It has been suggested that the United States has a weight problem. While many walk around sporting a spare tire, unable to fit into their fall clothes, the biggest concern must lie with children.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years.
September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and food service companies around the country are trying to educate students to make better choices.
“We help students identify healthful meal choices through signage and activities … that take place in the cafeteria,” said Brian Reynolds, Chartwells foodservice director at Wilton Public Schools. “School meals are well balanced, convenient and remain a great value for busy families. Our programs are based on strong nutritional guidelines, principles and cooking techniques using fresh, local and seasonal fruits and vegetables that are appealing to children.”
Currently, Wilton High School is featuring local produce during its farm-to-chef week, which puts ingredients from both student-grown gardens and those in the community into recipes.
Experts, parents split over schools’ role in weight screening
If their kids are frequently tardy, truant or failing to turn in homework, parents of U.S. schoolchildren expect to be notified. And in some districts, they might be contacted about yet another chronic problem:obesity.
The “fat letter” is the latest weapon in the war on childhood obesity, and it is raising hackles in some regions, and winning followers in others.
“Obesity is an epidemic in our country, and one that is compromising the health and life expectancy of our children. We must embrace any way possible to raise awareness of these concerns and to bring down the stigmas associated with obesity so that our children may grow to lead healthy adult lives,” said Michael Flaherty, a pediatric resident physician in the department of pediatrics at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass.
About 17 percent of U.S. teens and children are obese — three times the number in 1980, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And one in three is considered overweight or obese. Being overweight or obese puts kids at risk of developing serious health problems, such as heart disease. Too much weight can also affect joints, breathing, sleep, mood and energy levels, doctors say.
Every day, Dr. Isabel Cristina Lau encounters children who are obese and living with its related problems.
The Ogden pediatrician said childhood obesity is common and serious and is leading children to be diagnosed with problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, fatty liver disease, acid reflux and stretch marks at earlier ages than ever before.
Lau and Ogden Regional Medical Center registered outpatient dietitian Jennifer James spoke about the issue recently during the Ogden Medical Surgical Society Conference. Although both said progress is being made with some changes, childhood obesity continues to increase.
“There are numerous diseases that I recognize when the patient is obese,” Lau said. “Every organ gets affected. One of the organs first affected is the skin. Patients at a young age start to have stretch marks on their abdomen.”
In addition, they can develop acanthosis nigricans, which is a dark coloration of the skin around the neck, underarm and groin, she said.
Diabetic and pre-diabetic cases are on a steep rise in the country. The changing lifestyles among youth have also made it riskier day by day, says renowned diabetologist Dr Raka Shivhare.
He further informed that a recent survey conducted by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) revealed that the prevalence of diabetes have also increased not only in urban areas but also in rural areas.
To check such increasing problem among the citizens specially in youth, a diabetic fair and free medical check up will be organised by Rotary Club of Raipur Capital, Innerwheel Club of Raipur Capital in association with Life Line Clinic, Shankar Nagar, at Life Line Clinic on Sunday.
Stating this during a Press conference held here on Saturday, Dr Raka further informed that expert including, diet expert Dr Mona Jain, acupuncture expert Dr Atish Kapil, eye specialist Dr Sunil Mal and Dr Amrita, physiotherapist Dr Farid, Lifestyle consultant Dr Vinod Saxena, Naturopathy and yoga expert Dr Dhananjay Jain will render their service in the medical camp.
Type 2 diabetes is a disease that once was called adult-onset diabetes.
The name becomes less accurate when you consider Type 2 diabetes in children is on the rise, fueled largely by a childhood obesity epidemic.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years.
The percentage of children age six to 11 years in the United States who were obese increased from seven percent in 1980 to nearly 20 percent in 2008. The number of adolescents age 12 to 19 years who were obese increased from five percent to 18 percent over the same period.
In fact, says the CDC, in 2008, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.
True story: I saw a 2-year-old as a follow-up to his trip to the emergency room a few days previously. He was a healthy boy who developed vomiting and diarrhea, and his worried parents took him to the ER. There, a truckload of x-rays, blood tests, and stool tests were done. Among the pages of results were a few that were somewhat abnormal, so they kept him in the hospital for about ten hours and repeated them. They were still “abnormal”, but since the child had stopped having any symptoms—he was “running around, tearing up the place,” Dad said—they sent him home, to see me in a few days.
The tests, combined with radiologists’ fees, cost about $3,000. None of them helped the child, and none of them were necessary. In fact, they led to a prolongation of his ER stay (more money!), scared the parents, and ended up getting the poor child stuck with needles two more times.
It was a banner weekend for news about moms and babies as the Pediatric Academic Societies convened in Boston for their annual meeting. Researchers discussed childhood obesity, medication errors and the effect of stress on babies in the womb, among other topics. Here’s a summary of some of the findings:
Could food insecurity increase risk of obesity? While it’s fairly obvious that obesity is a result of eating too much, a more subtle cause may be the fear of not having enough food, according to researchers at New York University School of Medicine and Bellevue Hospital Center. It’s not unusual for low-income families to suffer from “food insecurity” — worry about whether they have enough food to feed their children. About one-third of 201 low-income, mostly Hispanic mothers with babies younger than six months old reported food insecurity, which in turn can influence portioning and frequency of feedings and can result in mothers pressuring their children to eat even when they’re not hungry.
“The difficulty really comes in that once adolescents are obese, they more than likely will remain obese into and through their adulthood. There is no easy fix. It takes time, hard work and a drive to change habits that have been established for a long time,” said Garry Sigman, MD, a pediatrician and obesity expert at Loyola University Health System and associate professor of pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
The physical implications of obesity are vast and dangerous. It is a major risk factor for numerous health problems, including cardiovascular disease, skin problems, orthopaedic abnormalities, diabetes and cancer. Just as scary are the psychological and emotional impact obesity will have on children and adolescents.
“Obesity in children can lead to a feeling of inadequacy and isolation. Even as young as 5 years old, children can be stigmatized by their peers. This can result in depression or suicidal ideation, especially among adolescent girls. Since food can be comforting, the child may turn to or may already have turned to food to feel better. This is a very circular problem and so when dealing with obesity the whole child – mind, body and soul – needs to be addressed as well as the environment,” Sigman said.
Wow! I looked with interest. Yesterday, in the mist of visiting the water wall, I saw a mother, an older woman and four overweight, if not overtly obese children. Knowing the long-term consequences of childhood obesity, my mind drifted to the future of these children. “If they only knew what I did,” I thought.
Children are often indulged in eating what they choose and when they choose, without reference to health. If our moral sensibilities could be aroused to the intemperate self-indulgence of appetite, we could help overweight and obese children avoid future misery of mental and physical injuries. How great it would be if children were taught that they eat to live, not live to eat. The vigor of life would not be sacrificed and self control would be enhanced.
Health is not everything, but without it, everything is nothing. What is life if you can’t enjoy it? I believe that for optimal enjoyment one must be healthy. A relative impossibility if one is obese. Good nutrition is second only to exercise as a potential fountain of youth.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States says every third adult and nearly every fifth child in America is obese. But health officials in New York are touting an aggressive initiative that has resulted in a significant drop in the city’s childhood obesity rates.
Alex Schimke is a trim and fit New York sixth grader. He says he likes fruits, particularly strawberries. But like most children, he admits a taste for candy, cakes and other sweets.
"Are you going to eat the cake or the apple for health? Obviously, you’re going to eat the apple, but you want the cake," said Schimke.
Such indisputable logic of children is not lost on New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley.