About one of five American kids is overweight enough to be considered obese. (Obesity–being 20% or more overweight–is considered a disease because it is associated with so many health problems, like heart disease and diabetes.) (1).
And childhood obesity tends to mature into adulthood obesity. About a third of adults are obese, and a third of these got that way in childhood. That’s why it’s crucial to keep kids from becoming overweight–and to help obese kids lose weight.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that obesity rates for Americans rose a staggering 57% between 1991 and 1999, triggering a 6 percent increase in the incidence of diabetes. (1)
What is particularly alarming about these statistics is the growing number of children who are overweight — 5.3 million, or 12.5 percent, of Americans between 6 and 17 — and the frightening health implications behind these numbers. Obesity in childhood can lead to the development of a host of medical problems, including atherosclerosis, hypertension, respiratory infections, and sleep apnea.
Researchers now report that impaired glucose tolerance and insulin resistance, conditions that are precursors to type 2 diabetes, are highly prevalent in children and adolescents who are obese. As a result, type 2 diabetes, once considered an “adults-only” disease, is appearing in children and teens in epidemic proportions. (2)
With children becoming less physically active in schools, along with poor nutritional habits, more and more kids are falling into the category of “obese”.
Ten ways to protect your children from obesity: (3)
1. Don’t worry about the number of calories they consume in a day – kids need a lot to accommodate their high energy levels and growing bodies. The important thing is where these calories come from.
2. No more than 30 percent of their calories should come from fat, and the less saturated fat, the better. Read labels.
3. Most of their diet should consist of complex carbohydrates. Fruit, breads and cereals are great sources. If they like whole-grain breads, by all means, give it to them!
4. Make sure that they follow a balanced diet. It’s astounding how many children simply never eat vegetables because they don’t like them. If your kids aren’t getting the nutrients they need, ask your pediatrician to recommend supplements. A body that has to work overtime to compensate for shortages cannot metabolize fat (or perform a lot of other routine functions) properly.
5. Teach them low-fat eating habits when they’re very young. For example, give them cooked peas without a slab of butter on top of them. They’ll learn to like them that way.
6. Get them accustomed to skim or 1 percent milk. If you do, they won’t even like whole milk, and you’ll be cutting a lot of unnecessary fat out of their diet.
7. Stay away from fast-food restaurants! Even the meals that they pitch as low-fat items are high in empty calories and very low in nutrients. You’re better off giving your kids Froot Loops for dinner.
8. Get them in the habit of drinking lots of water. Kids love water, once they get used to drinking it. Many times, parents who have an aversion to it don’t offer water to their children, passing on a very sad legacy. Water is the most effective fat-fighter in existence, and very few of us take advantage of that.
9. An obvious one: keep them active! Even if you have to unplug the TV and computer for a week and boot them out the door, kids these days need to spend more time running around and playing.
10. More important than anything else you can do for your children, set a good example. If your health is important to you, then your kids will value their own all the more.
At C.O.A.S.T., we can help to prevent these problems by providing a safe, and fun, environment to promote an increase in physical activity and fitness. We are offering programs to suit a wide range of individuals and this would include the prevention of obesity in children.
The programs offered are also very affordable and, if the case warrants, the program can prescribed by the MD and in turn be covered by your insurance company.
If you have any questions or inquiries about our programs please feel free to contact us at 831-462-1212 or at our website.
1) “Exercise for Overweight Kids,” Parr, Richard B. EdD, The Physician and Sports Medicine, Vol. 26, No. 6, June 1998.
2) “Prevalence of Impaired Glucose Tolerance among Children and Adolescents with Marked Obesity,” Sinha, Ranjan MD, et al., The New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 346:802-810, No. 11, March 14,2002.
3) “American Kids and Weight Problems,” Appleby, Maia, Internet: http://www.thetoy-box.com/feature10htm