General as important ways to fight the trend toward obesity (this list is quoted directly from a Dec. 13, 2001, press release from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services):

Ensure daily, quality physical education for all school grades. Currently, only one state in the country -- Illinois -- requires physical education for grades K-12, while only about one in four teenagers nationwide take part in some form of physical education.

Ensure that more food options that are low in fat and calories, as well as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or non-fat dairy products, are available on school campuses and at school events. A modest step toward achieving this would be to enforce existing U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations that prohibit serving foods of minimal nutritional value during mealtimes in school food service areas, including in vending machines.

Make community facilities available for physical activity for all people, including on the weekends.
Create more opportunities for physical activity at work sites.
Reduce time spent watching television and in other sedentary behaviors. In 1999, 43 percent of high-school students reported watching two hours of TV or more a day.
Educate all expectant parents about the benefits of breast-feeding. Studies indicate breast-fed infants may be less likely to become overweight as they grow older.
Change the perception of obesity so that health becomes the chief concern, not personal appearance.
Increase research on the behavioral and biological causes of overweight and obesity. Direct research toward prevention and treatment, and toward ethnic/racial health disparities.
Educate health care providers and health profession students on the prevention and treatment of overweight and obesity across the lifespan.

Just For Fun
Entertainment for your children doesn't have to be expensive or complicated -- unless that's what they've gotten used to or perhaps learned to confuse with your affection. Research indicates that the fun times children and adolescents remember most fondly are the days they spend casually with their parents -- playing, fishing, talking, or just hanging out. Your children really just want to be with you.

15 Suggestions for Success

1.Check with your doctor or medical professional before starting any diet or exercise program. If you feel that you’re straining, hurting yourself or working too hard for your fitness level, then stop or slow down. 2.Don’t crash diet. Don’t focus on a weight or...
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