Thursday, July 29, 2010

Would you let your child eat 12 teaspoons of sugar?

We’ve all heard the statistics that childhood obesity in the United States has increased at alarming rates and are higher than in any other country in the world. Recent studies suggest that the yearly increases appear to be leveling out but the fact remains childhood obesity has tripled in the last 30 years. Currently, 1 out of every 3 kids in the United States are considered overweight or obese.

It Starts with You!
Genetic testing continues to uncover new information about obesity. How large of a role genetics play is debated among leading researchers. It is widely agreed upon that environmental and behavioral factors play the most immediate role and are the best predictors for obe sity as an adult. Overweight and stationary adults are more likely to have children who struggle with weight issues throughout their lives.

Adapting a healthy lifestyle and participating in sports or being an active adult/parent demonstrates that you value your body and that the children in your life should also value theirs. Planning family time around activity versus television, outdoors versus indoors and simply moving as a family builds the foundation for their future health.

Childhood obesity impacts immediate and long-term health issues:

• Obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. Studies show that in kids age 5 to 17, 70% of obese youth had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
• Obese and overweight children are at higher risk for bone and joint problems and sleep apnea.
• Obesity can result in social and psychological problems such as poor self-esteem and isolation.
• Since obese youth are more likely to become overweight or obese adults, they are at higher risk for health problems associated with adult obesity; heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancer, and osteoarthritis.

Children are What They Eat and What They Watch You Eat! The fight against obesity is never easy or simple. Many factors play a critical role in the outcome of each person’s own individual battle with extra weight or obesity. Teaching children to make health a lifelong habit is substantially easier than battling to lose weight, time and time again.

Making small changes and learning together to make better decisions can drastically impact the health and happiness of your entire family.

Eat Smart! shows how much sugar is in foods that many of us commonly eat every day. It begs the question why anyone would ever knowingly sit down and eat this much sugar and yet we all do. Awareness of what is in our food is the first step in eliminating foods from our diet or making changes to diet, light or sugar free alternatives. Making small changes over time versus trying to change everything at once has proven to be more successful in long term weight loss and maintenance for children.

12 oz. can of Coke or Pepsi = 10 teaspoons of sugar
8 oz glass of chocolate milk = 8.5 teaspoons of sugar
Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino = 12 teaspoons of sugar
Medium McDonald’s Chocolate Milkshake = 21 teaspoons of sugar
1 Oreo Cookie = 1 teaspoon of sugar
1 pint of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream = 21 teaspoons of sugar
Package of 2 Pop Tarts = 9.5 teaspoons of sugar
Cinnabon Cinnamon Roll = 14 teaspoons of sugar
1 Bag of Skittles = 11.75 Teaspoons of Sugar

Move Smart!
If your child is overweight, finding ways to incorporate 60 minutes of physical activity throughout the course of the day will help to maintain or lose weight. This in conjunction with incremental changes in diet can help reverse the path to a lifelong battle with obesity, health problems and self esteem.

Children, just like many adults, resist the idea of exercise or “working out” so help them find activities they enjoy and do them together. Family walks, washing the car, a nightly game of wii, etc. can all add up to more movement throughout the day. Any activity that gets them up and moving is better than sitting around and watching TV. Experts suggest that gradual changes over the course of a few weeks is the best recipe for success and to never “force” a child to exercise or they will likely rebel against the idea. Small changes and before they know it, they will have created healthy habits without even knowing it! Pretty sneaky, huh?

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