If parents falsely think that their children are normal weight, when in fact they are overweight or obese, then they are unlikely to do anything to correct the situation. Now there are some data that show parents how bad the situation is. Continue reading
Here’s a shout out to Mrs. Obama. News reports say that the First Lady and Wal-Mart have forged an agreement geared at preventing childhood obesity. Media sources generally characterized the move as a victory for Mrs. Obama’s signature campaign and I would agree.
ABC World News reported, First Lady Michelle Obama “announced that Wal-Mart, which sells more groceries than any market in America, is going to change what’s on its shelves.”
On the CBS Evening News the First Lady was shown saying, “I am thrilled about Wal-Mart’s new nutrition charter.”
NBC Nightly News said that Mrs. Obama “has announced she’s working with the nation’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart, which promised today to cut prices on fresh fruits and vegetables and to reduce fats, sugars, salt, eliminate transfats in some of its own store brands by the year 2015.”
The AP reports, “Wal-Mart … says it will reformulate thousands of products to make them healthier and push its suppliers to do the same, joining first lady Michelle Obama’s effort to combat childhood obesity. The first lady accompanied Wal-Mart executives Thursday as they announced the effort in Washington.”
Wal-Mart “plans to reduce sodium and added sugars in some items, build stores in poor areas that don’t already have grocery stores, reduce prices on produce and develop a logo for healthier items.”
The Washington Post reports, “Just a few years ago, President Obama refused to shop at Wal-Mart. But his wife now has other ideas.”
The First Lady said, “When I see a company like Wal-Mart launch an initiative like this, I feel more hopeful than ever before. … We can improve how we make and sell food in this country.”
If your family is wrestling with childhood or overweight, consider ordering a copy of book I’ve written specifically to help you and your family: SuperSized Kids: How to protect your child from the obesity threat. You can find them on sale at my book Web site. The hard cover is available for $3.99 (plus shipping) here, and the soft cover for $1.99 here.
It turns out that when kids are given a choice of cereals, and there is fruit on hand, most will be happy with low-sugar fare. In other words, getting your kids to happily eat nutritious, low-sugar breakfast cereals may be child’s play, researchers report. This was exactly what I predicted in my book, SuperSized Kids: How to protect your child from the obesity threat, currently on sale here.
The recent study finds that children will gladly chow down on low-sugar cereals if they’re given a selection of choices at breakfast, and many compensate for any missing sweetness by opting for fruit instead. Here are the details from HealthDay News:
The 5-to-12-year-olds in the study still ate about the same amount of calories regardless of whether they were allowed to choose from cereals high in sugar or a low-sugar selection. However, the kids weren’t inherently opposed to healthier cereals, the researchers found.
“Don’t be scared that your child is going to refuse to eat breakfast. The kids will eat it,” said study co-author Marlene B. Schwartz, deputy director of Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.
Nutritionists have long frowned on sugary breakfast cereals that are heavily marketed by cereal makers and gobbled up by kids.
In 2008, Consumer Reports analyzed cereals marketed to kids and found that each serving of 11 leading brands had about as much sugar as a glazed donut. The magazine also reported that two cereals were more than half sugar by weight and nine others were at least 40 percent sugar.
This week, food giant General Mills announced that it is reducing the sugar levels in its cereals geared toward children, although they’ll still have much more sugar than many adult cereals.
In the meantime, many parents believe that if cereals aren’t loaded with sweetness, kids won’t eat them.
But is that true? In the new study, researchers offered different breakfast cereal choices to 91 urban children who took part in a summer day camp program in New England. Most were from minorities families and about 60 percent were Spanish-speaking.
Of the kids, 46 were allowed to choose from one of three high-sugar cereals: Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes and Cocoa Pebbles, which all have 11-12 grams of sugar per serving. The other 45 chose from three cereals that were lower in sugar: Cheerios, Rice Krispies and Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. They all have 1-4 grams of sugar per serving.
All the kids were also able to choose from low-fat milk, orange juice, bananas, strawberries and extra sugar.
Taste did matter to kids, but when given a choice between the three low-sugar cereals, 90 percent “found a cereal that they liked or loved,” the authors report.
In fact, “the children were perfectly happy in both groups,” Schwartz said. “It wasn’t like those in the low-sugar group said they liked the cereal less than the other ones.”
The kids in both groups also took in about the same amount of calories at breakfast. But the children in the high-sugar group filled up on more cereal and consumed almost twice as much refined sugar as did the others. They also drank less orange juice and ate less fruit.
Len Marquart, an associate professor of food science and nutrition at University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, said the study findings “confirm for people that their choices in the cereal aisle do make a difference.”
“The biggest challenges are taste and marketing. In the morning, kids are sleepy and cranky, and it’s hard to get them to sit down and eat breakfast,” he said. “The sugar cereals marketed with flash and color and cartoon characters help get kids to the kitchen table when nothing else seems to work. And, we have to be realistic, they do like the taste of presweetened cereals.”
But one solution is to be creative, he said. “Take Cheerios and put some strawberries and vanilla yogurt on top, and that’s going to taste better than any presweetened cereal anyway,” Marquart said.
I’ve blogged on the facts that (1) “Too Many Tots Watching Too Much TV” and (2) most parents don’t when children under two years of age are exposed to watching television that his has potential harms.
There is NO scientific evidence that shows that television and video viewing in children of this age has any educational benefit.
Instead, there have been several studies that have shown that TV viewing at 2 years of age and younger can have negative impacts on learning, language and attention and it’s also linked to childhood obesity.
And physically active kids watch less television, researchers are now reporting.
So, who can make a difference? You know the answer … it’s the parent!
Moreover, children who are physically active tend to spend less time in front of the tube, the researchers added.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends up to two hours of TV for children over 2 years of age,” said lead researcher Susan A. Carlson, an epidemiologist at the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, which is part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We found that when children and parents agreed on the rules they were least likely to exceed the limit,” she said.
Carlson noted that limiting TV time is important, because watching too much TV or spending too much time on the computer or playing video games is associated with an increased risk for obesity, alcohol abuse, early sexual practice, negative body concept, eating disorders, aggressive behavior and doing poorly in school.
Children’s TV time should be spent watching “quality programs,” Carlson said. “Children under 2 shouldn’t be watching TV at all,” she added.
Some of these problems may not be related to the time spent watching TV, but rather to the content of the programs, she noted.
The report was released online in the journal Pediatrics.
For the study, Carlson’s team surveyed the parents and children in 5,685 homes, asking about how much time children spent watching TV and whether there were rules limiting TV time.
In addition, the researchers asked about how physically active the children were.
In total, the study authors interviewed 7,415 children aged 9 to 15 years.
The researchers found that 27 percent of the children watched more than the recommended two hours a day of TV. Boys, blacks and poorer children were more likely to watch more than the recommended amount of TV than others, Carlson’s group noted.
But, children who said that their parents set limits on TV watching were less likely to watch more than their parents allowed, the researchers found.
In addition, children who were physically active either in organized sports or in free-time play were less likely to watch more than a couple of hours of TV a day, Carlson’s team found.
Carlson thinks parents are role models in both watching TV and physical activity. “Parents can be the best role model,” she said.
“Parents need to limit the amount of their children’s screen time and they should be encouraging their kids to participate in physical activity,” Carlson said.
Jennifer Manganello, an assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy, Management and Behavior at the School of Public Health at the University at Albany in New York, said: “Given findings from this study and the fact that limiting media use for youth is recommended by experts, parents may want to consider rules they can establish to reduce time spent with screen media as well as other strategies that can decrease media use, such as removing a TV from a childs bedroom.”
Dr. Tracie Miller, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said that “parental regulations and influences are always powerful for children.”
The question is how this can make a dent in the obesity epidemic among children, she said.
Miller noted that the obese and overweight children she treats usually have one parent who is obese or overweight. In addition, physically unfit children tend to have physically unfit parents, she said.
“Taking time to be physically active with your kids is an important thing for me as a parent and for my children as well,” Miller said.
Miller tells her overweight patients that it is not their problem, it’s the family’s problem. “It won’t work if you treat a child in isolation,” she said.
“If the parent is watching 12 hours of TV a day and you are yelling at your kids to go out and play, while you’re watching TV with a bag of chips in your face, it will never work,” she said.
Miller admits that there is a high failure rate. “There are successes, but it takes a lot of work,” she said.
To get kids to lose the weight requires parents to turn off the TV and computer and get active with their children, and doctors and other health professionals can help by coaching children and their parents to stay with a program, Miller said.
So, what’s a parent to do? I’ve written a book with many practical suggestions on helping your child (and family) make more healthful nutrition and activity decisions. The book is SuperSized Kids: How to protect your child from the obesity threatand is currently on sale here in both soft- and hard-cover versions.
I’m having a sale that’s designed to help your child and your family become more highly healthy. My book, SuperSized Kids: How to protect your child from the obesity threat, has been drastically marked down at my online bookstore.
You can read more about this amazing resource at SuperSizedKids.com.
SuperSized Kids is a lifechanging book that helps fight the obesity epidemic with an 8-week program called, “The SuperFit Family Challenge.”
If there was a way to fix a problem that was destroying lives, draining family resources, and pushing America dangerously close to a total health care collapse, wouldn’t you want to know about it? Well there is — and it’s easier than you may think!
The book explains, in a step-by-step manner, how you as a parent can work to avert the childhood obesity epidemic from hitting your family (or, how to reduce overweight or obesity in your family if it’s already there).
The evidence-based, easy-to-do family program can help you and your family take control of the weight challenges facing every member of your family.
But hurry. Supplies are limited.
U.S. schools and childcare programs could be required to include daily exercise as part of the new National Physical Activity Plan released recently. This is, in my opinion, critical to the health of our school children – physically, emotionally, and intellectually.
In my book SuperSized Kids: How to protect your child from the obesity threat and on my SuperSized Kids Web site I write at some length about this problem. (You can learn more about my book from the links at the bottom of this blog.) Here are a few of the facts I discuss:
- Due to the “No Child Left Behind” legislation, schools kids have less Physical Education and daily physical activity programs.
- Without any question, the No. 1 barrier to physical activity in schools is the perception that time spent in PE and recess will undermine academic learning.
- But, all of the studies of which I am aware show the exact opposite: Physical education and daily physical activity programs for all students (K-12) results in INCREASED school performance.
- Furthermore, several studies demonstrate that when children’s fitness needs are met, they do better on standardized tests.
Here’s more on the new plan from Reuters Health:
With two-thirds of adult Americans and a third of children overweight or obese, the need for more activity is dire, health experts said in launching the plan.
The plan calls for changes in medical school curricula, local regulations to encourage construction of sidewalks, playgrounds and parks, guidelines for doctors on counseling patients, and a return of organized exercise to school days.
The report acknowledged what it said was pressure on schools to improve academic standards. “These pressures, combined with the trend toward children being driven to school and other factors, have reduced the amount of time children and adolescents are physically active during the school day.”
The plan was launched by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity, American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine. It spans law, policy, schools and medicine with recommendations that include:
- A national program to educate Americans about how to help themselves and others exercise more.
- More funding of research into how to get people to exercise.
- Including physical activity education in the training of all health care professionals.
- Making physical activity a patient “vital sign” that all health care providers assess and discuss with their patients.
- Putting a field for tracking physical activity in electronic medical records and electronic health records.
- Making physical inactivity a treatable and preventable health condition, with payments to doctors for a physical inactivity diagnosis.
- Developing state and school district policies requiring schools to account for the quality and quantity of physical education and physical activity programs.
