Facts on Obesity

Obesity is the accumulation of excess or abnormal fat that may impair health. In adults, the BMI (Body Mass Index) is the commonly used index for weight and height classifications. The BMI of a person is measured by dividing his weight against in kilograms against his height in meters squared. In adults obesity defined as follows by the WHO;

• BMI greater than or equal to 25 as overweight

• BMI equal to or greater than 30 as obesity

Age in children plays a significant role in the definition of obesity. Children under the age of five years are considered obese if their weight-for-height is greater than 3 standard deviations in the WHO child growth standard median. The WHO Growth Reference considers children between the ages of 5-19 years obese if their weight-for-height is above 2 standard deviations.

Facts about obesity

In 2016, about 13% of the world’s population was considered obese where out of these figures, 11% were men while 15% were women. In the same year about 41 million, children below 15 years were obese, while 340 million children between the ages of 5-19 years were obese. Obesity has for long been considered a problem in high income countries, however things are now changing as there has recently been a rise in obesity in both middle and low income countries too. For example since 2000, there has been an increase in obesity related cases in Africa where the number has been escalating with an estimated value of 50% in children. In Asia, nearly half of the children under the age of 5 years were considered obese in a data collected in 2016. More deaths have also been linked to obesity and overweight as compared to deaths from underweight related issues.

Causes of obesity

Obesity is mainly caused by the asymmetry in energy levels between calories which is used up and that which is consumed. There has been a global increase in; (a) intake of foods that are energy dense and high in fats.(b) Increase in physical dormancy due to the desk bound nature of the structure of work, urbanization and different forms of transport. Environmental and societal changes have led to changes in both physical patterns and dietary. Lack of support of actions in the health sectors, agriculture, education and transport has also added to some of the changes seen.

A rise in the level of BMI results in a number of communicable diseases such as;

• Cardiovascular diseases (stroke and heart attack).

• Cancer (kidney and colon)

• Musculoskeletal disorders (osteoarthritis)

• Diabetes

The risk of the diseases has also been found to increase with an increase in the levels of BMI. Some disabilities and premature deaths have been linked to childhood obesity where children grew to adulthood with the condition. Obese children also have trouble in breathing, hypertension, and resistance in insulin, fractures increase and psychological effects. Obesity, overweight and other non-communicable disease can be prevented. A community and an environment, which is supportive, are key in the shaping of peoples choices. People can make the best choices in terms of eating healthier foods and regular physical exercises, which will culminate to reduction and prevention of obesity and overweight related issue. At individual levels, one can limit the intake of fats and sugary foods increase the intake of vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains. Individuals should also engage in regular physical activities. In terms of promotion of healthy diets, the food industry can also play significant roles in that it can ensure;

• Processed food have reduced contents in levels of fats and sugar

• All consumers can afford healthy foods.

• Foods intended for children and teenagers have reduced sugar, fats and salts.

• Support of regular physical activities.

Childhood Obesity Is A Solvable Problem

I don’t know if childhood obesity is “rampant” or an “epidemic”. What I DO know is that it does not have to happen to our children.

However, just to put things in perspective, over a recent 30 year period measured by the National Health And Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a study conducted every 10 years to survey the dietary habits and health of U. S. residents, certain changes in childhood obesity came to light. The following increases in numbers of overweight and obese children, as determined by body mass index measurements (BMI), occurred.

*Numbers of children aged 2-5 years increased from 5.0% to 13.9%

*Numbers of children aged 6-11 years increased from 4.0% to 18.8%

*Numbers of children aged 12-19 years increased from 6.1% to 17.4%

CAUSES OF CHILDHOOD OBESITY

As with adults, the simple answer for the individual child is that when children take in more calories than they burn, they gain weight, i.e. become overweight and obese. However, children are influenced by societal factors, just as adults are, but they have less discretionary power to evaluate and decide as to the value of given nutritional and lifestyle choices, even in those cases where they are aware that a choice exists. Additionally, children are strongly influenced by what they are shown and taught by their elders, caregivers, siblings, and parents.

