The Childhood Obesity Epidemic (continued)
- Published on Wednesday, 17 September 2014 15:47
- Written by Kateri Kane
In our last blog we discussed the possible causes for childhood obesity and why it is such a huge issue. In this blog we will discuss possible solutions for the obesity epidemic.
So what can be done to help prevent childhood obesity? It is important to understand that some children may be more prone to gaining extra weight due to family history including genetics, slower metabolism, and family eating habits. Steps can be taken from the point of infancy to help reduce the risk of childhood obesity. The World Health Organization has an infant growth chart which helps you track your baby’s growth. This can give helpful insight if a parent is concerned that an infant is not getting enough to eat because the child is being fussy, thus reducing overfeeding.
Obesity is often a result of too few calories being expended for the amount being consumed. Therefore, for children it is important to promote a balance of healthy activity and food consumption. Americans are consuming 30 times the amount of sugar that they were 300 years ago. Sugar, including high fructose corn syrup found in soft drinks, is addictive thus resulting in more and more consumption. Processed and fast foods are also an unhealthy choice and increase the risk of developing obesity. The following list provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics gives suggestions for improving your child’s eating habits and activity level.
- Encourage an active lifestyle at home, childcare, and school
- Talk to your pediatrician about developing healthy eating habits (ex. minimizing/eliminating juice and soda, offering a variety healthy foods like vegetables and fruits, avoiding processed foods)
- Early on encourage eating a variety of healthy foods and let your child decide when they are full – taste preferences can change over time and can take a child trying something new up to 10 times before enjoying it
- Choose nutritious snacks such as vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy foods, and whole grains
- Have your child sit at the table and turn off the TV while eating, including family meal time – excessive TV viewing takes away from physical activity, commercials can lead to craving unhealthy foods, and kids tend to eat more when watching TV
- Keep open communication throughout the school year
- Family walks help with communication and physical activity
Remember that children observe more than you realize. Parental habits often carry over to their children. So, if you as a parent lead a healthy lifestyle of physical activity and healthy eating, your child will more likely follow that path.
The Childhood Obesity Epidemic
- Published on Wednesday, 03 September 2014 12:07
- Written by Kateri Kane
Childhood 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:
- 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)
- Sleep apnea
- Skin infections
- Bone and joint problems (often times pain in the knees, hips, and back)
- Liver disease
- 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
- Several types of cancer – breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, pancreas, gallbladder, thyroid, ovarian, cervical, and prostate cancers, multiple myeloma, and Hodgkin’s lymphoma
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.
Is Your Home Still Safe for You?
- Published on Wednesday, 20 August 2014 08:32
- Written by Kateri Kane
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.