- Ensuring that early childhood education settings for children up to age 5 promote physical activity and discourage sedentary behavior.
- Providing access to and opportunities for physical activity before and after school.
- Enacting federal legislation to support these strategies.
- Developing local policies and joint use agreements for school gyms and community recreation centers.
- Requiring a physical activity component in all state and federally funded after-school programs.
Most research shows that adults and children alike need at least one hour of moderate physical activity a day to stay healthy and keep from gaining weight. Regular exercise reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke and other chronic illnesses.
“Unfortunately, nearly a quarter of the U.S. population does not participate in any physical activities,” Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown said in a statement.
Until such a plan is implemented, what can you and your family do? Obtain a copy of SuperSized Kids: How to protect your child from the obesity threat and review loads of tips on how to protect your family:
Earlier this week I was in the Kearney, Nebraska area to speak twice on the topic of “Childhood Obesity: Practical Tips for Busy Families.” The Two Rivers Public Health Department was my sponsor and packed a lot of fruitful activity into a long day (thanks to Terry Krohn and Heather Easton for all the hard work and wonderful hospitality). I thought you might be interested in seeing an interview I did with one of the local television stations. Just go here and click on the video camera icon in the upper left hand portion of the page.
If you’d like more tips on how to protect your family from the obesity threat, here are some resources I have for you:
- An autographed hard cover edition of my book SuperSized Kids: How to protect your child from the obesity threat. On sale for $4.99 (while supplies last)
- An autographed soft cover edition of my book SuperSized Kids: How to protect your child from the obesity threat. On sale for $4.99 (while supplies last)
- You can view the book’s Table of Contents here
- You can read the book’s first chapter here
- You can view the book’s Web site here
Here’s the text from the NTV station interview by reporter Jessica Phinney:
“Super sized.” It’s a phrase we know well.
On Wednesday night, a nationally recognized family physician, author and former host of “Ask the Family Doctor” on Fox’s Health Network spoke to folks in Lexington and Holdrege.
Childhood obesity rates have tripled in the last three decades.
You might be thinking your child’s extra pounds are “baby fat” they’ll grow out of. Think again. According to Dr. Walt Larimore, chances are they won’t.
With recent films like “Super Size Me” and “Fast Food Nation,” folks are weighing in on the obesity epidemic even at the White House. Mrs. Obama recently launched the “Let’s Move” campaign.
Yet, we don’t seem to be getting the message as our kids continue to battle the bulge. In Nebraska, 31% of kids are overweight. That makes the cornhusker state 21st in the country when it comes to childhood obesity.
Terry Krohn, director of the Two Rivers Public Health Department, said, “A study that was done in central Nebraska several years ago showed the children in our area are actually the heaviest in the whole state, which really did surprise me.”
In his book “Super Sized Kids: How to Rescue Your Child from the Obesity Threat,” Dr. Walt Larimore said it’s time to cut the fat.
Larimore said, “If we don’t reverse this epidemic, our children will be the first generation in the history of the United States whose life expectancy will be shorter than their parents.”
But, Larimore said there are simple things parents can do that are easy to digest. The basics including sitting down for home cooked family meals instead of ordering, trading TV and computer time for exercise and making sure they get enough sleep. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, that amounts to 11 hours for kids and at least nine hours for teens.
“There are a couple of hormones we have. One of them increases our appetite. One of them decreases our appetite,” Larimore explained. “The less sleep you get the more those hormones get out of balance.”
Larimore said it’s about taking small steps to give your kids a lifetime of health and happiness.
“We’re the last guardians of protecting our kids. I mean, who is there besides us?” he asked.
Larimore said you actually burn more calories sleeping than watching TV.
When I wrote my book, SuperSized Kids: How to protect your child from the obesity threat, I predicted that if the obesity epidemic was not stemmed, that this generation of U.S. children would be the first in history to have a shorter life expectancy than their parent. Now, new population-level predictions show the importance of tackling obesity for the nation’s health. In other words, the gains we are making in improved life expectancy from lower smoking rates, especially over the next decade, will be offset by a great degree by reductions in life expectancy based on the rise in obesity.
This report, from MedPage, tells us that if obesity and smoking rates had held steady, the average 18-year-old would have seen a 2.98-year increase in life expectancy over a 15-year period. At least according to a report by Susan T. Stewart, PhD, of Harvard and the private nonprofit National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Mass., and colleagues.
But a 48% rise in obesity overrode the expected gain from a 20% reduction in smoking rates seen over the past 15 years, the researchers reported in a study in the Dec. 3 New England Journal of Medicine.
Bottom line: a predicted net impact of 0.71 fewer life-years through 2020 — one quarter of the anticipated increase.
Overall, life expectancy isn’t expected to fall over the next decade, the researchers cautioned. Instead, their estimates suggest that “life expectancy will continue to rise but less rapidly than it otherwise would.”
Still, the findings should be a wake-up call for policymakers and physicians, Stewart said in an interview.
“We know that the effects of obesity are not quite as intense as the effects of smoking, but obesity is more widespread,” she said. “It was a little discouraging to see that obesity was winning.”
“But if we were to put the same kind of effort into addressing obesity as we have fairly successfully put into addressing smoking, then perhaps we could have the same kind of positive effects for the future,” she added.
The researchers forecast life expectancy and quality-adjusted life expectancy for a representative 18-year-old for each year from 2005 through 2020.
Since both obesity and smoking impact quality of life, the researchers also estimated quality-adjusted life expectancy using 2003 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey data.
Four iterations of the National Health Interview Survey from 1978 through 2006 revealed an average 1.4% decrease in smoking rates per year in the 15 years prior to 2005.
But Body Mass Index (BMI) trends based on National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) from 1971 through 2006 showed an average 0.5% increase per year over the 15 years before 2005.
Assuming a continuation of past trends for the next 15 years, 21% of current smokers would quit by 2020, the researchers estimated.
Based on this factor alone, life expectancy for the typical 18-year-old would increase 0.31 years, with an extra 0.41 years of quality-adjusted life expectancy.
But over the same time frame, the normal weight population would drop by 35% in the U.S. with an estimated 45% of Americans expected to be obese by 2020.
The impact of this change alone would reduce life expectancy by 1.02 years and quality-adjusted life expectancy by 1.32 years.
Thus the net effect of the two risk factors together would be a 0.71-year reduction in life expectancy and 0.91-year drop in quality-adjusted life expectancy relative to the trend.
This same pattern was forecast for every year from 2005 to 2020, with the disproportionate effects of obesity becoming even more pronounced over time.
Even in sensitivity analyses based on more rapid declines in smoking and slower rises in obesity, the effects of obesity exceeded those of smoking on life expectancy.
The trends could be expected to have less absolute impact for older adults, who have fewer years of remaining life expectancy, Stewart said.
However, the results might underestimate the impact of obesity on youth, considering that earlier onset leaves more time for risks such as diabetes to arise, she said.
“Though perhaps not achievable,” completely eliminating both smoking and obesity would increase life expectancy by 3.76 years while quality-adjusted life expectancy would rise by 5.16, the researchers wrote.
They cautioned that these population-level forecasts do not apply at the individual level to smokers who quit or people who lose weight.
Nevertheless, “even modest weight loss and reductions in smoking at the individual level can have substantial effects on population health,” they concluded.
Finally a good news story about the childhood obesity epidemic. An analysis published in the July 24 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report indicated that “the prevalence of obesity” in “low-income preschool-aged children ages two to four years old . . . increased from 12.4 percent in 1998 to 14.5 percent in 2003, but rose only to 14.6 percent in 2008.”
More Information: Continue reading
A striking new study says almost one in five American four-year-olds is obese, and the rate is alarmingly higher among American Indian children. What did the study find and what can you do to protect your children?
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