The study involved more than 5,700 healthy children ages 2 - 6 who visited pediatricians in Rome between 2011 and 2012. Of these children, about 600 (about 10 percent) had become overweight or obese within the last year, and the researchers ran detailed blood tests about 200 of these children for the study.The findings show that the metabolic abnormalities linked with obesity are present in young children, even though these children have only been overweight or obese for a short period of time. "Our results suggest that the risk for metabolic abnormalities related to obesity begins to manifest early in the natural history of weight gain," the researchers, from the Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital in Italy, wrote in the Aug. 11 issue of the journal JAMA Pediatrics.
The study found that “nearly 40 percent of these children had at least one abnormal reading in their metabolism — such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, elevated blood sugar or low levels of "good" cholesterol — which, in studies of adults, have been linked with an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. About one-third of the children had nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, or a buildup of fat deposits in the liver.” Obese children with such abnormal results also had a higher body mass index (BMI) than obese children without metabolic abnormalities.How can parents encourage their children to be physically from the time they’re babies? In my opinion, make physical activities and games FUN for the whole family! The key to successful participation is creativity and positive reinforcement as well as scheduling a regular time during the week as “family playtime” so children will learn to emulate their parents. Families need to work - and play - together to enhance physical fitness while building stronger relationships. With an integrated approach, parents, grandparents and children can create fun, recreational games that also increase self-esteem - and help families bond - while increasing kids' physical activity.
• Celebrate the final days of summer and get moving! Schedule one afternoon a week for the family to do yard work together. (Even if your toddler just plays in the dirt with sticks.) Studies show that you can burn about 350 calories an hour mowing the lawn or 175 calories for 30 minutes of raking the beginning of the fall leaves. Not only will you get a great workout, your yard will look great too.• Rest. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have found a correlation between childhood obesity and the amount of sleep a child receives each night. The fewer hours of nightly sleep, the higher the risk for becoming overweight or obese.
• Focus on your child’s health, not his weight. Childhood and adolescence are 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.• Play actively. It’s critical to keep your kids moving throughout the day as much as possible (and to join in on the fun when you can). Physical activity naturally stimulates chemicals that help clear glucose out of the blood and helps to prevent diabetes. For most kids, 60 minutes or more of physical activity is recommended daily. (For more ideas to help your kids - and entire family - stay fit, check out Tips for Getting Active by the National Heart Lung, & Blood Institute (NHLBI)).
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!Is your child or family in need of fitness assistance? Fitness for Health can help your family create a healthy, active lifestyle while having fun. We offer customized exercise programs designed to fit your exact needs and help you reach your unique health goals. And, we offer family workouts and Open Gym playtimes (beginning again after Labor Day) so families can become active together. Visit www.FitnessForHealth.org to learn about our programs or call us at 301-231-7138.