Thursday, July 24, 2014

Is Childhood Obesity Leveling Off?

After rising steadily for more than 10 years, the proportion of U.S. kids defined as obese due to a large waist circumference held steady between 2003 and 2012, according to a new analysis of national data.

Abdominal obesity refers specifically to “visceral fat,” or the fat that accumulates around the midsection. This can be measured by waist circumference or by a waist-to-height ratio.
Using biennial data from a nationwide health and nutrition study, Lyn M. Steffen, senior author from the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and her coauthors found that about 18 percent of kids ages two to 18 were obese based on their waist circumference in 2011 and 2012, very close to the rate in 2003 and 2004.  In the same group, 33 percent of kids ages six to 18 were considered obese based on their waist-to-height ratio, according to results published in Pediatrics. That means their waist circumference equaled at least half of their height.

18% and 33% obesity rates are dangerously high.
Children and adolescents who are obese are likely to be obese as adults and are more at risk for adult health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.

We need to focus on helping children adhere to healthy, active lifestyles.

What can be done?

·    Celebrate summer and get moving!  Schedule one afternoon a week for the family to do yard work together.  Studies show that you can burn about 350 calories an hour mowing the lawn or 175 calories for 30 minutes of picking up sticks and weeding.  Not only will you get a great workout, your yard will look great too.

·    Focus on your child’s health, not his weight.  Adolescence is difficult enough for most children and self-esteem can suffer – especially if the child is heavier.  Parents can help by making sure their kids are active and learn to make good food choices. 

·    Make fitness fun!  Exercising doesn’t have to be sit-ups and sprints.  Have fun as a family.  Take your children with you and the family dog for a walk around block.  Hit the basketball court for a friendly game of Horse.  (Try parents vs kids.) Unwind at the playground on the swings, monkey bars or climbing walls.  Remember, you, as a parent, are setting an example.  If you have fun being fit, your kids will grow up learning that leading a healthy, active lifestyle is fun too.
Obesity among the young isn't a problem that's going to magically fix itself. Make a difference in your kids' lives and get moving – as a family!

To learn how Fitness for Health can help your child enjoy physical fitness, visit www.FitnessForHealth.org.
 

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