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Childhood ObesityChildhood obesity is a health concern that has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Typically, obesity is defined as being more than 20 percent over the ideal weight for a particular height and age group.  In 2012, greater than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.  The trend for obesity is greater in lower income families as compared to more affluent families.  According to an article by the New York Times, a slight decline in obesity rates was measured in a few major cities between 2007 and 2011, but these numbers did not span across all cities and the cause of the decline was not clear.

So why is childhood obesity such a huge concern?  Obesity in children can lead to several health concerns, some of which are immediate and some of which will affect individuals later in life.  It is important to note that the greater the amount a child is overweight, the greater the risk will be for future medical problems.

So what are the different health concerns? Both immediate and long-term health concerns exist with regard to childhood obesity.  The immediate health concerns are as follows:Child Obesity

  • Heart disease (ex. high blood pressure)
  • Abnormal lipid levels
  • Metabolic syndrome (insulin resistance)
  • Pre-diabetes (high glucose levels which increases the risk of developing diabetes)
  • Asthma
  • Sleep apnea
  • Skin infections
  • Bone and joint problems (often times pain in the knees, hips, and back)
  • Liver disease
  • Gallstones
  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
  • Menstrual abnormalities
  • Severe headaches with visual disturbances
  • Social and psychological problems (ex. stigmatization, poor self-esteem)

Some long-term health concerns include the following:

  • Obesity as an adult
  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Several types of cancer – breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, pancreas, gallbladder, thyroid, ovarian, cervical, and prostate cancers, multiple myeloma, and Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Osteoarthritis

Several of the health concerns from childhood can also carry over into adulthood including asthma, sleep apnea, joint pain, etc.

Stay tuned for our next blog which will discuss ways to prevent childhood obesity.

Resources:

http://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/obesity/Pages/default.aspx

http://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/obesity/Pages/Where-We-Stand-Obesity-Prevention.aspx

http://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/obesity/Pages/Your-Overweight-Child-and-the-Risk-of-Disease.aspx

http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/obesity/facts.htm

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/beyond-the-bake-sale-what-are-the-causes-for-childhood-obesity-2014-08-04

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/11/health/childhood-obesity-drops-in-new-york-and-philadelphia.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

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For many people, the ultimate goal is to stay in their own home until the day that they die.  While this may not be possible for everyone, the goal can be very attainable for many.  There are some obstacles that you may face, however, with regard to safety in your home as you age.  There are many possible hazards in your home and as the body changes with age, these hazards become more dangerous.

As people age, the normal senses of the body tend to become more dulled including sight, touch, hearing, and smell.  In addition to the common dulling of the senses, reaction time also declines.  These changes can result in a decreased ability to judge distance, perceive foot placement, or react to sudden events like tripping.  There are a few areas of the home that can be particularly dangerous as we age including the stairs, bathroom, kitchen, and bedroom.

The stairs can be very treacherous if depth perception is altered, overall strength has declined, or balance is poor.  In order to ensure safety on stairs, use the following guidelines:

  • Have a sturdy handrail preferably on both sides of the staircase or steps
  • Have good lighting with accessible light-switches at the top and bottom of the steps
  • Clear the steps of all objects
  • Have secure, non-slip strips or carpeting of good condition on each step
  • Use colored tape on the edge of each step if you have difficulty seeing the edge of the steps (ex. problems with depth perception or overall vision)

Bathrooms hold several different hazards from tubs, to toilets, to water temperature.  Without proper management of the bathroom space, a fall may likely occur.

  • Use a non-slip surface or mat in the tub
  • Place grab bars in the shower and by the toilet for assistance when needed
  • If you fatigue quickly while standing in the shower, use a shower chair
  • Clean up any water spilled on the floor immediately to avoid slipping
  • Mark your faucet nobs clearly as hot and cold
  • Turn the water heater thermostat to 120 degrees F or lower to avoid scalding
  • Leave a light or a night-light on in the bathroom in case your need to use it at night

The kitchen holds some similar hazards as the bathroom in relation to spilled water and properly marked nobs, but one significant factor that is more dangerous about the kitchen is the greater risk of a fire.

  • Make sure the kitchen is well lit especially at the counter spaces for food prep
  • Make sure that no curtains hang over the stove that could fall and catch fire
  • Wipe up any grease or liquid spills immediately
  • Do not leave any open flames unattended (ex. gas stoves)
  • Do not wear long, loose sleeves while cooking
  • Oven controls should be clearly marked and placed in the front or side of the oven
  • Keep pot holders near the oven and use for both the oven or removing things from the microwave to avoid burns
  • Have all commonly used items within easy reaching range and use only a sturdy step stool to grab items that are placed higher
  • Unplug any small appliances when not in use (ex. toaster)
  • Have a fire extinguisher readily available

The bedroom is most hazardous late at night or early in the morning when you are tired and there is more risk of tripping in the darkness.