While it would be great if society would make an important enough issue of childhood obesity to turn the trend around, it is commonly the parents who will have the most influence for better or for worse on this issue.

Some common contributing factors to childhood obesity are:

1. Genetics: It has to be conceded that no matter what action parents, society, or the children themselves take, the genetic hand that the child was dealt will have a great impact on the outcome of any choices whether good or bad. However, the good news is that many negative genetic factors can be overcome to at least some extent by wise choices, which we will discuss in a few minutes.

2. Calorie Intake: As with adults, the more calories ingested, the more likely the path to obesity…particularly in the area of such empty calories as sodas and candy sweetened with sugar or corn syrup, for example. Other questionable choices are high fat snacks chosen in place of lower fat, more nutritionally dense snacks.

3. Calories Burned: Children used to burn calories by playing outside with other children, riding bicycles, and doing chores, just to name a few options. Today’s kids often spend hours in front of a computer (like this big kid), only moving to go to the bathroom, get a snack, or to go sit in front of the TV for a few more hours.

4. Parental Influences: This can take many negative forms, not the least of which is the sedentary behavior exhibited by many parents. This trend can be seen in the rising numbers of overweight and obese adults. One of the most lasting and influential impacts on a child will be the examples set by the parents.

In parents’ defense, let it be acknowledged that in today’s family, it is often necessary for both parents to work outside the home. This, combined with the prevalence of fast food, perceived lack of time, stress, and a common lack of knowledge, and/or misconceptions about subjects such as exercise and healthy eating habits makes it easy for parents to provide a completely wrong example for their children, contributing to the children’s’ obesity problems while believing that they are doing everything they can to provide healthy meals and a good home.

RESULTS OF CHILDHOOD OBESITY

If obesity in childhood were something that would end when the child becomes an adult, it would still be a problem. While many still believe the main results are something so apparently simple as low self-esteem, depression, or poor social interactivity, or that the child will simply “grow out of it” there are results more deadly to be concerned about.

Childhood obesity causes and results usually carry over into adulthood predisposing the adult to such problems as higher risks for heart disease, cancer, debilitating effects of arthritis, diabetes, sleep apnea, strokes, and high blood pressure to name a few. Childhood obesity will also commonly result in an earlier onset of these diseases and conditions than would be found in an unfit adult with a fit childhood.

However, for me, one of the worst facts is that these conditions are being seen more and more in the children themselves. They are not waiting for adulthood to begin their attacks.

So, what can be done?

SOLUTIONS FOR CHILDHOOD OBESITY

As with adults, the bottom line answer for obese and overweight children is the effective combination of two important lifestyle choices:

1. Regular Exercise

2. Healthy Nutrition

Since parents are generally the most important people in the child’s world, they are the ones who need to accept the first responsibility for turning this problem around, at least in their own children. Some steps they can take are simple yet effective.

They can encourage more outside play, for example. While enrolling a child in some sort of fitness activity such as gymnastics or martial arts can have all sorts of benefits for the child, an active day is the quickest and easiest “exercise” fix. Chores can be assigned, children can be encouraged to walk or bicycle when practical rather than waiting for a ride from Mom or Dad. TV and computer time can be limited, or even “bought” with activity.

While nutrition is a broad subject, basic nutritional choices often come down to “good” versus “bad”. For example, what’s better for your child, a slice of apple pie or an apple? This is not to say that children should always be denied treats, but they should be doled out responsibly, and healthy alternatives should become commonplace in the home.

Last, but not least, few things will help a child improve in health, fitness, happiness or anything else more than a parent’s good example. They ARE watching, you know, and they will behave as you behave…sooner or later!

So, get up off the couch, grab a glove and go play catch with your child…or take them for a walk or a swim. Patch the bicycle tire, or have them take turns with you mowing part of the yard or raking leaves. Some kids are aching to have their parents do SOMETHING with them.

Who knows?

You might even find you are dropping a few pounds yourself!