  • Arrange the bed and furniture so that there is plenty of open space to walk
  • Have a lamp or flashlight near your bed for any need to get up in the middle of the night
  • Use a night-light for possible trips to the bathroom
  • Keep electrical cords against the walls rather than across the floor
  • If you use an assistive device for getting around your home, make sure that it is next to your bed for when you get up

There are several more ways to improve safety in your home including eliminating throw rugs, having telephones at a level that can be reached from the floor with emergency numbers posted by each phone, having someone come in the winter to spread salt or sand on icy areas outside of your home, and using boots with good traction if you venture out of your home in the winter.  Another important thing to consider is either getting a portable medical alert button or having a portable phone to carry with you at all times.  This is especially important if you have balance issues and difficulty getting up from the floor on your own.  For further safety tips check out the resource links listed below.

Resources:

http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/consumer/09913.html

http://www.aplaceformom.com/senior-care-resources/articles/home-safety-tips-for-seniors

http://nihseniorhealth.gov/falls/homesafety/01.html

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Well, it’s officially August. That means that “back to school” is just around the corner.  So what can you do to promote your child’s health as they return to school?

One of the most common recommendations for returning to school is to make sure that your child’s immunizations and vaccines are up to date.  Certain booster shots may be required depending on the vaccine.  I know that lately there has been a lot of controversy over vaccinations and their possible involvement in the increased number of autism cases.  A few things to keep in mind regarding vaccination are as follows: vaccinations are important for preventing conditions that can be debilitating or even deadly (ex. polio, hepatitis, whooping cough, chicken pox, etc.), research has not found any definitive link between vaccinations and autism, and increasing numbers of autism cases may be attributed to an increased awareness of the disorder and therefore increased diagnosis of the condition rather than a true increase in prevalence.  From a healthcare standpoint, vaccinations are highly recommended in order to save your children from conditions that are possibly life threatening.

A second very common recommendation is that your children get a full eye exam before returning to school.  Vision problems are estimated to be present in 1 in 4 children, and the sooner a problem is found, the better it can be managed.  Certain conditions including lazy eye or crossed eyes need to be treated early because once the child reaches 7 or 8 years old the opportunity for correcting the issue may have passed thus resulting in permanent vision problems.

Sleep patterns are extremely important for people of all ages, but especially children who need to use their brains for learning all day.  For children ages 6-9, it is recommended that they get 10-11 hours of sleep per night rather than the standard 8 hours that you often hear recommended.  Make sure your child gets into a good pattern with sleep prior to the start of school so that the transition back is not as difficult.

Childhood obesity is a very important issue and is not just a matter of social image.  Childhood obesity can lead to significant health risks in the future including heart disease, stroke, arthritis, diabetes, and cancer.  Getting your children on a healthy routine with physical activity instead of playing video games and watching TV all day is important.  A child’s diet is a huge component of obesity.  For example, drinking one soda a day increases a child’s risk of obesity by 60 percent.  Start feeding your children healthy snacks including milk and fruit versus sugary drinks and salty, high-calorie foods.  Take an active role in what your child eats at school by assisting with packing a lunch and knowing what will be offered at school.

Backpacks can be a large cause of back pain for children.  Backpack safety regarding proper fit and weight was discussed in a prior blog which can be found here.  Some experts recommend getting your children on a good core strengthening program to prevent back pain. The  physical therapists at Advanced Physical Therapy and Fitness can help you develop an appropriate core strengthening program specific to your child’s needs.

If your child does gets sick during the school year, remember to check for a fever.  If he/she has a fever, he/she should not go to school because of the increased risk for spreading the illness during the fever stage.  You should wait until the fever has been gone for 24 hours without medication before returning your child to school, according to Dr. Gutierrez of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.  To prevent the onset of an infection, hand washing is imperative.  Promote good hand washing routines with your child including washing hands after using the restroom or before eating a meal.  You may want to consider providing hand sanitizer to your child if he/she does not have the opportunity to wash up before eating. 

The most important thing to remember is that you as a parent need to take an active role in promoting your child’s health with return to school.  Some roles are easier than others including setting up appointments for vaccinations and eye exams, but others take more work including promoting a good diet and physical activity.  Another important role is to communicate with your children on a regular basis.  If you know how your child acts on a normal basis, then you will be more equipped to know when something is wrong either physically or emotionally.

Resources:

http://www.chla.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=ipINKTOAJsG&b=6089699&ct=8608851#.U4YfqfldVqV

http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/back-to-school-health-checklist

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/magazine/issues/fall13/articles/fall13pg18-19.html

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Disclaimer:  The information in this medical library is intended for informational and educational purposes only and in no way should be taken to be the provision or practice of physical therapy, medical, or professional healthcare advice or services. The information should not be considered complete or exhaustive and should not be used for diagnostic or treatment purposes without first consulting with your physical therapist, physician or other healthcare provider. The owners of this website accept no responsibility for the misuse of information contained within this website.