Childhood Obesity – 10 Mind Blowing Facts

I know that when you are studying obesity facts, it’s quite shocking all by itself. However, you must remember that knowledge with action really is power. You are getting ready to learn some information that can actually save your life or your love one’s, if you take what you are about to learn seriously. Once you know the signs to look for, you can begin working on a solution.

  1. Whenever you hear someone talk about hypertension, you automatically think about an adult being diagnosed with it. Well, I have some interesting news for you. This could not be farther from truth. Hypertension is definitely one of the risks of obesity in children as well.
  2. Here’s another shocker for you. Did you not know that when your child is overweight, it greatly increases the chances of them being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes? As a matter of fact, there are a lot of these children already in pre-diabetes status.
  3. How’s your child diet on a daily basis? Because even though a poor diet is not the only cause of this problem. It is certainly one of the major contributing factors. You know the old saying, you are what you eat. Well, I can’t think of a better phrase to use when it comes to what you allow your kids to put into their bodies. Please monitor their diets!
  4. How does your child feel about themselves? I’m sure you maybe wondering why I’m asking this question. Well, it is important to know that if your child is having some peer pressure problems or not feeling good about themself. This could lead to overeating. They will sometimes use food to comfort themselves.
  5. Yes, genetics and hormones do play a role to your children’s weight. But don’t think for once that it’s the only thing that leads to an obese child. There are many obesity effects that we can look at. But you must know all the facts if you want to solve the problem.
  6. Does your child complain about joint issues? This is very common in children that has to carry around a lot of extra weight. Some common problem areas are the lower back and knees. It’s really not fair for kids to have to deal with this!
  7. Strokes and Heart Attacks, are some more common crippling diseases that these poor children have to sometimes deal with. It’s really heartbreaking to think about any child having issues such as these.
  8. How often are you feeding your child fast food? The definition of obesity is simply eating to much of the wrong type of food. Just prepare meals more!
  9. Have you had your child’s cholesterol level checked lately? Because this is another issue that will go up very high when your child weight is not under control.
  10. How well does your child sleep? Many times when they are overweight they have trouble breathing, which actually will sometimes cause them to stop breathing momentarily. This is another one of those obesity health risks that’s not to be taken lightly.

Hopefully, these facts will help you to better monitor your children’s weight situation. A child at a time, this issue can be brought under control. All it takes is some parents that really love their children and don’t mind taking a little time and doing what it takes.

Ping Pong or Table Tennis Vs Youth Obesity and Inactivity

It may sound like a lopsided TV wrestling bout, but it’s a serious fight we must win. The author has some important credentials and personal experience to offer on how to gain victory. Our opponents are fierce, ugly, and well entrenched in our country. Can a tiny ping pong ball compete against these monsters? Can a table tennis table compete with a dinner table? Let’s look closely at our competition first.

According to the science journal Lancet, we have a “childhood obesity epidemic”. The prevalence of overweight children and adolescents has increased dramatically over the past several decades bringing unprecedented incidence of chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease to our children. As children become heavier worldwide, greater numbers become at risk of having Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) as adults says the New England Journal of Medicine. The culprits in this assault on our health are NOT hard to find.

Screen time, including watching television, surfing the internet and video gaming, has been associated with promoting inactivity which is linked to this rapid increase in obesity. How much screen time? According to the Henry Kaiser Foundation, children ages 8-18 spend about 1.5 hours on a computer, over an hour playing video games, 4.5 hours watching TV, and 7.5 hours on entertainment media…PER DAY! That’s just one of our grotesque opponents.

The good news is that “screen time” has made our lives easier in many ways. The bad is that “screen time” has robbed us of most of the exercise time we previously used to balance our food intake. That food intake has taken a turn for the ugly too hasn’t it?

For over three decades, fast food has infiltrated every nook and cranny of American society. It began with a handful of modest hot dog and hamburger stands in Southern California, but has now spread to every corner of the nation. Fast food is now served at restaurants and drive-throughs, stadiums, airports, zoos, high schools, elementary schools, universities, cruise ships, trains and airplanes, at K-Marts, Wal-Marts, gas stations, and even at hospital cafeterias.

In 1970, Americans spent about $6 billion on fast food; in 2000, they spent more than $110 billion. Don’t even ask about 2010! Americans now spend more money on fast food than on higher education, personal computers, computer software, or new cars. We spend more on fast food than on movies, books, magazines, newspapers, videos, and recorded music — COMBINED, says author Eric Schlosser.

Most of this food has high amounts of fat and sugar with little fiber, vitamins, or minerals. Our food market space is now dominated by processes food, which hides threatening levels of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). Don’t forget that soft drinks and “rehydration” liquids are processed foods too. Robert Lustig, MD at UCSF says that the HFCS industry exerts enormous political power on our lawmakers.

On the other hand, SOME screen time is good for us. If you consume food and want to know what the sugar industry is up to, watch “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” on YouTube. Now enter the mighty, but tiny, ping pong ball!

Before the author became a sports medicine consultant, before he operated a tennis coaching business, even before he was a tennis player… he was a table tennis player. Just one of millions taking active shelter in the basement from Midwest snow. Before that, he was a less than fit target for the school bully. For that child, a little ping pong ball helped provide physical confidence, steer him away from a sedentary life style, and provide enormous after school FUN.

It is key that the first time you pick up a paddle or table tennis racket; you can easily have fun and feel skilled without coaching. Against a friend or family member of similar ability, you can even quickly rise to the self appointed title of “Menace”.

Compared to screen time, ping pong/table tennis is enormously beneficial exercise no matter how docile the game. Many tables even have a playback mode (remember Forrest Gump?), for a one-player work out. Here’s one more important word about our hefty opponents in this fight for our health.

Some researchers, like Dr. Alweena Zairi who study the causes of under performance in children, believe sedentary practices effect pre school neurological development and the academic potential of children by the time they start school. Teachers are finding they have to deal with a growing number of children suffering from numerous conditions born out of a childhood of conditioned inactivity.

Both table tennis and tennis are vastly popular international sports with professional tours which require tremendous athleticism and dedication. Tennis is almost always played outside. Table tennis almost always indoor and requires much less space. It’s also much less expensive to learn and enjoy than tennis. The entry level is vastly easier. Even better for the family, every parent can look like a “pro” and have a great time too.

Ping Pong or Table Tennis–Be a Menace!

Childhood Obesity and Stress

Most adults still have nightmares that they are in class to take a finals test they haven’t studied for. Children and teenagers sometimes have that as a reality for a variety of reasons. How we help them handle all of life’s stress is part of our job as parents.

Not Just Obese: All children are at risk for stress and the related problems. Being overweight adds to it but it doesn’t necessarily mean that a thinner child feels less. There are numerous reasons for this problem.

What Causes the Problem: Some of it is big events. A death in the family, parental divorce or a parent losing a job are causes. Children pick up on emotional cues from the people around them.

There are some things we might consider small. Forgetting an assignment isn’t the same as a death in the family but it is embarrassing and has an impact on grades. Even positive events cause stress. Getting ready for the prom is exciting but I remember worrying about my dress, my hair and how people would react.

Parental Stress: As mentioned the emotions of parents have a large effect on the children. It doesn’t matter if the problem isn’t discussed in front of the kids. The kids still know there’s a problem. Sometimes (and depending on the age) it’s better if the children do know what’s going on, especially if the situation is fairly minor.

How it Relates: Almost everyone has a set of comfort foods. These foods tend to be the kind that add pounds without adding much in the way of nourishment. Children have the same cravings and unless there is a plan in place this will move them closer to obesity.

Teaching Management: This is not a job for the teachers. It’s our job as parents. You can practice as you teach in order to reduce your own levels. There are many methods and some work better for children than others. Deep breathing practice is probably the best and easiest way, especially for younger children. Older children may be able to use meditation successfully.

This is a serious problem that needs serious attention. Knowing that children feel and react similar to adults can help us keep them at a healthy weight.